Throughout Christian history, certain men and women have been used by God as vessels to usher in revivals of various magnitudes in different parts of the world. In this section, we would be referencing such great Generals and bringing to light their efforts and sacrifices in working with God to bring about a revival in their time.
Today, we would be considering the life of William J. Seymour of the famed Azuza Revival.
Lacking formal education and blind in one eye, he taught himself to read, mainly through reading the Bible. While in Houston, being persuaded by a friend to attend Chares Parham’s bible school, Seymour became convinced that Parham’s teaching on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, with the initial evidence of tongues, was Biblical and added it to his already established Holiness theology.
On February 22nd, 1906 William Seymour arrived in Los Angeles and went on to hold meetings at a small church in Santa Fe Street. The teaching on tongues so vexed the founder of the Sante Fe church, Sister Julia W. Hutchins, that when Seymour returned for service in the evening, he found the doors locked. Fortunately Seymour had been asked to lunch at the home of Santa Fe Mission member, Mr. Edward Lee, who felt sorry for this displaced and needy preacher and gave him temporary accommodation.
A Man of Prayer
Seymour spent a lot of time in prayer and in fasting, going on to be known as a man of uncommon prayerfulness. Seymour was described as “humble,” “quiet” and “soft spoken.” William Durham said of him: He walks and talks with God. His power is in his weakness. He seems to maintain a helpless dependence on God and is as simple-hearted as a child, and at the same time is so filled with God that you feel the love and power every time you get near him.
Seymour would normally sit, deep in prayer with his head covered inside a box. The preaching was simple and direct and covered themes like salvation by a personally accepting Jesus as Saviour, sanctification by renouncing sin and worldliness, abandonment of strict traditions and the legalisms of man-made religion, the baptism of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues, divine healing and the return of Jesus. He usually spoke especially from the Gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Hebrews and the book of Revelation.
Seymour invited his host to join him in his prayer times. Much to the consternation of Mrs. Hutchins, other members of Santa Fe began to feel a spiritual leading to be at these prayer meetings.
A Revival is Brewing!
Initially, these meetings were attended mainly by some servants and a few of their husbands. Despite the lack of personal experience of a baptism with the biblical proof of speaking with tongues, Seymour forged on in faith and assurance that the blessing was on its way.
News of the meetings and of this man who was preaching and expecting the next move of God, soon began to spread, by late March 1906, white believers had joined the meeting and were actively seeking the baptism with the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking with other tongues. A revival was already brewing!
At this point, Seymour announced a ten-day fast to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The entire group fasted and prayed. On the evening of Monday, April 9, 1906, on his way to a meeting, Seymour on his way to a meeting, went to pray for Edward Lee for a healing. Desiring to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, Lee asked Seymour to pray for him. He did and Lee immediately received and began speaking in other tongues. This was the first time anyone received the baptism with the Holy Spirit when Seymour prayed for them.
Rushing to the meeting, Seymour related what had just happened to Brother Lee to the packed meeting. Lee then began to speak in other tongues as he lifted up his hands. Impetuous and fervent prayer for the baptism with the Holy Spirit ensued throughout the house. Soon their prayers were answered when Seymour and seven others fell to the floor, speaking with other tongues as they received the Holy Spirit baptism.
The impact of that Revival is still reverberating around the world today, reminding us that God is every ready to bring a revival on the earth if only men like William J. Seymour would consecrate themselves and partner with God to make it happen. Would you be the William J. Seymour of our time to bring a revival to your family, workplace, city or nation? You can with the help of the Holy Spirit.