John G. Lake was an American-Canadian missionary leader in the Pentecostal movement that began in the early 20th century.
John Graham Lake who was born on March 18, 1870 and died on September 16, 1935, usually known as John G. Lake, was a Canadian-American leader in the Pentecostal movement that began in the early 20th century, and is known as a faith healer, missionary, and with Thomas Hezmalhalch, co-founder of the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa.
Through his 1908–13 African missionary work, Lake played a decisive role in the spread of Pentecostalism in South Africa, the most successful southern African religious movement of the 20th century. After completing his missionary work in Africa, Lake evangelized for 20 years, primarily along the west coast of the United States setting up “healing rooms” and healing campaigns, and establishing churches. Lake was influenced by the healing ministry of John Alexander Dowie and the ministry of Charles Parham.
Lake was born in St. Mary’s, Ontario, Canada and moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan with his family in 1886. He was born into a large family of 16 siblings (eight of whom died young). He graduated from high school in St Mary’s shortly before the move to Michigan, and claimed to have been ordained into the Methodist ministry at the age of twenty-one. The seminary he claimed to have attended, though, never existed,:53 and census records show he had less than ten years’ education. Lake, then, had no formal theological training.
1. Beloved, it is not our long prayers but our believing God that gets the answer.
2. When I saw for the first time by the Word of God that sickness was not the Will of God, everything in my nature rose up to defeat the will of the devil.
3. When a Christian tries to live by reason he is moving out of God’s country into the enemy’s land. We belong in the miraculous and the supernatural realm.
4. Jesus did not heal the sick in order to coax them to be Christians. He healed because it was His nature to heal.
5. Men tell us in these days that sin is what you think it is. Well, it is not. Sin is what God thinks it is. You may think according to your own conscience. God thinks according to His.
6. Fear of the devil is nonsense. Fear of demons is foolish. The Spirit of God anointing the Christian heart makes the soul impregnable to the powers of darkness.
7. We are awakening to that marvelous truth, that Christ is not in the heavens only, nor the atmosphere only, but Christ is in you.
8. The ministry of Christianity is the ministry of the Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that inhabits the words, that speaks to the spirit of another and reveals Christ in and through him.
9. There is only one reality. That reality is God. The soul of man must contact God, and unless the spirit of man is truly joined to God, there is no such thing as real Christian manifestation.
10. The reason that people do not have a rich, beautiful faith is that their spirit is denied the privilege of communion and fellowship with the Father.
“A MAN OF HEALING”
said to them [scientists], ‘Gentlemen, I want you to see one more thing. Go down in your hospital and bring back a man who has inflammation in the bone. Take your instrument
and attach it to his leg. Leave enough space to get my hand on his leg. You can attach it to both sides.’
“When the instrument was ready, I put my hand on the man’s shin and prayed like Mother Etter prays: no strange prayer, but the cry of my heart to God. I said, ‘God, kill the devilish disease by Your power. Let the Spirit move in him; let it live in him.’
“Then I asked, ‘Gentlemen, what is taking place?’ “They replied, ‘Every cell is responding.'”1
If there was ever a man who walked in the revelation of “God in man,” it was John G. Lake. A man of purpose, vision, strength, and character, his one goal in life was to bring the fullness of God to every person.
He often said that the secret of heaven’s power was not in the doing, but in the being. He believed that Spirit-filled Christians should enjoy the same type of ministry Jesus did while living on earth, and that this reality could only be accomplished by seeing themselves as God saw them.
THE SHADOW OF DEATH
John Graham Lake lived his life and fulfilled his ministry in the earth with this type of spiritual understanding.
He was born March 18, 1870, in Ontario, Canada. One of sixteen children, he moved with his family to Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, while still a young boy.
Lake first heard the Gospel preached at a Salvation Army meeting when he was sixteen, and soon after, surrendered his life to the Lord. Though he had lived a morally pure life, his heart was in turmoil until he asked the Lord to save him. Speaking of his encounter Lake would later write:
“I made my surrender to Him. The light of heaven broke into my soul, and I arose from my knees a son of God, and I knew it.”2
G O D ‘ S G E N E R A L S
Lake’s parents were strong, vigorous people who were blessed with wonderful health. But a spirit of infirmity and death had gripped the rest of their family. Eight family members—four brothers and four sisters—died from illness. “For 32 years some member of our family was an invalid,” Lake wrote. “During this period our home was never without the shadow of sickness.” His boyhood was filled with memories of “sickness, doctors, nurses, hospitals, hearses, funerals, graveyards and tombstones; a sorrowing household; a broken-hearted mother and a grief-stricken father, struggling to forget the sorrows of the past in order to assist the living members of the family who needed their love and care.”3
WRONG “SCIENCE”—RIGHT ATTITUDE
As a youth, Lake was very interested in the art of science and physics. He enjoyed chemistry and loved to experiment with scientific instruments and equipment. He even took a course in medicine, but later dropped his medical pursuit.
Lake was meticulous in his research both in science and in spiritual matters. He tirelessly investigated the Bible with an eye to not only understand it, but to also prove its accuracy in everyday life. As a result, Lake walked, talked, and breathed in the flow of God’s resurrection life.
In 1890 when Lake was twenty years old, a Christian farmer taught him about sanctification. The revelation pierced his heart and was solemnly regarded as the crowning work of God in his life. Of this new revelation, Lake said:
“I shall never cease to praise God that He revealed to me the depth…of the power of the blood of Jesus. A beautiful anointing of the Spirit was on my life.”4
One year later, in 1891, Lake moved to Chicago, and was admitted to the Methodist school of ministry. In October of that year he was appointed to a church in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, but he declined the pastorate. He also decided to leave the Methodist
“My boyhood was filled with memories of sickness, doctors, nurses, hospitals, hearses, funerals, graveyards and tombstones….”
school and moved to Harvey, Illinois, where he founded The Harvey Citizen, a local newspaper. While living in Harvey, he would meet his future wife, Jennie Stevens of
THE GIFT OF “JENNIE”
Jennie was perfect for John Lake. She possessed a wonderful sense of humor, keen judgment, a strong faith in God, and a deep spiritual sensitivity. The two loved one another dearly and were married February 5, 1893, in Millington, Illinois. God blessed the couple with a marvelous unity in the Spirit, and seven children.
One of Jennie’s most important ministries to her husband was prayer and intercession. There were many times throughout the course of their marriage that either
John G. Lake—”A Man of Healing”
of them would be spiritually prompted when the other was experiencing trouble. Lake valued dearly the advice and support of his wife.
But two short years into the Lake’s wonderful marriage, sickness and disease crept into their home. Jennie was diagnosed with tuberculosis and heart disease. Her irregular heartbeat would cause her to lapse into unconsciousness, and
Now Lake was faced
with the crises of his life. Where was
God’s power now?
His entire family had been afflicted with illness.
sometimes Lake would find her unconscious on the floor, or lying in bed.
To combat this she was given increasingly stronger doses of stimulants in an effort to control her heart rhythm, and was eventually forced to use nitroglycerin tablets. For all practical purposes, all of this made her a virtual invalid.
Finally, upon doctors’ recommendations, Lake moved his young family back to Sault Saint Marie, Michigan, where he entered into the real estate business. But Jennie’s condition
continued to worsen until 1898 when the doctors told him there was nothing more that could be done for her.
LETS GET RADICAL!
Now Lake was faced with the crises of his life. Where was God’s power now? His entire family had been afflicted with illness. His brother had been an invalid due to internal bleeding for twenty-two years. His thirty-four-year-old sister had breast cancer. Another sister was once dying from blood disease. And now the person closest to his heart, Jennie, was close to death.
But Lake had experienced God’s healing power before. He had been afflicted with rheumatism in younger years. When the leg distorting pain of his malady finally brought him to a breaking point, he traveled to John Alexander Dowie’s Healing Home in Chicago. While there, an older man laid hands on him, the power of God came upon him, and his legs straightened out instantly.
The rest of Lake’s terminally afflicted family members had been healed at Dowie’s home as well. Following his own healing, Lake brought his invalid brother to Dowie’s home where he was healed. When they laid hands on him, his blood disease disappeared and he jumped off his death bed.
Then he took his sister who was dying with breast cancer, to Chicago. When they arrived she had some initial doubts, but once she heard the Word of God preached with such great power, her faith grew—and she was healed. Her pain left instantly, and the large core of cancer fell out within a few days. Then the smaller cancers just disappeared and God restored her mutilated breast.
DIE? “I WILL NOT HAVE IT!”
Another one of his sisters had remained very ill even after much prayer. He was planning on taking her to the Healing Home too, but before he could, he received a telephone call from his mother. She told him his sister was dying, and that if he wanted to see her, he would have to hurry. When Lake arrived, his sister was unconscious without a pulse and the room was full of mourners. Moved by it all, he looked at his sister’s baby lying in the crib and thought, “She must not die! I will not have it!” Of this deep compassion he later wrote:
John, upper left, with the surviving Lake family members. Eight of his original sixteen brothers and sisters died from disease.
“No words of mine can convey to another soul the cry that was in my heart and the flame of hatred for death and sickness that the Spirit of God had stirred within me. The very wrath of God seemed to possess my soul!”
Lake paced the room as his heart cried out for someone with faith to help them. He could only think of one man who had this kind of faith—Dowie. So he telegraphed him the following words:
“My sister has apparently died, but my spirit will not let her go. I
believe if you will pray, God will heal her.”
Dowie’s answer came back:
“Hold on to God. I am praying. She will live.”
Upon reading these words, Lake waged a tremendously furious spiritual attack on the power of death, rebuking it fervently in Jesus’ name. In less than an hour, his sister revived
totally. Five days later, she joined the family for Christmas dinner!5
But that was then, and now his dear wife was suffering, and her condition was growing worse.
THE DEVIL REVEALED
On April 28, 1898, when Jennie’s final hours seemed to be ticking away, a fellow minister encouraged Lake to resolve himself to God’s will and to accept Jennie’s death. His words weighed heavy, and Lake stiffened in resistance. Still, the reality of death seemed imminent.
In utter hopelessness, Lake threw his Bible against the fireplace mantle and it fell to the floor opened to Acts chapter 10. As he walked over to pick it up, his eyes drifted to verse 38: “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the DEVIL; for God was with him.”
Those powerful words ripped through his thoughts. “OPPRESSED OF THE DEVIL!” That meant that God wasn’t the author of Jennie’s sickness, or any sickness! And if Lake was a son of God through Jesus Christ, then God was with him, just as He was with Jesus! Now he was convinced it was the devil who had caused Jennie’s illness. It was the devil who was stealing the mother of his children. It was the devil who was destroying his life!
Then Lake turned to Luke 13:16 and read: “ought not this woman…whom SATAN HATH BOUND, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond…?” Now the realization hit him that not only was Satan the author of sickness and death, but that Jesus Christ—through Lake—could bring healing and deliverance to the afflicted! Through
using him, Jesus Christ could conquer the throes of death! There
Through using him, Jesus Christ could conquer the throes of death! There was
no doubt in his mind that Jesus died for the healing of his wife, just as He died for her sins.
was no doubt in his mind that Jesus died for the healing of his wife, just as He died for her sins. And he determined that absolutely nothing could rob Jennie of that gift.
In a boldness that only the Holy Spirit could have produced, Lake decided to let God, not Satan, have the last say. He marched into the bedroom and declared to the seen and unseen that his wife would be healed at exactly 9:30 A.M.!
Then he contacted Dowie to inform him of what God was about to do at the appointed time. When 9:30 arrived, Lake knelt at his precious wife Jennie’s side and called on the living God. When he did, the power of God came upon Jennie and permeated her body from head to foot. Her paralysis left, her
heartbeat became normal, her cough ceased, her breathing regulated, and her temperature returned to normal—immediately!
At first Lake heard a faint sound escaping from Jennie’s lips. Then she cried out, “Praise God, I’m healed!” totally startling him, because he hadn’t heard such strength in her voice for years. Then, Jennie threw back the covers from her bed—and stood up—healed!6
The joyous praise that followed was indescribable as both she and John worshipped God!
THE LIGHTNINGS OF JESUS
Soon, the story of Jennie’s healing became national news inspiring many to travel great distances to visit the Lake home. The newspapers had provoked the nation’s curiosity and the Lake’s were instantly thrust into a highly sought after ministry. People arrived at their home daily to see God’s miracle, and to be prayed for. Many others sent in prayer requests.
One day after praying for a man who suffered from a ten-inch fever sore, Lake received a telegram that read, “Lake, the most unusual thing has happened. An hour after you left, the whole print of your hand was burned into that growth that was a quarter of an inch deep.”
Lake would later refer to such power in his sermons as the lightnings of Jesus:
“You talk about the voltage from heaven and the power of God! Why there is lightning in the soul of Jesus! The lightnings of Jesus heal men by their flash! Sin dissolves and disease flees when the power of God approaches!”7
Lake would also compare the anointing of God’s Spirit to the power of electricity. Just as men had learned the laws of electricity, Lake had discovered the laws of the Spirit. And, as God’s “lightning rod,” he would rise within God’s calling to electrify the powers of darkness and solidify the body of Christ.
EXERCISING SPIRITUAL STRENGTH
In 1901, Lake moved to Zion, Illinois, to study divine healing under John Alexander Dowie. Before long he was preaching at night, studying when he could, and working as Dowie’s building manager full time during the day.
But in 1904 when Dowie’s increasing financial problems began to surface, Lake decided to distance himself and relocated to Chicago. He had invested in Zion’s properties while living in the city, but his holdings depreciated leaving him in near financial ruin following Dowie’s death in 1907. So he bought a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade. Over the next year he was able to accumulate over $130,000 in the bank, and real estate worth
Recognizing his gifts, certain business executives quickly asked Lake to form a trust of the nation’s three largest insurance companies for a guaranteed salary of $50,000 a year. He was now a top business consultant to top business executives, and was making hundreds of dollars through commissions as well.
By turn-of-the-century standards, John G. Lake was now making a fortune. But the call of God inside of him continued to grow. For awhile he was able to juggle his great secular success and grow in God. He had learned to walk in the Spirit, in a way he described like this:
“It became easy for me to detach myself from the course of life, so that while my hands and mind were engaged in the common affairs of every day, my spirit maintained its attitude of communion with God.”8
Some people think that if you are called to the ministry, you must leave your secular job immediately. But as was true with Lake, this is not the case. By learning to commune with God from within his spirit, Lake continued to progress toward the perfect timing for his ministry. He didn’t venture out ahead of God or cause his family to suffer. Then when the time was right, he was able to sell everything, because he had learned great faith from his years of walking with God as a businessman.
Lake learned early in his ministry training that “being” precedes “doing.” He had learned to follow the divine timing of heaven.
TONGUES AND THE TIMING OF HEAVEN
While still living in Zion, Lake attended a cottage meeting at the home of his friend, Fred F. Bosworth. Tom Hezmalhalch was preaching, and at the end of the meeting he told Lake, “As I was preaching, Jesus told me that you and I are going to preach together.” Lake laughed at Hezmalhalch’s proclamation then, but soon surrendered himself to the perfect
will of God.9
Lake learned early in his ministry training that “being” precedes “doing.”
Not long after, in 1906, Lake began to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He sought the Lord for nine months then quit, thinking it was “not for him.” Then one day he went with Tom Hezmalhalch, who was now a close friend, to pray for an afflicted lady. As Lake sat by her bedside he trembled in an unusual yearning for God.
But Hezmalhalch was oblivious to what was happening,
and asked Lake to lay hands on the woman. As he did, the lightning of God knocked Hezmolahlach to the ground. “Praise the Lord, John!” he said while picking himself up, “Jesus has baptized you in the Holy Ghost!”10
Lake would write later of this:
“When the phenomena had passed, the glory of it remained in my soul. I found that my life began to manifest a varied range of the gifts of the Spirit. And I spoke in tongues by the power of God, and God flowed through me with a new force. Healings were more of a powerful order.”
Lake spoke in other tongues often and believed that a lesser degree of infilling could
not qualify as the baptism of the Holy Spirit:
“Tongues have been to me,” said Lake, “the making of my ministry. It is that peculiar communication with God…[that] reveals to my soul the truth I utter to you day by day in the ministry.”11
Again, waiting for God’s right timing is very important. Our call from God was established before we
were born. As we grow in life, we are invited to become aware of it. But just being “aware” of God’s calling doesn’t
mean it is “the time” for that call to be launched into the earth. Divine timing must come before full-time ministry
can begin. So don’t be discouraged during your time of preparation. And don’t compare your call with the call of
others. Each call has its own timing and plan. Your faithfulness to the Word of God, along with fervent
spiritual preparation determines the timing.
Lake spoke in other tongues often and believed that a lesser degree of infilling could not qualify as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
AFRICA IS CALLING
After his baptism of the Holy Spirit, Lake’s desire to enter full-time ministry increased. So his boss agreed to allow him to take three months off and preach. But he also warned him that, “at the end of three months, $50,000 a year will look like a lot to you, and you will have little desire to sacrifice it for the dreams of religious possibilities.” Lake thanked his boss for all he had done for him and left his job. Then once the three months had passed he would boldly declare, “I am through forever with everything in life but the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”12 He would never return to his job.
In 1907, John and Jennie disposed of their estate, their wealth, and their possessions. In a great move of faith, they determined to be entirely dependent upon God. Now it was time to preach.
While ministering in a northern part of Illinois, the Spirit of God told Lake to, “Go to Indianapolis. Prepare for a winter campaign and get a large hall. Then in the spring, you will go to Africa.” When he returned home to tell Jennie, she was already aware of the plan because the Lord had told her as well.
Lake had developed a great interest in Africa when reading about the explorations of Stanley and Livingstone when he was still a boy. As he grew into a young man, he began to experience spiritual visions that seemed to place him more often in Africa than in America. Through the Holy Spirit, Lake was given insight into the geography and people of a land he had never been to. And now that dream was becoming a reality. God said he would go to Africa in the spring!
So Lake moved his family to Indianapolis and joined his old friend, Tom Hezmalhalch. They would stay there for six months as the two formed a powerful ministry team leading
several hundred people into the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Then one morning, Lake felt led to begin a fast. As he sought the Lord over a period of six days He was told that from that point on he would start casting out demons. A special knowing to discern and cast out evil spirits quickly followed, and within a short time, Lake began moving in this area with great precision.
WALKING ON THE WATER
In January of 1908, Lake began to pray for the needed finances to take the Africa trip. Tom joined with him, and they determined the trip would cost $2,000. They had been praying for a while when Tom got up and slapped Lake on the back, saying, “Don’t pray anymore, John. Jesus told me just now that He will send us that $2000, and that it will be here in four days.”
Exactly four days later, Tom returned from the post office and threw four $500 drafts on the table. “John, here is the answer!” Tom shouted. “Jesus has sent it. We are going to Africa!”
Just as the Lord proclaimed, in April of 1908, the group left for Africa. The team was made up of Lake, Jennie, their seven children, Tom, and three of his companions. One of Tom’s companions had lived in Africa for five years, could speak Zulu, and would serve as interpreter. They bought their tickets, but had no extra money for the expenses of the trip. Now God’s one-time millionaire would learn how to fully trust Him. He had only $1.50 in his hand.
And as Lake obeyed, the Lord miraculously provided for the team. The immigration laws of South Africa required each family that arrived to have at least $ 125, or they wouldn’t be permitted to leave the ship. And as they pulled into the port, Lake had no money. So Jennie looked at him and said, “What are you going to do?”
Lake responded, “I am going to line up with the rest. We have obeyed God this far. It is now up to the Lord.”
As he stood in line, ready to explain his dilemma, a fellow passenger tapped him on the shoulder and called him to the side. He asked Lake a few questions, then handed him two money orders, totaling $200.
“I feel led to give you this to help your work,” the stranger said. If you’ve heard from
God, then step out in bold, aggressive faith. He’ll be there to meet you every time.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
The Lake family had been praying diligently for a home when they reached Johannesburg. As faith missionaries, they had no support from church boards, and no denomination waiting to accept them at their arrival. All they had was their faith in God.
When they arrived in Johannesburg in May of 1908, they noticed a little woman running around the dock area looking at everyone. She was American. Running up to Tom, she said, “You are an American missionary party?” to which Tom replied, “Yes.” “How many are in your party?” the lady went on. “Four,” Tom answered back. But she shook her head and said, “No, you aren’t the family. Is there another?”
Then Tom directed her to Lake. “How many are in your family?” the lady asked. “My wife, myself, and my seven children,” Lake said. The lady suddenly looked ecstatic and shrilled, “You are the family!” Then she went on to explain how God had directed her to meet their boat and that on it would be an American missionary family consisting of two adults and seven children. And that she was to give them a home.13
That same afternoon, the Lake’s were settled into a furnished home in Johannesburg. God had provided it, just as they had asked. The American lady, Mrs. C. L. Goodenough, remained a faithful friend throughout their ministry.
A SPIRITUAL CYCLONE
Days after Lake arrived, his first ministry door was opened. A South African pastor took a leave of absence for a few weeks and asked Lake to fill his pulpit. He immediately accepted the offer.
Over five hundred Zulus were in attendance his first Sunday in the pulpit. As a result, a great revival broke out among them, and within weeks multitudes from Johannesburg and the surrounding area were saved, healed, and baptized in the Holy Spirit.
The success astounded Lake. Of it, he later wrote:
“From the very start it was as though a spiritual cyclone had struck.”14
Wounded, sick, and weak, the people would line up on one side of the platform and would leave the building after they were prayed for, shouting, “God has healed me!”
The meetings would often last until 4 A.M.
One of the main features of these miraculous meetings were the powerful demonstrations of answered prayer. The prayer of faith would be spoken for someone in another part of Africa with instant results. News of this spread far and wide, and hundreds packed into Johannesburg to be prayed for. After the meetings ended, the natives would follow the preachers to their homes and continue to ask questions to learn about God. Many times, as dawn broke over the African horizon, the group would still be discussing the power of God. Then all through the following day, people could be seen with Bibles in their hands, witnessing about the power of God that was displayed the night before.
There were also many great manifestations of healing.
Wounded, sick, and weak, the people would line up on one side of the platform and would leave the building after they were prayed for, shouting, “God has healed me!” The crowd
inside the building shouted wildly and cheered as they witnessed the miracles of God.
JOHN & JENNIE: THE TEAM
If the African people couldn’t make it to Lake’s meetings, they would travel to “the preacher’s” home. At times the throng was so great that Jennie didn’t even have time to prepare the family meals. She would usher the people through the front door to be prayed for, then show them through the back door so the room would have space for the others coming in.
Jennie was also John’s ministry partner. Lake believed his wife “possessed the spirit of discernment in a more marked degree” than he did. She would often receive a word of knowledge concerning those who were unable to receive healing because of personal difficulty or sin in their life.
The Lakes had a simple way of operating in their healing ministry. As the people passed before John in his office, he laid hands upon them. Those who were instantly healed, were dismissed. But those who continued to suffer, or received a partial healing, were sent into another room. Then when Lake finished with the multitude, he would bring Jennie into the room who would, by the Spirit, personally reveal to each one of them the hindrances of their healing. Upon hearing the inner secrets of their hearts, many would confess and ask God for forgiveness. Then John and Jennie would pray again, and God would heal those who repented. Those who refused to repent, even after acknowledging the truth of what Mrs. Lake had told them, went home suffering in their affliction.
WHAT WAS HE LIKE?
Lake was a man of action. Once after an inspired altar invitation, the entire congregation ran to the front. In the group was a man who fell to the floor in front of the platform in an epileptic seizure. Immediately, Lake jumped off the platform and was at his side, rebuking the demon in the name of Jesus. After the man was delivered, Lake quietly returned to the platform.
The Spirit of God powerfully rested on Lake during these years. As he shook hands with those entering the services, they would often fall to the ground under the power of God. At other times, people would fall prostrate when they came within six feet of him!
Lake demonstrated his deep compassion by never turning away a cry for help. He never refused to answer the call of a sick person, and was even known to pray for dying animals when called upon. There were times when he needed rest, but the people would find him, then bring him their sick. Lake prayed for them night and day and refused to turn anyone away.
The ministry team was always in great need of food and finances. And true to the practices of that day, Lake never took offerings. But He would often find baskets of food or small pouches of money discreetly left on the family’s doorstep.
Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges that Jennie experienced in Africa was adapting to the ministry habits of her husband. It was John’s task to bring home the groceries needed for their large family. But if he would happen to meet a widow lady on the way home who had hungry children, he would give everything he had to the widow’s family. Also, Jennie never knew whether or not John may be bringing home company for dinner, so she would have to stretch any meal to feed a large crowd. Food always seemed to be in short supply.
From Lake’s first meetings held in the pastor’s church building, he moved into rented halls. Then when the crowds outgrew them, the ministry team resorted to cottage meetings. Lake and Hezmalhalch were now “team” preachers. Each would speak five or six times during a meeting, and no one could tell where one’s message finished and the other’s started. It was all harmonized by the Spirit of God.
Lake established the Apostolic Tabernacle in Johannesburg, and in less than a year he had started one hundred churches. The work of overseeing these churches spread throughout Africa and kept him more frequently away from home.
Lake was stunned with the most devastating news he had ever encountered on December 22, 1908. While ministering in the Kalahari Desert, his beloved Jennie died. When he returned home twelve hours later, she had already
gone to heaven.
Most accounts of Jennie Lake’s death attribute it to malnutrition and physical exhaustion. When John was away, scores of sick people would wait on his lawn until he returned. So Jennie would feed them while they waited with what little food she could spare. And she tried to make their stay as comfortable as possible until Lake returned. But in doing so, she physically neglected herself.
Lake had become so absorbed in ministering to others that he wasn’t aware of what was happening to his own wife.
Lake had become so
absorbed in ministering to others that he wasn’t aware of
what was happening to his own wife.
One point often ignored in the ministry is that there will always be a “need” to be fulfilled. One ministry can’t meet all the needs that will appear, no matter how powerful or anointed that ministry seems to be. So common sense is invaluable to Christian ministry. The natural body and the natural family need attention, and the family unit should always be the core of any ministry.
Understandably, Lake was devastated when he arrived home to find his wife had died. It was a very dark time for him and the agonizing pain stayed with him for many years.
The next year, in 1909, Lake returned to America to gather support for his African ministry and to recruit new workers. And again, God supernaturally supplied the money with one contribution. He was given $3,000 for he and his workers to return.
As the team landed on African soil in January of 1910, a plague was raging over portions of the nation. In less than a month, one quarter of the entire population had died. In fact, the plague was so contagious that the government was offering $1,000 to any nurse who would care for the sick. Lake and his assistants went to help, free of charge. He and one assistant would go into the houses, bring out the dead, and bury them. But no symptom of the plague ever touched him.
At the height of this horrible plague, a doctor sent for Lake and asked him: “What have you been doing to protect yourself? You must have a
To this Lake responded:
“Brother, it is the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. I believe that just as long as I keep my soul in contact with the living God so that His Spirit is flowing into my soul and body, that no germ will ever attach itself to me, for the Spirit of God will kill it”
Lake then invited the doctor to experiment with him. He asked the doctor to take the foam from the lungs of a dead plague victim and put it under a microscope. The doctor did so, and found masses of living germs. Then Lake astounded the people in the room as he told the doctor to spread the deadly foam on his hands and announced that germs would die.
The doctor did so and found that the germs died instantly in Lake’s hand. Those who witnessed the experiment stood in amazement as Lake continued to give glory to God, explaining the phenomenon like this:
“You can fill my hand with them and I will keep it under the microscope, and instead of these germs remaining alive, they will die instantly.”15
This same power constantly flowed through Lake’s hands into the bodies of the afflicted bringing healing to the masses. The “lightnings of God” blasted all disease and infirmity.
When the Queen of Holland requested Lake to pray for her problems with conception so she could carry a child to full term, he sent the Queen word that her prayer had been answered. Less than a year later, the Queen, who had miscarried six previous times, gave birth to her first full-term child, Queen Juliana of Holland.16
MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT
In December of 1910, Tom Hezmalhalch left Lake’s ministry. This was a very difficult time for Lake. He had recently lost his dear wife, and now he was losing his best friend and partner. But he drew strength from knowing that he was fulfilling the will of God. And he received much comfort from his American supporters. Encouraging letters came pouring in from many reassuring him of their confidence in his ministry.
Lake spent the rest of 1910-1912 ministering healing as he prayed for the sick. Great miracles were performed that still affect Africa today. And he started two main churches: The Apostolic Faith Mission/Apostolic Tabernacle (not related to the Apostolic Faith Church) and the Zion Christian Church.
Lake and his congregation regularly published a newsletter that was mailed to thousands of people. Before they were mailed, church members would lay hands on them and pray that the pieces of literature would be filled with God’s Spirit. They believed the power of God would anoint the newsletter’s paper, just as it occurred with the handkerchiefs of Paul. As a result, thousands of letters would pour in from all parts of the world, stating how the Spirit of God came upon the recipients as they opened the paper. One lady said that when she held the newsletter, “she vibrated” in such a way that she could hardly sit in her chair. She was then baptized in
the Holy Spirit and spoke in other tongues. Lake simply
explained this manifestation by saying:
“The ministry of Christianity is the ministry of the Spirit.”17
Lake understood how to carry his entire
They believed the power of
God would anoint the newsletter’s paper, just as it occurred with the handkerchiefs of Paul.
congregation into the presence of the Lord. He trained
and matured them out of his spiritual overflow, and as
a result, they were able to accelerate with him in the supernatural. In 1912, the congregation was asked to pray for a man’s cousin in a Welsh insane asylum that was
located some seven thousand miles away. When the spirit of fervent prayer fell on the
people, a great consciousness of God came upon Lake. It seemed as if shafts of light were beaming toward him from the intercessors. Then suddenly, he found himself traveling in the spirit at lightning-like speed. Arriving in a place that he had never seen before, he realized it had to be Wales. Then he walked inside the room of this man’s cousin who was tied to a cot with her head bouncing back and forth. He laid hands on her and cast the devil out of her. Then, suddenly, he was back in Johannesburg kneeling on the platform. Three weeks later, the report of this woman’s compete deliverance had arrived. She had been immediately discharged when physicians found her “suddenly” healthy and whole.
THE ANOINTED ROVER
By the time John G. Lake would leave Africa to finally return to America, his ministry efforts had produced 1,250 preachers, 625 congregations, and 100,000 converts. The
exact number of miracles that occurred in his ministry could never be counted on earth.18
These statistics are the results of five years of ministry!
Lake returned to America in 1912. The family’s first year home was filled with travel and needed relaxation. Then in 1913, John met and married Florence Switzer of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the years following they became the parents of five children. Florence was an excellent stenographer and was responsible for recording and preserving many of Lake’s sermons.
In the summer of 1914, Lake met with his former railroad financier and friend, Jim Hill. The two had become close when Lake worked in Chicago. Hill was delighted to see Lake and offered his family free railway passes that were good for anywhere his trains traveled.
THE HEALING ROOMS OF SPOKANE
Lake took advantage of his good friend’s offer and began to travel the nation. First, he went to Spokane, Washington, where he would stay and set up “healing rooms” in an old office building. It is estimated that some one hundred thousand healings occurred in those rooms.19
The Spokane newspapers consistently published the many healing testimonies of the people. In fact, the results were so unbelievable that the Better Business Bureau decided to verify the authenticity of the healings. So they contacted leaders at the healing rooms for an investigation.
To satisfy the bureau’s inquiry, Lake called on the people whose testimonies had appeared in print. All eighteen of them gave testimony to the power of the Lord in front of the bureau. Then Lake gave the investigators the names of those who had been healed throughout the city so they could question them. And after that, he offered to sponsor a meeting the following Sunday at which one hundred people would give their healing testimonies. He asked the bureau to formulate a panel of physicians, lawyers, judges, and educators who could render a verdict.
John and Jennie Lake and family before leaving for South Africa, 1907
Lake and campaign workers
Mobilizing the message, Lake on the road
Lake and healing home workers in Spokane, Washington, 1915-1920
Boy healed at Lake’s Spokane Healing Home
But Lake received a letter from the bureau the Friday before the proposed meeting informing him that their investigations were very positive, and that the Sunday meeting wouldn’t be necessary. They also praised him for the work he was doing in their city. Two committee members even visited him privately to tell him, “You didn’t tell the half of it.”
Those interviewed by the bureau included a woman who no longer had her female organs, yet through healing, was able to procreate. She showed her miraculous baby to those investigating the ministry.
Another woman shared about the miraculous healing of her severely broken kneecap. After she received prayer, the bone
It is said the boy’s head was shaped like a yacht, “upside down.” Physicians announced there was nothing that could be done for him until he was twelve years old.
popped back into place, without pain, in less than an hour. Still another woman afflicted with incurable cancer was totally healed after prayer. And another was instantly healed of
rheumatoid arthritis as her bones reshaped and returned to normal. This same woman was also healed of a prolapsed stomach, and the earlobe she was born without
miraculously grew into place.
But the most remarkable case at Spokane’s Healing Home was that of a small boy. It is said the boy’s head was shaped like a yacht, “upside down.” Physicians announced there was nothing that could be done for him until he was twelve years old, and then the surgery would be very dangerous. But after prayer, the boy’s bones softened, his head expanded, and his skull was restored to normal. His paralysis also miraculously left and he was able to speak like other children.
How did Lake explain these incredible healings? Many times, he liked to use Sister
Etter in his illustrations because of her great spiritual influence on his life.
“When you see those holy flashes of heavenly flame once in a while in a person’s life, as we observe in our Sister Etter; when someone is healed, it is because her consciousness and Christ are one. She is fused into God. I saw a dying, strangling woman healed in thirty seconds as Mrs. Etter cast out the demon. The flame of God, the fire of His Spirit, ten seconds of connection with the Almighty Christ at the Throne of God, that is the secret of it.”20
“STRIVE FOR PENTECOST”
According to government statistics, between the years of 1915-1920, Spokane, Washington, was the “healthiest city in the world,” because of the ministry of John G. Lake. The mayor of Spokane held a public commemoration to honor his efforts.
An excellent businessman, Lake made sure his records were always accurate. They showed that up to two hundred persons a day were being ministered to and healed in Spokane’s Healing Homes, and that most of them were non-church members.
Lake also founded The Apostolic Church in Spokane that drew thousands from around the world for ministry and healing. He held services six nights a week, twice on Sundays, and made house calls throughout the week.
In May of 1920, Lake left Spokane and moved to Portland, Oregon, where he traveled as an apostle and pastored for a time. Soon, he began another Apostolic Church and healing ministry similar to the one in Spokane.
During Lake’s time in Portland, he had a vision in which an angel appeared. The angel opened the Bible to the book of Acts, pointing to the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The angel also called Lake’s attention to other spiritual manifestations and revelations in the book and said:
“This is Pentecost as God gave it through the heart of Jesus. Strive for this. Contend for this. Teach the people to pray for this. For this, and this alone, will meet the necessity of the human heart, and this alone will have the power to overcome the forces of darkness.”21
From that day on, Lake strived to fulfill the Word of the Lord with even greater intensity. He traveled around America for the next eleven years, duplicating his work everywhere he went.
His children borne by Florence had a different attitude toward him. They remembered him as a man who loved to laugh and enjoy his friends.
In his later years, John G. Lake enjoyed a wonderful balance of the supernatural and natural. But his understanding came at a very heavy price. The price was his family.
Lake’s children from his first marriage suffered greatly because of his constant absence. Even when he was present in a room, he would drift away in meditation, being constantly mindful of the ministry and the Lord. Because of this, his children felt greatly neglected.
Remember, it was these same children who saw their mother starve and work to death in Africa. As a result, each of them had developed very hardened attitudes, and they left home
very early, between the ages of fifteen and sixteen, to live in Canada. As they grew into adulthood, their lives were characterized by hardened bitterness. However, two of his sons commented while on their deathbeds, “I wish dad were here to pray for me.”
Lake grieved over his lack of attention given the children. And he would later write in a letter that the many miracles wrought at his hands were personally unfulfilling and not worth the loss of his family.
THE REDEEMING FACTOR
But Lake learned from his experiences, and finally found the key to being a good husband, involved father, and powerful minister. His children borne by Florence had a different attitude toward him. They remembered him as a man who loved to laugh and enjoy his friends.
In his later years, Lake was not “so heavenly minded that he was of no earthly good.” He didn’t keep his head in the clouds, and people no longer fell into silence when entering his presence because he would lovingly interact with them. Lake had finally learned to enjoy the natural and the supernatural to the fullest extent. The atmosphere in his home was no longer rigid and stiff! He loved to have fun at the dinner table when the family was together. His hearty laugh could be heard echoing down the halls. And he enjoyed symphonic and opera music, so every Sunday evening, he would listen to his favorite radio programs.
Lake also enjoyed a wonderful sense of humor. He loved to read Will Roger’s newspaper column, and would later be thought of himself as “a great entertainer.” He liked to keep the atmosphere around him light with laughter.
THE MAGNET OF GOD
At the height of his ministry, the outside world had become so drawn to Lake’s understanding of God that they constantly flocked to him. It was his understanding of righteousness that allowed him to take dominion over every situation. He despised the Christian songs that spoke of mankind as a “worm.” When he heard them he would wrinkle his nose and twist his mouth, calling them “lower concept” songs. He felt they were a disgrace to the blood of Jesus. Lake’s daughter once described her father as having “a very great consciousness of being a king and priest before God, showing a bearing and demeanor of that nobility.” This is how he also encouraged others to be viewed. Lake always directed his family to treat all believers as kings and priests.22
Lake was the strongest advocate of his day for the supernatural. He often spoke with disgust of educational, medical, and scientific forums that made reference to the weakness of Christianity. One day he would preach, the tables would be turned, and men would flock from everywhere to the—”School of the Spirit”—where they would learn to cooperate and become one with the power of God.
Lake was truly concerned about the world’s infatuation with mere psychological power. He tells of once witnessing a man in India who had been buried alive for three days, then came up from the grave well and whole. And of another man who had suspended his body between two chairs in mid-air and had a huge stone smashed on his chest until it broke in two.
He would publicly refute the validity of such manifestations by saying:
“These are only on the psychological plane. Beyond that is the spirit plane and the amazing wonder of the Holy Spirit of God, and if God got hold of my spirit for ten minutes, He could do something ten thousand times
greater than that.”23
“Christianity is one hundred percent supernatural,” he often said. “‘All
Power’ language is Christianity vocabulary only.”24
He possessed a remarkable ability to encourage faith and revelation in the hearts of others who listened to him. The ministers who sat under his teaching soon found their own ministries of faith which resulted in startling healings.
“If he [a Christian] has not the Spirit to minister in the real high sense, he has nothing to minister. Other men have intellectuality, but the Christian is supposed to be the possessor of the Spirit. There should never be any misunderstanding along these lines.”25
To further the supernatural goals, Lake called every believer to the power of
Pentecost. Once in doing so he spoke this prophecy:
“I can see as my spirit discerns the future and reaches out to touch the heart of mankind and the desire of God,
By the end of the talk, his vision was completely restored, and remained that way for the rest of his life.
of darkness and prevail.”26
that there is coming from heaven a new
manifestation of the Holy Spirit in power, and that new manifestation will be in sweetness, in love, in tenderness, and in the power of the Spirit, beyond anything your heart or mine ever saw. The very lightning of God will flash through men’s souls. The sons of God will meet the sons
LEGACY OF THE MIRACULOUS
By 1924, Lake was known throughout America as a leading healing evangelist. He had established forty churches throughout the United States and Canada in which there had been so many healings that his congregations nicknamed him, “Dr.” Lake.
In December, another significant event took place through his ministry. Gordon Lindsay, founder of Christ For the Nations in Dallas, Texas, was converted while hearing Lake preach in Portland. Lindsay attended his services nearly every night of the week and considered Lake to be his mentor. When Lindsay later contracted deadly, ptomaine poisoning, he was totally healed once he was able to get to Lake’s home.
In 1931, Lake returned to Spokane at the age of sixty-one. He was now weak with fatigue, and almost blind. So he decided to have a “talk” with the Lord. He reminded Him of how shameful it would be if he were to go blind after over one hundred thousand people were healed in his ministry in America alone. By the end of the talk, his vision was
completely restored, and remained that way for the rest of his life.
REIGNING IN THE HEAVENLIES
Labor Day came on a hot, humid Sunday in 1935. The Lakes had attended a Sunday school picnic and John returned home from it totally exhausted. So he laid down to rest. Florence encouraged him to stay home while she attended church that night, and when she returned home, she found Lake had suffered a stroke. He remained in poor condition for two weeks, unconscious most of the time. Then on September 16, 1935, John G. Lake went home to be with the Lord. He was sixty-five years
During the memorial service honoring Lake’s life,
If we would just grasp the
reality of our position
many words of praise were spoken about him. But they are best summed up in this eulogy excerpt taken from one of Lake’s many Spokane converts:
“Dr. Lake came to Spokane. He found us in sin. He found us in sickness. He found us in
through Jesus Christ, as
Lake did, every nation would ring with the praises of God.
poverty of spirit. He found us in despair, but he revealed to us such a
Christ as we had never dreamed of knowing this side of heaven. We thought the victory was over there, but Dr. Lake revealed to us that
victory was here.”27
As we close this chapter, I want to challenge you to walk in the revelation of your righteousness in Christ. Righteousness is a lifestyle that produces victory in every situation. If we would just grasp the reality of our position through Jesus Christ, as Lake did, every nation would ring with the praises of God. And every demonic regime would crumble under that authority.
John G. Lake proved to us that this lifestyle can be lived and enjoyed by those who pursue it. So don’t stop short of what God has given us through Jesus Christ. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal your heavenly position to you, then take your place and change the nations for God.
Source: GhanaChurch.com – Ghana Churches News Portal
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