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Agnes Sanford: Apostle of Healing and First Theologian of the Charismatic Renewal, Part 2, by William L. De Arteaga

The years immediately after the publication of The Healing Light were both hectic and most fruitful for Mrs. Sanford. Her speaking engagements in teaching missions and CFO camps multiplied. The healing missions were often in Episcopal churches where the pattern of a two or three day teaching with healing service and Eucharist had been developed earlier by John Gaynor Banks, founder of the OSL. However, the missions were by no means limited to Episcopal churches, and in the South, where Mrs. Sanford’s work was especially welcome, the healing missions were given in churches of practically every denomination. CFO camps, were of course non-denominational, with participants coming from every denomination of Protestantism (and after the 1960s the Catholics began attending).

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

By 1952 the success of Mrs. Agnes Sanford’s first book, The Healing Light brought some unintended difficulties to her life. She was in demand as a speaker, and toured the US and Canada in CFO camps and independent healing missions, while at the same time trying to raise a family and support her husband as rector of a busy Episcopal church. She was exhausted, yet felt an inner compulsion to preach the Good News that Jesus lives and heals in the current age.

Providentially, Agnes had been scheduled for a healing mission in Tucson, Arizona. It was canceled when she arrived, and she took time to rest and pray with two local women who were also in the healing ministry. All three felt exhaustion from their ministry and cried out to God for relief. As they prayed for guidance, all three received the same direction, pray for “the Holy Ghost.” In obedience, the three women prayed for each other with the laying on of hands. The three were instantly healed of their exhaustion and other maladies and received an infilling of joy and peace.

None manifested the gift of tongues. They neither expected nor understood it. After Agnes had returned to Moorstown, one of them, Mrs. Marion Lovekin, went to a local Pentecostal meeting and received the gift of tongues, and wrote Agnes enthusiastically explaining her experience. Agnes wrote back saying she wanted no part of tongue speaking. Mrs. Lovekin wrote again showing her the biblical basis for tongues, and challenging her to meditate on the issue. Not long after, Agnes returned to Tucson and the three women again prayed together. Agnes lifted the “tongues” question to God in prayer:

… immediately I desired the gift of tongues with a great longing! And in another moment I spoke as they had spoken, in words that the conscious mind did not understand…I felt as though the love of Christ, already in me, now moved down, down to a deeper level…(Sealed Orders, 221.)

Agnes spent several days in deep prayer and praise, although still did not quite understand what had happened. Within a few weeks, on a healing mission in Florida, she stayed with a Christian woman who had the gift of tongues for years. The woman was able to resolve her theological and biblical reservations, and after that Agnes utilized tongues daily in private prayer. She also used the gift of tongues while writing, discovering that form of praying helped her avoid errors by giving her a “check” in her spirit if she wrote anything contrary to the Word.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2006

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include Quenching the Spirit: Discover the Real Spirit Behind the Charismatic Controversy (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing Prayer to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones (Emeth Press, 2018). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He continues in his healing, teaching and writing ministry and is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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