(1859 - 1947)
Smith was born on June 8, 1859, to John and
Martha Wigglesworth in the small village of Menston, Yorkshire, England.
At the time of his birth in 1859 it was already a historic year. The Third
Great Awakening had been underway in America for two years, William Booth
had distanced himself
organized religion, forming the Salvation Army, and the Church in Wales
was praying for revival. That Smith would be counted among the other great
Christian leaders such as Booth in John and Martha's day, was the furthest
thing from their minds that spring of 1859. Their son would put God's fire
back into a church that had been smoldering for hundreds of years.
Smith's family was poor. His father worked long hours to support his wife,
a daughter, and three sons. So the boy began work at the age of six,
pulling turnips in a local field. The work was hard. His tiny hands were
sore and swollen from pulling turnips morning until night. But it gave
Smith his father's solid work ethic of laboring long and hard for reward.
When Smith turned seven he went to work with his father at the local wool
mill. From then on, life seemed easier for the Wigglesworth family. Their
income increased and food became plentiful.
Smith's father was a great lover of birds. At one time he had sixteen
songbirds living in their home. So the boy adopted his father's love for
nature and often searched for nests. He sometimes caught and sold
songbirds at the local market to help sustain his family.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US?
Though his parents weren't Christians, there was never a time young Smith
didn't long for God. He wasn't taught to pray at home, but he was always
seeking on his own. Many times, Smith would ask God to show him where to
find a nest of birds. Almost instantly he knew where to look.
His grandmother was an old-time Wesleyan who believed in the power of God.
She always made sure Smith attended the meetings with her. As a young boy,
he would sit and watch the "old-timers" clap their hands, dance to the
Lord, and sing about the "blood". When Smith was eight years old, he got
to join in the singing at church. As he began to sing, "a clear knowledge
of the new birth" came to him. He realized what Jesus Christ had done for
him through His death and resurrection. In later years, Wigglesworth would
write of that day, "I SAW THAT GOD WANTS US SO BADLY THAT HE HAS MADE THE
CONDITION AS SIMPLE AS HE POSSIBLY COULD - ONLY BELIEVE." And he never
doubted his salvation.
Young Wigglesworth immediately became a soul-winner. The first person he
won to Christ was his own mother. When his father discovered the Christian
"experience" had come to his family, he started taking the family to the
Episcopal church. Smith's father wasn't born again himself, but he enjoyed
the people, as they visited the same pub and drank beer together.
Soon Smith consented to join the church choir with his brother, but
because he had to work at such a young age, he was robbed of an education.
He was almost ten years old when he was "confirmed." When the bishop waved
his hands over the young boy, a powerful awareness of God's presence
filled Smith that would remain with him for days. Nothing like that seemed
to occur with the others, as Smith would later write, "AFTER CONFIRMATION
SERVICE ALL THE OTHER BOYS WERE SWEARING AND QUARRELING, AND I WONDERED
WHAT HAD MADE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM AND ME."
THERE'S SOMETHING DIFFERENT ABOUT YOU
When Smith was thirteen, his family moved from Menton to Bradford where he
became deeply involved in the Wesleyan Methodist Church. His spiritual
life took on a new meaning, and he longed for the Spirit of God. Though he
couldn't read well, he never left his house without the New Testament in
Later, the Methodists were planning a special preaching meeting, and seven
boys were chosen to participate, including Smith. With three weeks to
prepare, the teenager "lived in prayer." When the day arrived, he took the
platform to preach for fifteen minutes, and afterward had no memory of
what he had said. All he could remember was the incredible zeal that
clothed him along with hearing the hearty shouts and cheers of the people.
Smith began to witness the Gospel to everyone he met, but he couldn't
understand why so many seemed uninterested. Then, in 1875, the Salvation
Army started a work in Bradford. Smith was ecstatic when he heard the
news. Finally, he could be with a group of people who shared his desire
for the lost! So he joined the Salvationists when they arrived and would
very soon learn about the power of fasting and prayer.
The Salvation Army had more results than anyone else at the time,
especially in the area of soul-winning. Many times, they would have
all-night prayer meetings, lying prostrate before the Lord. The early
Salvationists had great spiritual authority and it was manifested in each
of their services. At the weekly meetings, the group would join together
and claim at least fifty to a hundred people for God, knowing they would
reach that number and more. Scores of people found Jesus as their Savior
through the branch at Bradford.
When he was seventeen, Smith met a Godly man at the mill who taught him
the plumbing business. As they worked together, this man explained to
Smith the meaning and importance of water baptism.
Eager to fulfill the commandments in the Word, Smith gladly obeyed and was
baptized in water shortly afterward. During this time, he also learned of
the message of the Second coming of Christ. He was determined to "change
the course" of everyone he met.
Believing that the Lord would help him in everything, Smith set out to
minister. In 1877, he went to a plumber's home to ask for a job. The
plumber advised Smith that he had no need for anyone. So Smith thanked
him, apologized for using his time, and turned to walk away. Suddenly the
man called him back saying, "There is something about you that is
different. I just cannot let you go." And he was hired.
Smith did such excellent work that the plumber couldn't keep him employed
- he worked too fast! So he decided to move to Liverpool, taking his
plumbing experience with him. With the power of God resting heavily upon
him, he began to minister to the children of the city. Longing to help
them, he preached the Gospel to them. Hundreds came to the dock shed where
Smith ministered. Ragged and hungry, the girls and boys came, and Smith
took care of them all. Though he had a good income, he never spent it on
himself, using it instead to clothe and feed these children.
Besides his ministry to the children, Smith and a friend would visit the
hospitals and ships, witnessing for Jesus Christ. He would fast and pray
all day on Sunday, never seeing less than fifty people saved each time he
ministered. The Salvation Army constantly invited Smith to preach at their
services, and while preaching, he always stood broken as he wept before
the people. Though he wished for the eloquence of Charles Spurgeon and
other fine preachers, it was his brokenness that caused hundreds to come
to the altar longing to know God.
"WHO ARE THESE SILLY PEOPLE?"
One of the greatest attributes in the life of Smith Wigglesworth was his
wife, Mary Jane "Polly" Featherstone. In the lives of many great ministry
couples, it seems that when one partner is strong, the other must take a
lesser role in order to keep conflict at a minimum. But this wasn't the
case with the Wigglesworths! Polly remained equally as strong, if not
stronger at certain times, than her husband. She never refused to take a
back seat, and Wigglesworth was in agreement with this. He said of her,
"ALL THAT I AM TODAY, I OWE UNDER GOD, TO MY PRECIOUS WIFE. OH SHE WAS
Polly Featherstone came from a good Methodist family. Even though her
father lectured in the Temperance Movement, he became heir to a large
inheritance made through the sale of liquor. However, holding fast to his
inner convictions, he refused to touch a "penny" of the tainted
inheritance. She watched the lifestyle of her father and echoed his strong
character and beliefs of holiness. She was also a woman who said what she
Later, Polly left her socially-affluent surroundings and headed for "fame
and fortune" in the city of Bradford. Once there, she accepted service in
a large family.
One day, while she was in town, she heard trumpets and shouting. Finding
her way to the "noise", she was intrigued by what she saw - an open air
church meeting! The Salvation Army was a new organization at this time,
and she thought, WHO ARE THESE SILLY PEOPLE? Curious, she followed the
group to a large, dilapidated building. As the Salvationists marched
inside, Polly remained on the corner, hoping no one saw her. Finally,
overcome with curiosity, she slipped inside and took a seat in the top of
"HALLELUJAH! IT'S DONE!"
Gypsy Tillie Smith, sister of the famous evangelist, Gypsy Rodney Smith,
was preaching. Hurling her fiery message toward the people, she proclaimed
salvation through the blood of Jesus. Polly was deeply moved. Realizing
her lost condition, she left the gallery and made her way to the altar
rail, falling to her knees. She refused any prayer from the workers, until
finally, Tillie Smith made her way over to pray with her. With the light
of Christ warming her heart, Polly jumped to her feet, threw her gloves in
the air, and shouted, "Hallelujah! It is done!" Sitting in the audience,
not far from her, a young man watched her intently. That man was her
future husband and partner in destiny - Smith Wigglesworth.
"IT SEEMED AS IF THE INSPIRATION OF GOD WAS UPON HER FROM THE VERY FIRST",
Smith said. The next night, as Polly gave her testimony, Smith felt she
"belonged to him." Being allowed to fore-go the customary period of
training, she was eventually given a commission as an officer in the
Salvation Army by General Booth himself.
Polly went on to serve the Salvation Army in Scotland for a season, then
returned to Bradford. She would eventually leave the army because of
conflict surrounding her relationship with Wigglesworth. She was an
"officer" and he was a mere "soldier". Though Smith never officially
joined the army, the rules were strict regarding any intimate relationship
between the two ranks.
After she left, Polly joined the Blue Ribbon Army, but she always remained
a true friend to the Salvationists. At this time, Methodist ministers
called her to evangelize their churches, and hundreds were converted
through her ministry. The power of God rested heavily upon her.
"SMITH YOU'RE NOT MY MASTER"
Polly became "Mrs. Wigglesworth" in 1882, at age twenty-two. Smith was one
year older than his new wife, and encouraged her to continue her
evangelistic ministry, while he was content in the plumbing business.
However, he did have a "burden" for an area in Bradford that had no
church. So the couple rented a small building and opened it for meetings,
calling it the "Bradford Street Mission."
In their thirty years of marriage, the Wigglesworths had one daughter,
Alice, and four sons, Seth, Harold Ernest and George (Who later died in
1915). But before each child was born, the Wigglesworths prayed over them
that they would serve God. After their birth, Smith took care of them
during Church while his wife preached. Following the message, Smith was
always at the altar, praying to bring people to Christ. Not at all
intimidated by his wife's ministry role, Smith said, "HER WORK WAS TO PUT
DOWN THE NET; MINE WAS TO LAND THE FISH. THE LATTER IS JUST AS IMPORTANT
AS THE FORMER." He knew the power of a servant's heart.
The winter of 1884 was a severe one for Bradford, and as a result, the
plumbers were in high demand. Not only did Smith spend the entire winter
working, but remained busy repairing the damage as a result of the
elements for two more years.
During those days of heavy work and great prosperity, Smith's attendance
in church declined rapidly and his heart grew cold toward the Lord. But as
his fire grew dimmer, Polly's grew brighter, and her zeal for God and her
prayer life never wavered. Her consistency and diligence in the things of
God made Smith's laxity all the more apparent, and he became irritated by
her very presence.
One night she came home from church a little later than usual. When she
entered the house, Smith remarked, "I AM THE MASTER OF THIS HOUSE AND I AM
NOT GOING TO HAVE YOU COMING HOME AT SO LATE AN HOUR AS THIS!" Polly
quietly replied, "I know that you are my husband, but Christ is my
Master." Greatly annoyed, Smith opened the back door and forced her out of
the house, locking the door behind her. But in his great annoyance he had
forgotten to lock the front door. So Polly walked around to the front of
the house and came through the front door- laughing! In fact she laughed
so much that Smith finally surrendered and laughed wit her. In his
laughter, a revelation came into his heart and mind, so he decided to
spend ten days in prayer and fasting to seek the Lord. In desperate and
sincere repentance, he found his way to the road of restoration.
WHERE DO YOU RATE ON THE RICHTER SCALE?
"The woman is the thermometer of the household, " is a true saying. For
example, if your wife is in a bad mood, the rest of the members will end
up having a negative attitude. On the other hand, if your wife is
cheerful, regardless of how bad you feel, everything seems more upbeat.
Polly Wigglesworth beautifully illustrated the principle of "Stability". I
am sure that her fidelity and joy were severely tested while her husband
was backslidden. She was a very popular speaker, holding evangelistic
services throughout the city, seeing hundreds come to Christ- While her
husband worked or sat at home. No doubt, there were whispers o Smith's
spiritual condition, as Polly's ministry was publicly scrutinized, but she
never "missed a step." Obviously, the one thing that caused her to triumph
was- HER SECURITY IN JESUS CHRIST.
In many cases, when a husband is backslidden, the wife nags and complains
thinking she is pushing him into action and repentance, but a repentant
heart is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit. The fire of God kept a
joyful heart within Polly. As a result, Smith saw his mistake and was
drawn back to Jesus. His wife's attitude was directly responsible for his
repentance, and eventually, their world-shaking ministry. This is the
highest goal of a "Help mate", to help (the mate) meet his or her call,
whatever it may be. God knows the heart of your mate and what it will take
to move him or her to the place he or she belongs. Just keep your own
heart right and leave others to God and the Holy Spirit. That way, you
will never lose.
THE FIRST HEALING
In the late 1800s, Smith traveled to Leeds to purchase supplies for his
plumbing business. While in Leeds, he attended a church service where
Divine healing was being ministered. Smith sat in the meeting observing
the marvelous healings that took place. His heart was moved and he began
to search for the sick in Bradford, paying their expenses to go to the
healing meetings in Leeds, never daring to tell his wife what he was
doing. He was concerned she would join the other scoffers of that day in
labeling diving healing as "fanaticism." But when she found out the truth,
she listened intently to his description of the meetings, and needing
healing herself, she accompanied him to Leeds. The prayer of faith was
offered for her, and she received an instant manifestation. From that day
forward, the Wigglesworths were passionate for the truths in divine
As a result, their church in Bradford grew. So they sought for a larger
place and obtained a building on Bowland Street and called the new work, "Bowland
Street Mission." They had a huge scroll painted on the wall behind the
pulpit that read: "I Am the Lord That Healeth Thee."
Smith's first personal experience with healing came in the early 1900s. A
hemorrhoid condition had plagued him since childhood, so a visiting
minister prayed and agreed in faith with Smith that this condition would
be divinely healed. Up to this point, Smith had used "Salts" every day,
but being fully persuaded in the will of God, he eventually stopped using
them, and found that he was fully healed, remaining so for the rest of his
By now, Smith was totally dedicated to the ministry of healing. Being in
business for himself, he had the time to take groups of people to the
Leeds Healing Home, always paying their expenses. He was known for his
great compassion towards the sick and needy. The workers at Leeds would
see Smith coming with groups of people and laugh among themselves, because
he didn't seem to understand that God could heal the sick in Bradford,
just as He did in Leeds.
"PUSHED INTO THE PULPIT!'
Realizing that Smith needed some "prodding" To get his public ministry
going, the leaders of the Leeds Healing Home made a decision.
Knowing they were going to the Keswick Convention, they asked Smith to
fill the pulpit in their absence. Smith was hesitant at first, but the
ministers assured him that he could do it. So he comforted himself by
thinking he would just take charge, and there were any number of people
who would agree to preach. When the day came to minister, Smith was in
charge, but no one would preach. They all agreed that Smith should do it.
Hesitantly, he began to minister and at the close of his message, fifteen
people came forward for healing. One man hobbled up on a pair of crutches,
and when Smith prayed for him, the man jumped all over the place, without
his crutches, instantly healed. There was no one as surprised as Smith!
From this meeting, doors began to open for Smith to minister, and he soon
announced he would hold a healing meeting in Bradford. On the first night
twelve people came for healing, and each one was healed. One lady had a
large tumor that was constantly draining. After the prayer of faith, she
went home and reported the next day that only a scar was left.
All too soon, Smith received his first challenge. It was a life or death
situation. The wife of a devoted friend was so ill that the doctors
expected her to die during the night. Smith's friend said he couldn't
believe for his wife, because he didn't know how. Compassion rose up in
Smith's heart and he determined to help that family. So he went to a
minister who was opening a small church in Bradford, and asked if he would
go to pray for the woman. But the minister refused. Smith then went to a
friend, who was known for his eloquent prayers. The friend agreed to go
with him and the two set out for the woman's home.
Smith felt encouraged to have someone with him. He exhorted his friend to
being praying as soon as they entered the home, and upon seeing the
weakened condition of the woman, the friend took Smith's advice. He began
praying- but not as Smith had hoped. This man prayed for "the family that
would be left behind" and continued in a rambling, negative tone until
Smith cried out for him to stop. Thinking the worst was behind him, he
then asked the woman's husband to pray. But he cried out in just as
pathetic a fashion. Finally, when Smith could stand it no longer, he cried
out so loudly that he could be heard in the street- "LORD, STOP HIM!" The
Smith then pulled a bottle of oil out of his pocket and poured the entire
bottle over the body of the woman, in the name of Jesus. Then standing at
the head of her bed, Smith experienced his f first vision. He said,
"SUDDENLY THE LORD JESUS APPEARED. I HAD MY EYES OPEN GAZING AT HIM. HE
GAVE ME ONE OF THOSE GENTLE SMILES....I HAVE NEVER LOST THAT VISION, THE
VISION OF THAT BEAUTIFUL, SOFT SMILE." And a few moments after the vision
vanished, the woman sat up in bed filled with new life. She lived to raise
a number of children and outlived her husband.
"COME OUT DEVIL!"
As Smith's hunger for the Word of God grew, he never allowed any
publications in his home, secular or Christian, except the Bible. He felt
that all he needed to know was in the Word of God. Smith said of his wife,
"SHE SAW HOW IGNORANT I WAS, AND IMMEDIATELY BEGAN TO TEACH ME TO READ
PROPERLY AND WRITE; UNFORTUNATELY SHE NEVER SUCCEEDED IN TEACHING ME TO
Smith's next experience with a life or death situation came into his own
life. One day he was suddenly struck with severe pain and was c confined
to his bed. Having agreed previously with his wife that no medications
would be in his house, he left his healing in the hands of God.
The family prayed all night for some kind of relief, but none came. Smith
grew weaker by the hour, and finally, he said to his wife ," It seems to
me that this is my home-call. To protect yourself, you should now call a
physician." Brokenhearted, Polly set out for a physician, believing the
end had come for her husband.
When the physician came, he shook his head and told the family that it was
appendicitis and that the condition had been deteriorating for the past
six months. He went on to say that Smith's organs were so damaged that
there was no hope, not even with surgery. As the physician was leaving, an
elderly woman and a young man came into Smith's room. The woman believed
in praying the prayer of faith, and she believed that all sickness came
from he devil. When she prayed, the young man got on the bed, laid both
hands on Smith and cried, "Come out devil, in the name of Jesus!"
To Smith's great surprise, The "devil came out" and the pain was
completely gone. For good measure, the couple prayed for Smith again,
after which he got up, got dressed, and went downstairs He said to his
wife, "I am healed. Any work in?" As Polly heard his story, she, still in
total awe, handed him his job request. He then set out immediately to
remedy the plumbing problem and was never again plagued by appendicitis.
"THEY'RE RECEIVING DEVILS"
In 1907 Another turning point came in the life of Smith Wigglesworth. He
had heard that a group of people in Sunderland were "Baptized in the Holy
Spirit" and "Speaking in other tongues." So he determined to see this
phenomenon for himself.
Until this time, Smith believed he was already baptized in the Holy
Spirit. He, along with his wife, followed the popular belief of the day
that sanctification was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Smith then
recalled an earlier situation that caused him to repent and begin a
ten-day fast. During this fast, Smith had found his way back to God, and
in fact, had experienced a definite change in his life. It is said that as
he prayed and wept before the Lord, he consecrated himself to be wholly
sanctified. When the fast was over, he was free from his temper and
moodiness to such a degree that some often commented that they wanted the
spirit that Smith had. As a result, Smith though that he had been baptized
in the Spirit or sanctified.
In writing to his friends in Sunderland regarding the subject of tongues,
he was waned to stay away because "Those people were receiving devils."
However, when Smith arrived and prayed with his friend bout the matter,
they looked at him and said, "Obey your own leadings."
He was disappointed as he sat in the meetings at Sunderland, under the
leadership of Vicar Alexander Boddy. In Bradford, there seemed to be a
mighty move of God. But here, it seemed spiritually dry, with no
manifestations. In his frustration, he continually disrupted the meetings,
saying " I have come from Bradford, and I want this experience of speaking
in tongues like they had on the day of Pentecost. But I do not understand
why our meetings seem to be on fire, but yours do not seem to be so."
Smith disrupted the meeting so many times in his desperate search that he
was disciplined outside the building.
BATHED IN POWER & GLORY
Seeking God with all his heart to experience this "baptism in the Holy
Spirit," Smith went to a local Salvation Army building to pray. Three
times he was struck to the floor by the power of God. The Salationists
warned him against speaking in tongues, but Smith was determined to know
God in this realm. Four days he sought the Lord expecting to speak in
other tongues, but to no avail. Finally, discouraged in his spirit, he
felt it was time to return to Bradford. But before his departure, he went
to the parsonage to tell the vicar's wife, Mrs. Boddy, goodbye. He
told her that he had to go home and didn't get to speak in tongues. She
answered, "It is not the tongues you need, but the baptism." Smith asked
her to lay hands on him before he left. It was then that the fire fell.
Bathed in the power and glory of the Lord, Smith saw a vision of the empty
cross with Jesus exalted at the right hand of the Father. Filled with
worship and praise, Smith opened his mouth and began to speak in other
tongues, finally realizing that even though he had received an anointing
earlier, he was now baptized in the Holy Spirit as on the day of
Instead of going home, Smith went straight to the church where Rev. Boddy
was conducting the service. Interrupting he begged to speak for a moment.
When he finished his "sermon," fifty people were gloriously baptized in
the Holy Spirit and spoke with other tongues. The local newspaper, the
SUNDERLAND DAILY ECHO headlined the meeting, giving detailed accounts of
Smith's experience, including the tongues and the healings. He telegraphed
his home, telling them of the great news.
On returning to Bradford, Smith felt he would have a challenge to face
concerning his newfound joy, and he was right. As he came through the
door, Polly stated firmly "I want you to understand that I am as much
baptized in the Holy Spirit as you are and I don't speak in tongues...
Sunday, you will preach for yourself, and I will see what there is in it."
She kept her word and when Sunday came, Polly sat in the very back of the
church. As Smith walked up to the pulpit, the Lord gave him the passage in
Isaiah 61 : 1-3. He preached with great power and assurance while Polly
squirmed around in the bench saying to herself, That's not my Smith, Lord,
That's not my Smith.
At the end of the service, a worker stood and said that he wanted the same
experience that Smith had. As he sat down, he missed his chair and fell
onto the floor+! Smith's oldest son stood to say the same and he also
missed his chair and fell onto the floor! In a very short while, eleven
people were on the floor laughing in the Spirit. The entire congregation
became consumed in holy laughter as God poured out His Spirit upon them.
This was the beginning of the great outpouring in Badford, where hundreds
received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in other tongues.
Soon after Polly was baptized in the Holy Spirit., The couple went
throughout the country answering the calls for ministry. Wherever they
went, conviction seemed to settle on the people. Once, when Smith entered
a grocery store to shop, three people fell to their knees in repentance.
Another time, two ladies were working in a field, and when Smith passed
by, he called out to them, "Are you saved?" Right after he said it they
dropped their buckets and cried out for God.
GOD'S FINANCIAL COVENANT
During the coming days, Smith developed the habit of prayer and fasting.
Soon letters from all over the country poured into the Wigglesworth
household, begging him to come and pray for their sick. He answered every
request he could, and sometimes after a train ride to a city, he would
find a bicycle and peddle another ten miles in order to reach the
With such an incredible flood of ministry work, Smith soon saw his
personal plumbing business decline. He was called out of town so often
that his customers would have to call on another plumber. Each time he
returned to Bradford there was less business.
Returning early from a convention, Smith found that most of his customers
had called other plumbers to do the work. There was one widow who couldn't
find help, so he went directly to her home and did the repair work, as
well as the damaged ceiling. When she asked what she owed, Smith replied,
"I won't receive any pay from you. I'll make this an offering to the Lord
as my last plumbing job."
So with that declaration, he paid his accounts, closed his business, and
began his full-time ministry. He believed, in spite of the stories of
poverty he had heard that God would abundantly provide as he served Him
faithfully. Confident in his partnership with God, he laid down a
"My shoe heels must never be a disgrace, and I must never have to wear
trousers with the knees out. I said to the Lord, 'If either of these
things take place, I'll go back to plumbing."
God never failed to supply all his needs, and he never returned to
"LET HER GO"
One of the greatest sorrows of Wigglesworths' life was soon to follow.
While waiting in the train station to leave for Scotland, Smith received
devastating news: Polly had collapsed with a heart attack while returning
from the Bowland Street Mission.
Rushing to her bedside, he found that her spirit had already departed to
be with the Lord. Not settling for this, Smith immediately rebuked death
and her spirit came back, but only for just a short while. Then the Lord
spoke," This is the time that I want to take her home to Myself." So with
a breaking heart, Smith released his partner, the one he had loved for so
many years, to be with the Lord. Polly Wigglesworth served the Lord until
the very last moment of her life, January 1, 1913. It is said by some that
after her death smith asked for a double portion of the Spirit. From that
moment on, his ministry carried an even greater power.
HERE'S the SECRET
Smith immediately started ministering throughout the country traveling
with his daughter and son-in-law. It was extremely unusual for the British
press to carry stories on religious news. Yet the DAILY MIRROR dedicated
their front page to his dynamic ministry featuring four photographs of
Wigglesworth in action. Because this newspaper was the most widely
circulated paper in the nation, hundreds sought out his ministry. Smith
had an incredible revelation on the subject of Faith and his teaching on
this subject attracted the masses. Wigglesworth didn't settle for hoping
that prayer would work. His revelation on faith was concrete, melting the
most hardened sinner to the love o Jesus Christ.
Smith's theory on faith was simple: Only Believe. He didn't believe that
God had favorites. One of his primary examples of this principle came from
the New Testament, where John was noted as the apostle whom Jesus "greatly
loved." According to Wigglesworth, John's "leaning against Jesus' bosom"
didn't make him a favorite. The factor that called attention to John was
his relationship and dependence upon Jesus. Smith constantly proclaimed:
There is something about believing God, that makes God willing to pass
over a million people just to anoint you.
Many books have been written attempting to find the secret of
Wigglesworth's power, but the answer is very simple, his great faith came
from his relationship with Jesus Christ. From that relationship came
Smith's every answer to every situation he ever faced. God has no
favorites, He works through those who believe Him.
"I'M NEVER TOO LATE"
Frequently Smith's methods were misunderstood and criticized. He was never
moved by the criticism, but he did have compassion on his critics. Instead
of retaliation, he would answer," I am not moved by what I see or hear; I
am moved by what I believe."
The Holy Spirit began teaching Smith the varying degrees of faith. He
first taught that FAITH CAN BE CREATED in others.
An example of this concept was a young boy who was seriously ill. The
family had sent for Smith but when Smith arrived, the mother met him at
the door saying "You are too late. There is nothing that can be done for
him." Smith replied, "God has never sent me anywhere too late." The boy's
condition was so bad, that if he were to be moved, his heart would stop
and he would die. Needless to say, the family had no faith and the boy was
too sick to believe for himself. Before he could pray for the boy, Smith
had to leave for an engagement at a local chapel. but b before he left
their home, he told the family he would return. He then instructed them to
lay out the boy's clothes because the Lord was going to raise him up. When
Smith returned the family had not done what he had asked, and when they
saw his Faith, they were embarrassed and immediately set out the boy's
clothes. Smith asked them to put only socks on his feet. Then inside the
boy's room, Smith closed the door and told the lifeless boy that something
would happen different from anything he had experienced before. "When I
place my hands on you the glory of ht Lord will fill the place till I
shall not be able to stand. I shall be helpless on the floor. " The moment
Smith touched the boy, the power of God filled the room and was so strong
that Smith fell to the floor. Suddenly, the boy began to yell, "This if
for Your Glory Lord" Smith was still on the floor when the boy arose and
dressed himself. Opening the door, the boy yelled, "Dad, God has healed
me,! I am healed!"
Such glory filled the house that the mother and father fell to the floor
also. His sister, who had been released from an asylum, was instantly
restored to her mind. The entire village was moved and revival began
throughout their city.
On that miraculous day, Smith learned how to TRANSFER FAITH by the laying
on of hand. His ministry would never be the same, for he had learned a new
degree of faith. FAITH CAN be Created and Transferred into the life of
"RUN, WOMAN, RUN!"
As his faith began to increase, the Lord showed him another principle of
faith: Faith should be acted upon.
Until then, the average believer seemed to think that God moved only in a
sovereign way. They felt they had no part in it. The ministry of Smith
Wigglesworth brought a new light to this dark area. Though his deep
relationship with the Lord, Smith began to notice in the Bible that the
people who received from God had acted upon His Word to produce results.
Thus, his ministry began to adopt this operation of faith in every
service. At the beginning of his altar calls he would say, " If you move
forward with only a foot, you will be blessed; if you move forward a yard,
you will get more, If you come up to the platform we will pray for you,
and God will meet your needs with His supply."
This was the central truth behind his healing ministry regarding faith. A
truth that many called, "Ruthless. " Smith Wigglesworth's actions were a
result of strong compassion and a rock-solid faith in God. A Christian
must ACT upon what he believes in order to receive the manifestation, and
sometimes, Smith had to INITIATE the action for a few individuals. He
called this type of ministry "retail healing," Mainly because his faith
contributed largely to their individual action.
For example, during a meeting in Arizona, a young lady responded to his
call for healing. She was greatly distressed with tuberculosis, but as she
stepped into the aisle, he said to her, "Now I am going to pray for you
and then you will run around this building." He prayed and then shouted
"Run, women. Run!" The woman said, "But I cannot run. I can scarcely
stand." Don't talk back to me," Smith shouted. "Do as I have said." she
was reluctant, so Smith jumped down from the platform, grabbed her, and
began running. She clung to him until she gathered speed, then galloped
around the auditorium without any effort.
There was another woman in the same meeting. Her legs were locked with
sciatica. Smith told her to "Run!". She was so reluctant that he pushed
her! Then he ran around the building with the woman clinging to him.
Finally, the power of God met her action, and she was completely
delivered. She walked to the rest of the meetings, refusing the street
car, delighted to have the full use of her limbs again.
"PAPA! IT'S GOING ALL OVER ME!"
Sometimes in his ministry Smith would use another approach to ACTING on
faith. He would read portions of Scripture, then act on it himself. Often
he held banquets to feed the lame and hungry, with the members of the
Bowland Street Mission serving the sumptuous food. He also arranged for
healing testimonies to be their entertainment, moving these poor people to
At the first banquet, Smith set a precedent for ht other banquets that
followed, At the close of the first meeting, Smith announced: "we have
entertained you tonight, But next Saturday we are going to have another
meeting. You who are bound today and have come in wheelchairs ...you who
have spent all you have on doctors and are none better, are going to
entertain us by the stories of freedom that you have received today by the
name of Jesus." Then he said, "Who wants to be healed?"
Of course everyone did. A woman in a wheelchair walked home, and an
epileptic of eighteen years was instantly delivered and was working within
two weeks. A young boy encased in an iron brace was instantly healed when
the power of God touched him as he cried "Papa, Papa, Papa. It's going all
Week after week, the healing miracles of the previous services went out
among the sick and afflicted, bringing them to the banquet service. W hat
a tremendous revival began among them- simply from acting upon the Word of
"I'll MOVE THE SPIRIT"
Smith Wigglesworth took Hebrews 11:6 very seriously. He personally
believed it was impossible to please God without faith. As a result, he
incorporated that faith into every segment of his spiritual life,
including the workings of the Holy Spirit. When the slightest breath of
the Spirit came upon Smith, he would go off into a room to be alone with
God. In developing this relationship, he understood the action of faith as
he cooperated with the Holy Spirit.
Once in a meeting, someone commented on how quickly Smith was moved by the
Spirit. When they asked him his secret he replied, "Well you see, it is
like this. If the Spirit does not move me, I move the Spirit." Those who
didn't understand the principles of faith thought his remark was arrogant
and disrespectful. But in reality, Smith knew how to draw the Spirit of
God. It all stemmed from faith, not arrogance. If the Holy Spirit wasn't
moving, as a service began then Smith would begin the meting in the
natural state. By his faith he would focus the hearers of the Word and
power of God and increase their expectancy.
As a result, the Holy Spirit would manifest Himself in direct response to
their faith. Smith took the initiative and stirred up the gifts within
himself by faith. He didn't wait for something to come upon him and
spiritually overtake him. To him, every action, every operation, and every
manifestation stemmed from one thin- absolute faith. true faith confronts
and it is ignited by initiative.
Then Smith Wigglesworth began teaching the Body of Christ that they could
speak in tongues by Initiative. To him, faith was the main substance, that
stirred the human spirit, not sovereignty. J. E. Stiles, a great
Assemblies of God minister and author, learned this important principle
from Smith Wigglesworth and carried it throughout his ministry.
In a large meeting in California, Smith gave the call for those people who
had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit to stand. Then he asked
for all those to stand who had received but had not spoken in tongues for
six months. "Now I'm going to pray a simple prayer." Smith began. "and
when I'm finished, I'll say 'Go,' and you will all speak with tongues."
Smith prayed. Then he yelled "Go!" The sound filled the auditorium like
that of many waters as everyone prayed in other tongues. Then, he told
them to do the same things again, only when he said "go", everyone would
sing in tongues, by faith. He prayed. Then he yelled, "Go! Sing!". The
sound was like a vast and glorious choir.
That day, Rev. Stiles said he learned that the Holy Spirit operates by
faith. Shortly after this revelation, he launched his international
Smith Wigglesworth was a man greatly moved by compassion. As he received
prayer requests from all over the world he would cry out to God and weep
on their behalf. Many times, as he ministered to the afflicted, tears ran
down his cheeks. He was also very tender with children and the elderly. In
his services, when the heat became stifling, he felt great compassion and
would call for the babies and the elderly to be prayed for first.
Demonstrating the truths in Acts 19: 11-12, thousands upon thousands were
healed d as Smith prayed and sent handkerchiefs to those he couldn't
visit. An intimate friend spoke of the sincerity and compassion portrayed
by Smith, saying, "When...the time for the opening of the letters came, we
all had to stop whatever we were doing and get under the burden. There was
nothing rushed or slipshod about his methods...Everybody in the house must
join in the prayers and lay hands on the handkerchiefs sent out to the
suffering ones. They were treated as though the writes were in person.
DOG THE DEVIL!
Realizing that the source of all the miracles of Christ stemmed from His
compassion, Smith became positively aggressive in undoing the works of
evil. His one goal was to heal all those who were oppressed and to teach
the body Of Christ to deal ruthlessly with the devil.
Once, while he waited for a bus, he observed how a woman was encouraging
her dog to return home, but after several "sweet" attempts, the dog
remained. When she saw the bus approaching, she stomped her foot on the
ground and shouted , "Go home at once!" and the dog ran with its tail
tucked. "that's how you have to treat the devil," Smith responded loud
enough for all to hear.
He had little patience with demons, especially when they dared to
interrupt his meetings. Once, he was conducting a meeting and couldn't
"get free" to preach so he began to shout. Nothing happened. He took off
his coat, and still nothing happened. Smith asked the Lord what was wrong,
and after doing so, the Lord showed him a line of people sitting together
on a bench holding hands. Smith knew at once they were spiritualists bent
on destroying his meeting.
Ass he began to preach, he walked off the platform and over to where they
were sitting. Then, he took hold of the bench and commanded the devil to
leave. The group slid into a heap on the floor, then scrambled to leave
When casting out demons, Smith Wigglesworth was totally confident and
secure in his faith. Prayers didn't have to be long; if the prayer carried
faith the answer was sure.
Smith's international ministry, begun in 1914, was in full swing by 1920.
Though the persecution against him was strong, it never seemed to be major
issue in his ministry. Unlike some ministries, there is more written about
his great strength and miracles than of his troubles and persecution.
Perhaps this is due to his extraordinary faith. He brushed off the
criticism like dust off his coat, never allowing it a moment of pleasure.
In Sweden in 1920, the medical profession and local authorities thought
they would "harness" the ministry of Wigglesworth, prohibiting him from
laying hands on the people. But he wasn't concerned. He knew God would
answer FAITH, not METHOD. After he conducted the meeting, he instructed
over 20 thousand people to "lay their hands on themselves" and believe for
healing as he prayed. Multitudes received instant manifestation. Smith
labeled this type of grand scale healing as "Wholesale healing".
In the same year, Smith was arrested twice in Switzerland. The warrants
were issued for practicing medicine without a license. On a third
occasion, the officers came to the house of a Pentecostal minister with
another warrant for Wigglesworth's arrest. The minister said, "Mr.
Wigglesworth is away now, but before you arrest him, I want to show you
the result of his ministry in this place." The minister then exhorted the
policemen to the lower part of town to the home of a woman they had
arrested many times. Upon seeing the manifestation of her complete
deliverance and faith in Jesus Christ, the officers were moved. They
turned to the minister and said, "We refuse to stop this kind of work.
Somebody else will have to arrest this man." And "somebody else"
did. But an officer came to him in the middle of the night and said, "I
find no fault with you. You can go." To this Smith replied, "No, I'll only
go on one condition, that every officer in this place gets down on his
knees and I'll pray for you."
Smith's ministry was flourishing by 1921. International ministry
invitations flooded his home inviting him to embark on his longest
itinerant journey of his life.
Though very popular in Europe and America, no one seemed to notice his
arrival in Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). But within days, crowds packed the
building trying to get a seat. Many had to remain outside. When the
meeting was over, Smith passed through the thousands of people, touching
them and believing God with them. Reports claimed that scores of people
were healed as "his shadow" passed by them.
In 1922, Smith traveled to New Zealand and Australia. Some believe that
Smith's meetings birthed the Pentecostal churches in New Zealand and
Australia. Though he spent only a few months there, thousands were saved,
healed, and filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in
tongues. Australia and New Zealand experienced the greatest spiritual
revival they had ever seen.
CAN YOU BLESS A PIG?
Dr. Lester Sumrall from South Bend, Indiana, once shared a humorous
incident that occurred during his travels with Smith. A dinner had been
prepared for them while they were together in Wales. And just as it so
happened, the main entree was roasted pig! Smith was asked to bless the
food, so with a loud voice he said, "Lord if You can bless what You have
cursed, then bless this pig! Smith's humor along with his boldness made a
great impression on Sumrall. Dr. Sumrall often laughed when he shared that
story with me.
AN UNPUBLISHED CONTROVERSY
Though many churches assembled as a result of his meetings, Smith
Wigglesworth preferred to be unattached to any denomination throughout his
ministry. It was in his heart to reach all people, regardless of their
doctrine. He never wanted to be swayed by any particular denomination.
There is little known controversy that surfaced in the life of Smith
Wigglesworth that deepened his belief in independent ministry. In 1915, he
had become a member of the Pentecostal Missionary Union. The unions'
governing council wasn't a denomination, nor did it offer ministerial
license or ordination. It was simply designed to be a covering for
ministries of like faith. Smith served with the PMU until his forced
resignation in 1920.
At the time he was forced to resign, Smith had been a widower for seven
years and had developed a friendship with a woman named Miss Amphlett.
Smith told her that he felt he had a "spiritual affinity" with her. But
Amphlett rejected the idea, and she and another woman wrote a letter of
complaint to the PMU. It was directed to the attention of Cecil Polhill,
who notified the other council members along with the council's secretary,
Though the PMU had very strict views concerning relationships between men
and women, Smith Wigglesworth was sure the PMU would stand by him in spite
of the accusation. But when the PMU received Amphlett's letter, Mr.
Polhill promptly wrote Wigglesworth requesting his resignation from his
council position. He went on to say that the council felt he should
"abstain for a prolonged season from participation in the Lord's public
work, and seek to retrieve your position before God and man, by fairly
long period of Godly, quiet living, so showing works meet for repentance."
Smith honored the request for resignation, though he felt the two women in
question had joined together to ruin his work. In fact, Smith was so
disappointed in Polhill for allowing the situation to be blown so out of
proportion, that he wrote directly to the councils' secretary, Mr. Mundell.
Smith wrote: "I think that Mr. Polhill has stepped over the boundary this
time (they are) making thing to appear as if I had committed fornication
or adultery and I am innocent of those things. I have done and acted
foolishly and God has forgiven me. This thing was settled in the spiritual
way and after this at the church and with Mr. Polhill and he ought to of
have seen the thing through."
In a separate letter to Mr. Polhill, Smith wrote: "...God will settle all.
The good hand of God is upon me, and I will live it all down. This week,
God has rebuked the oppressor through his servant. I shall go forward,
dear brother, and ask you to be careful that the Gospel is not hindered
through you and ought at this time to do unto me as you would wish one to
do unto you. Do not trouble to send anything to sign. I signed my letter
to you, that (is) all."
From that point on Smith Wigglesworth was constantly on the go answering
invitation to minister all over the world. And to guard against any more
false accusations of this nature, Smith always traveled with his daughter,
Alice. The controversy resulting in his resignation never slowed Smith
down. In fact, it seemed to speed him up.
This is often the case when people come out from under the direction of
denominationalism. I know the PMU wasn't a denomination. But these kinds
of governing committees can sometimes develop an element of control even
after they start out in the right spirit. The control can be so slight,
but it still affects the flow of ministry. It was better for Smith to
branch out on his own. He didn't need the reputation nor the association
with the PMU. He had power with God.
BETTER LIVE READY
Wigglesworth loved the Word of God and was very disciplined in his study
of it. He never considered himself fully dressed unless he had his Bible
with him. While others read novels or newspapers, he read the Bible. He
would never leave a friend's table without reading, as he would say," a
bit from the Book."
AFFLICTION HAD TO BOW
Through the eyes of Wigglesworth had seen many miraculous and instant
healings, he himself didn't receive such miracles. In 1930, as Smith was
entering his seventies, he was experiencing tremendous pain. He prayed but
wasn't relieved. So he went to a physician, who after X-rays, diagnosed
his condition as a very serious case of kidney stones in the advanced
stage. An operation was his only hope, since according to the doctor, if
Smith continued in this painful condition, he would die. Smith responded:
"Doctor, the God Who made this body is the One Who can cure it. No knife
shall ever cut it so long as I live."
The physician was concerned and dismayed at his response, but Smith left,
assuring the physician he would hear of his healing. The pain increased
daily, now accompanied by irritation. All night, Smith was in and out of
bed, rolling on the floor in agony as he struggled to emit the stones. One
by one, the ragged stones passed. Smith thought his ordeal would be
short-lived, but it lasted six long and painful years.
During this time, Smith never failed to appear at scheduled services, many
times ministering twice a day. At some meetings, he would pray for as many
as eight hundred people while in tremendous pain himself. Sometimes he
would leave the pulpit when the pain became unbearable, to struggle in the
restroom with passing another stone. Then he would return to the platform
and continue with the service.
Frequently, he would arise from his own bed to go to others to pray for
their healing. Very few ever knew he was going through the biggest test of
his life. Sometimes , he would lose so much blood that his face would be
pale and he would have to be wrapped in blankets to give him warmth. After
the six years had passed, over a hundred stones had been emitted into a
Smith's son-in-law, James Salter, gave this great tribute to Smith:
"Living with him, sharing a bedroom as we frequently did during those
years, we marveled at the unquenched zeal in his fiery preaching and his
compassionate ministry to the sick. He didn't just bear those agonies, he
made them serve the purpose of God and glorified in and over them."
"THEIR EYES ARE ON ME"
Two years into the battle with kidney stones, Smith didn't give up.
Instead, in 1932, he asked God for fifteen more years in which to serve
Him. God granted his request, and during those years, he visited most of
Europe, South Africa, and America. His greatest joy was seeing the Word
confirmed by signs and wonders, through the faith of the people. His
greatest goal was for people to see Jesus, not Smith Wigglesworth. He was
saddened in the last month of his life, as he commented: "Today in my
mail, I had an invitation to Australia, one to India and Ceylon, and one
to America. People have their eyes on me."
Sadly, he began to weep: "Poor Wigglesworth. What a failure to think that
people have their eyes on me. God will never give His glory to another; He
will take me from the scene."
AND HE WAS NOT....FOR GOD TOOK HIM
Seven days later, Smith Wigglesworth journeyed to a minister's funeral.
Along the way, he commented to his friends how "wonderful" he felt. He
pointed out the different landmarks where he and Polly had visited or
preached, then would tell of the great miracles that had happened while
When he arrived at the church, his son-in-law, James, opened the door and
helped him into the vestry where a warm fire was burning. As he entered,
he was met by the father of a young girl he had prayed for days earlier.
The girl had been given up to die, but Smith had great faith for her
healing. When he saw the man, he asked, "Well, how is she?" He was
expecting to hear that the girl was completely delivered, but the answer
came hesitantly. "She is a little better, a bit easier; her pains have not
been quite so bad during the past few days." Disappointed by what he
heard, Smith let out a deep compassionate sigh. Then his head bowed, and
without another word or experiencing any pain, Smith Wigglesworth went
home to be with the Lord. He left on March 12, 1947.
FAITH + COMPASSION = MIRACLES
As I ministered in a prayer line years ago, a man came up to me with tears
streaming down his face. He told me of the power he had experienced in the
VOICE OF HEALING revival meetings. The power of God in those meetings set
him free. Then he said something I will never forget as long as I live:
"Isn't there anybody who walks in the power like they did back then?
Isn't' there anybody who can set me free? Isn't there anyone like that
Has the power that Smith Wigglesworth walked in left the earth? Did it go
with him when he died? Of course not! The same power Wigglesworth operated
in is here for us today, we don't need more power. We just need to use our
faith and compassion for that power to operate. Wigglesworth operated in
the boldest faith I have ever seen since the book of Acts, but that faith
was ignited by compassion. Smith took God at His Word and was moved by
compassion for the people and that combination produces miracles.
The challenge now comes to our generation. God has issued the call for men
and women to invade cities and nations with the power of heaven. Will you
answer the call of God? Will you dare to only believe? Is your heart so
moved by compassion for the multitudes, that you will take God at His Word
and step out? Let it be said of our generation, "through faith (they)
Subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the
mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the
sword, out of weakness were made strong, were valiant in fight, turned to
flight the armies of the aliens." (Hebrews 11:33, 34). Stir up the gift
within you, and invade your home, your community and your nation with the
power of God. Let the will of heaven be done on earth- through you!
Pray To End
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