Category Archives: Spirituality

From Skeptic to Evangelist: Dr. Charles S. Price


This Week in AG History — February 25, 1933

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 24 Feb 2014 – 3:10 PM CST

Dr. Charles S. Price (1887-1947), pastor of the theologically liberal First Congregational Church in Lodi, California, ventured into a Pentecostal revival service in 1921. His purpose was to expose the evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson, as a fraud. He was so confident that he would achieve this mission that he even placed an advertisement in the local newspaper, promoting the title of his next sermon — “Divine Healing Bubble Explodes.”

Some of Price’s church members had attended the revival services in San Jose and reported large numbers of conversions and miracles. He scoffed and replied, “I can explain it all. It is metaphysical, psychological, nothing tangible.” Price arrived at the revival with a pen and paper, ready to take notes. He had difficulty finding a seat, as the revival tent was packed with 6,000 people, but finally was seated in the section reserved for people with infirmities who desired healing.

He was shocked to discover that the revival was being sponsored by Dr. William Keeney Towner, pastor of the prestigious First Baptist Church in Oakland. Price and Towner had been friends when Price had served as a pastor in Oakland. Towner came over to Price and told him, “Charlie, this is real. This little woman is right. This is the real gospel. I have been baptized with the Holy Ghost. It’s genuine, I tell you. It is what you need.”

At the time, McPherson was an Assemblies of God evangelist. She later formed her own denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. While Price expected McPherson’s sermon to be rife with fanaticism, he was surprised to discover that her message was thoroughly biblical and compelling. Hundreds responded to an invitation to go to the altar and accept Christ. He returned that evening and, although still skeptical, was seated on the platform with the other ministers. He quickly became a believer, however, once he began witnessing numerous healings, including a blind person regaining sight and a lame person being able to walk.

When McPherson invited people to raise their hands if they wanted to accept Christ, Price raised his hand. A fellow minister leaned over and whispered, “Charlie, don’t you know she is calling for sinners?” Price responded, “I know who she is calling for.” He quickly went down to the altar, recommitted himself to Christ, and later would state that he left that tent “a new man.”

Price continued to go back to the nightly revival meetings. He felt conviction about his pride and ambition and lack of integrity. After four nights praying at the altar, Price was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. Price shared his experience with his congregation, and soon 500 of his church members also were baptized in the Holy Spirit. The once-liberal congregation became a center for revival in the community and began holding evangelistic street meetings in nearby towns. Price ultimately became one of the best-known Pentecostal evangelists of the twentieth century. He went from skeptic to believer because he witnessed the reality of God’s healing power.

Read an article by Charles S. Price, “Why I Believe in Divine Healing,” on pages 2, 3 and 7 of the February 25, 1933, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “As They Went,” by Lilian B. Yeomans

* “Healed of Tuberculosis,” by Clarence W. Hougland

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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“Daddy” Welch Proverbs


This Week in AG History — February 18, 1939

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 17 Feb 2014 – 4:28 PM CST

Long before Twitter, the Assemblies of God had “Daddy” Welch.

John W. Welch (1859-1939), known affectionately as “Daddy Welch,” was a senior statesman in the Assemblies of God during its early decades. He served as Chairman (1915-1920 and 1923-1925) and Secretary (1920-1923) of the young Fellowship. Welch was known for his wit and wisdom. In the 1930s the Pentecostal Evangel published a regular column titled “Words of Council from Daddy Welch,” which shared his collected short sayings with readers.

The last installment of his column was published in the February 18, 1939, just several months before his death. His wisdom remains valuable reading today. Several examples of Welch’s sayings are below.

The closer we get to God the more modest we shall become.

Consistency and impartiality are needed in every minister.

Be careful of your statements until you know your interpretations of Scripture are water tight.

God can develop a mushroom overnight, but it takes years to develop an oak.

Beware of revelations and manifestations that are not given to other Spirit-filled believers.

Read the entire article, “Words of Council from Daddy Welch,” on page 5 of the February 18, 1939, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Trouble: A Servant,” by John Wright Follette

* “Praying Always with All Prayer,” by Thomas Walker

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 Evangelclick 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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J. Philip Hogan on Agnosticism

Hogan

“The reason that this new generation is full of agnosticism and has revolted against the structured church is because they have never seen the real Church; they know nothing about its present or future ministry and its real greatness.”
–J. Philip Hogan, Executive Director, Assemblies of God Division of Foreign Missions (1959-1989)

Source: Pentecostal Evangel, October 12, 1969

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Maria Woodworth-Etter in Salt Lake City in 1916

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This Week in AG History — October 14, 1916

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 14 Oct 2013 – 9:08 PM CST

Few early Pentecostal evangelists were as widely known as Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924). She traversed North America, holding services in large churches, auditoriums, and tents. Reports of revivals, including souls saved and bodies healed, regularly followed her ministry. People from a variety of backgrounds, including many non-Pentecostals, crowded into her meetings. Many heard about her reputation and sought to be healed.

Woodworth-Etter held an evangelistic campaign in Salt Lake City, Utah, in October 1916. The Pentecostal Evangel issue dated October 7 and 14 promoted the campaign, which began on October 6 and which was expected to continue three weeks or longer. Campaign planners rented an auditorium that seated 1,100, expecting to draw attendees from as far away as Denver, San Francisco, Portland and Los Angeles.

The article noted that the Assembly of God mission in Salt Lake City was small. It had been opened just two years earlier, in August 1914. Several Assemblies of God evangelists, including Samuel and Sadie Finley, Robert Lowe, and Philip and Catherine Stokeley, helped develop the fledgling flock. Their hearts were drawn toward establishing a ministry of compassion. According to an October 24, 1914, Pentecostal Evangel article, they desired to start a “Rescue Home for fallen girls.” They were unaware of the existence of any similar ministry in the city.

It was with the help of these local leaders in Salt Lake City that Woodworth-Etter began her 1916 campaign. Several weeks into the campaign, Woodworth-Etter’s associate August Feick reported that “there is much interest over a good part of this city.” According to Feick, “Many people are under deep conviction, and people surrender daily to God and get saved. Others again get healed and baptized with the Spirit.” The meetings were held in an auditorium that was a regular venue for boxing matches. Feick wrote, “On the same mat where prize fights are staged — stained with blood — sinners weep their way through to God, and saints receive their baptism.”

Feick reported a deeply spiritual atmosphere, noting that some participants could sense the glory of God present in the auditorium. Others saw a “peculiar mist” in the building, and several had visions of Jesus and angels. Bodily healings convinced many of the reality of the Pentecostal message. Feick explained that these healings were “proof” of the gospel that could not be denied.

These early meetings, almost 100 years ago, laid the foundation for the 15 Assemblies of God churches that today share the gospel in Salt Lake City.

Read reports of Maria Woodworth-Etter’s evangelistic 1916 campaign in Salt Lake City in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

October 7-14, 1916 (page 13).

November 4, 1916 (page 15).

Also featured in these issues:

* “Putting the Enemy to Flight,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

* “What it Costs to be a Missionary,” by Jessie Hertslet

And many more!

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick 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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What is the Ideal Church?

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This Week in AG History — September 9, 1933

By William Molenaar
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 09 Sep 2013 – 3:12 PM CST

What does the ideal church service look like? What role do spiritual gifts play in your church?

Donald Gee, pastor, educator, ecumenist, and twice elected Chairman of the British Assemblies of God, was known as the “Apostle of Balance.” He authored the classic text on spiritual gifts, Concerning the Spiritual Gifts, which was published in 1928.

In the September 9, 1933, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Gee described what the ideal church service would look like. Like most early Pentecostals, he believed in the restoration of New Testament practice, concerning conducting Christian meetings. According to Gee, “The Assemblies of God believe that all worship and ministry should be based primarily upon the exercise of the varied gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:8-10) placed within the Church.” However, Gee admitted that this ideal is “difficult to attain to in perfection.”

Gee decried two types of Pentecostal churches. The first kind of church Gee takes aim at is the church in which “the revival spirit wanes.” He points out that in these churches “there is an immediate temptation to still produce an apparent abundance of ‘life’ in the meetings by all sorts of artificial and carnal methods; such as novel programs, special music, spectacular sermons, etc. Some of these things may not be wrong under circumstances, and as the handmaid of the truly spiritual; but when they become the substitute for the true life and liberty of the operations of the Spirit of God, and when they even hinder and choke the manifestation of the Spirit — then the ideal is lost indeed.”

Gee says “An alternative that is almost worse” is a church which attempts to “maintain all the outward forms of spiritual liberty in worship, and exercise of spiritual gifts in ministry, without the anointing of the Spirit.” Here, the local church may have an open atmosphere and some semblance of Pentecost, but it merely wastes of time “with long dry prayers, stale testimonies, and unprofitable and undigested preaching.”

In fact, Gee states, “Even the heavily programed meeting is probably preferable to the deadness of an assembly that boasts an outward form of liberty in its outward form of services, but lacks the power and life of the Spirit at its heart.”

In contrast, Gee proclaims that “The achievement of the Assemblies of God ideal in worship and ministry absolutely demands a continuance of genuine Pentecostal power resting upon everything and everybody in the assembly. This is only maintained by ceaseless prayer and watchfulness, and full consecration to walk in the way of the Cross.”

Read the article by Donald Gee, “Our ‘Ideal’ in the Conduct of Meetings,” on page 2 of the September 9, 1933, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Behold He Cometh!” by E. S. Williams

* “Then and Now,” by G. Herbert Schmidt

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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An Atheist Who Became a Missionary

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Emile Chastagner with his son in Mossi Land

This Week in AG History — August 27, 1932

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published by AG-News, Mon, 26 Aug 2013 – 4:05 PM CST

Emile Chastagner (1882-1956) was a convinced atheist at age 21, but he became an Assemblies of God missionary to French West Africa (now Burkina Faso) at age 45. The road between these events was marked by hardship, which brought him to faith in Christ.

Chastagner shared his testimony in the August 27, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He was born in New York City, the son of French immigrants. His parents came from a Catholic background but did not take their faith seriously. He following his parents’ example and stayed away from church. By the age of 21, he became an atheist, unable to reconcile the existence of both suffering and God. He was quick to argue and “tear [the Bible] to pieces, appealing to ‘reason’ and ‘common sense.’” He later admitted that he was merely repeating the claims of others and that he had never himself investigated the claims of the Bible.

After only two and a half years of marriage, Chastagner’s wife was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She became bedridden and experienced intense pain. Both Chastagner and his wife were devastated by this unexpected turn of events. However, the suffering led them to faith in Christ. Books by two Christian authors, Edward P. Roe (a Presbyterian pastor and novelist) and Carrie Judd Montgomery (a Pentecostal healing evangelist), caused Chastagner and his wife to reconsider their atheism.

Chastagner recounted his slow conversion. In Roe’s writings, he found a love for people that he had never encountered before. Roe’s love, he discerned, arose from his faith, which was grounded in the Bible. Chastagner then read Montgomery’s The Prayer of Faith, which was the autobiography of a woman who was healed of an ailment similar to the one that afflicted his wife. He carefully studied the Bible and examined how the teachings of various churches lined up with Scripture. They made the decision to follow Christ and joined a small Pentecostal church. They jumped in with both feet and began helping in Sunday school and visiting the sick. Chastagner’s wife lived for another seven years and, even though she herself was sick, had an active ministry of praying for others who were sick.

Five weeks after his wife’s death, Chastagner received a call to serve as a missionary. This call came while a visiting missionary was speaking at the church. Chastagner recalled that the visiting missionary and the entire congregation confirmed this call, even though he was uncertain how it could come to pass. He decided to accept the call and, in faith, enrolled at Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University) to study to become a missionary.

Chastagner, already fluent in French, felt a call to the Mossi people in French West Africa. While in college, he met a young lady, Minnie Moore, who also felt a call to be a missionary. They married and set sail for Africa, where they served as Assemblies of God missionaries for 16 years.

Few who knew Chastagner as a youth would have guessed that he would become a faithful Christian, much less a missionary to Africa. But God not only transforms hearts, He also changes the trajectory of lives. Was it worth it? Chastagner testified, “God has met us and supplied every need and given joy to outweigh every trial and test.”

Read the article by Emile Chastagner, “An Atheist Who Became a Missionary,” on pages 1 and 10-11 of the August 27, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “How to Cure Fanaticism” by Donald Gee

* “How God Helped the Shoemaker,” by Mrs. M. E. Thorkildson

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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Consecration

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This Week in AG History – August 19, 1922

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published byAG-News, Mon, 19 Aug 2013 – 3:50 PM CST

Canadian Pentecostal pioneer A. G. Ward, in his extensive writings, often encouraged Christians to seek to be fully committed to Christ and His mission. In an article titled “Soul Food for Hungry Christians” published in the August 19, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Ward identified “consecration” as the means to achieve victory in spiritual warfare.

Consecration, Ward wrote, involved both a dedication to God and a separation from the destructive patterns of the world. According to Ward, deep blessings would result from “a consecration so complete that the triune God will have unbounded liberty in our lives.”

Ward understood that consecration, which involves putting selfishness to death, is not easy to achieve. He wrote, “How much unconscious resistance there is in many of us to the will of God!”

Fame is best avoided, Ward advised, when cultivating one’s dedication to Christ. He quipped, “spirituality is such a tender plant that it seldom thrives in the soil of notoriety. It flourishes best in the shade.”

Read the entire article by A. G. Ward, “Soul Food for Hungry Saints: A Heart Talk on Consecration,” on pages 2-3 of the August 19, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ” by D. M. Panton

* “Pentecostal Evangelism in China,” by George M. Kelley

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 Evangelclick 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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Bulgarian Pentecostals & Persecution

This Week in AG History — July 9, 1932

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 08 Jul 2013 – 7:54 AM CST

Early Bulgarian Pentecostals witnessed great growth while enduring great persecution. Nicholas Nikoloff wrote an account of the Bulgarian believers’ deep faith and suffering in the July 9, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Nikoloff was intimately familiar with the subject of his article. He served as general superintendent of the Union of Evangelical Pentecostal Churches in Bulgaria from 1928 until 1931, when he moved to the United States.

“The striking thing in Bulgaria is the great spiritual hunger of the villagers,” Nikoloff wrote. Miracles were common, according to Nikoloff, and “some of the believers have a real gift of healing.”

Bulgarians fanned the Pentecostal flame by publishing two periodicals and numerous tracts, which they distributed widely. A number of Bulgarian young people received formal theological education at a Pentecostal Bible school in Danzig, and others took local evening Bible courses.

This Pentecostal progress attracted the attention of government officials and local religious leaders, who tried to quash the growing movement.

Nikoloff recounted, “The believers were severely persecuted. Some were imprisoned. Many of them were arrested, taken through the streets and people made fun of them. Others were forbidden to even pray in their own homes, and threatened severely by certain local authorities.”

Despite these difficulties, Nikoloff reported that “God gave victory and liberty was granted.” This acceptance was gained in several communities because of healings of young people who were demon possessed or lame.  Pentecostals continued to grow and, by World War II, constituted the majority of Protestants in Bulgaria.

Read the entire article by Nicholas Nikoloff, “The Signs Follow in Bulgaria,” on page 6 of the July 9, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Two Types of Spirituality,” by A. G. Ward

* “An Interesting Trip in the Fiji Islands,” by Lawrence Borst

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 Evangelclick 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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Review: Dalit Pentecostalism

Dalit Pentecostalism: Spirituality of the Empowered Poor, by V. V. Thomas. Bangalore, India: Asian Trading Corporation, 2008.

Dr. V. V. Thomas is one of the leading historians of Indian Pentecostalism.  His book, Dalit Pentecostalism: Spirituality of the Empowered Poor, is an excellent study, which in a creative manner interprets the history of Pentecostalism in Kerala from the point of view of the Dalits experiences and perceptions.  The study is not only based on valuable new historical material with regard to the issue of Pentecostalism in Kerala but also interrogates it with a subaltern perspective.

In a focused way the material is systematically approached and presented which shows original thinking.  The author’s critical ability is evident throughout the book in that he has critically used several primary sources available both in Malayalam and English.  Bot analysis and narration are combined in a balanced way while looking at the historical developments without losing sight of the socio-cultural contexts within which the Dalits experienced Pentecostalism in Kerala.  The author’s arguments are strong in many ways basically because of his being a personal witness to the problems, in addition to the overall knowledge of people’s history and the Church in Kerala that he possesses.

The author rightly argues with substantial data that Dalit Christians in Kerala had a prominent role in shaping the history of Pentecostalism in Kerala although it has been ignored hitherto.  The author’s historiographical evaluations in the book is very valuable as it exposes the dominant community’s views and perceptions with regard to Dalits’ place in the history of Christianity and especially Pentecostalism in Kerala.  The sustained effort of the author to keep methodological approaches has helped the author to conclude strongly that there is an entity within the larger Pentecostalism in Kerala which may be described as Dalit Pentecostalism.

Although the author had to face the problem of a lack of sources, he has overcome that difficulty by re-reading the existing sources and also by taking into account the oral sources seriously.  Orality, which is a strength of Dalit people’s way of keeping memory has helped the author to a great extent.

This book will no doubt stand as another valuable source in the library of Dalit history in India and especially in Kerala.

Adapted from the Foreword by Rev. Dr. George Ommen, Former Professor of History of Christianity, United Theological College, Bangalore, India

Softcover, 432 pages. $20.00 plus shipping. Available from: Asian Trading Corporation

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It’s Tough being Pentecostal!

It’s Tough being Pentecostal!
By Garry E. Milley

I grew up among the Newfoundland Pentecostals. That tells you a lot about me! I was raised in a pastor’s home and cut my teeth on the back of a pew when it wasn’t popular to be a Pentecostal. Pentecostalism now numbers close to one half a billion world wide—half the size of Roman Catholicism in one tenth of the time! The bulk of the growth is in Asia, Africa and South America. I lived through the transition from persecution to popularity, poverty to prosperity. We are celebrating what the early Pentecostals could only dream about. However, we are our own worst enemies here in North America.

It seems that no one knows about us here until some TV evangelist gets his fingers caught in the cookie jar or we are publicly embarrassed by media exposé of secret goings-on inside Pentecostal institutions. I do not want to be defined by the worst among us but, as they say, we can select our friends but we are stuck with our relatives. For better or for worse I am a Pentecostal.

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