This Week in AG History -- May 1, 1943
Walter J. Higgins (1884-1960) was one of the charter members of the Assemblies of God. When the Hot Springs, Arkansas, convention was held in April 1914, he attended as a pastor from Essex, Missouri, along with his family. He pioneered a number of churches in the bootheel of Missouri and also pastored churches in Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and many other places.
Seventy-five years ago, in 1943, he was pastoring First Assembly in Russellville, Arkansas, and he made a visit to the Gospel Publishing House in Springfield, Missouri, where he was interviewed, and his testimony was shared with the world.
Higgins said, “I began my ministry in 1911, three months after I was converted.” At that time he held some evangelistic meetings with a man named John Brown near Shawneetown, Illinois, and 81 souls were saved. Then Higgins came to Missouri. From 1912 to 1920 he helped establish 13 churches.
One of the churches was in Canalou, Missouri, where he was assisted by W. W. Childers. He reported that 100 souls were converted during the time he ministered there, although he endured a whipping for the sake of the gospel. After the beating, he went to a believer’s house. It was obvious what had happened to him as even his face was badly beaten. The woman questioned, “What has happened?” Higgins said, “I received a few stripes for Jesus Christ’s sake.” After she prayed and laid hands on his face, he revealed, “The Lord healed me excepting for a few marks.”
After leaving Canalou, Higgins evangelized and pastored churches in 18 states. In Alton, Illinois, Higgins says he preached healing and the people practiced it. People called him for prayer at all hours of the night. In one incident a 3-year-old child was sick and died with a doctor present. The family asked Higgins to come and pray, and he did. Higgins says that after he prayed, the child “opened its eyes and coughed, and the doctor said he had never seen a person survive after being dead.” The doctor attributed it to prayer.
Telling about other healings, Higgins recalled, “I have seen a limb shorter than the other made as long as the other.” He also shared, “One man totally blind was made to see in just a few minutes at Hot Springs, in 1914.” He saw another man healed of pellagra. And while living in Essex, Missouri, he saw three deaf people healed and begin to speak clearly. He also described a case of deliverance from demons. At a meeting in 1920, a man came to the altar, crawling on his stomach and hissing like a snake. Higgins declared, “This is demon power.” Higgins and two others prayed for the man, and he was delivered and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Higgins told how the Lord provided for his large family, which eventually grew to 17 children. In his early ministry he only had one suit of clothes, and it got dirty. He took the clothes to the cleaners “by faith.” He tried to find some work to earn some money, but nothing was available. He continued to pray, and three miles outside of the town he found a silver dollar, which was more than he needed to pay for the cleaning.
Another time he shared that all the family had to eat was potatoes and molasses. They had just settled into a new pastorate. “We had no salt, no shortening, no bread, no flour,” he said. “We boiled the potatoes in water, peeled them and soaked them in the molasses for three days.” Higgins and his family prayed for God to supply their needs. One evening he went to build a fire in the stove, and he found a basket was on the church platform. Higgins reported, “In this basket was flour, butter, bacon, sugar, salt, pepper, and some other articles that I had not asked the Lord for.” He did not know where this basket came from, for the doors had been locked. Once again, God had supplied his needs.
Read the article, “Recollections of a Pioneer Pentecostal Preacher,” on pages 6-7 of the May 1, 1943, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “God’s Need of Spiritual Mothers,” by Alice E. Luce
• “By My Spirit, Saith the Lord,” by Wilfred A. Brown
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
Further information can be found in “Pioneering in Pentecost: The Experiences of Walter J. Higgins,” on pages 18-22, 34-35 of the Summer 1997 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage.