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The Comforter Has Come

The following is a report given by S. Henry McGowan. He was 14 years old at the time of the great outpouring in Los Angeles. He was privileged to attend these meetings with his parents and very vividly recalls those days. Henry died in Blakely, Georgia, in 1981 at the age of 81.

“I am writing what I personally saw of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Azusa Street Mission. Azusa Street is just one block long, near where Los Angeles and Main Streets merge.

“Years ago the Methodists built a church there. It was a two-story structure made entirely of wood, with the upstairs used as Sunday School rooms. Later, large warehouses began to build all around them. The Methodists decided to sell and build elsewhere. It was now being used as a warehouse and stable for hay and stock.

“Brother W.J. Seymore [sic], a black brother from Houston, Texas, had found this place and had opened it up for services. My family were members of what they called the Holiness Church. The Free Methodist Church and the Holiness Church were almost identical in doctrine. This was a small organization of just twenty-six churches, mostly in the Los Angeles area.

“There was a black Holiness church near where our family lived. It was pastored by a woman by the name of Sister Hutchins. It was she who invited Brother Seymore [sic] to her church for a meeting. He had just come from a great revival in Houston, Texas, where God was filling people with the Holy Ghost, and they were speaking in other tongues. He had not received this experience as yet, but believed in his heart that this was for today. He was preaching this in the church. My father, W.H. McGowan, would slip out to the meetings to hear him without telling the rest of his family. It sounded like what my father was looking for. After hearing him several times my father was convinced it was real.

“Our church had a Camp Meeting every year in the month of August, near Downey. We always attended. In 1905, the preachers were preaching that God wanted to send an outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon His people, and if our church did not dig in and get what God had for us, He would raise up a people who would. These people were hungry for God, but felt that it had to come by their little book of rules.

“Since my father had become interested in what was going on in Sister Hutchins’ church, he felt that their general superintendent should know about it. He sent for him to come out and hear Brother Seymore [sic]. After the superintendent had heard him, he got up and said that he was glad that Brother Seymore [sic] wanted the baptism of the Holy Ghost and that he hoped he would soon receive it. However, he said that our church already had this experience. They felt that when they were sanctified, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. But they did not believe that speaking in tongues was for our day. After the service he went to Brother Seymore [sic] and asked him not to preach this any more in that church. The Superintendent could speak with authority as all the churches were tied to the General Assembly.

“When the people found out what had happened, Brother Seymore [sic] was invited to one of their homes on Bonnie Brae Street. This was a middle-class section with nice homes, but not wealthy. That night the fire of God fell and a few people were filled with the Holy Ghost according to Acts 2:4. Brother Seymore [sic] was one of them. The next night the place was packed out.

“He was shown an old abandoned building that had been used as a church but now as a warehouse. They cleaned the place out and made makeshift benches, and used an old dry goods box for a pulpit. He didn’t do much preaching after it got going, but spent most of his time behind this old box with his head in it praying.

“He used the old Sunday School rooms upstairs to live in. News of what was going on soon spread all over the world like a prairie fire. People were hungry for God. Special prayer meetings were going on everywhere. God had put a new hope in people’s hearts. They would meet early in the morning and start singing. They had no songbook and no piano. But, oh, what singing! One of their main songs was, ‘The Comforter Has Come.’

“For a long time people had been crying out for a deeper walk with God. Now it had come and people were so excited about it. They would sing for a while, and then those who had been filled with the Holy Ghost would get up and tell about it, and how wonderful it was. After some testimonies, someone would preach and tell what God had promised. Then it would start all over again, and go on almost all night. If anyone was hungry, they would leave for something to eat and then return as soon as possible.

“Dad was hauling brick with a team of mules at this time. He would stop and listen and forget to go back to work; he was so lost in the Lord and what was gong on.

“My father got up in his Holiness Church one day and said that he was convinced that he had found what he was hungry for; and that if they fought against this love of God as individuals or as a church, that they would die spiritually.

“The pastor had not heard about it, but he said, ‘This may be our answer to our hunger for God. How many will meet me here tomorrow for an all-day prayer meeting and inquire of God what He has to say about this?’ Most of the number came. Before the day was over, God had filled a woman with the Holy Ghost. From then on we started going to Azusa Street every night except our service night.

“Mother received the Holy Spirit before April of that year. It was camp meeting time for our churches in Downey. We had always attended. We were like a big family. Mother felt like God wanted her to give her testimony to show them that this was what God wanted them to have. Mother prayed almost continually. While she was washing dishes, she had her Bible open, she would stop and read a while, and go on crying and praying. When Camp Meeting came she could hardly wait to tell how wonderfully God was blessing her.

S. Henry Mcgowan

From Clara Davis, Azusa Street Till Now: Eyewitness Accounts of the Move of God (Tulsa: Harrison House, Inc., copyright 1989), 14–16.

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