Pentecostal Pioneers: Clifford F. Haskins
By Wyllis M. Peuse
Clifford Francis Haskins, the third of seven sons, was born 22, 1905, in Duluth, Minnesota, to Sophia and Arthur Haskins. His father arrived in America from England in 1875 as a thirteen-year-old boy with his parents, Jane and Benjamin Haskins, a Methodist minister.
When Clifford was six, he developed a very high fever and was delirious with pain for days. Finally, in desperation, his mother prayed, “Just take him on, Lord!” After this prayer, she sat down at the pump organ and played “Peace, Be Still.” After the song, she noticed that Clifford lay quietly, the fever gone. Although he began to mend, Clifford was very weak, had to learn to walk again, and missed one year of school. Years later, a doctor discovered that his appendix had burst early in life.
Clifford’s father became co-owner of a grocery store in Duluth and his teen-aged son worked with him. As a young man Clifford had pain in his legs and feet and bound them so that he could work. His family lived one block below the scenic boulevard in Duluth on Eleventh Street. Clifford walked in the wooded area behind their houseat sunset calling out to God to heal him.
Clifford’s father sang in the Methodist church choir, but his mother attended the Baptist church. At twenty, Clifford went to church with his mother and was baptized. He attended a healing service conducted by Dr. Charles Price in 1926, where he was anointed and prayed for. He related, “I felt the Holy Spirit go through me like an electric current from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. A man who sat beside me told me about the Holy Ghost, and he took me to a shabby, storefront mission with a potbellied stove and homemade benches. In the apartment overhead, merchants were selling bootleg liquor, which drew a stream of derelicts. God poured out His Spirit in that humble place, as He filled Solomon’s Temple.”
Clifford returned to the Baptist church to tell the exciting news of Jesus Name baptism and the Holy Ghost. “I’ve been praying you would not get into false doctrine,” the minister said. Clifford never attended the Baptist church again.
Late in November the man invited Clifford back to the mission. “We have an evangelist and his wife who were stage entertainers before their conversion.” When they arrived the place was packed.
Clifford later testified, “Although I had never heard about Acts 2:38, I was baptized in Jesus’ name the first night. For three nights I prayed earnestly but did not receive the Holy Ghost. I stayed home the fourth night but ran two miles to church the next night. That night, December 1, 1926, about midnight, I received the Holy Ghost and was literally drunk on new wine.”
The news of Clifford’s experience had an electrifying effect. One person after another went down in water baptism, many of them coming up out of the water speaking in tongues. “As a sixteen-year-old girl burst out speaking in tongues, I saw a seventy-year-old lady filled with the Spirit too. The Lord began drawing in people from all directions-our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, business people, and even men off the lake boats. That revival at 111 North First Avenue West, which started in December of 1926, lasted six months.”
Clifford’s mother was offended and said, “You’re disgracing the family.” When Clifford and his younger brother, Wendell, came home late at night singing gospel songs and choruses, their parents marveled at the change in them. Soon Wendell, his three sisters, and a brother-in-law received the Holy Ghost. The night she received the Holy Ghost, Lucile, the nine-year-old sister, prophesied that there would be a great war in Japan. No one took it seriously in 1926 but Clifford remembered it December 7, 1941. Clifford’s mother received the Holy Ghost the night she was baptized and was instantly healed of a sinus problem. His father was baptized a few months later.
One night the minister prayed for Clifford’s bad cold. An elderly schoolteacher couple were concerned when they saw him lying on the floor of the platform under the power of the Holy Spirit. “Let’s find out what sort of spell that young man is under.” When he told them that he had received the Holy Ghost, they began seeking it too.
The preacher was David Johnson. “Like our Lord, he was a carpenter but God knew he could trust him to build a temple of ‘lively stones’ for a dwelling place here on earth. As the revival continued, Brother Johnson and his wife and four small children drew us all close with their dedication, sacrifice and hospitality.”
Late in the summer of 1927 the building at 111 North First Avenue West was sold, and the mission moved to an upstairs hall on First Street near First Avenue East. For two years, the mission moved quite
often. Then came the stock market crash!
About this time Brother Johnson secured a large well kept church on the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Fifth Street. There the mission developed into an established church. Revival fires swept the congregation. Almost the entire congregation of a church at Mason, Wisconsin, accepted the Apostolic message and came to the Duluth church to be baptized in Jesus’ name and to receive the Holy Ghost..
A. D. Urshan came to Duluth and stayed with the Haskins family for a revival in the spring of 1927 at the church at 111 North First Avenue West. Written on the window of the church were the numbers 111 which represented Ephesians 4:5 – “One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.”
Clifford married David Johnson’s niece, Helen Marie Johnson, on Thanksgiving, November 24, 1927, at his parents’ home. They had one child, Wyllis Marie, born September 28, 1936. A real helpmate, Helen gathered children around her and young couples came to her for help. She worked with the missionary group, sending many gifts of money and clothing to missionaries in all parts of the earth.
In the summer of 1927, the schoolteacher couple invited Clifford to bring the Apostolic message to their neighbors at Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin. On the third weekend he realized these people had never heard about the Holy Ghost. “God came to my rescue in a most unusual way. Between services the men played ball. An eighteen-year-old came to me at the pitcher’s plate. Both his parents had died, leaving him and his sister lonely and destitute. He asked, ‘Do you think God would give me the Holy Ghost?’ ‘Let’s pray,’ I said. There in the tall grass the Holy Ghost flooded the young man’s soul. His best friend begged me to pray for him also.
“Then God opened the understanding of those people to the Apostolic message. That’s when Jesus called me into His service and I found a real purpose in life. I baptized those first converts in Jesus’ name, and most of them were filled with the Holy Ghost. We had to carry them to the sands of the beach, where they lay speaking in other tongues. Each time I baptized more converts, the vacationers at the lake formed a large semicircle in their canoes to watch.
“Although I was asked to preach many times, I did not seek ordination until 1939 at a ministerial conference at Bishop Johnson’s church in Superior.”
Clifford loved to sing and play his guitar. Praying at the altar with hungry seekers was his special joy. In 1940 Clifford, Helen, and four-year-old Wyllis moved to Turin, Iowa, where he took the pastorale of a group of people at the request of Elder Alfred Lawrence of St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1942 the draft board contacted thirty-eight year-old Clifford about army service. He gave up the church in Turin and returned to Duluth, telling the officials he was a minister. “What seminary did you attend?” they asked. Finally they accepted his explanation.
The Spooner revival came about through the invitation of the schoolteacher couple. They had retired from teaching and had concessions in two large office buildings in Duluth where they sold tobacco and confections, sometimes shaking dice to see who would pay. After they received the Holy Ghost, they did not want to sell tobacco and shake dice so in 1945 they moved to a township called Rocky Ridge eight miles from Spooner, Wisconsin, where they began to farm.
They told neighboring farmers about the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which had transformed their lives. Life had been cruel to this family; they had lost two homes and all their possessions by fires. Also their grown son had been crippled by meningitis as an infant, but God had miraculously turned their sorrow in to joy and happiness. In the summer of 1934 their neighbors secured the use of the schoolhouse and invited Clifford to tell them about the Spirit.
“When we arrived that Sunday, people packed the schoolhouse to learn more about the Holy Spirit. They begged us to come every Sunday for meetings. The Rocky Ridge revival at Spooner went on for three years.
“At the close of the night service the next Sunday, a man asked to be baptized in Jesus’ name, followed by his wife and children. Every Sunday others came. At first only one or two received the Holy Ghost but others hungered.
“The revival gained momentum, and some came from Clear Lake, sixty miles away. Some stopped in after a dance to ‘see the show’ then returned to become one of those seeking God.
“In this county of small farms a great drought in the Midwestern states from 1934 to 1936 created what be came known as the dust bowl. Strong winds raised dust clouds that darkened the sun as far north as Duluth. During this time of utter hopelessness and despair, however, many found their way to that town hall and heard the gospel.
“One destitute family, fearing their children would be taken from them, fled their county and came to Rocky Ridge to our meetings. They reached out to God like a drowning man for a life preserver. The woman was very large, posing quite a problem when we baptized her. Although I had a big, six-foot man helping, we could only get her up on the bank with her legs still in the water when she began speaking in tongues.
” She had a large ten-year-old daughter who also wanted to be baptized one hot Sunday in July 1936. As we drove from Duluth south ninety miles to Spooner, the temperature climbed to 110 degrees at the Spooner town hall. Several people waited outside including the girl. When we got in, she dropped to her knees and began calling on the Lord for the Holy Ghost. She prayed so hard that we feared for her heart in the heat. We tried to persuade her to wait until later that afternoon or night, but she continued seeking the Holy Spirit. Then God heard and filled that hungry heart with the miraculous Holy Spirit.
“My wife, Helen, played the piano until the rafters rang, and my old guitar seemed to sound sweeter than ever to those people as we sang chorus after chorus. One young man played a banjo, another a violin, and a third an accordion. This last man had been one of those who stopped in on his way from a dance. He and his whole family were baptized in Jesus’ name and filled with the Holy Ghost. That was the year our daughter, WyllisMarie, was born, and all those people looked forward to her arrival and rejoiced with us. It was the happiest year of our lives!
“The young burly banjo player had lived a rebellious life, ending up in the penitentiary. Then he came to the meeting and saw real joy. None of us were aware of how hard Satan fought to hold onto him. In the midst of an evening service, the man dropped his banjo, turned on the rostrum, and started beating the wooden wainscoting with his fists until they bled. The people were shocked and stunned, great fear filled their faces. Quietly I placed my hands on him and began to pray for God to calm the tempest in his soul. Soon he was baptized in Jesus’ name and filled with the Holy Ghost. Later he married a Spirit filled girl.”
Clifford Haskins became a licensed minister with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ in 1935 and was ordained by the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World in 1939. During the year 1944-45 he held the position of vice chairman for the Minnesota State Council of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World.
In 1945 the shipyards where Clifford worked closed and the family moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he worked for the U.S. Rubber Company. Pastored by Joseph P. Rulien, the church in Eau Claire met in a mission but was building a stone church on the banks of the Chippewa River. The elderly pastor asked Clifford to assist him. Upon his death in 1952 the church elected Richard S. Davis pastor. Before long Brother Davis appointed Clifford as his assistant. In 1957 Clifford became an ordained minister of the United Pentecostal Church. He held the position of secretary-treasurer for the Wisconsin western section from 1957 to 1964.
In the fall of 1957 while he was still working at the rubber company and assisting Brother Davis, my father’s feet and legs developed a strange numbness, and he began to fall. The following spring he was diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis, which ultimately causes paralysis. By fall he could no longer work and was paralyzed from his waist down. By April 1961 my fifty-six-year-old father was confined to a wheelchair. At fifty-two his wife Helen learned to drive and found a job at a health-care facility.
I returned from Apostolic Bible Institute in 1961 shocked to see my previously active father in a wheelchair. The fire of the Holy Ghost comforted him and he said, “The Lord has given me contentment.” He loved to play his guitar, sing, worship with visitors, and write
For thirty years my mother tenderly cared for my father. His last years were very painful, and the last seven months he required twenty-four hour care in a health-care facility. On September 10, 1987, he went to be with the Lord.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS COMPILED BY MARY H. WALLACE, AND PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME FRESS, 1992, 97-105. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.