It was battles such as this—at death’s very door—that brought John G. Lake face to face with his convictions. Was he going to stand by as the enemy took yet another loved one from him, or was he going to choose to stand in the enemy’s way? Such an opportunity again presented itself on April 28, 1898, when his wife of five years lay dying. Jennie battled for breath in her final hours when Lake finally put his foot down. He would not tolerate the enemy stealing away the mother of his children and his spiritual partner. He determined to believe God’s Word as it was revealed to him for her healing and at 9:30 a.m. he contended for her life in prayer upon which she rose up healed, praising the Lord in a loud voice. News spread of Jennie’s miraculous healing, and from that time on, John Lake was sought after for the power of his healing anointing.
Such was the power of his anointing that he wrote about it as being like the lightning 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!” 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.
In 1901, at the age of thirty-one, Lake moved to Zion, Illinois, to study divine healing under John Alexander Dowie. But in 1904, when Dowie’s increasing financial problems began to surface, Lake decided to distance himself and relocated to Chicago. When his personal investments in Zion properties left him in near financial ruin following Dowie’s death in 1907, he bought himself a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade and over the next year was able to accumulate over $130,000 in the bank and real estate worth $90,000. This prompted the notice of top business executives who 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 making money on the side through hearty commissions as well. By turn-of-the-century standards, John Lake was making a fortune.
For a while he was able to juggle his great secular success and grow in his desire for God. He had learned to walk in the Spirit as 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.” But by 1907, he yielded to the call to full-time ministry, and he and Jennie sold their estate and all their belongings. From that point on the Lake’s relied on God for provision as they traveled the country ministering. By January of 1908, they began praying for the necessary finances to take their team to Africa.
In April of that same year, the Lakes and their seven children left for Africa with only money to pay for passage on the ship. In faith, they believed God for the finances necessary to gain them admittance into the country and for provision once they arrived. He provided what they needed as they were lining up to pay upon leaving the ship, and once aground, a miraculous housing offer presented itself before they had even left the dock. They immediately settled into a furnished home in Johannesburg. Days later, John was asked to fill in for a South African pastor who was taking a leave of absence. Over five hundred Zulus were in attendance his first Sunday in the pulpit, and as a result, revival broke out so that within weeks multitudes in from the surrounding area were saved, healed, and baptized in the Holy Spirit. The success astounded Lake so that he wrote: “From the very start it was as though a spiritual cyclone had struck.” In less than a year, he had started one hundred churches.
Ministry success came at a price. Before the year was out, on December 22, 1908, Lake came home to find Jennie had died from physical exhaustion and malnutrition. He was devastated. Early in 1909, he returned to the States to recuperate, raise support, and recruit new workers. By January of 1910, he was headed back to Africa in the midst of a raging plague there. He was among few who ministered to the sick and dying. He proved to local physicians that the germs would not live on his body due to the Holy Spirit alive in Him. He actually verified this under a microscope showing that the germs died upon contact with his body. Those who witnessed the experiment stood in amazement as Lake gave glory to God explaining that: “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.”
In 1912, after five years of ministry in Africa, having produced 1,250 preachers, 625 congregations, and 100,000 converts, Lake returned to the United States. In 1913 he married Florence Switzer with whom he had five children. They settled in Spokane, Washington, where they founded the Spokane Healing Home and the Apostolic Church, which drew thousands from around the world for ministry and healing. In May of 1920, the Lakes left Spokane for Portland, Oregon, where he started another Apostolic Church and healing ministry similar to the one in Spokane.
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 of that year, Gordon Lindsey, founder of Christ for the Nations in Dallas, Texas, was converted while hearing Lake preach in Portland. He attended his services nearly every night for a week and considered Lake to be a mentor. Lindsey later contracted deadly ptomaine poisoning, but 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 weak with fatigue and nearly blind. God ultimately restored his vision after Lake had a “talk” with the Lord about it. Sadly, on Labor Day of 1935, after returning from a church picnic, John G. Lake went home to be with the Lord. He was sixty-five years old.
I can see as my spirit discerns the future and reaches out to touch the heart of mankind and the desire of God, 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 mind ever saw. The very lightning of God will flash through men’s souls. The sons of God will meet the sons of darkness and prevail.
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. John G. Lake lived his life and fulfilled his ministry in the earth with this type of spiritual understanding. 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.
* was responsible for raising over 1,000,000 converts, 625 churches and 1,250 preachers in five years of ministry.
John G. Lake was known as God's "Apostle to Africa". Born in Canada in 1870, his family soon relocated to the United States, where he grew up. His healing and preaching ministry spanned the years 1898 (when he saw his wife instantly healed under the ministry of John Alexander Dowie) until his death in 1935. In 1908, God sent him to Africa, where his anointed miracle ministry resulted in what has been described as "the most extensive and powerful missionary movement in all Africa." As Gordon Lindsay wrote, "during that time he spent five history-making years in South Africa, engaged in a ministry which in some respects rivaled that of the Early Church." Upon his return to America, Lake established a ministry in Spokane, Washington which resulted in no less than 100,000 astounding miracles of healing within the space of five or six years. He then established a similar work in Portland, Oregon, which also attracted widespread attention.
Like Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake had already experienced mighty breakthroughs, powerful anointings and a real calling from God for many years before Azusa Street and the Pentecostal Revival. The following is a condensed account of the spiritual hunger and preparation that Lake was taken through by God, near the beginning of the most anointed period of his ministry. (Taken from the book, 'John G. Lake - Apostle to Africa', compiled by Gordon Lindsay, and told in Lake's own words):
"Eight years passed after God revealed Jesus the Healer to me. I had been practicing the ministry of healing. During that eight years every answer to prayer, every miraculous touch of God, every response of my own soul to the Spirit had created within me a more intense longing for an intimacy and a consciousness of God, like I felt the disciples of Jesus and the primitive church had possessed... Shortly after my entrance into the ministry of healing, while attending a service where the necessity for the Baptism of the Spirit was presented, as I knelt in prayer and reconsecration to God, an anointing of the Spirit came upon me. Waves of Holy Glory passed through my being, and I was lifted into a new realm of God's presence and power. After this, answers to prayer were frequent and miracles of healing occurred from time to time. I felt myself on the borderland of a great spiritual realm, but was unable to enter in fully, so my nature was not satisfied with the attainment..." (Pg 16).
"Hundreds, and hundreds of people were healed by the power of God during these ten years. But at the end of that ten years, I believe I was the hungriest man for God that ever lived. There was such a hunger for God that as I left my offices in Chicago, and walked down the street, my soul would break out, and I would cry, 'Oh God!' I have had people stop and look at me, and wonder. It was the yearning passion of my soul, asking for God in a greater measure than I knew. But my friends would say, 'Mr. Lake, you have a beautiful Baptism of the Holy Ghost.' Yes, it was nice as far as it went, but it was not answering the cry of my heart. I was growing up into a larger understanding of God, and my own soul's need. My soul was demanding a greater entrance into God, His love, Presence, and Power. And then one day an old man strolled into my office, sat down, and in the next half hour, he revealed more of the knowledge of God to my soul than I had ever known before. When he left I said, '... God, if that is what the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues does, I am going to possess it.' Oh the wonder of God, that was then revealed to my heart!..."
John G. Lake Crusade Meeting held in a big tent.
"Finally I was led to set aside certain hours of the day that I dedicated to God, as times of meditation, and prayer. Thus a number of months passed, until one morning as I knelt praying, the Spirit of the Lord spoke within my spirit, and said, "Be patient until autumn." My heart rejoiced in this encouragement and I continued my practice of meditation and prayer as formerly. 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... I said, 'God, if you will baptize me in the Holy Spirit, and give me the power of God, nothing shall be permitted to stand before me and a hundred-fold obedience.'
"I prayed for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit for nine months, and if a man ever prayed honestly, and sincerely in the faith, I did. Finally one day I was ready to throw up my hands, and quit. I said, 'Lord, it may be for others, but it is not for me. You just cannot give it to me.' I did not blame God. One night a gentleman by the name of Pierce said, 'Mr. Lake, I have been wishing for a long time you would come over, and we would spend a night in prayer together. We have been praying for the Baptism for a whole year and there is not one of us baptized yet. Brother, I do not believe that you are either, so we can pray for one another." I was so hungry to pray, so I went with all intentions of praying for the rest, but I had not been praying five minutes until the light of God began to shine around me, I found myself in a center of an arc of light ten feet in diameter, the whitest light in all the universe. So white! Oh how it spoke of purity. The remembrance of that whiteness, that wonderful whiteness, has been the ideal that has stood before my soul, of the purity of the nature of God ever since.
"Then a Voice began to talk to me out of that light. There was no form. And the Voice began to remind me of this incident, and that incident of disobedience to my parents, from a child; of my obstinacy, and dozens of instances when God brought me up to the line of absolutely putting my body, soul, and spirit upon the altar forever. I had my body upon the altar for ten years, and I had been a minister of the Gospel. But when the Lord comes, He opens to the soul the depths that have never been touched in your life. Do you know that after I was baptized in the Holy Ghost, things opened up in the depths of my nature that had remained untouched in all my life, and that which was shadowy, distant, and hazy became real. God got up close and let His light shine into me.
"Shortly after this experience, one afternoon a brother minister called, and invited me to accompany him to visit a lady who was sick. Arriving at the home we found the lady in a wheel chair. All her joints were set with inflammatory rheumatism. She had been in the condition for ten years...While my friend was conversing with her, preparing her to be prayed with, that she might be healed, I sat in a deep chair on the opposite side of a large room. My soul was crying out to God in a yearning too deep for words, when suddenly it seemed to me, that I had passed under a shower of warm tropical rain, which was not falling upon me, but through me. My spirit, and soul and body under this influence soothed into such a deep still calm, as I had never known. My brain, which had always been so active, became perfectly still. An awe of the presence of God settled over me. I knew it was God.
"Some moments passed; I do not know how many. The Spirit said, 'I have heard your prayers, I have seen your tears. You are now Baptized in the Holy Spirit.' Then currents of power began to rush through my being from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. The shocks of power increased in rapidity, and voltage. As these currents of power would pass through me, they seemed to come upon my head, rush through my body, and through my feet into the floor... Even at this late date, the awe of that hour rests upon my soul. My experience has truly been as Jesus said that He shall be within you 'a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.' That never-ceasing fountain has flowed through my spirit, soul, and body day, and night, bringing salvation, and healing, and the Baptism of the Spirit in the power of God to multitudes.
"Shortly after my Baptism in the Holy Spirit, a working of the Spirit commenced in me, that seemed to have for it's purpose the revelation of the nature of Jesus Christ to me and in me. Through this tuition and remolding of the Spirit a great tenderness for mankind was to awaken in my soul. I saw mankind through new eyes. They seemed to me as wandering sheep, having strayed far, in the midst of confusion, groping and wandering hither and thither. They had no definite aim and did not seem to understand what the difficulty was or how to return to God. The desire to proclaim the message of Christ, and demonstrate His power to save and bless, grew in my soul until my life was swayed by this overwhelming passion." (Pg 16-20).
"I found that my life began to manifest in the varied range of the gifts of the Spirit. I spoke in tongues by the power of God, and God flowed through me with a new force. Healings were of a more powerful order. Oh, God lived in me; God manifested in me; God spoke through me. My spirit was energized. I had a new comprehension of God's will, a new discernment of spirit, and a new revelation of God in me.
"Then a new wonder manifested. My nature became so sensitized, that I could lay hands on any man, or woman, and tell what organ was diseased, and to what extent, and all about it. I tested it. I went into hospitals where physicians could not diagnose a case, touched a patient, and instantly I knew the organ that was diseased, its extent, condition, and location. And one day it passed away. A child plays with a toy, and his joy is so wonderful, he sometimes forgets to eat."
Before obeying the call into full-time ministry, Lake felt the need to dispose of his very successful business interests. He sold everything, giving the money to God's work, and embarked on full-time ministry with a heart full of the fire of God. Soon afterward, when he was ministering in a city in Northern Illinois, God spoke to him clearly and distinctly: "Go to Indianapolis. Prepare for winter campaign. Get a large hall. In the Spring you will go to Africa."
John G. Lake continues: "One morning when I came down to breakfast, I found my appetite had disappeared. I could not eat. I went about my work as usual. At dinner I had no desire to eat, and no more in the evening. This went on till the third day. But toward the evening of the third day, an overwhelming desire to pray took possession of me. I wanted only to be alone to pray. Prayer flowed from my soul like a stream. I could not cease praying. As soon as it was possible to get to a place of seclusion, I would kneel to pour out my heart to God for hours. Whatever I was doing, that stream of prayer continued flowing from my soul ... On the night of the sixth day of this fast, that the Lord had laid on me, while in the act of washing my hands, the Spirit said, 'How long have you been praying to cast out demons?' and I replied, 'Lord a long time.' And the Spirit said, 'From henceforth, thou shalt cast out demons.' I arose and praised God." (Pg 21). An opportunity to test this newly-given anointing to cast out demons came the following Sunday, when a violently insane man was brought to Lake, who commanded the demon to come out of him in Jesus' name. The man was instantly delivered, and two days later was released from the institution that he had been confined in.
In April 1908, Lake and his family left for South Africa. Though they had no visible means of support, they were miraculously provided for every step of the way. And thus began a tremendous Revival, with mighty healings, miracles and deliverances, which was to profoundly impact the African continent for years to come, even long after Lake was gone. In 1913, following the tragic death of his wife, Lake returned to America, but by this time the torch had also been passed on to Elias Letwaba and others in Africa, and the work went on there, in great power. Lake continued his ministry in North America until his death in 1935, and like Smith Wigglesworth, he fought an outstanding fight and ran a great race, right to the very end.