From FEAST to APTS: 55 Years of Assemblies of God Advanced Theological Education in the Philippines

FEASTThis Week in AG History — January 24, 1965

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 23 January 2019

This week we commemorate the founding of Asia Pacific Theological Seminary (APTS) in the Philippines, which was originally called the Far East Advanced School of Theology (FEAST).

Through the years a number of Bible institutes were established in the Far East, but there was a need for advanced education for pastors and teachers. The Far East Conference of the Assemblies of God met in Hong Kong in 1960 and strongly urged the establishment of an advanced school of theology to serve the entire area of the Far East. Several years of careful planning followed, directed largely by Maynard Ketcham, field secretary for the U.S. Assemblies of God for the Far East.

Far East Advanced School of Theology (FEAST) became a reality in 1964, with Harold Kohl as the founding president and Derick Hillary as the first dean. This school marked an important step in Far East missions for the Assemblies of God.

Groundbreaking was held on Oct. 13, 1964, with messages from missionaries Harold Kohl and Derrick Hillary. Kenneth McComber, field fellowship chairman, and Rudy Esperanza, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God in the Philippines, assisted with the sod turning for the groundbreaking. The first building was constructed on the campus of Bethel Bible Institute in Manila. It served as the administration building and also offered housing for students and classrooms.

The curriculum of the school was originally structured to accommodate Assemblies of God ministers and Christian workers who had completed only a three-year Bible institute program. Bachelor of Arts degrees in Biblical Studies and Religious Education (four-year degrees), and a five-year Bachelor of Theology degree were offered.

In 1978 the program was expanded to include master’s degrees in Biblical Studies and Christian Education. The Master of Divinity degree program was added in 1982.

In 1985, property was purchased in Baguio City, Philippines, to provide a permanent campus for the school. Operations were moved to the new site in October 1986. In the years that followed, a number of buildings were erected on the new campus to house the growing student body and academic programs.

The name was changed from Far East Advanced School of Theology to Asia Pacific Theological Seminary (APTS) in 1989 to better reflect the nature of the school in offering graduate degrees in theology.

In addition to the classes offered on the campus of APTS, courses are taught in extension centers in several Asia Pacific countries. More than 3,000 students have studied in APTS extension classes held on multiple international locations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Fifty-five years ago, missionary Derrick Hillary wrote about the first student body, which was made up of pastors and teachers. “Able to choose from more than 80 universities and colleges,” reported Hillary, “they have elected instead to come to FEAST and share its humble beginnings because they prize their Pentecostal heritage.”

The school’s original motto was “Zeal With Wisdom.” The motto has since been changed to “Zeal With Knowledge.” APTS was founded with the purpose of educating leaders who would be in the forefront of the expansion of the Pentecostal movement throughout the Asia Pacific region. The school promotes scholastic ability as well as the fire and zeal of Pentecost.

Read “Zeal With Wisdom, ” by Derrick Hillary on page 14 and 15 of the Jan. 24, 1965, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Evangelism in the Home,” by J. F. Culpepper

• “We Camped With the Christian Gypsies,” by Evelyn M. Ford

• “Highway Tabernacle Marks Its Seventieth Anniversary,” by W. Howard Roberson

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 Legacy of Massimiliano Tosetto: Italian American Pentecostal Pioneer

M.Tosetto-1949 (2)By Paul J. Palma

Pentecostal pioneer, Massimiliano Tosetto, was many things—a loving husband, devoted father, pastor, artist, writer, composer, Bible scholar, and church founder. Born in Campiglia dei Berici, Veneto in 1877, from an early age Tosetto proved dedicated to his family, church, and education. He was a diligent student, despite growing up in a town where 80 percent of the population was illiterate. The untimely passing of his mother when he was eighteen prompted him to set out on his own. He entered the study of decorative art at the Art Institute of Milan and proceeded to find work as a fresco painter.

Raised Roman Catholic, Tosetto underwent a religious conversion at twenty-two. After three different priests refused to hear his confession (because his list was too long), he left Catholicism. Graciously offered a Bible by someone from a neighboring Baptist church, Tosetto set out on a new faith journey. His quest for further opportunity, along both economic and religious lines, drove him to emigrate for the New World. He arrived in Chicago in 1902. Impressed with his ability as a painter, Marshall Field’s Co. hired him as an interior decorator.

Tosetto learned of the “baptism in the Spirit” through R. A. Torrey, pastor of the large Moody Church in Chicago. Intrigued by this fuller experience of the Holy Spirit, in 1909 Tosetto attended a service at Chicago’s Assemblea Cristiana, the first Italian Pentecostal church on record. It was here that he discovered the baptism in the Spirit firsthand. In 1914, he married the organist Maria Pontarelli (with whom he had 6 children) of an immigrant family from San Vincenzo, Abruzzi. They plotted their future together through their joint service in the Pentecostal movement. After being miraculously healed of an ear infection, Tosetto left his day work as an artist and gave himself fully to the ministry.

Tosetto went on to found churches in New York, Ontario, Quebec, and in his hometown in Italy. He served twenty-nine years as pastor of Walnut Avenue Christian Church in Niagara Falls. He moved with his family to Niagara Falls in 1916, rented a two story flat, and began hosting worship meetings on the downstairs floor. There they set up Maria’s organ. Together with another family of six, they became the nucleus for a growing congregation. Tosetto put up a sign outside the home that read “Chiesa Cristiana” (Christian Church).

Tosetto built the congregation’s first baptismal pool by hand out of 2x4s. In about two years’ time, the congregation rallied enough funds to purchase a property down the street. Tosetto designed the building plans and erected a new chapel. Over the next several years the congregation thrived. By 1922, the chapel was attended by about 250 congregants. Needing a larger building once again, a novel plan was enacted whereby the existing church edifice was sawed in half. The two halves were moved a distance apart and new center walls, ceiling, and floors were constructed.

Tosetto became the visionary and organizational leader of the flagship Italian Pentecostal denomination, the Christian Church of North America (CCNA). Among the early Italian Pentecostal pioneers, Tosetto stood as a voice of order. It is no surprise that the banner raised above the pulpit of his Niagara Falls church read, “Do all things decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). In the 1920s, when theological controversy threatened to divide Italian Pentecostalism in North American and Italy, Tosetto encouraged the consolidation of churches into one body. The CCNA’s first General Convention was held in Niagara Falls at Tosetto’s church in 1927. He served as one of five original overseers of the denomination. Today the CCNA, known as the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, has a membership of about 1,800,000 in nearly 3,600 congregations across each inhabitable continent of the world.

In addition to founding churches in the US and Canada, Tosetto established the Evangelical Christian Church in his hometown in Italy on August 15, 1908. This feat was accomplished despite strong opposition. Tosetto’s efforts won the support of neighboring churches, including financial backing from the local Methodists. Recently, Assemblies of God (AG) leadership convened at the church in an effort to bring the congregation under the covering of the AG in Italy.

Massimiliano passed away in 1949 on a preaching mission to Montreal, Quebec. His last message, themed “Precious in the Sight of the Lord is the Death of His Saints,” concluded with an exhortation to live in peace and love and with the words, “I feel as though I have wings, ready to fly.” He returned to Niagara Falls to be buried by the church he founded.

I conclude this reflection with a selection of a hymn Tosetto penned, with my translation in English alongside the original Italian. The hymn, “Pace, vera pace” (Peace, True Peace), was originally published as part of the hymnal, Nuovo libro d’inni e salmi spirituali (New book of hymns and spiritual songs):

Let the Lord be praised,
And glorified at every hour,
Blessed and thanked;
He is the peace in our hearts.

(Il Signore sia lodato,
E glorificato ognor,
Benedetto e ringraziato;
Egli è pace ai nostri cuor.)

___________________________________________________

Paul J. Palma, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Ministry at Regent University, is the great-grandson of Tosetto. The story of the birth of Pentecostalism among Italian immigrants like Tosetto is chronicled in Palma’s new book, Italian American Pentecostalism and the Struggle for Religious Identity. Please visit Routledge.com for more information.

___________________________________________________

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: iFPHC.org

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Elva Stump: The Nurse Who Became an Assemblies of God Church Planter in West Virginia

Elva Stump

Elva K. Stump, age 98

This Week in AG History — January 18, 1936

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 2 January 2019

Elva K. Stump (1885-1985) was a trained nurse and a pioneer Assemblies of God minister. Most of her ministry was in Ohio, but she also spent time in the 1930s ministering in rural West Virginia, where she helped pioneer both white and African-American congregations.

Stump had a very full life. A nurse by profession, she graduated from the Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia. At age 29, she married a widower (Thomas), who had one child from his previous marriage. Thomas and Elva had four more children. In about 1926, she began serving as Sunday School superintendent of the Maple Avenue Mission (Church of the Brethren) in Canton, Ohio.

Elva Stump’s life changed dramatically in 1928, when she was 43 years old. She developed a spinal infection, which doctors told her would result in paralysis and death. Her suffering was intense, and the doctors gave her up to die.

However, Stump and her fellow Christians held a round-the-clock prayer vigil at her bedside. Stump came to believe that her illness was God’s way to teach her to submit to His will. The Lord reminded her of John 15:2, “Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” This realization changed her attitude and gave her peace. She changed the way she prayed, “I am not asking You to heal me for my friends, my family, or the mission, but only for Your glory and honor.” After she prayed in this way, she experienced a supernatural touch and was healed. She wrote about her healing in the June 21, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

She recalled, “I raised my head, took my left hand and ran it down my spine — no pain! I threw back the covers with my left hand and foot, and moved every toe on that foot — something I had not done for months. I got out of bed and walked to the bathroom, walking heavily to see if sensation was really in my feet again.” Her nurse, hearing the commotion, thought that Stump was having a convulsion and dying. But the nurse came into her room and found Stump “walking and shouting and praising the Lord.”

Through this experience, Stump learned to submit to God’s will, whether it be easy or difficult. When she felt God calling her to leave Ohio to go minister to the unchurched of rural West Virginia, she heeded the call.

Stump became a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God in 1932, at age 47. The Jan. 18, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel reported on Stump’s evangelistic endeavors. She was a 50-year-old female Pentecostal pastor, before it was acceptable in the broader society to be a female pastor, much less a Pentecostal.

Stump arrived in the community of Mud Lick, West Virginia, where she began holding gospel services in a building worthy of the town’s name — “an old forsaken schoolhouse.” The article recounted her humble accommodations: “Here she lived in a cabin set up on stilts, slept on the floor, and sat very still when she read so the wasps would not sting.” It was uncomfortable, but Stump learned to submit to God’s will. The results? The article reported, “The Lord owned this meeting, and men and women and some children found Him.”

Stump next held six weeks of meetings in the community of Sand Fork, where she was given a parsonage and an abandoned church. She left the believers after she secured a “very spiritual pastor” to shepherd the flock. Next, she helped establish a church and a “faith home” at Bealls Mills and an African-American congregation in Butcher Fork. She then went to the coal fields and held tent meetings in Gilmer, Pittsburg-Franklin, and MacKay. The tireless evangelist proceeded to St. Mary’s, where she held meetings at a community church. The January 1936 article noted that Stump planned to return to St. Mary’s and also start a work in Glenville.

Stump and her energetic ministry colleagues planted or rejuvenated these West Virginia churches, from Mud Lick to Glenville, in the course of one year. Her colleague, Minnie Allensworth, remarked, “This is the result of one year’s absolute surrender to the Lord.”

Pentecostal pioneers such as Elva Stump often did so much with so little. What could happen in one year if Pentecostals learned to surrender all to the Lord, just as Stump did?

Read the entire article, “New Work in West Virginia,” by Minnie Allensworth, on page 12 of the Jan. 18, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Some Things a Pastor Cannot Do” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Our Daily Bread” by Lilian Yeomans

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Elva Stump’s testimony of her healing, published on page 9 of the June 21, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, is accessible by clicking here.

Pentecostal Evangel
archived 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
Website: iFPHC.org

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Robert and Doris Edwards: Assemblies of God Medical Missionaries, Educators, and Church Planters in India

EdwardsThis Week in AG History — January 8, 1949

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 09 January 2020

Robert Wade Edwards (1895–1961) became an Assemblies of God missionary when he was 51 years old and a newlywed of only one month. He served in southern India for 14 years and left behind a legacy of 14 churches, an industrial school, and hundreds of young people who were trained to carry on his ministry while being able to support themselves through trade.

Born in Salma, North Carolina, Edwards graduated with the highest honors. After spending nine years in the Army Medical Corps, he married and began ministry soon after. When his young wife died, Edwards moved to Cape Hatteras National Seashore to begin a new season of ministry. In 1946, a tidal wave severely damaged Edwards’ church. Devastated at the losses he incurred, Edwards asked God for direction. He distinctly felt God say to him, “Establish My people here in My Word and then go to the people to whom I have called you.” Thirteen years before, Edwards had a vision of himself preaching to dark-skinned people groping about in darkness. He knew that God was changing his course of direction.

For the next several months, Edwards worked on rebuilding in addition to his normal duties as pastor. During this time, he scheduled a missionary speaker for his church. Mrs. Doris Maloney was a widowed missionary to South India in her early thirties, traveling with her young son. When Pastor Edwards shared his burden with the missionary speaker they both felt that God was opening new doors for a new family. Edwards said later, “We put our calls together in marriage on Nov. 29, 1946, and on Dec. 12, we sailed for India.”

They began their ministry in Madras State, now Tamil Nadu, in South India where there were no churches. There were six villages within walking distance and most of them had never had a gospel witness. Edwards also found that his medical experience in the army served well to minister to those who had no doctors or medical care.

In the Jan. 8, 1949, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Edwards described a typical day. “We were up at 5 a.m. to prepare the messages … at 7:30 people began coming to have their wounds dressed … there were 12 patients and two homes to go where the people had wounds which prevented them from walking. Meanwhile, Mrs. Edwards conducted Sunday School in the next village … from 9 to 12 we had a meeting in our home for a few believers … in the afternoon there were callers. From 4 to 7 p.m. there were street meetings in two villages and we paraded the streets shouting Scripture verses and giving out tracts. It was a great thrill to work like this for the Lord though we came back almost too tired to walk.”

Edwards also found his experience in building to be an asset. He continued in the 1949 article, “It will not be long until we shall have to build little churches as there is no place to have a service except under the trees.” Edwards’ practice was to buy materials and build when there was money. When the money was exhausted, they would stop building until the money came in. In this manner, he built 14 churches without debt.

One day an old man came to Edwards and asked him to take his son. The old man felt it was too late for him to become a Christian but he wanted his son to know God. With their travel schedule, Edwards did not feel they could take on a young boy. He encouraged the man to send the boy to Sunday School and they would do all they could to help. After returning from a month-long ministry trip, Edwards was met with tragic news. The boy had hung himself in a tree near the missionaries’ home.

Grieved, the Edwards family asked God to show them how they could help other young boys to have more hope for the future. Edwards believed if these young boys could learn God’s Word and develop a trade they would find more promise and meaning in life. Edwards sought permission to begin an industrial school to train young men in a craft.

Hiring an Indian teacher to assist him, Edwards took on nine boys and began their training by teaching them to build their own school. The boys did the carpentry work and lived in the unfinished building with their poultry and goats during its construction. Within a short time, they had built several building to house training classes in printing, carpentry, blacksmithing, and other areas of learning.

After 14 years without a furlough, the Edwardses returned to the States to report on their ministry. During this furlough, it was discovered that Edwards had cancer. While suffering with the effects of cancer, he dictated much of what God had done in their time in India. His last recorded words concerning the hard work they had done were, “Looking back over my career, I would that I could do it all over again. If I had another life to live, I would give it to India.”

Edwards’ influence carried on in the lives of the young men he trained. They provided stability, leadership, and direction for the continuation of the Assemblies of God in South India.

Read Robert Edwards’ report, “Working in Travancore,” on page 11 of the Jan. 8, 1949, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Elisha, the Double Portion Man” by Evangelist Oral Roberts

* “Following the Cloud” by Harold Horton

* “The Congo Dancer” by E.H. Richardson

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: iFPHC.org

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John Eric Booth-Clibborn: The Assemblies of God Missionary Who Gave His Life for Burkina Faso

ClibbornThis Week in AG History — January 2, 1926

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 2 January 2019

John Eric Booth-Clibborn, a 29-year-old Assemblies of God missionary, laid down his life in the French West African colony of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) on July 8, 1924. He died from dysentery and malaria only two weeks after he, his pregnant wife Lucile, and their young daughter arrived on the mission field.

Eric’s death came as a shock, not only to his family, but also to their friends and supporters around the world. Eric’s family was well known in evangelical and Pentecostal circles. He was the grandson of Salvation Army founder William Booth and the son of Pentecostal author and evangelist Arthur Booth-Clibborn. Articles in the Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals mourned his passing.

A remarkable testimony of faith emerged from Eric’s tragic death. His widow, Lucile, wrote an account of their lives and short ministry, titled “Obedient unto Death.” Former General Superintendent George O. Wood called Lucile’s story, published in the Jan. 2, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, “one of the most gripping accounts of faith in the history of this Movement.”

The young widow dealt with her grief by replaying in her mind every moment she had with Eric. Lucile recalled that she and Eric gathered with fellow believers just prior to their departure for Africa. Together, they prayed and sang a tune composed by Eric’s mother, Catherine Booth-Clibborn. The words of that song prefigured Eric’s impending sacrifice:

“At Thy feet I fall
Yield Thee up my all
To suffer, live or die
For my Lord crucified.”

Lucile’s article recounted in great detail their voyage and ministry together in Africa. She also described gut-wrenching moments at Eric’s funeral. Her emotional wounds remain palpable: “Then after a word of prayer, the top was put on the coffin and the nails hammered in. You can imagine the pain that shot through my heart at each pound of the hammer.” Reflecting on her pain, Lucile wrote that she did not regret going to Africa, “even though it tore from me the beloved of my heart.”

Lucile courageously viewed her loss through faith-filled eyes, seeing Eric’s death as an opportunity for God to be glorified. She wrote: “I realize that present missionary success is greatly due to the army of martyrs who have laid down their lives on the field for the perishing souls they loved so much … It has been said that a lonely grave in faraway lands has sometimes made a more lasting impression on the lives and hearts of the natives than a lifetime of effort; that a simple wooden cross over a mound of earth has spoken more eloquently than a multitude of words.”

The Assemblies of God in Burkina Faso remembers John Eric Booth-Clibborn as a hero of the faith who gave his life to follow God’s call. Today, the Assemblies of God is the largest Protestant fellowship in Burkina Faso, with over 4,500 churches and preaching points serving over 1.2 million believers.

Read Lucile Booth-Clibborn’s article, “Obedient unto Death,” on pages 12 -14 and 20 of the Jan. 2, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:

•   “A Passion for Christ and for Souls,” by George Hadden

•   “How Pentecost Came to Barquisimeto,” by G. F. Bender

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: iFPHC.org

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Hispanics in the Assemblies of God: Challenges and Growth in the Early Years

HC Ball

Photo caption: The first graduating class of Latin American Bible Institute, San Antonio, Texas; 1928. Front row (l-r): H. C. Ball, Sunshine Ball, H. May Kelty,  and unidentified. Back row (l-r) Manuel Bustamante, Ruben Arevalo, Samuel Robles, Juan C. Orozco, Horacio Menchaca, Dario Lopez, Enrique Rosales, and Josue Cruz.

This Week in AG History — December 28, 1918

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 26 December 2019

The first organization for Hispanic Assemblies of God churches and ministers in the United States was formed in 1918. At the time, the Pentecostal movement among Hispanics was in its infancy and consisted primarily of scattered, unorganized missions along the U.S.-Mexican border. Two Assemblies of God conventions were held in Texas in 1918 — one in January and a second in November. These conventions united Hispanic Pentecostals and laid the foundation for one of the largest and fastest growing segments of the Assemblies of God.

Hispanics forged their own Assemblies of God identity — developing indigenous leaders, schools, and governance structures — which gave believers a voice in a society where they were often marginalized. Asambleas de Dios congregations now dot the American landscape. In 2018, 22.8 percent of U.S. Assemblies of God adherents (736,511) were Hispanic.

The January 1918 convention was organized by Isabel Flores (a male Mexican-American pastor) and Henry C. Ball (an Anglo missionary to Mexicans). They ministered among the 300,000 refugees from the Mexican Revolution who lived along the borderlands in Texas. These refugees, uprooted from their families and their native land, often lived in squalid conditions. They had an uncertain legal status and, in the eyes of many observers, not much of a future.

While the broader American society often rejected the Mexican refugees, Pentecostals reacted differently. Flores, Ball, and other Pentecostal ministers fanned out, offering food, shelter, and medical assistance to those who were hurting. They viewed the refugees as a heaven-sent opportunity to share the gospel, which they did in both word and deed.

The first superintendent of the newly organized Hispanic work was Ball — probably chosen because as an Anglo he was able to navigate the difficult legal and cultural issues facing the Mexican refugees. On at least one occasion, he helped free a refugee pastor who had been imprisoned on false charges. Ball was himself imprisoned on suspicion of being a German spy during World War I because of his work with the refugees, who were viewed as a national threat during war time.

Despite legal, political, and economic tensions, Ball maintained his focus on helping the Pentecostal movement among Hispanics to mature and grow. He stressed the importance of developing indigenous leaders who could serve as pastors, evangelists, and missionaries to Hispanics in the United States and across Latin America.

Ball developed these themes in an article in the Dec. 28, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. In the article, Ball reported on the November 1918 convention, noting that the Hispanic believers were united in doctrine, that there was a spirit of “sweet cooperation,” and that the churches aimed to be self-supporting and to ultimately send missionaries to their countries of origin. This vision for indigenous leadership was more fully realized in 1939, when Demetrio Bazan succeeded Ball as the first Hispanic leader of the Latin American District Council of the Assemblies of God.

The vision to bring the gospel to suffering Mexican refugees ultimately helped to transform the American church. Those refugees became the seeds from which a resilient Hispanic Pentecostal movement was birthed. Today, Hispanics and other ethnic minorities are helping to fuel the continuing growth of the Assemblies of God in the United States.

Read H. C. Ball’s article, “A Report of the Spanish Pentecostal Convention,” on page 7 of the Dec. 28, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Plea for Unity,” by A. P. Collins

• “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men,” by Raymond T. Richey

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: iFPHC.org

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Morris O. Williams: Assemblies of God Educator and Missionary to Africa

Morris WilliamsThis Week in AG History — November 22, 1964

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 19 December 2019

Morris Oliver Williams (1920-1991) is remembered for his faithful years of service as an Assemblies of God missionary in southern Africa. He was a missionary in Nyasaland (now Malawi) from 1946 to 1963 and in South Africa from 1963 to 1970. He also served as field secretary for Africa from 1971 to 1985. After leaving that office, he joined the faculty of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri, as associate professor of missions until his death.

Morris Williams was born in Kansas and raised in North Dakota. His father, Bruce Williams, was a Church of the Brethren minister who identified with the Pentecostal movement in the late 1920s and who later served as a teacher at Lakewood Park Bible School (now Trinity Bible College). Morris Williams was one of seven children, all of whom became active in Assemblies of God ministry. His siblings included Dr. Ward Williams (longtime professor at Southeastern University), Maxine Williams (faculty member at Northwest University), Harriet Schoonmaker-Bryant (missionary to India), Kay Trygg (wife of Rev. Elmer Trygg), Marian Brandt (wife of Rev. Robert L. Brandt), and Dorris Kingsriter (wife of Rev. Harland Kingsriter).

Morris Williams was saved at the age of eleven under the ministry of a missionary from Africa. After completing high school, he attended North Central Bible Institute (now North Central University) in Minneapolis. It was there that he met Alice Mae “Macey” Lundquist, who later became his wife. After their marriage, the Williamses pastored in northern Iowa for two and one-half years before he accepted the position of president of Christ’s Ambassadors (the Assemblies of God young people’s organization) for the West Central District. While serving as C.A. president, the Williamses offered themselves for missionary service, accepted a position in Nyasaland, and set sail in January 1946.

Morris Williams and his wife felt impressed to answer the call given in Mark 16:15: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” This most certainly included the people of Nyasaland.

It did not take long for the Williamses to begin to love these people in Africa like their own family. They soon discovered that people in Nyasaland were hungry for knowledge, education, better pay, a better lifestyle, and political freedom. But many did not see a need for Christ. They looked to the missionaries in a sense of hope to receive the things they longed for, not realizing that there were spiritual needs as well. The Williamses worked tirelessly to befriend Africans and to share the love of Christ. They started a mission station and established a Bible school in Dedza. Morris Williams also helped establish five other Bible schools in southern Africa. Williams was a prolific writer. He authored over 50 articles in the Pentecostal Evangel, as well as seven books, several of which were translated into the Swahili and French languages.

Missionaries can have very busy schedules. This was evident to Morris Williams’ three children. One December they asked him, “Are you going to be home for Christmas this year, Dad?” The plan was to have a nice family gathering on Christmas Eve and then celebrate Christmas Day with African friends. The Williamses put up a nice Christmas tree and hung three stockings on the mantelpiece. Mrs. Williams baked cookies, and there were many packages under the tree which had been mailed from friends in the United States. The children were eagerly waiting for after supper to open their gifts.

Eight o’clock arrived, and the children were clothed in their pajamas and ready to relish every happy moment of the evening. Morris Williams read the Christmas story, and the family started singing a Christmas carol. Then there came a knock on the door. A man named Chimetele was at the door and told them that his car was broken down, and his family was stranded. He wanted to know if the missionary would take him and his wife and children to their town 20 miles away.

After some quick calculating, Morris Williams determined that the road to Mphati was very rugged. The trip would take at least two hours to drive there and back. With compassion in his heart for the man’s family huddled in the darkness along the lonely African road, Morris Williams left his wife and children and unopened presents behind. Although this was a sacrifice, this gave him the opportunity “to let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

It was after 11:00 o’clock when Morris Williams returned home. Although their family Christmas celebration had been interrupted, Mrs. Williams said, “I’m glad you helped Chimetele. We never know when an act of kindness will be used to bring people to Christ—and that, after all, is what we’re here for.” This was a gratifying thought on Christmas Eve. It also is a beautiful Christmas illustration of how Morris Williams and other Assemblies of God missionaries and their families consecrated their lives to glorify God by serving people in lands far away from their own homes.

 Read “Christmas on the Mphati Road” on pages 12 and 13 of the December 20, 1964 issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

  • “An Unforgettable Christmas,” by William Nelson Sachs
  • “God’s Christmas List,” by Ann Ahlf
  • “The Place of Education in the Pentecostal Ministry,” by G. Raymond Carlson

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
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Email: archives@ag.org
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