Five Lessons from the Great Cuban Revival of 1950-1951

Cuba photo

Hands raised in prayer by those seeking salvation, Holguin, Cuba, February 1951

This Week in AG History — May 17, 1959

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 18 May 2017

The Pentecostal church in Cuba exploded in growth during a series of evangelistic and healing services throughout the island nation in 1950 and 1951. Several church leaders in Cuba, including Luis Ortiz, Dennis Valdez, Hugh Jeter, and Ezequiel Alvarez, hosted Pentecostal evangelist T. L. Osborn, and about 50,000 people made professions of faith in Christ. Jeter, an Assemblies of God missionary, wrote about this remarkable revival in the May 17, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Jeter wrote, “One of the greatest moves of God’s Spirit in our generation took place in the island of Cuba in 1950 and 1951. It was a common occurrence in many Cuban cities for crowds of 10,000 to 15,000 people to fill a baseball stadium or city park night after night to hear the gospel and to be prayed for.”

The revival effected immediate and lasting change. Jeter noted, “Thriving congregations suddenly came into existence in places where previously we had had no work at all. The entire stock of the Bible society was quickly sold out. The miraculous was continually in evidence and people were convinced that of a truth God was in our midst.”

What can we learn from the remarkable Cuban revival? Jeter identified five practical lessons:

1.  A revival can be judged by its results over time. While some people initially questioned whether the Cuban revival was genuine, over the years it became obvious that people who were converted had become faithful Christians. Small churches were strengthened, and new churches were planted. The Assemblies of God Bible school in Cuba, which had temporarily closed due to lack of students, was overwhelmed in the years following the revival with students who had a burning passion to share the gospel.

2.   True revival will be grounded in the Bible and will give glory to God and not to man. Jeter wrote, “Our principal evangelist, Brother Osborn, did not claim to have any special gift or revelation that would set him a class apart from the rest of us. He simply let us know what God had promised and inspired us to believe that God would keep His Word.”

3.  Effective “follow-up” is essential in order to integrate converts into churches. The best “follow-up,” according to Jeter, is not merely a systematic visitation of converts, but the continuation of the revival spirit in local churches. The same spiritual vibrancy that brought people to faith in Christ will also inspire people to be faithful in church.

4.  Church leaders must be willing and able to relocate their congregation if current buildings become inadequate. Pastors who showed flexibility regarding location could more easily retain converts simply because they could fit into the church.

5.  Technology can help to reach the unchurched and to communicate with the faithful. In the Cuban revival, radio was an important tool by which news of the revival spread quickly.

“Can this revival be duplicated elsewhere?” Responding to this question, Jeter suggested that “God is no respecter of people, or of nations.” He noted that revival came to Cuba following a long period of time during which believers developed their faith and prepared for a move of God. While recognizing that God is sovereign in bringing revival, he stated, “I know of no reason why it cannot happen anywhere else in the world.”

Read Hugh Jeter’s article, “Lessons from the Cuban Revival,” on pages 6, 7, and 22 of the May 17, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Standing Together,” by Frank J. Lindquist

* “Led by the Holy Ghost,” by W. E. McAlister

* “Do the Deaf Speak in Tongues?” by Twila Brown Edwards

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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50 Years Ago: Students at Filipino Bible College View America as a Foreign Mission Field, Commit to Pray

Filipino BBI

U.S.A. Prayer Band at Bethel Bible Institute, Manila, Philippines, 1966

This Week in AG History — May 14, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 11 May 2017

Missionary prayer bands (groups of believers who gather regularly to pray for missions) have long been an integral part of Assemblies of God churches and Bible schools. Countless church members in America have dedicated themselves to pray for specific missionaries or countries. However, it may surprise readers that some believers outside the United States have viewed America as a mission field, forming missionary prayer bands for the specific purpose of praying for America.

In an early example of this reverse-missionary work, students from Bethel Bible Institute (BBI), an AG school in Manila, the Philippines, decided to band together in the 1960s to pray for the United States.

BBI was founded in 1941, and the school had organized missionary prayer bands since its earliest days. But the establishment of a group dedicated to praying for the United States was something new. The new group attracted the attention of American Pentecostals and was featured in the May 14, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

In 1967, the group of Filipino students who had dedicated themselves to pray for America consisted of six people. Harold Kohl, the American missionary who served as BBI’s president, asked the students, “What is the main reason for forming the USA prayer band when some of the other fields seem to be more needy?”

While the students’ responses varied, two themes were predominant: a deep appreciation for the positive influence of American Christians on the world, and a deep concern for the future of Christianity in America.

Eliza Navalta responded, “I chose the USA band because I was saved by the help of missionaries from the United States. Also without the leadership of the USA in spreading the gospel, maybe the other Christians would fall from their faith.”

Pacencia de Ocampo added, “I have a burden for the USA because I know they need our prayers at this time. I believe God will answer prayer and somehow bring Christ to unsaved Americans. I also pray that God will pour out His blessings upon the Christians because they are faithful givers to missions.”

Kohl continued his interview, and several students expressed concern that the modern American way of life had a negative effect on Christians.

Elisa Tibung observed, “Americans seem to be so busy in their daily lives that they aren’t concerned about the gospel of Christ. Americans are so busy!”

Pacencia de Ocampo agreed, noting “They are busy for their material needs but not for their spiritual needs.”

Fifty years ago, these Filipino students identified harmful trends that, today, have become much more manifest in American culture. The answer to these problems, they believed, could be found in prayer. According to Pacencia de Ocampo, “there is no distance in prayer.” They prayed that the American church would experience revival, develop a continual sense of God’s presence, and train dedicated gospel workers.

Read the article by Harold Kohl, “Filipinos Pray for the USA,” on pages 22-23 of the May 14, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Revival Center to Open in Harlem,” by Paul R. Buchwalter

• “Receive Ye the Holy Spirit,” by Marie E. Brown

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Archived editions of the Pentecostal Evangel are provided by the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Church Stats, 1975-2015: Charts Show Decline of Mainline Protestants and Growth of Pentecostals

Stats 2015 1

Stats 2015 2

The numbers are in! The annual statistics for 2015 have now been released by the following eight major Christian denominations: Assemblies of God, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church.

Over the past 40 years, the number of adherents of mainline Protestant denominations has declined significantly. The Roman Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention both show modest increases, although their growth has plateaued in recent years. The Assemblies of God, like many Pentecostal groups, has experienced significant growth over the past four decades.

Sources for charts:
Assemblies of God
Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Roman Catholic Church
Southern Baptist Convention
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church

Notes:
ELCA: Formed in 1987 by a merger of three bodies: American Lutheran Church (1960-1987); Lutheran Church in America (LCA) (1962-1987); and Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC) (1976-1987). Tallies for 1975, 1980, and 1985 include stats of predecessor bodies. The AELC was a split from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) in 1976. The 1975 tally does not include stats for LCMS churches which later formed the AELC, which has the effect of understating the ELCA’s loss from 1975 to the present.
PC(USA): Formed in 1983 by a merger of United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Tallies for 1975 and 1980 include stats of predecessor bodies.

_________________

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Dr. Howard Thomas: The Remarkable Deliverance of a Physician from Drug Addiction

HowardThomas3

Dr. Howard Thomas, preaching to an Assemblies of God congregation, circa 1970

This Week in AG History — May 3, 1970

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 4 May 2017

Dr. Howard Thomas (1927-2016) had a promising career as a physician, but a drug addiction almost destroyed his marriage and professional life in the early 1960s. After hitting rock bottom and ending up in a private sanatorium for treatment, he turned to Christ and experienced a radical transformation. Against all odds, Thomas was allowed to keep his medical license. He became a dedicated member of the Assemblies of God and frequently shared his testimony of his deliverance from addiction to drugs. The May 3, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel published his remarkable story.

Thomas was raised in a rural Tennessee community where alcohol was a way of life and where religious influences were minimal. Recreational activities always seemed to include liquor bottles. Thomas partied hard, but he also worked hard. He married, attended college, studied diligently, and graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 1954.

Thomas and another doctor purchased a clinic in Henderson, Tennessee. Thomas and his wife, Ann, seemed to be living the American dream. They were respected members of their community, and their future was bright.

HowardThomas2

Howard and Ann Thomas, circa 1970

However, the Thomases’ lifestyle of partying led them into trouble. They began attending private parties hosted by local professionals. Drug use and sexual sin were commonplace.

Dr. Thomas recounted: “Practically all the people at these parties were church people. The parties got worse and worse. I would have to describe them as vile and vulgar. Yet on Sunday morning you could see these same people in the pews and teaching Sunday school classes and serving the churches.”

The Thomases joined in the hypocrisy. They maintained a veneer of respectability, even while they adopted destructive lifestyles. Their hearts were far from God. Dr. Thomas later said, “Our morals got lower and lower.”

Family and work pressures took their toll, and Thomas began taking pills to help him stay awake. He learned to depend on stimulants and began injecting amphetamine. He soon moved on to harder drugs, including Demerol and morphine. When Ann was feeling ill, he gave her a shot of Demerol. Soon, she was also addicted.

Life was spinning out of control. They tried to escape their problems by leaving Henderson and moving to Arizona, where he accepted a position as a company doctor. Their drug habit, however, was not solved by distance. Dr. Thomas, increasingly, was unable to focus sufficiently to perform surgeries, and Ann became mentally disturbed and could not be home alone.

Ann’s condition deteriorated, and her parents came from Tennessee to help with the children. The family decided to move back to Tennessee, where Thomas opened up another practice. He thought he could “snap out of it” and that everything would be all right.

However, Thomas could not kick his drug habit and things got worse. He developed festering abscesses on his hips and shoulders, and he had difficulty hiding his addictions. Ultimately, his parents had him committed at a neuropsychiatric hospital in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He escaped from the hospital. He went on to hold a series of failed short-term positions as a doctor, until he deteriorated to the point of being unable to function. He slept in his car in the woods or in a gravel pit, and patients never knew where to find him.

Dr. Thomas was recommitted at the Murfreesboro hospital, this time behind locked steel doors. He was devastated. He was confined for seven weeks, where he went through withdrawal. However, he still had cravings for drugs. He knew that he would return to his former lifestyle once he was free. In the meantime, Ann had filed for divorce.

Thomas was released from the hospital and he found another job. One day, in July 1965, a truck driver asked Thomas to attend a men’s religious retreat. Thomas tried to say “no,” but the truck driver was persistent. Thomas went, and the services were unlike anything he had ever seen.

The men were not trying to impress anyone. They were not playing church. They testified how God delivered them from lives of sin, they prayed, and they called on God in prayer. Thomas came to realize that these men had something that he desperately needed – he needed God’s power in his life.

A Spirit-filled Methodist electrician and plumber led Thomas to the Lord at the meeting. Thomas later recalled, “I felt clean. I felt the same way as the other men. I was full of praise. I wanted to testify. My first thought was to go to Ann and tell her about Jesus. I knew she was lost.”

Thomas returned from the retreat and told Ann that he accepted Jesus and was a new man. She was skeptical. Her mother warned her to not go back to him. He had promised for years that he would kick his addictions, but never did.

Thomas began attending a local Methodist church, where the pastor invited him to share his testimony. Word spread throughout the region of Dr. Thomas’ remarkable deliverance from drugs, and he began to receive invitations to speak at schools and churches. He also reconciled with his wife, Ann.

After accepting Christ, Thomas began reading the Bible. He became convinced from the Bible that Christ provided an experience subsequent to salvation – baptism in the Holy Spirit – that provided empowerment for daily living. He had heard some of the men at the retreat talking about the experience. He knew that he needed God’s power in his life.

The Thomases met Ralph Duncan, an Assemblies of God pastor in Rutherford, Tennessee, and invited him to hold special services in Saltillo, the small town where they were living. Ann received the baptism in the Holy Spirit in those meetings, and she became a different person. She said, “Honey, it’s real. It’s real!” Dr. Thomas was likewise baptized in the Holy Spirit a short time later.

Meanwhile, the Board of Medical Examiners had started the process of revoking Thomas’ license to practice medicine. Dr. Thomas made a full written confession of his addictions and misdeeds, and the board had no intention of giving him a second chance, based on his dismal record.

At Dr. Thomas’ hearing, the board grilled the Thomases and their parents for two hours. The board asked Ann, “How can you be so sure that he won’t go back on drugs?” She replied, “You don’t know the power of God.”

Stating it was against its better judgement, the board decided to permit Thomas to continue to practice medicine, on the condition that Ann write the board a letter every month assuring the board that everything is fine.

HowardThomas1Dr. Howard Thomas went to on to be a successful physician and a longtime Assemblies of God member. He frequently shared his testimony, including on television and radio. A widely-distributed booklet, Drugs, Despair, Deliverance: The Story of Dr. Howard Thomas (1971), was written by C. M. Ward, the host of the Assemblies of God’s Revivaltime radio broadcast. In 1975, David Mainse interviewed Thomas for the Assemblies of God’s Turning Point television program. Thomas had so many ministry opportunities that he became credentialed as an Assemblies of God minister from 1975 to 1981.

When Thomas went to be with the Lord in 2016, he and Ann had been married almost 70 years. While the first 20 years of their marriage was marked by addictions and destructive patterns, they spent their last 50 years as devoted Christians active in Assemblies of God churches.

Thomas’ testimony provides insight into the problem of drug addiction. From personal experience, Thomas understood that institutional care is not the answer to the drug problem. He wrote, “A man can be taken off drugs, but as soon as he is returned to society, and the same pressures set in, that man will return to drugs.”

Thomas also understood that psychiatry is limited in its ability to treat addiction. Psychiatrists recognized and analyzed Thomas’ addiction, but they could not cure the addiction. A cure required a change of heart. Addiction, Thomas came to realize, was a spiritual problem. He spent years attempting to treat his own addiction. However, Thomas found deliverance only after he placed his faith in Christ and allowed his heart and desires to be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Read “I Was Hooked on Drugs,” by Howard W. Thomas, on pages 2-3 and 13 of the May 3, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Marriages Can Be Mended,” by C. M. Ward

• “From Black Magic to Christ,” by Armand Helou

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Dr. Stanley Horton: Influential Pentecostal Theologian, Educator, and Writer

Horton desk

Stanley M. Horton at his desk at Gospel Publishing House, working on the Adult Teacher, circa 1955

This Week in AG History — April 27, 1975

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 27 April 2017

Stanley M. Horton (1916-2014), the noted Pentecostal author and educator, was one of the most influential teachers of laypeople in the history of the Assemblies of God. He taught at the highest level in Assemblies of God institutions of higher education and authored the standard textbook on the Pentecostal understanding of the Holy Spirit, but it was through his “side job” as a writer of Sunday School material that he yielded his broadest influence.

Horton’s Pentecostal background goes back to the Azusa Street revival of 1906-1909. His mother, Myrle Fisher, was baptized in the Holy Spirit at the meetings at Azusa Street. She later married Harry Horton, who followed Myrle’s father, Elmer Fisher, as pastor of the Upper Room Mission, located just blocks from the Apostolic Faith Mission on Azusa Street.

The family often attended Angelus Temple, the home church of Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. One of Horton’s childhood memories is being led to the Angelus Temple platform to lead in prayer for a children’s meeting. He sat on Sister Aimee’s lap until it was his turn to pray.

Exposure to some of the early leaders and ministries of the Pentecostal movement gave Horton an inside understanding of the relationship between the development of theological ideals and their practical application to Christian living.

From his youth, Horton exhibited unusual intellectual prowess. He graduated from high school in 1933 at age 16 and in 1937 received his undergraduate degree in science from University of California at Berkeley. He went on to earn a Master of Divinity from Gordon Divinity School, a Master of Sacred Theology from Harvard, and ultimately his doctorate from Central Baptist Theological Seminary in 1959.

In a day when Pentecostal scholarship was considered “an oxymoron,” Horton was a rarity. While many of his peers considered higher education to be a hindrance to the Spirit’s anointing, Horton felt that God had called him to develop his intellectual abilities. If he did not fulfill that calling, he reckoned, he would be disobeying God.

Horton went on to teach at the college and university level for 63 years and traveled the world as a lecturer until age 92. He authored dozens of books — many of which have been translated into multiple languages — and published more than 250 scholarly articles. His book, What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit, still serves as the definitive text on the topic in seminaries and universities around the world.

However, it is possible that his broadest influence in the Pentecostal world came through the humblest of his writings. In the April 27, 1975, issue of The Pentecostal Evangel, Horton was honored for serving as author of the Adult Teacher Sunday School quarterly for 25 years. Students in churches of every size and teachers of every level of ability would open these quarterlies each Sunday to glean a deeper understanding of biblical principles from the same pen that was writing university textbooks.

Balancing a heavy teaching load and raising three children, the scholar would stay up late into the night, at the beginning rate of $1 per hour, to develop lessons that would take the deepest theological truths and convey them in a manner that applied to the daily lives of farmers, factory workers, and businessmen and women. Dr. Bob Cooley, past president of the Evangelical Theological Society, former president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a 1949 student of Dr. Horton, wrote, “If you read the adult quarterly, you can see that the lesson material grew out of an academic understanding of Scripture but was very practical . . . a technical understanding of the biblical text but a remarkable way of translating that into a body of applied theology.”

Dr. Horton’s sacrifice of time proved to be an investment in the lives of tens of thousands of Assemblies of God laypeople who would never attend one of his seminary classes, but who were still able to receive theological training from one of the greatest minds of the Pentecostal movement — just by attending Sunday School.

Read the article, “A/G Editors Honor Stanley Horton for 25 Years of Writing Ministry,” on page 26 of the April 27, 1975, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. 

A biographical sketch of Horton, a bibliography of his writings, and video interviews are accessible on the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center website.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Unveiling the Man of Sin,” by Ian McPherson

• “Build A Bridge of Friendship,” by Marjorie Stewart

• “Navajo Trails Assembly Outgrows Its Building,” by Ruth Lyon

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Don and Sharon Kiser: 25 Years as Assemblies of God Missionaries to Florida’s Migrant Community

Kiser Don

Don Kiser, 1970

This Week in AG History — April 20, 1975

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 20 April 2017

When Don Kiser and his wife, Sharon, graduated from Southeastern University (Lakeland, Florida) in 1972, they felt God’s call to minister among the migrant workers of Eloise, Florida. They moved into the impoverished community and, without money or significant ministry experience, started knocking on doors. They initially ministered in relative obscurity, building relationships with people often considered to be outcasts in society.

Over the next 25 years, the Kisers developed a thriving ministry among the migrants of central and south Florida. A young newspaper reporter, Stephen Strang, heard about the young missionaries and shared their fascinating story in the April 20, 1975, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

In the 1970s and 1980s, many migrants in Florida lived in utter squalor. They lived in camps provided by the owners of the orange groves where they worked. Raw sewage ran in the streets between decaying shanties, liquor stores, and rusted-out mobile homes.

Eloise was considered a “permanent” migrant community, as some lived there all year instead of following the crops. But the social challenges remained — the lifestyles of many of the migrants made it difficult to integrate into the broader society. Most churches did not know how to minister to the migrants. They didn’t want dirty, smelly, barefoot children on their church carpet, and the deeply ingrained problems of the adults seemed an insurmountable obstacle to ministry.

It was in this environment that the Kisers, at the young age of 23, felt called to minister. In many ways, they were unlikely candidates for such an assignment. Don Kiser was raised in a well-to-do liberal Presbyterian home and as a teenager lost all interest in religion.

Everything changed after Don’s mother accepted Christ in a small Assemblies of God church. Don was 16 years old and wanted nothing to do with his mother’s newfound faith. But she told him about some pretty girls who attended the church, convincing him to visit. He ended up accepting Christ on his second visit to the church, and was later baptized in the Holy Spirit and felt God’s call into the ministry.

Don enrolled at Southeastern University, where he met and married Sharon. When they prayed about the nature of their future ministry, they felt God calling them to people who had no hope. Don, in particular, had no interest in serving in a comfortable pastorate; he felt called to make a difference in the lives of those who had the least.

While at Southeastern, the Kisers assisted an independent Pentecostal minister with his small outreach to the migrants in Eloise. The congregation met in an old remodeled cab stand. The Kisers saw a great need, and in that need they saw their future. After graduation, they moved to Eloise. The other minister soon moved on, leaving the ministry to the young couple.

The Kisers became well-known among migrants in the area. The young couple remodeled an old bus into a mobile chapel, which they drove throughout the migrant community in central Florida. They knocked on doors, befriended residents, prayed with people, and invited them to church. Don preached and Sharon played the organ.

The ministry was named Harvest Chapel. The name had dual appeal — referring to the “plentiful harvest” of souls in Luke 10:2, and also to the migrants’ labor.

Initially, Don had to work secular employment to supplement their meager ministry income. Other Assemblies of God congregations in the region began supporting the Kisers, allowing them to minister fulltime to migrants. Several years later they bought a building in Wahneta, located three miles south of Eloise, where they opened a second migrant church.

Stephen Strang, a young reporter, wrote a feature article about the Kisers’ remarkable ministry, which was published in the Nov. 10, 1974, issue of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel. The article brought considerable local attention to the migrant ministry, and donations of food and clothing poured in. The 24-year-old reporter, the son of Assemblies of God pastor and educator A. Edward Strang, later founded Charisma magazine. Stephen Strang re-wrote the Kiser article for publication in the April 20, 1975, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel (it was his first article in the magazine).

Ministry opportunities among the migrants seemed endless. Seeking to extend their outreach into the migrant camps in south Florida, in the early 1980s the Kisers purchased a utility van that they remodeled into a camper and mobile chapel. The front of the vehicle provided a home during their ministry trips, and the back of the vehicle opened up and became a ministry platform.

In addition to weekend services at the two churches, during the week the Kisers typically held three evening services using the portable chapel. Weekdays, they would minister to children who were too young to work.

Don and Sharon Kiser continued ministering to the migrants of central Florida for 25 years. They poured their lives into people who might otherwise be overlooked or rejected. Their ministry was often very difficult and challenging. But they stayed true to God’s original calling to give hope to those who had the least. The Kisers retired in the late 1990s due to Don’s poor health and later moved to Mineral Bluff, Georgia.

The landscape of Assemblies of God history is dotted with the testimonies of consecrated men and women such as Don and Sharon Kiser, who devoted their lives to sharing the gospel in word and deed. Like many other Assemblies of God pioneers, they took a path that included hardship and discomfort. They feared that too much comfort might cause them to forget their calling to those who were hurting the most. The example of the Kisers reminds us that the Christian’s testimony often shines brightest in humble circumstances when ministering to the lowliest.

Read “Migrant Town Minister” by Stephen Strang on pages 14-17 of the April 20, 1975, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Foot upon the Leash,” by Thelma M. Moe

• “The Joy of the Firstfruits,” by John F. Hall

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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The Revivaltime Choir: Over 1,300 Students were “Young Evangelists” in this Radio Ministry

Revivaltime1

Revivaltime choir, circa 1960s. Cyril McLellan, director, is standing in front, far right.

This Week in AG History — April 15, 1962

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 13 April 2017

When people reflect on Revivaltime, the long-standing weekly radio broadcast of the Assemblies of God, they often think of the much-acclaimed speakers, C. M. Ward and Dan Betzer. But the ministry of the Revivaltime choir, made up of students from Central Bible College (CBC) who volunteered to sing on the program each week, was just as important.

The Assemblies of God released the first Revivaltime broadcast on Easter Sunday, 1950. Three years later, on Dec. 20, 1953, the program was broadcast from the Bowie Hall auditorium at CBC and began airing on the ABC Radio Network with C. M. Ward as the speaker. Through the years, it is estimated that more than 1,300 people ministered as choir members and musicians under the leadership of Cyril McLellan, Revivaltime’s longtime music director. Although McLellan trained for and expected musical excellence, the emphasis of every practice and broadcast was prayer and a desire for the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

The choir practiced during the week. Then on Sunday afternoons, beginning in January 1962, a bus would transport the students from CBC to the auditorium at the Assemblies of God national office. After rehearsing, the choir was joined by the rest of the team for prayer, and then C. M. Ward (and later Dan Betzer) would offer a few inspirational thoughts to the choir before starting the live broadcast. Two songs which became a hallmark of every program were “All Hail the Power” and “There’s Room at the Cross.”

A variety of songs and traditional hymns rounded out the musical selections for the Revivaltime program, with the choir often presenting a sermon in song which would augment the preaching. Whether it was a live radio broadcast in the Assemblies of God national office auditorium or when the choir was on tour, the choir members would often disperse into the congregation, connect with people, and pray for their needs. Ward often referred to the choir as “these young evangelists.”

Each year, two or three times as many talented CBC students auditioned for the choir than could be used. Those selected willingly gave up many hours each week to prepare for the half-hour broadcast. The students only met a small fraction of their audience, and they seldom would see the results of their ministry in music and prayer. Yet there are many testimonies of persons who have been saved, healed, encouraged, and helped by their singing.

An article in the Pentecostal Evangel from 55 years ago entitled “Why They Sing for Revivaltime” gave some background on why the students gladly sang for Revivaltime. The article includes testimonies from choir members as well as people in the audience.

Why did they sing for Revivaltime? One factor listed, in addition to their love for singing, is that the students found that “working with the talented choir director, Cyril McLellan, is a rewarding experience.” They also caught on to the vision of the ministry they could have through Revivaltime.

Gwen Hestand, a sophomore, testified, “I chose Revivaltime as an outlet for ministry because the broadcast’s very foundation is to meet human need wherever it exists and to present Christ as the answer to that need.”

“There’s no other ministry where so many people in so many places can be reached at one time,” said Carl Guiney, another sophomore.

David A. Ferrell, a student who had served as an evangelist, shared: “The Revivaltime choir is the greatest opportunity I have ever had to help so many. To read letters from those in distress and to go before the throne of God with these requests is the most rewarding work I’ve done.”

A listener in Alabama reported, “I receive a wonderful blessing from the message and beautiful music.” From Oregon came this testimony: “I enjoy the singing so much. I like to sing along with the choir.”

Revivaltime was not just a radio broadcast, it was a ministry that touched lives through the message and songs. The choir prayed often. Their focus was not on performance, but on ministering the gospel through song.

Read, “Why They Sing for Revivaltime,” on pages 16-17 of the April 15, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Cross in Christian Experience,” by Gordon D. Fee

• “The Last Supper,” by Violet Schoonmaker

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archive editions courtesy of Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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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