Mission Possible: Paul Williscroft’s Epic Christian Struggle Against Nazi & Communist Oppression, by Gladys L. Williscroft. Enterprise, OR: Biography Press, 2000.
Paul and Gladys Williscroft were newlyweds when they left the U.S. as missionaries to Eastern Europe in January 1938. In less than 2 years they were leaving Europe as World War II plunged the continent into total disorder, change, and unbelievable bloodshed.
As German troops massed on the Polish border, the couple caught the last trains out of two stations and were assigned the last cabin in a ship out of Oslo bound for the U.S. They returned almost as refugees to the United States, yet they lived for the time when they could return to Germany and pursue their mission.
During the 1940s they pastored in the Montana District. They returned to Europe after the war where they ministered for a total of 37 years, producing Sunday school materials, introducing Royal Rangers, and teaching in the German Bible School in Erzhausen. Paul died in 1987, and Gladys in 2002.
Excerpts from the book are included in “Fleeing an Explosive Europe as Adolph Hitler Begins World War II” in the Fall 2003 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage.
Paperback, 414 pages, illustrated. $15.95, plus $2.00 postage. Order from: R. G. Williscroft, P.O. Box 1087, Studio City, CA 91614-0087.
Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America, by Matthew Avery Sutton. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.
One cannot help but wish to have been there, centrally seated in the first row of Angelus Temple’s lower balcony, to view the spectacle up close. Imagine the intensity of the moment, the palpable pangs of spiritual bliss, anguish, and surrender all around as Sister Aimee draws your seatmates into her fanciful world of biblical prophets and priests, heroes and villains. And what must it have been like to stand with thirty thousand others gathered at Los Angeles’ train station on that June day in 1926, cheering rapturously at the first sight of Sister Aimee after her return from a mysterious disappearance; or to sit nervously in the court room later that same year as she attempted to answer the mystery and defend herself against charges of conspiracy?
That such sentiments stir frequently when reading Matthew Sutton’s biography of Aimee Semple McPherson is tribute to his rare story-telling abilities. By pricking the emotions as much as intellectual curiosity, Sutton provides us with an opportunity to appreciate McPherson sympathetically as someone trying her best to negotiate the cultural opportunities, pitfalls, and blessings of her day. At the same time, he offers room to feel what it would have been like to be part of McPherson’s multitude of followers or cadre of critics. McPherson was, to say the least, a polarizing figure. All who encountered her during her lifetime thus seemed compelled to declare publicly their feelings of loyalty or loathing for the female evangelist.
Sutton asks us to suspend such judgment and instead carefully measure the intensity of these responses against the realities of the day–against the constantly expanding range of possibilities that seemed only to encourage Sister Aimee’s exploits, well meaning and successful, poorly conceived, or otherwise. Continue reading
On February 2, 2008, Rev. Bernice Vance (B. V.) Robison will achieve something that few Assemblies of God ministers can claim – he will celebrate his 100th birthday. Reared in the Waurika and Terral areas in Oklahoma, Robison later moved to Texas, which became his home state. In 1927, at the age of 19, he began traveling with Floyd Hawkins. Together, they held revivals in towns and communities across Texas, bringing the Pentecostal message to many people for the first time. Numerous Assemblies of God churches were organized as a result of their efforts.
In 1929 Robison married Lillie Mae Holdridge. Following a 1930 revival campaign held in Freeport, Texas, he remained to pioneer a church, which became First Assembly of God. In the early days of the Assemblies of God, most pastors were bi-vocational, and they were expected to be competent in multiple skills. Robison’s natural building abilities meant that, in each of his pastorates, he would erect a church building.
After a hurricane destroyed the first building he erected for the Freeport congregation, he built a second one. To date, five Assemblies of God congregations have been birthed from the Freeport church. In 1935 he moved to Sherman, Texas, to serve as one of the early Assemblies of God pastors in that city. In 1939 he returned to south Texas to pastor the assembly in Cuero. His first project there was to build a new church building. The congregation worshiped in that building until 1993.
In 1942, again feeling the call of God to a city without an Assemblies of God witness, Robison moved 28 miles to Victoria, Texas. World War II was raging, Continue reading
The Ambassadors : A History of Two Airplanes and the Men Who Flew Them – Christ’s Ambassadors, by Bill Taylor. Seminole, FL: Sirena Press, 2005.
Few ministries in the Assemblies of God created as much visibility as two converted World War II planes that the Division of Foreign Missions operated worldwide between 1948 and 1951. Now called Assemblies of God World Missions, the ministry converted a C-46 cargo plane and made several trips to Africa, South America, India, and domestic flights — including the 1949 General Council in Seattle.
Late in 1949, the DFM, headed by Noel Perkin, traded the C-46 for a converted 4-engine B-17 bomber and operated it for the next two years. The copilot, Bill Taylor, researched and pulled together the amazing stories of a courageous crew that flew into exotic airports around the world. If you want adventure, inspiration, close calls over the oceans, and great missionary stories, The Ambassadors is for you. Continue reading