Healing and Revival
"The Man Who Believed God"
Charles Cullis was born on March 7, 1833 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was the son of John and Ann (Saunders) Cullis who had emigrated from England. He was raised in an Episcopalian church, but he rebelled against the memorization, without meaning, that he found in the Sunday school and stopped as soon as he was allowed. He was in poor health for most of his early life. He described his "years from infancy up to manhood, and of crosses and disappointments, bereavement and loneliness, and heart-heaviness". His memories of childhood included constant sickness. He had to be carried up and down stairs. His family attempted to put him in school but his health was so bad they eventually gave up. At the age of 16 he started working in a dry goods business. He later declared it was a critical period in learning about business and men's characters. When he was 19 his health collapsed once more and he had to stop working. He lost his voice and could only speak in whispers. Cullis assumed that with rest that his health would improve and he could return to work, but that door was closed forever.
Dr. Orren Strong Sanders, a physician friend, opened his library to Cullis and began to take him on rounds with him. Dr. Sanders suggested that Cullis study medicine. Initially Cullis said no because he wasn't particularly interested. Still after some thought and study he chose to do so, mostly because he felt there were no other options open to him. Although he did not have the money to complete the required coursework God opened the doors for him every step of the way. Later he was to see God's hand clearly in the process, but it was hidden from him at the time. Cullis came under conviction to know God better. He tried to do his duty in the Episcopal church as an answer these heart cries, but he described it as religion and not a personal relationship with the living Savior.
Cullis fell in love with and married (Huldah) Chastina Morse, the doctor's sister-in-law, and they lived in Sanders' home. He cared for many who were sick with pulmonary tuberculosis (then known as consumption). He saw people exhaust all hope and resources and end up as beggars, especially women. Then his wife became ill with consumption and she died within four years of their marriage. He felt that there was no more reason to live or make money, because his financial goals had been centered on making Chastina's life comfortable and happy. During the mourning period, before his wife was buried Cullis made a vow to God, which he would keep the rest of his life. He told God "Lord my wife is now dead and I have no one to make money for. I will give all that I receive, over expenses, for Thy cause." It seemed an impersonal and distant vow to God, but it would open the way for the work Cullis would do for the rest of his life.
After his wife's death Cullis left Sanders' house and started his own practice. He became successful very quickly, yet he was heartbroken and under a cloud of depression. He handed out thousands of tracts and gave money to many Christian organizations. Still for him it was a religious exercise. His beloved wife was dead and he was wishing that he would die too. Cullis also became sensitive to the fact that much of the money given to an organization went to support the organization and not the actual ministry for which they were collecting. God moved upon him and filled him with a desire for two things. The first was a purity of heart, and the second was a channel for his financial gifts that would not be wasted.
In 1862 Cullis visited one of the Tuesday Meetings for the promotion of Holiness started by Phoebe Palmer. Cullis began to search the scriptures and they came alive for him in a new way. Struggling with understanding he decided "I will and do forever, by God's grace, believe every word between these two lids, whether I understand it or not." He also declared "I will take every precept and promise of the Bible just as if my own name, Charles Cullis, was written on every one of them." Cullis came into a conviction of personal justification through Christ alone. He felt called out of the Law into the grace of God. Depression lifted and a new life of peace, joy, and faith began. One day Cullis was reading the Bible when the words "every man his work" from Mark 13:34 jumped off the page at him. Cullis began to feel that God was calling him to open a home for incurable consumptives as the "work" God had for him. This was a major step, but he felt he must act on what he was called to. Like George Mueller, he set his heart to be utterly dependent on God for the provision for the ministry. The house opened in 1864 to care for the hopeless, homeless, destitute and dying. He soon added a second house and then two more. The sign over the door simply said "Have Faith in God."
Around 1866 Cullis married a widow named Lucretia Ann Bramhall Reed, with a daughter of her own named Marie. Lucretia was a tremendous support to him in his ministry. A son named Fred Huntington Cullis was born to the couple in August 1867 but they were stricken when he died in 1868 a few days short of his first birthday. Cullis must have struggled with issues of God's providence in healing, as death and disease surrounded him daily. The couple would go on to have three more children Charles, Elizabeth, and Edith.
Over the next several years Cullis added a worker's home, a cancer home, a spinal home, an orphanage, a mission, a chapel, a Faith Training College, and supported the Beacon Hill Church on Bowdoin Street in Boston. The Willard Tract repository was also created for printed gospel material. Cullis started two major regular publications. The first was a yearly "Consumptives Home Report" which he felt was to glorify God and really was focused on God's provision for the Home and God's work at converting the lost within its doors. Secondly he started monthly publication called "Times of Refreshing". Faith was stretched to the limits, over and over, as funds would dwindle to nothing, and then God would miraculously provide. Cullis also supported holiness and temperance works, often speaking at Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) Meetings. On top of that Cullis was on the Board of the Massachusetts Homeopathic Medical Society, which would establish a New England Homeopathic Hospital and eventually the New England Homeopathic College. This College is now known as the Boston University School of Medicine.
In 1870 Charles Cullis acted in two areas. First God began speaking to him about moving from the middle of Boston to an outlying rural area. TB treatments were changing after a famous study showed that improved nutrition and environment made a significant difference in recovery rates. He also began to be stirred about praying for physical healing. He asked a woman who was in one of his consumptive homes, Lucy Drake (later Osborn) , whether he could pray for her. She had large tumor that kept her bedridden. She was healed and walked three miles that day. Cullis published a book of hymns title "Faith Hymns" in 1870. In 1871 Cullis added a monthly children's publication called "Loving Words." In the summer of 1873 Cullis and his wife traveled to Europe, with William and Mary Boardman, to visit faith homes they had heard of, including the one started by Dorothea Trudel. He felt challenged to begin to pray for the sick. He showed such a gifting in this area that his ministry swelled with people wanting to know more. Cullis, unlike some in the healing ministry, did not oppose medical help and still continued his practice during those years. In fact, the money he made from his medical practice was often expended on the poor in the homes, leaving his own family with the barest necessities.
In 1874 William Boardman wrote a book based on Cullis' journal and "Consumptive Homes Reports" titled "Faith Works" which gave Cullis national and international prominence. In 1875 Cullis returned the favor and wrote a book about the Boardmans called "Work for Jesus: the Experience and Teachings of Mr. and Mrs. Boardman." In 1874 Cullis also wrote a book about the love of Christ called "The King of Love." In 1879 Cullis published "Faith Cures, or Answers to Prayer in the Healing of the Sick." Carrie Judd (later Montgomery) read about Cullis' work and requested prayer for her healing.
Cullis became a controversial figure in Boston over "Faith Cure", and many denominations became antagonistic, due to cessationist theology. However, he began to receive attention from all over the world, as he taught and showed that God still healed and did miracles. In 1881 Cullis began to hold "faith-cure" meetings on a regular basis and in 1882 a "faith-cure" home was built, based on Dorothea Trudel's model. His Willard Tract Repository produced his own works on faith healing, and many from other healers. In 1881 he published a follow up to his earlier "Answers" titled "More Faith Cures: or Answers to Prayer in the Healing of the Sick." Then in 1885 he published "Other Faith Cures; or Answers to Prayer in the Healing of the Sick." He also published the book "Dorothea Trudel, or, The Prayer of Faith." which had his name on it as an author, but was a translation from a German work by an unidentified author.
In the mid-1880s Cullis began holding "Faith Conventions" in Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. In fact A. B. Simpson attended one of these meetings in Old Orchard Beach, Maine and had a major healing experience. R. Kelso Carter was healed when Cullis prayed for him and became a friend and supporter. Cullis purchased land in Intervale Park, New Hampshire so he could hold conventions of his own that did not have to work around other ministries' schedules. In 1883 Cullis wrote a book to promote his new convention site called "Intervale Park." He brought in guest speakers, who had healing ministries, from all over the US and Europe. The conventions attracted a lot of media coverage, both positive and negative. The conventions would end with a general healing service led by Dr. Cullis, who prayed over hundreds people, in healing lines. Through Cullis' direct influence, by the late 1880's, there were over 25 "faith homes" in the US being run by various ministries. The majority of these were associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance which Cullis' teaching had so strongly impacted. Another hymnal was produced called "Songs of Victory" in 1889, probably in support of his conventions. Finally in 1892 a series of sermons were published called "Tuesday Afternoon Talks".
By any standard the work that Cullis was handling was enormous. From 1864 to the 1890s the Consumptive Home had taken care of 2000 critically ill patients, the vast majority of which had been brought to a saving knowledge of Christ. He was constantly meeting with supporters, writing, teaching, publishing, visiting the poor, handing out tracts, and holding summer conventions. His life of prayer was central to his vision and ministry. Dr. Charles Cullis collapsed and died on April 18, 1892 at the age of 59. The Consumptive's Home continued to operate for another 25 years, eventually handling over 4000 patients. Still Cullis' lasting impact was his teaching on having faith in God, and the revelation that we could believe God for our salvation, provision, and healing.
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