Monday, October 27, 2008

Smith Wigglesworth

Smith Wigglesworth
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Smith Wigglesworth (1859 - 1947), was a religious figure and an important figure in the early history of Pentecostalism.

Smith Wigglesworth was born on June 08, 1859, in Menston, Yorkshire, England, to an impoverished family. In his childhood, Smith worked in the fields pulling turnips alongside his mother. Wigglesworth worked in factories as a small child, during the industrial revolution. During his childhood, he was illiterate.

Nominally a Methodist, he became a born-again Christian at the age of eight, and according to some reports, could help others do the same even at such a young age. His grandmother was a devout Methodist, following the teachings of John Wesley, but his parents, John and Martha, weren't practicing Christians themselves although they took young Smith to Methodist and Anglican churches on regular occasions. He was confirmed by a Bishop in the Church of England, baptized by immersion in the Baptist Church and had the grounding in Bible teaching in the Plymouth Brethren while learning the plumbing trade as an apprentice from a man in the Brethren movement.

Wigglesworth married Polly Featherstone in 1882. At the time of their marriage, Polly was a preacher with the Salvation Army, and had come to the attention of General William Booth. They had one daughter, Alice, and four sons, Seth, Harold, Ernest and George. Polly died in 1913.

Wigglesworth learned to read after he married Polly Featherstone. She taught him to read the Bible. Wigglesworth often stated that the only book he ever read was the Bible. As a preacher, Wigglesworth was quite serious about prayer and studying Scripture. He did not permit newspapers in his home, preferring the Bible to be the only reading material in his home. He spent time at home praying or reading Scripture. According to David du Plessis, Smith Wigglesworth could quote the entire New Testament.

Wigglesworth worked as a plumber, but he abandoned this trade because he was too busy for it after he started preaching. In 1907 Wigglesworth visited Alexander Boddy during the Sunderland Revival, and following a laying-on of hands from Alexander's wife Mary Boddy he experienced speaking in tongues (glossolalia). He worked with the Assemblies of God.

Wigglesworth believed that healing came through faith, and he was flexible about the methods he employed. When he was forbidden to lay hands on audience members by the authorities in Sweden, he instead developed a method of "corporate healing", by which people laid hands on themselves. He also practiced anointing with oil, and the distribution of prayer handkerchiefs (one of which was sent to King George V). Wigglesworth sometimes attributed ill-health to demons.

Wigglesworth ministered at many churches throughout Yorkshire - often at Bethesda Church on the outskirts of Sheffield, where he had many prophecies. In 1939, he prophesied that no man belonging to Bethesda would fall in battle in WWII. He also had an international ministry: as well as Sweden, he ministered in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Pacific Islands, India, Ceylon, and several countries in Europe. Some of his sermons were transcribed for Pentecostal magazines, and these were collected into two books: Ever Increasing Faith and Faith that Prevails.

Wigglesworth made a commitment to God that he would not sleep at night before he had won a soul for Christ every day. He claimed that on one occasion he could not sleep because he had not met this commitment, and that he went out into the night and met an alcoholic to whom he spoke and persuaded to become a believer.

Wigglesworth is considered one of the most influential evangelists in the early history of Pentecostalism and is also credited with helping give the movement a large religious audience.

Reportedly, David du Plessis recounted that Wigglesworth prophesied over him that God would pour out his Spirit on the established churches, and that David du Plessis would be greatly involved in it. Later du Plessis was very much involved in the Charismatic movement.

Wigglesworth continued to minister up until the time of his death on March 12, 1947.

Wigglesworth believed that God had cured him of hemorrhoids, and much of his ministry was focused on faith healing. He avoided medical treatment as far as possible, despite suffering from kidney stones in his later years. In his books, Wigglesworth said he refused any surgical procedure, stating that no knife would ever touch his body either in life or death. This was substantiated by a friend, Albert Hibbert, who stated in his book Smith Wigglesworth: The Secret of His Power that no autopsy was ever performed after Wigglesworth's death. Wigglesworth even claimed that God had allowed him to raise several persons from the dead.

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