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Who Was E.W. Kenyon?

Essek William Kenyon (1867 – 1948) was an evangelist, pastor, president of a Bible Institute, author, songwriter and poet. He is best known for the numerous books that he authored that are still in great demand today. Kenyon’s writings dramatically unfold the glorious truths of the revelation given to the apostle Paul in simple, concise language. He wrote for the spirit man, addressing the heart more than the head.

Understanding the Father-heart of God, who we are in Christ, and the authority and privileges of the believer were central to Kenyon’s message. In his writings E.W. Kenyon calls the believer up and out of the mire of traditional unbelief into the deep, rich treasures of our redemption in Christ. Many lives have been transformed reading his simple, yet profound books.

The Early Years

Born to a poor family in New England in 1867, he grew up with little education. When he was dramatically converted in a Methodist prayer meeting at the age of 17, he immediately began to enthusiastically win souls. An obvious gift and passion emerged for the lost, which would govern his life. His gift as an evangelist began to bear abundant fruit. He also vowed he would become an educator. As he encountered the struggles that often enter the life of a new convert, however, Kenyon did not have the necessary foundation to stand. He had not been discipled in the basic doctrines of the faith and older ministers had infected him with doubt. Years later, he lamented the fact that he had not received the Holy Spirit in these early years, either.

So E.W. Kenyon gradually slipped away from the Lord. He walked in darkness and broken fellowship for about two and a half years. In 1893, newly married and living in Boston, he and his bride attended a service at the Clarendon Street Baptist Church, then pastored by the respected Bible teacher A.J. Gordon. At the service, the Spirit came mightily on Kenyon and he forever gave himself back to the Lord.

He wanted to follow the pattern he had seen modeled by George Muller in trusting God for everything. Restored to his Lord and to his calling, he immediately began to win souls to Christ. Within a few months he was ordained among the Free Will Baptists and was pastoring one of their churches.

He pastored various churches in New England for a few years, and then started an independent work. He left the denomination so that he could trust the Lord completely for his finances, unhappy with the ways money was raised in the churches. He wanted to follow the pattern he had seen modeled by George Muller in trusting God for everything.

As Kenyon continued to minister, many young people approached him about training. He began to consider beginning a Bible school. He knew from his own bitter experience the necessity of grounding new believers in the faith. He had fallen away because of the lack of such grounding. Around the turn of the century, he opened the Bethel Bible Institute. Many young people came to learn the Word of God and the life of faith. It was entirely a faith work. No tuition was charged and the teachers were not paid a salary.

Everything was done through prayer. Well educated Bible teachers gave up good positions to join Kenyon in training young people and live the life of faith. Missionaries were trained and sent from the Institute around the world and around the U.S.

The Later Years

Kenyon left the East Coast in 1923 and relocated to Southern California. He preached for many pastors in the area and he was extremely well received. Miracles of healing were common when he preached. Eventually, Kenyon pastored a work in Los Angeles which grew to about a thousand members. He had two books in print and a monthly publication. An enthusiastic audience greeted him at each of his many weekly services.

Kenyon relocated a third time. This time he moved to the Northwest, eventually settling in Seattle. He resumed radio ministry which he had begun while in Los Angeles and soon found an appreciative audience for his teaching. Public meetings soon evolved into a church. New Covenant Baptist Church, Seattle Bible Institute and The Herald of Life publication were soon in full swing.

E.W. Kenyon’s writing ministry flourished in his Northwest years. He revised his first two books and published many others. His daughter Ruth, finished compiling two near-completed books after his death. These edifying books continue to refresh, encourage and illuminate those who read them, challenging them to possess all that Christ purchased for them in His Finished Work. If you haven’t read any of his writings, you will be blessed as you feast on his unfolding of our great salvation.

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