On March 17, 1974, I entered an Apostolic Faith Church for the first time. Six years earlier, my eleven-year-old sister had encouraged me to invite Jesus into my heart. While I had mocked her then, this time I accepted her invitation to church. No one else in our family of nine seemed to take an interest in her church attendance, and I felt sorry for her. What happened that spring day forever changed my life and impacted our entire family. That day I was saved.
Lacking familiarity with church ways, my introduction to the small group in Roseburg, Oregon, calling themselves the Apostolic Faith, left many impressions upon me. It was apparent from the beginning that prayer was very important to these people. I had never seen anyone kneeling in prayer before, let alone so many people at the same time in the same place. The pastor was an unassuming man, who was friendly and unpretentious. He seemed ordinary, a lot like I viewed my own family. There was the reverence with which the service was conducted. A portion of it was devoted to what they called “testimony time.” Several people stood up and told their stories. One lady spoke softly of having been quite sick, but said that now she was well in answer to prayer. I found that interesting. Another smiling young man enthusiastically told of how God had “saved” him. I had never heard that term before. Later, I asked my sister if the people who spoke were paid to tell their stories. “No,” she replied, “they were just spontaneously getting up to declare how God had answered their prayers.” There was no doubt in my mind that these people had experienced something. Then there was the pianist, the organist, the instrumentalists, and the vocalists. Their music was reverent, and I was told they also participated voluntarily, as unto the Lord. I found that amazing. How was the work supported, since they didn’t ask for money? My sister told me about the small tithes and offerings box near the sanctuary entrance where people could quietly put whatever they felt led to contribute. So many aspects of the service were foreign to me, yet they reflected such common sense.
What I did not know then was that, around the world, there were scores of other Apostolic Faith groups just like that one in Roseburg. Over the years, the people had come into the organization one by one, much like me. Somebody had invited them, and they came and experienced the saving grace of God. Then they brought a family member, who brought someone else. No matter where the geographic location, the message, the Spirit, and the manner in which the Gospel was presented was the same.
If you have been in an Apostolic Faith service, you know what I am talking about. If not, we pray that this book will inspire you to capture the spirit of the Gospel and find the same God we found through this organization. The church did not save any of us. However, for the past one hundred years, God has used people attending here to provide an environment where He could speak to hearts—not only when people first entered, but for years afterward.
Like so many others, my family has benefited by the guidance and wholesome teachings of this ministry. In my case, it began with one little sister. The same year I was saved, my younger brother was also born again. The following year, my parents were saved. Soon, other siblings and their spouses were converted. Over the years, our children were saved, married Christians, and have had children of their own. Now, there are over three dozen of us spanning four generations in this church.
I am thankful for those who faithfully labored to provide the conservative atmosphere where so many of us could be saved and then grow in the Lord. The loyalty and appreciation we feel for them cannot be overstated. They bought property and built our churches. They paid for the literature that has benefited us, and has also circled the planet and impacted millions of others. Most importantly, they hallowed our altars with their prayers. People we never met or heard of sacrificed energy, time, and money so that we could step into that first meeting to see and hear what we saw and heard.
The Latter Rain Gospel, as I learned it was called, is as relevant today as it was in 1906 when Florence Crawford first experienced it. She and many others who left Los Angeles with that message, sparked a revival of global proportion. Yet, the message was not new. The teachings emphasized then and now are rooted in the second chapter of the Book of Acts. God still calls and saves penitent sinners, dramatically transforming their lives. New converts are still encouraged to consecrate their hearts to God in order to receive the instantaneous experience of entire sanctification and begin a walk of holiness. The Holy Ghost is still freely given to those who have been saved and subsequently sanctified, empowering them to witness with evangelistic zeal.
Our prayer is that the readers of this book will accept the challenge of experiencing and then telling others of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness. The mandate to every Christian is to spread the news. God will bless you and those whose paths cross yours as you renew your determination to live for Him.