William Henry Offiler was born in Nottingham, England, on December 20, 1875. His father was a lace maker, carrying on the art which was given to him by his father and grandfather. His mother, Helen Offiler, gave birth to three boys and three girls. William was the third child. He was brought up an Anglican and was confirmed by the Bishop of Southwell in 1890 at the age of Fifteen. He became a member of the church choir and taught himself to play the organ. Young Offiler was addicted to tobacco even after his confirmation. His testimony, he later confessed, gave the impression that he really hadn’t come to know the Lord. However, his heart was moved with the gospel. Shortly he dedicated himself to be a missionary. In his notes written for a sermon dated February 11, 1936, he described the events that led him to such a commitment:
“When I was a boy of sixteen,” he said, “I was in a vast meeting in Nottingham, Eng- land, and in that meeting was John G. Paton. John Paton went down to those South Seas and transformed those tribes into beautiful Christians and now you can’t find a cannibal on those islands, but you can find lots of churches there, and while the modern missionaries are kind of spoiling those works by Modernism, nevertheless Paton and his missionaries triumphed.”
“In that meeting in England, the Lord Bishop said, ‘Is there anyone that wants to con- secrate his life as a missionary?’ and I stood up. He sent a man to take my name and address and in a few days I was placed in the Soudanese Missionary Society for a course of study. But before that four years was over I got an itching in my feet and so I left over there and came to America and found myself in Spokane and there God opened my eyes to a new thing. After fif- teen years he sent me to Seattle and I have been doing missionary work ever since in my way.”
It was in this missionary society, training for work in Africa, that Offiler learned much of the missionary technique. Before leaving England, Offiler became a servant in a home of nobility, which had a great influence on his character. He was dressed in Lord Pomeroy clothes and learned to carry himself with great dignity. He stood about five foot eight, had a square jaw and was of husky build. He studied the boiler-maker trade, following that craft and work- ing also as an iron shipbuilder. In 1898 he left England for Canada, where he found employ- ment with the Canadian Pacific Railroad in Medicine Hat.
Having been struck on the chin in the course of his work as a shipbuilder, and later kicked in the same place in a football match, Offiler had a serious problem with his jawbone, which had begun to decay. At work one morning after a sleepless night, he fainted next to the railroad track. The engineer of a passenger train, seeing him there, stopped and picked him up. He spent the next four months in a hospital, where his teeth were removed and his jaw was operated on.
Spokane, Washington USA
By 1899 he had left Canada and settled in Spokane, Washington, where he experi- enced what he believed to be his first real conversion to the Lord. As it happened, Offiler one day passed by a street meeting being conducted by Captain McClellan and the Volunteers of America. His interest aroused, he followed the Christians to their mission, where subsequently he went forward to the altar. He both committed his life to Jesus and experienced a marvelous, instantaneous deliverance from the tobacco habit.
After that experience, he received a wonderful visitation from the Lord, during which his jaw was finally healed. He described this encounter later in his magazine: “The spirit of prayer came upon me and I could neither eat nor drink, so intense did my desire become to know Jesus. My friends came and tried to get me to eat, but my appetite was completely gone, and almost before I knew it three full weeks had gone by, and there alone in my own room I came face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ. On the twenty-second day of my prayer my jaw- bone blew up, my face swelled all out of shape, my mouth wide open, blood and corruption streamed out of my mouth and this continued for three days and nights.” As he wrestled with Satan in the power of the Lord, “suddenly something struck me in the heart, like an explosive bullet. It burst within me and out of my mouth came the crashing sound of a name, JESUS!” This was repeated three times, with the third bringing him total healing.
Brother Offiler had also been attracted to a young lady who played the pump organ at the street meeting. Soon a romance developed which culminated in his marriage on November 16, 1900, to Gertrude Riley, the daughter of Kelly Riley, who was the plumbing and heating inspector for the City of Spokane.
When he first had seen her, Brother Offiler had said, “That frail girl shouldn’t be out there playing the organ.” She had contracted tuberculosis and become an invalid, being so frail that the doctor told him not to marry her because she wouldn’t live more than a few months. As it was, she spent the first sixteen years of their marriage in a sickbed, which necessitated Brother Offiler doing all of the housework as well as caring for her physical needs almost con- stantly. But she lived another forty years, bearing three children to her husband: Harriet, Wil- liam Edward and Edith.
Brother Offiler was working as a plumbing and heating engineer. He put in the plumb- ing and heating in Davenport Hotel and some of the high schools as he continued to seek after the Lord.
After a period of time, the Offilers were attracted to a series of cottage prayer meet- ings in Spokane. The meetings were composed largely of Christian and Missionary Alliance ad- herents who were fasting and praying in various homes. Once after ten days of prayer and fasting, God poured out his Holy Spirit upon these people. Many of them spoke in tongues as they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. This was Offiler’s first introduction to the Pentecostal re- vival that was spreading throughout the land at the turn of the century, although he did not receive the baptism at that time.
One day, Brother Offiler was walking along the banks of the Spokane River when he felt God speak to him about Jesse and the anointing of his son, David, by the Prophet Samuel. Later, as he entered a local tent meeting, an old elder of the congregation jumped up, took a bottle of anointing oil, and poured it upon Brother Offiler’s head, saying, “You are anointed to be our pastor.” So, in 1908, still without being himself filled with the Spirit, he became pastor of a Pentecostal congregation known as the Apostolic Assembly.
A man and two women came to hold a meeting in the earlier days at the Pentecostal mission at the House of Joseph in Spokane. Knowing something was wrong, Brother Offiler wouldn’t sit with them on the platform. On the way to the meeting, God had given him a vision of what was going to happen, and it happened just as he had seen it. One of the women who were ministering stood and said some crazy things about the mouse and the cat. Then she said, “If God tells me to take off my clothes, I’ll do it.”
Brother Offiler jumped to his feet and said, “Woman, you lay your hand on a button, and I’ll toss you out.” That broke up the meeting, and that took care of the House of Joseph. It turned out that the man was living with the two women. Brother Offiler said Spokane never fully recovered from the spiritual impact of that.
After much misfortune in his plumbing and heating business such as a strike and sup- plies that didn’t come through. Brother Offiler lost everything. Finally he said to the men who worked for him, “Here’s my home: take it from me,” and they did.
Pine Street Mission, Seattle, Washington
They cleaned the house and moved to Glacier National Park, where Brother Offiler went to work with his brother-in-law, Brother Shedman, for the Great Northern. He said he wanted to support the ministry in any way that he could, but he didn’t want to become a preacher again.
As superintendent of plumbing and heating there, he supervised a field crew assigned by the government to construct the park’s new public accommodation buildings. It was thought to have been a two-year contract. During the week he wrestled with plumbing and heating problems, but on Sundays he held church in a big tent on the site of the park’s new buildings.
In the spring of 1914 he received another vision, which was also experienced by his wife, who, he said, “prayed me into the ministry.” In the vision he saw that World War I was coming, and he knew it was coming through the kaiser. The Lord said to him, “Lay down your tools and go, preach the gospel.” They interpreted this as constituting a call into full-time min- isterial service. So he went to the men in charge of Glacier National Park and asked if he could be freed from the contract to do this work. He said, “I know that my brother-in-law can carry on” And they released him. So he laid down his tools, and they returned to Spokane seeking God’s direction for their lives. During this time he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Shortly they moved to Seattle, where he kept praying and waiting on the Lord. But nothing seemed to happen, and they were running out of money. After many weeks went by, he told the Lord, “If something doesn’t transpire, I’m going to polish up my tools and go back to work.” Then one hundred dollars came in the mail. It met the need.
He had been attending the Pine Street Mission above a furniture store in the Proctor Building at the corner of Second and Pine in the inner city. The Pentecostal message had come to this church and the pastor had a real ability to present the gospel. Brother Offiler, however,
had a vision through which he realized that there was something wrong in the mission. He saw beautiful, rippling waters, but as he went closer he saw the carcass of a creature lying in the waters. Shortly after that, he was called to be the new pastor. He accepted the call and went to work in 1914.
Despite the fact that Pastor Offiler had no formal theological training, he was very suc- cessful in attracting a large following. The ministry rapidly developed into a revival center. For eight years the mission had continuous revival. There was a continuous move of the Spirit of God at the Pine Street Mission as he ministered the word of the Lord.
Then the Lord began to give him much insight into the end times, the bride of Christ and the Godhead, some of which he did not immediately interpret correctly. He had come to the conviction that Scripture of necessity must be interpreted both literally and figuratively. This belief, in turn, led him to the extreme of endeavoring to find a symbolic meaning in every- thing, and in attempting to interpret symbolic meaning literally. However, in spite of this, Pas- tor Offiler continued to receive, through Bible study and revelation, rich truth for the last-days church which has provided sound biblical direction.
One revelation reportedly came in an unusual way after Pastor Offiler had finished the ministry of a meeting at the Pine Street Mission and was sitting around with some of the saints. It is said that the Spirit of God came down and acted the end times in pantomime. Evi- dently, in other ways in the meeting just concluded Pastor Offiler had seen this taking place. Then later, the report came from a missionary from China that when this was happening in Se- attle, a counterpart was happening in China. It was even said that Chinese children were re- ceiving the revelation of end times, Revelation chapter twelve and the great red dragon, which were things they had never even read about. It indicated to them that the body may be ten thousand miles apart, yet there is a unity in the body that is beyond anything that man might do.
The Pine Street Mission grew until it became necessary to move to a new location, which was procured at the corner of Seventh and Olive streets in Seattle. The new church was called the Pentecostal Mission and Apostolic Assembly.