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* Holy Ghost 1901 *


The first "Pentecostals" in the modern sense appeared on the scene in 1901 in the city of Topeka, Kansas in a Bible school conducted by Charles Fox Parham, a holiness teacher and former Methodist pastor.

In spite of controversy over the origins and timing of Parham's emphasis on speaking in tongues, all historians agree that the movement began during the first days of 1901 just as the world entered the Twentieth Century. 

Following God's leading, Brother Parham issued an invitation to all ministers and Christians everywhere (who were willing to forsake all, sell or give away what they owned, and enter a Bible-School for study, prayer, and waiting upon God) to come together in Topeka where they would trust God daily for all their living Expenses.

The sole declared purpose of this school was to encourage and prepare workers to go everywhere preaching "this Gospel of the Kingdom. The Bethel Bible School was opened in October 1900.

New Year 1901

What happened after Parham’s return to Topeka is the Pentecostal epic.

As the year of 1900 came to a close, Parham assigned his students to search the Scriptures and find "if there is not some evidence given of the baptism [of the Holy Ghost] so there may be no doubt on the subject" (Parham 1930, p.58).

At his return from a three day trip to Kansas City, he called the group together (the 40 students now augmented by 75 visitors from the area, including some from Kansas City), and was supposedly amazed by the unanimity of the answer that "speaking in tongues" was the Biblical evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Parham, p.51).

For the rest of the day (the last day of 1900), leading up to the Watch Night service, "There was a holy hush over the entire building" and "all felt the influence of a mighty presence in our midst" and "such a spirit of unity prevailed that even the children (were) at peace" (p.59).

It is not surprising then that the night service (New Year’s Eve) "was especially spiritual" and sometime after midnight (she remembers it as being next day), Agnes Ozman asked Parham to lay his hands on her. When he did so, she began to speak with other tongues and her English was taken away for three days (pp.52, 61-63; see also LaBerge).

Thus, within hours following the birth of the Twentieth Century, came the clear understanding of "tongues" as the Biblical evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. This set the parameter for the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements for today.

The first person to be baptized in the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues was Agnes Ozman, one of Parham's Bible School students, who spoke in tongues on the very first day of the new century, January 1, 1901.  "Shortly after midnight, she asked several of the men present to lay hands on her that she might receive the Pentecostal blessing promised to all believers. As they did so, she began to speak very quietly in fluent Chinese. For the next three days she could speak nothing but Chinese.  

“Agnes N. Ozman (later La Berge)”

Whenever she attempted to write in English, during this three-day period, the result was always the same - Chinese characters. Copies of her writing were published in various daily newspapers, and her experience attracted widespread attention. 

Those who had been standing near Miss Ozman when she received the Holy Ghost, reported a halo of light appeared about her head. For three more days the students sat in God's presence, waiting for another divine manifestation of His power.

Then, on the night of January 3, 1901, with about seventy-five assembled for a regular service, twelve ordained ministers from various denominations received the Holy Ghost simultaneously. Heavenly brightness once more filled the room, as the twelve spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance.
Of those who received the Holy Ghost that night, some were sitting, some were kneeling, and some were standing with upraised hands. Although some trembled slightly, there was no evidence of violent emotion.

Just as on the Day of Pentecost, tongues as of fire sat upon each of them. Finally, in unison, the minister recipients began to sing "Jesus. Lover of My Soul."

They sang in at least six languages, but the blending of their voices sounded like an angelic choir.

When all this was "noised abroad" the crowds began to gather. Reporters from as far away as St. Louis came to investigate and report. So convinced were they that their stories resulted in front page accounts with banner headlines.

Soon, other reporters converged on Topeka, bringing with them government interpreters and language experts. The languages being spoken by those at the College of Bethel were verified as legitimate and fluent languages of men, languages these recipients could not possibly have known.

The modest, Christian behavior of these students, coupled with the undeniable fact that they were all speaking known languages with correct accent and intonation, caused all that saw and heard to admit that it was real.

And so, day after day, student after student was caught up into glory and scripturally sealed with the Holy Ghost, as evidenced by speaking with other tongues, exactly as the apostles had done on the Day of Pentecost." [Excerpt from "The Winds of God" by Ethel E. Goss - pages 52-54]

In this New Millennium our God will give us a greater outpouring of His Spirit than what He did one hundred years ago.  May you receive His blessings, HalleluYah!

Paul Wong