Life and Experience of Maria B. Woodworth – Maria B. Woodworth



Maria Woodworth-Etter was an outstanding preacher of the Gospel who saw amazing signs and wonders attending her ministry. By the time the Pentecostal movement was born in 1906 Maria, in her early sixties already had two-and-a-half decades of Pentecostal ministry under her belt!

She was an itinerant evangelist who travelled coast–to-coast across the United States holding meetings in church halls, Gospel tents and public buildings. Though simply evangelistic in the early days it was in 1885 that supernatural signs began to accompany her service. People fell into trances, experienced visions of heaven and hell, collapsed on the floor as if they’d been shot or had died. Thousands were healed of a wide variety of sicknesses and diseases and many believers, even ministers, received mighty baptisms of the Holy Spirit.

This small book records the early beginnings of this powerful ministry – before she married for the second time, adding Etter to her first married name of Woodworth. We have included 2 of the 6 chapters.

Chapter I.

My childhood—My father’s Death—Commencement of life’s battles—My longings for an education—My desire for religious teaching and religious influence—My conversion—The voice of God calling me to go out and work .

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I WAS born in New Lisbon, Columbiana County, Ohio, July 22, 1845, and was the fourth daughter of quite a large family of children. My parents were not Christians; therefore I was left without the religious teachings and influence with which so many homes are blessed. My father and mother joined the Disciple Chinch one year before my father’s death, which occurred in July, 1850. The death of my father was the first great sorrow of my life. He had gone away to harvest in usual health; and I will never forget the night he was

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brought home cold and dead. Some neighbor children and I were out watching a terrible storm raging when we saw two strangers approaching the house. They came to bring the sad intelligence of what had happened; and as we looked out we saw the conveyance approaching, bringing the remains of our dear father. It was a terrible blow to our young hearts to see our father carried into the house cold and stilt in death, and my mother fainting as fast as they could bring her to. We children were screaming and the storm was raging in all its fury. But  I must pass over this sad event. My mother was left with eight children to provide for, and almost destitute. Then began the battle of life with us all. Mother was obliged to seek work in various ways. My oldest sisters and myself had to leave home and work by the week. We had not only ourselves to clothe, but also to provide for our brothers and sisters at home. It was very hard for my sensitive nature to go among strangers. I was discontented and homesick. 1 wanted to go to school where        I could learn, for I longed for an education; and I often cried myself to sleep over this matter. I would have my books in the kitchen, where I could read a verse and commit it to memory, then read another, and so on,

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thus improving every opportunity while at my work. I had no opportunity of going to church from my earliest recollection. My heart went out in strong desires to know of God when eight years old. Two of my sisters were converted in a Methodist meeting. I went once or twice. My heart was melted with the Savior’s love; but they seemed to think children had no need of salvation, and I was kept back. At the age of thirteen I attended a meeting of the Disciple Church. My family were all Disciples at this time. Dr. Belding was holding the meeting, and I believe he was full of the Holy Ghost. When I heard the story of the cross my heart filled with the love of Jesus. My eyes seemed to be fountains of tears. Then began my new life of peace and joy in a Savior’s love. Then I was contented and happy, singing and praising God all the day long. I never went to any place of amusement, I attended four meetings on Sabbath and three or four during the week. I did not stay away from meeting once a year unless I was sick. I was more anxious now than ever for an education, for I wanted to work for Jesus and be useful in the vineyard of Christ. Soon after I was converted I heard the voice of Jesus calling me to go out in highways and hedges, and gather in the lost

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sheep of the house of Israel. Like Mary I pondered these things is my heart, for I had no one to hold counsel with. The Disciples did not believe that women had any right to work for Jesus. Had I told them my impressions they would have made sport of me. I had never heard of woman working in public except as missionaries, so I could see no opening—except, as I thought, if I ever married my choice would be an earnest Christian, and then we would enter upon the mission-work.

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Chapter 2.

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The trials and discouragements of the first part of my married life—The angel of Death at our home—A second call by the angel of Death—Conversion of our little daughter Georgie—Georgie’s sickness and death—Birth and death of little Girtie.

WE settled in the country, and thought by industry and honest toil to gain a little of this world’s goods to sustain these physical bodies; but my health failed, and everything we undertook seemed to be a failure. I was away from all Christian influence and could not often attend to the house
of God. Often when hearing the church-bells ringing, which had been the signal for me to repair to the house of worship, and knowing that I could not go, I would cry myself to sleep. My husband’s health and mind were impaired while in the army, and now they both began to give way so much so that he was not capable of doing business a good part of the time. I had one trial after another, and temptations and discouragements besetting me on every side. The angel of Death came to our home, and after hovering around for a few days he bore away our only lit-

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the boy, a bright, blue-eyed darling. As he was passing away he looked up and smiled. He looked like an angel, and seemed to say, “Mamma, do not weep for me; I am going to a better world.” It almost broke my heart to lay him away in the cold grave; but I could see the loving hand of God calling us to build up higher, to set our affections on heavenly things and not on the things of the earth. One year had hardly passed by when the angel of Death came again to our home and took away our baby Freddy, and at the same time I lay for weeks between life and death. In all this I could see the hand of the loving Father call me to leave all and follow him. About this time our little daughter Georgie was converted. She was about seven years old. She was a great comfort to me. She loved to talk of the goodness of God and our Redeemer. Many happy times we enjoyed together talking of the beautiful home over the river, where her brothers had gone. I did not think she would leave me so soon to join their ranks and raise her voice with theirs in singing salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne, and the Lamb forever. She was taken sick with scrofula, that dreadful disease, and lingered about, eight months. Her suf-

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ferings were great; yet she never murmured or complained, but only said it was for her good. She loved to read about Jesus, and the beautiful mansions he was preparing, and the robe and crown that were waiting for her. She would talk to all who came to see her of Jesus and his love, and tell them to meet her in heaven. She sent messages to her Sabbath school teacher and scholars, and to her friends far and near, to meet her in heaven. For weeks before she died her face was all lighted up with the glory of God. The angels seemed to be hovering about her bed. She could hear them singing. Her body was with its, but her spirit seemed to be above the earth communing with God. She was willing to go and be with. Jesus; but it seemed hard for her to leave me. She would say, “O mamma, if you could go with me I would be so happy. I hate to leave you; but oh, say you will meet me in heaven.” I said, “Georgie, I will try!” But that would not do. She said, “O mamma, say you will; I can not die unless you promise to meet me in heaven.” I said, “Georgie, by the grace of God I will meet you in heaven.” She said, “Now I am ready; I know you will come, mamma.; I shall always be looking for you, and when you die I am coming for you.”

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The Sabbath before she died, she called me to her bedside and said, “Mamma, I am going to leave you this week; “and she to set her house in order. She talked of dying as we would talk of going to visit a dear friend. She gave away all or her earthly possessions. To me she gave her Testament; said she would like to see all her friends once more. She selected her burial robe and place to be buried, and requested us to leave room for me to be buried by her side. She stayed with us until the last of the week, and was frequently heard to say,

“I am coming, Lord,
Coming now to thee;
Wash me, cleanse me in that blood
Which flowed on Calvary.”

And also these beautiful words:

“Joyful, joyful will the meeting be,
When from sin our hearts are pure and free,
And we shall gather, Savior, with thee
In that eternal home,” etc.

She kept inviting every one to come to Jesus and be saved, her sufferings were intense toward the last. When she could not speak, and we would ask her if she was happy, and if Jesus was with her, she would smile and shake her head. She thought she was going. She put up her month to kiss each one and gasped goodbye

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between her struggles; but she rallied and lived two hours. She caught her papa around the neck and said, “O papa, be a good man and meet me in heaven.” In this way she talked on till the last, and her face shone with the glory of heaven. Looking up she said, “O mamma, I see Jesus and the angels. I see my little brothers; they have come for me; and they bore her away in triumph to the heavenly land. It seemed to me that I could see them as they went sweeping through the gates into the new Jerusalem. This was her favorite hymn, and was sung at her funeral:

I am now a child of God,
For I’m washed in Jesus’ blood,
I am waiting, and I’m longing while I wait;
Soon on wings of love I fly,
To my home beyond the sky,
To my welcome as I’m sweeping through the gate.


In the blood of yonder Lamb,
Washed from every stain I am;
Robed in whiteness, clad in brightness,
I am sweeping through the gate.

Oh, the blessed Lord of light,
He upholds me by his might,
And his arms infold and comfort while I wait,
I am leaning on his breast.—
Hallalujah, I am sweeping through the gate.


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I am sweeping through the gate,
Where the blessed for me wait,
Where the weary workers rest for evermore;
Where the strife of earth is done,
And the crown of life is won;
Oh! the glory of the city just before.


Burst all my prison-bars,
And I soar beyond the stars,
To my Father’s house—’the bright and blest estate’—
Lo! the morn eternal breaks,
And the song immortal wakes;
Robed in whiteness I am sweeping through the gate.


It was like death to part with my darling. But Jesus was very precious to my soul. Heaven was nearer; Christ was dearer than ever before, I had one more treasure in glory. My health had been very poor all through her sickness. Three weeks before her death little Girtie was born. She was the picture of Georgie, and seemed to have her sweet disposition, and I thought as she grew older she would take her place; but the precious bud was not permitted to bloom in this world of sin. At the age of four months the angels gently bore her away where the flowers never fade nor die, there to join her sister and brothers, who wore waiting to welcome her at the golden gates. I could say with David, they

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can not come back to me, but I will go to them. Praise the Lord for the Christian’s hope. These beautiful lines of the poet express my thoughts—I did not expect to be long behind my darlings:

We are waiting by the river,
We are waiting on the shore,
Only waiting for the boatman;
Soon he’ll come to bear us o’er.

Though the mist hangs o’er the river,
And the billows loudly roar;
Yet we hear the song of angels,
Wafted from the other shore.

And the bright Celestial City,
We have caught such radiant gleams,
Of its towers like dazzling sunlight,
With its sweet and peaceful streams.

He has called for many a loved one,
We have seen them leave our side;
With our Savior we shall meet them
When we too have crossed the tide.

When we’ve passed the vale of shadows,
With its dark and chilly tide,
In that bright and glorious city,
We shall evermore abide.

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Chapter 3.

My severe illness and my glorious visions of Jesus and the beautiful city—Words of encouragement to mothers—Trials and difficulties—Prostrated again on a bed of affliction—Prayer of God’s people for my recovery—Another call to work for Jesus—I promise to enter upon the work—Restored to health and attempt the work—A vision of the bottomless pit—My opposition in undertaking the work.                        

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FROM the time of the sad occurrences which have just been narrated in the previous chapter, my health was very poor for a year, and many times I was brought near the brink of the grave. Every one who saw me thought I would die. But the work that the Lord was calling me to do came up before me so plainly that I thought he would raise me up and open the way; and at these times, when I seemed to be hovering between life and death, I would have such glorious visions. At one time I was praying for the salvation of sinners; and the Savior appeared on the cross by me, and talked with me; and I laid my hand on his mangled body, and looked up in his smiling face. Another time I was meditating upon the love of God, in giving his only Son to die for sinners, and

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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. Heaven is located. It is it a real city. Its inhabitants are real and not imaginary. If mothers could see their children as I saw them, in all their shining glory, they would never weep for them, but would leave all and follow Jesus. They would let nothing keep them from meeting their children in heaven, where they are shining in dazzling beauty around God’s throne, and are watching to give welcome to the beautiful city. I never think of my children as being in the grave. Oh, no. The loved form that we laid away in the cold grave is nothing but the casket that contained the jewel which is now shining in the Savior’s crown. Often now, when I am pleading with sinners to come to Jesus, and telling them of the love of God, the beautiful home in heaven, of the mansions bright and of the robe and crown, and of the great multitude who have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb, the veil seems to be taken away, and I feel lost in the love and glory of Christ. I feel as though the congregation was left behind, and I was floating upward in a cloud of glory. Oh,

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the wonderful love or God. The half has never been told. It never can be told. It will take all eternity to tell of the redeeming love, in the wonderful plan of redemption to a dying world. Dear reader, will you not give up all and follow Jesus, and meet me in that beautiful land where sorrow will never come?

About this time my husband was converted in the Methodist Church, where my little girl had been converted. He was very bright and seemed to speak with other tongues. God had answered my prayer. We had a happy home for awhile; but when trials came he became discouraged. At times he was on the mountain-top, and then again he would be down in the valley in his religious experience. I made a great deal of allowance for him, as everything affected his mind. This made it very hard for me, as I had everything to see to. I had to work very hard. With the disease I had, my nervous system became prostrated, and I lay for three months so that doctor and friends thought I would die. I do praise God for his loving-kindness to me in always raising up the best of Christian friends in my behalf. In all my sickness and trouble the ministers and people came from the different churches in the town and had prayermeeting in my room. They prayed

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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. It seemed impossible, for me to undertake the work for the salvation of souls; that the time had come to promise or die. 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. We then moved to a Friends’ settlement, and they came and took me to church. They had glorious meetings. God was there in wonderful power. God seemed to say to me, “I brought you here; go to work.” Now the struggle commenced. 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 or dream 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 moment’s warning would tumble into this awful place. I

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was above the people on a narrow plank-walk, which wound up toward heaven; 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.

This vision left quite an impression on my mind. When the Spirit of God was striving with me to talk or pray in meeting, I would resist as long as I could. Then this awful vision would rise before me, and I would see souls sinking into eternal woe. The yoke of Jesus would whisper, “I am with you, be not afraid,” Then I would be on my feet or knees in a moment. I would forget, everything but the love of God and dying souls. God seemed to speak through me to the people. But I had so much opposition to contend with. My people were opposed, my husband and daughter fought against it, and my whole nature shrunk from going to stand as a gazing-stock for the people. But the Lord was showing in many ways. that I must go and perform the work he had for me to do.

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Chapter 4.

My first meeting—Trying to work and preach at the same time—A few days’ meeting where I was raised—The results by placing entire confidence in God—The devil’s den— I conclude to go there and hold a meeting—A curious crowd—The effects of the preaching of God’s word upon them—The glorious results —Encouragement for the Christian

SEVERAL ministers whom I had never seen before told me, at different times, that God was calling me to the ministry and that I would have to go. I said, “If I were a man I would love to work for Jesus.” They told me I had a work to do which no man could do; the Lord was calling me to the West to labor for lost souls. I said, “O Lord! I cannot take Willie with me, nor can I leave him behind.” Then the Lord saw fit to take him out of the way; so he laid his hand on my darling little boy, and in a few days took him home to heaven. He was the joy of my life. He was nearly seven years old. He was very bright for one of his age—in fact, far beyond his years. He was the pet of the whole neighborhood. He seemed to know when taken sick that he would not get well, he talk-

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ed of dying and going to see Georgie, who had been dead three years that month. He said he would have to die sometime and that he would rather go now if we could go with him, that he would never be sick any more, nor have to take any more medicine. He bid us all good-by and said he was going to be with Jesus. He died very happy. He had talked and fretted much about his little sister, and said he could not live without her. By faith I could see her meeting him at the beautiful gates and welcoming him into the golden city of God. This sad bereavement nearly took my life. The dear Savior was never so near and real to me before. He was by my side and seemed to bear me up in his loving arms. I could say, the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. When alone, I missed my darling so much that I wept as though my heart would break. Then I would always pray; and as I prayed I would forget everything earthly and soar away by faith to the Golden City, and there see my darlings all together shining in glory, and looking at me and singing, “Mamma, do not weep for us, but come this way.” I would always end in praising and giving glory to God for taking them to such a happy

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place. My husband sunk beneath the stroke and was deranged for some time. He would go about hunting for Willie. He said some one had taken him away. Living trouble is worse than the trouble of those who are dead. He has never been well since. Lizzie, my oldest child, sixteen years old, was all that I had left of six sweet children. 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. But when I thought of my weakness I shrunk from the work. 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 would say, “You would look nice preaching, being a gazing-stock for the people to make sport of. You know you could not do it.”

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Then I would think of my weakness and say, “No, of course I can not 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, then I began to seek a better experience, and pray for an anointing of power. I made a full  conversion and asked for a baptism of fire to take everything out of my heart and cleanse it with the blood of Christ, and fill it with the Holy Ghost.

I promised to let nothing but sickness or death come between me, and the work. God accepted the offering, and the blessing and power came, and I went about praising God from morning till night. My heart was full of his love and praise. It was as natural for me to say, “Praise God,” as it was to breathe. The Bible was a new book. All desires to sin were gone. I dropped into the arms of Jesus by faith and trusted him to keep me each moment. When I saw a temptation coming I would tell Jesus, and a verse, or promise, like the following would present itself “Lo, I am with you alway,” “Do not afraid,” or, “Cast all your care on Jesus; he cares for you.”

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With these words would come such power that I gained the victory every time. I lost all desire for the things of the world. I longed to get ready to enter the work of gathering in the lost sheep of the house or Israel.

Friends wanted me to travel a year with a minister and his wife and work  in revivals, and they would pay all expenses. But my husband was not willing for me to go, or to engage in the work any place.

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My childhood—My father’s Death—Commencement of life’s battles—My longings for an education—My desire for religious teaching and religious influence—My conversion—The voice of God calling me to go out and work

The trials and discouragements of the first part of my married life—The angel of Death at our home—A second call by the angel of Death—Conversion of our little daughter Georgie—Georgie’s sickness and death—Birth and death of little Gertie

My severe illness and my glorious visions of Jesus and the beautiful city—Words of encouragement to mothers—Trials and difficulties—Prostrated again on a bed of affliction—Prayer of God’s people for my recovery—Another call to work for Jesus—I promise to enter upon the work—Restored to health and attempt the work—A vision of the bottomless pit—My opposition in undertaking the work.

Again I began to make excuses—Little Willie taken out of the way—Willie’s sickness and death—The effect of this—sad bereavement—Again prompted to duty by the providence of God—Satan tries to persuade me not to go—Seeking a better experience—Filled with the power of God—My desire to enter the work

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I endeavored to prepare myself for the work—I talk face to face with the Savior in a dream—What I saw in that vision—Secret impressions of the importance of obeying the call at once—How I faltered—My condemnation—I search the Bible for teaching and example—The chosen of the Lord—What we are commanded to do—The book of remembrance—What we leant from the prophet Joel —Bible references to prove the prophecies—Argument and scripture to prove that women are called to preach

My first meeting—Trying to work and preach at the same time—A few days’ meeting where I was raised—The results by placing entire confidence in God—The devil’s den— I conclude to go there and hold a meeting—A curious crowd—The effects of the preaching of God’s word upon them—The glorious results —Encouragement for the Christian

A short visit in Columbiana--A glorious meeting—My condition and situation—The power of God manifested

Offer of charges in different churches—My mission—Uniting with the church—Leaving all to work for Jesus—My trust in God—God provides home and friends—A condensed statement of the work accomplished—Exhortation to the Christian

Beginning of my pilgrimage in the West—Going from place to place preaching the gospel—My first protracted effort—The glorious results—Instruction and encouragement to the Christian—Meeting at Bethel Chapel—Condition of the class—Glorious results of these meetings—Condition of things during the meeting—The two young men who would not yield—God’s warning to the people—Warning to parents

Condition of the church at Pleasant Mills, Indiana—The mighty conqueror—Exhortation of the church—A lack or faith—Happy results—No message for the people—Message to preach a funeral sermon—The parents of the dead child—Effect of sermon upon the people—The sick man—Words of encouragement to all

The women’s missionary convention—Work done by the women—The surprise party—Meeting at Zion—Progress and success of the meeting—A man thrown from his horse and killed—Warning to the people

Visit to Dayton, Ohio—Whittle, the evangelist—The United Brethren Printing Establishment—The Orphans’ Home—The Soldiers’ Home—Sudden death of a young man—The effect upon the neighborhood—Meeting at the school-house—The result—Twenty baptized—God working in the hearts of the people—Calls for help in the ministry—My birthday surprise—Three days’ meeting at the riverside—Words of comfort and encouragement to the reader


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