We should be voraciously hungry to partake of everything that has been poured out by God in every revival, not leaving behind anything but continually adding to our knowledge and experience….We should be avid students of revival, holding onto what is good and praise-worthy, but also pressing on to what lies ahead, hungry for what has not yet been experienced…We should maintain a fiery expectation of even more glorious love, peace and joy manifested in ever more powerful and thrilling ways.
-Heidi Baker, missionary and revivalist
To the world, Los Angeles, California may not be known for its rich heritage of Christianity, but “The City of Angels” is actually home to some of the most glorious sites of revival in the nation, if not the world. Moves of the Spirit of God were birthed in LA that continue to impact millions of lives today. Pentecostalism is the most rapidly expanding movement of Christianity in the world—and it was birthed near downtown LA at a household gathering of men and women hungry for the presence of God.
Inspired by men and women who changed history with their indomitable desire for God, we took a trip around LA to explore and discover three revival hotspots, starting at the Bonnie Brae House/Azusa Street Mission near downtown LA, continuing on to Angelus Temple in Echo Park, and ending at Mott Auditorium in Pasadena. We hope you are as spurred on as we were by the legacy of the presence of God in each of these places- a legacy that has restored hope to millions, illuminated the Gospel, and transformed society.
The Bonnie Brae House/Azusa Street Mission: Come Holy Spirit!
First, we headed to the Bonnie Brae House, near downtown Los Angeles. The house may be small and unassuming, but it’s known to be the birthplace of the Azusa Street Revival: a movement of God that has shaken the history of the Church, and the world as we know it!
Azusa Street Revival began with one African-American man, the son of a slave, named William Seymour. After learning about speaking tongues and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Seymour moved to Los Angeles to minister. Although his beliefs were initially rejected, eventually he began to hold prayer meetings at the Bonnie Brae house, where men and women would gather to wait for God and for the baptism of His Spirit- something that they hadn’t yet experienced, but which they eagerly desired. After the Holy Spirit fell on one man, who began to speak in tongues while receiving prayer for healing, many manifestations followed, and soon, word got out about the “glory.” People came from all over the city to gather at the little house to experience God. Eventually they had to move the meetings to the Azusa Street Mission, as the house was too small to hold all those who were hungry for more.
Missionaries and ministers of the Gospel came from all over the world, hungry for the baptism of the Holy Spirit—bringing the presence and anointing back to their nations, including China, India, Germany, and more. Pentecostalism was birthed, changing history forever. Matthew 18:20 says “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” The origins of this movement of God’s Spirit started with just a few men and women, gathering in a room to pray for something still unknown but passionately desired.
The Pentecostal power, when you sum it all up, is just more of God’s love. If it does not bring more love, it is simply a counterfeit.- William J. Seymour
Angelus Temple: Salvation and Healing for Many
Next we headed over to Angelus Temple, in Echo Park, to revisit the site of a movement of healing and transformation that swept into LA in the early 20th century, with one fiery woman named Aimee Semple McPherson. When Angelus Temple was built in 1923, it was one of the largest buildings of its kind in North America, and was estimated to have received millions of visitors. But more than the numbers of people, the size of the building, and the frequency of meetings, Angelus Temple was impressive for the incredible miracles that took place inside. Aimee preached the gospel boldly to crowds of thousands and saw innumerable healing miracles. Paralytics were raised out of wheel chairs, the sick left healthy, and broken bones were healed. Multitudes of people entered in on stretchers because of injury or sickness, and exited on two feet. Today, in Aimee’s former home, next to Angelus Temple, there are empty wheelchairs: a testament to healing!
With God, I can do all things! But with God and you, and the people who you can interest, by the grace of God, we’re gonna cover the world!- Aimee Semple McPherson
Aimee was a forerunner in several different ways in ministry. She produced stage performances of caliber and excellence, attracting the attention and the accolades of Hollywood, impacting contemporary culture with the Gospel. Unafraid to think outside of the box, Aimee used her talents and charisma for the glory of God! She also ministered to men, women, and children of every age, race, and socio-economic bracket, breaking down social barriers, and pioneering the way for women in ministry. Despite cultural and social expectations that women would stay out of the spotlight, Aimee knew her destiny in God, and obeyed His calling to preach the gospel fearlessly.
Aimee Semple McPherson’s “yes” opened the doors for thousands to be healed, saved, and delivered, leaving a lasting legacy of God’s miracle power. Today, Angelus Temple is a U.S. National Historic Landmark, home to a thriving church called the Dream Center, and the site of a legacy of boldness, salvation, and healing.
Mott Auditorium: Prayer Fueling Revival
We finished our revival tour at Mott Auditorium, in Pasadena, a place dedicated primarily to prayer and worship as a house for the presence of the Lord. Mott is open 6 days a week to anyone looking to pray, worship, and to experience the Lord more. The Auditorium was built in the early 1940’s to serve the Nazarene college and house their yearly revival meetings. A.E. Sanner, Superintendent of the Southern California District Church of the Nazarene, wrote in 1944 of the zealous mission of funding and erecting this building: “With a purpose, with a holy zeal, with a vision, with a heart on fire with heavenly love, to get the good news of a salvation from all sin for all men everywhere!” (The Key Works). Sanner would have no idea of the rich and incredible history that would follow over the next 60+ years!
Half a century later, in 1995, Harvest Rock Church (now HRock) began to meet in Mott Auditorium in nightly prayer meetings. Leaders Ché Ahn and Lou Engle had been to the Toronto Airport Vineyard, where an outpouring of the Holy Spirit was happening. When Ché and Lou returned to LA, they invited John Arnott, the pastor of the Toronto church, if he would come to minister. On January 2nd, 1995, Arnott came to Pasadena, and more than 2,000 people showed up at Mott, hungry for the presence of God. Nightly meetings followed, where the presence of God was heavy, with unusual manifestations of the Spirit, including laughter and shaking, that surprised even the leaders!
Suddenly, in 1994, the Holy Spirit fell in Toronto, and then fell in Los Angeles. I’m talking about manifestations that blew me away. I couldn’t even wrap my head around them.- Ché Ahn
Not only did people experience the joy and freedom of the Lord, many received healing miracles of all kinds at Mott during the renewal meetings. Those who came to the meetings were healed of of sickness and medical conditions in just moments of encountering the presence of the Lord. These “renewal” meetings continued for three years, heavy with the presence of the Holy Spirit, and eventually Harvest Rock Church moved to Ambassador Auditorium. Today, Mott Auditorium continues to be a place of incredible prayer and devotion, and HRock Church is a thriving, multigenerational and multicultural church in Pasadena, devoted to the purposes of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
revival then, revival now
If you are a Christian, talking about revival may feel all too familiar to you. Phrases like “the presence of God” and “the baptism of the Holy Spirit” may seem completely normal. Maybe you go to a church where healings and miracles are talked about frequently, and even expected to happen in services. You may have your own prayer language, that you pray in on a daily basis. Or maybe these kinds of experiences are new to you, or you know about them and expect them to happen. However, we should never take these experiences for granted! There have been many who have gone before us, who have paved the way for us to know and experience the presence of God in a new way, who have sacrificed time, energy, and even reputations for the sake of knowing God more.
Because of forerunners like the ones who have made an impact at Bonnie Brae House, Angelus Temple, and Mott Auditorium, we now have communities where the manifest presence of the Spirit of God is not only accepted, but expected. As believers in Christ in 2017, we stand on a rich foundation built by mothers and fathers in the faith, a heritage that has opened the door for us to know His ways even more, to see increased breakthrough and miracles, and to walk out in the power of Jesus in ever-increasing joy and abundance.
come holy spirit
From April 18-21, we’re coming together in Pasadena, CA to declare COME HOLY SPIRIT again, for The Revival Alliance Conference at HRock Church. Speakers include Bill Johnson, Heidi Baker, Randy Clark, Ché Ah, Georgian and Winnie Banov, Shawn Bolz, Patricia King, Lance Wallnau, Gabe Ahn, and more! It will be a powerful opportunity to to ignite our faith for revival, encounter the transformative presence of the Spirit of God, and to be inspired by great men and women of faith who are walking in power! Register here, or watch online.
- Ignite Azusa: Positioning for a New Jesus Revolution, Jennifer A. Miskov, 2016
- “Reviving Pentecostalism at the Millenium: The Harvest Rock Story”, Margaret Poloma, Ph. D
- “The Key Works: Story of the Nazarene Memorial Auditorium”, A.E. Sanner, 1944