History & John G. Lake
The International Fellowship of Ministries, (originally know as Ministerial Fellowship of the USA and the Apostolic Congress) was founded in 1947 by Wilford H. Reidt, son-in-law of John G. Lake. Its purpose was to further Lake’s vision of a supernaturally empowered Church that revealed a Living Christ. He believed that only such a Church could take the gospel to the nations.
After Lake returned to England for a time of rest after his ministry in Africa, he had a miraculous meeting with God, and as a result he set out to call together like-minded men and women to work together to reach the nations. John G. Lake had a vision for the ideal of Christianity – a Christianity that demonstrated that Christ really was alive in His Body and could be expressed through His Body. It was a vision of Apostolic Christianity that upheld certain values that would draw men and women together in a common cause. Among those values was the idea that we are on this planet to get the gospel – the Holy Spirit empowered gospel – to the nations of the earth. Jesus wanted all people to hear the good news and see it demonstrated. The gospel of the Kingdom entailed a mentality of confrontation with the powers of darkness in which the superiority of the Kingdom of God was clearly manifested. Healing the sick, casting out demons and releasing the captives were fundamental aspects of this gospel. Establishing Apostolic churches where God’s power was revealed was another essential ingredient in this vision.
Lake, whose early years were among the Methodists, believed strongly in the necessity of holiness of life. The late nineteenth century experienced a marvelous revival of holiness. Many were experiencing and teaching a real holy walk without compromise. Lake had received a definite crisis of sanctification that brought him into a place of victory over sin and the flesh. His ministry of healing and his receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit were added to his commitment and experience of a holy life. Part of this life of holiness involved a total commitment of all to the service of Christ. John G. Lake gave up a tremendous amount of wealth and all his possessions to dedicate himself fully to the cause of Christ. The willingness to surrender all to follow Christ was another essential in the life of ideal Christianity. Lake left everything behind but his family when he left for Africa to discover his destiny there.
One of the bywords of late-nineteenth century Christianity – at least the serious version – was the “life of trust.” George Muller, a British minister who trusted God entirely for all his needs and fed and clothed hundreds of orphans successfully in this manner, was the inspiration of many, many devout followers of Christ. Muller told no one of his needs and just committed them to God. He boldly stated that “God answers all my prayers.” Lake, and many others, followed Muller’s example and determined to share their need with no one and trust God completely. He put himself in the place where if God did not come through, he would do without. God, of course, sustained him throughout his entire life. Not, however, without times of severe testing.
Another ingredient in Lake’s life that marked him and many of his generation, was a willingness to sacrifice. Lake counted the cost of preaching an unpopular gospel. Pentecostalism itself was controversial and costly to preach, yet Lake preached a message of dominion and the place of the believer as a son of God that shook much of the tradition of his day. (As it still does today). He gave up a successful life in the U.S., which was seeing great fruit both in evangelism and divine healing, to go entirely by faith to Africa. No organization sent him and he had no financial support guaranteed at all.
One of the signs of an apostle is endurance. Lake, certainly worthy of being described as an apostle to Africa, endured much hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Though his meetings were immensely successful and miracles abounded, he was not well received by all. He threatened the religious status quo. The racist parts of the church highly resented his willingness to minister to the blacks. Lake was betrayed by friends and lied about repeatedly. Yet even though Lake experienced betrayal, he was a man of covenant. He so inspired those that he worked with in Africa that when he called them together to let them know that the financial support from the States had been cut off (because of betrayal) and he could not pay them any salary, they brought forth the communion elements and ‘cut’ a solemn covenant with Lake unto death. They would stand with him and for the gospel at the cost of their lives. Lake believed in team ministry. When he ministered with one of his companions they would each speak for a while and then the other one would get up and add some thoughts. They flowed together in the Spirit in a way that amazed those observing this ministry. John G. Lake modeled a heart to work with others without the need to be in the limelight. This humility caused many others to greatly respect him.
Lake faced many difficult things while in Africa. The ultimate blow, however, was coming back from a ministry trip to discover that his wife had starved to death while he was gone! She had apparently given all her food to feed the needy people that came looking for help and quietly passed into the next life herself. Lake was devastated and broken. A number of others on his team also gave their lives to continue preaching in Africa. Lake endured much, but never quit pressing on with God. Leaving Africa, he eventually arrived in Spokane, Washington, USA, and opened up a new work that he, along with some brethren he had worked with over the years, built on the ministry of divine healing. Thousands were healed during a five-year period. He later sought to establish a chain of these “healing rooms” down the west coast and eventually stopping at Houston, Texas. Returning to Spokane in 1935, he went home to be with the Lord at the age of 65.