CBN.com William J. Seymour was born the son of freed slaves in Louisiana. He attended a Houston Bible school, but when the head of the school prayed for the students to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit Seymour had to sit outside-- because he was black.
Even though he missed the prayer meeting, he took the message of Pentecost to a small church in Los Angeles. After his first fiery sermon on healing and prayer languages, he was locked out of the church and told not to come back.
So Seymour joined a small prayer group at 312 Bonnie Bray Street. As he preached the message there, the fire of the Holy Spirit came down. People spoke in tongues and were healed.
Over the next few days huge crowds gathered for interracial services, in spite of segregation laws. Many received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, including Seymour himself.
In fact, so many were drawn to the powerful meetings the front porch collapsed under the weight of all the people.
So for $50 a month, they rented an old barn on Azusa Street. Services ran constantly for three years, from 1906 to 1909. As people from around the world came to hear Seymour’s messages, the modern Pentecostal movement quickly went global.
Segregation had kept Seymour from receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in Houston. But after he received the baptism at the LA sermons, Seymour took steps toward yet another kind of church reformation.
At the time neither women nor black people had the right to vote. Segregation was the national norm. But the first directors of Seymour’s Apostolic Faith Mission included men and women, both black and white.
William J. Seymour’s life and his ministry illustrate that we are all God’s children, adopted through faith in Jesus Christ. And he showed the world that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still available to Christians.
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