The Kansas City Journal






One Woman Says She Speaks Half a Dozen Different Languages, but All Confined Themselves to Good, Plain English Last Night.

Rev. Charles F. Parham, leader of the "Apostolic Faith" sect, which has recently been attracting much attention in Topeka, Kas., came to Kansas City yesterday, accompanied by his wife and seven of the students of his college, who claim to have been endowed with the apostolical "gift of tongues," and will conduct a meeting here. How long it will last depends, they say, upon the will of the Lord. They profess to be guided in all things by His command, and expect Him to inform them how long to remain and when and where to go.

The first meeting was held in Bethel chapel, 1675 Madison, last night. In many respects it recalled an old-fashioned Methodist prayer meeting, but it had its peculiarities. Rev. Mr. Parham preached, expounded the beliefs of his sect, and then the students and other members of the congregation began to "prophesy."

To "prophesy" and to "speak with tongues" are, in the language of Rev. Mr. Parham and his followers, two very distinct propositions. When they "prophesy" they merely testify to what the Lord has done for them. When they "speak with tongues" they employ gifts with which they are suddenly endowed from on high, speaking numerous different foreign languages.

Members of the sect were first endowed with the gift of tongues the Friday following New Year’s Day, when they were waiting on the Lord in their chapel. They had fasted some, prayed much, and constantly waited on the Lord. Suddenly tongues of fire began shooting about the room where they met, and seven students spake in a wide variety of languages. Miss Agnes Ozman first received the gift, and she appears to have been rather more liberally endowed than any of her fellows; for, whereas few of them were able then or since to speak more than a half dozen modern languages, she, by actual count, has been known to speak in twenty different tongues, ancient and modern, living and dead, Oriental and Occidental

Last night neither the marvelously gifted Miss Ozman nor any of the rest were able to speak anything but English, and they were obliged to confine themselves to prophesying. Still, the prophecies were sufficiently remarkable. One good woman told of how, when she had been without money for a week, the Lord sent to her just as she wanted to take a street car ride from Kansas City, Kas., to Kansas City, Mo., and a man who was indebted to her who paid his bill.

"For two years," spake a tall, angular man, "I have been as much of an infidel as Robert G. Ingersoll, but to-night the Lord has healed me of my disbelief."

As the tall, angular man sat down, cries of "Amen." and "Praise the Lord!" broke from all parts of the house.

Parham and his followers heal the body in their Topeka institution as well as instruct the mind. This was evidently known to a large healthy looking woman, who prophesied that the devil had all the day been severely tempting her by attempting to undermine her health.

"The devil," she affirmed, "has been trying to get the best of me by giving me a cold and making me cough, but by prayer for healing I have faith that I will be able to fight it off."

She was followed by a tall, thin man, sitting on the front row, who had a hacking cough. He said the devil was assailing him with consumption, and asked for the prayers of the audience. A short, stout woman, with one arm, who sat near the rear, at once arose to administer healing encouragement to his fainting sprit.

"The gift of tongues was given to the students at Topeka just shortly after I came away from there," she said, "and I wondered why the Lord had not permitted me to stay and get it, too. But, then, I thought how ungrateful I am to think such things! How much the Lord had done for me!" Five years ago I was suffering from consumption and Bright’s disease, and the doctors said I could not live. I thought and prayed, and finally I gave up all reliance on earthly things, and put my faith in the Lord. And, Oh, how gloriously He has rewarded my faith! For He has cured me of my consumption and Bright’s disease, He has removed the tumor which threatened to take my life, and He has restored the hearing to my deaf ear. I can tell my brother with the consumption the way to cure himself. When the devil tempts him with consumption, he should turn upon him and drive him out as he would drive a dog from the house. Oh, then he will be cured of his consumption!"

Other Teatimonials

Few testimonials were given which paralleled or equaled this in their essential features; but there were many others by which it was scarce surpassed. Each testimonial was received with grave and resonant "Amens!" and approving "Praise the Lords!" and occasionally a brother or sister would break loudly forth into song, in which he would be as sonorously joined by the other pious members of the congregation. There was nothing peculiar about the selections sung, most of them being familiar to persons who have attended country camp-meetings.

The sermon of Rev. Mr. Parham was along the same line as the prophesies. With reference to the "gift of tongues," as he and his followers have received it, he said:

"I can speak in three, four or five languages, but I don’t understand scarcely any of them. It is only when we prophesy that we speak with understanding. Speaking with tongues is unfruitful, as Paul says. It is simply a gift from God to show us that we are His favored ones. A couple of weeks ago my sister-in-law was given the power, and spoke in Turkish and French in church, but she did not exactly understand what she was saying. She had only a vague, disconnected idea of it.

"Nor is it always best that we speak with tongues in public. An unbeliever, on going into church where persons are speaking with tongues, will say, they are mad, as unbelievers said of the apostles on the day of Pentecost. When I first went into the room where these students were talking with unknown tongues, I said, in the words of one of old, ‘Surely they are filled with new wine.’ and thus the unbeliever is likely to think."

The other students who accompanied Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Parham here, and who also have the "gift of tongues," are Miss Lillian Stewart, Miss Lulella Moore, Miss Maud Stanley, Howard Stanley, "Brother Stanley", father of the two just mentioned and aged about 65; and Harley Short.

Rev. Mr. Parham was formerly a Methodist preacher, but cut loose from that denomination because it would not believe his teaching in regard to the Bible. He thought every word of Scripture ought to be accepted literally, and that "the Word" ought to be the Christian’s sole creed. He believes that the gift of tongues and all the other powers, enumerated in 1 Corinthians, that of healing, casting out devils, power, prophesying, etc., would be conferred as freely upon believers now as they were upon those of the primitive church. Three years ago he founded the sect of which he is the head. He established Bethel College in Topeka, and constituted the Bible its sole textbook, for he believes that, the good book embodying all wisdom, others are worse than useless. He soon gathered about him a few followers, and there are now in his school about forty students. Connected with it is a department for healing the sick. Rev. Mr. Parham objects to calling it a hospital, and he becomes incensed at the use of the word "treating." He says many people are constantly coming and going – coming ill, and going away healed. "It is the power of God," he declares. All we do is pray for them."

Miss Ozman’s Experience

Neither leader nor students work. They depend entirely upon the Lord to provide. If they exert themselves at all, it is merely to clean up about the big building which they occupy.

All day they sit about, pensively reading their Bibles. They had been praying long for the gift of tongues, when it was suddenly conferred upon them. Miss Ozman, who was the first to receive, says as already indicated that she has talked in twenty foreign languages, and talked in them repeatedly. She is seized with the disposition to discard her own language upon the most trivial occasion. She told of one last night.

"A few days ago," she said, solemnly, "I went into a restaurant in Topeka to order a meal. I told the waiter what I wanted, but he could not understand me. Finally, he called in the proprietor, and I told him, and he understood me. It turned out that he was a German, and I had addressed him in his own tongue. The power of the Lord was upon me and I lost power to speak English, and could talk only German."

Miss Ozman could not enumerate all the languages she has spoken, but among them, she said, were German, French, Bohemian, Japanese and Chinese.

I have spoken to foreigners in their own tongues," she declared, "and they say that I have spoken them perfectly.

This is even more than could truthfully be said of her English.

Rev. Mr. Parham and others were asked to explain why no one was "inspired" – this is a word they frequently employ – to speak with tongues last night.

"Oh," was the ready reply, "we are moved at different times by the Lord’s spirit, but we never can tell when we will be. This inspiration is sacred, it is divine and it is only given when the soul comes to the Lord hungering, thirsting and panting for truth. If we should try to satisfy the curiosity of others by making a display of these great gifts, we should infer His great anger, and bring damnation to our souls."

Rev. Mr. Parham says that his sole object is the restoration of the Apostolic faith. He does not intend to establish a church of any kind; he repels at the suggestion. He is confident that he will be successful in his work. He believes he has started a movement which will bring about the millennium, and thinks his is a second voice crying in the wilderness, and preparing the way for the second advent of Christ. His talk and manner, in public and private, are those of a sincere and extremely optimistic fanatic."


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