The impact of a Vision
|We are well aware of the forceful incisive words spoken by our Presidents. In the media, we've seen how words can incite and calm multitudes. Over my lifetime, I've been amazed at the power of the printed word when exercised by the faith of a reader. Let me give you an historical example.
A little over 100 years ago a revival began in Wales and spread to the United States. It's well documented and is referred to by religious leaders as the "The Fall of the Latter Rain." The Early Rain is attributed to the Pentecost in the Bible.
Charles Parham, an evangelist, began preaching about this phenomenon and what was required to receive it. He preached justification by faith, entire sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. When outcast by his own church, he set up a school in Topeka, Kansas. Later went to Houston, Texas, then on to Los Angeles, California in 1906.
In Los Angeles he met with a group of people, on Bonnie Brea Street, hungry to hear what he preached. The result was the beginning of another outpouring of the Holy Spirit in that city. At this time a wealthy woman, of Atheist upbringing, felt the call of God. She began to pray and a friend led her to these meetings in this poor area of the city. She heard the gospel preached and gave her heart to the Lord. She gave up her old life and embraced this new doctrine.
The group grew too large for the little house and the constant visits from the police due to the excessive noise drove them to look for a bigger building. The Apostolic Faith Mission was established on Azusa Street. It became a lighthouse for those who sought a deeper walk with God.
From the hunger to hear more about the miraculous changes being made in people's lives and healings, a publication detailing the meetings, testimonies and doctrine came to be. Distribution of this publication went across the United States. People read, believed what they read would happen to them and their lives were changed.
In 1908, Florence Crawford took over the printing and distribution of the publication. She traveled the nation telling her testimony and preaching, ending up in Portland Oregon. There she settled and incorporated a church called the Apostolic Faith Mission, after the one in Los Angeles.
The spirit fell on the meetings held in an old blacksmith's barn. As time went on a permanent building became available and the official printing of the Pillar of Fire paper began again. Its distribution included the rural mailboxes across the country, long before zip codes. Each batch of mailings were assembled on the shipping platform to be taken to the post office. The ministers, and workers laid their hands on the bags and prayed aloud that the papers would reach people who needed to read them. For the healing of body and spirit.
It was one of these papers that came to my great grandparents home in Virginia. My great grandfather had tuberculosis. After reading about divine healing, my grandmother sent a letter requesting an anointed handkerchief. These were sent in accordance with the Biblical verse stating the sick would be anointed for their healing. My grandparents received the cloth and began praying for healing. Their faith in God and His provision provided the healing of my grandfather. The family packed up and moved to Portland to be with this group.
Another of my great-great uncles traveled to Nebraska, where he attended an evangelistic meetings held by members of the Apostolic Faith Mission and received a paper. He went back to his family and in laws to share what he'd found. They received the paper and in a matter of time, my great great grandparents along with their three married daughters and son moved to Portland, Oregon.
As time went on the founder's son Raymond took his love for flying, to dropping pamphlets over the towns and countryside where the evangelical meetings would be held. Wings of the Morning was painted on the planes he purchased. My great Uncle became one of the pilots.
Along with this endeavor, the church purchased a ship. This floating church went up and down the west coast from San Diego, California to Alaska. Each place they stopped, papers and tracts featuring testimonies of transformed lives were handed out. This type of marketing had not been done by any business, let alone a religious organization. Papers and tracts were distributed free of charge. No collections taken at any meetings were unheard of among the people who came to hear the Word of the Lord.
These are two of many stories in our church's heritage. We have volumes printed with the stories and testimonies from those who have passed on. Most attribute their healing or conversion to the trail of a paper that found its way into their home.
Some of the printed word found its way to a family wrapped around meat from a butcher. Some were handed it by relatives or friends who stated, "You need to read this."
Other than the Bible, I don't know personally too many religious publications that are free for the asking, that have been the instrument to change so many lives.
I firmly believe in the power of the printed word. The paper is now a magazine. There are many tracts and curriculum printed throughout the world. The Portland headquarters prints the publications for most of the English speaking world. There are printing plants in Africa and and in Asia. Still, all are free for the asking and we have never passed a collection plate in any of our meetings since the work began.
The power of the printed word when combined with the prayer of God's people can accomplish anything.