Born in Sampson County, North Carolina, G. B. Cashwell would play a key role in the mighty revivals that exploded upon the American landscape in the early 1900’s. He grew up on a farm during the depressing Reconstruction period after the Civil War. Cashwell was known to get into trouble as a teenager, especially after his father passed away. But he was always surrounded by the Christian faith, not the least because his own family was instrumental in starting a Missionary Baptist congregation in his town of Persimmons College (Keener).
As a young man, Cashwell energetically pursued his career in the tobacco farming industry, training farmers in Georgia to grow the crop more effectively. In 1885, he heard Rev. Kendall preach the Gospel in his hometown of Keener during the revival that broke out there. He surrendered his life to the Lord and began ministering faithfully in the local churches, Many historians believe that he later joined forces with Rev. Kendall and A. B. Crumpler to traverse the eastern towns of North Carolina with the Gospel and the message of Holy Spirit sanctification. Burning with this call from the Spirit, they awakened many townfolk from spiritual apathy to a new life in Christ.
Cashwell joined the Holiness Church in North Carolina in 1903. In 1906, he was conspicuously missing from the annual Holiness convention. He felt he had fallen short of the standards of holiness but was in process of restoration. In fact, he wrote to tell those in the convention that he was enroute to Los Angeles at that very moment to seek a baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Cashwell had heard reports of a great revival fire burning bright in Los Angeles on Asuza Street. Those in attendance spoke of supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit that brought healing, divine manifestations, and speaking in tongues. It stirred up deep longings within Cashwell’s own heart for a touch from the Spirit that would turn the world upside down for Christ. He boarded a train that was headed straight for LA, and over the next 6 days, he fasted and prayed for what awaited him.
What did he see? Upon arriving, he witnessed a congregation of whites and blacks and Asians, of all ages, men and women, worshipping the Lord. He observed educated men mixing with the homeless and the desperately poor. There was dancing and singing and the speaking in unknown tongues. There were healings and miracles and supernatural fire. Clearly, the Holy Spirit’s presence was tangible. However, one thing caught him off guard and caused him to hesitate. He noticed that the leaders, not just the attendees, were often included African-Americans and many of the uneducated.
For five days, he wrestled with the seeming breakdown of proper social order in the meetings. He pressed forward in more prayer and more fasting. All the while, he desperately sought a baptism of the Holy Spirit. Finally, he simply surrendered to what God wanted. A group of young black men laid hands upon him during one meeting, and it was then that Cashwell received his Pentecost blessing. The church at Asuza let him preach shortly afterwards, and they even raised money to commission him and send him back as an apostle with the fire he had received.
Cashwell returned to Dunn, North Carolina (about 150 miles east of Charlotte, NC), in December 1906. He immediately rented a tobacco warehouse and starting preaching the Pentecost experience on December 31st. The Spirit alighted upon the attendees with the same Spirit-filled manifestations and dynamism of Asuza. Some would prophetically call this revival Asuza East. Even in the south, riddled with Jim Crow laws, this revival broke down social and racial barriers to lift up the name of Christ.
The spiritual hunger for God soon surged and set into motion a month-long campaign. Almost all of the participants in the Holiness movement were swept into the experience of a new Pentecost in the Church. Over the next 6 months, Cashwell journeyed throughout the southern states with such fire and zeal that he earned the nickname “Apostle of Pentecost to the South.”
For 3 years, until 1909, God used Cashwell to advance God’s fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. As a direct result of Cashwell’s preaching, more than ten denominations today can trace their Pentecostal lineage back to his untiring and powerful ministry.More than 50 ministries today with the same heart are headquartered in this region of the South. And among the global Body of Christ numbering around 2.4 billion followers, about 600 million of them lay claim to the Pentecostal heritage that God prompted through the obedience and sacrifice of men and women like G. B. Cashwell.
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