Old-Time Pentecost- How they Trusted Him

Old-Time Pentecost- How they Trusted Him

No study of Azusa Street, its events and its people would be complete without looking into just how much they trusted God. One outstanding characteristic of the Old-Time Pentecostal life was their trust and
faith in God. Frank Bartleman, a leader in the 1907 movement, noted of the times, “We were going through a furnace of fire. But the fourth’ was with us. ” Those were the days of trusting God for everything from healing and salvation to the simple needs of food for the family. And my, how they trusted Him!

There were occasions when there was no money, There were occasions when there was no food. There were occasions when the children were ill with no money to call for the doctor. These men and women literally prayed, fasted, and preached their lives away-trusting God all the while to take care of them-and He did. Bartleman relates a story of traveling to the Friends Church for a Sunday morning service to speak on the latest reports of the revival in Wales, then returning to Los Angeles. Having so physically spent himself, in his diary he wrote, A was so weak I was afraid I would have to be taken from the train on a stretcher, But I got home safely.” He tells of a time when there was nothing to eat in the house but a little dry bread when a letter was received with one dollar in it. A fortune? No-but enough to by some food for his family.

We can know a little of how hard sometimes their life of faith was: “I had a little money. I secured some furniture, and we cooked and ate under a lent in the yard. Being cold and rainy, we suffered much. Our youngest child became sick, but God spared her the harvest was great but the laborers few in those days; there was plenty of mission work all around us, but the question was, how were our needs to be supplied.” They had no alternative but to trust God for their needs and trust Him they did. He supplied their every need, perhaps not with abundance in each instance but with enough.

When the work in Los Angeles seemed finished for a time, Frank Bartleman moved his family to Pasadena. He was able to secure two unfurnished rooms for five dollars per month. They brought what little furniture they had in Los Angeles and moved in. “I was very fired and worn in body. My nerves had been worn threadbare from years of previous pioneer mission work in various parts of the country. We had always worked on faith lines, having taken for our motto ‘Isaiah 33:16- Bread shall he given him; his waters shall be sure.'”

They put their faith to work, not just in their personal lives with their own needs, but they also applied it to their evangelistic needs. As the preachers of the day traversed the country bringing the Pentecostal message they often trusted God from meeting to meeting. Frank Bartleman’s diary reflects that “The remuneration generally is little if any more than expenses paid, and the evangelist is simply, a channel cast aside. His only refuge seems to be Heaven. But Jesus is coming soon. Then we shall need nothing more.”

Tracts were widely used evangelistic tools during those early years. But where was the money to come from to print them? “God had given me a wonderful tract ministry In two years’ time I had published, by faith purely, without a dollar to begin with, fifty-eight separate tracts. About fifty of these I had written myself I circulated two hundred and fifty thousand, at a cost of at least five hundred dollars. No money was solicited, and thousands were mailed free to all parts of the world also. I ended the ministry without a dollar No money had been made out of it.”

Bartleman spent his days in the service of the Lord whom he trusted. “I started a street meeting, but an officer promptly, stopped me. I had no permit, so went to work with the regular missions. Every night found me taking part in services, and my days were spent in personal work. We lived by, faith, having no income. I had served the Lord largely, on that line since by conversation in 1893, having been called to preach soon after. Wife was one with me.”

At the Azusa Mission, where revival services were in progress for over three years, there were no collections taken. Yet, eyewitnesses said the William Seymour, leader of the group often could be seen walking around with five and ten dollar bills sticking out of his hip pockets, which people had placed there unnoticed by him. Glen cook, a worker at the mission reported that from day to day food would arrive for the upkeep of the full-time workers of the revival. Frank Ewart, one of the leaders of the movement noted that “God was recognized as the giver of all, and received all the glory and praise.”

I’ve heard other old-timers tell about praying for food, waking up the next morning, going out the door to find a box of groceries there. They never knew where it came from. He is faithful.

Brother Jesse Hawthorne tells of God speaking to him to leave Winnsboro. He loaded up his family in an old car. The only instructions he had was to “go south.” After traveling all day long, late one evening, he drove off the road into an area out of Ponchatoula, Louisiana. The Lord indicated that he was to knock on the door and ask for permission to camp in their yard that night. This he did. A woman came to the door and asked, “Who are you”” He answered, “I’m a Pentecostal preacher with my family. I just want to camp in your yard through the night. We will leave in the morning.” The woman began to shout and speak in tongues. She said, “We have been gathering in this house every day praying for God to send us a Pentecostal preacher for a revival.” A revival was begun immediately in that woman’s yard and it resulted in a church that still stands there today. That’s how they trusted Him! Yes, the story of Old-Time Pentecost is a story of faith and trust. There are many stories of hard times and needs supplied, but never were “the righteous forsaken nor His seed begging bread.” Have we in this day of abundance missed this dimension
of trust?