Over the last 120 years three names stand out in Church history: Zion, Topeka, and Azusa Street. Two are cities; the other is the name of a street in Los Angeles, California. Millions of Christians have experienced being filled with the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking with other tongues. Millions have also received healing in their physical bodies. Sadly, far fewer have heard of Zion or Azusa Street. Those who hear of Topeka usually do so in the context of it being the capital of the state of Kansas. It is, but there's more to Topeka than being a state capital. Far more
Today's and the next two posts will give an overview of and tell why each is important.
Zion, Illinois, located north of Chicago, will be forever linked to Dr. John Alexander Dowie. Dr. Dowie, a Scottish-born minister, received a revelation of divine healing while pastoring in Australia in the 1870s. Instead of congregants dying, they lived following Dr. Dowie laying hands on them. Moving to America in 1893, Dr. Dowie was mightily used of God to reintroduce divine healing to this country.
In 1896 Zion City was founded by Dowie and followers of his ministry as a veritable heaven on earth, with an emphasis on divine healing. Healing homes were set up where people lived in an atmosphere of healing. Many documented healings took place. My great grandfather, Dr. John G. Speicher, and his wife were part of Zion's founding. Later, they were in charge of one of the healing homes. Being both a medical doctor and minister, Dr. Speicher was among the first to stand with Dr. Dowie's ministry, now over 120 years ago.
Despite errors in leadership and doctrine, the healing anointing on Dr.Dowie's ministry continued outside Zion's borders through many, including these notable individuals:
John G. Lake left Zion to go to Africa, starting 500 churches in five years. He returned to America, starting Healing Rooms in Spokane, Washington. 500,000 documented healings took place over 5 years, leading Spokane to be dubbed "the healthiest city in America."
F.F. Bosworth left Zion with a healing ministry encompassing public meetings as well as radio broadcasts. Thousands wrote in to testify of their healing while listening to the anointed broadcasts. Bosworth went on to write the healing classic: Christ the Healer.
Gordon Lindsay, founder of Christ for the Nations, in Dallas, Texas, was born in Zion. He edited The Voice of Healing, the leading publication of the Healing Revival, from 1947-58.
Raymond T. Richey, who had an outstanding healing ministry, lived in Zion as a boy.
The last time I saw Grandma Gardner, Dr. Speicher's daughter, she was 95. How well she remembered crutches, wheelchairs, and other "trophies" of God's healing power on the wall at Zion's Shiloh Tabernacle. Grandma even remembered playing the piano in church.
Sadly, Grandma asked me whether anyone believed in healing (this was in 1986). I assured her that yes, people still do. I'm thankful for the stories Grandma told about Zion!
Zion is tied to both Topeka and Azusa, beginning with Topeka in my next post. I hope you'll enjoy reading-and, hopefully learning-about the outpouring of God's Spirit in Topeka, and its tie to Azusa Street.