Healing and Revival


 

"The Grace of Healing"


Jacob Whistler Byers was born on March 26, 1859 in Albany, Whiteside County, Illinois to Andrew and Nancy (Whistler) Byers. He was the son of religious parents. His father was a farmer and a minister of a small denomination known as the River Brethren. Jacob received a basic rural education and supplemented it with what he could teach himself. He prepared himself to become a teacher. On January 17, 1876 a Methodist revival meeting was held in his area. Byers attended and committed himself to follow Christ. He had some trouble following through and struggled for the next couple of years until he once again came under conviction. This time it was settled.

In 1878 he began to teach school, but felt led that he was being called into ministry. He married his wife Jennie (Shirk) in 1882 and they both were actively involved in the Brethern in Christ church. However they were profoundly touched by the Holiness and Sanctification Movement that was sweeping much of the country in the late 1800s. J. W. Byers had a sanctification experience in 1884 and their denomination opposed the couple's theology. They came into contact with D. S. Warner who conducting an evangelistic tour through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado between 1887 and 1888. Warner felt that God was calling people out of denominations (referred to as come-outism) and lead sanctified lives. Both J. W. and Jennie were ordained by Warner and they began an evangelistic work in Illinois and Iowa over the next two years.

In 1890 they felt that God was calling them to the Pacific coast. This call was unusual because they did not know a soul there. They went to San Diego to open an evangelistic mission. They also worked in Los Angeles and held tent meetings up the coast. In 1893 Byers came under a burden from God for healing. He shut himself away in his room and began to cry out to God. In his book "The Grace of Healing" Byers described what happened.

"In the depths of this sad musing with intense desire, my heart was uplifted to God in prayer for the gift of healing. Oh, that the church might be upon that plane of power and authority where the apostles lived, when the glorious light of truth shone out with heavenly glory with such power that it dispelled the gloom and darkness of Satan. Could not that same light now, in this awful age, do the same? and instead of the church being a helpless prey in the mouth of the lion, could she not rise in the strength of Jehovah and beard the ferocious monster, and with the mighty sword of truth make him the prey? The gifts of healing with apostolic power could alone supply the cry of my soul, and without some assurance of this I could never arise from my face.

On that spot a solemn scene was presented to my vision. I saw the apostles and primitive saints at the stake; their blood was flowing, and burning flames were covering their bodies. I heard in plain words this question to me: "Are you willing to pay this price?" I was asking for the gifts of healing and apostolic power, and here was the price—could I pay it? There was a sinking within me for a moment, and then as if I was shedding my life's blood, I looked up with an eternal " Yes, Lord." From that moment my prayer was turned to praise. The overwhelming assurance was wonderful. The Holy Spirit witnessed to my soul that these gifts were in the church, and that I might have a share in the exercise of the same, to labor and to suffer in this capacity, to bear the reproaches and persecutions which would necessarily follow. I felt at once that I must run to some sick person somewhere and announce that God had given me the gifts of healing. I could hardly wait for an opportunity, and while thus restless to give vent to my pent-up soul, the Lord was preparing an opportunity to glorify himself."

That exact night there was a woman in the town who had been ill for some time. She believed in healing, but did not seem to receive any answer to her prayers. The Lord spoke to her that evening that she should call Brother Byers and have him pray for her. She was startled as she barely knew him. She asked God again if this was Him and he responded twice more to have Brother Byers pray for her. She sent her husband to find Byers the next day. He came to her home and prayed for her and she was healed instantly. From that time on Byers taught divine healing for the body as well as the soul. They opened a healing home in Oakland in 1896. For the next two and a half years he published a magazine called "Tidings of Healing". In 1899 he published a book on the subject called "The Grace of Healing". In 1906 the Byers were selected to operate a Missionary Home in Oakland, California where they regularly prayed for the sick.

The Byers continued their pastoral work and eventually pastored "a score" of churches across California. They pastored in Lodi, California for a time. They evidently believed and prayed for deliverance. (see the Willis Brown story in the reference section) They were truly a mother and father in the faith to the people they worked with. They evidently came into contact with Carrie Judd Montgomery and and she republished articles by both J. W. and Jennie Byers, which were originally in the Gospel Trumpet Magazine. Montgomery also published testimonies of people who were healed through the Byers prayers. J. W. was on the Board for the Gospel Trumpet magazine for several years and also wrote many articles for the magazine. He also was a songwriter and many of his songs were published in the Gospel Trumpet as well. He also wrote books titled "Questions and Answers on the Subject of Divine Healing", "Sanctification", "Bible Humility," and "Parent and Child". J. W. died in Los Angeles, California on October 16, 1944, he was eighty-five years old.

Jacob's younger brother A. L. Byers became the historian for the Church of God movement. He also wrote a book on healing titled " 200 Genuine Instances of Divine Healing: The Doctrine Explained".

The picture above was provided by the Church of God Archives, Anderson University and has been used with their permission.

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