A review of the life and time of a God’s General.
In the annals of Christian history, there are remarkable individuals who have left an indelible mark on the faith, blazing trails and challenging societal norms. Maria Woodworth Etter, known as the “Demonstrator of the Spirit,” was one such person. Let us delve into the remarkable story of this God’s General, who defied societal norms and became a pioneering female evangelist.
She was Born in 1844 On a farm in Lisbon Ohio which shows her family was a middle class. She became born again at the age of 13, and immidiatly after that, God called her and she was fully aware of it.
She said “ I heard the voice of Jesus calling me to go out in the highways and hedges and gather in the lost sheep”
However, during this time, women were not permitted to preach in the church, also the law of the land excluded women from voting too. It was a serious challenge… And at that time, there was not one female preacher anywhere in the world…..So the fear of been victimized lingered.
Then she decided she would marry a missionary as a means of getting access to fulfilling her call. She decided to continue with her education, and into college as a way of preparing her self. Her Father was killed working on a farm, and school had to stop and she had to return home to support her family. That made her give up on the dream of getting a college degree. She settled down living a normal Christian lifestyle.
During the Civil War, Maria met a soldier who had been discharged due to a head injury. They embarked on a whirlwind courtship and soon married. However, her husband was not spiritually inclined, which made it challenging for Maria to pursue her ministry effectively.
She settled in with farming but never made any head way. Years came and went and soon she had six children, Now a mother and had too many responsibilities. But the voice of God deep within her kept calling for her.
With all she had going on, she couldn’t do much and besides, her husband had no desire for ministry and wasn’t a man that was serious with God. So it made it more difficult for her to handle.
And then a tragedy struck… She lost five out of six children to disease, Her husband couldn’t recover from the shock he had. She had to baby sit her husband for a long period of time coupled with raising their only daughter who was remaining. She never grew bitter or harden her heart towards God.
The Search for Answers:
In her quest for guidance and inspiration, Maria turned to the Bible, where she discovered the stories of great women who had accomplished remarkable feats. As she read the prophecy in the book of Joel about the pouring out of the Spirit, a fire was kindled within her.
But then she pointed at her inability to preach, and the fact that she had no human qualification “education”. But the more she read the bible, the more she found out all she was saying were mere excuses and she wrote “the more I investigated, the more I found to condemn me.”
Then she had a vision, angels came to her room, took her through places. Rivers, mountains, forests, fields and reserves. She saw a wide field of waving golden grains… And as she began to preach in the dream, the grains fell off easily. And Jesus told her.
Just as the grains fell so people will fall as she preached
She knew at that point that she needed to make this move
Her first meeting was at her own community. She didn’t know what to say but she did organise a meeting anyway. And to her surprise, as she opened her mouth to speak, the whole crowd began to cry. Including her relatives. Some fell under the annointing, she got up and ran out in tears. And that was how her ministry grew to a global one.
In few months, she had set up camps, held over nine revivals and preached over 200 sermons, started two churches with a Sunday school of over a hundred people. Amazing right!
Maria Woodworth Etter’s life was marked with great persecution. There were problems around every corner, not to mention the pressures that came from leading such huge masses of people who were experiencing their first manifestations of the Spirit. In addition to this, she was a woman in ministry who was married to an “Unfaithful” man. While ministering in her controversial crusade in Oakland, California, her husband, P.H. Woodworth’s infidelity was revealed. Sister Etter stayed in separate quarters, choosing to leave him. Finally, after twenty-six stormy years of marriage, they were divorced.
Mr. Woodworth publicly slandered Maria’s character and ministry. He died not long after on June 21, 1892, of typhoid fever.” She attended his funeral and stayed faithful to God. She had alot of persecutions and all but God pulled her through it all…
This was a note she wrote by herself
My dear sister in Christ, as you hear these words may the Spirit of Christ rise in you and make you willing to do the work the Lord has assigned you. It is high time for women to let their lights shine; to bring out their talents that have been hidden away rusting; and use them for the glory of God, and do with their might what their hands find to do, trusting God for strength, Who has said, ‘I will never leave you.’ Let us not plead weakness; God will use the weak things of this world to confound the wise. We are sons and daughters of the Most High God. Should we not honor our high calling and do all we can to save those who sit in the valley and shadow of death? Did He not send Moses, Aeron- Miriam to be your leaders? Barak dared not meet the enemy unless Deborah led the van. The Lord raised up men, women, and children of His own choosing – Hannah, Hulda, Anna, Phoebe, Narcissus, Tryphena, Per-sis, Julia, the Marys and the sisters who co-labored with Paul. Is it less becoming for women to labor in Christ’s Kingdom and vineyard now than it was then?
She had an early experience of the supernatural… But errors where there. I hope we take some lessons from her experience.
1. Most of her decisions and resolve where taken without consulting the HolySpirit – Her reason for wanting a college degree was so that she would have some human qualifications that can serve as an advantage… Which wasn’t a bad idea until she couldn’t get it anymore and thought that was it. She gave up!
Does God actually need your certificate to work with you and through you?
2. Her marital destiny was a mistake… She had a honeymoon courtship that has no depth and real substance in it… It wasn’t purpose driven– She didn’t know the man she married very well and she knew his spiritual status but yet she continued with him.
It’s just as simple as that. A man who loves God will naturally fan your fire for God. Even as things where. You will agree with me that if she had insisted on marrying a missionary as she purposed earlier, her ministry would have kicked in earlier and the children that where lost to mere disease would have been averted. This was a woman that healed all kinds of disease latter on.
3. She started enquires and search for answers late- It was after the lost of her children that she decided.
All the tragedies she encountered would have been history if she went back to God early enough…..In the times we are in now, the HolySpirit should be our first and most sort after for counsel and direction. Please don’t make Him your last resort after you’ve been wounded and injured.
Jesus already made it clear, HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALLLLLLLL TRUTH. God was eager and waiting to help her out but she delayed… Too much distraction which is a perfect weapon of the devil..
During this phase of Sister Etter’s life, there were some refreshing highlights. Besides the friendships she made, God didn’t want her to carry the ministry mantle alone. It took some time, but “Ten years” after her divorce, Maria met a wonderful man from Hot Springs Arkansas, named Samuel Etter.
God sent her a perfect mate. The two were married in 1902. Sister Etter had great respect for this gentleman and often referred to him as her “Gift from God”. Later she would write of him:
“He stood bravely with me in the hottest battle, and since the day we were married has never shrank. He will defend the Word and all the gifts, and operations of the Holy Spirit, but does not want any fanaticism, or foolishness. It makes no difference what I call on him to do. He will pray, and preach, and sing, and is very good around the altar. The Lord knew what I needed, and it was all brought about by the Lord, through His love and care for me and the work.” Three years after her marriage to Mr. Etter, Maria disappeared from public ministry and remained silent for the next 7 years. No reason has ever been given for this long silence. But when she emerged 7 years later, she was just as powerful as before, and now had the loving support of a wonderful husband. Samuel Etter faithfully loved and cared for Maria. He managed her meetings inside and out, and took care of all her writings and book distribution. In fact, Etter’s ministry published several books.
Samuel Etter- husband, friend, editor, manager, and minister of helps-“gift from God”- found peace in his position as a support in his wife’s ministry. His ability showed a rare and notable character as a man. As a result, he was a vital part of her ministry in almost every capacity until his death 12 years later.”
Etter continued to be very active. At age seventy-four, she had a permanent tabernacle set up at Indianapolis. She continued to travel as well, drawing crowds of one- to-two-thousand. In 1924, at eighty years of age, after fifty years of ministry, Etter died peacefully in her room.
A Brother Feick told of a day, in her last three weeks, where she was especially touched by the Lord. She began praising and magnifying God in tongues. A number of times she felt led to deliver messages to those who came to visit her.
She died without a struggle and with the respect of thousands.
The lives of five of her children were taken. Her own health was brought low on repeated occasions. She was misunderstood by many and misjudged as insane. Newspapers maligned her. Police arrested her. Courts tried her. Yet in these situations, Mrs. Woodworth-Etter was courageous, unshakeable and ultimately victorious in her high calling and mission to walk in revival and to lead multitudes to faith in Christ. She had been transformed by God’s saving grace.
She had been chosen for His special work. She had tasted of the powers of the world to come. There was no going back. There was only going forward with fearless determination to advance God’s kingdom on earth. The word of the Lord went before her and a stream of healing followed behind her. She lived and walked in the realm of revival faith where heaven is real, deliverance is real, hope is real and Jesus is all in all. With the anointing of the Lord, the simple faith of a child, and with a heart as large as her tent, she carried the good news of salvation and healing to multitudes of needy, searching souls.
You may have heard someone say, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You’ll never live long enough to make them all yourself!” So often, though, we think we can head down the same disastrous path we’ve watched others tread, yet with better results. That kind of thinking is either foolish or delusional. What warning can you currently take from observing someone else’s life? It might be a spiritual, marital or practical issue.
Learn from their mistake before you pay the price.