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The Azusa Street Revival
William Joseph Seymour
"Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?" Psalm 85:6
The most significant event to happen to the Christian church in the early part of this century was begun in 1906 at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California.
The Leader of this most important event was a humbly little one-eyed Negro Brother by the name of William Joseph Seymour. Brother Seymour's parents had been slaves, yet it pleased our God to use this Brother to spearhead this great Pentecostal Movement. At a later date, Brother Seymour married Sister Jennie Evans Moore who was said to be the first woman in Los Angeles to speak in tongues. She became a minister at Azusa Street and also an evangelist.
Brother Seymour learned about the deeper experience of the baptism of the Holy Ghost in a Bible School that Charles Parham conducted in Houston, Texas in 1905.
Invited to pastor a Black holiness church in Los Angeles in 1906. This Church was in a small house at 214 Bonnie Brae, a short, humble, dusty street in Los Angeles, California. It was here where a small group of people who were hungry for a greater move of God met to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit with New Testament Pentecostal Power. As the news spread that people were praying for a real move of God, they were joined by other hungry souls till at last they outgrew the home where they were meeting.
After outgrowing the little house at 214 Bonnie Brae, the meetings were moved to a converted livery stable at 312 Azusa Street. Brother Seymour opened the historic meeting in April, 1906 in a former African Methodist Episcopal church building.
The Azusa Street meetings were characterized by supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit with many signs and wonders. Much of the time as these things were taking place, Brother Seymour sat with his head inside an old shoe box praying and seeking God to move in even greater ways.
God certainly did answer Brother Seymour's prayers and before long Sister Jennie Evans Moore began to speak in tongues. It was not long till she was followed by others who was also receiving this blessing.
The name Azusa soon become to many a symbol of New Testament apostolic power and glory.
The area of Azusa, California, as well as Azusa Street in Los Angeles, was named after a little Indian girl who was reported to have had gifts of healing back in the late 1800s.
What happened at Azusa Street has fascinated church historians for decades and continues to be one of the greatest and fasting growing Movements in the world today.
For over three years, the Azusa Street Apostolic Faith mission conducted three services a day, seven days a week, where thousands of seekers received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
News of the revival was spread abroad through The Apostolic Faith, a paper that Brother Seymour sent to some 50,000 subscribers. From Azusa Street The Pentecostal Movement spread rapidly around the world.
The interracial fellowship of those seeking this great move of God was truly amazing in the face of the racism and segregation of the times. It was truly great to see Brothers and Sisters, Blacks and Whites worshipping together under a Black pastor and it surely seemed incredible to many observers. The ethos of the meeting was captured by Frank Bartleman, a White Azusa participant, when he said of Azusa Street, The color line was washed away in the blood. Indeed, people from all the minorities of Los Angeles, a city which Bartleman called the American Jerusalem, were represented at Azusa Street.
William Seymour was and is, I believe, the most influential black leader in American religious history.
People from all over the country came to see what was happening and to receive the baptism with the Holy Ghost. Visiting pastors would return from Azusa Street Mission to their churches and spread the fire.
Brother Seymour always advised the people, "Don't go out of here talking about tongues; talk about Jesus," As for me, I'm glad that we have signs and wonders and manifestations of the Holy Spirit. I praise God for every person that prophesies and speaks with tongues and interprets, every one that heals and gets healed. I thank God that the five-fold ministry is for today and every day, for each pastor, each evangelist, each bishop, each member of His body, I thank God for all these things.
But hear me now end-time church; if you can't put away your schismatic, traditional, separatist, puritan, judgmental, ignorant, Calvinist, illiberal, oppressive, Pharisee, ways toward those Christians who are not saints, God will pass you by even in these last days and choose the ones who can. Please heed my words because I love you and have ears to hear what the spirit is saying to the churches.
Even though it lasted only three years, Azusa Street became a revival of major proportions and many thousands were converted. For Pentecostals, the events of Azusa Street marked the real beginning of the Power of God in the Latter Days.
Brother William J. Seymour, who also founded the Apostolic Faith Mission, John G. Lake and F. F. Bosworth to South Africa to start the Apostolic Faith Mission there.
The tiny mission building on Azusa Street has long since crumbled to the ground, its dusty portals no longer ringing with the shouts of Hallelujah, nevertheless, the great work that begun there is still going even unto this day. Thanks be unto God for a humble Brother like Brother William Joseph Seymour.