Healing and Revival
"Evangelism, Healing, and Business"
Thomas Gayle Jackson was born August 1, 1913 to Charles and Ethel (Inman) Jackson in Greebrier, Missouri. Greenbrier is an unincorporated community in the southeastern part of Wayne Township in Bollinger County, Missouri. Although his birth name was Thomas Gayle he went by Gayle Thomas his entire life. His father was a farmer who had 9 children of his own and also took in members of the extended family at different times. Gayle helped work his parents' farm and attended the local rural school. There was no regular religious instruction in the Jackson home. Gayle Jackson's father was unsaved and his mother a nominal Christian while he was growing up. Still at an early age Jackson felt a call of God on his life to preach. His parents would ask him what he wanted to do with his life and he would tell them he wanted to be a preacher. They thought that was odd for a young man who rarely spent time at church. His parents were hard workers and Gayle was particularly close to his mother.
Jackson made it through elementary school and finished 8th grade, but that was as far as he could go. He was expected to work the farm and help support the family. He attended church when he could on his own. His parents and siblings did not attend most of the time. Jackson describes the early years of walking to church as ones where God spoke to him and called him by name. When he was about 11 or 12 he attended a local revival meeting where he made a conscious decision to follow Christ. The next three years were up and down for Jackson as a teenager. In 1927 his mother suddenly became ill and was diagnosed with pneumonia. Facing death Ethel sought God and was converted. Jackson shared what happened after the conversion "She had a sweet vision of heaven, which lingered for hours. With a very rational mind, mother described to us the beautiful scenes she was seeing in heaven. She told us she would soon be there. She described a beautiful stairway leading from her window into heaven and she would not allow anyone to stand by the window and shut out the view." Jackson was devastated after his mother died.
The family moved further south in Missouri to another farm. Gayle Jackson was getting older and more wild in his ways. His life was a mixture of sinning and seeking God. He could not get away from the call to preach, even though he could not see how it was possible. In the summer of 1931 Jackson attended a revival meeting. He once more committed his life to Christ and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Jackson became a street evangelist and began preaching wherever he had the opportunity. Within a few months he was invited to hold a revival meeting in Memphis, Tennessee in June 1932. He describes himself as "shaky" but pressed on to hold the meeting. It turned out to be a success in more ways than Jackson expected. In the midst of the meeting a local girl, named Evelyn Newbill, stood up to sing and God spoke to Jackson's heart "That is to be your wife." They courted for only two weeks before they were married.
The couple began to travel together and hold revival meetings wherever the door opened for them. After they had been married a short time the Jacksons decided to adopt Evelyn's baby sister Marie Newbill. Marie's mother died when she was born and the baby had been turned over to St Peter's Orphan Asylum in Shelby, Tennessee. The plan was for her to be reunited with her family when she was a little older and could be cared for by the other children. Evelyn would visit her often and the couple decided to adopt her as their own. They traveled as a threesome wherever God opened the door for Jackson to preach. In 1935 Jackson was ordained by the Assembly of God denomination.
In November 1939 Jackson felt God was asking him to go to a small town in Missouri called Sikeston. It didn't fit in with his schedule but he canceled other meetings and headed there to hold a 3 week revival meeting. The meetings began December 5, 1939 and were such a success that Jackson was invited to start a church there. The family settled in Sikeston for the next 9 years. The church thrived. Jackson did not forget his evangelistic roots but often held revival and evangelistic meetings. He honed his preaching skills and developed a deeper understanding of the Bible. These were good and stable years for the Jacksons after 7 years of a nomadic existence.
Everything began to change in 1947 and 1948 when the Healing Revival broke out across the country. It had a huge impact in Pentecostal circles and in the southern Bible belt areas. William Branham was speaking in Arkansas and miracles were being reported in newspapers. Gayle Jackson was stirred by a new evangelistic call. He held revival and divine healing meetings locally. He invited speakers covering the topic of healing. He began to hunger for more than he was seeing in his local area. Jackson set himself to pray and fast for an extended time. While praying God spoke to him and said "Son, thy prayers are accepted of Me. Go and I will go before you; and as long as you will give me all the glory, and live holy, and walk humbly before me, no disease shall stand before your prayer." He loved his church but felt he needed to be obedient to the call God put on him. The Jacksons resigned from their church in January 1949 to start a new evangelistic ministry. Sikeston continued to be their home base. Their daughter Marie had married and her husband helped in the ministry and business administration for the Jacksons.
Jackson immediately aligned himself with the Voice of Healing (VOH) organization. His first meetings were reported in the Voice of Healing magazine in Mobile, Alabama in the summer of 1949. He quickly became a primary evangelist for the group and was named a co-editor for the Voice of Healing magazine in the August 1949 edition. He swept through several cities in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas over the next few years. In 1951 Jackson was shown on the cover of LOOK magazine with Oral Roberts and Billy Graham as one of the most influential evangelists of that year. Thousands attended his meetings. Healings of every kind were reported including deafness, blindness, and crippling diseases. Although Jackson was on the road often in 1949-1953 he was careful to take time for his family. He worked to balance his evangelistic meetings with time at home. He focused his meetings in the south and never made the transition to international venues.
A shift for Jackson began in 1954. His started traveling significantly less than he had been. He used his funds to build a motel in Sikeston with his daughter and son-in-law. It was a Best Western called the El-Capri. Although Jackson was still respected and invited to all the Voice of Healing Conventions, he was not holding many healing meetings and articles by him stopped appearing in the magazine. The meetings he did hold were close to home. He gave up the tent ministry altogether. By 1955 it appears that he had become a full-time businessman. In 1955 the Voice of Healing Magazine only mentioned him at conventions and only two articles appeared written by him. The articles were transcripts of a sermon he gave at a convention. He was listed as going to Jamaica in 1955, but the dates were never listed and no reports were ever given of the event. It appears unlikely he actually went. In 1956 Jackson was only listed as holding healing meetings in one church in New Orleans, Louisiana and attending a VOH Convention. No articles by him appeared in the magazine.
Jackson appeared to keep a loose connection with the Voice of Healing organization and stepped up to do more in 1957. He wrote materials to be included in online courses given by the group. He held a large Divine Healing Rally in New York City in 1957, the largest and longest he had held in over two years. In 1957 he also sold the hotel his family had built. They took the funds from that sale and moved 35 miles up the road and built a new motel in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The Townhouse Motel was completed in 1958 and was the family base for the next several years. It was managed and expanded by Jackson's daughter Marie and her husband Bill O'Guinn. The healing revival began to decline in 1957. Some evangelists turned to television while others focused their efforts overseas. Jackson focused on his business and occasionally held meetings for local Pentecostal churches in the area.
In 1963 Jackson had a small stroke and wanted less stress. He decided to return to Sikeston, Missouri where he still had many friends and admirers. Being practical Jackson purchased a local funeral home. His reputation as pastor helped him as he opened it in May 1963 and held an open house that 3000 people attended. The family sold the Cape Girardeau Hotel in October 1964. The next several years were quieter for the Jacksons. Jackson retained his pastoral credentials with the Assembly of God denomination and occasionally held meetings and performed weddings. Jackson eventually sold the funeral home in 1970 and moved into semi-retirement.
With the rise of Kathryn Kuhlman in the 1970s there was again a stirring about the healing power of God. Jackson began to hold evangelistic and healing meetings around his area. They were not as large as those in the heyday of the healing revivals of the 1950s. They were church sponsored and most were close to his Missouri home base. Jackson continued to minister as he had opportunity. His beloved wife Evelyn died in 1981. In 1989 the local Assembly of God church had a 50th year celebration. Jackson was honored as the founding pastor. By the 1980s Jackson was fully retired. He died on September 15, 1990 in Sikeston, Missouri.
known at the beginning of the healing revival Gayle Jackson pressed in
for the things of God in healing. His sermons were solid and he was respected
by both local pastors and other healing evangelists. Rather than burn
himself out on the road Jackson retained his focus on his family and put
them before fame and financial gain. No breath of scandal touched Jackson
or his family. As the demands for his time increased he chose to return
home and focus on business and family concerns. He kept his love for the
healing presence of God and held evangelistic meetings when opportunities
arose. Jackson only wrote one book during his evangelistic years "Divine
Deliverance For The Human Race" which was published in 1951.
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