This Week in AG History — March 11, 1916
By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 10 Mar 2014 – 4:43 PM CST
History is repeating itself. 100 years ago, a flood of Mexican refugees came over the United States border. How should American Christians respond to the refugees from Latin America in 2014? A pioneer Assemblies of God minister in 1916 believed the refugees were heaven-sent: “Providence has sent them to our doors for Gospel light.” In other words, we should be more concerned with the duties of our heavenly citizenship than with defending the privileges of our earthly citizenship.
Continue reading for more about this important lesson from Pentecostal history.
In one of the most significant population migrations of the twentieth century, over one million people left Mexico and moved to the United States between 1910 and 1920. Many were refugees uprooted by the Mexican Revolution. While the United States government restricted the number of immigrants who could not speak English, an exception was granted for Mexicans, due to the scarcity of laborers in America during World War I.
Mexicans who had been displaced by war and poverty in their ancestral land faced many challenges in their new country. Many landed in refugee settlements along the borderlands, unable to provide for their families and uncertain how to cope in their new surroundings.
Assemblies of God minister John Preston, in a 1916 article in the “Pentecostal Evangel,” encouraged readers to take advantage of the “great opportunity” to help Mexican refugees with their spiritual and physical needs. Preston believed the refugees were heaven-sent: “Providence has sent them to our doors for Gospel light.” However, he lamented that “very little is being done for them compared to what could be.”
Preston encouraged readers to assist early Assemblies of God missionary to Hispanics, Henry C. Ball, in his efforts to help the refugees. According to Preston, when the Mexican refugees “return to their homes, they need not go as they came, in hopeless darkness, but as flames of light” who would be missionaries in their own communities.
A strong Assemblies of God ministry developed among the Mexican refugees, initially led by H. C. Ball and others. This work not only helped to strengthen the Assemblies of God in Mexico when refugees returned as Pentecostal believers, it also transformed the Assemblies of God in the United States. In 2012, over 20 percent of Assemblies of God churches in the United States were Hispanic. Like pollen scattered by a strong wind, Mexican believers have established churches whereever they happened to land.
Read the entire article by John Preston, “A Great Opportunity in the Mexican Work,” on page 12 of the March 11, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
* “Conformity to Christ”
* “The Pentecostal or Latter Rain Outpouring in Los Angeles,” by Frank Bartleman
* “The Law of Faith,” by Mrs. G. N. Eldridge
And many more!
**The first two paragraphs were added on 07/04/2014.
Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.
Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200