What has happened to the spirit of the early church, and how can we get it back? Two very different men pondered this question and, in their quest for an answer, sparked two very different revivals. Their stories are told in two books recently translated into English: History of the Pentecostal Revival in Chile, by Willis Collins Hoover (Imprenta Eben-Ezer), and The Awakening: One Man's Battle with Darkness, by Friedrich Zuendel (Plough).
Chile was not Willis Collins Hoover's first choice of mission field. Inspired by David Livingstone, he wanted to go to Africa. But Methodist missionary bishop William Taylor assigned Chile, so Hoover and his wife left for South America in 1889. Hoover assumed leadership of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Valparaiso in 1902, the year the adult Sunday school class was studying the Book of Acts. That was also the year a parishioner asked him, "What prevents our being a church like the early church?" Hoover answered, "Nothing prevents it, except something within ourselves."
However, as Hoover's account (the first half of the book) describes, the Pentecostal revival that began in Valparaiso was nearly prevented at many turns. An earthquake destroyed the church. Controversy raged over a woman with a dark past who, after conversion, seemed gifted with special power to convict people of their sins. Newspapers, not unlike the Los Angeles press covering Azusa Street, touted "The Work of a Swindler, or a Huckster," "Shouts, Swoonings, and Slaps," and "Tragi-Comic Scenes. Full Details." And the Methodist hierarchy worked to stop Hoover, charging him with imprudent conduct and "teaching and disseminating false and anti-Methodist doctrines" (apparently forgetting that emotional outbursts were a hallmark ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more