Black History Month: Honoring Pentecostal Pioneer William Seymour

William Seymour
William Seymour (Photo courtesy of Princeton Theological Seminary website)

I recently listened to a sermon by Arthur Burke titled Treasures of the African Americans. In it he alleged that God deposited certain traits in certain races that were designed to be a blessing to humanity.

These are traits that we must embrace and redeem in order to actualize God's intent for granting them. I sat spellbound as I heard him expound on the African-Americans' unique ability to understand and embrace the Holy Spirit. His theory was that God chose William Seymour to be the catalyst of the Pentecostal renewal, not in spite of the fact that he was black but because he was black.

Burke said:

"There has never been a revival like it. Listen to me: 1 billion people on planet earth today walk in an understanding of the Holy Spirit because God designed black people to know the Holy Spirit and to express the Holy Spirit. And God gave you a moment in destiny and allowed that stream to begin in Azusa through a one-eyed black man and spread throughout the world. That is His design and no Jim Crow laws, no discrimination and nothing that humans can do can take away from you what God gave you and designed you for."

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During this month in which we celebrate Black History, I want to honor William Seymour but not simply with a historical salute, I want to encourage a present embrace of the substance of what his life's purpose was. I am persuaded the power of Pentecost was not just for the 20th century or Acts 2. We need it now more than ever.

I encourage each of us to stir up the gift inside and cultivate a stronger partnership with the Holy Spirit. Here are 5 reasons I believe every believer ought to be filled with the Holy Spirit and have a prayer language:

1. It's the key to spiritual power. Acts 1:8 says, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you."

We already have the Holy Spirit in us if we are born again but it never hurts to put more logs on the fire. The Apostles in Acts were filled more than once (Acts 2:1-4, 4:24-32). The more of the Holy Spirit we have, the more we can do for God.

2. It provides spirit-to-spirit communication with God. 1 Corinthians 14:2 says, "For he who speaks in an unknown tongue does not speak to men, but to God. For no one understands him, although in the spirit, he speaks mysteries."

Scripture alleges that speaking in tongues is spirit-to-spirit communication. The Holy Spirit who dwells in our human spirit is communing with God through us. That's powerful. Interestingly, Nightline did a study and found that when Christians pray in tongues, the speech centers of the brain are not active. Click here to take a look.

3. It builds our faith. Jude 1:20 says, "But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit."

1 Corinthians 14:4 says, "He who speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself ... ."

Can you use a faith boost? Tongues build you up and edify you. Go for it!

4. It's spiritual refreshment. John 7:37-39: "On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.' By this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believe in Him would receive. For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."

I love Jesus' description here ... "rivers of living water." Soul thirst can be quenched any time through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit not only produces external power it also releases internal balm. We should want more.

5. It's healthy. 1 Corinthians 14:4: "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself ... ."

A blog written by the Christian-Psychiatry Inc., states that Dr. Carl Peterson, a brain specialist, conducted a study on speaking in tongues study at Oral Roberts University. He found that "as we engage in our heavenly language the brain releases [two] chemical secretions that are directed into our immune systems giving a 35 to 40 percent boost to the immune system. This promotes healing within our bodies. Amazingly this secretion is triggered from a part of the brain that has no other apparent activity in humans and is only activated by our Spirit-led prayer and worship."

See for yourself by clicking here.

Let's honor the man that ushered in the greatest revival of our time, not just with a historical nod but a heartthrob. Like William Seymour, let's awaken to the reality that there is more God wants for us and pursue it. Anything God has for you won't hurt you.

As Seymour once said: "The Pentecostal power, when you sum it all up, is just more of God's love. If it does not bring more love, it is simply a counterfeit."

Kyle Searcy is the senior pastor of Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery, Alabama. Visit him at

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