“The Miracle Man”
Night after night, the waves of Divine Glory so sweep over the congregation that many testify of being healed while sitting in their seats.1Asa Alonzo Allen was perhaps one of the most important revivalists to emerge during the Voice of Healing revival.2 He was certainly the most sensational of his time, and not surprisingly drew a great deal of criticism and controversy. But all told, he was faithful to pursue God’s call on his life and as a result ushered a mighty move of the Spirit that swept the nation with powerful miracles, signs and wonders. In a time when the impact of other healing evangelists was diminishing, Allen was gathering momentum. Throughout the 1950’s, and into the 1960’s, Allen built a far-reaching worldwide ministry ultimately comprising an international radio program, magazine, Bible school and ministry training center, as well as overseas missions programs. The backbone of his ministry, however, was the massive tent revivals and healing crusades.
The Dreadful Past
What makes Allen’s ministry success all the more amazing is the childhood he had to overcome. Of all the hardship stories, his home life was among the most dreadful. Allen and his six siblings had two alcoholic parents who were wild drunks, brewed their own liquor, and grew their own smoking tobacco. For entertainment they gave their kids this moonshine and watched them get drunk. Allen’s mother put home brew in his baby bottle to keep him from crying, and he was smoking before he was old enough to go to school.
Needless to say, the Allen home was not a happy one. There were constant tussles. Allen’s mother left his father when A. A. was only four years old to marry another abusive, alcoholic. By the time he was six, he was carrying tin buckets of beer home from the saloon to his stepfather. This man left his mother when A. A. was eleven, at which time Allen attempted to run away himself. If the weather had not turned bad, he might have succeeded. He left home for good when he was fourteen.
By the time Allen was twenty-one, his health had badly deteriorated. He had the shakes so bad he couldn’t light a cigarette or hold a cup of coffee without spilling it. His chest burned and he was racked with a deep, hacking cough. Even his memory was slipping. He was already dying the death of an old man. Hoping to restore his health there, he returned home to the farm where his mother still lived. The two of them soon slipped into their old ways and started stilling their own liquor and hosting wild parties. Their regular Saturday night shindig became known as the “Allen Dance Hall and Still.”
A neighbor had a different type of celebration in mind. He was a Pentecostal preacher who wanted to start a Holy Ghost revival out of his home just down the road. He and his little flock started to pray that the Allen parties would stop—they prayed that the Lord would either run him out of the neighborhood or kill him.
God did better than that. Allen happened upon a country Methodist church one day where they were singing and dancing inside. Out of curiosity he went in and was mesmerized by the woman preacher and the celebratory atmosphere. He knew he wanted what they had. The next night he returned and answered the altar call to be saved. From that point on, the parties and bootlegging ended.
Hook, Line, and Sinker
Allen went home and found an old Bible up in the attic. He read it voraciously, from cover to cover. He showed up at the Pentecostal home meeting down the road and after he left the people there prayed he would be filled with the Holy Spirit and used to win souls for Christ. The next day he visited a Methodist pastor who told him to stay away from the Pentecostals because they spoke in tongues. This just piqued Allen’s curiosity even more and now he wanted that too. Not long afterward, he and his sister attended a Pentecostal camp meeting where he received the baptism and shouted out in tongues.
When drought hit Missouri in 1934, Allen moved to Colorado where he was offered a job on a ranch. There he came across a Foursquare Church and met a young neighbor named Lexie Scriven. She felt she was called to preach and soon the two became close friends. When she left for Missouri to attend Central Bible Institute, Allen also returned to Missouri to help his mother. Allen wrote Lexie daily and finally proposed marriage. On September 19, 1936, the two returned to Colorado to marry.
The couple knew they were called to preach, so they both enrolled at Central Bible Institute. On the way there they stopped to see Allen’s ailing mother and ended up staying to nurse her back to health, spending all the money they had saved for school in the process. After her health improved, they continued on their way searching for jobs and a place to live. During this time Allen had the opportunity to preach at a church meeting in a local home.
The Journey Begins
The Allens wasted no time holding meetings wherever they could. They struggled with money, having to chop and sell wood to survive, sleeping in a dilapidated shack on a bed made from their car seats, and eating nothing but beans for weeks at a time. In the late 1930’s, Allen was offered the pastorate of an Assembly of God church in Holly, Colorado, when they also licensed him.
It was while pastoring that Allen began to truly seek God. He was determined to discover the secret of God’s power and how to flow with it. He prayed and fasted until he heard from the Lord how to increase his effectiveness as a preacher. And as promised in the Bible, those who seek will surely find. God revealed Himself to Allen in a powerful, life-changing way.
The Price Tag
Allen received clear direction from the Lord about exactly what he should do in order to operate in the miracle-working power of God. Allen recalled that “God revealed to me that the things that were hindrances to my ministry . . . were the very same things which were hindering so many thousands of others. At last, here was the price I must pay for the power of God in my life and ministry. The price tag for the miracle-working power of God!”3
Here are eleven of the thirteen things Allen said the Lord told him he must understand and do to see His Miracle-Working Power:
- He must realize he couldn’t do greater quality miracles than Jesus.
- He could walk as Jesus walked.
- He must be blameless like God Himself.
- He must measure himself to Jesus alone.
- He must deny his fleshly desires with fasting.
- After self-denial, he must follow Jesus seven days a week.
- Without God, he could do nothing.
- He must do away with sin in his body.
- He must not continue in shallow, pointless discussions.
- He must give his body wholly to God forever.
- He must believe all of God’s promises.
Shortly after this visitation, Allen resigned from his position as pastor. The Allens had an invitation to minister in Missouri and here is where their first miracle service took place. A blind man came forward for healing in response to the altar call. Allen asked for all those with faith for the healing of this blind man to come up and pray with him. Then he said, “There is unbelief in this room, I can feel it!”. With that a man got up and stomped out the door. When the believers finished praying, the blind man could name the color of Allen’s tie!5
Throughout the first half of the 1940’s, Allen traveled around the country leading miracle-working healing revivals. Lexie was left alone for months at a time to care for their young babies. It was a difficult time for the family as they continued to struggle financially and Lexie was left with the burden of raising the children single-handedly. Then, in 1947, Allen was offered the pastorate of one of the largest Assemblies of God churches in Texas. He accepted and the family moved to Corpus Christi in search of a more normal family life and financial stability.
Going to the Next Level
For the next couple of years, Allen threw himself into building the church and the congregation grew until they needed a new building. He oversaw the exciting and successful church building project, but then searched for the next great adventure to throw himself into. He felt called to pursue a radio outreach, but the church board rejected the idea and Allen fell into a severe depression. Lexie recognized it as a spiritual attack and commanded the tormenting spirit to leave him. Miraculously it did, and Allen was back to his ambitious self.
By the fall of 1949, Allen began to hear stories of miraculous healing meetings from church members and the widely circulated Voice of Healing publication. He attended an Oral Roberts tent revival in Dallas, Texas, with some ministry friends and felt God tugging on his heart about the vision he originally gave him. He rededicated himself to fulfilling that calling and upon returning home resigned the pastorate once again.
In May of 1950, Allen sent his first report to the Voice of Healing after the awe-inspiring results of a miracle campaign he held in Oakland, California. People were healed sitting in their seats as “waves of divine glory swept over the congregation.”6 In 1951, Allen purchased a tent and on July 4, 1951, the A. A. Allen Revival Tent went up for the first campaign in Yakima, Washington.
In November of 1953, Allen finally broke into radio with the Allen Revival Hour on eleven stations. By 1955 he was being broadcast on seventeen Latin American stations and eighteen American ones.7 Allen conducted yearly revivals in Cuba and Mexico from 1955 until 1959 when Castro took power.
Persecution and Progress
As Allen’s fame grew, so did opposition. At the height of his ministry success, his enemies slandered Allen publicly with accusations of being a drunkard. The newspapers published accounts of public drunkenness and he was even arrested for drunk driving. The charges were trumped up and widely disputed across factions of friend and foe. R.W. Schambach, who was traveling with him at the time, testified that he was in the car the night he was arrested and that Allen was by no means under the influence of alcohol. Nevertheless, the bad press did great harm to his ministry and reputation. Ultimately he was forced to withdraw from the Assemblies of God denomination and Voice of Healing network.
However, what the enemy means for harm can often work for good. In the midst of persecution, Allen launched the Miracle Revival Fellowship, which licensed ministers and supported missions. Five hundred ministers were licensed in its first ordination. During this time he also began publishing the Miracle Magazine, which boasted two hundred thousand paid subscribers by the end of 1956. In January of 1958, he established the International Miracle Revival Training Camp for ministers near Tombstone, Arizona. He was given 1,250 acres of land and called it “Miracle Valley.” In 1960, he built a four thousand seat church hoping to one day to develop a city there with flourishing neighborhoods, recreational facilities, and media centers.
A Sudden End
Throughout the late 1950’s, great public controversy continued to surround Allen, as well as hostile persecution, yet he pressed on. The miraculous followed his preaching in unprecedented forms. Unheard of signs and wonders were manifested during his campaigns, such as a flame appearing above his revival tent, oil flowing from the heads and hands of people in the audience, crosses appearing on foreheads, and a radio listener having organs reappear that had previously been removed.
Allen worked as hard as ever well into the next decade. He continued to fervently teach on healing, and then more and more on financial prosperity. By 1967, the ministry suffered a debilitating blow when it was sued for $300,000 in back taxes. By 1969, Allen’s health began to deteriorate and he battled severe arthritis in his knees. He suffered with so much pain that a protégé had to fill in during the crusades. Allen had already undergone surgery on one of his knees and in June of 1970, was considering surgery on the other knee.
Allen arrived in his hotel room the night before his scheduled doctor’s visit and made a disturbing call to a close friend. This friend became alarmed and immediately headed over to the hotel. After banging on Allen’s door and receiving no response, he had the assistant manager open the door, and there they found Allen dead in a chair in front of his television. A. A. Allen was pronounced dead at 11:23 p.m. on June 11, 1970. The Coroner’s Report recorded the cause of death being “fatty infiltration of the liver” as a result of the few times he used alcohol in his last days to alleviate the excruciating pain of his arthritis.