Contrary to the opinion of many evangelicals, Pentecostals have a very rich history, both biblically and historically. They view their genesis as described in Acts 2, with its roots in Old Testament prophetic declarations of a last-days, global outpouring of the Holy Spirit, before the return of Christ. Undoubtedly, the Pentecostal Movement resembles, more than any other Christian movement, the predicted universal outpouring of the Holy Spirit before the second coming.
There are an estimated 600 million Pentecostals and Charismatics in the world, which is about 25% of the Christian churches. (The Pew Research Center) They make up more than 8 percent of the world’s total population. (Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) and they are probably the fastest expanding religious movement in the world today. (2020) They are now a predominantly non-western church phenomenon, with major expressions in Latin America and Africa. They occupy a leading position in church growth charts in most western nations and have become a powerful force in almost every nation of the world. This awesome globalisation is a unique phenomenon in our contemporary world and it bears testimony to value of teaching and practicing plain Biblical truths.
Born in Azusa Street?
It has become common to attribute the birth the Pentecostal Movement to the Azusa Street Revival – a three-year revival of intense outpourings of the Spirit which began on April 9, 1906 and which continued to have notable effects until around 1915. Pastors and missionaries flocked to Los Angeles, California to receive their ‘Personal Pentecost’ and take the blessing back to their own churches, cities and nations. Both the public and the Christian press, flooded the world with a variety of reports, both good and dubious, which carried its message across the world. The most prominent was ‘The Apostolic Faith’, first published by William Seymour in September 1906, reaching a circulation of 50,000 at its height in 1908.
Some modern scholars and historians refer to the ’myth’ of Azusa Street, claiming that there were other significant outpourings of the Holy Spirit that occurred before 1906 in other locations and others that were simultaneous with that of Azusa Street fame. Still others have traced the importance of other periods of history, dating back to the biblical precedent on the day of Pentecost. These ‘alternative’ viewpoints are worthy of more research and we will provide such material elsewhere on this site, but there can be no doubt that Azusa Street became the focal point of twentieth century Pentecostal beginnings and can be rightly regarded as the cradle or birthplace of the Pentecostal Movement.
The contribution of Charles Parham
Charles F. Parham (June 4, 1873 – c. January 29, 1929), together with William J. Seymour of Azusa Street fame, was one of the two central figures in the development and early spread of American Pentecostalism. Often called the ‘father of the Pentecostal Movement’, Parham is most well-known for clearly defining the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the role of speaking in tongues and the laying on of hands. He was also the person from whom Seymour first heard of the Pentecostal message.
The first believers to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in the 20th century were students at Parham’s Bible school in Topeka, Kansas, which he opened in 1898. He was away in Kansas City until the morning preceding the watch night service, 1900-1901. The students had been asked to research the Biblical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and report their findings in three days, when he returned. Their unanimous conclusion was that the indisputable proof of the Baptism in the Spirit according to the Bible was speaking in other tongues.
About seventy-five people locals gathered with the forty students for the watch night service and there was an intense power of the Lord present. It was here that a student, Agnes Ozman, (later LaBerge) asked that hands might be laid upon her to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Parham reported, “I had scarcely repeated three dozen sentences when a glory fell upon her, a halo seemed to surround her head and face, and she began speaking in the Chinese language, and was unable to speak English for three days. When she tried to write in English… she wrote in Chinese, copies of which we still have in newspapers printed at that time”
Soon other students received the Holy Spirit and Parham lost no time in publicizing this events. He went throughout the country, preaching the truths of the baptism of the Holy Spirit with wonderful results, conversions, healings, deliverances and baptisms in the Holy Spirit.
In the autumn of 1903, the Parham’s moved to Galena, Kansas where they saw another powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit, with many people saved, delivered, healed and baptized in the Holy Spirit.
In 1905 he moved to Houston where he opened another Bible school in December 1905. It was here that Parham first met William J. Seymour, a black Holiness evangelist.
William Joseph Seymour
Lucy Farrow was a friend of Seymour’s who first told him about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. She had received the experience herself through the ministry of Charles Parham and she persuaded Seymour to attend Parham’s school. Seymour became convinced that Parham’s teaching on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, with the initial evidence of tongues, was soundly Biblical and added it to his well-established Wesleyan-Holiness theological system.
In 1906, Seymour was invited to pastor a black holiness church in Los Angeles. His initial teaching was rejected by the leaders and he was locked out of the next meeting. He then moved to home of Richard and Ruth Asberry at 214, North Bonnie Brae Street and there the fire began to fall. Crowds of believers pressed into this small building praying for a touch from heaven.
Seymour announced a ten-day fast to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The entire group fasted and prayed through the weekend. On the evening of Monday, April 9, 1906, Edward Lee related a vision he had had the night before in which the twelve apostles came to him and explained how to speak in tongues. Lee then asked Seymour to pray with him to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit. They prayed together, and Lee immediately received and began speaking in other tongues. This was the first occasion of anyone receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit through Seymour’s prayers.
In the Asberry’s home, that night Seymour and seven others fell to the floor in a religious ecstasy, speaking with “other tongues” as they received the Holy Spirit baptism. Jennie Evans Moore began to play beautiful music on an old upright piano, and to sing in what people said was Hebrew. Up until this time she had never played the piano. News spread quickly and even larger crowds gathered in the street in front of the house to hear Seymour preach from a homemade pulpit on the front porch.
Meetings at the Bonnie Brae house ran twenty-four hours a day for at least three days. The crowds grew so large it became impossible to get close to the house, and the press of people who tried to get into the house became so great that the foundation collapsed, sending the front porch crashing into the steep front yard. Miraculously, no one was hurt. It became necessary to find a larger location to house the growing numbers of seekers, hungry for God.
The Apostolic Faith Mission, 312 Azusa Street
A suitable building was soon found at 312, Azusa Street. For the next three years services were held three times daily. There were crowds of up to 700-800 people inside the building and several hundred more outside, sometimes 1000’s.
Bartleman wrote, “Suddenly the Spirit would fall upon the congregation. God himself would give the altar call. Men would fall all over the house, like the slain in battle, or rush for the altar en masse to seek God. The scene often resembled a forest of fallen trees.”
The ‘Heavenly Choir,’ or ‘singing in the Spirit’ often filled the building. The message was ‘the love of God.’ Scores of people were seen dropping into a prostrate position in the streets before they ever reached the mission. Many would get up, speaking in tongues without any influence from Azusa people. Some who came to investigate were baptised in the Holy Spirit in their lodgings.
“Scores of personal and eyewitness accounts attest that many who came to ridicule the meetings were knocked to the floor where they seemed to wrestle with unseen opponents, sometimes for hours.
Other eyewitnesses reported seeing a holy glow emanating from the building that could be seen from streets away. Others reported hearing sounds from the wooden building like explosions that reverberated around the neighbourhood. Such phenomena caused onlookers to call the Fire Department out on several occasions when a blaze or explosion was reported at the mission building.
God-hungry Christians flocked in from everywhere. One man at Azusa said, “I would have rather lived six months at that time than fifty years of ordinary life. I have stopped more than once within two blocks of the place and prayed for strength before I dared go on. The presence of the Lord was so real.”
These Pentecost-like manifestations attracted visitors from all over America and from around the world.
The Message of Pentecost taken to the Nations
Many visitors went back to their homes in the US and spread “the message of Pentecost” there. They generally found a welcome in holiness churches, missions, and camp meetings.
Gaston Barnabas Cashwell of North Carolina, came to Azusa Street and subsequently saw several holiness denominations swept into the new movement, including the Church of God (Cleveland,Tenn.), the Pentecostal Holiness Church, the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church, and the Pentecostal Free-Will Baptist Church.
Charles Harrison Mason visited Azusa and returned to Memphis, Tennessee, founding the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). COGIC is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States today.
William H. Durham, pastor of the North Avenue Mission in Chicago, visited Azusa Street and spoke in tongues on March 2, 1907. He took the message back to Chicago, and led thousands of Midwesterners and Canadians into the Pentecostal movement. His “finished work” theology of gradual progressive sanctification, helped in the formation of the Assemblies of God (AG) in 1914.
He also influenced many Pentecostal pioneers. It was in his church that Eudorus N. Bell, a later leader in the Assemblies of God, and A. H. Argue, a real estate dealer from Winnipeg, received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
Eudorus N. Bell became a leader in the organization of the Assemblies of God in April 1914 at Hot Springs, Arkansas. Bell, with Joseph Flower led the AG which was destined to become the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world, claiming more than two million U.S. members and some forty-four million adherents in 150 countries, by the year 2000.
A. H. Argue also played a significant role in the discussions leading up to the establishment of the Assemblies of God and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. He had travelled to Chicago to visit W.H. Durham’s mission in April 1907. He later described the experience: “I waited on God for 21 days … During this time I had a wonderful vision of Jesus … I was filled with the Holy Ghost, speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance.”
Argue sold his real estate business and invested the proceeds in income-producing ventures which allowed him the financial freedom to travel for ministry. He devoted the rest of his life to the Pentecostal ministry in all parts of Canada and much of the United States. Thousands were saved, healed, and baptized in the Holy Spirit through His powerful preaching and praying.
Florence Crawford was a very active worker in the Azusa Street Revival, having mentions in each of the first 12 newspapers. Through rather unfortunate circumstances she and Clara Lum left Azusa and relocated to Portland, Oregon founding the Apostolic Faith Church in 1907.
Many other notable believers visited Azusa Street: evangelists thirsting for more power, such as Frank Bartleman, “Mother” Elizabeth Wheaton (widely known as the prison evangelist) came. Pastors Elmer Fisher (founder and pastor of the Upper Room Mission, located just a few blocks from the Azusa Street Mission.), William Pendleton (Pastor of the Eighth and Maple Mission, started by Frank Bartleman as one of several offshoot missions of the Azusa Street Revival.), and Joseph Smale (pastor of First Baptist Church located at 725 South Flower, LA) attended. Publishers, such as Carrie Judd Montgomery (Triumphs of Faith), L. Ryan (Apostolic Light), and A. S. Worrell (Gospel Witness) passed through and quickly spread the news. Veteran missionaries, such as Samuel and Ardelle Mead (missionaries to Angola), and Mae F. Mayo were there, while church executives, such as Charles H. Mason, from the Church of God in Christ, and Christian and Missionary Alliance district superintendent George Eldridge attended. Some of them came for extended periods of time. All of them spread the Pentecostal Message further afield.
Many missionaries left Azusa Street and went to countries around the world. They were known as “missionaries of the one-way ticket” because they went to stay and to show God’s love.
After just five months the first missionaries went sent out from Azusa, mostly women! Alfred and Lillian Garr, the first white pastors to be baptized in the Spirit at Azusa Street, left for India, arriving in Calcutta in 1907. They led a Pentecostal revival there in a Baptist Church.
Lucy Farrow, the sister who encouraged Seymour to go the Los Angeles before the outpouring, was an African American evangelist and one of the first missionaries from Azusa Street, arriving in Liberia in 1907.
Canadian evangelist and former elder in Dowle’s Zion City, John G. Lake, travelled to South Africa in 1908 with Thomas Hezmalhalch, a former Wesleyan Methodist minister from Leeds, England. They established the Apostolic Faith Mission in South Africa.
Rev. K. E. M. Spooner visited the revival in 1909 and became one of the Pentecostal Holiness Church’s most effective missionaries in Africa, working among the Tswana people of Botswana.
So many missionaries went out from Azusa (some thirty-eight left in October 1906) that within two years the movement had spread to over fifty nations, including Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, Holland, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, South Africa, Hong Kong, China, Ceylon and India. Christian leaders visited from all over the world. Others left for the Bahamas in 1910 and for British East Africa in 1911.
Demos Shakarian’s grandfather, also called Demos, with his family moved from Armenia to Los Angeles in 1906, just when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street began. Demos and his brother-in-law, M. Mushagian, and another Armenian man, went to observe the work. As they approached, they heard familiar sounds shouting and singing and praying in the same manner they were accustomed to in their own Pentecostal services back home. On reaching the Azusa Mission, they discovered several speaking in tongues. They returned to their people with the thrilling news that God had begun to move in America as He had in Armenia, in Russia, in the Early Churches, and in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. They already had experience of the Holy Spirits work as far back as 1900.
Demos Shakarian, the grandson, grew up in a highly spiritual atmosphere where the activity of the Holy Spirit was expected and experienced. He became the founder of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International which was used so powerfully to win 1000’s of people to Christ and propagate the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the later decades of the 20th century. The FGBFI has been a catalyst for evangelism, lay participation, unity, and the charismatic renewal throughout the world.
Pentecost in Europe
T. B. Barratt observed in 1909: ‘In heathen lands, among Missionaries, native preachers and Evangelists, as well as among the people, this Holy Fire is spreading, and will do so increasingly. It is said that some fifty thousand people have within two years been baptized with the Holy Ghost and have spoken in tongues. Thousands of God’s people have been wonderfully blessed of God outside of this number.’
Barratt experienced his own encounter with Pentecost when he encountered some Azusa Street missionaries in New York City. Barratt was a Methodist pastor in Oslo, Norway, who visited New York in 1906 to raise funds to build a large central mission in the city of Christiania (now Oslo). While there, he was baptized in the Spirit in his hotel room and thereafter become the main catalyst for spreading Pentecostalism in his own church, Filadelfia Church, Oslo and throughout much of Europe.
Lewi Pethrus, a young Swedish Baptist, was part of a national movement praying for Revival. He already received a powerful experience of deep inward cleansing in 1905. After reading a book by Dr. A. J. Gordon, he began to seek the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, though he had never seen anyone receive that blessing. Moreover, to quote his own words, “There were thousands of others” (in Sweden) “at the same time crying to God: ‘Give us Revival, and fill us with the Holy Spirit.’
At the time he was pastor of the Baptist Church in Lidkoping (1906-11) and his entire congregation accepted the Pentecostal message, as did numerous other churches in Sweden. On August 30th 1910, a new Baptist Church, Filadelfia in Stockholm, was formed, allowing the full freedom of the Holy Spirit in its meetings. On January 11th 1911 Pethrus was called to be its Pastor.
When he took on the pastorate of Filalelfia the membership was about 70 but within a year it reached 244. The next year it rose to 438 and by 1918 it stood at 1,411. By 1926 it was 3,176 and by 1938 it reached a colossal 5, 887, becoming the largest Pentecostal church in Europe.
Norway and Sweden were not the only countries in Europe to be awakened to a new awakening. Similar spiritual conditions prevailed in Holland, Germany and Britain.
Alexander Boddy at Sunderland, England
In September 1907, Alexander Boddy (1854–1930), Anglican vicar in Sunderland, England, visited Barratt’s church and invited Barratt to his church. Consequently, Sunderland became the most significant early Pentecostal centre in Britain. Annual Whitsun conventions from 1908 to 1914 attracted Pentecostals and seekers from across Europe. Boddy edited the influential periodical Confidence (1908–26) that reported on Pentecostal revivals and expounded Pentecostal doctrines.
A constant stream of seekers continued to come to Sunderland to see and hear for themselves these scenes of reported Pentecostal blessing and phenomena. Smith Wigglesworth, then leader of Bowland Street Mission, Bradford, and a master-plumber, who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the sign of tongues in All Saints’ Vicarage on Tuesday, October 28th, 1907 when Mrs. Boddy laid hands on him.
Stanley Frodsham who later became the editor of the Assemblies of God, Pentecostal Evangel, encountered the Holy Spirit through Boddy’s ministry.
Cecil Polhill was encouraged by J. Hudson Taylor to pursue his calling as a missionary. With his brother, Arthur, and five fellow Cambridge graduates (the famous Cambridge Seven), he went to China in 1885 with the China Inland Mission (CIM), returning to England in 1900 due to ill health.
News of the Welsh Revival and similar awakening in other parts of the world prompted him in early 1908 to visit the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, California, where he was baptised in the Holy Spirit. Before returning to England, Polhill wrote a check for £1,500 to pay the mortgage on the Azusa Street building.
The Pentecostal Missionary Union
Returning to England, he founded the Pentecostal Missionary Union for Great Britain and Ireland (PMU) in 1909. It was the first organized and successful Pentecostal missions agency; Polhill served as its president and directed its operation until 1925, when it was integrated into the newly established Assemblies of God of Great Britain and Ireland. The PMU was a Pentecostal missionary movement that worked mainly in western China and central India, but also in Japan, Brazil and Congo.
The first missionaries to go out under the auspices of the Pentecostal Missionary Union were Miss Kathleen Miller of Exeter, and Miss Lucy James of Bedford, who sailed for India on February 24th, 1909. Miss Miller had been a missionary in India before but now returned under Pentecostal auspices. Mr. John C. Beruldsen, who laboured faithfully for over thirty-five years in North China, principally at Kalganwent went out in 1910.
George Jeffreys and his brother Stephen Jeffreys, were converted in the Welsh revival in November, 1904. George was soon baptised in the Holy Spirit and began preaching the gospel publicly. At Cecil Polhill’s instigation he resigned from his job at the Co-operative Stores in Maesteg, Wales and began a period of training at the Pentecostal Missionary Union college in Preston under Thomas Myerscough’s leadership and was set apart for the ministry by the Independent Apostolic Church known as Emmanuel Christ Church, Maesteg, on the 13th Nov. 1912.
He attended the Sunderland convention in 1913 and preached for Alexander Boddy. By 1915 he formed the Elim Evangelistic Band, registering it as the Elim Pentecostal Alliance. He planted new churches as a healing evangelist, first in Ireland then across the UK. In 1915, George Jeffreys founded the Elim Pentecostal Church, which is now the largest Pentecostal denomination in Britain.
In 1924, the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland emerged as a congregational association of Pentecostalism spread from England to France in 1926.
The fire spreads to Continental Europe
Up to 1914 a large group of German Pentecostal pastors visited Boddy’s Sunderland Conventions. Their strong Bible teaching was greatly appreciated and there were reciprocal visits from the British Pentecostal leaders to the larger German Pentecostal Conventions. The two most prominent early leaders of the Pentecostal Movement in Germany were Pastors Paul and Vogen. Jonathan Paul of Berlin, journeyed to Norway in the beginning of the Pentecostal Revival there and received a great blessing and began to speak in tongues at Friedrichstadt. He was a clergyman of the Established Church (Lutheran) of Germany, but resigned his charge in order to be free for itinerating. Pastor Voget was minister of a church of 3,000 members at Bunde. Jonathan Paul was a great holiness preacher and teacher, and was called “the unsurpassed exponent of perfect love.”
Just prior to the Pentecostal Revival his fervent preaching in the industrial district of the Rhur resulted in the conversion of over 2,000 and stirred many believers to renewed consecration. It was among these that the Pentecostal Movement commenced, and the first German Pentecostal Conference was held at Mulheim in 1908. Other important conferences were held at Hamburg, but Mulheim steadily became the headquarters of the Movement in Germany, and by 1910 the Assembly there, under the leadership of Emil Homburg, had attained a membership of 1,100. An official organisation was formed.
There were great manifestations of supernatural power in the beginning of the Pentecostal work in Germany, and some notable miracles are reported to have taken place. By 1912 the country “was honeycombed with Pentecostal missions and assemblies” and thousands had received the baptism of the Spirit, while His supernatural gifts were being manifested in a notable degree.
At this time the Movement was also spreading in Switzerland.
José Placido da Costa and José de Mattos travelled from Brazil to Portugal, in 1913 and 1921 respectively, as Pentecostal missionaries. Swedish missionaries also planted Pentecostalism in Spain in 1923.
Italy has the second largest population of Pentecostals in western Europe after Britain. In 1908, Luigi Francescon sent Giacomo Lombardi to Italy from Chicago. Both the Pentecostal Christian Congregations and the Italian Pentecostal Christian Church trace their origins to Lombardi.
Ivan and Katharina Voronaev pioneered a Russian Pentecostal church in New York. In 1920, heestablished congregations in Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Russia. Voronaev’s church in Odessa (Ukraine) soon had 1,000 members.
The Evangelical Pentecostal Union in had approximately 370,000 members by 2000. By 2000 there were also approximately 400,000 Russian Pentecostals, and 780,000 Ukrainians, the largest number of Pentecostals in any European nation.
In Romania, there are more than 300,000 Pentecostals. The Pentecostal Apostolic Church of God, founded in 1922, is the largest denomination. In 1996, the church became known as the Pentecostal Union.
Pentecostals reach other nations
Pandita Ramabai, is well-known and justly revered among Christians everywhere. Her saintly character, her gifts of administration, the great work done in her home for 2,000 widows and orphans at Mukti, have been appreciated by all. In 1907 there occurred an outstanding Pentecostal outpouring there, both among the Indian girls, and then the missionaries and workers. Her story can be found elsewhere on this site.
The Pentecostal Movement in India was not limited to Mukti. Almost at the same time God was working in Coonoor, Calcutta, Dhond, Allahabad, Gujerat and other places.
Kathleen Miller and Lucy James left for India from Britain under the Pentecostal Missionary Union in 1909, followed by four others a year later, one of whom John Beruldsen, spent 35 years in North China.
Pentecostal phenomena broke out in a missionary convention in Taochow, China in 1912 when William Simpson (1869-1961), a missionary in China and Tibet from 1892-1949, became a Pentecostal. Simpson travelled throughout China, much of the time by foot, assisted in the training of Chinese ministers, and became one of the best-known missionaries in Pentecostalism.
Another well-known pioneer Pentecostal missionary, though not directly connected with Azusa Street, was H. A. Baker (1881-1971), missionary to Tibet and China from 1912-1950 and in Taiwan for 16 years until his death in 1971. He worked among tribal peoples and established an orphanage in Yunnan. He was the grandfather of Rolland Baker who married Heidi Baker, founder of Iris Global.
In 1909 the Pentecostal message was taken from Chicago to Italian communities in Argentina and Brazil by Luigi Francescon, and in 1910 two Swedish immigrants influenced by Durham in Chicago, Gunnar Vingren and Daniel Berg, began what became the Assemblies of God in Brazil, now the largest non-Catholic denomination in Latin America and the largest Assemblies of God in any nation. These were all important figures in the early spread of Pentecostalism.
In the Cote d’Ivoire and the Gold Coast (now Ghana), the Liberian William Wade Harris spearheaded a revival in 1914 quite distinct from the western Pentecostal movement but with many Pentecostal phenomena including healing and speaking in tongues. This revival resulted in 120,000 conversions in a year, the largest influx of Africans to Christianity the continent had ever seen. We may never know whether Harris had any encounter with African American missionaries from Azusa Street working in Liberia, but there were certainly no connections thereafter. Chinese evangelists crisscrossed that vast nation and beyond with a Pentecostal message similar to but distinct from its western counterpart, resulting in many thousands of conversions to Christianity.
A Chinese preacher, Mok Lai Chi, was responsible for the early spread of Pentecostalism in Hong Kong, founded of the Pentecostal Mission in Hong Kong in 1907and started a Pentecostal newspaper there in 1908. His was the first indigenous Chinese Pentecostal church in Asia. He had been a member of the Congregational Church established by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission, but on 8 October 1907, when A.G. and Lillian Garr came to his church to preach the revival message which they had received from the Azusa Street Revival, Mok was baptized by the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
The Christian and Missionary Alliance published in August, 1908, an interesting account of a Pentecostal Revival in connection with their Wuchow Schools. In March, at the time of the opening of these schools, they had two weeks’ marvellous meetings, marked by a time of deep heart-searching before God. The regular order had to be set aside; confession of long-hidden sins, united prayer for pardon, and then great joy in believing were the main features. Often many were praying at the same time, and the meetings continued until after midnight.
When the schools re-opened for the second term of study there was a further step of blessing. At a quiet Saturday night meeting, without any special exhortation or prayer on that line, a number began to speak with other tongues. It was an entirely new experience, both to the Chinese and the foreigners, but they recognised the manifestations that now occurred in their meetings as similar to those they had read about in other parts of the world. These missionaries felt keenly alive to the dangers accompanying outward physical manifestations, and sought earnestly for the gift of “discerning of spirits” in order to guard the work. At the same time they recorded that “we cannot for a moment doubt that a genuine and profound blessing has indeed come to many of our brethren and sisters, both foreign and native, and this was not merely a temporary, joyous ecstasy, but a blessing which has had lasting fruit in the life and has given power and blessing in service such as was never experienced before.”
This outpouring was quite spontaneous and without the intervention of any human leader. The wise attitude of the responsible missionaries was most commendable, and in welcome contrast to the fear and prejudice so often exhibited.
In China, the first independent and largest Pentecostal church, the True Jesus Church, began as early as 1917.
Since the first century, when the early church spread across the Roman world at lightning speed, there has not been such a remarkable expansion of the Christian church throughout the world. This movement which, in 100 years, has grown to 600 million Pentecostals and, comprising about 25% of the universal Christian church, is an amazing phenomenon. It has exceeded all the great revivals before it, in evangelistic zeal, in conversions, in duration, in the mobilisation of believers and the restoration of Biblical Christianity. Furthermore, its worldwide growth continues in almost every nation, even exponentially in Africa and Latin America. May God release the same power that moved these Pentecostal pioneers upon the whole church across the world!
Resources: The writer used a variety of Pentecostal histories to compile this introduction but there were three main sources:
1. Donald Gee, Wind and Fire (formerly The Pentecostal Movement).
2: Allan Anderson, The Origins of Pentecostalism and its Global Spread in the Early Twentieth Century
3. Vinson Synan, The Century of The Holy Spirit