By: Donna J. Kazenske
Aimee Semple McPherson is a name that is
continually mentioned in sermons, magazines,
newspapers and websites all over the world. I
admire Aimee and all of her efforts to bring
forth the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who
did not know him. Aimee and her mother are
thought to be the first two women who traveled
successfully across the United States in their
automobile. Aimee introduced jazz music into the
church. Her use of illustrated sermons and
dramatization became very popular in her day and
has carried on through the ages of time . We
could say that she turned the religious world of
her day upside down.
Aimee Elizabeth Kennedy was born to James and
Minnie on October 9, 1890 in the upstairs room
of their Salford farmhouse.
As a 13-year old she was already in demand as a
public speaker. She did much studying on
Darwin's theory of evolution. She made her
knowledge public by writing articles in
newspapers etc. At the age of 15, Aimee had
become quite a debater on behalf of evolutionary
theories. It was said that no clergyman in the
area could win an argument with her.
In December of 1907, a young evangelist by the
name of Robert
Semple came to town. Aimee, who considered
herself an atheist,
decided to attend one of his meetings. She
thought it would be rather enjoyable to make fun
of the evangelist and the people who were
attending the meeting. To her surprise, the
events of that evening changed her life. She
gave her life to Jesus Christ and began to ask
questions about the Holy Spirit. Amy also found
herself falling in love with Mr. Semple. On
August 12, 1908, Aimee and Robert Semple were
Two years after their marriage Robert and Aimee
sailed to China. On their way, they stopped at
Robert's parents who lived in Ireland. The took
this little slot of time to rest, as Aimee was
Their last stop on their way to
China was in London. They stayed with a
Christian millionaire named Cecil Polhill. The
night before they were to leave for China from
London, Cecil asked Aimee to "bring the message"
to a crowd gathered at London's Albert Hall.
Aimee reluctantly agreed to preach. This was
something she had never done before. She was
still a very young 19 year old woman who was
absolutely terrified to stand before a crowd of
15,000. She had no clue what to do as she stood
behind the platform. She opened her Bible and it
fell open to a particular Scripture that was
illuminated to her by the Holy Spirit. She
preached for almost one hour as the crowd was
captivated by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Needless to say, her first sermon was a success.
Aimee and Robert finally arrived in China in
June of 1910. Robert immediately began to preach
to the natives through an interpreter. The
opportunities for preaching the Gospel were
widespread in this area. One of their greatest
problems in China was the sanitary conditions.
Two months after the Semple's arrived, they were
both hospitalized with malaria and dysentery.
Five days after their second wedding
anniversary, Robert died during the night in his
One month after Robert's death,
Aimee gave birth to a healthy baby
girl. She named her daughter Roberta Star, in
remembrance of her
Aimee and her new baby returned
to the United States to join Aimee's mother, now
separated from her father and living in New
It was in New York that Aimee
met a man by the name of Harold
Stuart McPherson. He was a 23-year-old
accountant from providence, Rhode Island. Many
called him "Mack" for short. It wasn't long
before Mack fell in love with Aimee and asked
her to marry him. She finally consented, and
they were married in the spring of 1912. On
March 23, 1913, Aimee gave birth to a second
child, a boy they named Rolf.
After the birth of Rolf, Aimee went into
postpartum depression which left her devastated.
Mack would often come home from work to find her
hiding in the corner, sobbing, and attempting in
vain to pray.
It was also during this time
that Aimee began to hear the voice of God in her
prayer times. She kept hearing the Lord say,
Word!". "Will you go?" These were the last words
that Aimee wanted to hear the Lord speak to her.
She kept herself quite busy, attempting to "push
down" what God was stirring in her heart.
In spite of all that she was doing to keep
herself busy, Amy became
deathly ill. She had literally been working
herself to death. The voice of the Holy Spirit
continued to ask her the same questions with an
additional "Go! Do the works of an evangelist."
Aimee underwent several operations, but her
health continued to
decline, until at one point the nurses attending
her had given her up for dead. The voice came
one last time: "NOW will you go?"
This sickness had really taken a toll on Aimee
and with what she believed to be her last
breath, she said "yes" to the Lord. To her
amazement and all those around her, she found
healed and back on her feet within two weeks.
Aimee attended a Pentecostal campmeeting in
Kitchener, Ontario during the summer of 1915.
She found herself responding to the altar call
at the end of one of the meetings. She came
forward and was asked to raise her hands and
pray aloud. She threw her arms into the air and
began to pray for forgiveness. As she did this,
the anointing of the Holy Spirit came upon her
and she began to speak in tongues. She laughed
and cried while her entire body shook under the
power of God. As she reached out to touch
others, they also began receiving the Holy
Spirit. This was truly a day of new beginnings
for Aimee Semple McPherson.
Aimee was a woman who did many peculiar things.
Once at a Mission in Ontario, she had scheduled
a meeting. No one showed up for the meeting, so
Aimee took a chair and placed it on a curb next
to a barber shop. She got on the chair, closed
her eyes and raised her hands toward heaven to
pray silently. She didn't move a muscle for a
long period of time. A crowd soon began to
gather around her wondering what this crazy
woman was doing. After about an hour or so, she
jumped off the chair onto the ground and said,
"People, come and follow me, quick." The group
of about 50 people followed her right into the
mission where she was supposed to preach. By the
end of the week, Amy was preaching to nightly
crowds of 500.
Since the crowds were beginning to grow in
number, Aimee decided to purchase a tent to hold
her meetings in. She took this tent all over
America preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Aimee also raised enough money to buy a 1912
Packard touring car
for her traveling ministry. This car carried
quite a message on it. One side of the car was
painted with "JESUS IS COMING SOON, GET READY".
The other side of the car said, "WHERE WILL YOU
SPEND ETERNITY?" Amy called her car the Gospel
Car. She was not one to be ashamed of the Gospel
of Jesus Christ. She stood firm on what she
believed and wanted others to know of His saving
Aimee finally moved her family
to Los Angeles, where she had a strong desire to
have a permanent facility to have her meetings.
She wanted to raise up a center where people
could come and worship the Lord freely. She also
wanted to establish a place where those called
into the ministry could be trained and prepared.
She found the perfect location for what would be
the home for the Church of the Foursquare Gospel
- Angelus Temple. This facility would seat
5,000. Aimee preached many illustrated sermons
in this facility. She used music and drama to
bring across the message that she was preaching.
The most controversial event in Aimee's entire
life was her kidnapping. This was reported on
May 18, 1926.
On this particular morning of May 18, 1926,
Aimee and her secretary went to Ocean Park.
During their time here, Aimee wanted to relax
and write some sermons. As she was wading in the
water, a couple approached her and asked her to
come and pray for their baby. Aimee followed
them to their car, and as she looked inside,
someone pushed her inside and shoved a
chloroform-soaked cloth in her face. She awoke
in a small house, where she was held captive for
When Aimee did not return from her swim, a
search party was called out. Finding no trace of
her, they concluded that she had drowned.
Minnie Kennedy received a ransom note from
kidnappers on June
19th demanding $500,000 for Aimee's safe return.
Minnie was totally convinced that her daughter
was dead and did not take the ransom note
Aimee was eventually taken to the desert where
managed to escape from those who had abducted
About one month after she was abducted, she was
found collapsed in front of a home in Mexico.
The people who found her, found an
American cab driver who took her to the
sheriff's office across the border in Arizona.
From there she was taken to a hospital where she
was eventually reunited with her mother and
One thing led to another as the grand jury
became involved in the
kidnapping case. The newspapers were covered
with negative articles regarding the event.
After months of investigation and world-wide
publicity, the case was dropped.
Aimee seemed to thrive on the publicity that she
received through the newspapers etc. She used
the publicity to point people to Jesus.
Aimee's death was another great controversial
event. Some believed that she had committed
suicide, but there had been no symptoms of
depression in her life. On October 13, 1944 the
Coroner's Office officially ruled her death as
"caused by shock contributed to by adrenal
hemorrhage and respiratory failure from an
accidental overdose of barbital compound."
Even though Aimee's life was controversial to
many, she was still a
woman who was willing to say "yes" to the call
of God. She persevered in the midst of many
trials, yet she never stopped preaching about
Jesus. She had made a decision to serve the Lord
with a joyful heart and this is exactly what she
Donna Kazenske's began ministering in 1986 and
has been going full force ever since. She has
studied with Berean School of the Bible in
Springfield, Missouri, and is now studying with
World Impact Bible Institute in Ontario, Canada
and the Online Bible College in Australia. She
is an anointed psalmist with a gift for writing
"new songs." She serves full-time at Latter Rain
Ministries as an Office Manager and Webmaster.
She travels worldwide preaching and teaching the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. She preaches with fire
and has a strong prophetic mantle. She has
taught in the International Children's Ministry
Institutes in Africa, India, and Russia and
directed an ICMI in Lucknow, India in 2000. She
is ordained through Latter Rain Ministries,
Donna's Website: Waves of Glory