Category Archives: Missions

Second AG General Council Marks 100th Anniversary

Pages from 1914_12_05
By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published in AG-News, Thu, 13 Nov 2014 – 8:41 AM CST

One hundred years ago, hundreds of Assemblies of God pastors, evangelists and missionaries traveled to Chicago to attend the second General Council. Held November 15-29, 1914, at the Stone Church, this meeting’s explicit purpose was “to lay a firm foundation upon which to build the Assemblies of God.”

The Assemblies of God had been organized just seven months earlier in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The young Fellowship grew quickly as existing independent ministers joined its ranks. They appreciated the vision for fellowship, accountability and structure, while maintaining the autonomy of the local congregation. This growth caused founding chairman E. N. Bell to call for a second meeting, in order to make urgent decisions about the future of the new organization.

The Stone Church, one of the largest Pentecostal congregations in America, could easily accommodate the expected 1,000 participants. Delegates to the meeting made several important structural changes. They decided to move the headquarters from Findlay, Ohio, to St. Louis, Missouri, which would provide a more central location in a larger city. Delegates voted to expand the number of executive presbyters from 12 to 16, making the leadership more representative of the constituency. New leadership was also elected and Gospel Publishing House was authorized to expand its operations.

But the most far-reaching decision at the second General Council was one that was not on the original agenda. Assemblies of God leaders planned to take a missionary offering at the conclusion of the General Council. They had written articles encouraging people to bring money to give to missions. But the pastor of the Stone Church decided that the final offering should instead go to his own church, to help defray expenses related to hosting the council. Assemblies of God leaders, although frustrated with this turn of events, did not oppose the pastor’s request. Instead, they decided to issue a strongly-worded resolution in which they committed the Assemblies of God, from that point forward, to the cause of world evangelization. L. C. Hall drafted the resolution, which read:

“As a Council, we hereby express our gratitude to God for His great blessing upon the movement in the past. We are grateful to Him for the results attending this forward movement and we commit ourselves and the movement to Him for the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen. We pledge our hearty cooperation, prayers and help to this end.”

This iconic resolution, unanimously adopted by the delegates, has been widely quoted as illustrating how support for missions is part of the DNA of the Assemblies of God.

There is more to the story. In the spring of 1915, something shocking was discovered about the Stone Church pastor, R. L. Erickson, who had refused to let the offering go to missions. The May 29, 1915, issue of the “Weekly Evangel” alerted readers that Erickson had been removed from the ministerial list due to moral failure. In a lengthy article, E. N. Bell detailed how Erickson’s “greed” was evidence of poor moral character, which also manifested itself in other harmful ways in his life and ministry. What Satan meant for harm, Bell wrote, God could turn into good. And one hundred years later, the Assemblies of God remains committed to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.”

Read E. N. Bell’s article, “The Great Outlook,” in which he details the events surrounding the adoption of the resolution regarding missions, on pages 3 and 4 of the May 29, 1915, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, History, Missions

Speaking in Tongues: The Proliferation of Assemblies of God Language Branches Among Immigrants in the 1940s and 1950s


This Week in AG History–November 10, 1957
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 10 Nov 2014 – 9:01 PM CST

The Assemblies of God, during the 1940s and 1950s, formed eight language “branches” for immigrants to the United States. These branches functioned much like geographic districts, allowing Pentecostals whose mother tongues was not English to organize themselves and to better coordinate their ministries.

Most of these new language branches were for immigrants from southern and eastern Europe: Ukrainian (1943), Hungarian (1944), Polish (1944), Russian (1945), Yugoslavian (1945), Italian (1948), and Greek (1953). The German Branch (established 1922) was the first language branch. The Philippine Branch (formed circa 1940) was the only language branch for non-Europeans formed during these early decades. All branches became known as districts in 1973.

Hispanics have always been the largest non-English speaking group in the Assemblies of God in the United States. However, Hispanics had their own structure within the Assemblies of God and never identified using the term “branch.” The first Hispanic administrative structure was organized in 1918 as the Latin Conference of the Texas District. It was renamed the Latin American District in 1925.

The last language branch to form, the Greek Branch, was actually a pre-existing network of Greek Pentecostal churches called the Hellenic Protogonos Apostolic Ecclesia (Greek Original Apostolic Church). The group was recognized as the Greek Branch by the Assemblies of God General Secretary on August 14, 1953. The Greek Branch disbanded in 1968.

Most language branches served as a temporary cultural bridge for new immigrants to America. As their children Americanized and learned English, the churches founded by immigrants joined geographic districts and most language branches dissolved.

The Pentecostal Evangel published numerous reports of the language branches over the years. The November 10, 1957, issue was no exception and carried news of the Greek District’s annual convention held in Oakland, California.

Read the article, “Greek Branch Holds Convention,” by Gust Harbas, on page 30 of the November 10, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Call of the Spirit,” by James Van Meter

* “Springfield’s New Central Assembly”

* “Lead Me to the Rock,” by Elva Johnson

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Missions

Norway’s Pentecostal Jubilee


This Week in AG History–October 20, 1957
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 20 Oct 2014 – 5:04 PM CST

Thomas Ball Barratt (1862-1940), born to a Methodist family in England, became the most prominent Pentecostal pioneer in Norway. Barratt was recognized at a young age for being a gifted writer, artist, and composer of music. He could have succeeded in numerous professions. But following a life-changing encounter with God, the young Barratt dedicated his life to sharing the gospel.

When Barratt was four years old, his parents immigrated to Norway, where his father worked as a miner. At age 11, Barratt’s parents sent him back to England to attend a Methodist school, where he committed his life to God during a revival. After he moved back to Norway at age 16, he became a member of Stavanger Temperance Society and became a joyful advocate of heartfelt faith and godly living.

When Barratt returned to Norway, he initially began working as his father’s assistant. However, Barratt’s artistic abilities opened other doors. He studied under Norway’s greatest composer, Edvard Grieg, and under noted artist Olaf Dahl. By age 17, he began preaching in Methodist churches. He became an ordained Methodist deacon (1889) and elder (1891) and pastored several churches.

With a deep interest in spiritual things, Barratt became a prominent proponent of revival in Norway. Through the Oslo City Mission, which he founded in 1902, and its periodical, Byposten, Barratt encouraged people to draw close to God.

In 1906, Barratt traveled to America to raise funds for the Oslo City Mission. Although he failed to raise much money, he returned to Norway with something else that would change the trajectory of his ministry. Barratt had heard testimonies about the emerging Pentecostal revival at the interracial Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, and he traveled there to see it for himself. His heart grew hungry for a deeper experience of God. Just before going back to Norway, he stopped at the Holiness Mission in New York City, where some of the gospel workers had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. These newly-baptized Pentecostals, Robert A. Brown and Marie Burgess, prayed with Barratt. He spent an extended period of time seeking God at the altar. After he “emptied” his soul of self, he received the Pentecostal experience with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Upon his return to Norway, Barratt began promoting the Pentecostal message. He endured criticism by those who mocked the reported emotionalism of the Azusa Street Mission. The Methodist Church revoked his ministerial credentials, and his mission and newspaper were given to his assistant. Barratt had to start over, building up his ministry from scratch. Despite these impediments, Barratt kept his focus on the gospel and not on his critics. Crowds thronged to hear Barratt wherever he went. He founded the Filadelfia Church in Oslo, which grew to about 2,000 members. Under the leadership of Barratt, the Pentecostal movement in Norway became the second largest Protestant church in Norway, second only to the Lutheran church.

The Pentecostal Evangel featured the story of Thomas Ball Barratt in 1957, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Pentecostalism in Norway.

Read the article, “Norway’s Pentecostal Jubilee,” on page 20 of the October 20, 1957, issue of thePentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Thirst for God,” by A. M. Alber

* “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” by James A. Stewart

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

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Missions

How Tears of Grief Birthed the Assemblies of God in Lakhimpur, India

1922_10_14_Page_10
This Week in AG History–October 14, 1922
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 13 Oct 2014 – 5:18 PM CST

Herbert H. Cox (1884-1926), an early Assemblies of God missionary in India, experienced the death of a son on the mission field. A few weeks after young Alkwyn’s death, Cox wrote a letter in which he described the grief that he and his wife felt. The letter, published in the October 14, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, provides insight into the often-difficult lives of early missionaries.

Alkwyn’s death occurred at a stressful time in the Coxes’ ministry. Earlier that year, the family had moved to Lakhimpur, India, where they were trying to start an Assemblies of God mission. Things were not going well. Herbert wrote, “When we first came to this place it seemed if the whole community was against us. We could not go out without being sneered at.”

Life did not seem fair. But Cox explained that he and his wife trusted God through the difficulties. “It pleased the Lord to take from us, a few weeks ago, our youngest son,” Cox wrote. “We did not understand it, but submitted to His will in it all.” The missionaries turned their burden over to the Lord and did not allow their grief to turn into despair.

Alkwyn’s death softened the hearts of the residents of Lakhimpur. Herbert wrote, “But now the people have become so friendly and salute us whereever we are. The walls of prejudice have been broken and now we have an open door for the Gospel.”

The Cox family had sown seeds of the gospel in Lakhimpur, but the gospel did not take root until the missionaries had watered those seeds with their own tears of grief.

Cox seemed to anticipate their suffering. He delivered a sermon, “The Power and Grace that Makes Martyrs,” in 1919 at the Stone Church, a large Assemblies of God congregation in Chicago. In his message, Cox described how his spiritual formation came not from a Bible school, but at the Gurney Iron Foundry in Toronto, Canada, where he had worked for 10 years before entering Nyack Missionary Training Institute.

Cox’s co-workers at the foundry led rough lives. The drugs of alcohol and tobacco went into their mouths and profanity came out. They wanted nothing to do with religion. Cox had to decide whether to take the easy route and keep his faith to himself, or to share Christ and suffer persecution. He chose the latter.

Cox testified, “He wants us to witness right where we are working these days. Of course you get your persecution. I have been knocked to the ground and held down by four men and a knife threateningly branded. I have been smitten across the mouth, but I still have the love of Jesus in my soul.”

Cox was grateful for these formative experiences of suffering. He wrote, “God made me ready in the foundry to witness [of] Jesus.” He shared his faith at the foundry, and some of his colleagues accepted Christ and their rough lives became hewn for the ministry. His first convert became a missionary and was responsible for the building of 27 churches in Nigeria.

What caused young Herbert Cox to embrace the way of suffering? He spent significant time studying the Word of God, and he took to heart the life and teachings of the Apostle Paul. Cox noted that Paul was persecuted, jailed, reviled, hungry and thirsty. Yet this did not deter him from wanting to follow Paul’s example. In his 1919 sermon, Cox admonished listeners to be fully consecrated to Christ and His mission: “Lord, give us some Apostle Pauls today. We are in need of them. I believe God wants us to follow in the steps of this great man of God.”

Herbert Cox followed the example of the Apostle Paul and gave everything for the cause of Jesus Christ. Cox contracted smallpox while ministering in Dhaurahra, India. On February 6, 1926, he joined his son, Alkwyn, in heaven.

Read the article, “Lakhimpur: A Virgin Field of One Million Souls,” by Herbert H. Cox, on page 10 of the October 14, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Like Precious Faith,” by Smith Wigglesworth

* “Be Filled with the Spirit,” by W. T. Gaston

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Herbert Cox’s sermon, “The Power and Grace that Makes Martyrs” (“Later Rain Evangel,” February 1920, pages 16-20), is accessible by clicking here.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Missions

Assemblies of God Summer Camps for Native Americans in the 1950s


This Week in AG History–October 6, 1957
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 06 Oct 2014 – 4:20 PM CST

Native Americans were among the founders of the Assemblies of God. Two Cherokee ministers, William H. Boyles and Watt Walker, traveled from Oklahoma to attend the first General Council in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in April 1914.

Early Assemblies of God ministry among Native Americans was largely uncoordinated, consisting of individual evangelists and missionaries who went wherever they felt called to go. By the late 1930s, the newly formed Department of Home Missions began to give direction to these efforts to reach Native Americans with the gospel.

Ministry among Native Americans flourished. By 1945, the Assemblies of God supported 58 missionaries who worked in 37 mission stations, mostly on reservations. One of the most effective forms of large-scale evangelism was the development of “summer Indian camps.” The first camp specifically for Native Americans was held in 1948 on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. By the 1950s, the Assemblies of God regularly sponsored Native American camps across the nation. These camps served both spiritual and social functions, helping to evangelize non-believers and to network believers.

Victor Trimmer, Assemblies of God National Home Missions secretary, wrote about five Native American camps he had visited in an article published in the October 6, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He described the “spirited singing, fervent prayer, and wholehearted worship” that he witnessed at the camps. Over 700 people attended one of the camps, the Apache Indian Camp at Carrizo, Arizona. Attendees camped in tepees, wick-i-ups, shades, and cowboy tents. While most Anglo camps of the era generally featured a cafeteria, which served as a commons for campers, the Native American campers cooked traditional food for themselves over an open campfire.

At a camp in Norris, South Dakota, Trimmer reported that God transformed many lives at the altar. He wrote, “Many sought God for salvation with tears. The hand of the Lord was stretched forth to heal, and I witnessed the greatest miracles of healing that I have ever seen in my life. Deaf, crippled, and sick were healed as these hungry, believing people looked to God for His help.”

At the end of his summer tour of the Indian camps, Trimmer expressed gratitude for the 100 Assemblies of God missionaries to Native Americans. He remarked, “Their consecration and willingness to deny themselves challenged me.”

In 2013, the Assemblies of God reported 46,650 Native American adherents in the United States. The districts with the largest numbers of Native American adherents were: Oklahoma (7,715), Arizona (7,573), Northwest (4,293), New Mexico (2,863), North Carolina (2,465), Alaska (2,015), Northern California-Nevada (1,723), Southern California (1,606), Peninsular Florida (1,589), Montana (1,161), South Dakota (978), and North Dakota (940).

Read the entire article, “Summer Indian Camps” by Victor Trimmer, on pages

14 and 15 of the October 6, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Christ’s Message to a Fallen Church,” by Frank J. Lindquist

* “The Ministry of Books,” by G. M. Strombeck

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

Leave a comment

Filed under 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

1 Comment

Filed under Church, Missions, Spirituality

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Missions