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Maria Woodworth-Etter

 

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 the Lord.

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