His mission was simple. He would attend the bizarre Christian meetings and gather evidence he could use against them in the classes he taught. The night would not go as planned.
The time was the early 1900’s, the city was Los Angeles. Although traffic was already becoming a problem, there were very few roads. Motion pictures were still largely a dream although Nickelodeons had begun to pop up, and Thomas Edison had produced a feature film.
In an old livery stable, turned apartment building, turned church, a growing number of people were meeting under the leadership of William Seymour. Seymour was a simple man, he was the son of former slaves whose father had been killed fighting for the Union Army in the Civil war. The father’s death left the family absolutely devastated. Seymour was completely blind in one eye following an illness.
Through a complex series of events, Seymour found himself in Los Angeles leading a series of meetings that would rock the world. Today, the number of believers that can trace their spiritual roots back to 312 Azusa Street, number more than 600,000,000 world-wide.
Although many great testimonies and stories came out of the three year revival, one of the most interesting involved a teenage girl named Kathleen Scott and an unnamed Jewish spy.
At the Azusa Street mission, it was common for people to spend hours in prayer on the second floor. When preaching was about to start, a bell rang so everyone would know. When this happened, prayer warriors would migrate down to the sanctuary where preaching would be heard. On one occasion as Kathleen Scott was praying, a man entered the building and upon hearing prayer on the second floor, he climbed the stairs.
Just as he entered the room, Kathleen was moved by the Holy Spirit. She stood, pointed at the man and began to speak in a language that she did not understand. In the midst of this encounter the bell rang signaling the start of the downstairs meeting. As Kathleen and the others moved toward the stairs, the man took her by the arm and led her downstairs to the speaker’s desk. When the room came to order, He spoke:
“ ‘I am a Jew, and I came to this city to investigate this speaking in tongues. No person in this city knows my first or my last name, as I am here under an assumed name. No one in this city knows my occupation, or anything about me. I go to hear preachers for the purpose of taking their sermons apart, and using them in lecturing against the Christian religion.
“ ‘This girl, as I entered the room, started speaking in the Hebrew language. She told me my first name and my last name, and she told me why I was in the city and what my occupation was in life, and then she called upon me to repent. She told me things about my life which it would be impossible for any person in this city to know.’” (ref: John L. Sherrill, They speak With Other Tongues (New York: McGraw Hill, 1964), 41,42.)
Following his confession and testimony, the man fell on his knees and wept as though his very soul would break.
What an awesome witness to the power and mercy of God. Power in protecting the meetings and mercy in saving the soul of an imposter.