As a young couple, my husband and I and our three small children had come to Portland, Oregon, from Aston, Iowa. We were both saved and I was sanctified, but we were seeking more from God. Every time we heard of a camp meeting or a revival being held by holiness people, we would visit, seeking spiritual food for our souls.
We had read in a holiness paper about the power of the Holy Ghost falling at Azusa Street in Los Angeles in the early part of 1906. The editor of that paper lived in Salem, Oregon, and wrote of having gone to Los Angeles and of receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost. When we saw a notice about some revival meetings this group was holding in Salem, my husband decided to go. When he returned home, he told me all about the wonderful meetings, and that he had seen and heard Sister Florence Crawford, who had also been at Azusa Street. That day, we rejoiced most of all in God’s goodness, because my husband had received his sanctification while attending those meetings.
I will never forget the day we picked up a Portland newspaper and read a headline that told about a “peculiar” people at a little mission on Second and Main Streets. John and Hettie Glasgow ran the mission, and they had invited Sister Crawford to hold meetings there. The accounts of those meetings interested us. We were not sure if the Sister Crawford they wrote of was the same person my husband had seen in Salem. He told me, “I’ll go to the mission, and if everything is all right, I will take you.”
When he came home, he said he had seen Sister Crawford, and it was, indeed, all right. When I was able to attend, I found that the mission was not a beautiful place; it was a humble little hall that had once been a blacksmith shop, but they had cleaned it up and were holding meetings. We cast our lot with these people and have never wanted to leave.
When I was at the very jaws of death, these people prayed for me, and God answered.
At the second meeting I was in, such a hunger took hold of me that I felt I would die if I didn’t get what these people had. Just as the altar call was given, my baby began to cry, so I went upstairs to put her to sleep. One of the young girls there told me she would watch the baby while I went back down to pray.
The mission hall was so crowded I could hardly get back inside. One of the sisters gave me a seat on her lap, and I sat down with my head in my hands and began to pray. The power of God fell on my soul, and when somebody moved away from the altar, I lunged for that spot. It was there that God baptized me with the Holy Ghost and I began to speak in another language. I felt a power surge through my whole being, and I knew the work was done. That glorious day was January 6, 1907.
The crowds that attended those meetings often made fun and ridiculed the worshipers, and at times they resorted to violent means to hinder the work of God. During one meeting, an egg was thrown into the meeting hall, and it struck the organ and broke. It made little disturbance, however, as we seemed to expect such things in those days.
My first ordinance meeting at the mission was like worshiping with one big family. For the foot washing, Sister Crawford gathered the women in a circle around her in a part of the hall set apart for them. She took the basin and the towel and girded herself, while explaining the Scriptures to us. Then she started to wash our feet, and we took it up and began to wash the feet of others. It was a wonderful meeting. Oh, how God met with us there as we observed His Word! It wasn’t as though we were humiliating ourselves to do it. It was an honor to wash the feet of some precious saint of God. It was a privilege to obey God’s Word and follow Him in this ordinance. How He did bless us for following His instructions in the Word of God, even when it was a new experience to us!
I have had many chances to prove God through the years. When my child was deformed with infantile paralysis, and it looked as though he would never walk again, God healed him. When I was at the very jaws of death, these people prayed for me, and God answered. I am praising God.
Elsie Ott attended her first Apostolic Faith service on January 6, 1907, at the old blacksmith shop that had been converted into a little mission hall on Second and Main Streets in Portland, Oregon.