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Philadelphia Revival

As a little boy, I spent many an afternoon at outdoor revival meetings, playing with children whom I would only know for a week or two.

We made the most of the short time we had, and I especially liked to play with children who had been healed after my mother, Aimee Semple McPherson, prayed for them. Some of them ran and jumped for the first time in their lives after spending years in casts or braces. God’s healing made our play with these children particularly special.

Mother always had time to pray for the children. Maybe that was because she remembered how much it meant to her when my sister, Roberta, was spared death while we held meetings in New Rochelle, N.Y., during an influenza outbreak that killed thousands.

During one of Mother’s campaigns in Philadelphia, I personally experienced God’s divine healing for the first time. I was about 4 years old. Mother was busy preparing for the first night of the campaign, and I was running around, probably playing more than I was helping. The draw of other children made it tough to focus on chores, but still there was work to be done.

Someone had left a rake in tall grass beside the tent, and I did not see it as I played. I stepped on the spikes, ramming them right through the sole of my shoe and into my foot. The next thing I remember was Mother whisking me up in her arms and carrying me to our little family tent behind the main revival tent.

She pulled off my shoe and sock, and prayed aloud as she tried to stop the bleeding. Then, she carefully cleaned the wound and spoke calming words to me between prayers of faith for my healing. A gentle peace came over the little tent, and I fell asleep on my cot as Mother continued to pray aloud. Fervent, passionate and confident, but never demanding, Mother sought the miracle-working power of God for her child’s foot.

Sometime later that afternoon, Mother woke me. “Rolf, let’s take a look at your foot,” she said. Pausing a moment, she seemed confused. “Do I have the wrong foot?” she mumbled to herself. She pulled the shoe and sock off my other foot. “There is nothing there,” she declared. “Nothing on either foot. I just had to check to be sure I had the correct foot!”

In revival meetings large and small, in places like Oakland, Denver, San Diego and Los Angeles, God repeated the miracles as Mother prayed for the sick.

I sat up, hoping it was true. After studying both my feet, Mother and I praised the Lord together for His miraculous answer to the prayer of faith. I put on another pair of shoes and socks, and returned to my “chores” with the other children, celebrating the glorious healing power of God.

Decades after that experience in Philadelphia, I still believe that God heals and answers the prayer of believing faith. In revival meetings large and small, in places like Oakland, Denver, San Diego and Los Angeles, God repeated the miracles as Mother prayed for the sick.

Hospitals sent their most hopeless cases, many times patients who were contagious and dying. Mother prayed for every last one. Not only that, she laid her hands on them as she prayed just like the early disciples did in the Bible. Many observers could not believe Mother would touch infected people, but she knew the power of God was greater than any disease, and she was not afraid.

Mother always encouraged people to share their testimony of God’s healing so that the faith of others in the congregation would grow. She hoped others would take up the same mantle she had and that they would lay hands on the sick, so they could recover.

Yes, seeing the miraculous was a normal part of my everyday life since I was a young boy. Divine healing was a regular part of Mother’s ministry. More personally, God healed me so that I could testify and encourage others to seek Him for miracles and healing.

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.


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