John Graham Lake was born on March 18, 1870 in Ontario, Canada. When he was small his family moved to Michigan, in the United States. While he was still young, Lake attended a Salvation Army meeting and became convicted of his need for a savior, and he invited Jesus to become Lord of life. Lake was incredibly impacted by illness. He was one of sixteen children, and over the course of his young life eight of them died. He grew to hate the sickness, grief, and death that was so much a part of his family life.
Lake felt a call to the ministry, and studied to become a Methodist minister. He took to heart the Methodist teaching on sanctification and sought it passionately. When his studies were done, however, he made a decision to go into business and start a newspaper in Illinois. Then he moved back to Michigan and began a career in real estate. He met Jennie Stevens and married her.
Sickness still continued to hound Lake. His brother was an invalid, one sister had extensive cancer, another sister had bleeding problems, and his wife had tuberculosis and heart disease. In 1899 the family had heard about John Alexander Dowie, in Chicago, because he was receiving substantial media attention. They took Lake’s brother to the healing rooms in Chicago, and he was instantly healed. Both sisters then went, as well, and were also healed. Finally, Lake had contacted people to pray for his wife in June of 1899, and she was also healed. He opened the scriptures to see Acts 10:38 “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. (NASB) He saw outlined clearly for himself that Jesus is the healer and Satan is the oppressor of men. Lake became a member of Dowie’s Christian Catholic Church and a branch was opened in Sault Ste Marie, where he was living at the time. Lake became a deacon in the new church. In August 1900 Lake’s wife Jennie was accidently shot by her 4 year old son. Following Dowie’s teachings the Lakes refused medical help and depended on prayer. The event was so startling an article was written up in the Chicago Daily Tribune, which regularly reported on Dowie’s activities.
In 1904 Lake moved to Chicago to work with Dowie. Seeing the power of God, Lake began to cry out for more of the Holy Spirit. He spent nine months seeking a fuller level of the presence of God. Lake went, with another man to pray for a sick woman. God’s presence fell on and over him like he’d never known before. The next six months were marked by conviction, repentance, and heart cleansing. The gifts of the Spirit became magnified, and the discernment and healing giftings increased dramatically. Lake was receiving training under John Alexander Dowie, but did not always agree with his way of doing things. At one point, Dowie listed his accomplishments and told him “If you ever develop constructive qualities, equal to your critical capacity, you will be a greater man than I am.” John Lake knew that he would have to start his own work. He felt called to Africa and went there in 1908, after a short-term pastoring stint in Indianapolis. Over a five year period in South Africa Lake saw 1,000,000 converts, planted hundreds of churches, and raised up over 1000 local ministers. The work was strenuous, however, and his wife died in December 1908. He committed to keep his family together. In 1913 Lake returned to the United States, with his seven children.
Once he returned to the United States, he remarried, and began a traveling ministry. One of the places he was asked to speak was Spokane, Washington. He was asked to start a healings room, and he agreed. Over an approximately five year period, over 100,000 healings were reported. Spokane was declared “the healthiest city in the United States”. Although Lake’s church was never large, thousands came from all over the country and the world to receive prayer. In 1920, he felt called to move to Portland, Oregon and start a healing room ministry there. Similar healings were reported during these years as well.
Lake considered starting a healing rooms ministry in towns up and down the west coast. His strength was beginning to wane, however, because he lived life at an incredible pace. He went to Houston, Texas to start a church, but was called away by a family crisis and never returned. He ministered in churches in California, then returned to pastor in Portland for a season, and finally settled back in Spokane for the remainder of his life. He died on September 15, 1935.