THOMAS BALL BARRATT 1862-1940
T. B. Barratt, though born in Cornwall, England, became a naturalized Norwegian at four years of age when his father emigrated to Norway in 1867. At 17 years of age he began preaching and was ordained as a deacon in 1889 and an elder in 1891 with the Methodist Episcopal Church of Norway. In 1902 he founded the Oslo City Mission and in 1906 was commissioned to tour America to raise funds for a large central mission in the city of Christiania (now Oslo). His mission was a disappointment financially but he received a remarkable baptism in the Holy Spirit in his hotel room on October 7th, when the Pentecostal Revival was in full swing hundreds of miles away in California. He was in New York waiting for a boat home, probably reduced to a sense of failure, when a supernatural light was seen like a cloven tongue of was seen over his head and he received the Spirit. He later wrote a vivid account, affirming "I began to shout as loud as I could in a foreign language. I must have spoken in seven or eight languages, to judge from the various sounds and forms of speech used. I stood erect at times, preaching in one foreign tongue after another, and knew from the strength of my voice that 10,000 might easily have heard all I said. The most wonderful moment was when I burst into a beautiful baritone solo, using one of the most pure and delightful languages that I have ever heard." (He had formerly studied under the famous Norwegian composer, Grieg.) He sailed for Norway on December 8th and thereafter a Pentecostal Movement began in Scandinavia that spread like fire.
His bold testimony was met with antagonism in the churches, but he fought back with powerful oratory and convincing articles. Immense crowds flocked to public meetings at his newly formed "Filadelfia" assembly in Oslo and the Revival spread all over Northern Europe as far as Finland..
Alexander A. Boddy, vicar of All Saints', Sunderland, heard of what was happening in Norway, and travelled there to investigate. He was immediately convinced that it was from God and persuaded the already overworked Barratt to visit his church in northern England. He came for two exciting weeks at the beginning of September, 1907. Thirsty souls were soon filled with the Holy spirit and the Pentecostal Revival had begun in England. The gift of tongues attracted the attention of the secular press and no further advertisement was needed! When Pastor Barratt returned to Oslo the British leadership was left in the hands of A.A. Boddy and Cecil Polhill.
He travelled abroad carrying his Pentecostal flame to believers in India, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Estonia, Iceland and Denmark. In 1909 his membership in the clergy of The Methodist Episcopal Church was terminated and in the same year he returned to England in 1909, where he spoke in London at Sion College and then at the Whitsuntide Convention in Sunderland that had become an annual event until the First World War in 1914. He stayed with Stanley Frodsham in Bournemouth before he emigrated to America. Then he travelled as far as the Bible Lands and India.
He made little further contact with the British Isles, except by his literature published by Cecil Polhill, until 1935. In that year the Fellowship of Assemblies of God decided invite Mr. and Mrs. Barrett to come over to their annual Conference in Sunderland, the birthplace of the Revival, rather than in London. They were deeply moved there, especially as their old friend Smith Wigglesworth was also present. There was no repetition of 1907, for God is not sentimental, but there were some powerful meetings with mighty singing in the Spirit for long periods.
In 1939 T.B. Barrett was unanimously chosen as President of the Great European Pentecostal Conference in Stockholm. He truly was a father among all the international leaders.
T.B. Barratt died on January 29th, 1940. The church was crowded an hour before the time of the funeral service. The sermon was preached by his lifelong friend Lewi Pethrus of the great sister church in Stockholm. The police computed that 20,000 people lined the streets. Norway has honoured him with a grave among the famous and on the stone has been chiselled an impressive granite likeness of Barratt hugging his beloved Bible. It carries a simple inscription — "ERECTED BY THE PENTECOSTAL FRIENDS OF NORWAY."
Bibliography: Donald Gee, 'These Men I Knew' 1965 and 'Wind and Flame' 1941 and 1967; D.D.Bundy art. 'International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements' 2002.