Establish Your Faith
History of The Original Apostolic Faith Movement
In a time when divine healing and moves of the Spirit had scarcely been heard of, Charles Parham introduced the American church to the power available through pursuing a Spirit-filled life. He revealed to the church the life-giving power found in the baptism of the Holy Spirit that was evidenced by speaking in other tongues. He sought to bring a balance of both the intellectual and experiential to the Body of Christ at the turn of the last century as a teacher, rooted and grounded in the Word of Truth, as well as a healing evangelist moved by compassion, commitment, and an amazing faith.
From envisioning and founding a Healing Home to establishing Bible Schools, Parham studied to show himself approved with a rare diligence while fervently working to prove the truth of God’s Word through the demonstration of faith. He gathered crowds exceeding seven thousand people while his ministry contributed to over two million conversions.
Trial by Fire
Though he continued to battle debilitating physical ailments throughout his childhood, Charles became increasingly hungry for God. Due to a lack of libraries and formal instruction, he read history books along with his Bible to educate and prepare himself for ministry. He practiced a life of service by helping his brothers do chores and preached rousing sermons to the farm animals.
Answering and Re-answering the Call
He soon began teaching Sunday school and held his first public meeting at the age of fifteen. He continued to preach before entering Southwestern Kansas College at the age of sixteen. It was there he became aware of the public’s disrespect for and the general poverty of ministers. Discouraged, he began to look for other professions. In light of his traumatic childhood illnesses he decided that the medical field would suit him well. Not long after changing his educational goals, he contracted rheumatic fever.
He suffered for months from fever and the guilt of leaving his first call. He cried out to God that if he would not have to beg for a living he would preach. Heavily sedated with morphine, and with nearly his last breathe, he prayed the Lord’s Prayer. When he arrived at the phrase “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” his mind cleared and he realized it was God’s will to heal. So he cried out to God, “If Thy will is done in me, I shall be whole!” As he did, his lungs cleared and he was completely healed. In that moment, Parham renewed his commitment to give himself fully to ministry.
Following Christ Alone, With Sarah
His congregation steadily grew in Eudora, but Parham did not feel bound to promote the Methodist denomination. He exhorted new converts to find any church home even if wasn’t Methodist. He proclaimed that being a member of a denomination was not a prerequisite for heaven and that denominations focused too much on promoting themselves rather than Jesus Christ. Parham’s primary aim was to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit regardless if it was contrary to any denominational objective.
Parham began to pray for direction. He felt the Lord leading him into the evangelistic field and decided to hold meetings in schools, halls, or any church willing to have him and believe for the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself in a mighty way. It was at this time that Parham proposed to Sarah. In a letter he explained that his life was totally dedicated to the Lord and that his future was unclear, but if she could trust God with him, they should marry. Six months later, on December 31, 1896, they wed.
A Revelation of Healing
He rushed home to tell Sarah and pray for his baby. He immediately threw away all of his medications vowing never to again trust in anything but the Word of God. The fever miraculously left his son who grew to be a healthy child.
The joy of victory was soon turned to mourning as Parham received news that two of his closest friends had died. Despairing, he determined to proclaim the gospel of divine healing. From this time forward Parham’s ministry was marked by his dedication to preach the power of Christ to heal.
Although healing crusades were taking place in other parts of the country
through the ministries of John Alexander Dowie and Maria Woodworth Etter, the
people of rural Kansas had not been exposed to such manifestations of the
Spirit. Word quickly spread and many in fear and ignorance accused Parham of
witchcraft. Accusations such as this drove him to withdraw and search the
The Spirit in Action
Such an undertaking should have been more than enough to keep the Parhams busy! But because of Bethel’s success, many began to urge Parham to open a Bible School. After much prayer and fasting, Parham secured a large, beautiful building in Topeka, Kansas in October of 1900. The Bible school was open to anyone willing to “forsake all” to follow the teachings of Christ. They were to come willing to study the Word deeply and believe God for all their personal needs.
Tongues of Fire
After witnessing this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the students moved their beds from the upper dormitory and turned it into a prayer room. There they waited for two night and three days upon the Lord. Upon returning home from a meeting, Parham was led up to the room where he found twelve denominational ministers all speaking in other tongues. Overcome by what he saw, Parham fell to his knees praising God. He asked God for the same blessing, and after the Lord spoke to him about revealing the truth of this mighty outpouring everywhere he went—and that he would face severe persecution as a result—he was filled and spoke with other tongues.
The Birth of a Movement
On January 21, 1901, Parham preached the first sermon dedicated to the sole experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Parham went through the country preaching the truths of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in wonderful demonstration. Once when Parham began to speak in a tongue unknown to him, a man in the audience jumped to his feet and declared he had been delivered of infidelity having heard Psalm 23 in his mother tongue. Parham’s ministry was not limited to preaching divine healing. Now untold numbers were being delivered from all types of bondages as Parham revealed the freedom and power available to all believers through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Price of Victory
In the fall of 1901, the Bible school was unexpectedly sold out from under them. They moved into a rented home in Kansas City and Parham began to hold meetings around the country. Hundreds from every denomination received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and divine healing. A Kansas newspaper wrote: “Whatever may be said about him, he has attracted more attention to religion than any other religious worker in years.”
By the fall of that year, the Parhams moved to Galena, Kansas where they
erected a large tent. The tent could hold two thousand people, but it was still
too small to accommodate the crowds. As winter set in they managed to secure a
building although they were forced to leave the doors opened so that those
remaining outside could participate. Huge number poured into Galena from
surrounding towns when strong manifestations of the Spirit occurred, and
hundreds were miraculously healed and saved.
Days of Glory
The team returned to Houston once more due to high public demand, only this
time they suffered severe persecution. Several of Parham’s workers were
poisoned during one meeting making them very ill. They suffered with severe
pain. Parham immediately prayed for each of them, and they all recovered
completely. Parham’s own life was threatened several times. But not even
poison enough to kill a dozen men could keep him down.
When the historic school came to a close, Parham moved his family back to Kansas where his last child was born on June 1, 1906.
Days of Personal
At the same time Parham felt let to hold a rally
in Zion, Illinois in the wake of Alexander Dowie’s decline there. The people
of Zion were disillusioned and losing hope making them vulnerable to corrupt
forces attempting to take control of the city.
In October of 1906 Parham felt released to leave Zion and hurried to Los Angeles to answer Seymour’s call. Parham and Seymour were unable to come to see eye-to-eye regarding the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, and after holding only a few meetings there, Seymour locked Parham out of the mission. Later, Seymour acknowledged that Parham was his "father in the faith" and maintained great respect for him. Seymour soon began to give the same Parham warnings of "manifestations in the flesh" to his congregation.
Parham returned to Zion in December of 1906, again unable to obtain a building. He set up a large tent capable of seating two thousand people and again had such powerful meetings that opposition soon arose. When he closed the meetings, he traveled alone to preach in Canada and New England leaving his family in Zion. The entire family suffered from harassment there. Finally one day Mrs. Parham received a devastating letter accusing her husband of scandalous acts. She was forced to move her children back to Kansas.
The claims of scandalous acts were proven to be false, however the "scandal" that was cast on Parham's Ministry would be the catalyst for a decline in his ministry and the maligning of his moral character.
A Legacy of Faith
For the remainder of his life, Parham suffered as a result of the scandal. His ministry was threatened, as was his life on occasion. But he was steadfast in his commitment to continue traveling and preaching. He held tremendous meetings in the Pacific Northwest where thousands were healed and baptized in the Holy Spirit. It was in one of these meetings in the winter of 1924 that Gordon Lindsay found salvation and would later establish the international Bible college, Christ for the Nations.
In 1927, Charles Parham realized his lifetime dream of traveling to the Holy Land. He returned in April, 1928 with slides of his visits to Jerusalem, Galilee, Samaria, and Nazereth and spent the next year and a half showing them at his meetings. After spending Christmas of 1928 with his family, he was scheduled to preach and show his slides in Temple, Texas and it was there while making his presentation he collapsed from heart failure. In a weakened condition he returned to his home in Kansas. He waited for his son Wilfred to return from ministry in California, while his youngest son, Robert, quit his job to be at his side. After many days fasting and praying, Robert came to Parham’s bedside to tell him he had dedicated his life to the ministry. Parham was filled with joy and a great peace overcame him. He died quietly on January 29, 1929 at the age of fifty-six.
About 2006 Bible School requirements more . . .