The following is an autobiographical sketch of Dr. Charles S. Price (1887-1947). This article is greatly condensed from his book The Story of My Life, and was printed across two issues of the Voice of Healing magazine in 1952 and 1953.
His evangelistic campaigns were of tremendous influence, and resulted in the conversion and healing of tens of thousands. In addition, he began sending out the periodical Golden Grain in 1926, and this publication was continued for years after his death.
His works have always been some of the most well-received by our readers, and he was the first author that we took to print.
Recently, we added Price’s The Story of My Life, and several others, to our library. Check out his author page for more information, or you can pick up a copy of his autobiography here:
The Story of My Life
The Story of the Conversion and Healing Ministry of Dr. Charles S. Price
I was born on a quaint little English street in a little brick house that jostled right up to the sidewalk, with no lawns in front and no gardens in back. When I was two years old my little sister, Jessie, was born. The arrival of the sweet baby was in a sense clouded with a deep sorrow, for the birth of the child meant the death of my mother. I do not remember my mother; although there have been times, especially in later years, when she seemed to be very, very near me. I have been told that before she went away to glory she took me in her arms and dedicated me to the service of the Lord. One of these days in the not too far distant future I am going to have a real happy visit with the mother I never knew.
HIS NEW STEP MOTHER
A few years later my father married again. It is my belief that he could have searched the world around and not found a sweeter or a nobler woman than the one I learned to call my mother. This dear mother was very insistent that plans and preparations be made to give me the best schooling that they could possibly afford. Through the sacrifice of my parents it was possible for me to go through school and college. It was during these years that followed that I began to drift. While I loved my parents deeply, I foolishly began to believe that their outlook on life was old-fashioned and rather narrow. For a while I labored with a Sheffield law firm, and at first was fascinated by the atmosphere of the courtrooms. After a while I became restless and moved to Canada. From Canada I felt impressed to go to Spokane.
CONVERTED IN SPOKANE
One night in early autumn I was standing with my back to a lamp post listening to the singing of a little band of mission workers. When the street meeting was over a little old lady detained me. “Do you know God wants you?” she said. Suddenly I felt uncomfortable. I am afraid that I was rather rude in the way I excused myself and hurried away. Halfway across the Monroe Street Bridge, I stopped. A peculiar feeling had come over me. I began to feel as if God had spoken to the old lady and a feeling of dread and awe came upon me. Slowly I retraced my steps and I arrived eventually at the mission.
What a battle went on in my heart that night! The road I was going led down. I knew it. I was getting to the place that I did not care what happened, and while I was not in the gutter, yet I was slipping down, down, down, and I knew it was disaster and sorrow in the end. When Mr. Stayt gave the altar call, I sprang to my feet, squared my shoulders and marched down to the front. That night I gave myself to God. I was desperately in earnest. I was absolutely sincere. I did not have the great emotional experience that came to me in an event that I shall describe later.
For a while I labored in the Free Methodist Mission that taught and practiced the old-fashioned Wesleyan doctrine of scriptural holiness. They were wonderful people, and they lived very close to God. In the meantime, to support myself, I got a job with a large grocery firm. Before long I was making huge caldrons of caramels of every kind and description. I became quite an expert in the manufacture of chocolate centers.
Events moved swiftly now. I was admitted to the conference and was ordained by Bishop Smith. I built two parsonages and raised all my benevolences, and prided myself on the result of my church ministry. Then something happened. While in the Life Line Mission, news came of the falling of the Holy Ghost in the city of Los Angeles. An evangelist up from California came to see me. He spoke to me in convincing terms of the falling of the power. He told of the miracles of healing, of the latter days and the soon return of the Lord. I promised him that I would go home and pray. I did and slowly conviction came over my soul. I promised to meet with workers at a certain time and place the following day, that I might be filled with the Holy Ghost. I went home walking on air.
THE VOICE OF THE MODERNIST
On my way to the prayer meeting, the next day I met a certain minister. I enthusiastically explained the situation to him and that I was on the way to a prayer meeting. To my amazement he gripped me by the arm and said, “Price, I can not let you go. You’ll wreck your future—your life. You are young and inexperienced. If you take this step you will regret it as long as you live.” Listening to his voice I yielded. He pleaded for the chance to show me wherein these people were wrong. All afternoon I sat with him in his study, and when I left he had given me half a suitcase of books that I promised to read. I did not go to the prayer meeting. That was the turning point of my life. With all my heart I believe that God led me to Spokane so that I might step through the open door into the glorious experience that I am enjoying today, but I listened to the voice of a modernist, and by my own act I closed the door. I foolishly turned my back on the Cross and started along the trail that led to the labyrinth of modernism.
I very soon got to the point where I could explain every religious emotion from the standpoint of psychology. The result of it all was that I drifted down the long highway that led to modernism. I never gave an altar call—never led a soul to Jesus—never preached the glory of the born-again experience. I was spiritually blind, leading my people into the ditch.
The years marched swiftly by. Methodist pastorate followed pastorate. Slowly and surely I was climbing the rungs of the ladder to what my ministerial brethren called success. I began to be in demand as a speaker in churches throughout the countryside. I commenced to emphasize the social ethics of Jesus. How my heart grieves when I contemplate those days that might have been filled with so much good for God, and yet, after all, they were so empty. After a while I reached the place where my godly presiding elder had to take me to task for some of my modernistic utterances. I began to feel the restraining, binding influence of the Methodist Episcopal System. I made up my mind to sever my connection with Methodism and branch out into the broader field that the Congregational Church offered me.
After a time in Alaska, I took a pastorate in Santa Rosa. Then came the call to Oakland. I became a popular type of preacher. I was appointed a “Four Minute Man” and used to speak from every theater stage in the city, during the days of World War I. My work brought me a letter from Woodrow Wilson, then President of the United States. I belonged to five fraternal organizations. For many months I was on the stage during the week and in the pulpit on Sunday.
Then I moved to Lodi, California, a beautiful town of Northern California. I was pastor of the First Congregational Church. It was a wonderful church, with wonderful people. Sickness came into my home, and when all my own funds were gone battling it, that church loyally took up the burden and gave me more than was needed. I was presented with two automobiles while there. I greatly enjoyed my pastorate.
LIGHT FROM HEAVEN
It all began when a good brother came running across the lawn outside the parsonage to meet me one summer day. His eyes were fairly dancing and on his face was the joy of heaven itself. Clasping my hand, he said, “Brother Price—Hallelujah!—Hallelujah!—Praise the Lord!” I gazed at him in amazement. Expressions like that were not usual in my church. Throwing back my head, I commenced to laugh. Still clasping my hand, he said, “Hallelujah—I have been to San Jose and I have been saved—saved through the Blood. I am so happy I could just float away.”
It amused me. The more I ridiculed him the more vehement he became in his testimony. I then discovered that some more of the members of my church had contacted that meeting and were loud in their praises unto God. Slowly a bitter antagonism commenced to creep into my heart. They told me of a great campaign where thousands were saved and thousands were being healed. Inserting an advertisement in the paper that I would preach the following Sunday on “DIVINE HEALING BUBBLE EXPLODES,” I made my way down to San Jose, armed with pen and paper to take notes. I intended to return the following Sunday and blow the whole thing to pieces. As I neared San Jose, a peculiar feeling came over my mind. Across the street was a huge sign, with the words, “Auspices of William Keener Towner.” I could scarcely believe my eyes. Dr. Towner had been the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Oakland, and on more than one occasion we had gone into the theater together. He was a splendid man and kind, but I knew that he was not the type of preacher to back an old-fashioned Holy Ghost revival meeting.
Going to the very edge of town I found a huge tent seating approximately 6,000 people. To my utter amazement it was packed and a great crowd was standing around the outside.
[The meetings in San Jose to which Dr. Price is here referring were campaigns held by none other than Sister Aimee Semple-McPherson.]
I glanced down the aisle. Walking up toward me I saw my old friend, Dr. Towner. Standing on my tiptoes and waving my hand, I called across, “O, Bill, O there Bill!” We were intimate friends enough to call each other by our given names. His dear face broke into a wreath of smiles. Rushing over to me he grabbed my hand. “Charlie Price,” he said, “well HalleluJah! Glory to Jesus!—Praise the Lord.” My jaw dropped. A look of amazement came over my face.
Looking into my eyes with a serious expression he said, “Charles, this is real. This little woman is right. This is the real gospel. I have been baptized with the Holy Ghost. It is genuine, I tell you. It is what you need.” He shook my hand and left me, promising to see me later.
Once again in an advantageous position, I looked over the crowd. Why there was Ole, my old Swedish usher! During Chautauqua days I was forced to remonstrate with him, because of his dirty habit of chewing Copenhagen snuff. Ole looked different to me. He was cleaner and there were no dark corners around his mouth.
He displayed a big red badge and said, “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord Jesus! I ban an oosher.”
Mischievously I said, “Where is the snuff, Ole?”
Back he came at me with, “Hallelujah, I ban saved; I ban healed; I ban filled with the Holy Ghost; I ban so full of glory there ain’t any room for snoos.”
The folk in the crowd were beginning to look at me in every direction. I asked Ole to find me a seat. Ten minutes later he came back.
“What a yob!” he said, “what a yob! But I ban got one for you.”
I followed him down the aisle, and to my added embarrassment, he led me to the very front, across the long altar, then pointed to a chair that was empty in the section reserved for cripples. That was where I belonged, but I did not know it at the time. All the way down the aisle I could hear people mentioning my name. My face turned red. One good sister said in a very audible tone of voice, “Praise the Lord, here comes Dr. Price. I hope he gets something.”
SAVED FROM MODERNISM
It was not the sermon that convinced me that night, half so much as the altar call. The altar was literally filled with people. A mechanic near me got saved and, at the very top of his lungs, shouted “Hallelujah, I’m saved. Isn’t it wonderful? Isn’t it glorious, Mr. Price?” I tried to conceal my embarrassment because of the noise that he was making. The best I could do was to say, “Yes, brother, stick to it, stick to it”—and I got out of the tent as fast as I could.
I did not sleep that night. Deep down in my heart something told me that in recent years I had been wrong. Not insincere, but wrong. That is why tossed restlessly through the long night watches, and no sleep came to give me relief.
The next night a masterful message came from the lips of the evangelist and my modernistic theology was punctured until it looked like a sieve. Arriving at my hotel room, I threw myself on my knees and cried out to God. The heavens were black above and no answer came, yet in my sincerity of heart I promised God that I would change.
The following night I went early to the meeting. Dr. Towner saw me wandering around looking for a seat and, slipping his arm affectionately around me, said, “Charles, why not come to the platform? There is nothing to be ashamed of. Let us sit together tonight and enjoy the service.” Having gone on the platform, there were no seats available except on the front row. So there I had to sit. All during the opening part of the service I was conscious of God speaking to my heart. Half way through the message I made up my mind what I was going to do, and kept praying to God for strength to carry out my resolution. The message was over. It was the moment of the altar call. At the call for sinners, I tremblingly stood to my feet. A hand was put to my shoulder and a voice of a prominent Presbyterian minister sounded in my ear, “Charles, she is calling for sinners. She is calling for people who need to be saved.” I whispered back, “I know it,” and kept standing. Then came the rest of the invitation. “Come down and kneel before the Lord. Come ye weary and heavy laden and He will give you rest.” Down those steps I walked. I was in the act of kneeling at the altar when the glory of God broke over my soul. I did not pray for I did not have to pray. Something burst within my breast, an ocean of love divine rolled across my heart.
This was real! Throwing up both hands I shouted, “Hallelujah!” So overcome was I with joy that I commenced to run across the altar. Dr. Towner followed me and wept for joy!
Night after night found me tarrying in the Baptist Church. How tenderly God dealt with me. How sweetly He led me, step by step, and nearer and nearer to the glorious Baptism. Then came a glorious night. Into the Sunday school room I went, and I saw so many people under the power I began to be bothered again about that undignified position for a Congregational minister. I noticed the piano. There was a little space back of it, and it made a private room. When I thought that I would not attract any attention, I got back of the piano and took the piano stool with me. I had room enough to kneel, but not to fall over.
I started to pray and I prayed and prayed until I lost all sense of time. About 1 o’clock in the morning Dr. Towner came along with two deacons and started moving the piano. He looked at me and said: “Why don’t you get out in the middle of the room where the power is falling? Get where God is blessing the people.”
BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST
Dr. Towner evidently decided that I was getting in earnest, so he started to pray. I raised my hand. This was the first time I had done that, and I commenced to look up with my eyes closed. When my hands were up for a little while I felt an electrical feeling starting down my fingers and when it got to my arms, my hands began to tingle and I looked at them and they were shaking. I was surprised, and I couldn’t have stopped if I had wanted to, and I wouldn’t resist the Spirit. Then down it came to my body, glorious, wonderful power; and I suddenly got a whole bolt of glory. Did you ever watch the waves of the ocean as they break and roll and break? A wave breaks and then rolls back and then another wave?
Then, with my eyes closed, I seemed to be looking up into the dark. Suddenly like a knife, there appeared in that awful dark, a light and it flashed like a lighting flash across the blackness above my head. The heavens were split and they commenced to fold up until I could see the glory of a light through that opening in the sky. Then as I gazed at that beautiful light, a ball of fire came down towards me; lower and lower it came until it got to the level of the darkness on either side. It began to shoot out darts of fire. Then the ball came down a little lower. It shone so brightly it banished the darkness. I just watched, fascinated and entranced, those tongues of fire. It then touched me on the forehead and I felt a quiver go through my body and then my chest began to heave and I started praising God. The Comforter had come!
BACK AT LODI
Back I went to my home at Lodi. The following Sunday the place was packed to the doors. The preliminary part of the service was cut short, for I was anxious to get to my message. I really expected to be dismissed from my pulpit. I never believed that those dear people who had been so kind and good to me would tolerate the type of preaching that I was determined to give.
How easy it was to preach that morning! The glory of God flowed like a river until I could hardly speak for the sobbing of the people. “As long as I am pastor,” I said, “you will hear one burning message from this pulpit—Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” At the conclusion of the sermon I gave an altar call. To my amazement over eighty people knelt at that altar. My own church people were hungry for more of God. We commenced to hold meetings and multiplied the number of prayer services. The power of God commenced to fall. Attendance reached the thousand mark and the church auditorium and the Sunday school rooms would be full of praying people. People came from neighboring cities.
I then organized the Lodi Gospel Team. It soon grew until it had close to one thousand members. Every Friday night, hundreds and hundreds of people would meet at the church with signs on the back of their automobiles, reading “Lodi Gospel Team.” A parade would start to some nearby city. More than once I have seen that parade stretch out over two miles. The whole city was feeling the power of the revival. It was not until high church authorities commenced to interfere that we felt led of the Lord to organize a separate and independent church. Many years have passed since then, but those precious people to whom I used to minister are still standing for the old truths and worship God in Bethel Temple, dedicated to the preaching of the Full Gospel.
About this time I felt the call of the Lord to go into evangelistic fields. It was a sad parting when I left Lodi. This was on August 17, 1922.
It seemed incredible to believe that in one short year, the Spirit of the Lord would take me from a little California town and catapult me into great arenas, where I would preach to vast throngs of ten thousand people night after night. But such was the case. My first meeting was in Ashland, Oregon. The ministerial union invited me, and rented a building that seated more than the population of the town. It was soon packed to the doors. All the churches of the city were closed for the meetings, and having told the ministers that I was going to preach the whole truth, I proceeded to do so. The power fell. Hundreds were saved and hundreds were healed. The first person that I prayed with for bodily healing fell under the power of God. I myself was afraid. I prayed for the second one and the same thing happened. I trembled in the presence of the Lord, but both of them rising to their feet and proclaiming they were healed gave me courage and I went on praying. After that scores and scores would be prostrated under the power at one time.
GREAT CITY-WIDE REVIVALS
After that I went to Albany. Practically the whole high school class of that town gave their hearts to Jesus, and it has been reported that it was impossible to hold a public dance for one year after the meetings. One church received a hundred members, another seventy-five, another sixty and another fifty, but most of the converts were from without the city. At Roseburg, Eugene, Victoria and Vancouver, B.C., this same soul-winning Power was evident.
In Victoria there was the healing of Miss Ruby Dimmick. She was a daughter of a Methodist minister, and her healing from paralysis and a crippled condition was so evident that it awakened the province. Newspapers all over Canada and the United States printed the story. The Literary Digest printed an account of the case. In three weeks in Vancouver, the owner of the arena declared that 250,000 people went to hear Dr. Price preach.