Maria Woodworth-Etter, is called
the grandmother of the Pentecostal Movement and was born in 1844 in Lisbon,
Ohio. "I heard the voice of Jesus calling me to go out in the highways
and hedges and gather in the lost sheep." We have to remember that when
sister Etter was called by God, we as a nation did not allow women to vote,
let alone preach from a pulpit.
Even though she was called of God she did not answer that call
immediately. She could not see in the physical realm a way to accomplish her
calling outside of marrying a missionary. This became the first mistake. When
God calls us to a work, we must let Him sweat the details of its accomplishment.
All we can do is surrender to the work and then move as God says to move.
Consequent of her lack of faith to proceed, she married a man that was not even
a Christian. We know that the Word of God forbids us to be unequally yoked with
unbelievers and this would cause strain and trouble in her life.
Exhausted and frustrated as mother of six children, God
continued to call her. After losing five of her six children and never growing
bitter against God, she began to search the Word and she discovered that women
were used throughout the Bible by the Lord.
Moved by Joel’s prophecy predicting that the Spirit of God
would be poured out upon men and women, Maria continued in her studies. After
God showed her a vision of His power, she humbly said "yes" to His
call on her life. Can you see, when she began to get into the Word of God it fed
her faith? You may not see in the physical what you feel God is wanting to do,
but when you open the bible, your faith gets fed and blossoms to the place where
you begin to accept and believe what God wants to do.
Not having any idea of what she was doing or what to say,
Maria would just open her mouth and the Lord would put His Word in her mouth
just as He told her. People would begin to cry and either run out or run forward
to receive Christ. After this she was highly sought out in her community and
soon she expanded her ministry westward and held nine revivals, preached two
hundred sermons and started two churches. God honored this woman and made up for
her lost years.
The power of God began to fall over her flock as she preached.
Many people would come to the altar and "fall to the floor" the faces
would shine as they praised the Lord. This soon became known as "Pentecost
Power". While hundreds flocked to receive the same, many others came to
observe or ridicule. Doctors came from different cities to investigate the
trances. Unlike the "dead" church order of the late 1800’s, Maria
believed in shouting, dancing, singing, and preaching. She believed that
emotional displays were important, as long as they were in order. She believed
that a lack of physical manifestation was a sign of abandonment of their faith.
Etter continued to study the Word and began preaching His
divine will in healing. Soon thousands were won to Christ as a result of seeing
others healed. Many received gifts, some for ministry, some for evangelist and
some for healing. Etter was the only leading evangelist of the Holiness Movement
who embraced the experience of speaking in tongues.
Many other ministers were in opposition to her due to their
lack of understanding the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. She hardly ever
defended herself but she would tell others that she was called to do the work of
God and lead others to Jesus. Even when faced with opposition or harassed in a
life threatening situation she would refuse to leave till she finished what she
had come there for. Etter once wrote that she believed the Lord would always put
His mighty power on her and took away all fear.
After forty-five years of ministry and preaching sermons from
coast to coast, God urged Maria to build a permanent location in West
Indianapolis. She built the church next to her home and ministered there the
last six years of her life. In 1924, now eighty years old, she was frail and
weak. So the church built a big wooden chair for her and when she was too weak
to walk to church, some men would take the chair to her house, put her in it and
carry her to church. The moment the chair hit the floor, she would gain strength
and get up to preach. Not too long after Maria Woodworth-Etter went to be with