Healing and Revival
"Healing and Authority"
Velmer James Gardner was born on December 24, 1913 to William Lattie Gardner and Archie Annie (Smith) Gardner, in Douglas County, Washington. He was the third of seven children. The family struggled financially as his father was an alcoholic and a gambler. Gardner's father spent every dime he could lay his hands on to drink. His mother was saved and prayed for the family continuously. The Presbyterian church that Archie was attending held a revival. Every day she asked her husband to go and every day he avoided going, even when he would agree to go. Finally close to the end of the revival William slammed out and said he was never coming back. However, God had other plans. He spoke Jeremiah 33:3 to her. "Ask me and I will show you great things you did not know." She had cried out for her husband and her family and God was about to answer. Her husband was saved that night. The next day he went to the bars and gambling places he frequented and brought many to the revival to be saved.
Velmer Gardner, although happy his father stopped drinking, thought religion was for "sissies and half-wits." He went to work at a logging camp outside of town. While there another camp, full of Christians, challenged them to a ball-game. Velmer's response was to feel sorry for them and tell the other guys from his camp to go easy on them. It turned out some of those in the Christian camp were professional athletes who beat the pants off Velmer's group. He agreed to go to church with them the next Sunday. After the service Velmer decided that those guys weren't so stupid after all. He came under great conviction, but still didn't give his life to God. Meanwhile William Gardner was crying out to God for Velmer's soul. He went to the Pastor of his church and told him "I lived my life for the devil, but I would be willing to die to bring my boy to God." Within a week he was killed in a car accident. Everyone in his mother's church was praying for Velmer. After the funeral God spoke to him and said "You can choose the world or choose heaven but this is your last chance. I won't ask you again." Velmer Gardner chose God and began his new life.
Gardner felt called to become a pastor and attended Northwest Bible College in Seattle, Washington. While he was in college he met and married Wilma Burns in September 1937. (That was the same year that Gardner's sister Vivian married Clifton O. Erickson, who would later also become a Voice of Healing Evangelist.) He graduated from Northwest in 1938 and attempted to become an evangelist, but eventually pastored three churches in Washington State between 1938 and 1943. In 1942 Gardner became an ordained Assemblies of God pastor. It was while he was pastoring his last church in 1943 that he began to be gripped by the desire to see more of the power of God. He was influenced by Charles S. Price, a frequent speaker in the Northwest United States, and Smith Wigglesworth. He felt that the country was on the verge of a great revival and fasted and prayed hours a day to see the presence of God become a reality in his life.
In 1943 Gardner threw himself into the work of an evangelist. He and his wife home-schooled their two children and began to hold evangelistic meetings in the Northwest United States. Although Gardner prayed fervently to see the power of God there did not appear to be much fruit. He said "Yes, those were difficult days to pray for the sick and the devil was trying to discourage me. I rose from my knees and began to talk back to the devil. I said, "Listen devil, I'm praying for the sick tonight. If the first one I pray for falls dead I'll say, "Next. If that one dies, I'll go on down the line. If they all die I'll go to another church and start praying for the sick there. I'm going to pray for the sick because God's Word says, if I call He'll answer, if I lay hands on the sick they'll recover. My job is to pray, it's up to God to heal." From that point on Gardner began to see more healings in his ministry.
The family struggled on, but the healing revival Gardner had been stirred about was beginning to take off across the country in late 1947 and into 1948. Gardner was deeply shocked to hear that both Charles S. Price and Smith Wigglesworth had died within a few days of each other in March 1947. He cried out to God that there were so many broken and hurting people and who would pray for their healing with the same effect. God responded by telling Gardner if he would be humble that he too would walk in that same power.
Gardner went to Eugene, Oregon in 1948 to hold services for an Assemblies of God Pastor named Gordon Kampfor. Although it started small it quickly grew as healings and miracles occurred. Gardner eventually stayed 10 weeks at the church. While he was holding the meetings Gardner suddenly had a revelation on the authority of the believer. He said "I read Mark 13:34, "For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left His house and gave authority to His servants. THIS VERSE OF SCRIPTURE SEEMED TO LEAP OUT OF THE PAGES OF THE BIBLE INTO MY VERY SOUL. Then God spoke to my soul and showed me the 'authority' He had given to His servants today, and that no sickness, disease or devils could stand before our prayers."
Gardner's fame had grown and reached the ears of J. Gordon Lindsay, who was pastoring a church in Ashland, Oregon. Lindsay's heart was on fire for the power of God to be made manifest and for churches to come together in unity. Lindsay already had seen the power of God working through William Branham. He invited Gardner to his church to minister and he stayed there 9 weeks ministering healing and miracles. While Gardner was there Lindsay made the final decision to leave his church and found the Voice of Healing organization.
Gardner took some time to visit meetings organized by Lindsay where William Branhan was speaking. He had never seen the power and authority of God at that level before. He was stirred to press in for more of God. He also became a regular Voice of Healing Evangelist and wrote articles for the magazine. He had a close relationship with the Assemblies of God and often spoke in their churches. He eventually moved to Springfield, Missouri the headquarters of the Assemblies of God denomination. He also started the Velmer J. Gardner Evangelistic Association. The next few years for Gardner were very busy. He traveled throughout the US and made some trips overseas. He wrote for the Voice of Healing Magazine and became involved in the creation of the new Full Gospel Businessmen's Association led by Demos Shakarian.
Things began to fall apart in the late 1950s for many of the active healing evangelists, including Gardner. Rather than being seen as a positive adjunct to the local churches, they were seen as divisive and drawing money away from local churches and their denominations. Gardner described pressure to back off from the message of healing to please the Assemblies of God. The cost of those actions led to Gardner feeling his meetings were powerless and lifeless. Gardner visited Oral Roberts meetings and became stirred once again. He eventually gave up his Assemblies ordination in 1961. Gardner shifted his focus to the burgeoning Full Gospel Businessmen's Association and became a regular speaker for them, and churches that still welcomed Voice of Healing Evangelists. He also moved to California to continue his ministry.
Unfortunately Gardner's own health began to decline. He still held meetings throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, but not at the same pace that he previously being holding them. He had a business relationship, as a consultant with Ramada Inns, to make ends meet. The Gardners eventually retired to Washington State to be near family. Gardner died October 2, 1993 at the age of 79.
several small books, which he sold at his evangelistic meetings. These
include: "Healing For You," "My Life Story," "Seven
Scriptural Signs That Jesus Will Come In Our Time," "The God
of Miracles Lives Today," "The Reality, Results, Receiving
Of The Holy Spirit," "The World's Meanest Thief," "I
Spent Saturday Night In The Devil's House," and "Songs of
Victory." He also authored many reports of his meetings for the
Voice of Healing Magazine and the Full Gospel Business Men's Magazine.
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