How Pentecost Came To Los Angeles


Just about one week before I arrived home Brother Durham began meetings at old Azusa Mission. He was sent of the Lord from Chicago with a message for the Pentecostal saints in Los Angeles. He was first refused a hearing at Upper Room Mission, so he went to Azusa street. Brother Seymour was absent in the east. He started meetings and the saints flocked back to the old place and filled it again with the high praises of God. This was what the Lord witnessed to three of us while in prayer, more than a year before. I had gotten back just in time to see it. God had gathered many of the old Azusa workers back, from many parts of the world, to Los Angeles again evidently for this. It was called by many the second shower of the Latter Rain. On Sunday the place was crowded and five hundred were turned away. The people would not leave their seats between meetings for fear of losing them.

With this the bottom dropped out of Upper Room Mission over night. The leader had abused his privilege, and also the saints. He had failed God in other ways also. The Lord can spare any man or mission if He is obliged to. We cannot persistently abuse our privilege, destroy the prophets of God, and hope to finally get away with it. Great was the fall of Upper Room Mission. The leader had at one time been much used of God. But God had another place, man, and message ready. He never deserts His true flock. The “cloud” moved on, and the saints, with it.

The fire began to fall at old Azusa as at the beginning. I attended these meetings with great interest and joy. The Lord also blessed me much at Eighth and Maple, which was still running. At Lake Avenue, Pasadena, the little Methodist Church where God had wrought in 1905 so blessedly, had now for some time been turned over to the Pentecostal saints. They still occupy it at this writing.

We moved to Long Beach soon after my return, my family needing a change from Gless street very badly. We were invited to occupy a nice Rest Cottage Home, at 323 Short street, ready furnished, quite near the beach,

This was a great treat. We had not even dared ask the Lord for so much. But He was so good to us. May 2, I went to Azusa street, after noon, as usual. But to our surprise we found the doors all locked, with chain and padlock. Brother Seymour had hastened back from the east and with his trustees decided to lock Brother Durham out. But they locked God and the saints out also, from the old cradle of power. It was Durham’s message they objected to.

I secured Kohler Street Mission temporarily, and the “cloud” moved with us. Rather, it led us there. In a few days Brother Durham rented a large building at the corner of Seventh and Los Angeles streets. A thousand people attended the meetings here on Sundays. We had an ordinary congregation of four hundred week nights. Here the “cloud” rested. God’s glory filled the place. “Azusa” became deserted. The Lord was with Brother Durham in great power. God sets His seal especially on present truth to be established. He preached a gospel of salvation by faith. He was used mightily to draw anew a clear line of demarcation between salvation by works and faith, between law and grace. This had become very much needed, even among the Pentecostal people. And it is certain that such a revelation and reformation is needed in the churches today almost as badly as in Luther’s day. We have largely a Romanized Protestantism.

“Learn from me,” said Luther, “how difficult a thing it is to throw off errors confirmed by the example of all the world, and which, through long habit, have become a second nature to us.” But a multitude of souls accepted the message Brother Durham brought with joy. “Men were astonished that they had not earlier acknowledged truths that appeared so evident in Luther’s mouth,” says the historian, D’Aubigne. And so with Durham’s message. But it received great opposition also. Some abused the message, as they do every message sent of God, going to the extreme of declaring that because the work of redemption was fully accomplished on the cross it was of necessity finished in us also, the moment we believed. This was a great error, and hindered the message and work considerably. Man always adds to the message God has given. This is Satan’s chief way to discredit and destroy it. Both Luther and Wesley had the same difficulties to contend with. And so has every God given revival. Men are creatures of extremes. The message generally suffers more from its friends than from its foes. We have this treasure in “earthen vessels.” The truth can always be abused. Some even went so far as to fight the principle of holiness itself, pretending to justify themselves by Durham’s message. But they had either misunderstood it, or more likely seized a pretended opportunity to fight the principle that their own hearts refused to yield to, and thus abused the message God had brought them.

The owner of the Rest Home in Long Beach decided to sell it, so we were obliged to move. We returned July 1 to the Pentecostal Home, at 786 Winona avenue, Pasadena, where we had lived before I went to Hawaii in 1909. We should have moved one month earlier, but a party occupied the house and would not move, though God called them to Sacramento. Refusing to obey God they kept us out, and caused much suffering all around. They confessed their wrong later. Thus they missed the mind of the Lord for themselves, got out of divine order, and suffered much, besides causing great suffering to others. The party owning the beach home insisted on our vacating, but we had no place to go. God wanted us in the Home in Pasadena. We never know how much we are causing others to suffer when we are failing God ourselves. The Lord had blessed our stay in Long Beach. But now He wanted us in Pasadena.

I had a terrible attack of hemorrhoids, and was prostrated for days, suffering awful things, soon after arriving in Pasadena. Through earnest prayer the Lord delivered. My nervous system suffered greatly. It was an awful strain on the nerve centers, and the brain. Little John was taken with a terrible attack of convulsions also. The devil tried to kill him. Through prayer his life was spared. Many times the devil has come to me and actually tried to bargain with me. He has promised me if I would not press him quite so had he would let me off easier. But God forbid that I should ever bargain thus with him.

1911 was a wonderful year in Los Angeles. The battle was clearly between works and faith, between law and grace. Much of the old time power and glory of the Azusa Mission days returned to us. I had much liberty and joy in Brother Durham’s mission, especially in the beginning. God had prepared me beforehand peculiarly for the message. I had been brought completely to the end of self-dependence. Works had no further place with me in meriting salvation. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works.” - Eph. 2:10. We were called to humility again that the power of God might rest upon us.

So determined was I to take no chances of self surviving in my life that I burned at this time no less than five hundred personal letters that I had received in the early Azusa days, from leading church workers, preachers and teachers, all over the world, inquiring anxiously about the revival that was then in our midst. Some of these inquirers were in very high positions officially. They had read my reports of the revival in various papers. But I was afraid these letters might some day prove a temptation to me to imagine that I had been a person of some importance. Many of these inquirers begged an interest in my prayers. I almost wish at times that I had kept these letters. They would have been of much interest now as historical evidence to the widespread influence of the revival. No doubt the Lord could have kept me humble without this sacrifice, but I determined to take no chances. So deep and genuine was the work begun again in our hearts in Brother Durham’s day.

We feared nothing more in those days than to seek our own glory, or that the Pentecostal experience should become a matter of past history. In fact we hoped and believed that the revival would last without cessation until Jesus should come, which it doubtless would, and should, if men would not fail God. But we drift back continually into the old, backslidden, ecclesiastical conceptions, forms and ceremonies. Thus history sadly ever repeats itself. Now we must work up an annual revival. We go to church on Sundays, etc., etc., “just like the nations (churches) ’round about us.” But in the beginning it was not so. In the early Azusa days you could hardly keep the saints off their knees. Whenever two saints met they invariably went to prayer. Today we can hardly be dragged to prayer. Some make as much fuss about it as the old camel does in the east in kneeling to receive his load. He fusses, and bites, and groans, before the driver can bring him down. I am glad I did not destroy my diary, however, nor the articles I wrote all through those early Pentecostal days, with reports of meetings, experiences in different parts of the world, etc. I have preserved between five and six hundred separate, printed articles, besides more than one hundred different tracts written and published in the same connection. From these I have been able to draw a tremendous amount of most reliable information for the present book. Had I destroyed these the book would probably have never been written. In all my writings for at least twenty-five years I have labored for the unity of the body of Christ. They are full of the sentiment of John 17:21. I have also plead for reality from the beginning. My first article was titled, “Live the Life.” My second one, “Salvation vs. Imitation.”

The Lord gave us a little private school in Pasadena for our children. We had dreaded to throw them in among public school influences. Sister Anna Palmer, a precious Pentecostal sister, came to live with us and to teach them. She was a woman of most sterling character, and absolutely self-sacrificing spirit. She was also a woman of special ability. It was purely a labor of love on her part, for the Lord. Some of the neighboring children availed themselves of this opportunity also. We were very grateful for this, God’s special mercy.

I had a powerful manifestation of the Spirit about this time at Lake Avenue Mission, Pasadena. The power of God came on me one Sunday morning, as I sat in my chair in the meeting. The Lord had given me a tremendous message on the way to the meeting. Brother Ansel Post had the floor and was commenting on the Word. What he was saying was good, but without special anointing. Suddenly the Lord anointed me to give my message. I hesitated, as Brother Post had the floor. The Spirit ran through me like a sword thrust and I was lifted from my chair. I ran across the floor shouting at the top of my voice, but sat down again. I did not want to interfere with the one speaking. The message was almost consuming me. I had already hesitated too long. God wanted it delivered then. The Spirit struck me again and nearly threw me off my chair. Then I knew I must obey God. I got up and spoke to Brother Post and he graciously gave way to me. I delivered the message with great anointing. How many times I have failed God by not obeying Him under similar circumstances. It seemed this time as though God would kill me if I did not obey Him. We fear to grieve men more than we do Him. It requires much grace to obey God under such circumstances.

I had much ministry and blessing in Brother Durham’s mission during this summer. I also wrote and published a little booklet, entitled “A Prophetic Chart,” which the Lord gave me. Three thousand of them cost me thirty-five dollars. He provided the means. We moved from Winona avenue to Altadena in September. Our home was on Pine street. Here we opened a little day school, with Miss Palmer for teacher. Other children came from the neighborhood. We saw some very hard financial pressure here. One sister gave me twenty-five dollars, in answer to most earnest prayer. I began to have a strong desire to get out into the active work of the Lord again.

Taking a little trip to San Diego, I preached nine times, with much blessing. I then took a trip, by water, to Oakland, where I held some meetings, with considerable blessing and profit. From there I went to Stockton, where I preached twice, but found a hard field. The spirit was not deep. Returning home I worked in Brother Durham’s mission again.

The opposition against Brother Durham was tremendous and he was finally tempted to strike back. This I felt was not the Spirit of Christ, though he had tremendous provocation. Possibly few have been able to stand successfully such a test. I left the platform finally, not willing to stand for a spirit of retaliation. I felt I must keep clear of carnal strife and controversy. But the Lord had wonderfully used dear Brother Durham. He was sent of God to Los Angeles. Possibly his work was done. For him to have remained much longer might have destroyed his victory. His word was coming to be almost law in the Pentecostal missions, even as far as the Atlantic Coast. The paper he instituted in connection with his work began to take on especially the nature of a carnal controversy, fighting the old “second work of grace” theory. This spirit the Lord showed me He was about to stop. Too much power is unsafe for any one man also.

Brother Durham wrote the following observations on the work some time before he died, which are of such vital importance we feel led to reproduce them, as follows: “A great crisis is now on. Men do not see the plan of God in the present Pentecostal movement. Such a complete revolution is necessary that it staggers them. They are unwilling to see that which they have labored so hard to build up, thrown down; but before God’s plans can be carried out, man’s plans must be set aside. They fail to see that God, having set aside all the plans of man, is beginning to work after His own plan. God is revealing His real plan to so many that they will never consent to having the present work turned into a sect. God’s people are simply not going to he led into the snare of human organization again.

“God has poured out His Spirit again that Jesus may he glorified. All past movements have resulted in the promotion to positions of honor of one or more men. The present movement will honor and exalt Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit always exalts Jesus, and His precious blood. As He is exalted, and faithfully preached, God is restoring the old time power. But it is not all restored yet. Not seeing the plan of God, men have not met the conditions, and therefore have not received all God has for them by a great deal. Many have run ahead of God.”

Shortly after God filled me, His Spirit rested mightily upon me one morning, and He said to me: ‘if you were only small enough I could do anything with you.” A great desire to be little, yea, to be nothing, came into my heart. But it has been, oh, so hard to keep low enough for Him to really work through me. And He only really uses me when I am little in my own eyes, and really humble at His feet. When I feel that I must do something, He always lets me fail. But when I stay at His feet, and feel that I am nothing, and that He is all, and so just trust Him, He does His work in such a beautiful way that it is wonderful to me.

“God is not trying to build up something else, or to do something for men that will make them great and mighty, but rather to bring all men to naught, and do the work through the power of the Holy Ghost. The call of God to His people now is to humble themselves; to recognize their weakness and lack of power, to get down before Him, and wait till His power is restored. The great question is, will men see the plan of God, and yield to it? Will men get down in humility at Jesus feet, and pray and wait till He restores His full, Pentecostal power? Or will they continue to run ahead of Him, and fail in the end?

“Let God’s people everywhere see His plan, and begin to seek in deep, true humility. Then He will reveal Himself, and His plan, to them. One man with the real power of God upon him can do more than a thousand who go on their own account. Only those who are true and loyal to God, and His present day message, will share in this great victory. The company who really humble themselves, and stand the test, God will use to do His work.” - Wm. H. Durham. The fact is when a man gets to the place where he really loves obscurity, where he does not care to preach, and where he would rather sit in the back seat than on the platform, then God can lift him up and use him, and not very much before.

The old Upper Room, 327 ½ South Spring street, was opened up again about this time, under the leadership of Brother Warren Fisher, Brother Manley and Brother Allen. I delivered a message there one Sunday and two received the “baptism.” God wonderfully anointed me. The presence of the Lord was very near. I had asked Him for a witness. So I now shifted my ministry to the Upper Room Mission. Conditions seemed to be changing at Brother Durham’s mission. After I left his platform he seemed to mistrust me. Perhaps he thought I would work against him. I spoke many times now at Upper Room Mission where the Lord greatly blessed me. Brother Durham soon after this went to Chicago to hold a convention. It was in the winter and he contracted a cold there, from the effects of which he soon after died, after having returned to Los Angeles. He was wonderfully used in Chicago.

By this time the Lord was speaking loudly to me about getting out into the field again, with my family. I felt strongly drawn to Europe. I had had a conviction of this when passing through Europe in 1910. The time had come. The Lord began to touch hearts in a marked way on our behalf, to this end, although nearly all of our financial help, as it always had, peculiarly, before, came from outside of Los Angeles. A brother in Stockton, and a sister (not Pentecostal), in Pasadena, furnished our fares to Denver, our first stop. God did not allow any mission or party as such to send us forth. And perhaps it was better so. Today you are all right. Tomorrow you may he standing on your head with them. So it is better at least to look to God. Our poor missionaries on the foreign field seldom know where they stand in relation to most of the missions. Before the next letter can pass between them the whole doctrinal situation may be changed, or the society have been totally dissolved for that matter. They need our sympathy and our prayers. When will God’s people become “one flock,” with “one Shepherd,” Jesus, as He has promised? It is surely time to pray as Jesus prayed, “that they all may be one; that the world may believe.” – John 17:21.

We left Los Angeles, after sacrificing our little all of household goods, as we had so often done before, and started to work our way across the continent once more, this time, as we believed, enroute for Europe. We had just enough money to take us to Denver. But the account of our “Two Years Mission Work in Europe, Just Before the World-War, 1912 to 1914,” with labors in England, Scotland, Wales, Holland, Switzerland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and old Russia itself, where I had to preach in secret, although almost under the Czar’s nose; with a lively account of the first few weeks of the Great World War, before we got out of Europe, and which finally drove us back to America, through the war zone, must be secured in a separate booklet, already published, price 30¢. We did not want to return to America so soon, but were obliged to, in safety to the family. Besides, the whole effort of the nations now became one of filling their people’s hearts with hate and murder. There seemed no place for the spirit of the Gospel. The Sermon on the Mount has nothing whatever in common with the tenets of the “god of war.” You are expected to do all you can to hate, curse, or kill the enemy in war-time, certainly not to love him. Let others do this, however, if they will; but as for me, the Gospel is just the same in peace or war. “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today, and forever.”

Los Angeles, Calif., April, 1925.

Blog editor: This chapter is not proof-read and may contain small spelling errors.

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