The Beginning Story of Azusa Street
A Memoir by Arthur G. Osterberg
Jerry Jansen and Jonathan Perkins recorded an interview of the recollections of Arthur G. Osterberg and his involvement in the Azusa Street revival. The interview was recorded March 17-22, 1966. Following is an abridgement taken from the original typed manuscript.
The Early Years in Chicago Before Azusa Street
My folks, having come from Sweden as young people, joined the Baptist church in Chicago and were members for years. Finally, when my father and mother married, we were in a church in the south part of Chicago and grew up as a family in the Baptist church.
My mother was always a very spiritual woman. She believed in the Bible, not only professing it, but also truly believing it. When different ministers came to Chicago who were a little above average and known as good ministers, Mother would attend their meetings.
When John Alexander Dowie came to Chicago and preached on divine healing, she took folks from the Baptist church to his meetings. Some of them who were sick were prayed for and were healed. I tell you this as an illustration as to what kind of home I was brought up in as a boy.
My mother was taken very ill and our doctor, Dr. Hunt, was a member of the University of Chicago School of Physicians. He got a number of physicians to help him diagnose my mother’s sickness, which he was not sure of himself. When they finished examining my mother, they told my father they did not believe there was any hope for my mother, who had been unconscious for some days. My father went into the bedroom and locked the door and got on his knees. I heard him through the door saying, “You gave her to me. I can’t believe You are taking her from me now. Will You please show me what to do?”
He came out from the bedroom and said he was going to see one of the deacons of the Baptist church by the name of Levi. I had heard Father and Mother speak of him, so I knew who he was. He was a God-fearing, Bible-loving Christian — more than above the average of the men of our church. My father told us afterward that he was the only one he knew who would have any faith in joining him to pray for my mother.
He asked Levi if he would have faith to go lay hands on my mother and anoint her with oil according to James 5:14.
Levi said, “I have never done that before in my life. I know it’s in the Bible, and anything that is in the Bible is a promise. In my heart I believe it, but I am just wondering if I have the faith that is necessary. It says in the Bible that the prayer of faith shall lift him up. So I am wondering about that.”
My father said, “Both of us have to ask God to help us.”
Levi went with my father and they anointed Mother with oil in the name of the Lord. The next day my mother returned to consciousness. She said to my father, “Louie, I want you to get my clothes. I want to get up.” But he had noticed no change in her and was afraid to let her get up.
He said, “Cenna, I doubt whether you should get up.”
She replied, “The Lord has told me to get up. And the Lord has told me, ‘Daughter, if you will be My witness, I shall raise you up and you shall be a witness to My power.’ So God will help me get up.”
My father helped her get out of bed and get her clothes on. He took her by the arm and led her out of the room. They walked back and forth for a few minutes. Then Mother said, “I want to go out. I’ve got to witness at home before I start abroad. I have to tell the neighbors.”
She went to the Lindstrom’s, the neighbors next door. When she [Mrs. Lindstrom] saw my mother at the door, it so astonished her that she closed the door in my mother’s face; she was so dumbfounded. Finally she opened the door again and exclaimed, “What in the world has happened?”
My mother said, “Well, aren’t you going to let me in?” They went in and my mother told her what had happened.
At the next Wednesday evening prayer meeting (in those days they had testimony meetings), my mother testified to her healing. The whole church had known she had been dreadfully ill and had expected any moment to hear she was dying or dead. So they listened. Many of the women who were intimately acquainted with my mother came to her after the meeting and shook hands with her and wanted to know all about what had happened. It created sort of a mild uproar in the church, not only following that meeting, but afterward. My mother had said in her testimony that God is just the same today as He was when Jesus was on earth. She said we could have the faith to believe Him, and that we as Christians ought to have that faith.
That raised a turmoil, especially among the deacons. They felt that wasn’t a wholesome faith to spread around in the church — to divide the church. That was the first thing that happened between the church and my folks. Another incident happened that finally terminated the relationship.
My father was a cabinetmaker. He had learned his trade in Sweden. He was working at a bench in a fashionable church being built in one of the suburbs of Chicago. He was using a 2-inch chisel. In driving the chisel with his right hand, he pushed the chisel into the palm of his left hand, severing the artery to the thumb and the forefinger. He was rushed to a hospital. When they got to the hospital, after getting the bleeding stopped, they filled the open cut with iodine and cotton and said they would tie the broken tendons and the artery the next day.
That night mother and us children sat around until about 8 or 9 p.m. with dinner ready waiting for father to come, but he didn’t come. Finally, the next-door neighbor, Mr. Lindstrom, who was superintendent of the job where Dad was working, arrived home about 9 at night. He came upstairs to where we were living and told mother what had happened.
She immediately wanted to rush to the hospital, but he detained her saying that she wouldn’t be allowed to go until the next morning. So she waited until the next morning. As soon as she thought she would be allowed to enter, she went to my father and told him: “The Lord has told me He is in all of this, and that He will heal your hand. Have you got faith for it?”
Father said, “Mother, I don’t think I have, but if you have, maybe God will hear us.”
When the doctors came to take him to surgery, my mother was sitting beside him on the bed. She spoke up for him, as she often did when it came to matters of faith and godliness, for my father was a man of slow speech. She said, “My husband is going to be leaving the hospital with me this morning. He is not going into surgery.”
They said, “Do you understand what has happened to your husband?”
“Yes,” she said, “he has told me.”
“What are you going to do about that?” they said.
“I am going to take my husband home, and we are going to trust God,” my mother replied.
“Oh, nonsense,” the doctors said. “You have to listen to common sense. This is no time to begin trusting anything but some remedial surgery.”
So she wrested and argued with them — and won out, as usual. She and my father left the hospital and went home in the car. When she got home, she went to a telephone and called Dr. William Gentry whom she had heard about as a man who believed in divine healing. After reaching him, she told him what had occurred and asked him if he would come and pray for my father.
She told my father Dr. Gentry was on his way. My father said, “Well, he has faith and you have faith, and the Bible says ‘where two are agreed as touching any one thing, we may ask what we will.’ My shortcoming in faith will not stop God from healing me.”
Mother said, “Can’t you believe God now?”
He replied, “I’ll do the best I can.”
My brother and I were out playing in the street with some of the neighborhood boys when we saw a dignified looking gentlemen walking down the street with a colored man. We lived in Inglewood in South Chicago. We never saw the colored people in that part of the city, so this white man and the black man walking together attracted our attention. They were looking at the addresses on the houses. When they got to our home and saw the address, they turned into our home. When they went in, the other boys turned to my brother and me and said, “What are they going to do there?”
“We don’t know,” we replied. But we followed them in.
There was a curtain between the front room and the dining room of our home. My brother and I stayed in the dining room and peeked from behind the curtain watching what was happening in the front room with Dr. Gentry and this colored brother whose name was Isaac Seymour (not the Azusa Street Seymour). We called him “Chicago Seymour.”
Brother Gentry was unwrapping my father’s hand. As he came to the last wrapping, he took some forceps out of his vest pocket and pulled the iodine and cotton from the cut, which the doctors had placed there. When he did, blood squirted out of the wound and marked our wallpaper and the curtain behind which we were hiding.
Dr. Gentry lifted one hand and said, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I command this blood to stop flowing.” As far as we could see from where we were standing, the blood stopped flowing.
Then Dr. Gentry called my mother and told her to get a basin of hot water and some clean linens that had been boiled. He washed and cleansed the hand and tied it up again.
During this whole process, Mr. Seymour was standing behind Brother Gentry. When Dr. Gentry started to pray, Mr. Seymour stepped forward and laid his hands on my father, and was praying in unison with Dr. Gentry.
Dr. Gentry later asked God to keep any contagion from entering the wound, that no blood poisoning would remain. They stayed for a few minutes, had a few words with my mother, and left.
After they left, my father seemed to forget what had happened. He said, “Mother, do you realize what this means? I believe that God is going to do what these doctors said and is going to heal my hand. Do you realize what this is going to mean? It is going to mean good-bye church. I’m not going to go into anymore fussing with those folks. I am going to tender my resignation as the treasurer of the church and from the building committee.”
Mother replied, “That is exactly what it means.”
The next Sunday we were in Dr. Gentry’s mission, where there were a great number of people present for healing. Dr. Gentry, after speaking as a doctor and preacher at the same time, went into the pathological terms that had to do with the sicknesses of these people and what had caused their diseases. He did this so they would know what their affliction was. He told them, “If you can’t have faith for yourself, you can believe God. You have faith God can do anything, haven’t you?” They agreed they did.
“Then believe God — believe He is able to do anything. God will recognize that much faith. Stand with me now,” Dr. Gentry said. Then he prayed, and he rebuked the evil spirits if, indeed, the sickness was caused by evil spirits.
Among that group was a lady who was pushing a buggy with a boy in it who looked to be 6 to 10 years old. He had elephantiasis — he had a head as big as a pumpkin. Dr. Gentry prayed for him. I want to tell you we could see the reaction. The head decreased in size. I wouldn’t say it became entirely normal right then, but we saw it decrease while Dr. Gentry was praying.
The sight of that mother’s joy made such a deep impression upon my boyish heart watching that miracle happen, that I went out of that meeting believing firmly in divine healing, which no sermon could have so impressed on me. It did something to me in my heart, and I presume to the rest of the family as well.
On to California
These experiences put us into the full gospel work. We left the Baptist church and went to Dr. Gentry’s mission as long as we were in Chicago. From Chicago, we moved to Michigan because my parents thought the public schools in Chicago were too worldly.
In Michigan, my mother met a Presbyterian lady in Elisha Hoffman’s (the great song writer who wrote many gospel hymns that have followed us on into Pentecost) church. They agreed to become interested in a cottage prayer meeting. A lady by the name of Mrs. Ruth went to her pastor and asked if they could start a revival meeting in Elisha Hoffman’s church, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The pastor conceded to it and called for Dr. William Gentry from Chicago to come hold a revival meeting of what was the beginning of a full gospel work in that part of the country. The outgrowth of that meeting is now a full gospel General Council Assembly in Benton Harbor.
From Benton Harbor we moved to California. Before we moved, Dr. Gentry told us that in Los Angeles there was a godly minister by the name of William R. Manly whom he knew personally. He recommended we find and attend his meetings. Finding where William R. Manly lived was one of the first things my folks did when they arrived in Los Angeles. After about of week of searching, we located him and found him holding a revival meeting on Fourth Street between Spring and Broadway, on the second floor in a holiness hall. Now this all took place before Azusa Street.
Mr. Manly was emphasizing a doctrine we had never heard before. It was taken from the Book of Ephesians and related to the household of God. He said in his sermon that all Christians should be members of one family and fellowship. They should be known as the household of God.
Strangely, this is what the Azusa Street doctrine was in the beginning, although I don’t suppose any of the folks from Azusa Street were in that meeting at that time. Later when we got to Azusa Street, we found Brother Seymour talking from First John, the first chapter, about the fellowship of God’s people.
It was a number of years — I don’t remember how long — before the days of Azusa Street were to come. But we continued to attend Manly’s meetings. He was strong on another area. He said that in every home there should be family prayer. Parents should gather their children together at least once a day and have prayer. He also said in most cases God will help if people will start a cottage prayer meeting and invite their neighbors in once a week.
When we came home from the meeting, I heard my parents conversing between themselves saying, “That’s exactly what we are going to do — we are going to start having prayer meetings.”
At the time we were living at 64th and Hoover Street, which was a new territory opened up for building. Approximately 40 or 50 new residences had been built and occupied.
The next morning my mother put on some clothes fit for the occasion. She started to go to all the neighbors in the territory where we lived and tell them that we were starting a cottage prayer meeting. She invited them to attend. Among them was a doctor who lived a block away. He came to the first cottage prayer meeting, and the first question he asked when he came in was, “Who is your leader?”
My mother said, “The Lord is our leader.”
He said, “Well, of course. This is going to be a religious meeting. The Lord is the leader, but who otherwise is your leader?”
My mother said, “The Lord will take care of that.”
So my mother, for the first time, opened up her Bible and read verses of Scripture, gave a little word of testimony, then turned to me and said, “Now, Arthur, it is your turn to testify.”
Now I had been a leader in the young people’s group back in Michigan, but I had never led in an open meeting like that. So I testified and the rest of the family followed. Then my mother spoke a little bit after which we dismissed the meeting and shook hands with the people who were there.
That started the cottage prayer meetings that lasted for a few months until our home was too small for the numbers who came. We then bought a tent, and my father erected it on the corner of 68th and Denver Avenue.
By this time I had been delegated by my mother to become the leader of the prayer meeting in our cottage and to take the leadership in the tent meeting. I didn’t know how to preach. But I had in my library one of D.L. Moody’s booklets from Chicago Bible Institute. I went through the book and found a sermon of Moody’s. I had memorized as much of that sermon as I possibly could, and that was my first sermon in the tent.
Most of the folks who had been attending our cottage prayer meeting were there that Sunday morning. It seemed like we got by, but I was so whipped and frustrated in trying to remember how to preach Moody’s sermon that I wanted to dodge out of that tent as quick as I could. But everybody seemed to want to stop me on the way out. They commended me and said some nice things. I took heart and thought maybe it was better than I thought it was.
That is how I became a preacher. That was the school, the theological seminary, I attended to become a minister.
From the tent meetings, we built a tabernacle and called it The Full Gospel Assembly. I became pastor. I had to learn something about how to organize a church. By this time I had learned how to have an election, and they elected me as the pastor of The Full Gospel Assembly. That is where I was when the meetings in Bonnie Brae opened up — the pastor of that church.
The people in The Full Gospel Assembly were all from different churches. When I would talk about divine healing, there were some who looked dumbfounded — it was something outside of their knowledge. But some of them believed. Brothers Worthington, Weaver, and Dodge believed and accepted it. They became my deacons. These three deacons were the first men who went with me to the Bonnie Brae Street prayer meetings.
There is quite a story attached to the prayer meetings that took place prior to Azusa Street. Those who attended the prayer meeting were the nucleus of the group who went into Azusa Street. Half of the people who were in those Bonnie Brae prayer meetings were colored people. I came into it in the first week. How our family got into that prayer meeting is quite an interesting story.
Those responsible for the Bonnie Brae prayer meeting were a group who had been put out of a colored Baptist church because of a colored lady who held a revival in that church and started to preach holiness. Folks began to come to the altar to get sanctified, as a definite second work of grace. It raised quite an insurrection in that church. The group that believed in it and followed the evangelist were put out of the church. They rented a place on Santa Fe Avenue.
During that time, a lady in Los Angeles who had been in a Pentecostal revival down in Houston, Texas, where they were speaking in tongues, came into that little meeting on Santa Fe Avenue and told them what had happened down in Houston. It started a revival among this group, and they began to receive the Baptism. This Santa Fe group began seeking the Baptism and got a regular revival going. But the lady who had held the revival in the Baptist church did not believe in speaking in tongues. One day the congregation came to the meeting and found the door locked. The lady evangelist had locked it.
A colored brother who owned a cottage on Bonnie Brae suggested they go to his home and have a prayer meeting. So they had a prayer meeting that night in his home. At the close of it, they decided to continue the prayer meetings until they could find another place. The result was the Bonnie Brae meetings took fire almost overnight. The neighborhood heard them speaking in tongues through the open windows, and they would get out on the porches and spread all over the neighborhood news of what was happening in the meetings. In the meantime, the colored people spread the word among their friends, white and black, that they had a prayer meeting where the Lord was blessing, and invited everyone into the prayer meeting.
Some of the leading brethren of the group that had been put out of the colored Baptist church acted as leaders, although they were not called leaders or elected as leaders. But they were prominent and took it upon themselves as lay members to take the lead in the meetings at Bonnie Brae Street. Then as the folks received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, they would testify and add to the leadership in that way.
My mother had gone down to the Crocker Street hospital to pray for a young man who had broken his leg in an accident. She was beside his bed praying for him when a colored lady who had also been in the hospital praying for another boy came walking down the hall. She heard my mother praying, and she knelt down and prayed with her in one accord. When she got up, she introduced herself, told my mother about the prayer meetings on Bonnie Brae Street, and invited Mother to attend. That night at the supper table my mother told of her experience in the Crocker Street hospital and told my father she would like to go to that prayer meeting that night.
“Oh, you are always wanting to go to some meeting,” Dad said. “And I suppose you want me to go. I’m too tired to go.”
“That’s all right, Daddy,” Mother said. “I don’t expect you go to. I’ll go.”
That was Monday night. Tuesday night at the supper table she reported, “It was the most wonderful meeting in that home last night!” She told all about the meeting, and then she turned to me as the pastor of the church and said, “I would like to have just a minute in the testimony meeting to tell what happened in that prayer meeting.”
I started asking a lot of questions. She could tell I wasn’t entirely sympathetic. So she asked, “Arthur, are you afraid of your own mother?”
I said, “No, Mother, I’m not afraid of you, but I’m a little suspicious about that prayer meeting, and I don’t know about announcing it publicly until I learn a little more about it myself.” I was afraid the people might get too interested before I had a chance to discover what sort of meeting it was. Here in Los Angeles, down through the years, we had found there were a good many strange things taking place. I first wanted to inquire round and see who these people were.
We were full gospel people and were pretty nearly like Pentecostals except we had never believed in tongues. God was all through with that, we thought. Mother got up and talked about that meeting, and instead of using 1 minute, she used 10. By the time she got through talking, she had our whole congregation excited. They came to me after my mother had announced the meeting and said, “Brother Arthur, we have made up our minds. We are going to that meeting.”
Three of my deacons — Brothers Worthington, Weaver, and Dodge — became so fascinated by what my mother had said that they came to me after the meeting and said they were going to the Bonnie Brae meeting as soon as they could. I couldn’t do anything else but invite them to ride with me in my automobile and go to the meeting. My mother and a lot of the other folks went also.
We all crawled into my one-seat car. When we got to Bonnie Brae Street and heard their singing a block away, Brother Weaver said, “Well, they’re singing just like we do.” When we got up to the front porch and saw the crowd and the whole front porch crowded, we pushed our way up toward the front windows so we could look in. We saw a number of colored folks.
Now my mother hadn’t mentioned the colored people. There again I almost met my Waterloo. I thought, What in the world have we gotten into now?
This was an entirely strange thing to me. I had never been in a meeting of colored people. I had a little difficulty for a while until I began to hear some of these colored people testify. I couldn’t help but say these colored people are godly people just like the white people. The white people testified along with the colored folks, but the entire trend of the meeting was a hunger for more of God. Their spiritual hunger and thirst after righteousness was predominant to the point that it impressed me. I couldn’t recognize any difference as far as their spirituality was concerned. When the colored people sang and spoke, they were so spiritual.
I’ll tell you this one thing about the colored people at Bonnie Brae and later at Azusa Street — they were colored people who were cultured. They were the upper class, it seemed to me. They were very refined and particularly humble. Perhaps the humility came from seeking for the Baptism.
When the prayer meeting started and they got down to praying, I noticed the people praying with such earnestness that tears were running down their faces. I concluded that more than anything else these people were so sincerely honest in their pleas that God would satisfy their hungry hearts. I could only compare what I heard in that meeting with our own meetings in the full gospel church. I said to myself, I haven’t heard people pray like that, even in my own church, for months and months. I could discern that there was a difference between my church and this little group on Bonnie Brae Street.
When they started to pray, I noticed that they would shake and tremble as they prayed. That was the first demonstrable thing that was a little bit unusual. Even in that first meeting I attended, I saw a colored lady breaking out and speaking in a language I was not acquainted with. In some ways it seemed like a language, and in other ways it did not. I could not quite analyze what it was. Being of an analytical nature, I tried to analyze what her praying consisted of. I could sense it was sort of a prayer.
Then I remembered that in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, he mentioned speaking in tongues. Then I began to connect the two. After that first lady expressed herself in tongues, there was another colored lady who rose to her feet, walked across the room, and went over to the piano and started to play on that piano. Then all at once she broke out in singing in a language that I could not understand. I recognized it was similar to the other colored lady who prayed in tongues and discerned that she must be singing in tongues.
When she started singing in tongues and accompanying herself on the piano, it all was so harmonious and beautiful. I became tremendously interested in this phenomenon. I noticed those down on their knees praying, and then two or three others began to speak in tongues. That was my first introduction into Pentecost to what we later became so commonly used to.
In this matter of speaking in tongues, there was nobody praying for those who were speaking out. There were no laying hands on them or anyone trying to urge them on to something. It was simply God opening the windows of heaven and pouring down upon them the blessing that they themselves could not contain. It was an outburst — an outflow of the Spirit of God that was taking possession of them from the soles of their feet to the tops of their heads, until they became temples of the Holy Spirit. That is the best way I can express myself.
When they arose to their feet, their faces shone like angels. In my boyish heart I said, “Just look at those glorious faces.” There was a glory that did something in me to help me become rejuvenated into a spiritual state that had become more or less foreign to me, even though I was a full gospel preacher.
The meeting that night on Bonnie Brae convinced me, not so much because of the tongues and the pattern of the meeting, but because I could sense they were spiritual people and there was no nonsense going on. I couldn’t quite understand the “tongues” and felt understandably concerned.
Coming To Terms With Tongues
That night driving home I thought, What am I going to do if this thing takes hold of the folks in the Spirit; what are you going to do about your church? I realized I could revolutionize our whole theory. We believed in a second definite work of grace, but now I could see we didn’t have the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
I determined to go to my Bible and find out for myself. I started in the Gospels and turned one page after another, paying particular attention to the things that Jesus had said regarding what I termed “Christianity.” This brought me to the Book of Acts. I read through the book that night before I went to bed. It was toward morning when I finished.
I spent the rest of my evenings that week studying my Bible, particularly the New Testament, and going through the concordance for anything pertaining to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I became convinced, aside from the Bonnie Brae meetings that our theology was on the wrong side of the second work of grace. I began to go over all of the sermons I had been preaching on the second work of grace. I made up my mind that I would have to find it in the Bible. For two nights, with the concordance and the Bible, I looked through the New Testament on every passage I could think of. I couldn’t find anything about a second work. I couldn’t find any experience related in the New Testament where a group went and sought sanctification as a second definite work of grace.
Then I wondered what I would do about the church. I decided, there was only one thing to do and that was to face the issue foursquare and not cut any corners, and then leave it to God and the people. If the folks didn’t want to accept it, they could say goodbye. I decided to make a wholehearted, complete confession about the fact I had been wrong theologically. I decided to tell them that I had been going through my Bible and that in the future we would have some Bible studies on the Book of Acts as to what I found. I would tell them I could not see that we had the baptism in the Holy Spirit as the Bible points out.
I would tell them that I had been wrong and as far as I am concerned, I am a candidate for the baptism in the Holy Ghost, regardless of the folks on Bonnie Brae Street. I felt I must have something more, for I had to be sure of my grounds. I became convinced that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was connected with tongues.
When first I sought for my Baptism, the first several times at the altar I could do nothing but kneel and cry. I had to tarry for 2 weeks. Brother Durham came from Chicago and prayed beside me. He came through to the Baptism before I did. I knelt down one time beside him and said, “Brother Durham, pray for me.”
He said, “You old backsliding preacher! You have been backslidden for years just like I was, and I didn’t know it either.”
That’s the answer I got from Brother Durham. Afterward he asked my forgiveness for talking to me like that. But he said, “You know what I mean!”
Yes, I knew what he meant! That was part of the altar experience we went through — an altar that was originally furnished us by a Roman Catholic.
From Bonnie Brae To Azusa Street
I went back to Bonnie Brae several times in the next couple of weeks. Then one night when I was not there, but my mother was, they announced they had found an old Methodist church on a little street east of the city hall, called Azusa Street. The building was occupied by a contractor with a lot of building materials. They had learned that he would surrender his occupancy and that we could clean up the place. So they announced, “Tomorrow night we are going to help that contractor put his stuff on trucks and move it out. We are going to get that lower floor ready for meetings.”
My mother asked if I could help them. I said, “Yes, I can help, but just one person going there won’t be much help.” I was the paymaster and building superintendent for the J.B. McNeil construction company (the building at Sixth and Main Street, next to the Huntington Building), besides pastoring my church. The building next to the Huntington Building, the gas building, was being constructed. I talked to some of the men during the day and asked them if they wanted some overtime. They were always asking for that. Three men went with me down to Azusa Street.
When I got the three men to Azusa Street, some colored ladies were already there working. The first thing they wanted to do when they got those three men there was to have a prayer meeting.
One of the colored women got to talking to one of my workmen and found out he was Catholic, but his mother was Protestant. She said, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself! You ought to kneel down right now and ask God to forgive you for ever doing a thing like that, and then go home and tell your mother what happened to you.”
That colored woman stuck to him while the other two men and I were working. She had this one man off in a corner talking Bible to him. He was trying to get out of it and got to acting and talking a little bit smart to her to make her leave him along. She said, “Now don’t you start to giving me that kind of language. I want you to listen to me because you are going to have to give an account to God Almighty on the Day of Judgment for what you say. So don’t you say one thing that you are going to have to give an account for in the Judgment.”
Finally, we noticed he was in one corner with that woman, and he had pulled out his handkerchief and was wiping his eyes. Whatever she had said to him we didn’t know. But the next thing we knew she had him down on his knees. I think he was the first convert at the Azusa Street Mission, even before we even opened it — and he was a Roman Catholic.
During the cleaning process, I noticed that some colored brethren had built an altar that was flimsy. When I looked at it and shook it a bit, I said to myself, Well, that won’t do for anybody to kneel at. It’s too flimsy. I went to Brother Warren and told him I was afraid of the altar — afraid it wouldn’t hold up. I said, “If you will let me, I’ll get some lumber and build an altar that will stand up.”
I went to Mr. McNeil and told him I would like some of the 2- by 16-inch pieces of wood that were over in a pile. If there were not enough for the job, I would replace them. He asked what I wanted with the big heavy timbers. I said, “I am interested in a colored mission this side of First Street. They are kind of poor folks, and they need to build an altar. I feel like I should do that for them.” He told me to go ahead and take whatever I needed.
I got a friend who had a truck with a long express body, and we got a number of the timbers and took them down to Azusa Street. Some of the men I had been working with helped me build the altar. Later, I got the bill from the lumber company for the cost of the timber so that I could pay Mr. McNeil. When I went to pay him, he asked what I had done with the timber. I told him the story all over again. He said, “Well, it would be a poor former Roman Catholic priest (he had studied for the priesthood in Nova Scotia) if he couldn’t do that much for some colored religious folks.” He wouldn’t let me pay for the timber. So I put the money back in my pocket, and every time I knelt down I would say, “Well, here I am at a Roman Catholic altar.” I didn’t dare tell the rest of the folks how I got the lumber. If they had found out it came from a Roman Catholic, I don’t know whether they would have wanted to kneel down on it or not. But to me that is part of God’s program for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street.
After awhile Catholics began to come into Azusa by the scores and scores. Catholics were sometimes the quickest to get their Baptism, even before we knew they had been converted. They would sit in the meetings and concede in their hearts to what they had heard, and undoubtedly their hearts were changed. But we were too prejudiced to see that. We kept asking them when they got converted, and they would reply, “Converted? What do you mean?” We would even hold up the program until we could see that God was doing something that we didn’t recognize.
One day I was kneeling beside a Roman Catholic who was receiving the Baptism. I knew he had never been converted because when he knelt down, he was crossing himself. He was still a Roman Catholic. But there he was, seeking the Baptism. I couldn’t understand it. My theology was the best in its field, yet God was working with him.
Often I would look over at the Catholics and find tears running down their faces. Yet, I hadn’t gotten to the place where God was reaching me like He was reaching them. This lesson has followed my ministry down through the years, and is still a part of my Pentecostal testimony.
It was my conviction that this outpouring was going to cover the whole earth, and it had already started. A lot of Catholics came into Azusa Street and got the Baptism. Hundreds of them got the Baptism. Many of them were Spanish or Mexican Catholics.
So in the beginning the Catholics got into Azusa Street through the Spanish people, but finally it spread out to others. Irish Lee, being a former Roman Catholic, brought in other Catholics, too. So the Catholics became quite prominent. It seemed like this thing spread over toward Riverside and Pomona and around where those folks lived. My mother and Mrs. Valdez went over and held meetings near Riverside.
The brother to the editor of the Times newspaper, Henry Car, finally took to it after awhile. But a brother who is not connected directly with the Times had a big orange grove in Riverside. He got into one of the meetings, and he fell right into it and became interested. When he became interested, a lot of white people came into the meetings, and that brought a lot of folks into Azusa Street. They were Catholics, all of them.
I saw my first miracle the first week Azusa Street opened. I went down with the family, and we just had a few chairs by that time, up toward the front. Then the rest were boards laid on nail kegs and boxes. But we got there early in the morning, and we got up in front where the chairs were. We filled up about half of a row. We got in there, and a Spanish family came in and filled the rest of the row. From the very beginning we had prayer in the services for almost everything.
I noticed every time somebody requested prayer for healing Brother Seymour said, “Let us stand and ask the Lord about this matter. Let’s stand and pray.”
This Spanish brother always crossed himself, and I figured he was Catholic. So when we got down to the prayer service, people would get down on their knees. He got down with the rest of the folks and watched what everyone else did. He was kneeling next to me, and I saw him cross himself before he prayed. Then he got up.
We had a great deal of singing. Someone would start a song or chorus and everyone else would take it up. We had what we called “congregational heavenly chorus.” After this song, choruses broke out. Folks would be singing in tongues and some in English. The harmony was wonderful. Once in a while a soprano voice would sort of leap out. You’d hear it above the whole congregation, and then it would be mingled with other voices. It was all in beautiful harmony.
During that time some of the greatest altar services we had at Azusa Street would take place — during this outburst of singing in the “heavenly chorus.” Then it would just stop like that, and folks would start praising the Lord, many speaking in an undertone in tongues, some clapping their hands, praising the Lord. Some would walk up and down the aisles praising the Lord.
In the process of all of this, a man who had come in walking haltingly with a clubfoot, got up and went into the aisle. He was clapping his hands and his face was uplifted. His wife looked at him, and pretty soon she followed him. They walked toward the back then back toward the front. By this time they were walking arm in arm, and he was clapping his hands with his face uplifted. This must have taken place for 4 or 5 minutes, then it would quiet down. Then he came down with his wife. I noticed when he came up the aisle that he wasn’t stumbling like he was when he walked into the meeting. I knew something had happened to his foot since he was no longer stumbling.
Afterward I took him by the hand and shook it. I wanted him to know that I was friendly to him.
After the meeting and altar call was over, I said to him, “Your foot — did something happen to your foot?”
For the first time he noticed — he stood there moving it and then started to walk. Then he started to shout, “Hallelujah!”
Then I said, “The Lord has healed your foot.”
He didn’t understand English. The Spanish folks had explained to him all about the Baptism. Afterward he came to the altar. The first time he knelt down at the altar, he got the Baptism. Here I had been a preacher for years, and I was still seeking. I went to him afterward and asked, “When did you get converted?”
He couldn’t understand English. So I got a brother who could speak both languages to ask this Mexican man when he got converted. He asked him, and he told Brother Reasoner, “I don’t know. All I know is the Lord done jump into my heart.”
I guess that is what happened to the other Catholics. Many of them would come in for the first time. Mr. Seymour used to say nobody was converted unless they repented. Brother Seymour often said that no man stands between us and God because of the Catholics in the meetings — how they found out they had to kneel down and repent. Many of them actually did that, but not all of them.
Inside the Mission
We had meetings every night at the Azusa Street Mission. The attendance would double every night. By the end of the week, the place would be packed full. I don’t remember when all the benches were removed and replaced with chairs. The size of the room compared to other auditoriums was exaggerated when you come to tell about the crowds. People would stand two and three deep around the walls. When the place was full on Sunday morning, there would be 750 to 800 people inside. On the outside for several months, windows were taken out, and people stood on the outside all around the building — another 400 or 500 people. There would be a crowd all day long on Sunday beginning at 7 a.m. I’m estimating that there would be 1,500 people there all day.
The prayer services inside the mission were generally short. The congregation would pray for whatever would come before them. Then somebody would start a chorus and off we would go. We would be down on our knees six or eight times in the course of a Sunday morning service, praying for some special request. Then we would get up again. There was no minute wasted. It was alive. There was activity — something going on all the time. This is what attracted the people.
Very few people would speak loudly in tongues. It was mostly individual undertones. Seymour taught from the very beginning, “Let him who speaketh in tongues pray that he may interpret.” That had a restricting influence upon the many women who wanted to get up and talk in tongues in every Pentecostal meeting. He [Seymour] didn’t have that. I think there were more men who talked in tongues than women. Seymour scared the women, unless they interpreted.
There was very little of the interpreter speaking in the place of God in the first person. They didn’t do that — except strangers.
“My little children, I speak unto you and say...” as though they were speaking for God — he [Seymour] stopped that. If they referred to God in interpretation, they said in testimony that the Lord had spoken “to me and told me what I should do.” But they didn’t attempt to speak to the congregation as an oracle and tell the congregation what they should do.
Brother Seymour was a former holiness preacher who believed in sanctification of the believer as a second work of grace. At first, in going to Houston, Texas, that is what he believed. In that meeting in Houston, Brother Seymour found it to be a Holy Spirit outpouring in which they believed much like the full gospel people had been believing, and many of them believed in holiness as a second definite work of grace. But the thing that is very noticeable among them was that in emphasizing the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the Baptism, they spoke in tongues.
When Seymour came to Los Angeles, he came saying that he had been in this meeting and he believed it was of God, that he himself had not received this experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues. So when he first came to Azusa Street [Bonnie Brae, ed.] the first thing he did was to seek for the Baptism himself, along with the other seekers. As I remember, he was in about three meetings and was at the altar seeking for the Baptism when he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
The First Missionaries
The missionary movement started at the beginning of Azusa Street. Inside of a week there were missionaries going out from Azusa Street. By this time the building was full. The first missionary I know of was a Scandinavian brother by the name of Johnson. He said, “The Lord has called me as a missionary.”
In his conversation, he told me he was going to go to Chicago. He had already met Brother Durham here in Los Angeles, and he knew that he was sympathetic to the outpouring of the Spirit. He was going to stop in Chicago. Afterward, he was going on to a mission in New York, where he thought he could tell them about what had happened at Azusa Street. He was going next to Stockholm, and from there he was going to go all over as the Lord led him.
Later, we found out that he went from Stockholm back into Norway. That first big Norwegian Pentecostal minister, Brother Barratt, came into one of his meetings and asked him a lot of questions. As I remember it, before Brother Barratt received his own Baptism, he had announced publicly that he believed it was in God’s Word, and that the outpouring they were hearing about in Los Angeles appeared to be of God. From that point on Brother Barratt grew until he became one of the big leaders in Norway.
Brother Garr, whom I was very closely associated with, had a mission on 15th Street just off Broadway for the “Burning Bush” people. He was pastor of that group when he got to Azusa Street. Brother Garr got up in a Sunday morning service and said he wanted to announce the Lord had called him to be a missionary, and the sooner he could go, the better.
Brother Seymour said, “Well, it can be very soon.” He stopped Brother Garr and told him to hold back the rest of his testimony until they could take an offering.
“We need some money also for Brother Johnson and his family, whose call is to go back east, and then he is going to Stockholm, Sweden, and to Norway. So come and lay your offering down here on the altar.”
They laid out several open Bibles on the altar and the people just got up and walked down the aisles and practically covered that altar with money. My father was a trustee. Later he told us that missionary offering, the first one our members had ever taken, was $7,000.
Brother Seymour gathered up the money in the bag, and some colored brothers went to the little cottage in the back along with some sisters and counted the money.
Brother Seymour was the self-appointed treasurer. He was sort of a potentate, yet they called him a humble and a meek man. But when it came to some things, he was boss. He just handed out the money, and that night $7,000 was gone.
Brother Garr got his share and went off to India and Ramabi’s work. There he told the story of the outpouring of the Spirit at Azusa Street. Ramabi called the girls in the school up to the altar. We got a letter back from him that at the very first meeting he had a revival in Ramabi’s work.
There was also a family that went to China and had the idea that the Lord would speak through them in Chinese without ever having learned the language. They wrote back in a little while that they were helpless — that the only way they could speak was through interpreters. They were right to speak through interpreters — to use the best means God provided for them. They stayed for a year or two and then came back.
There were so many folks every Sunday morning for months who would say the Lord had called them, and Seymour took it for granted. All they had to do was to say the Lord had called them. If they had been active in Azusa and shown they were honest God-fearing people, he would help them and off they went.
Sister Lum wasn’t the first editor of The Apostolic Faith — although she was the main one. There was the appointment of another lady, but she didn’t stay very long. The work was too arduous and too confining. It was a 24-hour job for anyone. Sister Lum took it over and she ran the paper just like a machine. There were reports in it about what was happening all over the world.
Parham Comes To Azusa Street
There was also a time a fellow [Parham, ed.] from Wichita, Kansas, [Topeka, Kansas, ed.], the place where they first spoke in tongues, came with a group and said that the Lord had sent him to take over Azusa Street. He told us that God had told him to help us in Azusa Street because he had learned that it was not strongly organized. He said there was something in the air. He was smart enough to see that. But we could see something in his attitude — as though he was above us — and we had enough carnality to resent that. We didn’t fight or fuss with him. We just let him alone and let him go. He soon saw that we were not paying any attention to him and that his claims were not heeded or welcome. Seymour never opposed him or spoke against him. Parham could sense he was not being accepted, and his group went back to Wichita [Topeka, ed.] with him, and that was the last we ever heard of him.
Irish Lee was converted in the Union Rescue Mission on Main Street where William Trotter was the leader. After he was converted at Union Rescue Mission, it was only a few days until he heard about Azusa Street, and down he came. Right in the middle of a service, I remember him coming in, walking down the aisle, and kneeling down at the altar. He was a big, husky Irishman. He was a rough and ready fellow — an Irishman from his heels on up.
He had worked in an insane asylum where he helped to keep order. All the rascals they couldn’t do anything with, they called on Irish, and Irish took care of them.
In Chicago one time I remember we were in a street meeting. The crowd was blocking the street, and the policeman said we would have to get out of the street. But we had a permit to hold the street meeting.
The brother who had the permit got stubborn, and he said, “Well, we are not getting off the street.”
The policeman grabbed him by the collar and said, “So you say you are not going off of the street.”
With that Irish Lee grabbed hold of the collar of the policeman, swung him around, and had him on the ground before the policeman knew what had happened. That was the kind of man Irish Lee was.
When he got the Baptism it worked the same way. He would get hold of a preacher and ask, “How you coming? You seeking for the Baptism?”
The preacher might reply, “Oh, not just now.”
Irish Lee never took that for an answer. He would say, “Come on. You’re coming now.” And down to the altar he would go with him. He’d pray for that preacher and pretty soon that preacher would really begin to pray and get humble. The tears running down his face, the first thing you know, he had his Baptism.
I don’t know how many folks Irish Lee helped through to the Baptism by those kinds of methods. I never saw anybody who with his kinds of methods could help people, but he sure did. He was in churches and missions everywhere. No matter where it was or who the people were he would talk about Azusa Street.
“This is what you people need,” he would declare. Then he would say something in his Irish way that would win them over.
Durham Comes To Azusa Streeet
We knew William Durham in Chicago and in Michigan. My folks had started a little work in Benton Harbor, Michigan — at first in cottages. It’s now a General Council Assembly, but then it was just a little mission. We used to invite Brother Durham two or three times a year to hold meetings. Then we moved to California, and as soon as this work got started we wrote to him.
At first the only answer he gave to our letters was to just ask questions. We answered as best we knew how. We couldn’t tell then whether he accepted or rejected it. But finally he began to loosen up and express himself, and we could tell he was at least partially convinced.
Then one Sunday night — it always seemed it was Sunday night about midnight that many important things happened in our home — we came home after service and the first thing mother did was put the coffee pot on and fix a lunch. We were in the habit of sitting all day long in Azusa Street without having anything to eat. It was about 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning, and my mother, who was the spiritual leader in our home (my father was always amenable to spiritual things and always let her have her way about everything spiritual), spoke up and said to my father, “Father, I feel led to send for Brother Durham.”
My father was a slow-speaking man. He hung his head and said, “Well, it will take $100 to get Durham here.”
“Well,” Mother said, “I’ve got $25.”
Dad asked where she got $25, and she said, “Oh, that’s some of the Lord’s pin money I’ve been saving up.”
I spoke up and said, “Well, I have $25. If you need it, I’ll put in $50.”
Bud (my brother) spoke up and said, “Well, I haven’t that much, but I have $25.”
“Well, that doesn’t leave much for me,” Dad remarked. “I’ll take whatever else is required.”
We were living at 68th and Hoover at the time. So my mother said, “Well, I think the quicker we send for him, the better. I feel an urge to send for him.”
I said I was ready to go now, but my father objected because it was after midnight. I said the telegraph station is open all night, and I could hop on my bike and ride to the telegraph station at 6th and Spring.
We didn’t know if we had the ready cash in the home so that we could send the money right then. I said I didn’t have $50, but I had $25. My father said he thought he had enough to make up the difference. He put in the rest of the cash and off I went. I bought a money order and sent the telegram to Durham saying, “Here is the fare to come to Los Angeles. We feel led of the Lord for you to come.”
In two days we had a telegram back from Durham saying, “I will be in L.A. on Friday afternoon. The train arrives in the morning, and allowing for losses of time en route, I’ll be there by Friday night.” I met the train Friday morning. It was on time, and he was on it.
We got in the car and rode down First Street and got off at San Pedro Street. I got off the car first. I walked toward the curb and Durham started to follow me. About halfway to the curb, he stopped in the middle of the street. He had heard the singing at Azusa Street a block and a half away. They were singing the song, “Under the Blood.” This is my own assertion. He was apparently trying to fathom from the way they sang whether they sang like spiritual people. He could sense whether the Spirit was in the singing or not. He was not Pentecostal at this time.
So we went into the Azusa Street Mission. We had to crowd through the back door where there was a fellow standing in the doorway. Durham shouted, “Well, what are you doing here?” He was an old friend of Durham’s from Minnesota whom he had brought to the Lord and helped get into the ministry.
He said, “Durham, I guess I’m here for the same purpose you are.” Durham pushed his way in, past his friend. He was so anxious to get in and see what was happening. He just pushed his way in past everybody — they were packed in like sardines.
I lost track of him and didn’t know where he was for a little while. Finally I found him sitting on the end of the altar. Seymour was speaking and Durham was listening to every word. I was watching Durham. All I could tell was that he was very interested in what Seymour was saying.
I should explain that this visit by Durham was about 2 or 3 years after the Azusa revival began. By this time the attendance had dropped. The crowds on the outside were no longer there, although on Sunday mornings it was pretty full. There was a sort of undercurrent. The colored folks — the unspiritual ones — were circulating the idea that “these white folks are going to try to take this property away from us.” That had generated a sort of carnal spirit and put a spell on the meetings.
We took Durham to lunch that day. He said, “This isn’t what I expected. I expected this … like you have been writing in your letters.”
I said, “Something is happening to us.” Then I told him confidentially of the misunderstandings being bred by gossip.
He spoke up very frankly — he was a very outspoken man. “There is more than that going on” he said. “They have got to get straightened out doctrinally. A lot of these folks, even Brother Seymour, isn’t entirely straightened out on this second definite work. He is mixing up old-time holiness doctrine with his new baptism in the Holy Ghost doctrine.” He said, “I think I know now why the Lord had something to do with me coming here.”
He asked me, “Do you suppose they would let me preach in Azusa Street?”
I said, “I guess so; I’m not sure. However, my father is a trustee, and he can speak to the board and they can speak to Seymour. Maybe we can get you in.”
So this question of “the finished work of Calvary” which Durham was preaching, it covers the second definite work business and does away with it. They had read in the paper about it, and they were afraid of him.
When the question was put to the trustees, they asked my father, “How about this? He is liable to come in with this doctrine of his.”
My father said he thought they could trust Durham and that he was ethical and would abide by any promise he makes.
They said, “Well, go and talk to Seymour.”
So they talked to Seymour, and he said he guessed it was all right if the Lord had sent him. He said we have had a lot of preachers who came in with all sorts of doctrines, and the matter was always settled without any fights or explosions of any kind.
At times, I saw people coming in who were fighters, who would like to fuss and quarrel and want to debate. But they would come into the meetings, and when they would see the humility and the faith and the tender heartedness of the people, it convinced them. Almost before they knew it, the same Spirit would melt them. They would quit their fussing and wrangling and wanting to debate, and would find themselves at the altar seeking God themselves.
It was evident immediately when someone spoke from a fleshly standpoint. A hush fell upon the whole audience and folks began to hang their heads in prayer, which in itself became a rebuke to the carnally minded even as they spoke in the meetings. They really had no part to play in those meetings until they themselves became filled with the Holy Spirit.
All sorts of things happened, but when we had unity of the Spirit, the Lord took charge of it without controversy and without warfare. No answering back or anything that showed there was a split of any kind. I guess that’s why Seymour answered as he did, “If the Lord has sent him, I guess he’s all right.”
We arranged for Brother Durham to talk to Brother Seymour that afternoon. Brother Seymour allowed Brother Durham to speak the following week and the following Sunday.
Brother Seymour never exacted a promise from him or anything. Brother Durham just got up and said, “The Lord leads me to speak on the subject that some of you will not agree with. But we are not going to quarrel over it; we are simply going to the Word of God and let the Word of God settle our affairs, and we are not going to discuss it among ourselves.”
Monday night Brother Durham got up to preach. He preached for an hour and a quarter. He put more arguments against the second definite work of grace than I’ve ever heard in my life. I’ve listened to many of them during the years I had been preaching myself. He was saying Christ never came preaching a first or second or following works — He came preaching the finished work of Calvary — that His death on the cross finished all that was necessary to complete regeneration, body, soul and spirit. That was a revolution against Azusa Street teaching of a second definite work.
I have known Durham to get into a meeting of a thousand preachers who had written all sorts of things against him and calling him all sorts of names. He was to preach on the finished work of Calvary, and in 15 minutes he had taken that whole congregation by storm, and the preachers were all subdued and speechless. There was as much a revival in Durham’s revolt against what Azusa Street had been teaching as in what Azusa Street had been teaching against dying Christianity.
One night Durham was to answer questions. The place was full of full gospel, Pentecostal and Holiness preachers. They started to ask questions. He answered them very simply and shortly. The meeting ended by something we had never seen before — they all clapped.
Some folks found fault with that clapping business — they had never seen that in Azusa Street. But he was converting them by the wholesale. And those preachers went out of one single meeting converted to the point that the next Sunday morning there was preaching about the finished work of Calvary all over Los Angeles. And what was taking place seemed to spread around the country.
Then finally Brother Durham wore himself out. We had him going day and night — three meetings a day — having meetings in all sorts of places wore him out. He used to come to our home after a service and just fall down in a chair and hang his head. But when he was in a meeting, he was like a tornado. He was just full of dynamite. He took command like a general.
Afterward my mother would say, “Brother Durham, you must rest.” And she would take his coat off and untie his collar.
She would say, “I can’t undress you; but how about you going in that room and undressing and going to bed?” He was exhausted. He was meek as a lamb, and would go to bed and sometimes sleep for 24 hours. Then when he would come out, he’d get hold of Ethel Durham, who was the secretary, and whom he later married. He would start answering letters and making more appointments for meetings. He finally took down to his bed and never got up, and died.
Division At The Mission
Brother Seymour was God’s man for Azusa Street. He was humble and meek. He was the only pastor at Azusa, even after the bottom fell out of it.
A man by the name of Carpenter, a teacher from the Los Angeles high school, was very interested in Azusa Street. I can’t say that I remember that he ever spoke in tongues, but he was very firm in believing it and faithful in attending. The colored people began to question the motives of the white people. They thought the white people were going to eventually take over Azusa Street. As the white people began to gather around Carpenter, they brought up the question of money to the colored people.
Carpenter happened to be my daughter’s teacher in the Los Angeles high school, which connected him with her. He found out who she was because of her name and asked if her family were the Osterbergs of Azusa Street. So he said certain things to her that led us to find out his relationship to the group that was beginning to question what was becoming of all the money.
Finally he suggested to some of the white folks — while defending himself against the colored people who thought the white folks were going to take over Azusa Street — that a meeting should be called to get things straightened out. Carpenter went to Brother Seymour to get his consent to hold the meeting.
Brother Seymour, being meek and humble, said it was all right. Brother Carpenter had charge of the meeting, and during the progress of the meeting denied he was trying to take over Azusa Street. He recognized that God had a place for the colored people. He believed they had a part in God’s program and should follow along with the white people, and the white people with the colored people.
That started to raise a rumpus. When he got through with the meeting, he said, “Now there is a question in the minds of many of the people as to the way we were handling our money.”
Seymour took charge of all the money, and he handed it out to people like Garr to go to India, and God would say to him $500 or whatever it was, so there went $500. It seemed like Brother Seymour never kept the scratch of a pen as to what he took in and what he gave out and to whom he gave it.
When Mr. Carpenter said, “Brother Seymour, we would like to have you give an account of the money that has come into Azusa Street.”
Brother Seymour said that it was the Lord’s money. He started to say from memory that he gave Brother Garr so much and Brother Johnson so much. He began to rattle off the names and amounts of money, but no totals. So no one ever knew how much money Azusa Street took in, whether it was $20,000 or $200,000, we never knew. My father was the trustee, and he never knew. He had to guess at it like all the rest.
These kinds of things wrecked the spirit of Azusa Street, and even though later a revival helped somewhat, it did not restore the spirit or give us the unity we had in the beginning. There were still colored people and the white people. But in the beginning color meant nothing to us. There were no blacks and whites. The black faces didn’t mean anything to us. It was God’s Siprit welding us together, and that is a kind of unity you can’t define.
Whenever I get to thinking about Azusa Street, even after all these years, I can’t help crying. If I talk about other things, they don’t affect me, but the Azusa Street story breaks me all up.