Being a Christian woman can be sometimes hard and these hardships are often overlooked by others. A woman in the ministry can be difficult and overwhelming because women are easily overlooked. Women are sometimes overlooked for leadership roles in churches and the women who have leadership roles are often more scrutinised than their male counterparts. Also, some women dedicated to evangelism find it hard to get the support of their spouses in their ministry. Women who have been able to withstand these ordeals have gone ahead to have a wonderful career in Christ.
Famous Canadian evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson the founder of the Foursquare church, is one of those exemplary women who faced a lot of trials while building her ministry. She’s a model example for all Christian women and Her story is nothing short of inspirational.
Evangelist Aimee was brought up by a Methodist father and a mother who was an active supporter of the salvation Army. Like all teenagers, she also went through a rebellious phase and strayed from the teachings of her mother. She questioned the salvation Army and refuted her father’s methodist religion. Aimee learnt about evolution in school and began to question faith and evolution.
She eventually wrote to a Canadian newspaper, questioning the tax-payer funded teaching of evolution. The letter she wrote to that newspaper gave her a first encounter with fame, as dozens of people from around the country replied to her letter and that was the start of her anti-evolution campaign. She converted and gave her life to Christ in 1907 while attending a revival meeting and started evangelising in 1913, holding tent revivals. She amassed quite a following quickly and that kick started her journey into building the Foursquare church.
Aimee Semple Macpherson met her husband Robert James Semple, a Pentecostal missionary from Ireland at a revival meeting in 1907. The pair got married in 1908 after a short courtship. Macpherson and her husband would eventually move to Chicago to join William Durham’s Full Gospel Assembly where she was tasked to practice the interpretation of tongues.
Her faith was tested when her husband died of dysentery during an evangelistic tour in Hong Kong. She returned to the United States and joined her mother to work for the Salvation Army. She met Harold Stewart McPherson, remarried in 1912 and had another child. She could never accept not preaching the gospel which she believes is her calling. In 1914 she was bedridden at the hospital, diagnosed with appendicitis.
After a failed surgery, she stated she heard a voice which challenged her to go back to preaching the gospel. Upon accepting the voice’s challenge she felt less pain and she became able to move her body. In 1915 she left home with her children and went on an evangelistic tour without notifying her husband. Her husband joined her with the aim of bringing her back home but after seeing her preach the gospel he realised she had been destined to spread the word of God.
The evangelist kept spreading the gospel and performing miracle healings , together with her husband Harold who seemed very eager to help out in her pastoral work but soon Harold would go missing for long periods and attempted setting out on his own as a travelling evangelist but soon returned to his secular job. Eventually, the couple divorced with Harold confessing his discomfort with their travelling lifestyle. Her marriage woes would continue into her third marriage which lasted only about 3 years.
She married David Hutton in 1931 and divorced in 1934 due to Hutton’s lifestyle which was damaging to her reputation as a preacher. She publicly apologised for the union and never remarried again. In 1926 Aimee disappeared for 5 weeks, then reappeared in Mexico saying she had been kidnapped and held prisoner in a desert shack. She always insisted this was the truth, though many people preferred to believe she had run off with a lover. The mystery has never been solved, despite being thoroughly examined from every angle by the media and a Grand Jury.
By this time her following had grown exponentially and radios and tv stations covered her sermons and she appeared on a number of TV shows. The foursquare has become a full fledged religious organisation with over 700 branches in the USA and around the world.
Evangelist Aimee was a miracle healer, a role she didn’t want to be associated with because she didn’t set out to heal the “body” but the “soul”. She was dedicated to improving the reach of the gospel and was a thorough philanthropist. During the great depression she saved the lives of tons of people by sharing food and other essentials to needy families and individuals. The foursquare church following her directions responded to emergencies like earthquakes and hurricanes in different parts of the world.
Aimee is a model person and woman for christian women and despite all her trials and struggles with her personal life and medical issues, she was still a beacon for other christians and a constant shoulder to lean on for other christians far and near to her. Her story is that of empowerment and courage. She went through marital setbacks and medical problems that could have kept her down had she given in to them but she remained steadfast in belief and prevailed.
The challenges Aimee Semple Macpherson faced is something lots of other Christian women experience also. The church needs more inclusion of women in major roles in church and advocate for women leadership in churches and church organisations.
Content Credit / Ajibola Emmanuel Adebayo
Picture Credit / Phoenix Magazine – https://www.phoenixmag.com/2019/09/26/desert-resurrection/
Life, Hop & Truth – https://lifehopeandtruth.com/change/faith/women-of-faith/