Baptised by Fire by Jack Hywel-Davies
Genre: Christian Biography
Smith Wigglesworth was an uneducated, straight-talking Yorkshire lad, who never fully mastered the art of reading or writing. One day, in a small Methodist chapel, he heard God’s call and immediately began the work of challenging all those he met to “only believe”. In the subsequent 50 years he was to become a figurehead for the growing Pentecostal Movement, leading missions all over the world.
In this book, the author tells the story of this passionate man of God whose unquestioning faith and powerful ministry is a source of inspiration for many even in the 21st century.
God uses people in many different ways. In 1 Corinthians 7:7 Paul states that we all have been given different Spiritual gifts. For Smith Wigglesworth, his main gifting was healing. In the biography, Baptised by Fire the author, Jack Hywel-Davies looks at Wigglesworth’s life and his ministry. Wigglesworth had a very humble beginning as his parents were extremely poor. They did not know God, but that did not stop Smith longing for Him:
“I can never recollect a time when I did not long for God. Even though neither father nor mother knew God, I was always seeking Him. I would often kneel down in the field, and ask Him to help me. I would ask Him especially to enable me to find where the birds’ nests were, and after I had prayed I seemed to have an instinct to know exactly where to look.”
When the Wigglesworth family moved to Bradford, Smith joined the Salvation Army. It was here that he learnt more about God and entered a deepened his relationship with Him. It was in 1894 that Smith first encountered the Holy Spirit. After such a powerful encounter Smith’s ministry and life were changed. Beforehand, all he had done was lay hands on people and pray for healing and his wife had done all the teaching. However, after his encounter with God Smith lost all fear of public speaking and began to do the teaching himself.
His healing ministry began at home, when one morning two of his children were sick, so he prayed for them. From there God started to work in him, and he healed all sorts of conditions. His approach to healing is definitely unique. Smith viewed all illness as from the devil, so it needed to be cast out and dealt with appropriately. He would often be physical with the inflicted, and there have been reports of him punching people in the stomach and neck to make the illness leave! This gifting meant that his ministry stretched all over the world.
What I loved most about Wigglesworth was his motto: “Fear watches, faith jumps”. I found that a challenge for my life: I need to have faith, take risks and fully believe in God. There were however, aspects of his theology that I disagree with. He believed that you should only pray for something once – if you pray more than that then you lack faith. However, this is not Biblically correct. In Ephesians 6:18 Paul says:
“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication”
What he means is that you need to be persistent in your prayers, even praying regularly for one particular thing. I was unsure about Wigglesworth’s technique for healing – I don’t think I would like someone to punch me in the stomach if I had a stomach ulcer! Reading about his views on illness has made me want to look into healing more, to see if his belief that all illness is demonic is correct, and if his approach was right.
I picked up this book because a friend recommended it, and often talks about Wigglesworth’s ministry. I found this book really easy to read and very enjoyable. I loved reading about what God can do in someone’s life, how the Holy Spirit can use and change someone and I loved reading about revival and the breakout of God in cities and nations.I found this book challenging, because I want to encounter God with the same intensity as Wigglesworth, and I want God to use me in powerful ways. This is definitely a must-read book for Christians, as reading biographies can help them in their walk with God, and this is a powerful story of how God used a poor, barely educated man from Yorkshire to do great things.