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Aimee Semple McPherson with her children, 1918

The epidemic was raging. Newspapers revealed that scores of dead lay in blankets on morgue floors for days, as there were not enough coffins for their interment. In this morbid, unpromising atmosphere, the New Rochelle revival opened.

Unprecedented crowds filled the auditorium. Steady processions of hearses and ambulances passed our portals even as I spoke. All of this produced a serious consideration of eternity, which brought ever-increasing streams of men and women to the altar. Scores of people were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

On Saturday night, I was stricken with the ravaging disease. Somehow I got through the service. On Sunday, though I spoke at all three services, I was taken with violent chills and fever. By Monday morning, I was filled with such racking pain that it was with difficulty that I struggled to get ready for the early service.

Every moment was agonizing. I was obliged to take a firm grip on the pulpit to steady myself and keep from falling. Yet, I reasoned, every one of these persons present in the eager crowd was a man or a woman whose soul faced immediate eternal decisions. I must go on. This was my task.

Upon my return to the dingy little apartment, I groped blindly for the stair railing and slowly pulled myself up the steps. I was met at the top of the landing with the news that my little daughter’s condition had developed into influenza and double pneumonia. Fear gave wings to my feet, and I wove my dizzy way into her room.

She lay unconscious. Groping along the walls for support, I felt my way to my own room and fell to my knees beside my bed. “Oh, Jesus,” I sobbed. “Everyone can stand just so much. You took my husband, Robert. Don’t take Roberta!” [Editor’s Note: Robert had died when he and Aimee were missionaries in China.]

Suddenly my own shivering and shaking ceased. I saw a vision of my Lord standing close, just before me. Then, for one of the few times in my life, I heard His glorious voice speak to my heart: “Fear not. Your little one shall live and not die. Moreover, I will give you a home in California, where your children shall go to school.”

Then the vision faded. I made my way back to the dreary, unheated, front bedroom. Saints had been praying for Roberta, and she was now conscious. Kneeling beside the bed, I said, “Darling, you are going to live and not die, and we are going to have a little home in California, where you are going to school.”

“Mama,” she answered weakly, “Could I have a canary, too?”

“Yes, darling,” I promised rashly.

At that moment, my son, Rolf, came into the room. “Mama,” he said, “May I have a rose garden, too?”

“Yes! Yes!” I cried, for my faith was strong at that moment.

In a short time, we were both well but still weak. I sold the car and bought a new one, strapped our belongings and camp equipment on the running boards of the shining Oldsmobile Eight, and turned toward the great, unknown West.

Adapted from Aimee: The Life Story of Aimee Semple McPherson by Aimee Semple McPherson, copyright 1979. Published by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

founded The Foursquare Church in 1923 in Los Angeles.