Aimee Semple McPherson at San Diego revival

Editor’s note: 100 years ago, in January 1921, Aimee Semple McPherson held a five-week revival in San Diego that brought together Christians from multiple denominations to see people saved and healed in the name of Jesus. This adaptation from her book This Is That highlights some of the things that happened that month.

For years, God’s people in San Diego had prayed, “Lord, send us a revival of the gospel of Jesus Christ that will awaken the churches and bring sinners in hundreds to the cross.” God opened the door, and we agreed to go.

Dreamland Arena was the site chosen by local ministers—Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals and Nazarenes working alongside the YMCA, Epworth League and many other Christian groups to organize the campaign that would fill the 3,000-person arena.

The night before the revival began, the arena manager invited us to address a howling multitude during a boxing match, a packed house hooting for the sight of blood and knockout blows. Who ever heard of a woman evangelist attempting a revival in such a place?

We arrived at the arena to view the elevated boxing ring fenced in by ropes through which we must climb to address the raucous throng. The audience on four sides sought blood, but oh, if only we could tell them of the Savior’s blood freely spilled on Calvary, and of the victory He won over death and hell.

Mounting the platform, we looked upon the pale, emaciated faces upon beds and in wheelchairs, sick babies carried on pillows, a sufferer who had been unable to lie down for years forced to sit bolt upright on air cushions, and countless others huddled close to the platform, waiting for a move of God.

Dreamland Arena service, San Diego revival

The smoke was nearly strangling as we began to speak. We told the screaming crowd about the love of Jesus and of His precious blood shed to deliver them from their sin. We announced the coming revival, and invited them all to come and see our Jesus win the victory bout over the devil. The very audacity of our presence in the ring won the admiration and cheers of the people.

God’s saving power met us from the very first night of the meetings, and each time we approached the building for weeks to come, crowds greeted us, crying out the praises of God.

“Oh, Sister! Take a look at Dorothy, won’t you?” A young mother tugged at our coats. “See her little paralyzed arm that was prayed for the other night? See, it has been healed! Praise God! Husband and I have both been saved during this meeting, and our home is happy now.”

Scores of testimonies greeted us everywhere we went in the city.

Mr. Hennessey of the Hennessey Flying Squad at the foot of Broadway at Municipal Pier donated a plane to carry us above the city. We showered residents with 15,000 handbills of the revival, bringing a message from above. Then, we preached to a large crowd in the Aviation Field and invited them to join our meetings.

We soon outgrew the arena, and the entire city was called to fasting and prayer through the meetings and the columns of local newspapers as to a new place to preach the gospel and pray for the sick. Chaplain Spotts of the U.S. Marine Corps, a man of great influence, took up the matter with the park commissioner, and the grand organ pavilion in Balboa Park was immediately made available.

The outdoor pavilion seated thousands and offered standing room for hundreds more, where great crowds usually enjoyed concerts performed on the only outdoor pipe organ in the world. Military men were made available to assist the chief of police and his men with the automobiles, ambulances, pedestrians and those bringing the sick to be healed.

Balboa Park, San Diego revival

And so the days were set for two mammoth meetings to be conducted in Balboa Park. We passed over the bridge that spans the canyon and drove through the great arch that adorned the entrance to “The World’s Fair Grounds.” Police and park commissioners estimated the multitude of people who were hungry for God to range between 10,000 and 30,000. There was no jesting, and awe was upon them all, for this was the most solemn and momentous occasion that the city had ever known.

Mounting the platform, we looked upon the pale, emaciated faces upon beds and in wheelchairs, sick babies carried on pillows, a sufferer who had been unable to lie down for years forced to sit bolt upright on air cushions, and countless others huddled close to the platform, waiting for a move of God.

“Dear Lord, here we are, the same poor, heartbroken, sin-stricken world that we were when You walked the earth,” I prayed in earnest before addressing the throng. We shed the same tears, feel the same woes, and experience the same pain. We have the same blind eyes, the same deaf ears, the same burdens that oppress. Thank God, we also have the same Jesus! Put faith in our hearts, Lord, meet the expectations of Thy people, that all may know our God still lives and answers prayer.

We asked James R. Flood of the U.S. Navy, who had been working among the congregation, to share a testimony of how God miraculously healed him during the meetings. Medically diagnosed with a withered lung from damage done during the war, Mr. Flood spoke of hospitals and medical procedures all of which left him with no hope and with X-rays to prove a prognosis that a terminal illness ravaged his body.

Mr. Flood recalled in vivid detail how God met him in the Dreamland Arena on January 29, 1921, when we and our workers prayed for him on the platform: “I felt the withered tissue in my chest begin to tingle like your hands or feet do when they have been asleep and wake up. I felt the cool air rushing into my right side as I had not felt it before. I looked down and saw the right side of my chest rising and falling when I breathed as it had not moved before. Oh, praise the Lord, a drop of His precious power had fallen on me, and I was made whole again.”

After a brief sermon, we prayed the rest of the day for the sick and terminally ill to receive their healing. We had been told the organ recital that afternoon should begin promptly at 3 p.m., but when the prayer lines threatened to take more time than we were given, the park commissioners canceled the concert in hope that more people could find deliverance and salvation in Jesus.

Healing service, San Diego revival

Would you ever believe so much sickness and suffering existed in the world? From tiniest babies thin and haggard from sickness, to the oldest man that leaned upon his staff and was assisted up the steps. Not all are healed. A few have not the least idea of what it means to exercise active, believing faith in the Lord Jesus, but come to see if we can heal. Of course, we have no power within ourselves and try to get their eyes on Jesus.

Mr. Mutters, keeper of the San Diego Zoo and a wonderful worker during the campaign, brought with him three very sick young ladies from the Tubercular Hospital. They were prayed for and instantly healed at the first meeting in the Park, and were at the second service testifying to the wonderful power of Jesus that made them whole.

It is only the love of Jesus and God’s power that can do what we witnessed in San Diego.

Dear Lord, You have never lost a battle, and we trust Thee for more. Keep us yielded in Your hands. Give us strength and wisdom for such an hour.

Download the full chapter “Glimpses of the San Diego Revival” from This Is That for free, and read the personal testimonies of many people who were saved and healed during the San Diego revival.

founded The Foursquare Church in 1923 in Los Angeles.