John G. Lake-FormativeYears 1870-1908-Construed Biography

Part 1

Barry Morton

During his career as a faith healer, John G Lake constructed a falsified biography that served to both legitimize his leadership in the Pentecostal movement and to provide evidence of miracles that he effected. This paper, which focuses on his activities prior to his South African mission of 1908-13, shows that the vast majority of his early biography is mere fiction. He was never an ordained minister as he claimed, nor was he a successful businessman. Later on, after he became involved in a series of brutal killings in Zion, IL,  in 1907, he was forced to reinvent himself after fleeing the area. In order to hide this sordid past, he invented a series of visions that allegedly called him to minister in Africa.

*(For full biography open link above)*

Contradictory Conflicting Accounts

Early Life And Move To Chicago

Lake was born in 1870, in a small village named Avonbank a few miles from the small town of St. Mary‟s, Ontario. 6 His father, James Lake, was an immigrant from Scotland who worked for a farmer named James Graham. On 1862 James Lake married Graham‟s daughter, Betsy, and the two would spend fifty one years together. Betsy would bear fifteen children, of whom seven would survive infancy.7 John Graham Lake was at least the fourth born. His eldest sibling was his sister Maggie, while his older brother (also named John) died the year before his birth. This made John G Lake his father‟s heir. 8

Sometime during the 1870s James Lake began to turn to self-employment. He rented stalls in the St. Mary‟s market, and sold produce and meat there. By 1878 he had a permanent butcher‟s shop in St. Mary‟s, and it would appear that the family had moved to the town. A picture of St. Mary‟s High School showing its “Senior Staff and Pupils” in the mid-1880s shows the young John GLake— our first known picture of him (Figure 1). His attendance at the school would certainly indicate the family‟s residence there. 9

In 1886 10 the Lakes moved from Ontario to the growing new center of Sault Ste Marie in Michigan‟s Upper Peninsula. The explanation for the move can probably be laid down to the boom times in the Upper Peninsula fostered by the opening up of the Soo Locks. These locks, which connected Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, allowed large freighters to trawl upper Great Lakes. A huge logging boom also occurred, following which the entire Upper Peninsula was stripped of its massive forests in a huge burst of primitive accumulation. During the process, Sault Ste Marie grew and attracted new residents drawn to opportunities in transportation, shipping, trading, and logging.As far as can be told the Lakes bought a house on Bingham Ave in central Sault Ste Marie soon after arrival 11 This three-story four-poster structure served as a butchery/produce shop on the ground floor, while the family lived in the second floor and third story attic.

John G Lake lived in Sault Ste Marie for only three years during his youth, and we have minimal information about his time there. Apparently having finished his schooling in Canada, Lake did not attend further high school in Sault Ste Marie, and he is not mentioned as being part of graduating classes in the years following his family‟s immigration. 12 Some of his siblings,though, are frequently mentioned in newspaper lists of school honors in the 1890s. The young Lake, then, presumably went to work. We can assume he aided his father, or else began employment as a carpenter, his profession until 1904.

There is very little qualitative information about the Lake family. Lake himself emphasized his family‟s sickly nature and its piety, although his descriptions are not overly convincing. He claimed that the deaths of eight infant Lake children affected family morale greatly. “A strange train of sickness, resulting in death, had followed the family,” Lake recalled. 13 Lake claimed to have suffered from serious constipation as a child and youth, while many of his siblings allegedly had serious ailments. This led to the Lakes turning to religion for comfort. According to Lake, his family was Presbyterian in his early years, and then became Methodists while in St Mary‟s. He himself was apparently baptized as a Methodist as a fourteen year-old. 14 Following this, the Lakes remained Methodists in Sault Ste Marie. Lake almost surely exaggerated the nature and impact of these issues. His“ chronic constipation” was almost certainly an invention.Almost all faith healers (such as Charles Parham, Carrie Judd Montgomery, and Maria Woodworth-Etter ) of Lake‟s era claimed to have suffered from severe childhood illness, as would all of Lake‟s successors. So his “chronic constipation” is more of a genre statement than an actual illness. His youthful piety cannot also be confirmed. There is really no independent evidence of the Lake family attending church, even though such newspapers such as the Sault Ste Marie News and Sault Ste Marie Democrat routinely reported on church news from the late 1880s to 1890s. The Lakes were clearly not active members of any Methodist or Presbyterian congregation in Sault Ste Marie. Based on an argument of silence, the most likely explanation is that they were very occasional churchgoers, at most.

There is really no independent evidence of the Lake family attending church, even though such newspapers such as the Sault Ste Marie News and Sault Ste Marie Democrat routinely reported on church news from the late 1880s to 1890s. The Lakes were clearly not active members of any Methodist or Presbyterian congregation in Sault Ste Marie. Based on an argument of silence, the most likely explanation is that they were very occasional churchgoers, at most. One very rarely finds honesty in any of John G Lake‟s writings, but a throw -away line in one of his later sermons would appear to explain a lot about his early years: “when I was a boy…I was surrounded by as vile a set of men as have ever lived.” 15

As to what “vile” acts his family members were involved in, we cannot be sure. But this characterization of his family seems far more apt than one stressing their suffering and piety. What is clear is that John G Lake was set on becoming a religious con man from quite early on in adulthood, and the vast majority of his family members showed no compunction about assisting him in his deceptions… (Academia-p.4)

Problematic details with Lake’s biography- 1888-90 regarding claimed attendance a Methodist Episcopal Seminary in Newberry

Problematic details with Lake‟s biography first appear in the 1888-90 period, and appear to result from systematic deceptions on his part. According to the persona he later shaped as a faith healer, between 1888 and 1890 he attended a Methodist Episcopal Seminary in Newberry, MI.16 After being ordained, he was then offered a post in Pestigo, Wisconsin in 1891. 17 However, Lake declined to accept the appointment, because by this point he had developed a strong belief in “divine healing”, and he felt that the Methodist church had abandoned the true precepts of John Wesley. 18 Having declined to enter the ministry at this point, Lake moved to the new industrial suburb Harvey, Illinois on Chicago‟s South Side, where he claimed to have founded Harvey‟s first newspaper..19 All of this, though, is demonstrably false.

Lake did not attend seminary in Newberry, since no seminary of any kind existed there. Burpeau, Lake‟s apologist biographer, has attempted to reconcile this problem by maintaining that Lake “participated in the Sunday School Institute conducted by the Newberry, Michigan Methodist Episcopal Church.” 20 The local newspaper, the Newberry News, makes it clear, though, that Lake never attended the Sunday School Institute (which in any case lasted only 1 day!) in Newberry. He did not attend the event in November 1888, 21 nor did he attend the subsequent Quarterly Conference afterwards, and nor was he associated with the church‟s 9 -week revival in March 1889. 22 Nor is he listed as having attended or participated in any of the many church events and socials that were commonly reported on in the newspaper at any point between 1888 and 1890.

Lake, to put it simply, was not an ordained minister, although he wished to appear as one from his early 20s onwards. Burpeau also maintains that Lake took courses at Evanston‟s Garrett Bible Institute in the late 1890s, even though the university has no records of his registration! 23 This also could simply not be true, since Lake was a resident of Sault Ste Marie at the time. Moreover, Lake was listed in the 1900 Census as having less than ten years of formal education, meaning that he could not have attended seminary.

Lake’s Rejection Of Methodist Appt. Anachronistic

Another problem with Lake‟s version of his decision to reject the Methodist appointment is that it is anachronistic. Lake claimed to have rejected Methodism because of its unwillingness to recognize “divine healing”— a practice that John Dowie and A.B. Simpson introduced to the Midwest after 1890. Lake could not possibly have encountered Dowie or Simpson‟s churches until moving to Chicago after allegedly rejecting his pastoral appointment. His story is thus both contradictory and anachronistic, since Dowie only moved to the Chicago area in mid-1890 from California. Nor did Dowie even become well-known in Chicago until 1893. Interestingly,although Lake seems to have lived in Harvey from 1890 to 1896, he did not join the newly-formed First United Methodist Church that was started in 1890. 24 This seems to be a strange omission for someone who was ostensibly recently ordained and was being offered a pastorship at this time.

We have very little independent information about Lake‟s time in Harvey. It is clear that he moved there around 1890, as in July 1891 the Chicago Inter-Ocean lists him as on his way back to Sault Ste Marie for a vacation. 25 Lake did not start the Harvey Citizen newspaper as he claimed.This newspaper was owned by the industrial consortium that founded and built Harvey, Il.26 The editor of this conservative paper was not Lake, but Lucy Gaston, the famed temperance and anti-smoking agitator.27

Bearing in mind Lake’s claims to have converted to Christianity as a teenager, it is possible that he was attracted to the new suburb of Harvey by its evangelical ethos. The town was founded by a group of evangelical industrialists who developed it specifically as a dry, religious, pro- business town. Since Lake was definitely not a practicing Methodist while in Harvey, it is worth asking what religious group he was affiliated with at the time. The best answer appears to be that he frequented meetings at an outpost of A.B. Simpson‟s Christian and Missionary Alliance which held revival meetings in the Chicago suburbs from mid-1891 on. 28
Since Lake was clearly not a journalist, we can infer that he made his living in Harvey working in the construction trade. Harvey was a planned industrial suburb, and included a large residential section where Lake probably was involved in building new houses. In 1914, for instance, Lake said in a sermon that he had been a “builder” while in Harvey, and that he had considerable experience in roofing and foundation work. 29 It would seem obvious that Lake, having picked up some construction skills in Sault Ste Marie after leaving high school, migrated to the Chicago area to take advantage of well-paying work to be found there. (Academia-pgs.1-6)

Lake’s Marriage To Jennie Stevens

Lake‟s marriage to Jennie Stevens certainly did occur in his Harvey years, although many writers on Lake get the details wrong. Jennie, like Lake of Scottish descent, was three years older than him. She had grown up in Newberry, MI, where her father seems to have been a rather unsuccessful farmer. By 1888 his wife and daughter no longer lived with him at his shack in Newberry, but instead resided in Sault Ste Marie. They only visited the town occasionally, and he occasionally went to see them.33 Based on the 1900 census, it seems that the rest of the Stevens family resided two doors down from the Lakes on Bingham Ave, and that Lake met Jennie since she was a neighbor. Based on the absence of references in both Newberry and Sault Ste Marie newspaper reporting of church events, Jennie and her family were not active churchgoers. Hence Lake‟s story of how he met his wife is definitely embellished:
“When a young man, I stood in the aisle of the Methodist Church and was introduced to a young lady. As I touched her hand the marvelous moving of our natures was revealed. Presently something from her soul, that subtle something that Christians know and recognize as spirit, her spirit passed to me….she told me later that she had beeni n the habit of searching a young man‟s spirit to know if he was pure; but, she said, “In your case, the strange thing was, that my spirit made no such search. I just knew it. 34Following their marriage in Illinois in February 1892, 35 the Lakes soon began to have children. By the time of Jennie‟s death in 1908, they would have six, and would adopt another. Jennie was commonly described as a woman with many incurable ailments by her husband, although his many conflicting statements about her health, along with her dubious testimony regarding miraculous cures that she had undergone, lead one to doubt that she had any ailments at all. Lake maintained that she had tuberculosis and repeated paralysis in the mid-1890s, but these afflictions seem inconsistent with a woman delivering healthy children at the same time. 36
Jennie Lake was the perfect wife for Lake. A prim, quiet, ostensibly religious woman, she repeatedly was willing to testify on numerous occasions to miraculous healings that she never in fact experienced. From fairly early on in their marriage, Jennie was willing to support Lake‟s various cons and never deviated from his own narratives.

How Did Lake, Then Meet Dowie?

How did Lake, then, meet Dowie? Lake claimed that “I knew him from the beginning,” 42 whichwould seem to indicate that he encountered Dowie in his early Chicago days barnstorming the suburbs. If Lake indeed attended Christian and Missionary Alliance meetings after arriving in Chicago as alluded to earlier, his earliest contact with Dowie would have occurred in mid-1891,when Dowie and the Alliance conducted revivals together in the suburb of Western Springs. Dowie, though, fell out with the leader of the Alliance, A.B. Simpson, after a few meetings, and launched a vicious expose regarding Simpson‟s use of a runaway convict in a fraudulent healing ceremony at one of them. 43 Lake, though, is not mentioned as being one of Dowie‟s early Chicago members in 1890-1, and nor is his healing mentioned in any of Dowie‟s publications at this time. Given that Dowie publicized practically any successful healing he was responsible for,one could say with certainty that Lake was not healed by Dowie in in the early 1890s. 4

A potential key to the solution is the picture of the young Lake in the early 1890s, sitting on a porch wearing a priest‟s outfit and holding a bible in his lap. 45 Lake was not an ordained minister, but he clearly was willing to dress up as one and to have his photo taken as one. Hence, Lake had taken to impersonating a Priest while living in Chicago (in later life he would be twice arrested for impersonation). Did he do this on behalf of Dowie, or did he become attracted to Dowie after recognizing him as a fellow “religious adventurer”? 46 Given that Dowie‟s close friend in Australia, the aforementioned con man Holding, was known to impersonate clergymen,it is not far-fetched to assume that Dowie encouraged Lake along these lines. 47 Another potential answer to the early Lake-Dowie relationship would seem to lie in a series of dubious healings that Dowie claimed to have undertaken from 1894-6. During these years a number of “Harvey” residents were healed in public ceremonies, yet it would seem that none of them were actual Harvey residents (or even real people for that matter). The first of these “healings” involving a putative“ Harvey” resident was that of an alleged“ Civil War veteran” named“ James Nichols”. 48 Like almost all of the rest of the Harvey healed, Nichols cannot be found in local records, nor in modern databases. 49 During the next two years “Mrs H Cowan”, “George W Madden”, “Lewis Breaw”, and “Captain Redman” were all healed as well. The only Harvey resident cured by Dowie who can be identified in the historical record was the famous Lucy Gaston, the editor of the Harvey Citizen and famed temperance advocate. 50-(50-Leaves of Healing 3, 28 (1897): 433-4. In later years, Lake claimed to have been the Harvey Citizen editor at this time)

It would seem, therefore, that Lake‟s early role with Dowie was to supply him with individuals who could provide fake healing testimonies.After Lake returned to the Soo in 1896 there are no more claims of Harvey residents being healed in Dowie‟s publications. Lake claimed to have learned the art of faith healing from Dowie and nobody else: “Personally, I received my ministry in the gospel of healing though John Alexander Dowie, a man whom I have loved with all my soul.” 51 If that is the case, it would appear that he got his start organizing false testimonials and by acting as an audience plant (such as by impersonating a minister) for him. (Academia pgs.11-12)

Lake decided to leave Chicago in 1896 with his growing family, just as Dowie formed the new Christian Catholic Church. Lake‟s explanation for moving back to Sault Ste Marie was that his wife had been “pronounced incurable of consumption,” and needed to move north to a different  climate. 54 This seems highly dubious on a number of levels. In the first place, Dowie preached that all sickness was caused by the Devil, so “incurable consumption” would indicate in Zionist terms that Jennie had lost her Christian faith! Additionally, the presence of Dowie as a formidable healer would mean that he had failed to cure her! Jennie Lake‟s “consumption”, then, was probably a fiction and not the reason for the move. More logical explanations, such as the end of the construction boom in Harvey, would seem to be more germane, as would the growth of Sault Ste Marie following the completion of the new locks in 1895. Whatever the case was, after returning to Sault Ste Marie in 1896, Lake was busy using his construction skills on local projects there, and Jennie‟s “consumption” is never mentioned again.

Foot Note -Conflicting Account 54 – Lindsay, John G Lake, 3. Jennie Lake gave a highly contradictory account of this period some six years later, by which time she had been involved in several other “distant cures”. She maintained that following the birth of her third child she developed curvature of the spine, then diphtheria and consumption. Doctors could not cure her,and advised her to move north. Once in Sault Ste Marie, she began reading Dowie’s literature, and asked her husband to pray for her. While praying, she heard the voice and Jesus and was instantly cured of all her ailments! A year later she was also cured of pneumonia! See “Written Testimony of Mrs. Jennie Lake,” Leaves of Healing 9(1901): 226

The Sault Ste Marie Sojourn, 1896-1901

For a five-year period, Lake pursued his career in his hometown as an independent “carpenter”and building contractor. Initially he was distant from Dowie‟s organization, only helping him to stage a few fake miracles. In 1898, though, he rejoined Dowie and organized a Zionist chapter in Sault Ste Marie. He would run this small congregation for three years, before deciding to migrate to Dowie‟s new urban utopia, Zion Illinois, in 1901. These years were the first in which Lake tried to pursue faith healing on his own, and he also began to draw in more of his family members as his accomplices.

In later years Lake would claim that on his return to the Soo, he started up the Sault Times newspaper and that he taught Sunday School classes for the Methodist church. Both of these claims are false, as local newspapers make clear. 55 Lake‟s ambition on arriving back in his home town was clearly to establish himself as a builder. On first arriving home halfway through the year, he bought a house on Easterday Ave and spent more than $1000 upgrading it. 56 Not long after he obtained “several important contracts” in his wife‟s hometown of Newberry, which he completed in December. 57 Lake sold the Easterday Ave residence, and in 1897 purchased a new house on Adams Ave, which he spent $800 upgrading that year despite the house being struck by lightning! 58 In other words, Lake was purchasing houses, upgrading them, flipping them, and moving on. Lake did not try to make it big, and never advertised in newspapers or tendered for large government contracts. Today we would refer to him as a “house-flipper”, and he was listed in the 1900 census as a “carpenter”. 59During 1898 the Lakes moved on to another residence, but in this year began a new Zionist chapter in Sault Ste Marie. After a year the congregation had twelve official members, with roughly twenty-five attendees a week. Meetings were held in the attic of the Lake family house on Bingham Ave and Lake‟s first account of starting the church was published in Leaves of Healing in 1899. 60 From the very beginning, the Sault Zionists were focused on faith healing. Some of these faith healings were conducted by Lake himself, while others were done by Dowie in absentia.

Conflicting Accounts Of Jennie’s ‘Accidental Gunshot Wound’

By 1900 Lake was becoming better known as a preacher in Sault Ste Marie, and “cited numerous cases of alleged healing in the county through faith.” 67 He was not yet an official in Dowie‟s church, although he was referred to as a “Conductor” in northern Michigan. He had pleaded in the Leaves of Healingfor Dowie to send an official to organize the area, an eventuality that never occurred. A number of local doctors had petitioned versus “Illegal Practitioners” of medicine 68, but the Zionists did not attract a lot of comment until Jennie Lake was accidentally shot in the summer.In July 1900 Jennie had ventured to Chicago with her husband, when he was appointed a Deacon in the Zionist church. On this trip Dowie once again cured her (this time for“rheumatism”) and “new life poured through [her] bones.” 69

Soon after their return, on August 2, she had gone to the home of a friend, Mrs Samuel Richards, taking her son along. According to Jennie, Otto Lake pulled a revolver out of a drawer, and, thinking it was a toy, shot her in the back with it. The bullet passed through her back, just missing her spine, and lodged in her stomach just underneath the skin. 70 Subsequent events are not easy to unravel, despite the existence of several eyewitness and newspaper accounts. After being shot, Lake and some others took Jennie back to her home on Bingham Ave and refused to allow doctors to treat her. Once home, messages were sent to Dowie, and Mrs Lake felt better after his in absentia prayers. After falling asleep, she had a vision: “A Voice answered me saying, “This is God‟s Holy Hill of Zion, and you are healed.” 71 She felt better immediately and her fever passed.

Meanwhile, large groups of people had assembled on Bingham Ave (Figure 4), and their numbers increased following newspaper reports of the incident. “Mr Lake believes that it is prayer alone that saved his wife.”72 Crowds continued to mill around the house, since the Lakes refused to let outsiders in, and public opinion was against Lake preventing a doctor to see her, “the head of the family is taking chances.” 73 After a few days the Lakes felt it was advisable to allow some outsiders in, but this action led to immediate relapses on Jennie‟s part: “In my wife‟s critical condition I found that when persons came near the sufferer who in their hearts even entertained a doubt of God‟s power or willingness to heal, she was immediately injured….the presence of an unbeliever checked the healing.” 74

Foot Note -Conflicting Testimonies Of Shooting Incident 69-Leaves of Healing 7 (1900): 441. / 70 –“God’s Witnesses to Divine Healing,” Leaves of Healing 9 (1901): 225-6.71– “Written Testimony of Mrs. Jennie Lake,”Leaves of Healing 9 (1901): 226. / 72 – Sault Ste Marie News August 4 1900. / 73 Ibid.74 -“Confirmation of his Wife’s Testimony by Deacon John G. Lake,” Leaves of Healing 9 (1901): 227

Dowie sent one of his promising young officers, Daniel Bryant, from Wisconsin to help quell the situation. On arrival, Bryant found that Jennie Lake had relapsed,was “lame” and unable to move. Meanwhile the bullet “had lodged just beneath the skin.” Just as disturbing “an incensed doctor organized a gang of men, who, under his leadership, were to mob us last night, and smash up the furniture and destroy the literature in Zion‟s little hall.” What happened next was a miracle. Bryant and Lake prayed relentlessly for Jennie, and relayed requests for in absentia prayers back to Overseer Piper in Chicago. Then“ in a few days, however, [the bullet] was gone.” 75 After the miraculous disappearance of the bullet, Jennie Lake improved rapidly, and was walking around Sault Ste Marie within a few weeks.

The Vanishing Bullet Miracle

The “vanishing bullet miracle” was ascribed by Bryant and the Lakes in public testimonies to prayers by Overseer Piper back in Chicago. A far more logical explanation can be given—the Lakes lived on top of a butcher‟s shop, and Lake‟s father was a butcher. How difficult could it have been for the Bryant and the Lakes to obtain a sharp utensil and extract the bullet that lay just under her skin? When people asked Lake, “Where is the bullet?” he responded, “I don‟t know where the bullet is, and I don‟t care. God will look after it and attend to it.” 76
The vanishing bullet miracle calmed the crowds on Bingham Ave down and ended the controversy. Within a week Jennie was recuperating well. 77 Bryant subsequently returned to the town several times before the end of the year, holding large services at Bingham Ave and other locations. Zionist baptisms increased, although the Sault Ste Marie congregation never grew particularly large. 78 The controversy surrounding the incident seems to have hurt Lake‟s reputation rather than enhanced it. When he returned to give a lecture in early 1903, he received death threats stating “he would be given a chance to try again the efficacy of divine healing on bullet wounds”! 79 (Academia pgs.13-17)
Testimony Of Witnesses75-“Confirmation of Mrs Jennie Lake’s Testimony by Elder Daniel Bryant,” Leaves of Healing 9 (1901): 226. / 76 -Ibid.77– Marquette Daily Mining Journal August 13 1900.

More Conflicting Accounts Of Lake’s Activities

In 1902 Lake was considered worth giving some evangelical duties to, and he began proselyting for Dowie in southern Wisconsin. At various times he was in small towns such as Kenosha and Racine, not far from Zion, 86 and it would seem likely that he undertook this work on weekends, taking the train north. Working with some future Pentecostals such as Cyrus Fockler and Fred Bosworth, Lake reported no miraculous healings and very few converts and baptisms from these efforts. Nor do his activities seem to have generated any coverage in the Wisconsin Press. 87 In short, Lake was not particularly successful at this second attempt at evangelism. It is at this time that we have our first independent description of his preaching style, which he had only been working on for a few years. Several years of preaching for Dowie had clearly moved Lake some way towards realizing the bombastic, domineering speaking style he aspired to cultivate on the pulpit. Now bearded and attired in his trademark black suit, it was clear that his persona was crafted:
20 “Mr Lake was very earnest and when warmed up to his work of exploiting Dowie‟s doctrines on the humbug of medicine, he became positively vindictive….His face was not illumined with the fire which is usually an accompaniment to martyrdom….His enthusiasm was apparently a cloakto be donned and doffed at will. The writer judged that Lake was reciting a well-learned lesson, with his foot on the loud pedal at all times. At no time did he appear to be possessed by a divine mission.” 88 (“Deacon Lake Held Forth,” Sault Ste Marie Evening News 2 February 1903)

Although Lake later maintained he left Zion in 1904, this does not seem to be the case as he remained a resident until late 1907. In late 1904 he did become a victim of the shambolic financial situation of Zion, when wages were slashed across the board twice, and Dowie began to lay off his employees in the face of bankruptcy proceedings. 89 By this time millions of dollars his congregation was forced to deposit into his pseudo-bank were unaccounted for. Dowie, who had declared himself first the reincarnation of the prophet Elijah, and then the “First Apostle” of the entire Christian World, was losing both his grip on reality and on Zion City.
With so many problems paying his employees, in 1904 Dowie gave permission to Zion City residents to seek employment elsewhere as long as they deposited their wages in his unregistered bank. The building of a new trolley from Zion to the main rail line made commuting an option for the first time, and Lake seems to have taken the opportunity to use the Zion-Waukegan trolley to seek new work there. 90 By 1906 he was selling land and insurance in Waukegan for a local speculator and entrepreneur named E.V. Orvis, working out of modest office space in downtown Waukegan. 91 Just as in Sault Ste Marie, Lake was a small-time operator,running small advertisements for his services in the local newspapers. In addition to hawking Orvis‟s properties, Lake also sold fire and life insurance for the People‟s Life Assurance Society. As an evangelist, Lake maintained that he had founded People‟s Life Assurance himself with the backing of an array of Chicago‟s leading industrialists. In fact it was a small company founded by other people. *92A clear fabrication
92 * (People’s Life was run by the insignificant Elona G Nelson and Fremont Hoy, whereas Lake maintained he was financed by Jim Hill, Tom Lawson, Ed Harriman, and Thomas Ryan. The latter four were heavily involved in developing the suburb of Harvey Illinois in the early 1890s when Lake was a builder in that town. As his biographer notes, there is no evidence that Lake knew any of these magnates, all of whom were conveniently deceased by the time he began dropping their names. Cf ibid, and Burpeau, God’s Showman, 39ff)

Lake, then, was living as a small-town insurance salesman after his job with Dowie ended. He does not appear to have been a particular success, unlike his patron, E.V.Orvis, whose presence graced the society and business pages of the local papers on a very regular basis.After establishing this new career, Lake entered into a new and volatile period of his religious life in which he emerged as a religious leader in his own right for the first time. Between late 1906 and 1907 Lake was associated with, and came to co-lead, the Pentecostal “Parhamite” sect in Zion. Because of the dramatic and lurid events that occurred there, Lake and other Parhamites such as F.F. Bosworth did their best thereafter to minimize any knowledge of their involvement with it. 93 (Academia pgs.18-21)

The Downie Downfall & The Parhamite Sect

The Parhamite sect had its origins in the dissolution of the Dowie empire. After having the courts seize his bankrupt empire in 1904, 94 Dowie spent much of the remainder of his life outside of the United States. Increasingly senile and losing followers and the tithes that he relied on to finance his lavish lifestyle, he lost touch with both material and financial reality. His carnal relations with younger female members of his entourage were exposed, as were the unaccounted for millions of dollars looted from the unregistered Zion Bank. Beginning with the removal of his deputy, Charles Speicher, in January 1906, 95 Dowie and the Zionists were to feature regularly in most of the nation‟s newspapers for the next year. This was due to the tragicomic decline of the organization, along with the unbridled fight for power that continued with each new sign of the leader‟s demise. During April, a leading Zionist, W.G. Voliva, led an open revolt and seized control of the organization. In doing so, a vast expose of Dowie was made public. 96 Misappropriations, mistresses, and a whole other host of abuses were laid open in order to discredit Dowie and legitimize Voliva. 97 When Dowie finally returned to Zion, he ended up being humiliated in court. 98 In short, the affairs of the Zionists became tabloid fodder, and the church a laughing stock across the entire world. Once Dowie was removed from the scene in mid-1906, the internecine squabbles between Voliva and other pretenders to the Zionist crown would further keep the church in public view for another year.

To say that Dowie‟s followers were discouraged would be an understatement. Lake‟s close friend, F.F. Bosworth, noted in the lugubrious language of Pentecostalism, “the time was at hand, when, as a Christian he was to wake up to the utter falsity of the claims which were even thedeveloping in the mind and purpose of the mistaken, tho really great leader of Zion City, and to decline to have further association with so misguided a man.” 99 Into this morass stepped Charles Parham, the originator of the Pentecostal faith. Parham, whose followers had found the gift of glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, had sparked a new Pentecostal movement that was to sweep the Christian world following the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906. Parham and most other early Pentecostals preached that speaking in tongues was evidence of an individual‟s “baptism in the holy ghost”. Moreover, the recovery of speaking tongues was interpreted to mean that the world was reverting to the apostolic stage of Christianity found in the Book of Acts, and that the Second Coming of Jesus was imminent. On a broader level, Pentecostalism privileged religious ecstasy, feeling, prophecy, and testimony over Scripture, and hence appealed largely to marginalized workers and urban migrants across the world. Faith Healing and other “Signs and Miracles” played a crucial role in convincing Christians to join this movement.
“I have come to save the people of Zion from the selfishness and bigotry of their leaders….Four months ago I saw Zion City in a vision, and troubles of its peoples were made clear to me. “Arise and go to Zion and take up the burden of an oppressed people,‟ a voice said to me. I am here and will bring you out of all your difficulties if you will trust in me.” 100 The reported crowd of some three hundred people enthusiastically received this message in Zion: “the fervor aroused at the Parham meetings is said by those who have attended to surpass the old-time camp meetings.” 101 Unfortunately, those who gave Parham their trust found that this association would only dramatically increase their “difficulties” thereafter. John G Lake was one of the early followers of Parham, as was Bosworth and a number of other prominent Zionists. By late 1906 Lake, Bosworth, and others were preaching and speaking in tongues on the street corners of Waukegan, and in early 1907 Lake made the newspapers when he spoke in tongues at a Parhamite meeting. 102 Lake was not initially in a leadership position amongst the Parhamites. Parham himself was resident in Zion for several months, based in a large, brazier-heated tent that he erected in the face of Voliva‟s refusal to allow him to use worship facilities in Zion. In late January 1907, however, the municipal water tower collapsed and fell on the tent, and Parham vacated the city, saying he did not want to be seen as “a Dowie”, but as only “one man in the movement”. 103 Despite this hasty and permanent departure, Parham‟s followers continued to pay him tithes and to show considerable resiliency in the face of opposition they encountered in Zion City from the Voliva faction during a time of “divisive strife” 104 in Zion. Tom Hezmalhalch (Figure 7), who arrived in Zion from Azusa Street not long after Parham‟s departure, seems to have played a considerable role in stabilizing the group. 105 Although his weakness for the pleasures of the flesh had disgraced him in Azusa Street circles, Hezmalhalch was able to get William Seymour to visit Zion City and to otherwise keep the group connected to the burgeoning Pentecostal movement. 106 Lake himself rose in prominence within the group over the course of the year, and by summer was leading services and was generally considered (along with Hezmalhalch) as the unofficial leader. (Academia pgs.21-24)

Zion Il 1907, Glenn Cook, F F Bosworth, Tom Hezmalhalch (back row) William Seymour, John G Lake

Collective Frenzy Of Insanity, Demon Possession, And Murder.

Lake‟s increasing prominence within the Parhamite sect coincided with the group‟s descent into a collective frenzy of insanity, demon possession, and murder. The trigger for the Parhamites‟ implosion was the July arrest of Charles Parham in Texas for soliciting sex from a teenage boy in Texas. These charges appeared to confirm rumors about the latter’s “heinous sins” that Seymour‟s Midwestern deputy, Glenn Cook, had warned the Parhamites about, and which would ruin his reputation in Pentecostal quarters thereafter. 107

Parham‟s fall, which came in the aftermath of John Alexander Dowie‟s long slide into disgrace, meant that his followers had seen two cherished leaders exposed as frauds in quick succession. In the meantime, Zion City‟s economy was struggling and most of the Parhamites were in financial straits. To make matters worse, the Parhamites‟ biggest enemy, W.G. Voliva, was tightening his grip on Zion City‟s theocratic structures. In the face of these setbacks, the Parhamites evidently viewed the source of their problems as being diabolical. In the weeks following Parham‟s downfall, nine (seven women and two boys) Parhamites would be possessed by demons.108 *(More research required to confirm or deny this report, which was publicized by W.G. Voliva, in Zion Newspaper)

As the frenzy continued the Parhamites met practically daily for long, emotional services: “insanity becomes common, ravings of lunatics are heard on every hand, adulteries are committed.” 109 Both the Parhamites and the Voliva faction had been preaching about the imminence of the “end times” since early in 1907, which undoubtedly contributed to a heightened atmosphere. Meanwhile, Voliva and the mainstream church members in Zion City were relentless in their attacks on the Parhamites, calling them “intoxicated,” “demon-inspired,”“a fanatical set,” “an abomination,” and a “barbarian horde.” Denunciations of the new “Tongues Church” were a regular feature of sermons and newspapers. Meanwhile lurid descriptions of the Parhamite services, which featured excessive “emotionalism”, including dancing, jumping,waving hands, “insane ecstasies”, shouting, rolling on the floor, spasms, trances, and visions, were accompanied by warnings from Voliva that this behavior “would lead to demon-possession.”110

To deal with these possessions the Parhamites fell back on Dowie‟s teachings, which maintained that insanity and mental illness were caused by Satanic forces that had invaded and taken control of an individual‟s body and mind. They also relied on Dowie‟s old exorcism techniques, which relied on prayer to invoke God‟s assistance, combined with the use of physical force to expel the demon from the body. The possessed individual would be tied up and restrained, while the healer would then use physical force to twist the demon slowly out of the body, limb by limb. These attempts could last for days at a time, and typically the afflicted individual would also be denied all food, water, and comforts in order to induce the demons to exit the body. 111

These exorcism methods ultimately led to the deaths of three sect members. Hezmalhalch and Lake did not conduct the sessions themselves, apparently because they felt they lacked the “necessary spiritual power.” Referring back to this period several years later, Lake recalled that he and Hezmalhalch “had been praying for greater power for the healing of the sick and the casting out of demons at this time.” 112 Instead, Harold Mitchell, who was a regular attendee of their services, 113 had a vision “in which Mitchell was ordered to quit work and devote his time to casting out demons from the sick.” 114 Because the Zion City undertaker was a Parhamite, the three corpses were not officially registered with the State coroner. Many unnatural deaths did not get reported as such—as had been going on throughout Dowie‟s tenure in Zion City. 115

In the case that brought the Parhamites to national attention, Mitchell and four others held down a possessed, bed-ridden woman named Letitia Greenhaulgh in her bedroom against her husband‟s wishes, and during a marathon exorcism eventually killed her after breaking her arms, legs, and neck while trying to force the demon out of her. 116 Over the next few days, lurid photographs of both the accused and of Greenhaulgh‟s mangled corpse were published in newspapers across America and evoked extensive outrage.Her son‟s eyewitness account makes for difficult reading:
“Mitchell took her by the hand…and pulled her arm away from the body. She screamed, oh, she screamed terribly. I jumped forward. Mitchell held me back, and put his hand over my mother‟s mouth and stopped her cries. He said,“of course, I shall not hurt her. Those cries are not her cries. That is the screaming of the demons and the devils as they leave her. She is all right….Mitchell and his wife again drew near to my mother. They took her arms and drew them out straight. There was a crackling sound. I found out afterwards that they broke the bones. They did the same with her legs. They pulled at her head. They pinched and worked with her flesh. She groaned and cried out. They said she would be all right. Then mother seemed to become quiet. She looked at me. She said, “I was in hell. I am in heaven now.” I thought she meant she was getting better….When she said that they started working on her with renewed vigor.” 117

Two other deaths soon surfaced, although they were never prosecuted due to lack of sufficient evidence given the Zion coroner‟s cover -up. One involved a 15-year girl named Bertha Young, apparently also exorcized by Mitchell. A third involved a teenage boy, Frank Crowe, whose healers were never apparently determined:
“The boy suffered from typhoid fever, but his parents, who were Parhamites, are alleged to have denied him medical attendance. Instead, he was subjected to the treatment of “driving out devils” and the “gift of tongues”. Those who were at his bedside when he died assert that he cried piteously for water, which was refused, the fanatics telling him that the Lord would provide water. They are also said to have thrust their fingers down his throat to reach “the devils that were tormenting him.” When death put an end to his torture, it is allege d that his tongue was found to have been slit as though with a knife.”118

Could this latter healing have involved Lake? There is a cryptic passage in Lake‟s later writings where he and fellow Perhamite Cyrus Fockler at this time treated a boy with “typhoid fever,” although in this case Lake claimed to have succeeded. 119

Because Lake and Hezmalhalch were not directly implicated in the exorcisms, they were not prosecuted by the authorities. But neither of the two showed misgivings about what had occurred. Three days after the Greenhaulgh killing, Lake did denounce Mitchell at Zion City in some what muted terms. 120Even so, he remained obsessed with demon-possession in month following the Greenhaulgh tragedy. Immediately after decamping from Zion City he went on along fast. According to his own testimony on the fifth day the voice of God came to him and told him that “from thenceforth you shall cast out demons.” 121 Soon after this, Lake claims to have cast out a demon successfully in Indianapolis. In early 1908 he was boasting to newspaper reporters about his power to “heal the insane,” maintaining that “insanity is a kind of demon–a “nutty‟ demon.”122  (Academia pgs.25-26)

If the state authorities did not hold Lake and Hezmalhalch responsible for the exorcism deaths,the local population of the Zion City area did. W.G. Voliva, the town‟s theocratic mayor, demanded that all the “Wizards and Necromancers of Hell” be “driven from Zion.” 123 Further declaring that “Parham, Tom [Hezmalhalch], Lake” were “responsible in a greater or less degree ” for the Greenhaulgh outrage, Voliva declared that “the time has now come for these religious fanatics to cease forever proclaiming their hellish doctrine and to forever quit our town….they have put themselves outside the rights of citizens. They are enemies of sane mankind, though claiming to be religious….They must move on.” 124 Secular voices were no less harsh: “it is too much to expect Lake County people to stand any more for the Parhamites of Zion City, which these ferocious fanatics are said to belong to, and the entire sect should be driven out of Zion City and out of Illinois without mercy.” 125

In the face of these threats Lake and Hezmalhalch moved quickly to Indianapolis, 126 while the rest of the Parhamites scattered too. Within a month, newspapers reported that “you cannot find a Parhamite in town anymore.” 127

Only one Parhamite was left in Zion in the aftermath of the killings. Harold Mitchell, who was convicted of manslaughter in November 1907 for Greenhaulgh‟s death, was freed on a technicality early the next year. Given that the Greenhaulghs had fled Zion for Wisconsin and could not be found, Mitchell was let free due to the lack of witnesses against him. 128 He would also receive legal assistance from Voliva, was given a job at the church-owned Zion Lace Factory, where he would work until his death in 1931 (when he was buried near John AlexanderDowie).

Despite the nation-wide outrage over the killings, the main reprisal for Lake and the Parhamites was their impoverishment at being forced to leave Zion. Because they had signed 1,100 year leases on their property, they effectively forfeited their houses.

All the Parhamites, including Lake, Hezmalhalch, and Bosworth, covered up their involvement in the gruesome events of September 1907, which have only come to light recently. (Academia pgs. 26-27)
126 – (Lake’s final act before leaving was to go to court on October 7th to recover money owed to him by another individual. This is a far cry from giving away his million dollar fortune as he later alleged he was doing at this time! See Waukegan Daily Sun 8 October 1907) )

Sojourn In Indianapolis: October 1907-April 1908

(Lake met up with Hezmalhalch in Indianapolis where he led a church overseen by William Seymor, while raising funds to take a missionary team to Africa.)
He forge forward to craft a new mystique about himself, and establish himself as a leading figure in the Pentecostal movement. While doing these things, Lake also raised funds for the first Pentecostal missionary expedition to South Africa. Once his group left for Africa in April 1908, he gave up his leadership of the Indianapolis Pentecostal community.
Lake‟s elevation to a position of formal religious leadership for the first time led him to craft a new, devious biography for himself that would hide his Parhamite past. The first part of this new biography was his personal calling, which he maintained had occurred earlier in 1907. A key part of this narrative was Lake‟s alleged decision to leave Dowie and Zion in 1904 in order to start a business career. His protégé Gordon Lindsey has summarized the rest of the story:
“In 1904 he moved to Chicago and bought a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade. At the time he handled Jim Hill‟s Western Canadian land and made a personal friend of this great railroad man and financier. The first day Lake opened his office he made $2500 on a real estate deal, and at the end of one year and nine months he had $100,000 in the bank, real estate amounting to $90,000 and also a $30,000 paid up life insurance policy. Representing the Chicago Board of Trade he met Harriman and Ryan and others who were celebrated financiers. He was employed by Ryan to form a trust of three of the nation‟s largest insurance companies. Appointed manager of agencies he was offered by the company a guarantee of $50,000 a year to continue in this business.”135

Despite this amazing success, Lake claimed to have been perpetually felt himself to be “disobedient” to God, refusing to take up life as a preacher of the Gospel. After receiving the Gift of Tongues and Baptism in the Holy Ghost he had a vision, in which “a Voice began to talk to me out of that light” and to remind him again of his “disobedience.” Soon after, he was called by a friend to heal a lady who had been suffering from “inflammatory rheumatism” for over ten years. After praying for the woman, she was healed miraculously. In light of Letitia Greenhaulgh‟s experience, the description of this imagined event is enlightening:
“He took the crippled hand, that had been set for so many years. The clenched hands opened, and the joints began to work, first the fingers, then the hand and wrist, then the elbow and shoulder.” 136
Following this experience, Lake “could not follow successfully the ordinary pursuits of life and business.” He soon quit, and “disposed of my estate and distributed my funds in a manner I believed to be in the best interests of the Kingdom of God, and made myself wholly dependent upon God for the support of myself and my family, and abandoned myself to the preaching of Jesus.” 137 Not long afterwards, he went on an extended fast, and prayed for the power “to cast out demons.” The Holy Spirit then appeared to him, saying, “ from henceforth thou shalt cast out demons,” which he began to do within days. 138

It goes without saying that Lake‟s story bore little relation to actual events that transpired in Waukegan and Zion between 1904 and 1907.

An additional feature of Lake‟s new persona was his newly-derived “calling” to go to Africa.William Bryant, Lake‟s old boss in the Zionist church, had been sent to South Africa by Dowie in 1904. In a couple of years, he had developed the Zionists‟ biggest foreign congregation there. 139 Although most members of the church were impoverished African peasants, Bryant had also organized many successful tithes-paying white congregations on the Rand, includingKrugersdorp, which was called “one of the most profitable centers” in the entire church. 140 During the period from 1904 on Bryant‟s region reported far more baptisms than any other section of the church, and was clearly the most successful.141Following Dowie‟s demise, Bryant had emerged as a minor contender to the Zionist leadership, but was eclipsed by his hated rival W. G. Voliva. This defeat prompted Bryant to pull his South African congregations out of theZionist church. 142But rather than remaining in South Africa, Bryant decided to relocate to California. As a result an existing, profitable, leaderless organization was thus ripe for the taking. Lake clearly decided to try and take it over, although, being penniless, he lacked the means to get there with an entourage.
Lake‟s divine calling to go to South Africa, as usual contained two notable elements: lots ofsmall details meant to convince; and plenty of dubious logic to make his leadership role ineluctable:
“I went to Indianapolis, Indiana for a 10-day visit with Bro. Tom [Hezmalhalch] who was preaching there. Then I assisted with the services and work. While visiting the home of a Bro. Osborne…the Spirit of the Lord came upon me and God talked to me concerning Africa….for years I had felt that one day God would send me to Africa, but never possessing what I regarded as the Divine Equipment necessary for a successful Christian worker. I had banished the thought and stifled the voice within….God gave me at this time a spiritual vision of Africa, especially of the Zion work there— so accurate, that when I arrived in Africa 14 months later I found it correct in every detail.” 143
Not long later after this alleged incident, Lake went to pray with “Bro. Pearse” back in Zion City:
“As we knelt to pray, my soul was in such anguish I felt myself being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, then commenced the most vivid spiritual experience of my life….Oh how he showed me His love for me. He showed me the lost world, dying souls, the sick and suffering, saying “all this I did for thee, what hast thou done for me?” until my heart broke and, in anguish, I cried and told him I would go all the way with Him even unto death….Then the Spirit said, Will You Go? I said, “Yes Lord, any place, anywhere. But, Oh Jesus, the burden must be yours, the responsibility is yours. Then came a series of different visions of different cities came before me: first, Zion City, IL, where the Glory of God overshadowed the old Dr. Dowie tabernacle in Shiloh Park as a heavenly light….Then he showed me the down-town district of the city of Indianapolis, Indiana, and the same illumination of God‟s glory….Then, Johannesburg, South Africa, and a wonderful illumination of God‟s glory lighting up the whole 31 land….Again, I heard the voice, “Will you go?” “Yes, yes,” I cried, “if you will prepare and equip me and go withme.”…”Lord, I will go. I‟ll go at once.”144

[As an aside, it is worth noting that Lake‟s two sets of visions, both of which happened soon after the other, were inherently contradictory. In the first place, he was told by the Holy Spirit to give away all his possessions and to become a preacher. Not long afterwards, he is told to go evangelize in Africa, but of course he is now forced to beg for money. How Pentecostal scholars and layman have failed to see through this problem is beyond me.]Once again, Lake skillfully hid his personal own personal agenda in these visions. According to his rendition, he is merely acceding to divine will in his actions, and his own desires to seek fame and fortune as a “religious adventurer” are conveniently obscured. By early 1908 he was clearly communicating with Bryant, who seems to have inserted him as his heir-apparent prior to hisown departure in April.] 145

During late 1907 Lake pushed forward his agenda to launch a South Africa mission, and got the go-ahead from Seymour. In January 1908 Seymour publicized an upcoming convention in Indianapolis where the evangelizing group would be organized and funded, and directed all donations to Lake‟s address.146From late January to early February the conference met. Attendance was not that strong, some keynote speakers failed to arrive, but the attendee maintained that “the power is greatly in evidence. 147 Once the conference began, it was clear that the core of the missionary party was to consist of Hezmalhalch, Lake, and Lehmann. Lake explained to the attendees that the party was planning on “specializing just now on the art of healing….Brother Tom and I have just returned from Zion City….Now, Tom and I, when we went up there, didn‟t have very much of the power of healing, and as the people up there expect you to deliver the goods, we had to work mighty hard….Now we are doing much healing.” 148

One of the highlights of the convention was the alleged glossolalic outburst of one Sister Starrattin Zulu. Lehmann, who had preached among Ndebele mine workers in Rhodesia, maintained that her uttering of “Toola Lop” (which he rendered as “cease talking”) was a divine intervention to make a dissenting speaker shut up. 149 (Academia 28-31)

Africa Bound

Not very much money was raised at the convention itself. However, after it was over, a donation was made, apparently by Los Angeles-based George Studd, the wealthiest man in the Pentecostal community. 150 Lake‟s version of events was the following:
“One day during the following February my preaching partner said to me, “John, how much will it cost to take our party to Johannesburg, South Africa?” I replied, “Two thousand dollars.” He said, “If we are going to Africa in the Spring, it is time you and I were praying for the money.” I said, “I have been praying for the money ever since New Year . I have not heard from the Lord or anyone else concerning it.” He added, “Never mind, let‟s pray again.” A few days later he returned from the post office and threw out on the table four $500 drafts saying, “John, there is the answer. Jesus has sent it. We are going to Africa.” 151

Barry Morton Department of History, University of South Africa – Morton’s response to Marius Nel

*>Barry Morton reveals much information conflicting with a great deal of present biographical material on the life of John G. Lake.* In link above as well.

“In recent years I have published or put online several articles making the case that John G Lake, the initiator of Pentecostalism in southern Africa and the founder of the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM), was a fraud.1 In 2016, Marius Nel, who is considered by the AFM to be a major authority on the church’s history,2 wrote an extensive critique of my work in Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae. About five years ago, I began to investigate Lake as I was looking for a topic that connected the state of Indiana (where Lake’s mission party was based and where I reside), and Africa. After being drawn to the Lake story, I began to investigate local source material. I started off reading sources such as Reidt and Lindsay, as well as Lake’s own writings,9 all of which Nel believes are authoritative, but found quickly that the information they contained was unreliable. Lake, I found, was rarely at the places he claimed to be at. Much of his established autobiography was contradicted by material I was examining. What I came to realise was that Lake was consciously fabricating a whole back story about his life and experiences.”

A quote purportedly made by Cecil John Rhodes about Lake, serves as an example as to why I realised Lake was a charlatan; an example that also illustrates Nel’s blind spots:

Cecil John Rhodes: “His message has swept Africa. He has done more toward South Africa’s future peace than any man.”11

Gordon Lindsay in his biographical book, ‘John G. Lake: Apostle to Africa’ reports; “South African empire builder Cecil Rhodes said about Lake, “His message has swept Africa. He has done more toward South Africa’s future peace than any other man.” (13 Gordon Lindsay, ed., (Dallas, TX: Christ for the Nations, 1979), 53.)
* Cecil John Rhodes died in 1902, 6 years before John G. Lake stepped foot in Africa.
Cecil John Rhodes PC (5 July 1853 – 26 March 1902) “Death of Mr. Rhodes”. The Times. 27 March 1902. p. 7…

Nel believes that this quote is true, since he cites it word for word in his AFM history.12 What I would like to ask Nel is this: If your own historical methods are so rigorous, and mine are so “dubious and unacceptable”, how could you possibly believe that this quote is legitimate? Cecil Rhodes died in 1902, six years before Lake ever set foot in Africa. – Barry Morton

One More Example Of Conflicting, Contradictions In Life Of John G. Lake


A major part of Lake’s charismatic appeal was his insistence that he had given up a lucrative career in business in 1907 to “turn all my attention to bringing men to the feet of Jesus”.39 Yet, despite Lake’s claims to have built up major businesses in Sault Ste Marie and Chicago, contemporary records indicate he had a very, very modest career as a carpenter and salesman.

According to Reidt, Lake first built up an extensive “real estate business” with over $90 000 worth of property following his move back to Sault Ste Marie in 1896.40These claims cannot be verified and border on the ridiculous, as contemporary reports demonstrate. The 1900 census lists Lake as a “carpenter”,41 while Sault Ste Marie newspapers in the 1890s show that in the 1896-8 period he was buying single properties, investing money in them, and reselling – i.e. that he was a “house-flipper”. The value of all these properties, which he owned one at a time, was under $2 000.42In comparison to other construction firms in the town, Lake ran a very small-scale one-man operation. He did not advertise his services in the newspapers, and nor did he bid on large public projects.43 In an extensive review of the local real estate scene in 1900, Lake is not even mentioned although dozens of other contractors were.44 Nor was he a journalist at this time either, despite his claims of founding the Sault Times newspaper (which Nel refers to as the “Soo Times”). There are no extant copies of this short-lived paper available, but reports in Sault Ste Marie indicate that this newspaper was founded by one “George Ferris”, while no mention whatsoever is made of Lake.45 Once again, the historical record shows that Lake was not doing what he claimed to be doing.

A host of varying sources from Illinois also demonstrate the falsity of Lake’s claims to have been a wealthy businessman in Chicago. Lake claimed to have moved from Sault Ste Marie to Zion, IL, in 1901 to have become the leader of Dowie’s real estate operations.46 In fact, he was just a repairman in the maintenance department – as his colleagues noted later on.47 After Dowie’s empire began to crumble, Lake maintained that he moved on to bigger and better things:

In 1904 he moved to Chicago and bought a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade. At the time he handled Jim Hill’s Western Canadian land and made a personal friend of this great railroad man and financier. The first day Lake opened his office he made $2 500 on a real estate deal, and at the end of one year and nine months he had $100 000 in the bank, real estate amounting to $90 000 and also a $30 000 paid up life insurance policy. Representing the Chicago Board of Trade he met Harriman and Ryan and others who were celebrated financiers. He was employed by Ryan to form a trust of three of the nation’s largest insurance companies. Appointed manager of agencies he was offered by the company a guarantee of $50 000 a year to continue in this business.48

All of these claims are unfounded, with each detail being easy to disprove. In the first place, Lake did not move to Chicago in 1904, and is not listed in any city directories from 1905 to 1907.49 Instead, he remained a resident of Zion as he owned a property in the city until he fled to Indianapolis in late 1907. As Lake noted in his diary: “[I]n October 1907 … I was called at my home in Zion, IL.”50 Additionally, Chicago Board of Trade membership records from this period make no mention of Lake at all, either as a member or as a prospective member.51

If Lake was in fact not working in Chicago as a high-level financier, what was he doing? A host of records show that he was working as an insurance salesman and property broker north of Chicago in the town of Waukegan, which was connected to Zion by trolley. During 1906 Waukegan newspapers featured small advertisements placed by Lake. These advertisements show he was brokering properties for E.V. Orvis, the town’s most prominent businessman. Lake also acted as an agent for the “People’s Life Assurance Society”. His very own advertisements show that this company was not formed by Ryan, Harriman and other “celebrated financiers”, as he claimed, but by Elona G Nelson and Fremont Hoy.52 Although Lake also claimed to have conducted business in lavishly-furnished offices in downtown Chicago, he actually worked out of extremely modest office space in Waukegan.53

Having read through hundreds of newspaper articles about Dowie’s Zion City, as well as his church’s publications during this period, I can assert that John G Lake was not a prominent member of Dowie’s church, and he is nowhere mentioned as being a wealthy member of it. Because Dowie’s empire went into receivership twice and was financially bankrupt from 1903 onwards, the wealthiest members of the Zionists were all well known as potential saviours. Lake is never mentioned in this regard, even though he later claimed to have been rich at the time.54

Nel maintains that I have no proof of Lake’s financial or business status at this period, since I lack such documentation as bank statements. On the contrary, I have convincingly cited evidence of his modest occupations and status at this time, while also proving that his illustrious business career was a pure fantasy. According to Reidt and Nel, Lake made a “great sacrifice” to abandon his business career and follow the Lord in 1907. In fact, based on the documented evidence, he gave up absolutely nothing. – Swimming in Lake Exaggeration

The Bubonic Plague Germ ‘Story’

“He proved to local physicians that the germs would not live on his body due to the Holy Spirit alive in Him. He actually verified this under a microscope showing that the germs died upon contact with his body. Those who witnessed the experiment stood in amazement as Lake gave glory to God explaining that: “It is the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. I believe that just as long as I keep my soul in contact with the living God so that His Spirit is flowing into my soul and body, that no germ will ever attach itself to me, for the Spirit of God will kill it.

“To demonstrate, he had them take live bubonic plague germs still foaming from the lungs of a newly dead person and put them in his hands and then examine the germs under a microscope. They were dead.”

According to Lake’s revelation no germs could live in him in Africa, but in the US it was a different story. research done by Greg DesVoignes cites the “Spokesman Review,” April 24, 1929 “Frequently he had to pause to cough or sneeze, as he was suffering from a cold. Once he had to go out into the hall to stop a spasm of coughing.”

A Plague In The Hands Of Storytellers

An in-depth look into this account, from a historical, scientific, and most importantly, Biblical, regarding Lake’s doctrine of faith. ‘(Discrepancies – Impossibilities, – Excellent Research)


Todd Bentley’s ‘Healing Angel’ With Branham & Lake

Bentley says: “Then on December 5, 2000 an angel appeared to me and said he was the angel that appeared to me in April 1998 (before the Lord Jesus Christ came to me in the kitchen). He said that the day he came to me in 1998 was the day he was assigned to me. This time (on December 5th) the angel said, “I am the angel that has been assigned to your life. I am a healing angel . . . You are going to take miracles, signs and wonders around the world.”

I was with William Branham” (the Voice of Healing movement), the angel said. He told me about William Branham’s angelic encounter in 1946. Two years later the Voice of Healing was born there was a revival.”

 “The angel appeared to me again, February, 2001 in Albany, Oregon. He said, “I am the angel that was a part of the Healing Rooms . . . John G. Lake.” Next, my spirit was quickened when I read about the angel in the Bible—John Chapter 5. The word says there was a pool called Bethesda (v. 2) and multitudes of lame, blind, sick would come there and at a certain time, an angel of the Lord would come down and stir the waters. Whoever could get into the pool first would be healed.

 Todd Bentley. I thought, Lord, they are angels, just like the one I saw. “That is right!” He said. “Just like the one that was with Branham, just like the one that was with John Lake, just like the angel that was in Spokane .

*HERE’S AN EX. OF TRANSFERENCE OF SPIRITS THRO’ WRITTEN MATERIAL, read, believed, rec’d.* (Little known facts connecting possibly, Charles Finney, William Branham, Roland Buck and Bob Jones,-then anyone rec’ing Bob Jones!) *This is a demonically inspired deceiving account, revealing a demonic reality!

Bob explained to Patrick that the angel was with William Branham and then at the end of his life William Branham went off and the Lord took him home to Heaven. then the angel of truth appeared to Roland Buck and then the people began to worship the angels and the Lord took Roland Buck home to Heaven. Next the angel of truth appeared to Bob. 

Charles Finney, John G. Lake, William Branham, Roland Buck, Bob Jones, Todd Bentley –

Who’s next?

Examples of deluding activities, with the deluded in this location, that the supposed ‘wind of truth/ change/revival,’ visited, 1st exp. by Charles Finney, then William Branham, Roland Buck, Bob Jones, then this ‘church,’ and others; Todd Bentley, David Hertzog, Jeff Jansen, Darren Canning, Charlie Shamp–live-stream.html

4 thoughts on “John G. Lake-FormativeYears 1870-1908-Construed Biography

  1. Hahahah
    Your evidence and logic is a bit lacking there. “there is no evidence of” a hundred years later means evidence to you?

    Have you done actual research? Been to SA? Check out for folks that know he was there, because the church denomination Lake set up in Africa has been there ever since.

    Funny what people post because they heard it somewhere. Meanwhile the lies drop from the like honey, merely because they trust a charlatan who is trying to call others what he is.


    1. Hi again. I’m not sure of your apparent quote, “there is no evidence of” a hundred years later,” meaning no evidence of Lake being in Africa. The two articles cover a lot of detail of Lake’s adventures/misadventures in Africa. What should be given attention to are the years of factual misinformation and clear fabrication, in Lake’s life. Again, please address any incorrect content, other than the beliefs held by any sources that divine healing is not divine at all, but a misnomer, saying healings are not for today. I do believe in divine healing.
      Thank you for pointing out what you believed was said about ““there is no evidence of” a hundred years later,” as it allows for clarification, that Lake was indeed in Africa. Can you point out where the phrase was made, for further clarification?


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