Born in 1844, Maria Woodworth-Etter lived in Lisbon, Ohio. God call- ed her to preach at a time when people did not believe that women should preach. In fact, at this time women were not even allowed to vote. She saw the death of her little children one by one until she decided to obey Jesus Christ and go and preach the Gospel. It has been recorded that she had one of the most powerful ministries and anointings - with astounding healings, miracles and wonders - that has ever been docu- mented in the history of the church.
Reports state that she would come into a town after sleeping in a tent, and within days there would be approximately 20,000 people in her meetings. At times, God would give people working in the fields in a fifty-mile radius around her meetings visions of heaven and hell, and they would fall to the ground under tremendous conviction. It was like a "blanket" anointing that would come down upon the whole area. It has been reported that for whole blocks around her meetings, people would be falling to the ground and repenting.
The following extracts are taken from the book, 'A Diary of Signs and Times' by Maria Woodworth-Etter:
"At one time I was praying for the salvation of sinners, and the Saviour appeared on the cross by me, and talked with me; I laid my hand on his mangled body, and looked up in his smiling face. Another time I was med- itating upon the love of God in giving his only Son to die for sinners, and of the beautiful home he was preparing for those who love him, and I seemed to float away, and was set down in the Beautiful City. Oh, the glorious sight that met my view can never be expressed by mortal tongue!" (Pg 25).
"In all my sickness and trouble the ministers and people came from the different churches in the town and had a prayer-meeting in my room. They prayed in the churches for my recovery. I was willing to die and leave my little girl and boy, feeling that God would care for them, but the work God was calling me to do loomed up before me. All these years God had been preparing me - for I was not willing. I felt like a worm in his sight. I promised God that if he would restore my health, and prepare me, and show me the work, I would try to do it; I began to get better immediately.
"I was very timid, and bound as with chains in a man-fearing spirit. When I arose to testify I trembled like a leaf, and began to make excuses - O God, send someone else! Then the Lord in a vision caused me to see the bottomless pit open in all its horror and woe. There was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was surrounded by a great multitude of people who seemed unconscious of their danger, and without a moments warning they would tumble into this awful place. I was above the people on a narrow plank-walk, which wound up toward heaven; and I was exhorting and pleading with the people to come upon the plank and escape that awful place. Several started. There was a beautiful bright light above me, and I was encouraging them to follow that light and they would go straight to heaven.
"In all these trials God was preparing me and opening the way for the great battle against the enemy of souls and now the great desire of my heart was to work for Jesus. I longed to win a star for the Savior's crown. Sometimes when the Spirit of God was striving and calling so plainly, I would yield and say, 'Yes, Lord; I will go.' The glory of God came upon me like a cloud, and I seemed to be carried away hundreds of miles and set down in a field of wheat, where the sheaves were falling all around me. I was filled with zeal and power, and felt as if I could stand before the whole world and plead with dying sinners. It seemed to me that I must leave all and go at once. Then Satan would come in like a flood and say, 'You would look nice preaching, being a gazing-stock for the people to make sport of. You know you could not do it.' Then I would think of my weakness and say, 'No; of course I cannot do it.' Then I would be in darkness and despair. I wanted to run away from God, or I wished I could die; but when I began to look at the matter in this way, that God knew all about me, and was able and willing to qualify me for the work, I asked Him to qualify me for the work. I ASKED HIM TO QUALIFY ME.
"I want the reader to understand, that at this time I had a good experi- ence, a pure heart, was full of the love of God, but was not qualified for God's work. I knew that I was but a worm. God would have to take a worm to thresh a mountain. Then I asked God to give me the power he gave the Gallilean fishermen - to anoint me for service. I came like a child asking for bread. I looked for it... God did not disappoint me. The power of the Holy ghost came down like a cloud. It was brighter than the sun. I was covered and, wrapped in it. I was baptized with the Holy Ghost, and Fire, and power, which has never left me. There was liquid fire, and the angels were all around me in fire and glory."
"I thought I would go through a course of study and prepare for the work, thinking the Lord would make my husband and people willing in some way to let me go out and work. But I could not get my mind fixed on my study. Everything seemed empty and vacant, and I was restless and uneasy... The dear Saviour stood by me one night in a vision and talked face to face with me, and asked what I was doing on earth. I felt condemned, and said, 'Lord, I am going to work in thy vineyard.' The Lord said, 'When?' and I answered, 'When I get prepared for the work.' Then the Lord said to me, 'Don't you know that while you are getting ready, souls are perishing? Go now, and I will be with you.'
"I told Him that I could not talk to the people; I did not know what to say, and they would not listen to me. Jesus said, 'You can tell the people what the Lord has done for your soul; tell of the glory of God and the love of Jesus. Tell sinners to repent and prepare for death and the judgment, and I will be with you.' Still I made one excuse after another, and Jesus would answer, 'Go, and I will be with you'... Then Jesus said again, 'Go, and I will be with you.' I cried, 'Lord, I will go. Where shall I go?' And Jesus said, 'Go here, go there, wherever souls are perishing.' Praise the Lord for his wonderful goodness in revealing his word and will in such a wonderful way, to such a poor weak worm of the dust. I saw more in that vision than I could have learned in years of hard study. Praise His Holy Name. I saw that I must not depend on anything that I could do, but to look to Him for strength and wisdom." (Pg. 26-29).