The ancient prophet once exclaimed: “Oh, if you would tear down the heavens and come down!” That cry has echoed through the generations of those who have longed for the manifestation of the presence of the living God. Throughout the history of the church, God has rent the heavens and intervened on behalf of his people.
The Chicago Great Visitation of 1913 was one of those times. It was one of the most powerful visits from the divine presence this city has ever experienced.
Maria Woodworth-Etter, a renowned evangelist, had been invited to hold a series of meetings at the Stone Church, located at 37th and Indiana Street, beginning on July 2, 1913. Banners were posted throughout the city announcing the meeting. The services were to last until the end of July. This was a time of divine appointment for the city of Chicago; God tore the heavens and came down!! Scenes from the days of the Early Church began to take place at Stone Church. Word began to spread throughout Chicago of miraculous healings, deliverance from demonic possession, conversions, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at these meetings. Advertising was no longer necessary!
Incredible healings were reported. A woman, who had been blind for 15 years and had never seen her children, was instantly cured. She prayed for a paralyzed man, whose joints were ossified, she could not move any member or head, he had to be fed with a spoon and he could barely speak. For eight years, she suffered the confines of this prison of disease. Sister Woodworth-Etter commanded him in the name of Jesus to get up and walk. The power of God fell upon him. He jumped out of his wheelchair, ran down the aisle of the church and half a block down the street. Many followed him outside and waved their hats in the air yelling, “Hooray for Jesus.” He ran back to the church and shouted praises to God. A young woman, who had lost hearing in one ear and was losing hearing in the second ear, came to pray. She was instantly healed. During a singing service, four crippled people were healed and began to walk without the use of canes or crutches.
Word spread throughout the city of God’s miraculous intervention. Thousands arrived in carts, buggies, and trains, while many walked. Some came from hundreds of kilometers away. 1200 to 1500 sold out at Stone Church each night. The base was filled and many stood out on the street. Street meetings were held to accommodate them. Three services were held on Sundays. No services were scheduled for Saturdays so ministers could have a day off. However, some came on Saturdays and were received by Christians who prayed for them. A crippled woman, unaware that services were not held on Saturdays, got on the tram. She got out and limped down the street to the church. A German woman met her at the church and informed her that no services were scheduled for Saturdays. However, she invited the crippled woman into the church and she and others would pray for her. As soon as the woman entered the church, she was instantly healed. A father traveled from Oklahoma bringing his two daughters with him. You couldn’t use his limbs or talk. The other was born dead and mute. They were both instantly healed. One of the girls cried and laughed when she heard her sing for the first time in her life.
God had rent the heavens and descended on Chicago. Thousands were healed, incredible miracles occurred; multitudes were saved and thousands were filled with the Holy Spirit. The meeting, which was scheduled to last a month, lasted six months. Sister Woodworth-Etter and the believers dug a deep well of revival.
The Chicago Visitation had several notable features:
1. The success of the work was not due to the preaching of deep doctrines and theological differences. Instead, the Gospel was presented in its simplicity. The people were drawn by the manifestation of God’s presence and power.
2. There was an extraordinary unity among the Christians. The denominational lines disappeared. Christians of all backgrounds joined the work. Great harmony prevailed among the believers. The controversy was not tolerated and was absent. It was a “conflict-free zone.”
3. Worship was in its purest form. Entertainment and obvious display of talent was non-existent. Music, singing, and praise were to glorify God and Him alone.
4. The entire Body of Christ was involved in the ministry. The laying on of hands was not regulated for the evangelist or the pastor. People ministered to each other.
5. Ministers and members of all denominations were baptized in the Holy Spirit.
6. A prophetic word was given on the last night of this six month meeting.
As Christians prayed around the altar, Sister Woodworth-Etter and others gave a powerful prophecy and divine promise for the future:
“We have not yet reached the fullness of the Former Rain and when the Latter Rain arrives, it will far exceed anything we have seen!”
Frank Bartleman, the chronicler of the 1907 Azusa Street Awakening, once wrote, “To understand what God is going to do, we must understand what he once did.” It is imperative that we study and understand these “old wells of revival.” We need to understand the divine dynamics of these movements of God. We need to know the promises that God has made in the past, which will impact us in our day. God has ways of reminding his people of that promise. In 1999, before I knew of the 1913 Chicago Visitation, I had a dream. In the dream, he was standing with a small group of believers in the basement of the Stone Church. A pastor friend of mine asked us to form a circle and offer “pure praise and worship” to God. I looked around and saw many, many rooms filled with hospital beds containing the sick. In these beds were people suffering from a variety of diseases and ailments. Taking care of them was an elderly head nurse. When we started to worship and praise God, the nurse left the sick and came and joined the worship. As the adoration continued, I saw all the sick rise from their hospital beds. They were instantly healed and came to join in the worship! I awoke from my dream. Now, ten years later, I understand the meaning of the dream. The same things that happened at the 1913 Visitation will happen again. Pure worship and praise will ascend to God. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk and the mute will speak. Healings and miracles will again flow throughout this great city. God is going to reopen this “old revival well” in Chicago! Because He promised that he would and that he would far exceed the 1913 Visitation!
What is our responsibility in reopening this old revival well? Second Chronicles 7:14 gives us that necessary direction: “If my people, upon whom my name is called, humble themselves and pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I WILL HEAR FROM HEAVEN AND HEAL THEIR LAND “. It is time to come clean with God, to be honest about our wicked ways, and to repent. like joshua
He told the Israelites the day before they crossed the Jordan River to the promised land: “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” We would do well to follow this directive!