Tag Archives: Drug Addiction

Lilian Yeomans: From Physician to Drug Addict to Pentecostal Evangelist

Yeomans

Dr. Lilian Yeomans, pictured among Central Bible Institute students and faculty, 1923

This Week in AG History — February 17, 1923

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 15 February 2018

Lilian B. Yeomans (1861-1942), a Canadian physician, became one of the most prominent healing evangelists in the early Pentecostal movement. Her remarkable ministry resulted from her own deliverance from the downward spiral of drug addiction. After she found spiritual and physical healing in the power of Jesus Christ, she committed herself to introducing others to the “Great Physician.”

The daughter of a Civil War surgeon, Yeomans was born in Ontario to a nominal Anglican family. Following in her father’s footsteps she entered medical school, first in Canada and then in the United States, graduating from the University of Michigan Department of Medicine in 1882.

Serving as the first female doctor in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Yeomans specialized in women’s and children’s health alongside her general medical practice. She was also active in humanitarian work and had a pressing social calendar.

Believing in the power of medical drugs to assist in health for daily living, she began to prescribe herself medication when she was stressed or having difficulty sleeping. Doses of sulphate of morphine and chloral hydrate provided occasional relief from the excessive strain of anxiety or overwork. However, the relief lasted only briefly and she found her occasional doses becoming a daily habit and then a life-controlling addiction.

In her book, Healing from Heaven, she described how drugs gradually took over her life: “I thought I was toying with the drug but one day I made the startling discovery that the drug, or rather the demon power [in] back of the drug, was playing with me.”

When she realized the hold the drugs had on her, she began to try to stop using them. She tried decreasing the dosage and even disposing of large amounts of the drugs in her possession. She later estimated that she had tried to conquer the habit at least 57 times through varying means, including self-control and willpower, quack medicine, and Christian Science mind-control.

Knowing that her drug addiction could soon kill her and not having confidence that she was ready to die, she turned to the Bible. She thought, “I have tried everything that will-power and medical science and suggestion and all the rest can do, and there is absolutely no hope for me unless it lies between the covers of this Book.”

In early January 1898, Yeomans moved into a Christian healing home in Chicago, Illinois, led by John Alexander Dowie. Her sister, Charlotte Amy, accompanied her as caretaker. Dowie did not believe in the use of doctors and immediately confiscated all her medicine, leaving her to face drug withdrawal using nothing but the power of prayer.

For almost two weeks, Yeomans felt herself close to death. On Jan. 12, someone encouraged her to try to get up and go to church. Believing the effort would kill her, she declined until she felt the voice of God telling her to get up and go. With the aid of her sister, she got out of bed and made the strenuous walk, feeling no difference in her body. However, on returning back to her room she began to feel better, as if God was waiting on an act of faith on her part to be the catalyst for healing.

After this experience with God through divine healing, Lilian and her sister both felt that they owed their lives to Him in service. They moved north of Winnipeg to do missionary work with the Cree Indians. As the only doctor in the area, she treated both physical and spiritual needs. This work brought her into daily contact with the drugs she swore she would never use again. The constant pressure of her work and the demands of the people could easily have been too much to handle for the former morphine addict. Yet she found her healing complete, testifying that God enabled her to handle the drug in its proper use without feeling the desire for it herself.

When A. H. Argue brought the Pentecostal message to Manitoba, Canada, in 1907, Yeomans received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and soon became a fixture in the burgeoning Pentecostal movement in Calgary and later in the United States.

Yeomans was also a prolific writer. She wrote six books published by Gospel Publishing House, almost 100 articles published in the Pentecostal Evangel, and numerous tracts.

In an article in the Feb. 17, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Yeomans contrasted the limitations of human medical remedies to the power of God, which can heal all diseases. She wrote, “[In] Back of disease lies a cause, and that cause no drug can reach. We know from the Bible that the cause of sickness – a process ending, if unchecked, in death – is sin … and this cause can be reached by one remedy only, the Precious blood of Jesus Christ.”

When Yeomans passed away at the age of 81, she had served as physician, missionary, evangelist, author, Bible school teacher, counselor, and encourager. She touched countless lives, preaching the gospel with a passion and conviction that only comes from knowing through firsthand experience that Jesus Christ is the Great Deliverer.

Read Yeomans’ article “Divine Healing” on page 5 of the Feb. 17, 1923Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Soul Food for Hungry Saints” by A.G. Ward

• “Deliverance to the Captives” by Smith Wigglesworth

• “Little Is Much When God Is In It” by Mrs. Cyril Bird

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

For a deeper look at Dr. Yeomans life see “Encountering the Great Physician: The Life and Ministry of Dr. Lilian B. Yeomans” by Desiree Rodgers in the 2015-2016 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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William W. Hays: From Addiction and Crime to Assemblies of God Prison Chaplain

Rev  W W  Hays

This Week in AG History — July 22, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 21 July 2016

William W. Hays (1927-2010) came from a family known for drunkenness and crime, and he lived up to his family’s poor reputation. Addictions and debauchery almost led William to an early grave, but God delivered him and called him into ministry. The ex-convict and former addict became a noted Assemblies of God prison chaplain and evangelist, devoting his life to helping others escape the living hell that he knew well. He shared his story in the July 22, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

William was raised during the Great Depression in an impoverished community along the Arkansas River near Fort Smith, Arkansas. Moonshine, violence, and prostitutes were a way of life in the community. William started drinking moonshine at age 5. He got into daily fistfights with other children and dropped out of school in the seventh grade. He and his brother, Benny, devoted much of their time to helping their father make whiskey.

William’s mother had died, and his father never took his children to church. The boys had few positive influences, and they lived to satisfy their destructive desires. By age 17, William was an alcoholic. “I lied, cheated, and committed crimes,” he recalled, in order “to get the money for another drink of alcohol.”

At age 17, William fell in love with a lovely young girl, Edith Mae, who had been raised in a Christian home. He was attracted to her “clean way of living.” After a whirlwind courtship, they married a few weeks later, on the condition that he would stop drinking. But he could only fight the urge to drink for a few days, and he again succumbed to what he later described as the “demon forces” of alcohol.

William had difficulty holding down a job and could not provide for his growing family. “I would leave my wife and children with nothing to eat,” he wrote, “and would awake from an intoxicated stupor to find myself hundreds of miles from home in some cheap joint or on Skid Row with the lowest characters.”

William’s wife, Edith Mae, spent much of the first 14 years of their marriage in tears and in prayer. She had six children in eight years, and William proved to be unstable. When he returned home from wandering, he would show tenderness to her and their children. But the next moment he might be wild and rash.

His life got even worse. William became addicted to morphine, and, at age 25, his body began to waste away. One more tragedy made life unbearable. His brother, Benny, who had been living in squalor with a prostitute, was murdered with a shotgun at close range. Seething with anger, he tried to find Benny’s killer, but was unsuccessful.

Hays mug shots

William W. Hays, mugshot

By age 31, William’s body was giving out. His nerves were shattered, his body was emaciated and addicted to alcohol and heroin, and his spirit was deadened to the world. He ended up in a state mental institution, where doctors gave him a few days to live.

William’s oldest daughter, Phyllis, called a Pentecostal Holiness Church preacher, Walter Brown, who came to his bedside. William, sensing this was his last chance, responded to Brown’s fervent prayers. “I began to cry to God for salvation,” he recounted. “Soon the tremendous load on my heart was lifted. I knew the power of the omnipotent God was working to set me free.”

Almost immediately, William’s condition began to improve. Brown helped to disciple William, teaching him how to follow Christ and to be a faithful husband and father. Brown warned him that he must take certain definite actions, or he would not experience lasting change. “You must study the Bible consistently and earnestly, and regularly attend a church,” he insisted. As William did this, he was able to overcome the temptations to return to his former addictions and lifestyle.

The new Christian felt compelled to share his testimony. He went to his former buddies on Skid Row, and they initially laughed at him. The road back to health was a struggle, but as William made progress, people took notice. When his former associates saw a lasting change in William’s life, they wanted to know more.

William read the Bible voraciously, hungry to know God. He sensed God’s call into the ministry and, in 1962, was ordained by the Assemblies of God. He pastored several churches, started rescue missions in Fort Smith and Oklahoma City, and then became director of the Teen Challenge center in Fort Worth, Texas. William felt a tug to prison chaplaincy, in part because his brother spent two stints in the Arkansas State Penitentiary, which was known as the “hell hole of the penal system.” He helped to lead a successful prison reform movement, which made prisons safer in Arkansas. He also engaged in chaplaincy work in dangerous prisons in Mexico. In his later years, he served as coordinator of prison and jail ministries for the Oklahoma District Council of the Assemblies of God.

William W. Hays was an unlikely candidate to become a minister, much less a prison chaplain. But when God changed his life, his early years behind bars and on the wrong side of the law became an asset for his new calling.

Read William W. Hays’ testimony, “Delivered from Dope and Death,” on pages 8-9 of the July 22, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “All May Prophesy,” by Donald Gee

• “New Church for Navajos in California,” by L. E. Halvorson

• “No Birth Certificate,” by L. Nelson Bell

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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