The fast-growing city of Los Angeles was an important stop on Aimee Semple McPherson’s unprecedented “Gospel Car” tour, which she launched in 1918 to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to cities and towns across the nation.
With but two days to get the ache out of our arms, after the long trans-continental Gospel Auto trip with a car whose speedometer registered more than 4,000 miles, we opened our revival campaign in Los Angeles.
Our campaign opened in an upstairs hall with a seating capacity of about 1,000. This hall, we were told, had been almost empty, the dear pastor preaching to about a dozen people. But from the first meeting, crowds grew steadily. In a few days, the people were not able to get into the hall. Prayer room, rostrum, stairway and corridors overflowed, and many were turned away.
Here in this “city of angels,” where the power had so wonderfully fallen years ago [the Azusa Street Revival in April 1906], we learned that diverse doctrinal differences had gotten the eyes of many off of the Lord, and that there was a dearth in the land. Hungry hearts were praying earnestly, however, and the Lord answered prayer in a wonderful way.
They who had lost their first love caught the flame and reconsecrated their lives to service. One night the Lord gave me for a text, “Shout, for the Lord hath given you the city.” Little did we know at this time just how wonderfully God had given us the city, first as our home, and later in revivals, and now as a base for evangelistic work at home and abroad.
The windows of heaven were open, hundreds were saved, scores were healed, and large numbers received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
People complained they could not get into the building; so [a temple auditorium] seating some 3,500 was taken for the larger meetings, the rent being $100 for each three hours. This rental the Lord supplied at each service without any special appeal.
This revival was not manmade but truly came down from the Father. At times, the whole audience would be melted into tears as the stillness of the Holy Spirit descended upon the place. At other times, it seemed as though the gales from heaven swept the place, and the heavenly singing would be indescribable.
It is impossible to describe the many cases wherein we have seen our God at work. A husband and wife who had not lived with each other for seven years both got saved and ran and threw their arms around each other; the wife received the baptism [of the Holy Spirit]. Two women who came in drunk were saved at 1 a.m. One man came, crying like a baby, asking for us to pray for him. In fewer than 15 minutes he was under the power, speaking in other tongues. Men and women from all parts of the building rose and came to the altar for salvation.
The seats were filled long before the meetings; then people stood, tightly wedged, for hours. Children and younger people sat on the floor in front of the altar, even on the platform itself, and every available foot of space was taken until the speaker found it hard to move to and fro without stepping upon someone. They raised the windows and stood on windowsills. Overflow meetings were held in other parts of the building. Many were filled with the Holy Spirit.
[There was] such a unity and melting together of workers, such a laying aside of quibbles and hairsplitting doctrines, such a going together for poor, lost sinners, God could not help but bless.
Editor’s note: Following the meetings in Los Angeles, Sister Aimee continued to travel and evangelize, even overseas. But all along she felt the city was significant and pondered what God might have in store (especially given the fact that during her initial visit a small home had been built and donated to her, for the use of her and her children). Los Angeles was eventually to become the launching pad of Foursquare’s expansion worldwide.
Adapted from This Is That by Aimee Semple McPherson, copyright 1923. Published by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.