This week in Christian history: Revival in Sri Lanka, Leo X elected pope, S.M. Lockridge born

Smith Wigglesworth begins prayer meetings in Sri Lanka – March 5, 1926

Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947), an influential leader of the early Pentecostal movement who claimed to be a faith healer. | Public Domain

This week marks the anniversary of when Smith Wigglesworth, a prominent leader of the early Pentecostal Movement and purported faith healer, began holding large prayer gatherings in Sri Lanka.

A native of England, Wigglesworth traveled to what was then called Ceylon and started a prayer campaign, which, according to a report by the Pentecostal Evangel in 1926, involved hundreds being saved on the first night alone.

“Not a night passed without many standing up and reaching out their hands to heaven, calling out, ‘Jesus save me! Jesus deliver me!’” reported Walter H.C. Clifford of the Evangel at the time.

“Each night the evangelist would single out people in the audience who were in pain, and would pray for them. Immediately after prayer was offered the suffering ones would testify that they were free, from pain.”

The Christian apologetics site is critical of Wigglesworth, labeling the Pentecostal figure “a false teacher, regardless of whatever popularity he enjoyed and whatever shows of power he may have included in his act.”

"Wigglesworth, like the preachers in the modern Word of Faith movement, laid the responsibility for healing on the sick person. The message was, if you have faith, you will be healed. A lack of healing shows a lack of faith and/or sin in one’s life ...

"Wigglesworth reported seeing Jesus on several occasions and claimed to have resurrected fourteen people from the dead. According to Wigglesworth, he and his wife allowed no medicines or doctors in their home: they committed themselves to trust only in the Divine Healing."

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