Rev. Alexander and Mary Boddy

History Makers

Alexander Boddy 1854-1930

Alexander Boddy was responsible for bringing Pentecostalism to Britain.

Early Days

When he was four or five, while sleeping in a cot at St. Thomas’ Rectory in Cheetham, Manchester, he saw a vision of the Lord and some of His Disciples. He could not remember if the Lord spoke to him or about Him, but he never forgot the event. So even from an early age, he knew the Lord had called him and had a purpose for his life.

So even from an early age he had a great awe of the Lord and of salvation.

“I have seen how He has been working so patiently, in spite of my marring self-efforts, I must, I will, and I I do praise Him.”1

The lawyer

When he got older he studied law and became a Solicitor, or Lawyer. He prospered during this time, but his heart he would give to the Lord. After continuing as a lawyer for several years, he decided to go into ministry. He went off to College and when he was twenty-six, was ordained. Like so many heroes of faith, they start off on their agenda, but the call keeps stirring on the inside. You can run from the call, but you can’t hide from it.

“I really sought to be a true servant of God, and I believe I was used to help souls, especially the sick and dying, for I had at least a heart of sympathy.”

Distracted

However, Boddy, became distracted by his sense of adventure. Again, like many heroes of faith are weaknesses when surrendered become our strengths. Boddy, was a man who wanted to make an impact and discover new things. He set out and traveled to North Africa, Arctic Russian, British Columbia, etc. In his words, ‘not in order to preach Christ, but to write books of travel, and to be somewhat of an authority on the people I thus studied.”2

His books were well received and he won membership of the Royal Geographical Society. 3

During this time, ‘a stranger once said to me in a railway carriage, brother, put first things first.’ And his advice was needed.”

Well, he was at the Bay of Biscay, he heard the words of Psalm sixty-three echo in his heart, ‘Thy loving kindness is better than life itself.” The Lord has a way, of getting our attention. He will use people and things as he continues to knock on the door of our heart. Often, it takes a season for Him to plough up the harden soil of our heart, so the Word can finally grow and bear fruit.

“How forbearing He has been, Praise Him! I can only ask Him for the sake of the blood to forgive all my lost opportunities.”4

Summer of 1892

During the summer of 1892, he stated that the Lord had fully saved him. He was very grateful to the Keswick Movement. He had also been greatly impacted by the visit of a missionary friend during this time. I believe the Keswick Movement, instilled into Boddy, a deep understanding of the need for sanctification and holiness. He truly understood the power of the blood, and held it in great esteem. He often felt believers, failed to appreciate and respect the blood.

On September 21st, 1892, he declares he was born again and anointed with the Holy Spirit. It was during a weekday, at an early morning service. He had an encounter with the Lord, that came suddenly and unexpectantly. He felt inside of himself a love that was so powerful, he could reconcile with his enemies.

Backslidden Again

Unfortunately, he would then backslide for several years. Like many believers, we set off with good intentions but without the Holy Spirit, our spirit is willing but our flesh weak. We must come to a place where we once and for all surrender. A place where we die to us, and now live for Him. As long as we keep the door open to our past, we will seek to return.

“O, my God, when we have begun in the Spirit, keep us from ever going back into the flesh.”5

Around this time, he took two journeys to the Holy and Land and Egypt. This became the final turning point for him. He wrote a book called, “Christ in His Holy Land.” As he wrote of Jesus sitting looking at the Hills of Nazareth and other holy places, the Lord began to touch him. The Lord never gives up on us. He will keep pursuing us and calling us. People and churches give up on us. But the kindness of God is sometimes so incredible that even the most stubborn of heart is broken by it.

The Welsh Revival

The Welsh Revival broke out in 1904 and Boddy was drawn to go to Ton-y-pandy. He wrote…

“The Lord met me and blessed me in those Spirit-filled meetings.”

We must never miss a divine appointment. God had a purpose for him to go to this meeting. Simple acts of obedience can bring big results. He would personally meet with Evan Roberts, who told him regarding the church at Sunderland…

“Tell them to believe the promises, believe the Book. They must fight heaven down. Bring it down now and here. Fight it down.” No doubt he was struggling to express in English the words of Matthew 12: 12, ‘The kingdom of heaven is taken by violence, and the violent take it by force.”6

When he returned to Sunderland, God began to move. Boddy, would preach at the church, chapel, mission room, and Y.M.C.A. The Spirit moved mightily. They would hold united prayer marches and open air meetings. 

Divine Healing

His wife, Mary, who had been healed of chronic bronchial asthma through prayer, began reaching out to help others. She taught on the Divine Life for Body, Soul and Spirit, “believing that- “He that raised Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal (not dead) bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you’ (Romans 8: 11).”7

He went on to write a small booklet, “Health in Christ,” sharing many of the testimonies of people who were healed. In fact, many reported they were healed reading the booklet. Slowly but surely, the Lord is working on Boddy’s heart. Just like years ago where we went on journey’s of discover in rugged places, he now is on a journey of discovery with the Lord. Like many heroes of faith, it took a season for God to bring them to the place He wanted them to be in.

Life because of ministry, became hectic for his wife and him. They worked prolonged hours. They started a meeting once a week, teaching on the Divine Life for Spirit, Soul and Body.

The Lord had brought their home into unity, such that even their maid was being used by the Lord to pray for the sick. 8

A Visit to Norway

In 1906, he felt led by the Lord to start holding prayer meetings. He had prayed for revival at Sunderland for some time. The Lord’s answer was not what he expected, but his obedience to listen to the call to go to Norway, paid off.

“They met in All Saints’ Vestry, and for months and months they held on to God, often with little to encourage. How they clung to the promises, and so did I and my dear wife also. Isaiah 62: 6-7 was exemplified: ‘I have set my watchmen upon they wall, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day or night. Ye that make mention of the Lord keep not silence, and give Him no rest till He establish and till He make Jerusalem a praise on the earth.”9

They were praying for revival and to receive power from heaven. In the midst of this season of prayer, he felt led to go to Norway. He went to visit Thomas Ball Barrett, a man from Cornwall, but was now a missionary in Norway.

It was winter at the time. They met in an upper room. About 120 people were present. Boddy, began to preach on healing and spoke about the power of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, they went into prayer, so he asked any who had received the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues to lay hands on him. Everyone was filled with power and began crying out in prayer. Boddy, was filled with the Holy Spirit and with great peace, joy and love. He did not starting speaking in tongues at this time.

Boddy, asked for a word from heaven and was told…

“I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight. I will break in pieces the gates of brass and cut in sunder the bars of iron. And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I the Lord, which call thee by name, am the God of Israel.”

On the way home he felt…

“His power can make you what you ought to be; His blood can cleanse you now and make you free; His Spirit fill you so that you say, ‘Twas best for Him to have with me His way.”10

Sunderland

Boddy, went back and shared what happened to him in Norway. He wrote, “Pentecost for England,’ and “Tongues in Norway.” During the next few months the prayer meetings were filled. In his book “Pentecost for England,” he wrote how “not more than perhaps half dozen persons in Great Britain,” spoke in tongues. 11

One night while he was caught up adoring the Lamb that the power of God overwhelmed him and he felt filled completely. 12

There was a great sense of the holiness of God. He records the words of one man…

“In speaking of the blessed things of God let us realize that we are treading on Holy Ground, and let us take our shoes off our feet. So many Christians treat these precious things of God in a very indifferent manner, they say they are rich and want nothing…it is only the really hungry ones the dear Lord can fill”13

Over the next few months they would have incredible events occur as they gathered and prayed. The room would fill with light. The people would feel broken and cry out, ‘The blood of Jesus.” Again, there was an awesome appreciation of the blood.

They wrote to Pastor T. B. Barratt, and invited him to come. He agreed to come in September of 1907. When he arrived he found a people hungry and prepared. He stayed with them seven days, and many were filled with the Holy Spirit. On September 11th, his wife was baptized and got a wonderful revelation on the blood of Jesus.14

I Surrender All

On September 13th, in the presence of a large meeting, Alexander surrendered himself completely to the Lord. Each one of us must come to this place. It is only, in the unqualified yes to the Lord and surrender that we become a vessel He can use.

“Thou hast given me many good things but I give them all up to Thee to be a Thy disposal. Thou has put me in my present position but I am willing to follow Thee if Thou doest wish to lead me out. My dear ones are all from Thee and I give them to Thee, and my dearest one even, I am willing to obey Thy will. My life is Thine, to die or to live as Thou seest best, and I ask that the Holy Spirit may ever enable me to be obedient and to obey Thy will.”15

On September 21st, his two daughters were baptized in the Holy Spirit, to which he said, “a touching scene was never witnessed by a thankful father and mother.” 16

On December 2nd, at the All Saints’ Vestry, several knew something big was going to happen. That night several began to speak in tongues. Before the Monday night meeting, Boddy felt burdened to humble himself and become “low enough.” As a leader we need to learn that we must become lower. We must never under estimate the role of the leader. A leader can open the doors for the Spirit to move, or shut it closed. The enemy works through pride, as does the system of the world. However, the Lord works through humility. When the Spirit turns up, there is a call for humility as a result and a surrendering of oneself. Jesus, our example, humbled Himself and walked obedient, even to death on a cross. Boddy, understood the importance of surrender, including yielding his tongue and thus, the Holy Spirit began to move in power. Soon, the whole place was filled with people worshipping the Lord with great joy. He had longed for tongues and now they just poured forth. He was the fiftieth person to speak in tongues.

He described it as a “torrent of words poured out.” He was worshipping in tongues and soon he became overwhelmed with joy.

The people Start Coming

People started coming from all over, including different countries. At the same time persecution arose through opposition, condemnation through the press, and through some people who came to the meetings. Many religious leaders did not accept or receive Pentecostalism. But the Lord kept filling people with His Spirit and increasing the impact of the move. The devil will always try to stop a move of God, but when the leaders submit and walk in obedience, what the enemy means for evil, the Lord turns around for good. It is essential, that the leaders don’t seek to build their kingdom or ministry, but allow the Holy Spirit to build the kingdom. We are here to see His kingdom come and expanded, not our own. I have been at many so called revivals, which I believe are hype and not the real thing. At such meetings, I have witnessed, the young in the back rooms, acting extremely inappropriately and showing a total sense of irreverence to God. When I look at true moves of God, it impacts everyone who will receive the Holy Spirit, including the youth and children. We, feel the need to pamper our children, but when God turns up He uses them powerfully and there is no pampering. Boddy, said regarding the young people, that they ‘are learning to delight themselves in God and finding the place of Victory as they shelter under the blood.” 17

Boddy wrote about one event…

“Love is shown in great intensity as soon as God thus comes to a soul. I can recall a marvelous scene in a meeting in my Vicarage when the Holy Ghost came upon a brother suddenly and transported him into the very presence of the Lamb. For perhaps an hour there was ecstatic adoration and almost entire oblivion to his surroundings.”18

The Sound of Worship

Pentecost spread throughout England, with many places experiencing all night worship…

“Not infrequently, I am told, do a band of girls pray right straight through the night until daybreak, and they know what it is to prevail with God. A lady came here a few days ago. She was hungry for more of God. A few nights ago after the service I discovered she was in a corner of the big church. I did not see her for her prostrate figure was surrounded by a band of a dozen or more prayer warriors, children and girls, some as young as 12 or 14 years old. How they prayed, faces upturned, arms and hands trembling, voices vibrant with deepest emotion; everything indicative of prayer symphony, prayer in the Holy Ghost.”19

Too many churches seek to control worship. They have their list and set number of songs, but when the Holy Spirit takes control, one key area it loves to take ownership of, is the worship. So, often He leads the people in free worship, or extended worship. However, when we understand that is role is to lift Jesus up, then worship has to be a critical part of any move of the Spirit.

The Pentecostal Conventions

Boddy was be active in the Pentecostal revival in England, hosting the Annual Whitsuntide Pentecostal Convention in Sunderland from 1908-1914. Many famous ministers came to these conventions and it helped spread Pentecostalism through England and other countries.

It was his wife, Mary, who laid hands on Smith Wigglesworth to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Even prior to being baptized in the Holy Spirit, his wife was active in the healing ministry along with her two daughters.

Later Years

Boddy began publishing his magazine, “Confidence.” In the copy from January-March 1919, he recommends to the people the new book, “Signs and Wonders” by Mrs. Woodworth Etter, whom he hoped to attend one of her meetings while in the U.S. Boddy, did travel to the U.S., but his engagements, however, prevented him from attending one of Sister Etter’s meetings. Regarding her book, he claimed they have 4,000 copies to sell and give out

Boddy believed the role of the Holy Spirit was to emphasize Jesus. He had an incredible respect for the blood of Jesus and even wrote a wonderful booklet on the subject. He taught on the Holy Spirit and tongues, being invited to many countries to preach.

He taught… “Live the life of Christ. Testify be a happy bright, self-denying, humble, Christ-like life, which will draw sinners in your home and neighborhood to love Jesus and imitate what is Christ-like in you.”20

Boddy, was concerned by many of the Pentecostal churches he visited in America, that they were too focused on money and not lifting up Jesus

Pittington

He continued until around 1923 publishing the magazine, the Confidence, which contained, letters with questions and answers to those questions, testimonies of what was happening, and teachings. In the last issue, he actually talked about how Smith Wigglesworth, the famous Evangelist, has just returned from traveling to Australia, New Zealand and the USA, spreading revival. Boddy, wrote of Smith Wigglesworth… “He is so loyal to his Master that he is mightily used in the healing of the sick and the salvation of souls.” 21

For example he wrote about the seeker receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, “If the seeker falls under the power of the Spirit, or God is giving the seeker great groanings or intercessions, for heaven’s sake leave him alone in the hands of God…But us learn to cooperate with the Spirit rather than hinder Him. A deeper work and more lasting results will follow.”22

In 1922, Boddy was asked to accept the position as vicar at Pittington, about ten miles from Sunderland.  It was rural, surrounded by farmhouses and villages. Boddy, was undecided about taking the new position for several days, but his wife’s health had been impacted by the smoke and vibrations at there current place. In addition, the winters were trying, and they thought a home in the country would be healthier and ‘Might be God’s way of extending the days of their usefulness for Him.” 23 Leaving Sunderland, was not easy after all the years he had ministered there. But, on December 17th, he held his farewell service.

Pittington, was much older than Durham. It was believed to have been a town founded by the Picts and that St. Aiden preached there in the 7th century.  The Boddy’s settled in and retired at Pittington.

Mary Boddy, went home to the Lord in 1928, while, Alexander went home to the Lord in 1930. Alexander Boddy, in yielding to the Lord, succeeded in becoming an authority, not on places to travel, but the Holy Spirit. He changed his nation, and as a consequence, many ministries discovered the power of the Holy Spirit.

“But we can never really know the friend until we have lived together, gone through trials and joys, had mutual confidences, each revealing to the other their inmost thoughts. So it is with our loving God. He tells us how we may know Him. First and foremost is He revealed in Jesus. Jesus is the Truth. His life, His work and His character reveal God to us. Jesus refused to listen to Satan. He recognized no power but that of His Father. He saw disease as evil and healed it. He saw hunger, death and overcame them. So He says, ‘Be of good courage, I have overcome the world.’ Material things to Him were not real; that is, He knew they were only temporal and not permanent. Spiritual things were reality to Him. They were truth, and truth is indestructible and eternal because He was Truth and He was God. God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.’ It is truth that sets us free.”24

References

  1. Boddy, Alexander. “A vicars Testimony: Pentecost at Sunderland.” 1908,  loc 84
  2. Ibid loc 98
  3. Burgess, Stanley, M, McGee, Gary B. and Alexander, Patrick H. “Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements.” Regency Reference Library, Zondervan Publishing. Grand Rapids, MI, 1988 p 91
  4.  Boddy, Alexander. “A vicars Testimony: Pentecost at Sunderland.” 1908 loc 98
  5. Ibid loc 113
  6. Ibid 128
  7. Ibid 138
  8. Ibid loc 154
  9. Ibid 170
  10. Ibid 202
  11. Boddy, Alexander. “Pentecost for England, and other lands, with Signs Following. Speaking with Tongues.” 1907, Loc 24
  12. A Vicars 214
  13. Boddy, Alexander. “Pentecost for England, and other lands, with Signs Following. Speaking with Tongues.” 1907 38
  14.  Boddy, Alexander. “A vicars Testimony: Pentecost at Sunderland.” 1908 245
  15. Ibid 252
  16. Ibid 266
  17.  Ibid 307
  18. Ibid 342
  19. Boddy, Alexander. “Pentecost for England, and other lands, with Signs Following. Speaking with Tongues.” 1907 191
  20. Boddy, Alexander. “On the Side of Angels. And Other Selections from “’Confidence’ Magazine, 1919. Loc 159
  21.  Boddy, Alexander. “From Sunderland to Pittington.” Confidence Magazine, March 1923  loc 26
  22. Ibid  loc 201
  23.  Ibid 74
  24. Boddy, Alexander. “On the Side of Angels. And Other Selections from “’Confidence’ Magazine, 1919.  loc 350