Smith Wigglesworth 1859–1947
British evangelist Smith Wigglesworth had one of the most extraordinary ministries of the 20th century. He continues to be a great inspiration to evangelists and believers around the world who believe the Lord still heals and delivers.
Born into poverty in Yorkshire, England, Wigglesworth worked in the fields and factories as a youth. Ultimately, he became a plumber. Illiterate until he married Polly Featherstone in 1882, his wife used the Bible to teach him to read. They resolved it would be the only book they would read.
While not considered a man of great learning, Wigglesworth touched the world with an uncommon faith. He had a rich and varied spiritual background. Born again at eight years old, he was taught by Methodists, Anglicans, Baptists, the Plymouth Brethren, and the Salvation Army.
When Wigglesworth began to preach, he became popular fast and eventually left his job as a plumber. In 1907, during the Sunderland Revival, he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues. The Pentecostals quickly adopted him. He spoke at the Assemblies of God events in England, and later received credentials through the Assemblies of God in America.
Wigglesworth taught that God healed by simple faith, but he also considered many sicknesses as demonic. He called cancer “a living evil spirit.” His controversial methods sometimes involved hitting, slapping, or punching the afflicted part of the body.
Wigglesworth often punched those suffering from complaints in the stomach with such force that the person was knocked across the room. When challenged, he said that he did not hit the person, but rather the devil he saw behind the sickness.
Without question, Wigglesworth had a rough and challenging style. He considered it unbelief to pray for someone more than once, and he removed people “full of unbelief” from the platform if he recognized they had already been prayed for. Even so, it was hard to argue with the results. Word of remarkable miracles spread through newspaper and magazine accounts, including reports of people being raised from the dead. His wife, Polly, was one of those brought back to life.
Wigglesworth’s ministry took him to a number of European countries, as well as India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, several Pacific Islands, and America. In every place, he became a sensation and attracted large crowds. Like any noteworthy ministry, he had detractors and was often vilified. This only seemed to grow the crowds. The hope of God moving again in power was greater than the fear the cynics sought to spread.
Wigglesworth never wrote a book, but some of his sermons were published. His life prompted others to write inspiring books about him. His simple but powerful faith inspired multitudes, touching them by the power of God flowing through him. Some credit the great Healing Revival that broke out in 1948, the year after his death, to the seeds he had sown.
No doubt this simple but extraordinary soul compelled a generation to believe that the Lord is the same as when He walked the earth. He still loves people and heals them. Smith Wigglesworth rightly earned the title by which he became known — “The Apostle of Faith.”
~ Pastor Rick Joyner
|Pastor Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church.|