Healing and Revival
"The White-Heated Love of God"
Finis Ewing Yoakum was born on July 14, 1851 in Limestone County, Texas to Franklin L. Yoakum and Narcissa Teague Yoakum. His father was a physician who later became a Presbyterian minister. His brother Benjamin Franklin Yoakum headed several railroads. Yoakum became interested in becoming a doctor. His healing testimony indicates that he started practicing medicine in 1872. He attended Trinity University in Texas. He was married to Mary L. Hood in 1874. They eventually had four sons and three daughters.
He attended the Hospital College of Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky and graduated in 1885. He was a physician throughout the west including Texas, Colorado, and California. He moved to Denver, where he taught at the Gross Medical College. He was also President or Vice President of three mining companies. He was involved with the Methodist church while in Denver. One day, in July 1894, on his way to a church meeting he was struck by a buggy and the shaft went through his back leaving him severely injured. He struggled with constant pain and infections for the next year and a half. He eventually lost 125 pounds and could barely function. He and his wife moved to California, hoping his health would improve.
Once in California he became involved with the Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Los Angeles. He attended meetings led by W. C. Stevens in January of 1895. He received prayer for healing. There was no improvement while the group prayed for him and he had to ask others to help get him down the stairs so he could take a carriage home. However, as he took the step from sidewalk to the curb something miraculous happened. He was healed before his foot touched the street. All pain was gone and he improved dramatically. Within three months he had gained 90 pounds and could return to work as a doctor. Dr Yoakum became associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance and became a Director in the Los Angeles chapter in 1896. He began testifying about Divine Healing and had a new commitment to Christ. He traveled all over the United States and Britain testifying about God's healing power. He also received a vision to minister to the poor and outcast.
Yoakum began to treat poor members of the community for free. In 1900 he helped establish a home for "wayward girls." In 1901, in association with other Alliance members, he helped establish a home to care for the sick and pray for them. By 1906 he had given up practicing medicine altogether. He opened a Faith Home called Pisgah Home on Echo Street and built cottages to take in those dying of tuberculosis, called Pisgah Gardens. He often worked with alcoholics, drug addicts, and the homeless. He was highly evangelistic and brought thousands to Christ and would pray for healing and deliverance. In fact this was so important that he would often pray that people would be delivered before he led them to Christ, so they could respond more clearly. He reported hundreds of healings which included cancer, goiters, tuberculosis, drug addiction and alcoholism, Yoakum also prayed over handkerchiefs and mailed them to people who were requesting prayer from a distance. Healings were regularly reported in Carrie Judd Montgomery's Triumphs of Healing magazine in his early years. There were reports of at least two people being raised from the dead through his ministry. One of his favorite sermon topics was to talk about God's "white-heated love" making a difference in the world.
Yoakum was always thirsting for a deeper presence of God. He heard of Parham's teaching and received the Holy Spirit with speaking on tongues as early as 1902. He visited Azusa Street and was supportive of the developing Pentecostal movement. He did not identify himself as Pentecostal and continued to focus on healing and working with the poor for the rest of his life. He was often criticized by the local media for attracting the indigent and the poor to Los Angeles. He traveled throughout the United States giving his healing testimony and sharing his vision for Pisgah. He wrote several tracts including "Going a Fishing", "The Tongue", "Lessons of Meekness", "Eating and Drinking". Pentecostals often supported him, but were wary of the fact that he did not emphasize the "full gospel" with speaking in tongues as initial evidence. His ministry was a transitional one. He kept many of the things he had learned from the Christian and Missionary Alliance while adopting some of the Pentecostal teachings. The reality for him, however, was that his ministry to the poor was the most critical issue, and energy spent on other doctrines was simply a waste of time.
Yoakum, like others, was not without controversy. Although he ran a ministry he continued to be a businessman. Today he would be seen as a "marketplace evangelist". He initially supported the ministry through his income as a doctor and family business concerns. His family had been in mine and railroad development for several years. There were questions raised about speculative investments in a gold mine in Mexico. Then as he got older his style became more paternalistic. He did not keep records of funds received or given out. Although there were no reports of financial impropriety he believed that people should just trust him. In 1914 he purchased 3225 acres north of Los Angeles to develop Pisgah Grande, a separated Christian community in the Lime Valley of the Santa Susana Mountains. Some people wondered if Yoakum was building for God or himself. Finally there was some question of an "ordination" by an outside group, which evidently caused grave concern to other Christians. Pisgah Grande was never completed and he died of a heart attack on August 17, 1920 at his home in Los Angeles.
Yoakum's years of greatest impact were before 1914. Pisgah Grande was a failed Utopian experiment. His main legacy was his heart for the lost, indigent, and physically and spiritually broken. He was not afraid to reach out to the poorest of the poor, even when criticized and ostracized for his beliefs. He bridged the two worlds of Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals, making both a little hesitant in the process.
Note: Years after Yoakum's death his Pisgah Home became a refuge for older Pentecostals, including many of those who had been involved in Azusa Street. This is when the magazine called Herald of Hope was published. You can read the history in the book called "They Told Me Their Stories" by Tommy Welchel. This well of revival continued to bubble for over 50 years.
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