First location of the Azusa Street Revival
312 Azusa Street
Los Angeles, California
Seymour immediately encountered resistance when, just 2 days after arriving, he began preaching to his new congregation that speaking in tongues was the Bible evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. On the following Sunday, March 4th, he returned to the mission and found that Hutchinson had padlocked the door. Condemnation also came from the Holiness Church Association of Southern California with which the chuch had affiliation. Not everyone in the congregation, however, was troubled by Seymour's teaching. Undaunted, Seymour, staying at the home of church member Edward S. Lee, accepted Lee's invitation to hold Bible studies and prayer meetings there. After this, h e went to the home of Richard and Ruth Asberry at 214 North Bonnie Brae Street. Five weeks later, Lee became the first to speak in tongues. Seymour then shared Lee's testimony at a gathering on North Bonnie Brae and soon many began to speak in tongues.
Words of these events traveled quickly in both the African-American and white communities. For several nights, speakers preached on the porch to the crowds on the street below. Believers from Hutchinson's mission, First New Testament Church, and various holiness congregations began to pray for the Pentecostal baptism. (Hutchinson herself was baptized in the Spirit as was Seymour himself.) Finally, after the front porch collapsed, the group rented the former Stevens African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church at 312 Azusa Street in early April. A Los Angeles newspaper referred to it as a "tumble down shack." It had recently been used as a livery stable and a tenement house. Discarded lumber and plaster littered the large, barn-like room on the ground floor.
The meetings at the Apostolic Faith Mission quickly caught the attention of the press due to the unusual nature of the worship. Between 300 and 350 people could get into the whitewashed 40 x 60 foot wood frame structure, with many others occasionally forced to stand outside. Church services were held on the first floor where the benches were placed in a rectangular pattern. Some of the benches were simply planks put on top of empty nail kegs. There was no elevated platform. There was no pulpit at the beginning of the revival.
Stories of the revival advanced slowly during the summer months with only 150 people receiving "the gift of the Holy Ghost and the Bible evidence". But this changed in the fall as the revival gained momentum and people from far and wide began to attend. Missionary Bernt Bernsten traveled all the way from North China to investigate the happenings after hearing that the promised latter rain was falling.
Stories of the revival spread quickly across North America to Europe and other parts of the world as participants traveled, testified, and published articles in sympathetic holiness publications. Particularly influential was the Apostolic Faith (Los Angeles), issued occasionally between September 1906 and May 1908 through the labors of Seymour and Clara Lum, editors. Distributed without charge, thousands of ministers and laypersons received copies at home and overseas: 5,000 copies of the first edition (September 1906) were printed, and by 1907 the press run reached 40,000.
The Azusa street revival illustrated the fundamental truth about the acquisition of spiritual power: The desire to love others and win the world for Christ begins with brokeness, repentance, and humility.
Excerpts taken from:
AFM Church of God, Inc. Apostolic Faith Mission Church of God, Commemorating 100 Years of Glory. Cantonment: Affluence Publishing, 2006.
Apostolic Faith Mission