In the early 1900s, Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California, became synonymous with the Holy Spirit's renewal in America.
What began in a dilapidated former Methodist church building became a spiritual fire that sweep across America and over the Atlantic to much of Great Britain and parts of Europe.
Here from the pen of Frank Bartleman, an early participant in the movement, we have an eyewitness account of what many believed was the "Latter Rain" of the Book of Joel.
It was the time of high and holy days that stirred not only the Church, but many in the secular world as well. Newspapers across America reported the strange events that were taking place. Out of Azusa Street, new denominations and thousands of churches all over the world were born.
Frank Bartleman was born in eastern Pennsylvania, was converted in 1892, and was licensed to preach by a local Baptist church shortly after that. Although he attended a year at a night school run by his church, and briefly attended Moody Bible Institute, and read many books by religious writers, it appears most of his knowledge and doctrine came directly by personal study of the Bible, as interpreted through the leading of the Spirit and personal experience. Beginning in 1905 Bartleman was a prolific writer. One biographer (Robeck) commented that Bartleman was the “most significant social commentator” of early Pentecostalism, and that “It appears he was always looking for something which he believed God would do.” Bartleman lived his life in a constant expectation of the soon return of Christ. He was not afraid to tackle the social issues of his day or topics which might be unpopular. While he was originally licensed to preach by a Baptist church, pastored a Wesleyan Methodist church for a year, pastored a couple other churches for short periods, and just prior to his European tour he was ordained as a Pentecostal minister, for most of his life he operated independent of any organization.
After his conversion but before his arrival in Los Angeles in 1905, Bartleman spent most of his time crossing the country as an itinerant evangelist for 12 years, living by faith, often preaching to the down and out side of society. Bartleman is best remembered for his chronicles of the 1906 Pentecostal revival at Los Angeles, including the events leading up to and immediately following the revival. He wrote numerous diary like articles for a number of the holiness, and later Pentecostal, magazines, starting in 1905, documenting the stirring that led up to the revival, then documenting the progress of the revival. Later he condensed these articles, and his diary notes, into a book titled “How Pentecost came to Los Angeles.” Over his life Bartleman authored six books, at least four pamphlets, and according to one source he authored over 550 published articles and over 100 tracts (the numbers here may actually be smaller than this since some articles published in more than one magazine, and some tracts that were also published as articles, reducing the actual number items written). Bartleman’s writings indicate a distaste for personal glory and building up reputations, which may account for the limited number of his articles commonly available (just over 50 of his articles, and half a dozen of his tracts).
Bartleman’s only actual doctrinal work was “The Deity of Christ.” His other longer writings recorded the historical events of the period up to the start of WWI, from a first hand viewpoint, reflecting a strong desire for consecration and a belief in the soon coming of the Lord. A number of his existing articles and tracts focus on issues of Christian consecration, including Christian unity, whether Christians should fight, and what he viewed as being a Christian’s attitude toward money (these topics also show up in his books). After the Los Angeles revival, and his missionary work (ending with the start of WWI) he returned to evangelistic and street work until his death in 1936.