John G Lake - Healing Revivalist
Summary by Simon Holley
Many have never heard of John G. Lake so I want to give you a sketch of his life. However, let’s not make the mistake that I used to make when I was reading biographies. I often ended up thinking, “God why don’t you use me”. Instead, allow your picture of Christ to be stretched to a bigger picture of what Jesus can do through you! Seeing what the Father has done before, inspires us for what he wants to do now.
John G. Lake was born in Ontario, Canada on March 18, 1870. He moved to the U.S. in 1886 and was saved in a Salvation Army meeting around the same time. His parents had no health problems but he grew up with a strange digestive disease that nearly killed him. For nine years he suffered with the disease and the unpleasant treatments that were necessary to keep him alive. As a child, Lake knew that he and his family needed a miracle. What he didnʼt know was how to get one.
Eventually, Lake realised that he was going to have to pray for himself – he did, and was healed!
“I discovered that [disease] was not the will of God at all, but the will of the dirty, crooked-legged devil that wanted to make me like himself”.
Whilst Lake managed to survive, eight of his fifteen siblings didnʼt. This only made Lake more aware that sickness was evil. As Lake grew older, this sickness sparked in him an intense desire for the power of God.
Is compassion for the sick, and anger at the enemy fully burning in you?
This is what fuelled Lake.
At 21, his brother was dying from incessant bleeding of the kidneys, whilst also paralysed. One sister, aged 34, was then dying with five cancers in her left breast. Another sister lay dying of an issue of blood. Then, Lakeʼs own wife became sick with Tuberculosis and an incurable heart disease. Lake was, again, surrounded by death and disease..
Desperate, Lake contacted Alexander Dowie who ran a Healing Home in Chicago. His paralysed brother, and sister with cancer were both healed!
After this, Lake’s other sister began seeking God for healing, but seemed unanswered. One night, Lake received a call to say she was about to die. When he arrived she was already unconscious, possibly dead.
“A great cry, such as had never before come from my soul, went up to God….should she not likewise be healed?… After telegraphing some friends, we called on God. In less than an hour, we rejoiced to see the evidence of returning life. Five days later she came to my fatherʼs home and joined the family for Christmas dinner.”
We need to go to war on sickness
Now Jennie was only days away from death and Lake was told to prepare to bury her. Lake returned home, He took his Bible and threw it onto the table and it fell open on Acts 10:38.
“Like a flash from the blue, these words pierced my heart: Oppressed of the
devil! So, God was not the author of sickness! And the people whom Jesus healed had not been made sick by God! I saw as never before why Jesus healed the sick: He was doing the will of His Father; and in doing His Fatherʼs will, He was destroying the works of the devil.”
Lake phoned everyone he knew, asking them to pray. The power of God came on Jennie and she was instantly healed.The news spread throughout the nation. This is how their healing ministry began.
This war-like cry that rose up in Lake needs to grab the church again. Sickness is part of the curse and we must go to war with it. We must raise our expectations that the voltage of heaven will flow through us.
How Hungry are you?
Lake ministered part time for a period of 10 years. During that time, hundreds of people were saved and healed. At the end of that 10 years, Lake wrote,
“I believe I was the hungriest man for God that ever lived… but it was not answering the cry of my heart.” So for the first nine months of 1907, Lake fasted, prayed and cried out to God. He just had to have all of God that he could get.
On one October day, Lake was powerfully baptised in the Spirit. Lake wrote, “the glory of it remained in my soul. l found that my life began to manifest in the varied range of the gifts of the Spirit. Healings were of a more powerful order. My nature became so sensitized that I could lay my hands on any man or woman and tell what organ was diseased, and to what extent.” Most of the cases even doctors could not diagnose at the time. Time after time, Lakeʼs diagnoses were proven to be correct.
Although Lake was Incredibly successful in business, he decided it was time to leave. Lake had received a vision of going to Africa when he was younger. He and Jennie gave everything away and decided to set off. After purchasing the boat tickets, Lake had $3.50 in his pocket!
When they arrived in South Africa a woman was walking down the line of people asking questions. Then she asked Lake how many children he had. “Seven”, he replied. “Youʼre the one” – she said. “God told me to come and meet a man here with seven children and invite him to come and stay in my home!”
Immediately when he arrived Lake was invited to preach. The service started unusually quiet: Lake felt like it was an uneasy silence like you get before a storm. He sensed the Spirit was about to move. So he waited, and the Spirit fell: signs and wonders began showering the congregation and erupted in the community in the days that followed. Within weeks, scores of people in and around Johannesburg were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, and hundreds were supernaturally healed.
Lake’s compassion for the sick and his personal and family sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom is challenging.
Lake felt later than he didn’t go far enough to protect his family but what he did do radically challenges any model. If the African people couldnʼt make it to Lakeʼs meetings, they would just appear at his home. At times the queue was so great that Jennie would usher the people through the front door to be prayed for, then through the back door so they had space for the others coming in. Jennie would often receive words of knowledge for those who didn’t receive healing due to personal difficulty or sin in their life. But then just six months after the Lakes arrived, Jennie died while Lake was away on a preaching tour. The given cause of death was that she had died of a stroke after exhaustion from the ministry.
After spending time back in the USA, Lake returned in 1910 with eight more missionaries. They walked into a plague in the area so contagious that the government was offering $1000 for anyone who would help. Lake and his assistants went to help free of charge. He would go into the houses bring out the dead and bury them – no symptom of the plague ever touched him.
A doctor sent for Lake and asked: “What have you been doing to protect yourself?”. Lake replied,“I believe that as long as I keep my soul in contact with the living God so that His Spirit is flowing into my soul and body, that no germ will ever attach itself to me, for the Spirit of God will kill it”. Lake asked the doctor to experiment by taking the foam from the lungs of a dead plague victim and put it under a microscope. The doctor did, and found masses of living germs. The doctor spread the deadly foam on Lake’s hand and found that the germs died instantly..
By 1913, Lakeʼs ministry totalled 1,250 preachers, 625 congregations, 100,000 converts-and countless miracles. He remained in Africa for four more years with 7 children to raise and an organization of almost 250,000 relying on him for leadership. This is just from five years of ministry.
Upon his return to the U. S., Lake travelled around preaching and resting while fellowshipping with long missed friends and remarrying. Florence would capture every word in shorthand and later transcribe the sermons. Had she not, we would not have the wealth of Lake’s material we have. He and Florence went on to have 5 children – 12 children in total.
Lake died of a heart attack, aged 65 years old. He left behind a heritage of understanding Godʼs healing power-and with it, the clear vision of even greater power: One testimonial from his funeral said this: “He found us in sin. He found us in sickness. He found us in poverty of spirit. He found us in despair, but he revealed to us such a Christ as we had never dreamed of knowing this side of heaven. Lake left behind his vision of the future: ‘I can see…that there is coming from heaven a new manifestation of the Holy Spirit in power, and that new manifestations will be in sweetness, in love, in tenderness beyond anything your heart or mine ever saw. The very lightening of God will flash through menʼs souls.’ ”
There are several great biographies on Amazon if you want to read more about John G Lake.