The Life of Frank Bartleman
The Pentecostal preacher of today is obliged to spend most of his life in old drafty halls, with the poorest kind of ventilation. That means constant tearing down. The nervous strain brings on neuralgia and chronic congestion, through constant cold contracted, and overwork, for there are so few to do this strenuous kind of work today. This means a ‘living sacrifice,’ and the evangelist must find a place to rest, or go under shortly. We have said nothing about the separation from one’s family, whose company others are able to enjoy. Then there are hundreds of other things the people know nothing about, such as dangers in traveling, constant change in beds, food, climate, etc. And we have said nothing of the spiritual conflict, the centering of spiritual opposing forces in each battle, and the constant awful pressure of the forces of evil of the highest order. One is drawn upon for their utmost resources constantly. The worker is on the floor so much, on his knees in prayer in the meetings, that cold drafts in drafty halls sweep the body constantly. It is hard to keep off your knees in the present work. In fact you are driven to your knees and face in prayer constantly, and that for hours at a time. The remuneration generally is little if any more than expenses paid, and the evangelist is simply a channel in constant, strenuous use, soon to be worn out, and often then cast aside. His only refuge seems to be heaven. But Jesus is coming soon. Then we shall need nothing more.1
After studying the life of Frank Bartleman, one wonders if there was ever a Christian worker that laboured with such intensity and sacrifice amidst constant opposition as he. He was born in 1871 and raised in an eastern Pennsylvania farm by a Catholic father and Quaker mother. He was converted in 1893 in Philadelphia and soon afterward was licensed to preach. He married and over a span of a dozen years traveled America from east to west. He served with the Baptist Church, the Salvation Army, the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Pillar of Fire and the Peniel Mission chain. He was in constant prayer, hungering, supplication, and intense burden for an outpouring of revival. His ministry was filled with revival and he was privileged to attend, participate in, and, finally, record historically one of the greatest revivals that the world has ever seen, the Azusa Revival.
Bartleman’s family came from a very humble background. His father was a poverty-stricken immigrant from Germany who married a schoolteacher in America and they both began a farm and ran a pottery. Bartleman was one of five children, one of whom died after only a few months of life. Bartleman’s father, although raised Catholic, was not active in his faith and his mother was raised a Quaker and was somewhat religious. Bartleman would recount dim recollections of her bedtime prayers but says, “I grew up with no personal knowledge of God, but a reverent nature. I always feared God.”2 It is interesting that it was not until twenty-two years of age that Bartleman would find out that when he was four years of age one of his aunts had prophesied that he would be a preacher.
Bartleman’s childhood was very difficult. He contracted gastric fever and, at the age of one, he was given up to die by the doctors. However, he survived the fever. When he was five, he began suffering with double vision, which was serious enough that he had to be fed and led by the hand for two years. From age six to fourteen, he suffered almost daily with dyspepsia and headaches, and he says, “Life became a sore burden to me.”3 Bartleman lived in utter poverty and worked strenuously hard on the farm. He says that his father “… had little sympathy or understanding for weakness. I followed the plow many a day so sick I could scarcely drag myself. We were slaves to our daily toil.” 4 Bartleman says, “I hungered for sympathy, and love, but was misunderstood largely, except by my precious mother.” 4.5
Bartleman’s sympathetic mother, in trying to stir him in a spiritual direction, brought him to Sunday school. Bartleman has some recollection of hearing Bible stories and participating in a watermelon party, but says that the church people seemed like everyone else aside from their profession. By age sixteen, he was suffering painfully from varicose veins and wished secretly that he could die. He says of this season of his life:
At this time I knew nothing of the reality of God. I often wondered about Him, and feared to anger Him. I would lay in the fields at night, looking up at the stars, and wonder if it were possible for God to speak to me. I was willing to die. In my weakness I had lost all interest in natural life. I desired to know of the hereafter. But all seemed wrapped in impenetrable mystery. The stars were silent. There seemed no medium through which I might be instructed.5
At age eighteen, Bartleman was lured to the city of Philadelphia by one of his brothers who lived there and was propagating a “get rich quick” business venture. Bartleman got involved, only to lose most of the little money he had, all of which was very hard-earned. However, all was not lost. Bartleman liked Philadelphia and would return a number of times to this city. His time in Philadelphia would prove to be important in his spiritual search. He secured a job in nearby New Jersey, in which he worked from 5.00 A.M. to 9.00 P.M. on weekdays, and on Saturdays until midnight. Here he received three dollars a week plus room and board. He refused to work on Sundays and would instead visit his brother in Philadelphia. Here, he also visited the Grace Baptist Church and got to know some of the believers in this place of fellowship.
While his time in Philadelphia would prove to be important to Bartleman’s spiritual search, so would his time in New Jersey. One day an evangelist came to Flemington, New Jersey, and held meetings in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Bartleman went and comments; “This was the first time I had ever felt the moving of the Spirit of God. I could not understand the strange feeling that came over me in one of the meetings. But I never fully got away from it. I did not understand what I should do. It was an entirely new and strange sensation for me.”6
This new and strange experience left a real impression on Bartleman and much would happen in his personal life in the coming days. He injured himself in a terrible railroad accident which left his back muscles swollen and very sore. For weeks he had difficulty sitting, lying down or standing. His brother found him a more suitable type of employment than what he had been doing. He began working for a wholesale shoe dealer in Philadelphia. As well as this, he attended a Christian college two nights a week and then visited their place of worship, Grace Temple Church. He says:
I visited Grace Temple Ch. some, where my young friends generally attended and began to get hungry for God. Their lives made me hungry. They had something I needed. They did not preach very much to me. I did not seem to understand what I really wanted. I was coming from dense darkness. But a light was springing up before me, and I began to follow it eagerly.7
Bartleman eagerly followed the light during this season of seeking until he had his great breakthrough of conversion. He recounts in these words:
Some weeks before I finally found the Lord I began to seek for Him in real earnest. We were getting at close quarters. I remembered the Bible stories I had heard as a child in the little Sunday school in the country. They seemed to offer a clue to the situation. God was leading. My mind was turned to the word of God. I had never read it for myself and brought a Bible, beginning to read at Genesis. I was totally ignorant of how to found the way, but my will was being prepared to yield to Him. He knew how to reveal Himself to me. I began to stay at home Sundays and read my Bible. Being a non-communicative I did not express my hunger to anyone. I felt God was speaking and I feared lest he should be hindered. I was getting closer. My heart was yielding. The Sun of Righteousness was melting the icy coldness that had so long time possessed it. His love was conquering. Oh, how tenderly God deals with the unsaved soul. Especially when He senses a desire in the heart to know Him. He knew me well. I was so hungry for Him. I cared little to eat or sleep now, and yet I did not know how to find Him. I had never been to a service in a mission. And in the Baptist Church they had no altar.
Finally, on the fifteenth day of October, 1893, after eating my Sunday dinner at the boarding house, (1028 Race Street). I went to my room on the fourth floor, lonely and miserable. Something suddenly seemed to say to me, ‘It must be settled now.’ I was all alone. I sat down at my little table, and bowed my head in my hands. The crisis had come at last. I was about to find the end for which I had so long sought, about to reach my goal. As I sat there my life seemed to pass before me like a panorama. It was so empty. All my habits, everything, trooped past before me. Then a voice seemed to say to me, ‘Will you give up all these for peace with God?’ I gladly answered, ‘Yes!’ I felt I would rather die now than live a moment longer without God. I told the Lord He could take me to heaven in thirty minutes it He wanted to, if only He would reveal Himself to me. And that moment He entered powerfully into my soul. About all I had really known about the plan of salvation was that Jesus died for sinners. And this I had only grasped in a very hazy. But now it had opened up to me by the Spirit. I consciously entered in. God had accepted me. I had found Him and peace with God. The struggles of a lifetime previous were over. I had at last found that for which my soul had so long and so earnestly sought. The one great question of my life had been settled. I knew it. Nothing else seemed to matter now. My soul was saved. Let time be short or long, what matter. Tongue can never tell this side of heaven the joy I felt. I had emerged with one mighty leap from the Egyptian darkness of years into the marvellous light of God. In an instant a great light had sprung up in my soul. It was the beginning of the ‘perfect day.’ I had followed the glimmer of that inner light for a whole year constantly. And it had led me home. The burden of years rolled from my soul like the pack from a country peddler’s back. Oh, praise the Lord! I was gloriously saved and free. I felt as high as air. It mattered little about my natural life now. It was suggested to my mind immediately that I must tell someone about it. I felt that I would clinch the matter between my soul and God. It was again the voice of the Spirit speaking. I was saved to tell it. With the witness of my own acceptance came a desire to witness to others about it. And surely this is the first natural impulse of the new-born soul. It is the true spirit of salvation.8
Burdened to tell someone about his conversion experience, Bartleman ran over to a gospel mission nearby. He interrupted a meeting in progress asking if he might speak. They allowed him to share and rejoiced with him upon hearing what God had done. Bartleman recounts: “It was the cry of a newborn babe in their midst.”9 That evening, before hundreds, he shared of his conversion at the Baptist Temple. The next morning he also called his brother, Will, and told him the news. As well, he shared with each of his workmates how God had changed his life. Initially, they seemed to respect him but later they fiercely opposed him and Bartleman chose to quit the store. When Bartleman’s father heard of his conversion, he also ridiculed him. Bartleman was baptized at Grace Baptist Temple and began growing in his faith by leaps and bounds.
As Bartleman grew in his faith, it was not long before he sensed God calling him to ministry. He felt inadequate but yet yielded to the Lord’s call. In the fall of 1894, he began studying for the ministry at Temple College during the evenings. The church where Bartleman was had a membership of 3,000 and the pastor was a world-wide lecturer. He took an interest in Bartleman, encouraged him to prepare for ministry and even offered to pay his way through university. However, Bartleman did not feel right about the pastor’s offer. Instead, he says:
But I refused. I was naturally independent. And my heart was going out after the humble and lowly of earth. And right there I made my choice between a popular, paying pulpit, and a humble walk of poverty and suffering. But I have never regretted this choice. I chose the streets and slums for my pulpit, where pride and egotism do not reign. He said he believed I was called for some great work. That may have been simply a temptation to vanity. At any rate I could not respond to it. 10
Bartleman may not have responded to the pastor’s offer, but he did respond to the strong sense of God’s love for the poor which he was feeling. He began spending all of his spare time in the slums, preaching and distributing thousands of tracts. He also took other Christian workers with him who assisted in the outreach. Although being exercised in ministry was satisfying, Bartleman felt that he did need some further training so he continued studying at the college. At this time he was working a job from 8.00 o’clock to 6.00 o’clock and then attending the school four nights a week. Many evenings he was up past midnight, studying. Sometimes he went without meals in order to purchase the books which he needed. He recounts:
I was living on twenty-two cents a day, at a restaurant, at this time. A five cent bowl of stew, or a bowl of oatmeal, served for my breakfast. Then a twelve cent dinner and a five cent beef stew for supper. This was my meager fare for months, while working at the store and studying.11
Bartleman tells of the wonderful ministry which broke out in these slum areas:
But I saw many a poor derelict saved during this ministry. The people knew I was their friend. They never offered to harm me. A spirit of great unity prevailed among the slum workers. Only love could draw one to such a service. There was no intent of rivalry, no gains to be realized therefrom. I was accustomed to seeing definite results and expected fruit for my labor in every meeting. When such was not in evidence it caused great searchings of heart. My heart became hungry for a deeper consecration and a greater anointing from God for the service to which He had called me. I had much soul-travail in those days and was in the glow of my ‘first love.’ 12
It was during this time that Bartleman came to speak at the Church of God on Sixth and Germantown Avenue. A revival broke out and as Bartleman preached on the “Valley of Dry Bones” there was a tremendous response to the message. Bartleman declares that they had a “regular landslide of salvation.” 13 More doors began to open for Bartleman and his home church granted him a license to preach. He held this license for some years, but then made a switch to ministering in the Wesleyan Methodist Church in western Pennsylvania. Here, too, he was examined to receive a license for ministry and, upon doing so, was told that he had passed the best test on the Bible that any candidate before him who had been examined.
While doors of ministry were opening for Bartleman, he also had painful life trials. For one, he was involved in a streetcar accident in which he was dragged for half a block over a cobblestone roadway. He sustained long-term injuries as a result. Also, at some times he experienced strong resistance to his preaching. Nevertheless, he testifies; “The Gospel was fire in my bones that roared all the day. I felt ‘… woe is [unto] me[,] if I preach not…’ My soul was expanding in the truth. The Spirit of revelation was working mightily within me.” 14
With God’s Spirit working mightily within him, Bartleman continued in the ministry. He began supporting himself by selling religious books. When he had opportunity to speak in a church or a mission, he would. When no such opportunity was there, he zealously engaged in personal evangelism. He testifies that the “'[…] zeal of [thine] house […]’ had consumed me.” 15 He often worked from morning until evening on a very meager breakfast and without lunch. Bartleman again went back to college (night school) to complete his final year of studies. He would often study the Bible from morning until evening as well as spending several hours a day in prayer. Many times he subsisted on one meal a day and amidst the difficulties, Bartleman flourished in his relationship with God. He says: “… I was consumed by love of the word. … Several hours a day were spent in prayer. But I grew and grew during those days, and deepened rapidly in God.” 16
Bartleman became increasingly involved in prayer for his church that God would move in a powerful way. During this season he was also privileged to meet the evangelist, D. L. Moody, who held services at the church. During this season he also came into contact with the Salvation Army. Bartleman sensed that God was moving with the Salvation Army in a mighty way and often worked with them, sometimes even carrying their banner. Upon leaving college, he had a short visit with his parents, and then was soon heavily engaged in ministry.
So many doors of ministry opened for Bartleman that it is difficult to summarize them without getting caught up in the details. He traveled from city to city, visiting missions and sometimes stopping briefly for employment. Other times he continued to support himself with the sale of books. During this season, Bartleman became increasingly more and more involved in the Salvation Army, preaching in their outreaches. Of his interest and involvement in the Salvation Army, he says:
But their sacrificing spirit appealed to me. The Army seemed to offer opportunity for the work in which my soul was most interested. I cared nothing for notoriety and was perfectly willing to be sunk out of sight completely. So after an all night of prayer, to make sure to make of the will of the Lord, I presented myself to Col. William Evans, then commander of the Atlantic Coast Division, and was accepted. 17
Bartleman was stationed with the Salvation Army Corps as an acting cadet and was immediately ushered into service. Bartleman, and those who worked with him, experienced both intense persecution and wonderful victory. One night in the hall in which they were ministering, some dissidents ignited a small fire. The fire was quickly put out and Bartleman maintained his resolve to stand through the resistance. He says:
And this was my initiation into the Army. We were frequently pelted with eggs, vegetables, and even dead cats, on the street. They would throw barrel hopes over our heads while we were kneeling in the street praying. At one time they even stoned me in the doorway to the hall, but the the stones missed the mark. God protected. We seemed to wear a charmed life. They could not hurt us. They tried to break up our meetings a number of times. But God always gave us the victory. Soon after I entered the Corps, a revival broke out. I was very earnest in prayer for souls. It was a ripe field. We were in a factory district, of common people [a]nd of them heard the word gladly, as of old[.] In six weeks we had a hundred souls brightly saved, and soon became the banner corps of the division. In four months we had 170 souls. I was so happy one night I could not sleep. 18
After this happy and deeply fulfilling experience of revival, Bartleman experienced a depressing turn of events. The Army decided to move him to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Bartleman was still deeply burdened for the souls and the work that he was presently involved in Philadelphia. Bartleman followed orders and came to the new post. His heart was torn as he learned that the work in Philadelphia seemed to be weakening under the new leadership that was placed over it. In addition, there were problems within the team of workers that Bartleman now found himself with. The work here was dampened by division and Bartleman decided to leave it. He made plans to now attend the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. To get there was quite a journey in itself. He typically traveled twenty or thirty miles a day on foot for a total of 300 miles before arriving at the institute. Bartleman was accepted but also had to work there to pay his board. This involved scrubbing floors and cleaning and Bartleman was conscientious in both the manual and academic work.
While busy at both manual and academic work, a wonderful ministry opportunity came across Bartleman’s path. For a long time Bartleman had known of a traveling ministry known as the “Institute Gospel Wagon.” This was a 2800 pound horse-drawn wagon which ministers would take on long circuit routes throughout America to do itinerant preaching. The wagon came within 18 miles of Moody Institute and one day, while Bartleman was on his knees scrubbing floors, he was approached by a Mr. Otto Bidwell, who was in charge of the wagon. Bidwell asked Bartleman if he would like to take a trip and Bartleman jumped at the chance. On September 6, 1897, Bartleman, along with Bidwell, left the Institute on a southward journey, traveling first through Illinois, and continuing through Kentucky and Tennessee. They had difficulties with the horses but persevered from town to town, holding street meetings and selling books. They managed to make enough money to feed the horses and themselves and they often would sleep under the stars.
In Tennessee, Bartleman and Bidwell had some very encouraging meetings, conducted among Blacks. They found the Blacks very friendly towards them but, sadly, much of the white population in this area was offended by the involvement the two ministers were having with the black population. This continued to be their experience as they traveled south and tensions especially heated up in the state of Mississippi. Meetings were held in Macon, Mississippi, involving crowds of Negroes and here the authorities tried to hinder the meetings. Nevertheless, Bartleman and Bidwell continued and averaged a street meeting every two days, journeying fifteen to twenty miles a day. At this point, their objective was to reach Asheville, North Carolina.
On this journey there were many difficulties with the gospel wagon. Just outside Demopolis, Alabama, Bidwell drove the wagon into a big sinkhole. Bartleman comments:
He could easily have avoided it. But he was a predestinarian. He believed that what is to be will be, and you cannot change it. He had nearly upset the wagon several times before this through carelessness. But he would always say, ‘If the Lord wants us to upset we will upset.’ He was always patient, however, and never got excited. 19
After getting out of the sinkhole, they stopped at Demopolis, only to have the Marshall order them out of town. A little farther along, this time in Uniontown, Alabama, they again encountered rain and mud. They were soon trapped and one of the horses slipped, fell and, sadly, died. After ten days of camping in the mud, warmed only by a small oil stove, the two companions managed to get the wagon removed, but the journey was over. The wagon would be shipped to Asheville, North Carolina. Bidwell would journey to New Orleans, and Bartleman went to Florida. All in all, they had spend three and a half months on the wagon and had journeyed 1500 miles.
Bartleman journeyed on foot from one destination to another, sometimes having his journey lightened by wagon or train. Along the way he held street meetings and jail services, as well as preaching in churches. Lodgings were provided for Bartleman, sometimes by ministers or laymen. Increasingly it was Blacks who provided this. Bartleman comments; “Those were days I was thankful for a bed. For a long time after I had a bed of my own I never failed to thank God at night for a place to lay my head. I never knew from one night to another, for months, where I would sleep. 20
Bartleman began traveling north on foot, covering large distances and sometimes difficult and swampy terrain. Near Yamasee, South Carolina, he was even shot at by someone with a double-barrelled shotgun. After walking 100 miles in four days to reach Charleston, and after only eating six times, he found himself desperately hungry. A coloured woman, who kept a restaurant, served him a dish of rice to sustain him for the next leg of travel. On a subsequent night, again greatly hungering, Bartleman visited a Negro Episcopalian minister. The minister only had enough supper for one but gave it to Bartleman instead of himself. Bartleman wept over the sacrifice, appreciating it greatly. He said: “The colored people never failed me when in trouble.” 21 In the city of Darlington, South Carolina, Bartleman preached from the courthouse steps to an audience of at least 1000 Negroes. Bartleman continued into North Carolina and then to Richmond, Virginia. Here he received a letter from his mother which contained a five dollar bill. Next, he was off on a train to Washington, D.C., where he saw the Washington Monument and the White House. Two days before the declaration of war against Spain, Bartleman left Washington and in early April he reached Philadelphia. Here, he visited with his brother as well as his parents who were also visiting Philadelphia. From June 5 to September 24, 1898, Bartleman remained outside of Philadelphia, in Montgomery County. He worked on a farm, saved some money and improved his health.
On October 12 of that year, he began another southward ministry journey. His mother did not want him to go and even offered him a hundred dollars to go back to the Moody Bible Institute. However, Bartleman had developed a huge burden for the people of the southern United States and could not be dissuaded. In Ellijay, Georgia, he met a minister named Tillman who was holding revival services in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Bartleman was invited to participate in the meetings. Again, the Lord moved mightily in these services and Bartleman comments:
The power of God came on me mightily one day while preaching. I saw a ball of fire falling from heaven. It was about the size of a cannonball, and burst right within me. I do not know what the people saw but conviction seized them in a terrible way. In some ways God had revealed Himself to them. They started to run for the altar. There were about a hundred people in the audience. Only two remained in their seats, a colored man and a cripple. 22
Bartleman and Tillman held more meetings and on another occasion, seventy came to the altar. Bartleman comments; “Many were truly changed. God had laid to His hand.”23 From there, they went to a place called Talking Rock. This area was known as the heart of the moonshine district. Bartleman dared to preach against whiskey and the crowd almost mobbed him. They continued on to Nelson, Georgia and started holding meetings in an academy building. People began coming to the Lord and a revival broke out. Bartleman reports that, by the time they left the town, almost all of its inhabitants professed conversion and the saloon was “practically busted.” Later, the saloon did in fact close down and its owner left town. Among the converted was one notorious drunkard who came to the Lord along with his wife. He later wrote Bartleman a touching letter of thanks.
Here Bartleman and Tillman parted ways and Bartleman continued journeying throughout Georgia. He was privileged to speak in both Baptist and Methodist churches as well as doing street meetings. On December 14, 1898, Bartleman turned twenty-seven. He continued to minister, both inside and outside of Georgia, but soon was brought low by bouts of malaria. In the city of Atlanta, he went to Grady Hospital for treatment. However, they would not treat him because he was not a resident. So, instead, he ended up staying in the home of a Free Methodist, Elmer Shelhamer. A doctor advised Bartleman against taking quinine and instead gave him arsenic. This did not help and Bartleman testifies that his nerves were so bad that he could not sleep. He testifies: “… for two years after getting north, I often felt like a drowning man, struggling to keep my head above water. The malaria poisoning has never fully left me.”24 In Atlanta, Bartleman began preaching again, even at a stockade, to gang members. He zealously distributed hundreds of tracts, saying: “It was my life.”25
Bartleman did not remain in Georgia, but continued on, eventually arriving in Pittsburgh. He learned of a Hope Mission, run by a Rev. Sandys and a Pastor McCracken. They met and Sandys arranged for Bartleman to stay in the mission home. Here, Bartleman got some well-needed rest but almost immediately was pressed back into ministry. Pastor McCracken had been praying for someone to take his place and once Bartleman was settled, McCracken left the work. Even Rev. Sandys temporarily left for a time and Bartleman was put in charge of this large mission. He says; “ … I had been a perfect stranger to them all only a few days before. I had come altogether without recommendation. God’s ways are truly wonderful.”26 The first crisis which Bartleman experienced was when one of the matron workers left the house and its occupants unattended. Bartleman got word of this to Rev. Sandys who decided to dismiss the matron and replace her with a young Christian worker, Miss Ladd. In the mission, Bartleman and Miss Ladd both worked and saw each other daily. God blessed Bartleman’s ministry here and he testifies; “We had many conversions in the mission. It was a live work and very spiritual.”27 All in all, Bartleman was in charge of the mission for eight weeks, and in that time saw thirty-four conversions. After eight weeks, he was relieved of his duties in the mission and he began planning to go back to Philadelphia. Upon leaving, Bartleman felt an inner pain. He reports; “But upon leaving I suddenly found it was going to be hard to leave Miss Ladd. She already crept into my life unawares. I was now almost twenty-eight years of age. We had been thrown together closely, and had shared a heavy responsibility. I asked for her photo before leaving Pittsburgh, and requested her to write me.”28
Bartleman ministered in various places in Pennsylvania and also in Delaware. After his first night of preaching in Delaware, he realized that he had no place to stay. As the last attendee left the meeting he asked Bartleman where he was staying. Again, Bartleman had no answer so the man provided him a hotel room for a couple of nights, as well as some food. Bartleman preached here three nights. Soon he received a letter from Rev. Sandys, inviting him to come back to the Hope Mission. Bartleman prayed that if this was God’s mission, that God would provide the fare. After counting some money from the meetings, he discovered that he had just enough money to get back to the mission. He took this as God’s leading and arrived back at the Hope Mission on December 26.
At the Hope Mission, Bartleman again became busy. Many souls were saved. He testifies; “The Lord wonderfully blessed at Hope Mission. At times in the saints meetings Sunday afternoons, there was such a weight of glory one had to gasp for breath, and cry out under it. The natural man could hardly bear it. A wonderful spirit of love and unity prevailed.”29
One day, Bartleman received a troubling letter. It was from Miss Ladd. The letter was a refusal to marry him. Bartleman was perplexed, considering he had not proposed to her. He assumed that she must have suspected his feelings for her and wanted to announce her refusal before he dared to ask her. Bartleman burned the letter and reflected on how much he cared for Miss Ladd. He would not learn until later that someone else in the mission had written a proposal to her and she had mistakenly thought that the proposal had come from Bartleman. Upon realizing her mistake, Miss Ladd was extremely embarrassed. She refused the other man’s proposal and tried to explain the situation to Bartleman. In the natural, everything seemed to be against Bartleman, but chain of events all turned around in his favour. Rev. Sandys admitted that he would have done what he could to stop Bartleman in any pursuit of Miss Ladd. However, Sandys was out of town at the time. Another worker had already planned to marry Ladd off to her son. Also, another young convert was pursuing her hand. All of a sudden, both Bartleman and Ladd were instructed to look after a mission at McKees Rocks. Two other workers were also sent, but both of them were unable to go until the evening. As it turned out, Bartleman and Ladd were assigned to look after the mission and do visitation work. That day Bartleman prayed to the Lord, asking whether he should propose to Miss Ladd. He says that this was immediately followed by “…a strong witness that I should.”30 Later that afternoon, the two found themselves together at the mission. Bartleman officially proposed and she consented to marry him.
Having received her consent, Bartleman and Ladd were engaged but, before they could marry, Bartleman would go through another painful life trial. He had struggled with his health for years and a doctor, who professed to having been converted at the mission, offered Bartleman an operation for free. Bartleman agreed, however, he was placing himself in untrustworthy hands. On the day of the operation, the doctor had been drinking and, still partly under the influence of the alcohol, conducted the surgery. Bartleman testifies; “He had been drinking, and simply butchered me.”31 Bartleman was sent home, improperly cared for and before reaching the mission home, discovered that he was bleeding. He did not know where to go, but miraculously, on the way home saw a surgeon’s sign. Even though it was late in the evening, the surgeon was still in his office and gave some treatment to Bartleman. Bartleman was in terrible pain and claims that for the next two weeks he did not sleep for more that a total of three hours. He prayed desperately for God to work a miracle. He found his eye settling on a motto written on his wall which said; “Fear not, only believe.” From that time, he found that he could sleep and he began to mend from the injury.
On May 2, 1900, Bartleman and Ladd were married at a Methodist Parsonage. The young married couple rented a Parsonage and Bartleman thanked God for this blessing:
I was now to have a rest from constant change, travel, uncertainty of abode, etc. We soon had a little home by ourselves, a rented Parsonage. This was my first home. I was now to put my feet under my own table and sleep in my own bed. It was a new experience for me and greatly appreciated. For months afterward I never sat down to eat, or went to bed at night without thanking God fervently for these unaccustomed mercies to me.32
God had shown many mercies to Bartleman and, for the next season of their lives, Bartleman was under the leadership of a Methodist Conference through which he was put charge of a country district in which he would do a variety of ministry. He obtained an old skinny horse which would carry him around from place to place within the district. On one occasion, he traveled forty miles to an annual Wesleyan camp meeting. At the beginning of the meeting, nothing much seemed to be happening, however, God was about to break through in a mighty way. Bartleman preached and testified of the meeting:
The tide rose. We had one of the best camps they had ever had. I spent most of the time journeying the camp in prayer. One morning the Spirit was heavy upon me. I came into the tent and sat down, but soon lost all control of my body under the power. The burden was very great. I could not move. The meeting began. Suddenly the power of God began to go through me like great waves of electricity. It seemed as though I would be electrified under the mighty shock. I gasped for breath like a dying man. The evangelist never got a chance to preach. He attempted it two or three times, but finally gave it up. The preachers all piled up at the altar, at the right side in the place of the penitents, and the power of God literally swept the place. They told me later it went through the tent in waves. This was at the time I was experiencing the mighty shock. I was unconscious to what was going around me. I came back around to my surroundings slowly. There was a halo all over the tent. It was some time before things looked natural to me again. It was a powerful visitation.33
There would be more remarkable incidents such as this in Bartleman’s ministry. Once, just before holding special services at a nearby church, Bartleman recounts:
While praying in my room one evening, just before going to preach suddenly the very atmosphere of the room changed. Everything became unnatural, it was like heaven, a change of worlds. The whole atmosphere became supernatural. I started for the church panting for breath under the weight of the presence of God. No pen or tongue can describe the sensation. Reaching the church I entered and stood at the desk. But I could not utter a word. The house was full of people. They were opposing me bitterly. After a few moments of silence, in which one could almost hear a pin drop, the power of God came upon me so strong that I fell to the floor helpless. For a full half hour I lay like a dead man. I could not move. The atmosphere was awful with conviction. I could hear groans all over the house. But the people dared not move. The fear of God was on them. It seemed like judgment day. Finally I found myself able to rise, and I preached with a mighty anointing, a solemn message of warning.34
Despite this incredible display of God’s power and conviction, the people still seemed to reject what was happening in their midst. However, Bartleman would receive many more invitations and opportunities to minister. The next invitation came from New York, where he was to assist with some revival services. Here he would preach in a church that his father-in-law pastored. To Bartleman’s grief, his father-in-law tried to control what Bartleman was to preach and he also would interfere with Bartleman giving an altar call. However, on one evening when the father-in-law was not present, Bartleman gave a strong altar call and people began responding to God. The father-in-law later rebuked Bartleman publicly for the altar call.
Bartleman continued on to the very area where he was born and raised and he preached at two churches in Carversville. At one of these churches, his mother heard him preach for the first time in her life. On April 30, 1901, the Bartleman’s had the happy experience of having their first child, a baby girl. They named her Esther. Around this time, there were large changes to Bartleman’s situation. He had to leave his place of residence and was told to find employment. This led to him finding work in Youngstown, Ohio, in a railroad freight depot, and after arranging for an unfurnished two-room accommodation, he sent for his wife and child. The work was extremely heavy and sporadic. Their dinner table was a dry-goods box, and they were thankful to eat their meals together on it. When Bartleman didn’t have work, he often would speak in the streets, usually to large crowds. As well, he would distribute tracts and preach in the jail and missions. Bartleman’s time here would not be long. He learned of a Pentecostal Union home in Colorado where they could stay and minister. The Bartleman’s acted on this opportunity and moved there.
The Bartleman’s did not know that moving to the mission in Colorado would prove to be an enormously draining experience. The house was run by a married couple, the husband of which Bartleman said, “had a very tender spirit.” However, he describes the wife as being “hard and tyrannical.” Bartleman watched her break the will of all the other workers in the home, but says,”this she could not do with me, and she seemed to sense it from the beginning.“35 Mrs. Alma White seemed to have a way of making people feel guilty even when there was no cause for guilt. Even though Bartleman would not yield to this, he felt the strain of her influence and he lost ten pounds in two weeks. He says; “The spirit was awful that was bearing down upon us.”36 Mrs. White even required the mission workers to dance while she would play piano. Bartleman and his wife refused to participate in this and the tension increased greatly. All in all, the Bartlemans stayed in the mission house for three months. Although this time was extremely stressful for Bartleman, he did continue zealously in his work. While in Denver, he distributed thousands of tracts and preached on the streets many times. He also used his time there to study and read the life of J. Wesley Redfield, Phoebe Palmer, David Brainerd, Roland Hill, Thos. Harrison, Father Dyer, Amanda Smith, Geo. Muller, D. L. Moody, Luther Lee, Chas. G. Finney, Jonathan Edwards, John G. Patton, Benj. Abbot, John Nelson, Peter Cartwright, and Wm. Carvosso. He says; “I received great help from the lives of these old saints.”37 However, the Bartleman’s time at this mission was coming to a close. An opportunity presented itself for the Bartlemans to live at the home of a farmer. Without telling Mrs. White, they packed and left the house. When Mrs. White realized what had happened, she was furious and made efforts to get the farmer to disallow the move. However, her plans were thwarted and the Bartlemans were allowed to stay with the farmer.
Soon after this, Bartleman was invited to come to tent meetings in the town of Greeley. Here, he devoted time to prayer and says of one meeting:
One night I was greatly burdened during the service. I laid behind the organ through the meeting, groaning in prayer in the straw. A fearful storm was coming up. It blew almost a cyclone. Sister Livingstone quit preaching and wanted to send the people home. But I begged her not to. A great conviction was on the people. The Lord got busy. It was raining in torrents now so the people could not leave. A spiritual cyclone suddenly struck the tent. We had only to keep out of the way of the Spirit. Several hardened sinners,who had been standing in the way of the meeting, suddenly went down. The power of God seemed to go around the tent in circles. It moved the sinners off their seats as it went. They lay like sheaves of wheat on a threshing floor. And all without human intervention. God did it. Some of the hardest of them were gloriously saved. It was the real break in the meetings. Many were saved in the next few days.38
Bartleman joined the State Holiness Association Of Colorado and he was made a pastor of one of the groups. Around sixty people had come to Christ in the tent meetings and Bartleman began shepherding them. Bartleman’s wife and daughter were brought together with him and for a time they lived in the home of a Mr. Hamman and then in a tent which they purchased for ten dollars. However, Bartleman’s time here again would be short. Multiple complaints were coming in over the fact that Bartleman had painted scriptures on irrigation ditch bridges. The town marshal ordered him to stop. Around this same time Bartleman received an invitation to move to Boulder, Colorado and do mission work there. They chose to go.
In Boulder, their living circumstance was complex. They were invited to stay at the home of a Mr. Foster. Bartleman’s wife and daughter were to stay in a small room in the home, however, he had to live outside in his tent. They accepted this arrangement as the Lord’s provision and Bartleman says: “I immediately entered into the mission work with all of my strength.”39 In Boulder, Bartleman would visit the hospital, jail and would distribute tracts on the street. He found that this was a hard field for ministry. Not all of Bartleman’s time here was spent engaged in outreach. Bartleman loved to get alone with God, and on at least one occasion climbed to the top of Flagstaff Mountain. Here, he had a great experience of reflection and communion with the Lord. During this season of seeking the Lord, Bartleman began receiving a strong impulse. He says; “I began to have a strong desire to get to California.”40
Bartleman acted on this strong desire to get to California and wrote to a Mr. Ferguson of Los Angeles, requesting to serve in one of his Peniel Missions. Ferguson responded with a warm invitation to come to the coast and to take charge of their mission at Santa Rosa. This appointment would change to serving at the Peniel Mission in Sacramento. However, Bartleman was to come up with the twenty dollars needed for train fare. This he did not have, so he put the matter in God’s hands. By this time, Bartleman was thirty-one years of age. Ferguson now sent Bartleman a telegram, calling him to come to California at once. As well as the telegram, he made arrangements to send the train fare. There were some complications, but it was not long before the Bartlemans were on the train, with the first stop at the destination of Sacramento.
Upon arriving at Sacramento, Bartleman was placed in charge of the mission there. In the first service, six people responded to the altar call. He would preach in open-air meetings as well as meetings in the mission which were conducted every night. Bartleman would go right into saloons and deal directly with bartenders and customers. He would also distribute many tracts. In the mission, it was a tradition to pass a collection basket. Bartleman did not like this and dispensed with the practice. There were numerous trials that the Bartlemans faced. For one, directly above their mission hall was a rooming house, not owned by the mission. Many prostitutes lived in the rooming house. They, along with others, were convicted and offended by the worship and ministry which they could hear through the floor. They responded by pouring dirty water through the floors and this would seep into the mission. However, God gave the Bartlemans the grace to persevere through these trials.
During this season, Bartleman tells of a wonderful experience that he had with the Lord. He says:
God knew the testing that lay ahead of me, so one day while I was sweeping the hallway at the home, He suddenly dropped into my soul a landslide of glory. It was altogether unexpected. I had not even been praying at the time. I was almost caught out of the body, finding myself all at once wrapped in a cloud of glory. It was like being transported to another world and a complete surprise to me.41
While Bartleman was out of town, he received news that his wife had given birth to a second child, another daughter. The baby was named Ruth. By this time Bartleman’s wife and, now two, children were staying at a rescue home in Sacramento. Bartleman was not allowed to stay there, but, instead, had to live in his tent in the yard. By taking care of the yard, he would earn money for meals. This arrangement soon broke down and the matron in charge of the house told Bartleman to leave the property. He was without a penny but still made plans to go to Santa Cruz. Bartleman made his way there and after some ministry, was able to return to Sacramento to bring his wife and family to Santa Cruz. Here, he did a little mission work as well as gaining employment digging ditches for a sewer company. Each day of employment would earn him two dollars. Bartleman also did some ministry in Santa Rosa, around this time. However, they were to move again. Bartleman was about to step into the ministry that he became the most known for. On December 20, 1904. the thirty-three year old Bartleman, along with his family, left Santa Cruz for Los Angeles. Here, they lived with another family who provided them with two unfurnished and unheated rooms.
In Los Angeles, Bartleman threw himself into outreach work. He started a street meeting but this was shut down because he had no permit. Not dissuaded, he began to work with local missions. He says; “Every night found me taking part in services and my days were spent in personal work. We lived by faith, having no income.”42
Engaged in mission and personal work, Bartleman continued on. A very painful life experience was just around the corner. His daughter, Esther, became sick and died. Bartleman tells of this experience in these words:
Little Esther, our oldest child, was seized with convulsions and passed away to be with Jesus
at January 7 at 4.00 A.M. She had been a great sufferer all her life, being very frail from birth. This time it seemed God’s will to take her. I was constrained to pray that she might be spared from so much suffering. I felt I was holding her by my prayers and prolonging her suffering. God wanted her but would not tear her from me. He made me willing to give her up, and then [H]e took her. She soon passed into the glory world without further struggle. I had kissed her that morning for the last time in consciousness, little realizing it would be the last. Our little ones slip away from us so easily. Let us make the most of them while we have them with us. Deal gently with the children. Life is hard enough for them at best, and we may regret their loss when too late. This is a tremendous universe for the child’s spirit and filled with terribly evil forces. We must protect and help them all we can. Wife plead with the unsaved woman in the house to get right with God as little Esther’s spirit was departing, so great was the grace given her. We had fondly had hoped that our little family might never be broken into by death. But He knew best. I copied the following from my diary written at this time: ‘Little Esther slipped away from us early this morning to be with Jesus. The angels called her and she went to meet them. They carried her off and left us lonely hearted. Oh, what a void her absence leaves with us! But we sorrow not as those who have no hope. She is safe forevermore. Saved from an unfriendly world and a life of suffering. She was too frail for the long journey of suffering in this life and so He spared her. She was as innocent of evil as anyone could be. The great ordeal of life is past for her. She has gone on before, ahead of us, saved from the sorrow of parting. She has escaped safely, while we must struggle on. Her work is finished in the cool of the early morning of life, and she has gone home, spared the heat of the journey. The angels will care for her far better than we could, and she will be inconceivably happy. For her own sake I would not recall her if I could. So we lay her body away in the full assurance of a glorious resurrection. Some day her glorified spirit, all radiant and rapturous with the blissful joy of heaven, will meet us at the ‘beautiful gate.’ We trust it will not be long. 43
Through all of this, Bartleman maintained his faith in God, and in the goodness of God. He consoled himself that Esther, in heaven, would not grow “world-weary.” He says:
We must see things from the Heaven side. Earth’s sounds and spirits are so crude and cruel. Heaven is all love, and joy, and peace, and rest. Thank God! Sorrow and parting, there will never more be known. No more empty chairs, nor graves nor coffins, there. 44
The experience of parting with Esther only seemed to deepen Bartleman in his convictions. Bartleman says these words of the funeral:
Beside that little coffin, with heart bleeding, I pledged my life anew for God’s service. In the presence of death how real eternal issues become. I promised the rest of my life should be spent wholly for Him. He made a fresh covenant with me. I then begged Him to open a door of service quickly, that I might not find time for sorrow.45
With only one week passing from the time of Esther’s death, Bartleman was preaching twice a day at the Penial Mission in Pasadena. He ministered noon and night for almost a month in this place. The Lord moved in beautiful ways. Sometimes there was a great stillness following the message. Bartleman testified; “We had powerful meetings, with wonderful altar services. The Spirit wrought mightily.”46
Bartleman did much ministry in Pasadena. He also secured a job in which he did gardening. This provided the family with food and didn’t distract Bartleman away from ministry. He says; “Almost every night found me in some meeting, preaching or testifying. It was my life.”47 Bartleman began experiencing a tremendous burden for revival. He testifies:
Little Esther’s death had broken my heart and I felt I could only live while in God’s service. I longed to know Him in a more real way and see the work of God forth in real power. A great burden and cry came in my heart for a mighty revival. He was preparing me for a fresh service for him. This could only be brought about by the realization in a deeper need in my own heart for God, and a real soul travail for the work of God. This He gave me.48
He says further:
One night I awoke from my sleep shouting the praises of God. He was getting hold of me more and more. I was now going day and night, exhorting to faith in God to mighty things. The spirit of revival consumed me. The spirit of prophesy came upon me strongly, also. I seemed to receive a definite ‘gift of faith’ for revival. We were evidently in the beginning of wonderful days to come and I prophesied continually of a might outpouring.49
A revival was definitely being birthed in Los Angeles and Bartleman could feel the pulse of it beating strongly. Bartleman relates the beginning expressions of it breaking forth in the First Baptist Church, led by Pastor Joseph Smale. Smale had just been to Wales where he had received exposure to the Welsh Revival and had met revivalist Evan Roberts. He had returned, hungry for revival, and opened his church to meetings every day and night. The church was waiting on God for an outpouring. Bartleman immediately identified with this burden and began praying incessantly for revival. In fact, he says; “My life was by this time literally swallowed up in prayer. I was praying day and night.” 50 Unusual things began happening at Smale’s church. Bartleman describes this in these words:
A wonderful work of the Spirit has broken out here in Los Angeles, California, preceded by a deep preparatory work of prayer and expectation. Conviction is rapidly spreading among the people, and they are rallying from all over the city to the meetings at Pastor Smale’s church. Already these meetings are beginning to run themselves. Souls are being saved all over the house, while the meeting sweeps on unguided by human hands. The tide is rising rapidly, and we are anticipating wonderful things. Soul travail is becoming an important feature of the work and we are being swept away beyond sectarian barriers. The fear of God is coming upon the people, a very spirit of burning. Sunday night the meeting ran on until the small hours of the next morning. Pastor Smale is prophesying of wonderful things to come. He prophesied the speedy return of the apostolic ‘gifts’ to the church. Los Angeles is a veritable Jerusalem. Just the place for a mighty work of God to begin. I have been expecting just such a display of divine power for some time. Have felt it might break out any hour. Also that it was liable to come when least expected that God might get the glory. Pray for a “Pentecost.”51
One evening, Bartleman felt strongly impressed to go to the Peniel Mission hall in Pasadena and pray. Another brother also felt led to go there and upon arriving, Bartleman prayed together with him. Here, Bartleman would have another incredible experience with God. He says:
We prayed for a spirit of revival for Pasadena until the burden became well-nigh unbearable. I cried out like a woman in birth-pangs. The Spirit was interceding through us. Finally the burden left us. After a little time of quiet waiting a great calm settled down upon us. Then suddenly, without premonition, the Lord Jesus [H]imself revealed [H]imself to us. He seemed to stand directly between us, so close we could have reached out our hands and touched Him. But we did not dare to move. I could not even look. In fact I seemed all spirit. His presence seemed more real, if possible, than if I could have seen and touched Him naturally. I forgot I had eyes or ears. My spirit recognized Him. A heaven of divine love filled and thrilled my soul. Burning fire went through me. In fact my whole being seemed to flow down before Him like wax before the fire. I lost all consciousness of time and space, being conscious only of His wonderful presence. I worshiped at His feet. It seemed a ‘mount of transfiguration.’ I was lost in the pure Spirit. … The Lord had said nothing to us, but only ravaged our spirit in His presence. He had come to strengthen and assure us for His service. We new now we were workers with Him, fellowshippers of [H]is sufferings in the ministry of soul travail.52
During this time, Bartleman speaks of how the presence of Jesus seemed to walk by his side. He would often declare that; “I would rather live six months at that time than fifty years of ordinary time.”53
One evening, Bartleman went to a tent meeting and stood at the rear of the gathering without any intention of speaking. However, God had plans to use him that evening and Bartleman records:
Soon the Spirit came mightily upon me. I rose and spoke and the power of God fell upon the congregation. The whole company fell on their faces. For three hours the whole tent was an altar service and prayer continued. A number were saved and everybody seemed to get help from God. It was a wonderful visitation of the Spirit. The people were not as rebellious in those days as they are now. They were more willing to have the program broken into and there were not so many fanatical spirits to hinder. There was a real hunger for God. Almost every night found me taking part in some meeting. The Lord continued to pour out His Spirit.54
One evening, Bartleman went to Smale’s church and learned that Smale had resigned. In fact, Smale had been pressured out by other leaders in the church. The special meetings there had run for fifteen weeks. They had created tremendous upheaval and the other leaders wished to return to something more familiar and manageable. Smale left the church and with a small nucleus of loyal followers began a new work which he called a “New Testament Church.” The New Testament Church began well, but in the days which followed, Bartleman became increasingly pained in his spirit over the direction that it began to take. The spirit of prayer seemed to be diminishing and organization increasing. This grieved Bartleman exceedingly and he says; “My hopes had been high for this particular company of people.” 55
Although prayer seemed to be diminishing in Pastor Smale’s work, the burden for prayer was very strong in Bartleman. Bartleman tells of some of the prayer burden that he and others experienced over this whole time:
The spirit of prayer came more and more heavily upon us. In Pasadena, before moving to Los Angeles, I would lie in my bed in the day time and roll and grown under the burden. At night I could scarcely sleep for the spirit of prayer. I fasted much, not caring for food while burdened. At one time I was in soul travail for nearly twenty-four hours without intermission. It nearly used me up. Prayer literally consumed me. I would groan all night in my sleep. Prayer was not formal in those days. It was God breathed. It came upon us and overwhelmed us. We did not work it up. We were gripped with real soul travail by the Spirit that could no more be shaken off than could the birth-pangs of a woman in travail, without doing absolute violence to the Spirit of God. It was real intercession by the Holy Spirit. 56
Prayer and hope for revival went hand-in-hand. Bartleman could not hold down the cry of revival which was continuously rising within him. Many of his exhortations were recorded in tracts or other publications. In one article, he wrote the following words:
The current of revival is sweeping by our door. Will we cast ourselves on its mighty bosom and rise to glorious victory? A year of life at this time, with its wonderful possibilities for God, is worth a hundred years of ordinary life. ‘Pentecost’ is knocking at our door. Slowly but surely the tide has been rising until in the very near future we believe in a deluge of salvation that will sweep all before us. Wales will not long stand alone in this glorious triumph for our Christ. The spirit of reviving is coming upon us, driven by the breath of God, the Holy Ghost. The clouds are gathering rapidly, big with a mighty rain, whose precipitation lingers but a little. … The Spirit is brooding over our land again as at creation’s dawn, and the fiat of God goes forth. Let there be light. Brother, sister, if we all believed God can you realize what would happen? Many of us here are living for nothing else. A volume of believing prayer is ascending to the throne night and day. Los Angeles, Southern California, and the whole continent shall surely find itself ere long in the throes of a mighty revival by the Spirit and power of God.57
Los Angeles was truly on the verge of being in the throes of a mighty revival and during this season, Bartleman’s wife gave birth to their third child, a son, and they named him John. During this time, Bartleman also met William Seymour at a cottage meeting. He also attended the now-famous, pre-Azusa, cottage meeting on Bonnie Brae Street.
On April 15, 1906, Bartleman stepped into the New Testament Church and in that meeting a coloured women spoke in tongues. This created quite a stir and afterward many were questioning what this might mean. Was God now giving Pentecostal signs to the recent revival happenings? Bartleman also learned that God’s Spirit had fallen at another Bonnie Brae Street meeting only five nights before and that, also, a number there had spoken in tongues. Bartleman decided to go again to a Bonnie Brae Street meeting that afternoon and found again that God was moving mightily. He records:
There was a general spirit of humility manifested in the meeting. They were taken up with God. Evidently the Lord had found the little company of lost, outside as always, through whom he could have right of way.58
Something very profound was happening with this small group and Bartleman knew that God’s hand was all over them. He comments, comparing the group to the baby Jesus: “God kept the young child well hid for a season from Herod, until it gained strength and discernment to resist them. The flame was guarded jealously by the hand of the Lord, from the winds of criticism, jealousy, unbelief, etc.”59 The Bonnie Brae Street group moved to an old frame building on 312 Azusa Street. Extraordinary things were again happening in the meetings and Bartleman was privileged to be one of the early witnesses, and participants in, of the great Azusa Street Revival. He was especially struck by the spiritual singing and worship that rose in the meetings. It was spontaneous and extraordinarily beautiful. Bartleman himself was caught up in it and testified:
Friday, June 15, at ‘Azusa,’ the Spirit dropped the ‘heavenly chorus’ into my soul. I found myself suddenly joining the rest who had received this supernatural ‘gift’. It was a spontaneous manifestation and rapture no earthly tongue can describe. In the beginning this manifestation was wonderfully pure and powerful. We feared to try to reproduce it, as with the ‘tongues’ also. Now many seemingly have no hesitation in imitating all the ‘gifts.’ They have largely lost their power and influence because of this. No one could understand this ‘gift of song’ but those who had it. It was indeed a ‘new song,’ in the Spirit. When I first heard it in the meetings a great hunger entered my soul to receive it. I felt it would exactly express my pent-up feelings. I had not yet spoken in ‘tongues.’ But the ‘new song’ captured me. It was a gift from God of high order, and appeared among us soon after the ‘Azusa’ work began. No one had preached it. The Lord had sovereignly bestowed it, with the outpouring of the ‘residue of oil,’ the ‘Latter Rain’ baptism of the Spirit. It was exercised, as the Spirit moved the possessors, either in solo fashion, or by the company. It was sometimes without words, other times in ‘tongues.’ The effect was wonderful on the people. It brought a heavenly atmosphere as though the angels themselves were present and joining with us. And possibly they were. It seemed to still criticism and opposition, and was hard for even wicked men to gainsay or ridicule.60
Bartleman’s accounts of the Azusa Street Revival have become the most well-known records of it. They are both moving and powerful as his own heart was so engaged with what was happening at Azusa. He testified of what happened there in these words:
Brother Seymour generally sat behind two empty boxes, one on top of the other. He usually kept his head inside the top one during the meeting, in prayer. There was no pride there. The services ran almost continuously. Seeking souls could be found under the power almost any hour of the day or night. The place was never closed or empty. The people came to meet God – He was always there. Hence a continuous meeting. The meeting did not depend on the human leader. God’s presence became more and more wonderful. In that old building, with its low rafters and bare floors, God broke strong men and women to pieces, and put them together again for His glory. It was a tremendous overhauling process. Pride and self-assertion, self- importance, and self-esteem could not survive there. The religious ego preached its own funeral sermon quickly. No subjects or sermons were announced ahead of time, and no special speakers for such an hour. No one knew what might be coming, what God would do. All was spontaneous, ordered by the Spirit. We wanted to hear from God, through whomever He might speak. We had no respect of persons. The rich and educated were the same as the poor and ignorant, although the former found it much harder to die to self. We only recognized God. All were equal. No flesh might glory in His presence [see 1 Corinthians 1:29]. He could not use the self-opinionated. Those were Holy Spirit meetings, led by the Lord. It had to start in poor surroundings to keep out the selfish, human element. All came down in humility together at His feet. They all looked alike and had all things in common, in that sense at least. The rafters were low; the tall must come down. By the time they got to Azusa, they were humbled, ready for the blessing. The fodder was thus placed for the lambs, not for giraffes. All could reach it. We were delivered right there from ecclesiastical hierarchism and abuse. We wanted God. When we first reached the meeting, we avoided human contact and greeting as much as possible. We wanted to meet God first. We got our heads under a bench in the corner in prayer, and met men only in the Spirit, knowing them “after the flesh” no more [see 2 Corinthians 5:16]. The meetings started themselves, spontaneously, in testimony, praise, and worship. The testimonies were never hurried by a call for “popcorn.” We had no prearranged program to be jammed through on time. Our time was the Lord’s. We had real testimonies, from fresh heart-experiences. Otherwise, the shorter the testimonies, the better. A dozen might be on their feet at one time, trembling under the mighty power of God. We did not have to get our cue from some leader; yet we were free from lawlessness. We were shut up to God in prayer in the meetings, our minds on Him. All obeyed God, in meekness and humility. … The Lord was liable to burst through anyone. We prayed for this continually. Someone would finally get up, anointed for the message. All seemed to recognize this and gave way. It might be a child, a woman, or a man. It might be from the back seat or from the front. It made no difference. We rejoiced that God was working. No one wished to show himself. We thought only of obeying God. In fact, there was an atmosphere of God there that forbade anyone but a fool from attempting to put himself forward without the real anointing – and such did not last long. The meetings were controlled by the Spirit, from the throne. Those were truly wonderful days. I often said that I would rather live six months at that time than fifty years of ordinary life. But God is just the same today. Only we have changed. Someone might be speaking. Suddenly the Spirit would fall upon the congregation. God Himself would give the altar call. Men would fall all over the house, like the slain in battle, or rush for the altar en mass to seek God. The scene often resembled a forest of fallen trees. Such a scene cannot be imitated. I never saw an altar call given in those early days. God Himself would call them. And the preacher knew when to quit. When God spoke, we all obeyed. It seemed a fearful thing to hinder or grieve the Spirit. The whole place was steeped in prayer. God was in His holy temple. It was for man to keep silent. The Shekinah glory rested there. In fact, some claim to have seen the glory by night over the building. I do not doubt it. I have stopped more than once within two blocks of the place and prayed for strength before I dared go on. The presence of the Lord was so real.61
Bartleman, reporting on Azusa, says further:
All nations are represented, as at Jerusalem. Thousands are here from all over the Union, and from many parts of the world, sent of God for Pentecost. These will scatter the fire to the ends of the earth. Missionary zeal is at white heat. The ‘gifts’ of the [S]pirit are being given, the church’s panoply restored. Surely we are in the days of restoration, the ‘last days,’ wonderful days, glorious days. But awful days for the withstanders. They are days of privilege, responsibility, and peril. Demons are being cast out, the sick healed, many blessedly saved, restored, and baptized with the Holy Ghost and power, Heroes are being developed, the weak made strong in the Lord. Men’s hearts are being searched as with a lighted candle. It is a tremendous sifting time, not only of actions, but of inner, secret motives. Nothing can escape the all-searching eye of God. Jesus is being lifted up, the ‘blood’ magnified, and the Holy Spirit honored once more. There is much slaying power manifest. And this is the chief cause of resistance on the part of those who refuse to obey. It is real business. God is with us in great earnestness. We dare not trifle. Strong men lie for hours under the mighty power of God, cut down like grass. The revival will be a world-wide one, without doubt.62
In August of 1906, Bartleman found himself walking past a church building on the corner of
Eight and Maple Street. He knew of the building, having previously visited it months before. It had been used by the ministry of the same Mrs. White from Denver, who had given him so much trouble earlier. Mrs. Alma White’s ministry had been one of the fiercest opposers of the Azusa meetings. However, they had vacated the building on Eighth and Maple Streets, and upon Bartleman’s seeing the “For Rent” sign, he heard the Lord speak to him, “There is your church.” Bartleman told his landlord about the building and his landlord quickly wrote a cheque for the first month’s rent. On August 12, Bartleman opened meetings on Eighth and Maple Streets. Bartleman still recognized Azusa as being the mother mission and there was no jealousy between himself and Seymour. In fact, both leaders visited either mission, back and forth. This was the beginning of a beautiful work which would flourish. God moved powerfully. Bartleman records:
The Spirit was mightily manifest from the very first meeting. He was given complete control. The atmosphere was terrible for sinners and backsliders. One had to get right in order to remain at Eighth and Maple. ‘Fearfulness’ truly ‘surprised the hypocrites.’ For some days we could do little but lay before the Lord in prayer. Sister Hopkinson was a great help to me in the beginning. The atmosphere was almost too sacred and holy to attempt to minister in. Like the priests in the Tabernacle of old we could not minister for the glory. We had terrible battles with fleshly professors and deceivers also. But God gave victory. The Spirit was much grieved by contentious spirits. The atmosphere of Eighth and Maple was for a time even deeper than at ‘Azusa.’ God came so wonderfully near us the very atmosphere of Heaven seemed to surround us. Such a divine ‘weight of glory’ was upon us we could only lie on our faces. For a long time we could hardly remain seated even. All would be on their faces on the floor, sometimes during the whole service. I was seldom able to keep from lying full length on the floor on my face. There was a little raise of about a foot, for a platform, when we moved into the church. On this I generally lay, while God ran the meetings. They were His meetings. Every night the power of God was powerfully with us. It was glorious. The Lord seemed almost visible. He was so real. 63
At Eighth and Maple, Bartleman had an amazing personal experience with speaking in tongues. He tells of the experience in these words:
On the afternoon of August 16, at Eighth and Maple, the Spirit manifested Himself through me in ‘tongues.’ There were seven of us present at the time. It was a week day. After a time of testimony and praise, with everything quiet, I was softly walking the floor, praising God in my spirit. All at once I seemed to hear in my soul (not with my natural ears) a rich voice speaking in a language I did not know. I have later heard something similar to it in India. It seemed to ravish and fully satisfy the pent-up praises in my being. In a few moments I found myself, seemingly without volition on my part, enunciating the same sounds with my own vocal organs. It was an exact continuation of the same expression that I had heard in my soul a few moments before. It seemed a perfect language. I was almost like an outside listener. I was fully yielded to God, and simply carried by His will, as on a divine stream. I could have hindered the expression but would not have done so for worlds. A Heaven of conscious bliss accompanied it. It is impossible to describe the experience accurately. It must be experienced to be appreciated. There was no effort made to speak on my part, and not the least possible struggle. The experience was most sacred, the Holy Spirit playing on my vocal cords, as on an Aeolian harp. The whole utterance was a complete surprise to me. I had never really been solicitous to speak in ‘tongues.’ Because I could not understand it with my natural mind I had rather feared it. … The Spirit had gradually prepared me for this culmination in my experience, both in prayer for myself and others. I had thus drawn nigh to God, my spirit greatly subdued. A place of utter abandonment of will had been reached, in absolute consciousness of helplessness, purified from natural self-activity. This process had been cumulative. The presence of the Spirit within had been as sensitive to me as the water in the glass indicator of a steam boiler. My mind, the last fortress of man to yield, was taken possession of by the Spirit. The waters, that had been gradually accumulating, went over my head. I was possessed of Him fully. The utterance in ‘tongues’ was without human mixture, ‘[…] as the Spirit gave [them] utterance.’ – (Act[s] 2:4). … In the experience of ‘speaking in tongues’ I had reached the climax in abandonment. This opened the channel for a new ministry of the Spirit in service.64
Bartleman’s experience of being baptized in the Spirit and of speaking with tongues, not only edified himself but it launched him into a whole new and higher dimension of ministry. He explains in his own words:
I had been shut up largely to a ministry of intercession and prophecy before this, until I should reach this condition of utter abandonment to the Spirit. I was now to go forth again in the service. When my day of ‘Pentecost’ was fully come the channel was cleared. The living waters burst forth. The door of my service sprang open at the touch of the hand of a sovereign God. The Spirit began to operate within me in a new and mightier way. It was a distinct fresh climax and development, an epochal experience for me. 65
Somewhere around September the New Testament Church had split. Another mission started up under the leadership of Elmer Fisher and became known as the “Upper Room” mission. Most of the white population from Azusa moved to the Upper Room mission, along with many from the New Testament Church. Bartleman also saw a change, in that he turned over the leadership in the Eighth and Maple Church to a Rev. Pendleton. God continued to move at Eighth and Maple in mighty ways. Hundreds of souls came to Christ and many other lives were touched. In time, Pendleton passed away, the lot was sold, and the church structure was torn down.
These revival movings which were happening at Azusa, Eighth and Maple, and the Upper Room Mission, as well as other places in Los Angeles and beyond during these years represented more than just religious stirrings. These revival movings were the very restoration of first-century Pentecostal Christianity in the earth. Bartleman elaborates in a handful of articles he wrote, strung together in this quotation:
I wrote for another religious paper the following, in 1906: ‘Cursed with unbelief we are struggling upward, only with the utmost difficulty, for the restoration of that glorious light and power, once so bountifully bestowed on the church, but long since lost. Our eyes have been so long blinded by the darkness of unbelief into which we were plunged by the church’s fall, that we fight the light, for our eyes are weak. So far had we fallen as a church that when Luther sought to restore the truth of ‘justification by faith’ it was fought and resisted by the church of his day as the utmost heresy, and men paid for it with their lives. And it was much the same in Wesley’s time. But here we are with the restoration of the very experience of ‘Pentecost,’ with the ‘latter rain,’ a restoration of the power, in greater glory, to finish up the work begun. We shall again be lifted to the church’s former level, to complete her work, begin where they left off when failure overtook them, and speedily fulfilling the last great commission, open the way for the coming of the Christ.
‘We are to drop out the centuries of the church’s failure, the long, dismal ‘dark ages,’ and telescoping time be now fully restored to pristine power, victory and glory. We seek to pull ourselves, by the grace of God out of a corrupt, backslidden, spurious Christianity. The synagogues of a proud, hypocritical church are arrayed against us, to give us the lie. The ‘hirelings’ thirst for our blood. The scribes and pharisees, chief priests, and rulers of the synagogues, are all against us and the Christ.
‘Los Angeles seems to be the place, and this the time, in the mind of God, for the restoration of the church to her former place, favor and power. The fullness of time seems to have come for the church’s complete restoration. God has spoken to His servants in all parts of the world, and has sent many of them to Los Angeles, representing every nation under Heaven once more, as of old, come up for ‘Pentecost’ to go out again into all the world with the glad message of salvation. The base of operations has been shifted, from old Jerusalem for the latter ‘Pentecost,’ to Los Angeles. And there is a tremendous, God-given hunger for this experience everywhere. Wales was but intended as the cradle for this world-wide restoration of the power of God. India but the Nazareth where He was ‘brought up’ ‘ –
F. Bartleman, Oct., 1906, in ‘Apostolic Light.’
Again I wrote in the same paper: ‘If ever men shall seek to control, corner, or own this work of God, either for their own glory or for that of an organization, we shall find the Spirit refusing to work. The glory will depart. Let this be one work where God shall be given His proper place, and we shall see such a work as men have never yet dreamed of. It would be a fearful thing if God were obliged to withdraw His blessed Spirit from us, or withhold it at such a time as this, because we tried to corner it. All our business is to get God to the people. Let us yield ourselves for this, and this alone. Some of the ‘canker worms’ of past experience have been party spirit, sectional difference, prejudices, etc., which are all carnal, contrary and destructive to the law of love, to the ‘one body’ of Christ. ‘For [by] one Spirit are we all baptized into one body [,] … ‘ – 1 Cor. 12:13. Self-satisfaction will always cause defeat. Oh, brother! Cease traveling ’round and round your old habit-beaten path, on which all grass has ceased to grow, and strike out into pastures green, beside the living waters.’ –
F. Bartleman, Dec., 1906.
In the “Way of Faith” I wrote the following: ‘We are coming back from the ‘dark ages’ of the church’s backsliding and downfall. We are living in the most momentous moments of the history of time. The Spirit is brushing aside all our plans, our schemes, our strivings, and our theories, and is Himself acting again. Many who feathered well their nests are fighting hard. They cannot sacrifice to rise to these conditions.
‘The precious are of truth, the church’s emancipation from the thralldom of man’s rule, has been brought about in a necessarily crude form at first, as rough ore. It has been surrounded, as in nature, by all kinds of worthless, hurtful elements. Extravagant, violent characters have sought to identify themselves with the work. A monster truth is struggling in the bowels of the earth, entombed by the landslide of retrograding evil in the church’s history. But it is bursting forth, soon to shake itself free from the objectionable matter yet clinging to it, unavoidably for the time. Christ is at last proclaimed the Head. The Holy Spirit is the life. The members are in principle all ‘one body,’ ‘ – F. Bartleman, Dec., 1906.
Again, some extracts from an article in the “Way of Faith:”
‘We detect in themselves present hour manifestations in our midst the rising of a new order of things out of the chaos and failure of the past. The atmosphere is filled with inspiring expectation of the ideal. But unbelief retards our progress. Our preconceived ideas betray us in the face of opportunity. The lead to loss and ruin. But the world is awakening today, startled from her guilty slumber of ease and death. Letters are pouring in from every side, from all parts of the world, inquiring feverishly, ‘what meaneth this?’ Ah, we have the pulse of humanity, especially of the church of today. There is a mighty expectation. And these hungry, expectant children are crying for bread. Cold, intellectual speculation has had nothing but denials for them. The realm of the Spirit cannot be reached alone by the intellect. The miraculous has again startled us into a realization of the fact that God still lives, and moves among us.
‘Old forms are breaking up, passing away. Their death knell is being sounded. New forms, a new order and life, are appearing. There is naturally a mighty struggle. Satan moves the hosts of hell to hinder. But we shall conquer. The precious ore must be refined after it has been mined. The ‘precious’ must be taken from the vile.’ Rough pioneers have cleared the way for our advance, through the thick underbrush. Heroic, positive spirits are necessary for this work. But purer forms will follow.
‘Men have been speaking adown the ages, but the voice of God the Spirit is calling us today. Since the early church lost her power and place with God, we have been struggling back. Up through ‘its’ and ‘isms,’ theories, creeds and doctrines (and schisms), issues and movements, blessings and experiences and professions. We have come. The stream could rise no higher than its source. We need no more theology or theory. Let the devil have them. Let us get to God. Many are cramped up in present experiences. They are actually afraid to speak more of God for fear the devil will get them. Away with such foolish bondage! Follow your heart! Believe in your own heart’s hunger, and go ahead for God. We are sticking to the bottom. We need the fire of God. Straight-jacket methods and religious rules have wellnigh crushed out our spiritual life altogether. We had better grieve all men rather than God.’ – F. Bartleman, Jan. 1907.
Before the “Azusa” outpouring everything had settled down in concrete form, bound by man. Nothing could move for God. Dynamite, the power of the Holy Ghost was necessary to free this mass. And this God furnished. The whole mass was set free once more. Our ‘year of Jubilee’ had come. The last one had been realized in the great revival of ’59, fifty years before. 66
Stepping down from the leadership of Eighth and Maple gave Bartleman a needed time to rest and recuperate. However, it would not be long before he would spring back into the work that so largely burned within his heart. He decided to give himself to prayer, the study of the Scripture, and the evangelistic outreach. He began doing a lot of writing and in two years had published fifty-eight tracts, fifty of which were his own composition. He did this by faith, without a dollar to begin with and circulated 250,000 of these tracts, many of which were mailed overseas. Bartleman’s burden for lost souls can be seen in the following account which he shares:
One evening at this time I went to the little Alley Mission in Pasadena. I had a heavy burden of prayer during the meeting. There was a young wife, and ex-Volunteer officer, there, who had been backslidden for several years. God laid her heavily upon my heart and I felt she must be saved that night. The meeting was about to close, but she still sat unmoved. It was after eleven o’clock. I spoke to her and warned her it might be her last chance. Still she sat indifferent. Then I began to plead with her. The people resented this as I pressed her for a decision. They thought I was going too far. But an agony of prayer was upon me for her soul. I had to resist the opposition of the most of the other workers as well as the enemy. For a full hour I battled thus, almost alone. At times I was driven back by the unequal conflict and even tempted to think I must have been mistaken as to the mind of God. Finally I fell to the floor under a real travail of soul for her. It was the crisis. My life seemed almost pressed out of me. I felt a little bit of what Jesus must have felt in Gethsemane for us. And so for nearly three hours she struggled and wept her way through, with a broken heart, to Calvary and to restoration. It was about 3 A.M. when she arose, with the very shine of an angel on her face, in perfect victory. It had paid to hold on to God and obey my convictions, be obedient to the Spirit. She confessed she had been very near the ‘dead line’ that night in her resistance to God. This sister later received a ministry of intercession, and was used of God in a marvellous way in soul travail in the meetings.67
Bartleman tells of another incident where he spoke at the Alley Mission. At this time the Lord protect him and two other believers in an amazing way:
I went to Pasadena again and spoke at the little Alley Mission. My message was one of warning. The sinners had been terribly trifling with God. While I was speaking the spirit of prayer fell upon two sisters (Mamie Craybill, and Jessie Hewett, the sister lately so wonderfully reclaimed). I closed the meeting and called the workers to prayer, but no one stayed but these two sisters. They could not leave. The others deserted us in the battle. I could not leave the sisters alone. They were under heavy burden of prayer on their knees. The Lord held them. Then a spirit of prayer seized me also. The sinners crowded in upon us as we prayed and wept there before the Lord. Our burden was for them. The gang of toughs became almost demoniacal in their resistance. … The missionary itself was located down a dark alley, in the middle of the block. We had no street lights there, and no police protection. The Spirit warned me three times that my life was in danger. By this time the hoodlums seemed thirsting for my blood. They were led by a German, a very wicked atheist. They now accused me of hypnotizing the two sisters. We were in the lion’s den, with no possible, natural way out. This gang had heard the Gospel, sat in the meetings, and resisted the Spirit, until they were capable of most any act of cruelty. I had to be willing to face martyrdom, if need by, at their hands. This was the real test I was up against. I thought of the wife and children at home, in Los Angeles. But God took all fear away from me in that moment. It was a wonderful experience. Finally one more bold than the rest seized me by the shoulder and commanded me to get up and quit praying. I offered no resistance but threw my hands up and called on God. The martyr spirit was upon me. The fire of God seemed to encircle and passed me. I felt no fear. The next moment, to my surprise, my assailant lurched forward on his knees and began to beg me to pray for him. He had gone too far. God had struck him. Seriousness seized the rest of the mob for a moment. But they soon recovered. Two of them seized one of the sisters. She threw up her arms and shouted victory. The power of God fell upon her. Fear fell upon the gang again and they left her. The other sister by this time was on her feet praising God. They stood the test like soldiers. I believe they would have died willingly for the Lord that night. It was midnight and we could do no more good there. We were in a nest of demons. I turned the lights out and had the sisters pass out ahead that I might know they were safe. They passed the mob safely. But the gang was outside waiting for me. The German atheist stood with a short club in his hand, ready for me. I shook hands with the first two toughs I met, evade the leader, and passed through their midst without a scratch, by the mercy of God. They could not touch me. No doubt they expected me to show fear. But God kept me in peace,without a tremor. They could not even follow us. We soon reached the lighted street and were safe. It had been a rough experience, but the Angel of the Lord had protected us. And we had not failed Him. The sisters were real heroines. Wife told me when I reached home that she had been awakened from sleep (just at the time we were in the most danger), and prayed for my safety, though knowing nothing of the trouble. She felt I was in danger. 68
In late March, 1907, Bartleman was invited to come to Conneaut, Ohio. Bartleman came but had a sense that those he was going to did not realize what kind of a shakeup revival brings to people’s lives. Bartleman shares the experience in these words:
We finally reached Conneaut, Ohio, April 30, in a snowstorm. God had shown me in Los Angeles that I would start my meetings there May 1. They tried to hurry us through a month sooner. But we kept in divine order, The presence of the Lord was with us in Conneaut, from the start. It was a Holiness mission. We really had little to do in the main but look on and see God work. The Spirit took the meetings. In fact we were on our faces most of the time in prayer. I could hardly keep off my face at Conneaut. The battle was the Lord’s. And no one else could have fought it there. We were up against most stubborn resistance. The Lord had warned me of this condition before we left Los Angeles. The leader who had written inviting me had not the slightest idea what “Pentecost” meant, just as I had feared. He wanted a big time, with a big increase in the mission, to build up the work in number, etc.
I soon found him planted squarely in the way. While professing holiness he was tremendously alive to his own importance. God exalts no man or mission, but rather humbles all in the dust together, that He alone may be glorified. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked [: …]’ Only God knows it. Sister Ivy Campbell, from “Azusa,” was there with us. God had sent her on ahead some time before, to blaze the way for us. Her home was in Ohio. Brother Kennedy, a Wesleyan Methodist preacher, had been preaching for them. He was a most humble man of God.
The Lord wrought very deeply. Several were under the power all night on one occasion. There was no closing at 9 o’clock sharp, as the preachers must do today in order to keep the people. We wanted God in those days. We did not have a thousand other things we wanted before Him. And He did not disappoint us. One sister sang and spoke in “tongues” for five full hours. Souls were saved. The saints were wonderfully built up and strengthened by the presence of the Lord. A number received the “baptism,” and the mission became full fledged for “Pentecost.” One Sunday night the hall was packed out to the middle of the street. I went to the hall one morning to look up the folks, who had not come home. Several had stayed all night. I found them lost to all but God. They could not get away. A very shekinah glory filled the place. It was awesome, but glorious.
Our big fight proved to be with the leader, who had sent for me. The meetings had not gone far until we found him wedged squarely in the way. He was fleshly, proud and self-important, and would not let the meetings go deeper. We could go no further. He did not seem to have the least idea of humbling himself with the rest of us. But he had to come down. God showed me I must deal with him. I had to obey, or quit. There was no use going any further. We were eating at his table and sleeping in his beds. It was a hard thing to have to do. But I went after him. We locked horns and he resisted me fiercely. But God brought him down. The Spirit convicted him and he fell in a heap. He almost jarred the building when he fell. He lay under a bench for five hours and began to see himself as God saw him. The Spirit took him all to pieces and showed him his pride, ambition, etc. Finally he got up, without a word, and went home. There he locked himself in his room and remained until God met him. He came out from that interview meek as a little lamb, and confessed his shortcomings. The hindrance was out of the way and the meetings swept on in power. He got the “baptism” himself some time later, after we had gone.69
Bartleman continued on, ministering in Cleveland and Youngston, Ohio, and then in Pennsylvania. By June 13, he was back in Ohio, this time at Alliance, to participate in a Pentecostal camp meeting. He tells of what happened in these words:
We had a wonderful camp. It was the first one of its kind in the northeast. I led the preachers’ meetings. The first Sunday morning I was given a message, but the leader asked me to speak in the afternoon, instead. I said nothing, but prayed. In a few minutes he came back and told me to preach in the morning. In those days men did not get far without God. I preached with great help from the Lord, on “Jesus Christ in Worldwide Evangelism, in the Power of the Holy Ghost.” Everything centers around Jesus. We may not put the power, gifts, the Holy Ghost, or in fact anything ahead of Jesus. Any mission that exalts even the Holy Ghost above the Lord Jesus Christ is bound for the rocks of error and fanaticism.
This was a very important camp. In the inception of the work in that part of the country. We remained two weeks, and I preached eleven times in all. We had a powerful time and a large, representative attendance. Four hundred camped on the grounds. Often meetings lasted all night. Missionary enthusiasm ran high. Meals were on the free-will offering plan. God bountifully provided and a precious spirit and unity prevailed. We were brethren, baptized in one Spirit, into one body. Thus Jesus’ prayer was answered, ‘that they may be one’ The harmony between the preachers was especially blessed. Such a spirit of love we have seldom seen displayed. Those were wonderful days. It could be truly said that in honor we preferred one another in those days.
No organ or hymn books were used. The Spirit conducted the services and there seemed no place for them. Hundreds definitely met God. Numbers were saved, baptized in the Spirit, and healed. Many received a call to foreign fields, to prove God along real faith Bible lines. The rapid evangelism of the world on real apostolic lines was the goal set.70
Bartleman would continue on, preaching throughout the eastern States, before coming back to Los Angeles. He preached again at Azusa Street under great power and anointing from the Lord. It would not be long before Bartleman would set out on another ministry tour of the eastern United States. He left Los Angeles, first going north and ministering in Stockton, California, then to Portland, Oregon, by boat from San Francisco. He preached twenty-four times in Portland before continuing to Auburn, Washington en route to Tacoma, where he preached ten times and Seattle, where he preached twice. He also visited Victoria, B.C. on Vancouver Island. In Spokane, he preached thirty-five times. He continued eastward, ministering in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In Chicago, he visited Zion City and also preached at William Durham’s mission. He preached once in Grand Rapids, Michigan and twelve times in Toledo, Ohio. Next, he ministered once again at camp meetings in Alliance, Ohio. He preached four times in Pittsburgh, three times in Braddock, Pennsylvania and four times in Rochester, New York. He also ministered in Toronto, Canada, of which he says; “The Spirit wrought very deeply in the meetings at Toronto. But the leader was very much tired with me because he did not understand the Spirit. He expected things done the old way, new wine in the old skins.”71 Going South, he ministered in Potter Brook and Elkland, Pennsylvania before going south to preach at camp meetings at Falcon, North Carolina. Next, Bartleman ministered in Washington, D.C. and then again in New York City. He preached in Springfield, Massachusetts and then, again, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bartleman came to Indianapolis and visited a convention, uninvited. The Lord gave an opportunity for him to speak and he tells of it in these words:
The Lord gave me a number of messages. We had a wonderful time. In fact I had not felt the power of God in such measure for a long time. There was tremendous opposition also, but God gave the victory. The work had been split into two factions. They came together in the meeting but were not reconciled. At one meeting the Spirit was so mightily on me in the message that the opposing faction held on to their seats and stiffened their backs to keep from yielding. I have seldom seen such resistance to the Spirit of God, and by Pentecostal saints, at that. It was simply awful. One night they had arranged for footwashing. I gave the message that night and by the time I got through I think they had forgotten all about the footwashing. They were too busy getting right with God, and with one another. Their souls needed washing more.
The Lord blessed me much at Indianapolis. I was so glad I had obeyed Him and gone there. I was there by His invitation purely. But I seldom if ever had felt such a wonderful flow of the Spirit before. The message seemed to be fairly drawn out of me in preaching. I felt almost drawn off the platform by the hungry desire of the people. I could not talk as rapidly as the thoughts came to me and almost fell over myself trying to speak fast enough. At one meeting when I was through the slain of the Lord lay all over the floor. I looked for the preachers behind me and they lay stretched out on the floor too. One of them had his feet tangled up in a chair, so I knew they had gone down under the power of God. I stepped over new the piano, among the people. My body began to rock under the power of God and I fell over onto the piano and lay there. It as a cyclonic manifestation of the power of God. We left the convention with great victory 72
Bartleman continued on, ministering again in Alliance, Ohio and in New York City. He visited Philadelphia with his brother and then his aged parents in Michener. He preached in Providence, R. I. and Columbia, South Carolina. Heading south, he ministered in Atlanta, Georgia and apparently in Birmingham Alabama. From there he returned to Atlanta and, together with his family, boarded a train en route to Houston, Texas. They arrived in Houston on December 24th and had a warm and friendly home opened to them, that of Brother M. E. Laine. They stayed in the home for a time and this proved to be an important break. Bartleman and his wife had become very sick. Bartleman says; “I had one of the worst spells of sickness that I had ever had. What I suffered was awful. I felt like dying.”73 Bartleman preached in San Antonio, Texas. He had a sense that the Lord was leading him and his family back to California. He did not have the money for this journey but trusted the Lord. In Phoenix, Arizona, his son, John, became very sick and Bartleman interceded one whole night in prayer. In Phoenix, he was given the money needed to travel back to California. They arrived, once again, on February 26, 1909, in Pasadena. He ministered, once again, at Azusa Street and at Eighth and Maple with a strong sense of God’s power and anointing.
Around this time, an opportunity came for Bartleman to visit and minister in Hawaii. He spent time in Honolulu as well as other places and says the following of his ministry in Honolulu:
The power of God was wonderfully poured out in our meetings. They had no hall but we met in the homes of the saints. Many were greatly benefitted and quickened in their faith.74
Bartleman came back to Los Angeles and would witness and report on more historic days at Azusa Street. He was present during the period that Pentecostal historians refer to as the “Second Wave” involving William Durham. Bartleman comments on the state of Azusa just prior to this time in these words:
The missions I found, were very zealous for doctrine as usual. I began to preach at Eighth and Maple, Azusa Mission, and Hermon. Azusa had lost out greatly since we left. ‘How are the mighty fallen, came to me most forcibly. But the Spirit came upon three of us mightily in prayer one evening there. He assured us He was going to bring the power back to Azusa Mission again as at the beginning. We felt we had prayed through. (And the answer came a little over a year later, when Brother Durham came from Chicago. The place was then once more filled with the saints, and with the glory of God, for a short time.75
On October 14, 1909, Bartleman’s wife gave birth to another daughter, whom they named Lois.
Also around this time, Bartleman began sensing that the Lord was calling him on a global missionary trip. He had actually sensed this for years, but now was the time that the door was opening. He did not have the funds to make such a journey but the money came in through donations from others and on March 17, 1910, Bartleman left home for an eleven-month mission. During this time, his family stayed back and received support from others. Meanwhile, Bartleman travelled through England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Holland, Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Italy. He also visited the Holy Land, Egypt, India, Ceylon, China, Japan, and again, Honolulu, before returning home. This journey took Bartleman 36,000 miles, 25,000 miles on the open sea. Bartleman says:
Before I started I received a number of communications both encouraging and discouraging. Some prophesied blessing, others disaster. Having settled it in my heart however that it was God’s call, and not my own imagination and desire, I could no other than go. If the Lord did not take me around I do not know who did. I did not pull any wires, no individual or Assembly pledged my traveling expenses, and I did not pledge or commit myself to any man or party. I knew that God was sending, and I trusted Him fully to take me through. Physically I had reason to believe, in the natural, that I might not live to get half way around. But I was not going in the natural.76
Bartleman arrived home one week before the 1911 trip of William Durham to Los Angeles. Durham’s ministry in Los Angeles is a controversial chapter in Pentecostal history. He came while William Seymour was away and his theology differed at points with Seymour’s teaching. Durham ministered at Azusa and there seemed to be a great outpouring of God’s Spirit. Seymour came back to Azusa and locked Durham out of the mission. From that day onwards, attendance at Azusa plummeted, never to recover. Durham rented a large building and continued holding meetings. A large work grew out of his ministry. Bartleman was present during this time and speaks favourably of Durham’s ministry. He says: “The fire began to fall at old Azusa as at the beginning. I attended these meetings with great interest and joy.” 77 As just mentioned, Durham had to leave Azusa and then began a separate work. Bartleman comments further:
In a few days Brother Durham rented a large building at the corner of Seventh and Los Angeles streets. A Thousand people attended the meetings here on Sundays. We had an ordinary congregation of four hundred week nights. Here the ‘cloud’ rested. God’s glory filled the place. “Azusa” became deserted. The Lord was with Brother Durham in great power. God sets His seal especially on present truth to be established. He preached a gospel of salvation by faith. He was used mightily to draw a new a clear line of demarcation between salvation by works and faith, between law and grace. This had become very much needed, even among the Pentecostal people.78
Bartleman comments further:
The opposition against Brother Durham was tremendous and he was finally tempted to strike back. This I felt was not the Spirit of Christ, though he had tremendous provocation. Possibly few have been able to stand successfully such a test. I left the platform finally, not willing to stand for a spirit of retaliation. I felt I must keep clear of carnal strife and controversy. But the Lord had wonderfully used dear Brother Durham. He was sent of God to Los Angeles.79
The leadership of the Upper Room Mission resisted the Second Wave and its ministry basically folded. However, in a short time it was opened up again under the leadership of a Brother Warren Fisher, Brother Manley, and Brother Allen. Bartleman now had the privilege of ministering here many times. Meanwhile, Durham returned to Chicago and after contracting a cold, died soon after. During this time, Bartleman began sensing a second call to the European continent.
Bartleman answered the call of God on his life. This time he would take his family with him. After receiving donations, they stepped out in faith, and on October 19, 1912, having made their way to New York City, they sailed on the ship, “Caronia.” They arrived in Liverpool, England, and ministered in various places throughout England. On this missionary trip, Bartleman traveled and/or ministered in Scotland, France, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland and Russia. This missionary trip carried the Bartlemans right into the fearful days of the beginning of World War 1. Throughout Europe, a spirit of nationalism was rising and countries were preparing to engage in war. Bartleman began feeling the impulse to preach against the spirit of war. He says:
It was an exciting time while I was in Stockholm. Delegations were coming up from all over Sweden on behalf of Nationalism. War with Russia was feared. The Socialists were also marching the streets, many thousands strong, in protest against Nationalism. The King dismissed the Socialist minister and appointed a Nationalist in his stead. There was a move on to increase the army. In fact patriotism ran high.
God gave me several strong messages against the war spirit. Even the saints were in grave danger of being carried away with the wave of world patriotism and strife. I tried to dodge the issue, but the Lord kept the message on me, much against my own desire and will. I did not understand then what was brewing in Europe. But God knew the Great War that was soon to break out in fiendish violence. He wanted His people prepared, and kept free from the spirit of it. By keeping the war spirit down we were enabled to keep the blessing and anointing of God on the saints. I understood it all later on. I was evidently there for that purpose.
We must be true to the God-given message, and ‘obey God rather than men.’ When the Lord sent me north He knew just what was coming. Many times I was tempted to think I must have missed the mark, as I was continually warning the people of great trial and tribulation that was to come upon them, though I did not know what. My whole ministry north seemed to be largely with that end in view. That is doubtless why the Lord gave me such a solemn feeling about my commission in this connection, when He first showed me the circle I was to take, before we had moved to Sweden. I remember prophesying of a great war when we passed through Amsterdam on the way to the Continent, from England. I pictured the whole thing out, destined to play in it. She was to stand between the wild beast forces, the nations, a haven of refuge. At that time I was tempted over this message also, and wondered what made me give it. I was afraid they would lose faith in me altogether. But when we came through enroute for home, after the World War had started, all that I had prophesied had come true.80
Bartleman’s ministry in Russia was at such a tense time. Bartleman reached in St. Petersburg in May, 1914. Americans travelling in Russia just before and just after the outbreak of World War 1 were viewed with great suspicion. Bartleman says:
God again got us in and out safely, which was a great victory under the circumstances. I have stated before that it was at that time against the law for any foreigner to come into old Russia and preach the Gospel. … We were going, knowingly, right into the lion’s jaws. But God was sending us. We felt as safe as Daniel. The little Pentecostal hall was crowded with people. We were in the same Mission we had been in before. But this time much of our congregation were Russians. This made our work doubly dangerous. Some were still members of the Greek Church. The Greek Orthodox Church practically made all the laws of “Holy Russia” at that time, through the “Holy Synod.” Everything was “holy” in Russia. But God protected us and kept us hid from the knowledge of the Czar’s agents, the police. I was translated into Russian this time. Many souls were blessed. Some were saved, and healed. The people fairly thronged us for prayer. When we gave the invitation at the end of the service practically the whole congregation passed to the front and knelt. We had to push them back, instead of seeking to drag them forward as in America. We hardly had room to move around among them.
Admission to the meeting was by ticket only. The leaders arranged this plan. They were afraid of spies. They had a brother stationed at the outer gate to the court, and another outside the inner door. The meetings sometimes lasted four hours. The people came in two or three at a time, so as to avoid suspicion, and went out the same way after the meeting. The doors were fast, the windows all closed tight, with curtains drawn, to avoid possibility of discovery by the police. Our meetings were held only a few blocks from the Czar’s Winter Palace, and almost within the shadow of the “Holy Synod” buildings, where the Greek church made all its intolerant, religious laws. …
We had one remarkable case of real miracle working power in the meetings. A woman, a member of the Greek Church, had been brought by relatives to us to be delivered. She had been demon possessed for seven years. She herself wanted to be delivered. For some time she had been so prostrated by this evil power that she was bedridden. We challenged the demon, and commanded him to come out in the name of Jesus. But he withstood us, and we had a battle royal. It lasted nearly half an hour. The demon finally yielded ground and left her. She was almost torn to pieces inwardly under the agony of the struggle. But in obedience to our instruction she finally uttered a prayer we gave her, pleading the blood and the name of Jesus, and after a violent retching and spuming at the mouth her face lighted up. Victory had come. She was at peace. Salvation came to her soul as the demon left her body. She was so happy she could not find words to express it. I heard from her a month later, before we left Finland, and she still had the victory. She was saved, healed and happy.81
Two weeks before the outbreak of World War 1, Bartleman was in Germany in the city of Bremen, preaching at a conference. Bartleman says:
I spoke six times during the three days of Conference. The Lord helped me greatly. I had the spirit of prophecy on me in one of the messages surely. I remember telling them that the Germans were the iron that was left out of the old Roman Empire, but that they would have to be broken and put through the fire before God could use them as He wanted to. They were too strong in themselves. Little did I realize that in two short weeks that very thing would come to pass and that they would be plunged into the terrible World War, practically the whole world against them. But so it proved.82
With his family in Bremen, Bartleman made his way to the town of Bunde, only three miles from the border of Holland. It was as far as the trains were running and connections had already been broken with Holland. The border was closed and Germany was shut in at all sides. Bartleman preached here along with a pastor Voget, and says:
We preached to the men,who came to the meetings for the last time. Many came who would not come before. They were about to face death and their hearts were sober. I am satisfied more than one found Christ just in time. In a few days some of them were in eternity.83
How did Bartleman remain calm in the midst of such tense surroundings. He says:
God spoke to me one night as I lay awake. He laid His hand on my heart and assured me that just as surely as He was the sovereign author of the Pentecostal outpouring in Los Angeles in 1906, as a result of which I was in Europe at this time, just so surely He had sovereign control of this war situation and that nothing could happen without His express permission. I went to sleep then. I knew I could trust Him. I had no more anxiety.84
Bartleman’s journey home was slow and cumbersome. Thousands were trying to get out of Europe for America. Bartleman and Pastor Voget crossed the Holland border to Nieuwe Schans and from there Bartleman continued to Amsterdam. Here he tried to make arrangements for the boat passage but found that the ships were crowded full for the next six weeks. He preached in Amsterdam and sensed that the Lord wanted him to move his family there also. Again, there were no trains running between Holland and Germany and all who made the journey did so either by foot or by carriage. Bartleman reached the border town of Nieuwe Schans in the midst of a strong rainstorm. Then he felt led to approach a private carriage and request transportation across the border. The driver refused to do so but Bartleman felt compelled to go back to the driver two more times with the same request. On his third attempt, he found two women already inside the carriage and a third one holding the door open. She was a complete stranger to him and, yet, amazingly and miraculously, asked him to get inside. He did so and they were off to the border. Bartleman found that his pass was not valid for crossing into Germany, yet, somehow, after one of the carriage women had spoken to the authorities, they were allowed to cross into Germany. There he was reunited with his family. Eventually, Bartleman got his family to Amsterdam and on to London and soon afterwards they were in Liverpool. On October 3, they sailed for New York City.
Upon arrival in America, Bartleman spent some time preaching in the eastern states. However, he sensed the Lord was telling him that he was to return to Los Angeles. On December 14, his 43rd birthday, Bartleman, together with his family, left Philadelphia for Los Angeles, where they would again settle. Bartleman lived out his remaining years in Los Angeles, where he continued to write both tracts and articles. He died in 1935.
It was Pentecostal pioneers, such as Bartleman, who were used of God in the great revival movements of the early 20th century. These revivals represented more than just religious stirrings. They represented the restoration of 1st century Pentecostal Christianity to the earth. Bartleman lived in the fire of these revivals and was used by God as a mighty proclaimer of divine truth. His conversion, in 1893, marked the beginning of a spiritual walk and ministry which would carry him throughout America and even the world. Wherever Bartleman journeyed he shared the life and anointed ministry that he had received from God. Only the Lord knows how many thousands of lives were changed as a result of this ministry. His faithfulness to God, his hunger for revival outpouring and his walk of holiness blazed a path for many others to follow. Bartleman did not only visit Azusa, he lived Azusa and then recorded for us what remain as probably the most important days of church history ever to follow the New Testament. His life with all of its sacrifices, losses and pains was filled even more with heavenly victories, and joyous breakthroughs of faith and power. Some considered him a fanatic but his emphasis on Christ being central, and above all other things, kept his ministry balanced and grounded. None can read his preaching, writing and accounts without being challenged by the message and experience of holiness which burned within him.
1 Frank Bartleman, How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles (Los Angeles: Frank Bartleman, 1925), 130.
2 Frank Bartleman, From Plow to Pulpit (Los Angeles: Frank Bartleman, 1924), 6.
3 Ibid., 7.
4 Ibid., 7.
4.5 Ibid., 7.
5 Ibid., 10.
6 Ibid., 14-15.
7 Ibid., 17.
8 Ibid., 18-20.
9 Ibid., 21.
10 Ibid., 22-23.
11 Ibid., 24-25.
12 Ibid., 25.
13 Ibid., 26.
14 Ibid., 26. I have corrected his misquote of 1 Corinthians 9:16.
15 Ibid., 27. I have corrected his misquote of John 2:17.
16 Ibid., 28.
17 Ibid., 32.
18 Ibid., 33.
19 Ibid., 44.
20 Ibid., 46.
21 Ibid., 48.
22 Ibid., 51.
23 Ibid., 52.
24 Ibid., 61.
25 Ibid., 61.
26 Ibid., 64-65.
27 Ibid., 65.
28 Ibid., 66.
29 Ibid., 69.
30 Ibid., 71.
31 Ibid., 72.
32 Ibid., 73.
33 Ibid., 76-77.
34 Ibid., 78-79.
35 Ibid., 90.
36 Ibid., 91.
37 Ibid., 96.
38 Ibid., 99.
39 Ibid., 102.
40 Ibid., 104.
41 Ibid., 116-117.
42 Frank Bartleman, How Pentecost Came To Los Angeles (Los Angeles: Frank Bartleman, 1925), 5.
43 Ibid., 6-7.
44 Ibid., 7.
45 Ibid., 8-9.
46 Ibid., 9.
47 Ibid., 10.
48 Ibid., 11.
49 Ibid., 14.
50 Ibid., 18.
51 Ibid., 19.
52 Ibid., 19-20.
53 Ibid., 24.
54 Ibid., 26.
55 Ibid., 33.
56 Ibid., 34-35.
57 Ibid., 38-39.
58 Ibid., 44.
59 Ibid., 45.
60 Ibid., 56.
61 Ibid., 57-60.
62 Ibid., 63-64.
63 Ibid., 69.
64 Ibid., 71-72. Scripture quotation taken from Acts 2:4 was misquoted by Bartleman and I have corrected it.
65 Ibid., 74.
66 Ibid., 87-90.
67 Ibid., 93.
68 Ibid., 94-95.
69 Ibid., 101-102. Scripture quotation taken from Jeremiah 17:12 was misquoted by Bartleman and I have corrected it.
70 Ibid., 103-104.
71 Ibid., 117.
72 Ibid., 121-122.
73 Ibid., 129.
74 Ibid., 135.
75 Ibid., 139,
76 Ibid., 143.
77 Ibid., 145.
78 Ibid., 146.
79 Ibid., 150.
80 Frank Bartleman, Two Years Mission Work In Europe (Los Angeles: Frank Bartleman, 1926), 36-37.
81 Ibid., 40-41.
82 Ibid., 44.
83 Ibid., 46.
84 Ibid., 46.
If something appears in square brackets in a quote, the material contained in the square bracket is foreign to the original quote. In most cases, it is my own correction of a misquote of Scripture.
Bartleman, Frank. From Plow To Pulpit. Los Angeles: Frank Bartleman, 1924.
Bartleman, Frank. How Pentecost Came To Los Angeles. Los Angeles: Frank Bartleman, 1925.
Bartleman, Frank. Two Years Mission Work In Europe. Los Angeles: Frank Bartleman, 1926.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture references are taken from:
The King James Version of the Holy Bible