My previous post: Zion, Topeka, and Azusa Street, mentioned the significance of each of these three locations in church history. I highlighted Zion, giving a brief overview of its significance. Today’s highlight is Topeka, Kansas, holding a place in church history of greater significance than just being Kansas’s state capital.
As an itinerant preacher, Charles Fox Parham made his headquarters in Topeka, where he started Bethel Healing Homes, where those who came placed their trust in God for healing. Through a series of events Parham started Bethel Bible College in 1900, in an unfinished mansion, dubbed “Stone’s Folly,” after the original builder.
Seeking for a deeper experience with God, Parham instructed his students to study the Scriptures, to determine if there was a connection between being filled (baptized) with the Holy Spirit and speaking in other tongues. After a diligent search, the students concluded that there was a connection, and that speaking in tongues was the initial evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
On New Year’s Eve, 1900, after prayer, a female student, Agnus Ozman, became the first person there to receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking with other tongues. News of this spread, with many others receiving this divine experience, including Charles Parham himself.
Parham was later used of God to minister healing to hundreds in Kansas. He traveled to Zion, Illinois to meet Dr. John Alexander Dowie, whose healing ministry had influenced Parham.
Charles Parham eventually went to Houston, TX where, in early 1906, he ministered to many, including a young black man named William J. Seymour. It was later that year that God used Seymour to carry the message of Pentecost to Los Angeles, California.
Notice how God brought people to specific locations for specific purposes: Dowie from Australia to Chicago, Illinois, Parham to Topeka, Kansas, and, as we’ll see in my next post, Seymour from Houston, Texas, to Los Angeles, California. Three locations; three purposes.
I hope that you’re learning something from each of these two posts, and that you’re looking forward to reading about 312 Azusa Street, the most famous address in modern church history.