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What is an Evangelist? Part 3

August 7, 2007

I stated in Part 2 that I believed that the Healing Revival of the 1940’s and 1950’s was in fact a restoration of the office of Evangelist to the church. It was a time of tremendous excitement about the Kingdom of God. Evangelists held huge crusades that lasted for weeks on end and drew enormous crowds night after night. Meetings were televised and reports were carried in local papers. Phoenix, Arizona at one point asked AA Allen not to hold any more meetings there because the crowds that he drew (40,000+) overwhelmed the city’s infrastructure.

The Evangelists

There were a number of evangelists that were part of movement that became known as the Voice of Healing. Some were more well known than others. William Branham was probably the most well known at the time. Others included AA Allen, TL Osborn, Paul Cain, Jack Coe, WV Grant Sr. and Gordon Lindsay, who was the editor and chief apologist for the Voice of Healing magazine.

During the late 1940’s and 1950’s, thousands of people came into the Kingdom of God through the meetings these evangelists held. Thousands claimed to have been healed. There was documentation of healings at the time, but in the course of the years, much of that has been lost.

Paul Keith Davis at White Dove Ministries has been sharing in their newsletter about meeting a woman he calls Mamma Horne who was present in Birmingham, Alabama the night a little boy was healed of 26 different diseases, including blindness (he had basically no eyes) and he was club-footed (he had no toes). They watched eyes form and toes grow. RW Schambach has also described this healing.

I saw an video of an Oral Roberts meeting from back in the day where a young man hit the healing line pretending to be deaf in order to discredit Roberts. When Roberts laid hands on the young man, he went deaf and began to scream. He had to confess what he had done. Roberts prayed for him again and his hearing was restored.

What They Did

Paul Cain has shared at various meetings things about what went on during those years. One of the things that most of these evangelists had in common was that in the beginning, at least, they all fasted for extended periods of time and spent tremendous amounts of time alone in prayer.

Forty day fasts were not uncommon. Many of these men would fast for 40 days twice a year. AA Allen fasted the duration of each of his campmeetings. Paul Cain has shared how he would spend 10 hours a day in prayer before he would minister.

What Happened

It became clear that by the late 1950’s the hand of the Lord was lifting from this movement. Why?

In some of the ministries, serious doctrinal deviations became apparent. Some evangelists fell into sin. Others were taken out by financial problems. They didn’t care money and didn’t take accounting as serious as the IRS does.

I believe, however, the problem was much deeper and the fault lies more with the church than with the men involved.

The church failed to embrace what the Lord was doing. Instead of seeing these men as holding an office of the church, they were treated as more of a useful sideshow attraction. They cashed in on the show, but they didn’t care for the souls of the men involved.

As far as I can find out, none of these evangelists were part of local fellowships. They had no leadership that cared for their needs. They were constantly giving out without the relationships the Lord has mandated for his people to walk in. Ephesians 4 talks of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers as all being necessary and implies the local church relationship.

Granted, some of these men did not want any part of local connection. Others would have remained in relationship with their organizations, but the organizations would not.

There was also an expectation on these men to walk in gifts and callings that were not theirs. William Branham was not a teacher. He knew he wasn’t a teacher and admitted this to associates. However, he wanted to teach, so he taught. And some of the things he taught were not good.

Lessons for Today

Acts makes clear that Evangelists were designed to work with Apostles and Prophets to establish the church. Philip preached the gospel, broke open an area so to speak, then Peter and John came in to lay foundations and release the Holy Spirit in the work. Then pastors and teachers are raised up for the maturing of the saints. This is all supposed to be a team effort coordinated by the Holy Spirit. Healing and deliverance were always supposed to be intragal parts of the message of the Evangelist. The miraculous was just a part of the package.

The Holy Spirit is once again raising up these anointed evangelists. Many of them right now are very young, but beginning to walk in great anointing. The church has to change the way it has done business to embrace this or it will once again miss a great opportunity for blessing.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2007 10:40 am

    I like your Evangelists posts. I like your
    emphasis on the supernatural. However, one missing
    element is this. You said: “Ephesians 4 talks of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers as all being necessary and implies the local church relationship.
    I would push you on the “implies” statement. Eph. 4
    does more than imply, it states clearly the gifts listed
    are for “equipping.” And that’s one area I rarely
    have seen an evangelist excel. They preach and leave, but when do they actually equip? I have never been
    discipled by any of the evangelists I have hear.

  2. rahabsplace permalink*
    August 15, 2007 7:06 am

    I absolutely agree with you. The problem with the current understanding of an evangelist is that they are not part of the local assembly and are thus unable to truly equip and make any impartation to a congregation.

    In my own ministry, I have always been about working with the people to help them find their “voice”, their expression of Jesus that works for them. Billy Graham is Billy Graham and no one else is. You don’t have to be an extrovert to demonstrate the love of Jesus to people. I have gotten more consistent openings with a plate of cookies than I ever have street preaching.

    I love Steve Sjogren and his statement “Random acts of kindness done with great love can change the world.” That is a very high grace, low risk method of evangelism.

    I personally believe one of the jobs of an evangelist is to discern where God is drawing people in a city and how to tap into what the Lord is doing. It is also to show people how their personality and gifts fits into that mix. I believe that everyone has a group that the Lord has prepared for them to work with and that they are probably the only person who has the right personality and gift mix to touch that group. It’s my job to help you gain confidence in what the Lord is doing in you so that you can walk in those works He has already prepared in advance for you.

    That understanding takes a lot of pressure off people. YOU aren’t responsible to MAKE something happen. You are simply walking in what He has already prepared.

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