Category Archives: Missions

How to Tell if a Revival Movement is in Decline


This Week in AG History–September 29, 1957
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 29 Sep 2014 – 4:30 PM CST

“Has the twentieth century Pentecostal revival reached the zenith of its spirituality and usefulness, and is it now doomed to fade as a potent force from the modern spiritual scene; or do greater glories still lie ahead?”

This question was posed by Assemblies of God missions leader Melvin Hodges in a 1957 Pentecostal Evangel article. At the time, the modern Pentecostal movement was about 50 years old. Pioneers of the movement were passing from the scene, and memories of the early revivals were fading.

Hodges noted that previous Protestant revival movements originated in “deep spirituality, holiness and a sense of destiny.” However, they each “lost their fervor and one by one settled down to take their places in the ecclesiastical world as yet another denomination.”

He looked further back into church history, drawing parallels between the early church and Pentecostalism. “The New Testament Church,” he wrote, “gradually lost the purity and power that characterized her apostolic beginnings, and became adulterated by worldliness, greed and paganism as she increased in numbers and influence.” Would the Pentecostal church likewise stray from its biblical ideals and become corrupted by the world?

“We dare not ignore the lessons of history,” Hodges warned. He identified three characteristics of a declining revival movement: 1) a diminishing hunger for God; 2) a lack of concern for holiness; and 3) the loss of the sense of mission and destiny.

While spiritual decline over time is likely, Hodges suggested that it is not inevitable. He admonished readers to rediscover the deep spirituality common among early Pentecostals: “Let hunger for God to be reawakened in our hearts. May a walk in holiness, worthy of our vocation, be our goal, and let us consecrate ourselves anew to the fulfilling of our world destiny in the plan of God.”

If Pentecostals draw close to God and commit themselves to His mission, according to Hodges, they “can face the future with confident expectancy that the future holds still greater revelations of the glory of God.”

Read the entire article, “Danger Signals” by Melvin Hodges, on pages 4 and 5 of the September 29, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Taking Christ to the People,” by R. J. Carlson

* “The Silence of the Trinity,” by P. T. Walker

* “The Living Dead,” by Oswald J. Smith

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Call to Calmness and Steadfastness


This Week in AG History–September 23, 1944
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 22 Sep 2014 – 1:47 PM CST

“Is it possible to maintain calm and serenity in the midst of the world-shaking storms that are raging today?”

Melvin Hodges (1909-1988), an Assemblies of God missionary to Central America, posed this question in the September 23, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Hodges proceeded to describe the seemingly intractable conflicts around the world. “Nations are locked in a struggle for their very existence,” he wrote, and countless people are killed “as opposing systems of government struggle [to maintain] their way of life.”

How should the Christian respond to such conflict? Hodges encouraged believers to exhibit “calmness and steadfastness.” Believers will stay “on a true course regardless of the storms that rage,” according to Hodges, if they have faith in the promises of God and submit to God’s will.

Significantly, Hodges admonished readers to reject the racism that had permeated vast segments of the world:

“We must not be moved from the love of God in our hearts toward all men by the spirit of racial hatred being fostered today. Some hold the Jew responsible for all the ills of the world. Others are moved to intense hatred of the enemy nations. Again, some manifest bitterness toward certain racial groups in America. This is not democratic, much less Christian. It is a false diagnosis of the ills of this sick world that places the blame for its troubles on the blood strain of a particular race rather than on the evil nature of all unregenerate mankind. Deprive any racial group of Christian influences, placing them under barbarous teachings and environment, and the resultant generation will be barbarians irrespective of their racial background.”

Christians must not assign blame for social problems to racial or cultural groups, according to Hodges. This wise counsel continues to be true today.

Read “Call to Calmness and Steadfastness” by Melvin Hodges on page 8 of the September 23, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Why I Came to Egypt Thirty-Four Years Ago,” by Lillian Trasher

* “V Day,” by Lester Sumrall

* “Family Worship,” by Walter Scott

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Oren Munger: One of God’s Firebrands


This Week in AG History–September 15, 1945
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 15 Sep 2014 – 4:27 PM CST

Oren Munger, an Assemblies of God missionary, died in Nicaragua at the young age of 25. The September 15, 1945, issue of the “Pentecostal Evangel” alerted readers of his passing, which his colleague Harold McKinney, Jr. called a “great personal shock.”

Oren and his wife, Florence, graduated from Central Bible Institute in 1941 and had been in Nicaragua for three years. They had committed themselves fully to spreading the gospel. Oren was known for his powerful prayers and his musical abilities. He taught at the Bible school in Leon, Nicaragua, and often spent both days and nights interceding for revival.

Oren’s name, appropriately enough, was the imperative form of the Spanish verb meaning “to pray.” When he rode on muleback into rural areas in Nicaragua, people would ask, “What is your name?” He would respond, “Oren.” Because “oren” was a command in Spanish to pray, the inquirers would go away and start praying. After a while, they would come back and ask his name again, only to receive the same answer.

Oren lived up to his name. He regularly prayed until he was exhausted. His body weakened due to his strenuous ministry schedule and lack of sleep.

While ministering in a remote location in March 1945, Oren was stricken with typhoid. He died five months later, but not before he made a significant impact on the Assemblies of God in Nicaragua.

Oren’s passion for missions overflowed onto the pages of the letters he sent from Nicaragua. In one of his letters he wrote the following:

“The challenge of untouched regions is indeed great. God grant us in reality the purpose and power that motivated the apostle Paul. It is not in the great numbers of missionaries that the evangelism of the world lies, but in the intense glow with which the firebrands burn.”

Oren Munger was one of God’s firebrands.

Read the tributes to Oren Munger on page 11 of the September 15, 1945, issue of the “Pentecostal Evangel.”

Also featured in this issue:

* “Our Pastors in Uniform: Assemblies of God Chaplains,” by Harry A. Jaeger

* “Things Which Make Revivals Possible,” by Arthur H. Graves

* “Touching Our Lord Jesus,” by W. W. Simpson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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
Email: Archives@ag.org

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L. M. Anglin and Assemblies of God Indigenous Missions in China

P14151
This Week in AG History–September 2, 1922
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Wed, 03 Sep 2014 – 4:01 PM CST

Christianization does not equal Westernization. The success of Pentecostals in world missions has been due, in large part, to their reliance on spiritual transformation, rather than on Western cultural education, in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Assemblies of God committed itself in 1921 to a missions strategy of establishing self-governing, self-supporting and self-sustaining churches in missions lands. Alice E. Luce, a Spirit-baptized Anglican missionary to India who transferred to the Assemblies of God in 1915, influenced the Assemblies of God to adopt this indigenous church principle long before it was embraced by most mainline Protestant groups. The policy was not uniformly implemented, and some Assemblies of God missionaries continued to follow the paternalistic practices of other Western churches during the early decades of the twentieth century.

L. M. and Eva Anglin, early Assemblies of God missionaries to China, were quick to grasp the importance of establishing indigenous churches. In 1916, they established the Home of Onesiphorus — an outreach in the city of Taian for orphans who had been abandoned by their families.

L. M. Anglin described the work carried on by the Home of Onesiphorus in the September 2, 1922, issue of the “Pentecostal Evangel.” One of the first things the Anglins did was to open a school for poor boys and girls, many of whom were beggars. The school provided both academic and technical training. Children were taught reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as trades such as weaving and making furniture. Anglin’s goal was not “to create an American out of [the Chinese man],” but “to take in the outcast, clothe him, house him and feed him in Chinese fashion.”

Read the entire article by L. M. Anglin, ” The Home of Onesiphorus,” on pages 12 and 13 of the September 2, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “How Can We Know that We Have Received the Baptism?” by Bert Williams

* “The Basis for our Distinctive Testimony,” by D. W. Kerr

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Persecution of Pentecostals in Iran 100 Years Ago


This Week in AG History–August 19, 1916
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 18 Aug 2014 – 8:49 PM CST.

Andrew D. Urshan (1884-1967), the son of a Presbyterian pastor in Persia (now Iran), immigrated to the United States in 1901. He was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1908 in Chicago, where he started a Persian Pentecostal mission. He returned to his homeland in 1914 as an Assemblies of God missionary and, amidst much persecution, helped to establish an enduring Pentecostal church.

Urshan shared his testimony in a series of three articles published in 1916 in the Pentecostal Evangel. Persia was a melting pot of numerous people groups, including Arabs, Jews, and Armenians. But Urshan felt a call to minister to his own people, the Assyrians. The Assyrians, who mostly belonged to various Christian churches, had a long history of suffering as a persecuted religious and ethnic minority.

Interestingly, most of the persecution experienced by Urshan and other Pentecostals came from other Christians. Urshan recounted that Muslim leaders treated him with respect, because the Pentecostals and the Muslims shared similar moral values. When Urshan was placed in jail for preaching the gospel, Muslim leaders stated, “He says people shouldn’t get drunk, and that is why they have imprisoned him.”

Pentecostal revival spread in the Assyrian community. Urshan related the stories of the birth of Pentecostal churches in five towns. In each new church, miracles and changed lives were accompanied by suffering. In the town of Urmia, a mob of Eastern Orthodox Christians attacked a group of Pentecostal girls who were headed to church. The mob shot their rifles at the young converts, hitting three and killing one of the girls. The grief and violence did not deter the Pentecostals from meeting. Ultimately, about fifty people accepted Christ and were baptized in the Holy Spirit in Urmia. Similar stories happened in each town touched by Pentecostal revival.

Urshan pleaded for readers in America to learn from the deep spirituality of Persian believers. He wrote, “I have seen young girls like some of you interceding and agonizing for the salvation of souls in the whole world.” These young Persians, he explained, “walked carefully, with their eyes and hearts filled with God, singing praises unto Jesus, and pleading tearfully with souls, before their persecutors.”

When Urshan returned to America, he was troubled by the lack of consecration he found in churches. Many Christians he met seemed to live “careless” lives and seemed most interested in “fashions of dress” and “the pleasures of this world.” Urshan wrote that he “suffered in the spirit” for American Christians. People who are “in danger of death,” he surmised, may actually be better off spiritually. Americans, he believed, should seek to cultivate spiritual depth by learning from the suffering church.

Read the series of three articles by Andrew D. Urshan, “Pentecost in Persia,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Click here for the August 19, 1916, issue.

Click here for the August 26, 1916, issue.

Click here for the September 2, 1916, issue.

Also featured in the August 19, 1916, issue:

* “The Unity of the Spirit,” by W. Jethro Walthall

* “Daily Portion from the King’s Bounty,” by Alice Reynolds Flower

And many more!

Click here to read the August 19, 1916, issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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
Email: Archives@ag.org

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When Locusts are a Blessing in Disguise

Locusts

This Week in AG History–August 11, 1923
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Wed, 13 Aug 2014 – 4:22 PM CST

Many missionaries tell stories about seemingly bad circumstances that God turned into a blessing. Hannah A. James, a single female who served as an Assemblies of God missionary to South Africa from 1917 to 1933, recounted such a story in a letter published in the August 11, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Hannah wrote that a swarm of locusts had descended upon their South African mission station. The locusts devoured a small wheat crop that she and her missionary colleagues had planted. Most readers probably would have seen the destruction of the missionaries’ food supply as a bad thing. However, Hannah related that the native South Africans “shouted for joy” when they heard the locust swarm approaching.

The locusts, it turned out, were a delicacy to the local palate. Local residents spent all night scooping the locusts into large sacks. They then scalded the locusts and dried them in the sun, a process which allowed them to be stored for months. Preparation of the dried locusts into edible food merely required them to be fried in fat or butter.

The missionaries made careful plans to provide for their dietary needs. But they discovered that God could upset those plans, and what they viewed as a calamity was viewed by others as a blessing. The missionaries probably would have preferred eating wheat rather than locusts, but the life of faith often stretches people beyond their cultural preferences.

Read the article by Hannah A. James, “A Plague of Locusts,” published on page 13 of the August 11, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Bible Evidence of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost,” by D. W. Kerr

* “From Prize Ring to Pulpit,” by Eddie Young

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Gustav H. Schmidt Describes the Horror of Soviet Persecution of Pentecostals in the 1930s


This Week in AG History–August 4, 1934
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 04 Aug 2014 – 4:26 PM CST.

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the newly-formed Soviet Union launched a campaign to eradicate Christianity within its borders. It relentlessly pursued a policy of militant atheism. Clergy were imprisoned or murdered, churches were demolished or converted to other uses, and an intensive propaganda campaign sought to convince people that Christianity was a harmful superstition. It was in this context of persecution that the Pentecostal movement among Slavs formed its identity.

The Pentecostal movement found fertile soil in Russia. Early evangelists, impacted by the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) and the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), first brought the Pentecostal movement to Russia a decade before the 1917 revolution. Prior to the revolution, the Orthodox church occupied a favored place in society and cooperated with the czarist government to persecute both political insurgents and religious minorities, including Pentecostals.

Following the revolution, communist government officials began persecuting their former persecutors, seeking to stamp out the Orthodox church. The government soon targeted other churches, including Baptists, Mennonites, Seventh Day Adventists and Pentecostals.

While the Soviet Union ostensibly guaranteed its citizens the “freedom of religion,” this freedom only allowed individuals the right to believe and not the right to practice their faith. If Christians practiced their faith, they became lawbreakers and were subject to fines, imprisonment or exile to Siberia.

Laws forbade Christians to hold church services, to provide religious instruction to their children, or to share the gospel. The government further marginalized Christians by excluding them from professional and government positions.

Gustav H. Schmidt, a pioneer Assemblies of God missionary to Poland, wrote a series of three articles, published in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1934, which described the suffering endured by Pentecostals in the Soviet Union.

Slavic Pentecostals developed a deep faith burnished by persecution. Schmidt wrote, “In those prisons and places of exile matured that heroism for Christ which shrinks from no difficulties.” The communists mistakenly believed they could quash the Christian faith by destroying church buildings and imprisoning pastors.

Prisons became the proving grounds for Christian leaders. According to Schmidt, “there were many thousands of true believers who had been trained in the school of suffering and persecution.”

These Pentecostals, Schmidt wrote, became “a valiant army of gospel workers through whose testimony and preaching a mighty revival soon swept over the vast plains of Russia.” By 1930, approximately 500 Pentecostal churches had been organized in Russia and the Ukraine. Each convert to Christ knew that their decision would cost them dearly.

One of the most insidious Soviet plans, according to Schmidt, was the insistence that the government, and not the parents, be in charge of the education of the youth. Government schools, hostile to Christianity, attempted to undermine the faith of the parents.

Schmidt wrote, “A mother who sends her children to school knows that they will be taught to hate God, and Christianity will be presented to them in such a way as to make it appear ridiculous to them and this in an endeavor to cause them to despise the very idea of religion.”

Laws prohibited parents from providing religious teaching to their own children. But many Christian parents obeyed a higher law. Schmidt suggested that “a mother in Russia who loves Jesus Christ will, in spite of such rules, teach her child to pray and to live a life of respect and godliness.”

Teachers would ask young students, who were likely to tell the truth, whether their parents taught them about religion. In this way, many students unwittingly let the government know that their parents were committing treason.

Another attempt to destroy families and the freedom of conscience, according to Schmidt, was the collectivization of agriculture. Eighty percent of Russians lived on farms, so when the government took over all farms, it made farmers into slaves of the state. This was an attempt to “destroy the (peasant’s) home and rob him of his privacy.” Agricultural workers were forced to live in communal buildings, their children were taken away, and it was difficult for people to practice their faith without being noticed.

“In Russia the follower of Christ is constantly beset with trouble and is always in danger,” Schmidt recounted. “He has to be ready to be torn away from his loved ones any time, Bolshevik police will break into a home during the night, after twelve o’clock maybe and bid the husband, father, or son to accompany them, and with a bleeding and broken heart they bid their loved ones a hurried last good-by.”

Prison sentences, consisting of hard labor, frequently lasted 10 or 20 years. Many died within several years due to malnutrition and disease.

Persecution separated consecrated believers from nominal Christians. Schmidt wrote, “Anyone who is zealous for Jesus in Russia is marked for arrest and this makes Christian activity hazardous. Therefore we find no half-hearted Christians in Russia…Such who are not fully consecrated will not be able to stand the strain for any length of time but will step over into the enemy’s camp.”

Despite great dangers confronting Christians, the Slavic church saw no shortage of leaders. Unpaid elders led the congregations, which met in homes. Elders took turns preaching and, when one was arrested, another took his place. Congregational leaders did not receive qualification from a Bible college (there were none), but from their willingness to suffer and die for Christ.

Soviet authorities predicted that every church would be destroyed by May 1, 1937. But Schmidt responded that the true church does not consist of buildings. There are “real Christians in Russia,” he wrote, and they “are dying for their faith…We know that the Bolshevists will never be able to destroy Christianity.”

Communist persecution not only failed to destroy Christianity; it helped to create a very strong and vibrant Pentecostal movement in the former Soviet Union. Today, there are over one million Pentecostals in the former Soviet Union in churches that are in a fraternal relationship with Assemblies of God World Missions.

Beginning in the late 1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev began to allow persecuted religious minorities to emigrate, many put down roots in America. An estimated 300,000 Slavic Pentecostals from this recent wave of immigration now live in the United States. While most are in congregations that are either independent or loosely affiliated with one of several Slavic Pentecostal unions, many are deciding to join the Assemblies of God.

In 2002, several Slavic Pentecostal churches in California joined the Assemblies of God and formed the Slavic Fellowship, which provided both a structure for Slavs to organize themselves within the Assemblies of God and also representation on the Fellowship’s General Presbytery. In September 2008, the leaders of the Slavic Fellowship, in addition to other Slavic Pentecostals interested in affiliating with the Assemblies of God, came together in Renton, Washington, and organized the National Slavic District. The district gives greater strength and visibility to Slavic Pentecostals, both within the Assemblies of God and within the broader society.

The Slavs, with deep faith burnished by decades of persecution, are poised to provide leadership to the broader church. And their leadership could not have come at a better time, as they have already proven their mettle in a culture that is hostile to biblical values.

Read the series of three articles by Gustav H. Schmidt, “Bolshevism Battling Against Christianity,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Click here now for the July 21, 1934, issue.

Click here for the July 28, 1934, issue.

Click here for the August 4, 1934, issue.

Also featured in the August 4, 1934, issue:

* “The Merry Heart,” by Donald Gee

*  “The Secret of an Abiding Pentecost,” by Leonard Gittings

*  “Spoiled Christians,” by E. F. M. Staudt

And many more!

Click here to read the August 4, 1934, issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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
Email: Archives@ag.org

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