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Monday, 13 May 2013

The Latter Rain Movement in its context

The momentous events that followed World War II were dizzying for their number and impact - Billy Graham's ministry was launched, a healing revival was sweeping the land, deeply spiritual revivals were occurring on evangelical college campuses, the State of Israel was born in 1948 ... and the Latter Rain Movement exploded onto the scene.
[Historian Richard Riss, a professor at Pillar University, has written books and articles about the revival events in the mid-twentieth century (two are featured in the right hand column of this blog). What follows here is a portion of an article he wrote for New Wine magazine in October 1980 entitled, "The Latter Rain and Healing Revivals". The entire 36-page issue is available in .pdf format for free online.]

THE LATTER RAIN AND HEALING REVIVALS
by Richard Riss

The Latter Rain and healing revivals constituted only two of many aspects of a widespread awakening occurring during the middle of this century. The healing revival was known for its emphasis upon healing, while the Latter Rain Movement was known for its use of the laying on of hands with prophecy. The healing revival precipitated the Latter Rain Movement, but both were really only two aspects of the same move of God.

The Post-war Awakening

In late 1949, revival broke out on the Island of Lewis and Harris, the largest of the Outer Hebridean group in Scotland. Indications of revival in the United States included the Forest Home College Briefing Conferences (which soon helped to bring about the formation of Campus Crusade for Christ) and the Pacific Palisades Conferences, at which scores of pastors and ministers of various denominations, only a few of whom were Pentecostal, gathered together several times a year for prayer and praise in an atmosphere of spiritual renewal.

Spontaneous revival was also breaking out on many college campuses. The revival at Wheaton College (February 5-12, 1950) received national publicity, appearing in the pages of Time and Life magazines. There were well over twenty other college revivals occurring at the same time.

The Healing Revival

Two or three years before these events, the healing revival had already begun to surface. Two of the
Branham, Roberts, Lindsay
earliest and most influential healing evangelists were William Branham and Oral Roberts. Other important figures included T. L. Osborn, Jack Coe, William Freeman, A. A. Allen, and David Nunn. Gordon Lindsay, who helped bring William Branham's ministry into widespread recognition, used his talent to supply the movement with a needed element of cohesiveness.

Branham's healing ministry began on May 7, 1946, when he had an angelic visitation in which he was told that he was to take the gift of divine healing to the people of the world. Within five weeks he was conducting healing revivals in St.Louis, and before long his meetings were attracting enormous crowds.

In 1947, Oral Roberts began his healing ministry. Branham testified that Roberts' "commanding power over demons, over disease and over sin was the most amazing thing he had ever seen in the work of God."

Many of the revivalists of the Healing Movement became associated with The Voice of Healing magazine, published by Gordon Lindsay, the May 1952 issue of which had pictures on its cover of twenty healing evangelists. Two years previous to this time, as many as one thousand itinerant evangelists had attended a meeting sponsored by Lindsay in Kansas City.

The Latter Rain Movement

The Latter Rain Movement was catalyzed, in part, by Branham's campaigns in Vancouver, B. C. in the fall of 1947. His demonstrations of the gift of healing accompanied by knowledge of the illnesses of those present made a deep impression on the teachers of Sharon Bible School in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada, who precipitated revival at their school after their return from the Branham meetings.

The Latter Rain Movement originated in the Sharon Orphanage and Schools as a spark igniting an explosion of revival among many Pentecostals. It spread quickly throughout North America and many places throughout the world, including the Middle East, India, Japan, Latin America, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe.

In the fall of 1947, George Hawtin, who had been president of a Bible School of the Pentecostal
George Hawtin
Assemblies of Canada, and P. G. Hunt, a former teacher of the same school, joined Herrick Holt of the North Battleford, Saskatchewan Church of the Foursquare Gospel in an independent work that Holt had already established. It was during this time that the students and faculty there began to gather to study the Word of God, earnestly praying and fasting, with fasts lasting many days, and in some cases, weeks. On February 12, 1948, according to George Hawtin's brother Ern, "God moved into our midst in this strange new manner." He continued as follows:

"Some students were under the power of God on the floor, others were kneeling in adoration and worship before the Lord. The anointing deepened until the awe of God was upon everyone. The Lord spoke to one of the brethren. 'Go and lay hands upon a certain student and pray for him.' While he was in doubt and contemplation one of the sisters who had been under the power of God went to the brother saying the same words, and naming the identical student he was to pray for. He went in obedience and a revelation was given concerning the student's life and future ministry. After this a long prophecy was given with minute details concerning the great things God was about to do. The pattern for the revival and many details concerning it were given."

After a day of searching the Scriptures, on February 14 "it seemed that all Heaven broke loose upon our souls, and heaven above came down to greet us." According to Ern Hawtin, "Soon a visible manifestation of gifts was received when candidates were prayed over, and many as a result began to be healed, as gifts of healing were received." This even was particularly significant in view of the scarcity of such manifestations since about 1935. As people became aware of these events, they flocked to North Battleford from all parts of North America and many parts of the world to the camp-meetings at Sharon publicized by The Sharon Star. Before long, these meetings became widely known, and the teachers from Sharon began receiving invitations to minister throughout North America.

At the invitation of Reg Layzell in Vancouver, B. C., George and Ern Hawtin held meetings at Glad Tidings Temple on November 14-28, 1948. Myrtle D. Beall, pastor of Bethesda Missionary Temple
Reg Layzell
in Detroit, Michigan travelled 2,500 miles by car to attend these meetings and returned to her church to spark revival there, attracting people from all parts of the country, including Ivan and Carlton Spencer (the founder of Elim Bible Institute and his son). They were at the Zion Evangelistic Fellowship in Providence, Rhode Island for a Pentecostal Prayer Fellowship gathering in December of 1948 when a latecomer to the gathering arrived and shared what he had heard of a visitation in Detroit. Ivan Spencer and his wife went to Detroit within a few days and returned to ignite revival at Elim Bible Institute.

By 1949, the North Battleford brethren were becoming less central to the movement, and leadership began to emerge in other circles, partly as a result of tendencies toward sectarianism among the North Battleford leaders. It was partly because of these tendencies that involvement in the Latter Rain soon became anathema among many denominational Pentecostals. However, such Pentecostal figures as Lewi Pethrus of Sweden continued to endorse the movement, and as leaders of the Apostolic Church, Elim Bible Institute in New York State and Bethesda Missionary Temple in Detroit, Michigan continued to move in revival, it progressed with lasting effects. Many of these ministries carried on and developed principles that had arisen in the Latter Rain Revival, becoming part of the Charismatic Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

[The remainder of the article - as well as the entire October 1980 issue of New Wine magazine - can be read for free online.]

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