Elizabeth Foster Baxter was born on December 16, 1837 in Evesham, Worcestirshire, England to Thomas and Edith Foster. Her parents were Quaker and they attended Friends meetings. Her aunt Sarah was an evangelist with the Baptists and regularly rescued girls off the streets. Baxter began her search for God early in her life. She struggled with understanding God and could not believe her goodness could decide her salvation. When Foster was eighteen her Father died causing her intense grief. She eventually traveled to visit family and when she was 21 met a schoolmate who gave her a clear presentation of the gospel. She was converted and when she returned home became evangelistic. She held women’s meetings and went to the poorhouse. He mother didn’t understand her singular life and tried to get her to moderate her schedule of meetings and holiness lifestyle.
When Foster was 22 the matron of the workhouse asked her to speak to a woman who had been having severe epileptic fits. She led her to Christ. While doing so she had a sudden impression that they should also ask that she be healed from the fits. They prayed together and she was healed from that time forward. Others were also healed after that. She eventually opened a small warehouse building where the gospel was preached. During the Cholera epidemic she rallied people to feed the poor. Many were dying of hunger because they could not get out and others would not come in. They began a hospital work in Mildmay, North London and Baxter was a deaconess for two years.
While at Mildmay Foster met Michael Paget Baxter, a scholarly gentleman whose heart was that Christ would redeem all. He was a Deacon in the Church of England and had been in Canada for a short time as well, possibly with the Methodists. They were married in August 28, 1868 on the Isle of Man. Elizabeth is often referred to as Mrs. Michael Paget Baxter or Elizabeth M. P. Baxter in writings. On their honeymoon they held open-air evangelistic meetings. The first fourteen years of their marriage they had a traveling ministry. Michael Baxter lectured on the soon and coming Christ with an apocalyptic focus, and would follow his talks with a presentation of the gospel. They had a baby girl named Rachel in 1869, but sadly she died within four months. In 1870 the couple had a son, who they also named Michael Paget Baxter, who they called Paget.
The couple was profoundly touched when D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey came to England and did evangelistic meetings. They helped in the meetings and began to write up testimonies in a little paper called “Signs of Our Times”. Elizabeth went to Switzerland with Paget for some rest and relaxation. She immediately began holding evangelistic meetings and brought people to Christ. Elizabeth went to Germany for a season and had the unusual experience of being able to preach in German enough to be understood, even though she knew just a few words of German normally. They became involved in the “Higher Christian Life” movement, promoted by William E. Boardman and spread by the Keswick Convention. Their paper expanded to become “The Christian Herald” and she was a regular contributor.
While in Switzerland and Germany Elizabeth met Pastor Otto Stockmayer and became good friends with the family. She also met Samuel Zeller, and read about Dorothea Trudel and Johann Blumhardt. A new season in the Baxter’s life began when William Boardman came into contact with Charles Cullis of Boston. Cullis shared with him his experiences in healing. From that point on Boardman began to teach on healing as part of the Higher Christian Life. Following Cullis’s example Boardman committed to open a Faith Healing Home in London. He asked the Baxters to help with the founding of the institution. They named it Bethshan and opened it in 1880, and Elizabeth was the guiding hand behind the home. It had a major influence for the next 10 years in London, and in Europe. Many were healed there, including Andrew Murray. The home was sustained on faith in the tradition of George Muller and Charles Cullis.
In 1886 the Baxters felt the call to expand their work to missions. They opened a training home next to the healing home. Over the years they had hundreds of students raised up to become missionaries. They established the Kurku and Central Hills and the Ceylon and India General Missions in India. In the 1890’s Elizabeth traveled through Canada and the United States speaking about the call of Christ and missions. These trips included Pastor Otto Stockmayer. In 1894 she also met and became good friends with Carrie Judd (later Montgomery) who had opened her own healing home in New York. She went on to travel to the missions in India to encourage her students.
Elizabeth’s loving husband died in 1910. She retired to move near her son and his family. She had been a loving wife and mother, led thousands to Christ, seen hundreds of healings, trained hundreds of missionaries, and touched three continents. She died December 24, 1926.