Healing and Revival
"Healing For The Body And The Emotions"
Agnes Mary White (later Sanford) was born, on November 4, 1897, in China to Presbyterian missionary parents. She grew up knowing about God and yet did not know Him in a personal sense. Much of Agnes' time was spent roaming the countryside and being on her own. Her main companions were other children in the family, the children of other missionaries in the area, and locals who worked and cared for the family. Agnes's view of God was that of a distant and demanding taskmaster. Although she loved and honored her parents she struggled with the level of work for small gain she saw amongst the missionaries.
When Sanford was almost 15 she returned to the United States. She lived with extended family in Raleigh, North Carolina and finished her education. At one point Sanford required surgery and while on the operating table died momentarily and left her body. From that moment on she was convinced of the difference between the physical and the spiritual. Even as she lived with her uncle, who was a pastor, and worked with her aunt who was a missionary it seemed to her that people said that that salvation was about being good and doing right. Her heart cried out "there must be more!" She felt a longing for God's healing touch when she saw a family friend who had epilepsy. She committed to pray for seven years for the young man's healing. That man was eventually healed but it was years before she would know about it.
When Sanford was 21 her she had completed college and did not know what to do with her life. She returned to China to be with her family and help at the mission. Her heart was not in it, however, and she went on to teaching positions. Sanford began to be aware that she was sensitive to people's emotional wellbeing. One missionary wife was struggling with deep depression and yet other missionaries were unaware of it. The woman later killed herself. Again Sanford longed for the reality of God to break through in people's lives.
While teaching Agnes met Ted (Sandy) Sanford, an Episcopalian missionary, and they fell in love immediately, and were married when Agnes was 26 years old and he was 33. The couple was happy and a son was born a year after they were married. Suddenly, however, depression began to take hold of Agnes. The Sanfords returned to the United States in 1925, thinking they would have a year's furlough. They would never return to China again. Ted had always wanted to be a pastor and was offered a church in Moorestown, New Jersey. The family increased in size and Agnes was lost in bringing up the family. Little did she realize the loss of self was killing her emotionally. After her third child Agnes spiraled into a deep depression. Her doctor later told her he thought she would not last another year. The depression was so deep he had expected her to either have a nervous breakdown or attempt suicide.
Help came to Agnes in a surprising way. A fellow Episcopalian priest, named Hollis Colwell, visited the Sanfords' home and found out one of the children was ill. He prayed for the boy who was immediately healed. What Agnes didn't know was that they were the recipients of the residue of a major healing move of God in the United States in the late 1910s and early 1920s in the Episcopalian church led by James Moore Hickson and Henry B. Wilson. After continuing to struggle with depression Agnes felt that God asked her to have Colwell pray for her. She requested prayer and when Colwell laid hands on her she improved immediately! Hollis also counseled Agnes that she should begin to meet her own emotional needs by writing. She began to study God's word on healing all the parts of a person, body soul and spirit. Colwell also suggested that Agnes begin praying for the sick on her own. It was partly out of need as she was sending people to him continually to receive healing prayer. She began to see people healed from her own prayers.
Agnes began to teach and eventually wrote her first book on healing titled "The Healing Light". The book covered emotional, physical, and national healing, which was a significant shift of understanding of Jesus' healing ministry. Sanford was a forerunner in the areas, which later became known as inner or emotional healing, intercession for the Jewish people, and intercession for nations. One aspect of her ministry was her ability to draw people back to the original intent of many denominational rites such as confession of sins and confirmation. Her husband Ted also took up the mantle of healing and they began to pray for people in the traditional manner of the Anglican Church. They were dedicated as Missioneers in the work of healing, as James Moore Hickson had been designated before them. The couple increasingly felt and saw the power of God move in their lives to see the sick and broken healed.
In the 1930s Agnes was struggling with how to see the sick healed when they were not in front of her for prayer. She became involved with a small prayer group in Philadelphia known as "The Chapel of Truth". The woman leading the prayer group had been a faithful Baptist until she was healed in a hospital through prayer. When she returned to her church and excitedly told her story they asked her to leave. She began the prayer group to teach others that Jesus still healed. The leader taught Agnes about praying for people at a distance and giving her greater understanding of intercession for the body of Christ. During World War II Agnes would go to the local veteran's hospitals and pray for the sick. She saw some very miraculous healings while praying for the wounded men.
Agnes' healing message began to take her all over the United States, mostly in denominational settings and workshops. She continued to write both non-fiction and fiction books. Ted and Agnes felt called to begin to train pastors in the things God had taught them. They opened the School of Pastoral Care where two things happened. First pastors could come and receive individual intense times of personal prayer and ministry. Secondly they would receive training on caring for others in the same way.
Friends of Agnes wrote that they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Initially resistant to this Pentecostal gift Agnes agreed to let them pray for her. She was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. She kept the gift to herself for a long time because her husband and denomination did not support it, but it added significantly to her prayer life. The School of Pastoral Care expanded to missions held all over the United States and the World.
Sadly Ted had a heart attack and became physically limited. He lived three years longer. One day God gave him a vision of stepping into heaven and the couple knew that God would call Ted home soon. Five days later he died quietly and instantly in his chair. Agnes struggled with her grief but handled it by ministering in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England, Scotland, and Holland. Unfortunately Agnes pushed herself until she became sick herself with unresolved grief and physical strain. She was forced to slow down, rest, and write again. She also became friends with John and Paula Sanford, who continue her pioneering work in emotional healing.
In 1965 she felt called to move to Monrovia, California. Agnes still prayed for the sick and taught on healing, but she felt called to another mission. God was calling her to pray for the faults in Southern California. She felt that great destruction was possible, but if people would pray that the destruction would be lessened or not happen at all. She kept this call of prayer until her death in February 21, 1982. Although Agnes Sanford never spoke to large crowds her writings and teaching broke through in areas that are now considered normal in healing and intercessory prayer.
Agnes Sanford was a prolific writer. Her books included The Healing Light, Healing Gifts of the Spirit, Lost Shepherd, The Healing Power of the Bible, Sealed Orders, Creation Waits, Dreams are For Tomorrow, Behold Your God, Oh Watchman, Lets Believe, Route 1, Twice Seven Words, The Healing Touch of God, A Pasture For Peterkin, Melissa And The Little Red Book, and The Second Mrs. Wu.
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