James McKeown was born on 12 September 1900 in Glenboig, Scotland. He was the second of the night children (six males and three females) born to William John McKeown and Elizabeth Thompson. His parents originally came from County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Shortly after his birth in Glenboig, McKeown’s parents moved to Coatbridge, a steel manufacturing town near Glasgow. Here his father who had been a member of the Presbyterian Church in Antrim became interested in Pentecostalism and joined the Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance now Elim Pentecostal church in 1908.
At the age of eleven, the McKeown family moved to Tullynahinion, near Portglenone in County Antrim, North Ireland, where James McKeown has to abandon school in order to help his father on the farm. During this period, the McKeown’s home was said to have become the centre of Pentecostal activities in the area.
George Jeffreys the founder of Elim Pentecostal Church and Smith Wigglesworth said to be among the Pentecostal Preachers who came there to minister. It is not surprising that James McKeown accepted Christ into his life at the age of 19 through the preaching of Pastor Robert Mercer, a pastor of Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance in Ballymena. It will, therefore, be appropriate to assume that the Ministries of such British Pentecostal Pioneers as Jeffrey and Wigglesworth influenced McKeown.
James McKeown met Sophia Killough, the woman he later married at one of Elim’s meetings at Ballymena. Sophia had been educated to the advanced age of 17 and have also studied to become a professional seamstress. Coming from a Presbyterian background she became committed to Christianity through a Prayer Union called faith Mission.
Her desire to be baptized with the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues led her at one of the earliest meetings where McKeown also was. Before they got married as they sat in one of the earliest meetings at Ballymena, someone prophesied that some people among the small group will go out to Africa.
Sophia did not know it then that she was to be the person who will be the backbone of McKeown’s ministry, not long after, McKeown who had always admired bachelorhood broke his intention to remain single and got married to Sophia in summer 1927. Sophia was to encourage her husband into accepting the call to the full-time ministry and to missions.
Later, in an attempt to find a job Mckeown returned to Scotland and settled in Glasgow. He became a tram conductor and later a tram driver in Glasgow. There was no Elim Pentecostal Church. So he joined the Apostolic church, the church which has the best in the world revival McKean thought that the Apostolic Church said many things in common with Elim but later it became evident that there were some significant differences between them.
For example, while bowling weger assesses the Elim Pentecostal churches as a moderate Pentecostal group he describes the Apostolic Church as a church that gives greater pray to the gifts of the holy spirit in the Apostolic Church Manuel called True prophecy to be Apostles prophets evangelists pastors and teachers orders were called to the office of elders and Deacons women were called as Witnesses consequently the Apostolic Church develop an organizational structure which worker and similar to Willie describes as the most authoritarian and