Healing and Revival


 

"God Has Broken the Curse"

 

Mina Conrod Ross Brawner (originally Ross then Stuttaford and then Brawner) and her twin sister Margaret were born to Margaret (Brebner) and Gerrard Ross on December 31, 1874. The dominating spiritual force in her family was Margaret. Brawner's mother was a devout Christian and had been saved under Charles Finney in his 1859-60 campaigns in England and Scotland. She believed that all of her children were given by God to complete a special task. Margaret felt she had been called to be a missionary, but couldn't fulfill the call because of her family obligations. She regularly prayed that at least one of her children would be called to preach the gospel.

Brawner's parents came from Scotland and her father was a heavy drinker. Evidently Margaret hoped that moving to the United States would change her husband's drinking, but it did not. They were living in New York and Margaret worked outside the home to support her family. When Mina was seven years old she felt the first call of God on her life. While a teacher was talking about Australia Brawner felt moved in her innermost being and later told her mother "I am going to go there when I get big."

Wanting a new start once again Margaret moved the family to separate Gerrard from his drinking companions. The Rosses filed a claim on 160 acres in Nebraska. They became pioneers, moved to Ashgrove where they lived in a sod house. There were ten children in the family, and remarkably for that time, nine of them survived to adulthood. After a few years Gerrard told his family that farming was not for him and he was going to seek his fortune in Wyoming as a miner. He left promising to make his fortune and return to his family, however, except for short visits he never lived with them again. He remained in Wyoming until he died. When Mina was in High School the older girls moved into town (Minden, Nebraska) where Mary was a teacher so they could finish school. In 1890 Margaret sold the farm, now 480 acres, and moved the family to Lincoln, Nebraska so four her children (including Mina) could attend college.

Mina's brother David invited his mother and youngest sister Caroline to visit California. After being there several months Margaret decided to move there permanently. She purchased 40 acres on Fitch Mountain in Healdsburg, California. Shortly after arriving Margaret had a very unusual experience. She attended an Adventist church service in Vacaville, California. She was overwhelmed with the power of God and had the sense of oil being poured over her. She went on to give a message in tongues, although she had never heard of the gift. Several members of the congregation heard her calling out their sin and they repented that night.

Brawner attended the Adventist Healdsburg College in 1896 and but moved on to a school in San Francisco where she graduated in 1898. That same year she married a doctor named Archelaus Stuttaford. There was a wide age difference, as he was 49 and she was 23. They were both active in the Seventh Day Adventist church and chose to become medical missionaries. They were sent to Samoa to take over a Sanitarium there. It was not a success, and in 1900 the couple opened another Adventist hospital in Australia. They lived in Sydney, Bulahdelah, and Wilcannia NSW. In 1907 there was a special camp meeting held for Adventists in New South Wales covering the "Ministry of Healing." This is the first time it is known that Mina was exposed to the doctrine of Divine Healing, and well before any of her later Pentecostal experiences.

During the time the Stuttafords were in Australia the couple had a daughter. It appears that their child died sometime in 1908 and Mina had an emotional crisis and crisis of faith. Brawner describes her decision to leave Australia. She sat on the beach and wrestled with the will of God. In the end she declared "I am through with it! I am going to live my own life my own way. Nothing shall hinder!" She returned to the US in November 1911, ostensibly to further medical studies, while Archelaus remained to continue missionary work. She indicated her plan to return to Australia and her husband, but she never did. Archelaus eventually also returned to Oakland, California in February 1915, possibly due to the couple's divorce. Achelaus died in 1918 during the flu epidemic in Oakland at the age of 60. (The 1920 US Census lists Brawner as divorced. Later in her life she would describe herself as a widow to Stuttaford.)

Brawner appears to have put God on the shelf. She described those years of her life as "long years of struggle" and "the very darkness of the pit surrounded me." She decided to go back to school once again to start a new life. Three of her siblings, including her twin sister Maggie, were doctors. She attended the Chicago Hospital Medical College where she graduated in 1916. It was tough for women in the medical profession. In October 1918 Stuttaford moved to the town of Arvada, Wyoming. Her older sister, Mary Ross Lamie, had been in Wyoming as a physician since 1905. Her two brothers were also doctors in Upton and Rocky Ford, Wyoming. Brawner immediately filed a claim on 600 acres of land and went to work as a doctor driving over a 135 mile area. She primarily provided services to women and children, and for a couple of years worked with the county as a health officer when needed.

An unusual event occurred around 1921. A retired Bishop came to Arvada and held a meeting at the local schoolhouse. While there he met Stuttaford and told her that he had come from 500 miles away to give her a word from God. He said he that he spent a great deal of time in prayer and God would speak to him. He told her "God does not want you to practice medicine in Arvada. He wants you to preach the Gospel." She laughed it off at first, but conviction set in. She struggled against the call of God on her life. Stuttaford later said "I tried to drown conviction in hard work."

In 1922 Stuttaford married William E. Brawner, a widowed farmer 9 years her senior from Canada. The marriage was a very short one. They were married in February 1922 and by June 1923 Brawner was in Reno, Nevada and single again. William Brawner appears to have returned to Canada in 1923. In 1924 Mina Brawner moved to Carson City, Nevada. It was here that Brawner became so physically worn down that she collapsed and diagnosed with heart trouble. She felt hopeless and began to seek God again. She met the Greens, a Methodist Pastor and his wife, who were involved in Pentecostal circles. They talked to her and gave her a tract to read titled "The Crucible." They also gave her copies of a Pentecostal magazine, which was writing up the move of God through Aimee Semple Mcpherson in Los Angeles, California.

In September 1924 Brawner traveled from Nevada to visit Angelus Temple. She saw Billy Black preach and for the first time saw the Holy Spirit move in power. She had an experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues. Her heart was healed physically and spiritually. Brawner also felt that she was being called to preach the gospel and heal the sick. She went back to Nevada, closed up her practice, and began to preach. She became ordained through a small organization named "World's Faith Missionary Association" in 1924.

For the next two years Brawner worked with ministries in California, including Glad Tidings Tabernacle in San Francisco and Carrie Judd Montgomery in Oakland, holding evangelistic and divine healing meetings. Then one day a man approached Brawner and told her "You're not supposed to be here, you're Bible Standard." The man was Fred Hornshuh of Eugene, Oregon and he was with the Bible Standard Churches. Brawner must have felt that the word was right because she subsequently began holding evangelistic meetings in Bible Standard churches, including the dedication of the Lighthouse Temple Bible Standard Church in Eugene, Oregon.

"Doc" Brawner felt called to return to Australia as a missionary. She was 52 years old when she started her missionary work in New Zealand in June 1927. She moved on to Australia to begin holding meetings. Divine healing was the cornerstone of the meetings that she held. Everywhere that she went she preached healing and prayed for the sick. Brawner started with a tent mission in Sydney, moved on to Melbourne, and stayed fourteen months in Ballarat. The great depression hit and she visited prisons, set up food distribution and soup kitchens for the poor, held evangelistic meetings in the street, and preached divine healing.

Over the next several years fourteen churches were established out of those meetings. Brawner took a cue from Aimee Semple McPherson and dressed in a distinctive manner. She wore white clothes and a blue cape. This was accentuated as her hair became totally white. She had a folding organ and pulpit from which she preached in her outdoor evangelistic meetings. She was usually backed up by a tambourine band of Christians supporting her. In 1931 she opened a Bible School in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. In 1935 she moved to Melbourne, Victoria and established Christian College. Brawner stayed in Australia until 1943, when she was forced to return to the United States because of WWII. Her plans were to return to Australia, and the Bible School she had started, but they never materialized. She eventually settled on the family land in Healdsburg, California and her widowed twin sister Dr. Maggie Stewart came to live with her.

Brawner continued to preach and teach in Open Bible churches. In 1944 she worked with other Open Bible evangelists, in a multi-city tour, to raise money for post-war missions. In the mid-1940s she spoke at several Open Bible churches in the mid-west with her sister C. B. Kennedy accompanying her as a singer. In the 1950s some Open Bible leaders expressed criticism of the ongoing healing revival, and even asked Brawner to go to a meeting to discredit it. She came away from the meeting believing that it was of God and she would not criticize the work. In fact, she decided that Open Bible had lost some of its initial Pentecostal emphasis and she dropped her affiliation with the organization in 1951. Once again she fell back on her World's Faith Missions ordination, although she was primarily retired at that point. Brawner died sometime between 1956 and 1959.

Brawner defended her right to teach as a woman, and wrote a series of articles in 1929 and 1930 in the Glad Tidings Magazine, titled "Women in the Word". These articles were later printed as a book. She contended that Christ broke the curse at the cross and that the rights of all Christians, both male and female, were restored with His sacrifice. The book was later republished by Christ For The Nations in 1974. In 1951 Brawner's twin sister (Margaret Ross Stewart, M.D.) published a book which covered the early Ross family life in Nebraska called "From Dugout To Hilltop."

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