April 1, 2012

We Must Stand

Since the time of the apostles, Christians have had to stand against challenges to their faith. Some have experienced challenges in the form of outright persecution. Others have simply been made to feel uncomfortable for their beliefs. Some have stood against public challenges such as laws that go against Biblical principles or limit religious freedoms. Others have stood privately, as in times of affliction or temptation.

Florence Crawford’s sermon The Trial of Our Faith reminds us that her faith was tried at the founding of this work and throughout her life. While many hungry souls embraced the Pentecostal message that she taught, it was not well received by everyone. Attempts were made to discredit her Biblical stand. Church services conducted by her were interrupted by troublemakers, local newspapers published articles mocking the services, absurd accusations were made and false rumors circulated. Persecution notwithstanding, she stood firm. She said in her sermon that “after God saved me, I had a battle royal. But God had planted the truth in my heart; I knew that I was a child of God. Neither men nor devils could tell me that the change wasn’t real.” That truth in her heart helped Sister Crawford to stand. She received her deeper spiritual experiences near the onset of the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles. After describing her spiritual walk and hunger to the leader, William Seymour, he declared, “Sister, you have a wonderful case of salvation, but you need to be sanctified.” She prayed through to sanctification the following Friday night at the mission, and was baptized with the Holy Ghost just one week later. Those three Biblical experiences were emphasized in the Pentecostal revival that soon spread from that simple meeting place around the world. Sister Crawford preached what she heard and experienced at Azusa Street for the remainder of her life, establishing the Apostolic Faith Church of Portland, Oregon, which still emphasizes the same teachings and continues to expand worldwide.

With God’s help and the grounding of her three experiences, Sister Crawford stood—to the benefit of so many of us who came to the light of the Gospel much later. Now it is our turn. We must stand and carry this Gospel forward.

apostolic faith magazine