Rolf K. McPherson with grandfather and Aimee

Mother started her evangelistic ministry with one tent, and we thought that was pretty good. She was invited to preach in places where resistance to a woman preacher, and especially a Pentecostal woman preacher, kept some people from attending her meetings.

In many places, people wouldn’t attend a church service with a lady preacher, but they would come to an open-air tent meeting outside of town. God blessed Mother’s attempts to attract people to the gospel, and church leaders began to come around and support her campaigns.

I was 4 years old when Mother’s evangelistic meetings spread from our native Northeast to points south as far as Florida. Mother preached whenever a crowd formed, sometimes twice a day, doing everything possible to get more people saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.

My sister, Roberta, and I always traveled with Mother on those early campaigns. Roberta was older than me and able to be of more help. I was still little, and tried to mind my manners and stay out of trouble.

It was life as usual for me. I enjoyed making new friends in every town and especially enjoyed getting to play with children whose families had accepted Christ because of Mother’s preaching.

Mother made a place for me to sit beside the pulpit when she was preaching at night during our tent meetings. More than once, I recall falling asleep with my head propped against the pulpit, cradled by the sawdust on the floor that kept the dust down as people shuffled around in worship and prayer.

Our little family felt like modern-day Children of Israel traveling through the wilderness, depending on the Lord for our next meal. Of course, Mother taught Roberta and me about God’s provision, and the many ways He provided for her and for generations of biblical figures before us. We had no doubt He would take care of us, too.

When we arrived in a particular town, we pitched revival tents on any available open land. A large canvas tent sheltered folding chairs or benches, whatever could be secured from supporting churches in the area, to accommodate the crowds.

People who attended the revivals could rent small, family-size tents for 25 cents, making it easy for them to stay on the grounds for several days or weeks, depending on how God blessed and how long the meetings continued.

It was life as usual for me. I enjoyed making new friends in every town and especially enjoyed getting to play with children whose families had accepted Christ because of Mother’s preaching.

As time went on, and Mother’s ministry began to gain favorable notoriety, supporters would sometimes invite us to stay in their homes when we held meetings nearby. We played with their children, and sometimes took meals with their families. It was nice to have a roof over our heads, other than the roof of Mother’s “Gospel Car” that often became our home on the road.

Roberta and I sometimes slept with blankets stretched across one of the bench seats in the 1918 Oldsmobile, brand new and spacious. For a change of pace and weather permitting, we slept on cots in little tents beside the road. These same tents became our home during our tent revivals, and as the months went by, the canvas cracked and split.

Storms blew through our little encampment, and I remember hearing the thunder and seeing the streaks of lightening through the little rips in the tent. Torrential rain posed particular threats to our comfort. Mother sat on a campstool between Roberta and me as we slept holding umbrellas over our heads to keep us dry. I am not sure when Mother slept.

Our travels along the Eastern Seaboard provided many opportunities for Roberta and me to grow in faith and dependence on the Lord. What a thrill it was to watch Mother preach and to see hundreds of people devote their lives to Christ as she prayed for them.

Throughout her life, Mother taught us children Bible stories and showed us how to live a life fully devoted to Jesus Christ. Whether in a tent or great auditorium, God has always been faithful to His Word and to our family.

This article is adapted from a video interview prior to Rolf K. McPherson’s passing in 2009.

(1913-2009) was the son of Foursquare’s founder, Aimee Semple McPherson, and served as president of The Foursquare Church for more than four decades.

Leave a Reply