“The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.” Psalm 118:15
E. D. Whiteside was a Methodist preacher from Canada who had struggled for years with poor health. He eventually left the ministry for eleven years, seeking ways to improve his health by working outdoors. Under the influence of A. B. Simpson, he came into a place of blessing both spiritually and physically as the Lord touched his body and sanctified his soul. While Whiteside was in Pittsburgh, PA, attempting to secure work, the Lord spoke to him about starting a rescue mission with his renewed health. Along with his faithful and spiritually-minded wife Annie, Whiteside began to vigorously pursue the “down and outs” of the Steel City. As he trusted God for finances and made thousands of calls a year, word began to spread about the unusual blessing of God upon this man who had been given a second chance at the ministry. He soon became the superintendent of the Christian and Missionary Alliance work in Pittsburgh.
All over the city, little chapels and rescue missions began to pop up that looked to Whiteside as their spiritual father or grandfather. The work began to spread into other parts of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Whiteside’s reputation for winning souls and discipling young converts became known among the CMA folks at the Nyack Bible School, who would send young preachers to Pittsburgh to “hit the streets” with Brother Whiteside and learn the art of prevailing prayer. From the time he began his work in Pittsburgh until his death in 1928, Whiteside spent nearly four decades mak- ing a significant impact on the spiritual life of his city and region, sending scores of young men into the pulpits of western Pennsylvania churches and into foreign mission fields. It was said that at his passing, a young A. W. Tozer mourned for a week over the loss of this great man.
The secret to E. D. Whiteside’s success is tied to the verse from Psalm 118 quoted above. He was a righteous man made so by the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Ghost. He believed firmly in the power of the new birth to change the character and the destiny of new converts, and he believed and preached a sanctifying baptism of the Holy Ghost that purified the heart and empowered the soul to witness. He urged his converts to follow him into the experience of holiness and the life of separation that follows such an experience. There was much rejoicing in the Gospel Tabernacles to which he was a spiritual father as the emphasis was on enjoying a full salvation and proclaiming that salvation to every soul possible. A life of prayer was seen as the natural extension of an experience of sanctification. His life of prayer set an example to his spiritual children, and his admonition to young preachers was to spend much time in prayer. The yearly Pittsburgh conventions that were held in Carnegie Hall were preceded by months of agonizing corporate prayer as Whiteside and his dedicated workers lay hold of the throne of grace with agonizing and fervent intercessory prayer. The sanctuary was typically saturated with the presence of God at the beginning of the convention. If there was a certain “block” in the atmosphere, a night of prayer would be called for by Whiteside, and the prayer warriors would seek the Lord until the break came. Young preachers testi- fied that praying with Whiteside and watching the Gospel triumphs that followed his prayer ministry utterly changed their perspective on ministry and the Christian life. They realized that maintaining a good atmosphere in their conventions and chapels paved the way for the “right hand of the Lord to do valiantly.” All spiritual conquests flow from a revival spirit among the people of God. When this spiri- tual atmosphere is lost, the spirit of conquest is lost as well. Whiteside convinced a generation of young preachers that “the glory” was essential, and they fought to maintain it in their own subse- quent ministries. As they witnessed souls get saved, sanctified, and healed in the Pittsburgh conventions, they purposed to pay the price to see the “hand of God doing valiantly” in their own fields of labor.
Many of us have memories of praying saints, revival services, and campmeetings where the atmosphere was supercharged with the presence of God. The outflow of such meetings was a desire to maintain the principles that produced such an atmosphere and to promote those principles at all costs. The modern church world seems to fight against these concepts of separation, consecration, and spiritual “glory.” The cross-bearing that is needed is anathema to modern religious workers in the larger Evangelical world. Social justice is all the rage, and a sanctified atmosphere is a thing for emo- tionally unstable relics from the past who are bound by “legalism” and who don’t understand “grace.” The question is: which way, modern church? Shall we follow the trendsetters of the present day or sanctified saints like Whiteside, who became known as the “Pray- ing Man of Pittsburgh” even in his day? If we take our Bibles seriously, the choice should be easy.