ThoughtShades FrameWork

Essays, Themes, Opinions

Constructs, Practical Ideas, Applications

Poetry, Impression Writing

Sermons, Devotions

Personal Revelations, Illustrations

Viewpoint: Politics, Contemporary Issues, Editorials


Choice Offerings by Others

Powered by Squarespace
« Just Doin’ My Job | Main | What Happens in Vegas »

Will Azusa Survive A Second Century?

azusamission-thumb[1].jpgDuring the last week of April, 2006, celebrants by the thousands flocked to the Azusa Street site in Los Angeles , the birthplace of Pentecostalism in the modern era. In crowded busses, animated tour guides retold the compelling story of William Seymour, a one-eyed, African-American, born of slaves after the Civil War, who overcame impossible odds to lead a revival that has touched an estimated 600 million souls. In addition to the tours of the house on Bonnie Brae Street and the site of the humble Apostolic Faith Gospel Mission on Azusa Street, now an open-aired, bricked plaza, the anniversary spawned scores of events and attracted some of the most popular names in Pentecostal circles. Separate groups sponsored their own events in locations scattered across the metro area, from LA’s Convention Center to the Sports Coliseum. The cry echoed most frequently from numerous platforms and stages was a plea for renewal.

The United Pentecostal Church , International shares the common heritage of Azusa Street with other Pentecostals, and we took full advantage of the centennial to rekindle the Holy Ghost fire. UPCI tours, however, also trekked to the Arroyo Seco camp in the San Gabriel foothills where, amid the walnut and citrus trees, not far from the present Rose Bowl, notables like Frank Ewart, Glenn Cook and G. T. Haywood openly discussed the revelation of baptism in Jesus’ name and the oneness of the Godhead in the summer of 1913. A year later, Ewart and Cook baptized each other in a baptismal tank set up in the camp meeting tent. Haywood returned to Indianapolis and baptized his entire congregation of nearly 500 people. These momentous events signified that the message of Acts 2:38 had now fully blossomed.

Thus began the first one hundred years of the Azusa revival. But, for many Pentecostals, the second century looms with the original luster gone. Media outlets report that some of the largest groups who trace their roots to Azusa admit that only forty percent of their adherents claim the tongues experience, and for some, the ratio has sunk to below twenty percent. Large numbers have slipped into a generic form of Christianity, neither experiencing nor seeking the explosive spiritual phenomena that catapulted Seymour ’s prayer meetings into a world-wide movement. Modern era Pentecostals seem far less enthralled by the outpouring of heavenly fire than were their anointed founders.

In marked contrast to these reports, however, those attending the UPCI events in LA saw a resurgence of Holy Ghost power. At the Korean-owned Olympic Sports Stadium, where the oneness Pentecostals held packed-out meetings, nearly 500 persons received the Acts 2:4 baptism of the Holy Ghost during drama, preaching services and the Friday night Holy Ghost crusade! Added to that number were over 350 who received the baptism in area churches during the three week build-up to the centennial celebration. One reporter who observed the exuberant worship, dancing in the Spirit and the tongue-talking at the Olympic Stadium services asked, “Is this what happened at the original Azusa revival? I don’t see this at the other Pentecostal venues.” UPCI leaders were only too happy to answer in the affirmative. Indeed, the headlines in the 1906 newspapers that screamed, “Weird Babel of Tongues”, and “Wild Scene Last Night on Azusa Street” could have easily described the 2006 meetings on Grand Avenue. The Korean pastor’s daughter was among those who received the Holy Ghost baptism during the week, and the church group pled with UPCI officials to schedule another crusade for next spring.

In my view, not only will Azusa survive another century—-should Christ delay the rapture of his church—-it may very well burgeon into a second wave of revival, not only of the Spirit infilling, but also of the revelation of the mighty God in Christ and of the name of Jesus. I note with great excitement that the oneness Pentecostals, in a major break with precedent, were asked to participate in the centennial by the Azusa Street 100, the official steering committee of the celebration. Furthermore, they asked our General Superintendent, Kenneth Haney, to sit on the rostrum and join the list of twenty-nine speakers at a combined celebratory service. This invitation, and our follow-up participation, positions us at a strategic time and place in religious history. God purposely set the date of the first century outpouring to take place on the Jewish feast called Pentecost, when multitudes of people representing seventeen different languages would witness the miracle. The twentieth century Azusa revival coincided with the San Francisco earthquake when people’s hearts were vulnerable to hear from heaven. One hundred years later, in April of 2006, the oneness Pentecostals showed up at a time and place where our unique message could be heard and judged fairly by the world.

This is a fabulous time to be a oneness Pentecostal. Frank Bartleman, an Azusa Street pioneer, said “I would rather live six months at that time than fifty years of ordinary life!” With all due respect, I think we may be on the cusp of challenging Mr. Bartleman’s statement. The world is about to hear of the Apostolic faith that transformed the lives of our founders and continues to break out today. Pentecostals, let the fire fall! The world has had religion. It is sick of religion. It is ready for an experience!

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>