Paul Patkotak, a Pioneer Pentecostal Eskimo, Helped Bring Revival to Alaska

Patkotak Paul

This Week in AG History — July 21, 1963

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 19 July 2018

Paul Patkotak (1891-1980) was born during a harsh winter on the North Slope of Alaska. His Eskimo parents left him on the tundra to die rather than face almost certain death from starvation due to lack of food. Paul survived, however, and later became one of the earliest Eskimos to identify with the Pentecostal movement.

Paul’s parents were traditional Eskimos and lived near Wainwright, a village on the Arctic Ocean. He was born in the family’s snow house. At the time, his parents and their five other children were on the verge of starvation. Other families also faced the agonizing choice of whether to allow their children to die from exposure or starvation. Paul’s father insisted that the newborn must be placed in the snowbank, but his mother initially resisted. After several days, though, it seemed obvious that she was postponing the inevitable. They bundled up little Paul, placed him on the cold tundra, and left to go hunting for food.

Shortly after Paul’s parents left, his grandmother ventured outside and rescued the hapless newborn. She tucked her bundled grandson into her own clothing, but she fell in the snow and was unable to get up and return to the house. It seemed that both would die from exposure. However, a hunter discovered their plight and brought them to his hunting camp. That night little Paul had nothing to eat, but he survived in his grandmother’s care.

The following morning, a caribou herd wandered into the camp. The hunters killed enough animals to provide food for the winter months. Paul’s grandmother fed Paul with milk from one of the caribou cows, which she had managed to milk. Later that day, Paul was reunited with his mother, who had never expected to see him again.

Paul was reared according to traditional Eskimo customs, learning to fish, trap, and hunt. He had contact with government workers and missionaries, who gave him a rudimentary education based on Bible stories. Although he did not become a Christian until years later, the stories of Jesus intrigued Paul.

Unlike many of his Eskimo friends, Paul wanted to further his education. He worked hard, trapping and pelting countless white foxes, which he planned to sell to make his dream possible. In 1911, he boarded a steam freighter with his pelts and headed for Seattle.

Paul arrived in Seattle and felt overwhelmed by the large city. He discovered a Free Methodist school called Seattle Seminary (now Seattle Pacific University), which he wanted to attend. He was not qualified to enroll, but professors allowed him to sit at the back of the classroom and audit classes.

Paul’s limited reading skills hampered his ability to understand, and other students severely ridiculed him. He grew desperate. He wanted to learn, but education seemed out of reach.

One day in 1913, while Paul was wandering down a street in Seattle, a man asked him, “Are you hungry for the Lord?” He responded affirmatively, and the man led Paul to a small Pentecostal congregation affiliated with the Apostolic Faith Mission (Portland, Oregon), which had roots in the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909).

The young Eskimo sensed the power of the Holy Spirit in the Pentecostal meetings. An African-American woman caught his attention when she testified that God looks at a person’s heart, not at the color of their skin. He realized that he had built up hatred toward white students at the seminary who mocked him. He also realized that he needed to abandon his belief in the power of traditional Eskimo shamans. Paul responded to the altar call, repented of his sins, and peace and joy flooded his heart.

Paul spent the next two years at a government boarding school for Native Americans, where he improved his reading skills. He also remained active in the Apostolic Faith Mission.

Paul sensed a burden for the Eskimo people. In 1913, in a letter published in The Apostolic Faith newspaper, Paul testified of his newfound faith in Christ and stated that he felt called to bring the gospel to his people. He began praying for a mighty revival to come to the Eskimos.

In 1919, Paul, his wife, and children moved to Alaska. They adopted the nomadic lifestyle of a hunter and trapper. This lifestyle made it somewhat difficult to effectively witness to other Eskimos, as they often lived in isolation. Paul was a faithful Christian and shared the gospel when he was able to do so. He was not a credentialed minister, but he went on several extended evangelistic tours across Alaska. The family later moved to Wainwright, so that their children could receive an education.

In the 1950s, the development of the oil industry brought significant changes to the North Slope of Alaska. Outsiders brought money and new opportunities for sin, disrupting traditional society.

In 1954, Paul joined forces with Sherman Duncklee, an Assemblies of God evangelist who was planting a church in nearby Barrow. A significant revival swept Barrow, and then Wainwright. Assemblies of God churches were formed in these towns, and the revival spilled over in to the Presbyterian church and divisions between the churches came down. Paul’s son, Steven, was among the hundreds of converts in the revival. Another convert, Ned Nusunginya, would become the first Eskimo to be ordained by the Assemblies of God.

Paul had prayed since 1913 for revival among the Eskimo people. After 40 years of prayer, a spiritual awakening had finally come to the Eskimos!

The story of Paul Patkotak illustrates several themes in Pentecostal history. The interracial nature of the Azusa Street Revival reverberated through early Pentecostalism, and people from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds found new life in Christ through Pentecostal churches. Significantly, much of the ministry among early Pentecostals was performed by lay persons, such as Paul. The testimonies of these early converts helped bridge cultural divides and laid the groundwork for the development of revivals and churches.

The July 21, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel included an account of Paul Patkotak and the Wainwright revival. Read the article, “Arctic Village Turns to God,” by Ida Cecelia Piper, published on pages 24 and 25.

Photograph used with permission of the Apostolic Faith Church (Portland, Oregon).

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Revival We Need,” by Robert C. Cunningham

• “The Vision of the Lord,” by Arch P. Collins

• “The Precious Blood,” by J. Narver Gortner

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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John P. Kolenda: The German-American Assemblies of God Missionary to Brazil

Kolenda_1400bThis Week in AG History — July 11, 1942

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 12 July 2018 

John Peter Kolenda (1898-1984), an Assemblies of God missionary to Brazil and Germany, was a man of vision who was sold out for the gospel. He pastored churches in the U.S., founded churches on the mission field, established Bible schools, started printing plants, and taught extension courses. He never grew tired of doing the Lord’s work.

Kolenda was born in Germany and lived in Brazil from ages 4 to 11 before his family immigrated to the United States. After he was converted at age 18, he began reading Maria Woodworth-Etter’s classic Pentecostal book, Signs and Wonders, which led him to accept divine healing. Not long afterwards, through the ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson, he and other members of his family were filled with the Spirit.

After graduating from Southern California Bible Institute (now Vanguard University), Kolenda was ordained in 1922. He met his future wife, Marguerite Westmark, in Bible school, and they were married later that same year.

Kolenda sold cars in Los Angeles for a short time after graduation, and then after he was married he served as an evangelist for about six months, before pastoring a series of small churches in Michigan. The Kolendas raised two daughters, Dorothy and Grace Ann.

Kolenda had always felt a call to serve on the mission field in Brazil. His wife also shared that calling. He was over 40 years old when the door finally opened for him to go as a missionary to Brazil in 1939, even as World War II was breaking out in Europe. He arrived in Rio de Janeiro and rented an apartment as he became reacquainted with the people of his youth. Soon he felt directed to move to the state of Santa Catarina which had a great need for the gospel.

Kolenda started quite a few churches in Brazil during the 14 years he ministered there. When he left for his first furlough, over 100 churches or preaching points had been established.

He returned to Brazil and continued teaching at Bible conferences and served as the superintendent of the work in the state of Santa Catarina. He established a monthly publication called Messenger of Peace and provided Sunday School literature to his constituents. He also served as a missionary to Germany for 10 years. He later returned to both mission fields to evangelize and teach in their Bible schools. Through his preaching and teaching he touched untold thousands. His work in training young ministers in Brazil and Germany has significantly shaped the Pentecostal work in both those countries.

The Kolenda family made a large impact on the Pentecostal movement. One of John P. Kolenda’s older brothers, Paul Kolenda, was an Assemblies of God pastor in Illinois and Michigan. He became the father of 10 sons, many of whom went into the ministry. One of Paul’s descendants is Daniel Kolenda, who is the president and CEO of Christ For All Nations, which was established by Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.

During World War II there was a great missions advance in South America, spearheaded by missionaries John and Marguerite Kolenda and others. An article Kolenda wrote in the Pentecostal Evangel in July 1942, called “Missions Advance in Brazil,” gave reports from several missionaries on the field.

In the article, Kolenda told how, in February 1942, he was accompanied by missionaries Virgil and Ramona Smith as they conducted two weeks of evangelistic meetings in the northern part of the state of Santa Catarina and in the state of Parana. They held special services and Bible studies among the Russian colonists who had settled there. The trip was very interesting. Taking the train, which was greatly delayed, Kolenda reported, “When we finally reached the station it was one o’clock in the morning.” The believers who met them there with wagons said they would have to remain in the station until daybreak since the river they must cross had overflowed its banks and was very dangerous. The next morning they had to cross the river in small boats and then go by wagon a few more hours to their destination. They held a camp meeting service with the believers who came. Kolenda reported, “The Lord truly met with us and we believe the results will abide.”

Missionaries Erma Miller and Lillian Flessing gave an account that the Kolendas held five services for them, with nine people getting saved, and several backsliders being restored. “Each evening saw the altar lined with people seeking God,” said Miller and Flessing, “and we feel their visit was the means of starting a Holy Ghost revival in Sao Carlos which we pray shall continue until Jesus comes.”

Read more exciting reports in “Missions Advance in Brazil,” on pages 6 and 7 of the July 11, 1942, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Give Ye Them to Eat,” by John Wright Follette

• “The World Moves On,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Isaiah’s Consecration and Call,” by J. Bashford Bishop

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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Wesley Steelberg’s Cautionary Note on Citizenship and Faith: A Pentecostal Voice from 1941

steelbergThis Week in AG History — July 4, 1942

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 4 July 2018

It was July of 1941, months before the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the United States into the Second World War. Conflict was raging across Europe and Asia, and competing messages of nationalism flooded the airwaves and the consciousness of Americans.

How should Assemblies of God young people in the United States view their nation in relation to both their faith and other countries?

National Youth Director Wesley Steelberg, speaking at the National Young People’s Conference on July 4, 1941, addressed this pressing issue. In a message titled “The Stars and Stripes of Calvary,” Steelberg encouraged young people to place their primary allegiance in Christ. He said, “First of all we belong to the Lord. We are citizens of heaven.”

Should Christians pledge allegiance to their nation and its symbols? According to Steelberg, adoption of national symbols is “a custom probably almost as old as humanity.” He acknowledged that Americans are proud of their flag: “We salute it, and we pledge allegiance to it. We raise it as an ensign of liberty, and we rejoice in what it represents.” In the face of the march of totalitarianism, Steelberg stated, “we hold more precious and valuable our liberty and freedom.”

However, he warned, “we have a responsibility to be more than Americans. We are called to be Christian Americans.” As Christian Americans, Steelberg encouraged every Assemblies of God young person to metaphorically wave his or her own flag, reflecting allegiance to the heavenly king. According to Steelberg, every Christian should declare, “Christ is my standard, my banner of love!”

Read Wesley Steelberg’s sermon, “The Stars and Stripes of Calvary,” which was published on pages 1, 4 and 5 in the July 4, 1942, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Shelter in Tribulation Days,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “Revival in Norway,” by Mrs. A. R. Gesswein

• “How to Help Your Pastor,” by Theodore Cuyler

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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For 100 Years, Hispanics Have Played an Important Role in the Growth of the Assemblies of God

Temple Beth-El

Templo Beth-el Latin American Assembly of God (Weslaco, Texas), circa 1960.

This Week in AG History — June 26, 1960

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 28 June 2018  

This year the Assemblies of God is celebrating the centennial of Hispanic churches in the Fellowship. Hispanic AG churches in the U.S. trace their roots back to a convention in Kingsville, Texas, in January 1918, organized by Isabel Flores (a male Mexican-American pastor) and Henry C. Ball (an Anglo missionary to Mexicans).

From 1918-25, Hispanics were organized as the Latin American Conference, a part of the Texas District. Mexico (mostly border communities) was included with this original conference in 1918. Puerto Rico was organized as a conference under Juan Lugo in 1921 and eventually became a district of its own. Cuba united with the Latin American Conference in 1923. In 1926, El Salvador and Guatemala united with the Latin American Conference. These are each separate fields of ministry today.

The Latin American Conference became the Latin American District in 1929 and was officially chartered on Jan. 4, 1930, by H. C. Ball, Demetrio Bazan, and G. V. Flores. On the same date, Mexico received autonomy to form its own Latin council. Ball was the first superintendent of the Latin American District. After leading Hispanics for more than 20 years, he withdrew his name as superintendent in 1939, and Demetrio Bazan was elected as the second superintendent.

The Spanish Eastern District was divided from the district in November 1956. Bazan’s term ended on Dec. 31, 1958, and Jose Giron took office Jan. 1, 1959, as the third superintendent, with H. C. Ball serving as assistant superintendent. This preceded the Latin American District dividing into many different districts. What remained of the Latin District divided into four separate districts in 1972: Gulf Latin American, Central Latin American, Midwest Latin American, and Pacific Latin American. Another division took place in 2012, when the Gulf Latin American District dissolved and separated into the Texas Louisiana Hispanic District, the Texas Gulf Hispanic District, the West Texas and Plains District, and the South Central Hispanic District.

By 1960 Hispanics led the nation in the opening of new AG churches. That trend has continued through today.

An article in the Pentecostal Evangel from June 1960 highlights the growth of Hispanics in the AG. In 1959, the Latin American District opened 27 churches. Ruth Lyon wrote, “Leading the nation in the number of new churches opened in the last five years, the Latin American Branch of the Assemblies of God has 113 to its credit.” The Southern California District ran second with 99 new churches opened during that same period.

At this time the AG had nine foreign-language branches, operating under the supervision of the Home Missions Department. In 1960, the Latin American Branch had “over 600 ministers, 300 churches, and a membership of over 18,000,” according to Lyon. The Latin District also operated two Bible schools, now known as LABI College in La Puente, California, and Christ Mission College in San Antonio, Texas.

In 1960, four large conferences — Pacific, Central, Texas, and North Central — comprised the Latin District. The Evangel article highlighted several of the new churches the district had opened in the five previous years. The churches featured include Templo Calvario Spanish Assembly, Alamogordo, New Mexico; Spanish Assembly, Tucumcari, New Mexico; Templo El Monte Horeb, Santa Clara, California; Spanish Assembly, Rockdale, Texas; Getsemane Spanish Assembly, Austin, Texas; The Spanish Assembly, Lockney, Texas; Templo Beth-el Assembly, Weslaco, Texas; and Bethel Spanish Assembly, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Currently the 14 Hispanic districts in the U.S. are Central District/Distrito Central, Florida Multicultural District, Midwest Latin American District, Northern Pacific Latin American District, Northwest Hispanic District, Puerto Rico District, South Central Hispanic District, Southern Latin District, Southern Pacific District, Southwest District, Spanish Eastern District, Texas Gulf Hispanic District, Texas Louisiana Hispanic District., and West Texas and Plains District.

As of 2016, there were 378,790 Hispanic adherents among the Hispanic districts in the AG, and the numbers keep climbing. To celebrate this 100-year history, the AG Hispanic Centennial will be held Aug. 1-3 in Houston.

Read the article, “Latin American District Leads the Nation,” on pages 4-5 of the June 26, 1960 issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “If I Could Do It Again,” by Lillian Trasher

• “A Pastor Recommends Light for the Lost,” by Louis H. Hauff

• “Pioneer Evangelism in Korea,” by Louis P. Richards

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions are 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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How Compassion Ministries and Miracles Fueled Growth in the Assemblies of God in India

IndianMission_728This Week in AG History — June 20, 1925

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 21 June 2018

The Assemblies of God, from its earliest years, has been ministering the gospel in word and deed around the world. The June 20, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted the work of an early Assemblies of God mission located in Nawabganj, a city in northern India near the border of Nepal, which operated ministries to help the poverty-stricken and disadvantaged of India.

A boys’ school at the Nawabganj mission rescued street children and nourished their souls, bodies, and minds. The school, equipped with modern living quarters for about 70 boys, provided a safe, healthy environment and ‘intellectual and practical training.” Technical training included weaving, carpentry, and machine work in the school’s industrial department.

The mission also ministered to those affected by the contagious, skin-eating disease of leprosy. While the broader society often rejected lepers, the mission attempted to affirm their dignity as humans and provided them with physical comfort and the hope of eternal life with Christ.

The mission’s work among women was termed “zenana” – an Urdu word referring to women. Women missionaries ministered to women, often widows or those who had experienced extreme poverty or suffering. The mission, according to the article, provided a home for society’s “most unfortunate victims.” Many of these women became Christians, and prayer became an important part of their lives.

In addition to these works of compassion, the mission was home to a vibrant evangelistic ministry. Indian Christians went into the surrounding villages and preached the gospel. Persecution against those preachers, according to the article, was “beyond endurance and almost unbelievable.” However, the preaching of the Word was not in vain. As these indigenous Christians ministered in the face of incredible opposition, the truth of the gospel was confirmed by acts of compassion and by miracles of deliverance and healing. One by one, people repented of their sins and accepted Christ.

The mission at Nawabganj demonstrates how the Assemblies of God, since its inception, has encouraged holistic ministry to spiritual, intellectual, and physical needs. The Nawabganj mission built its institutions to meet the needs of the community’s most impoverished — those who had been rejected by the broader society. These works of compassion, coupled with miracles and prayer, gave credibility to the gospel, which allowed Indian Christians to successfully plant churches across northern India despite stiff opposition.

Read the entire article, “More about the India Mission Stations,” by William M. Faux, on page 10 of the June 20, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Second Coming of Christ,” by Finis J. Dake

• “Mexican Border Work Prospers,” by H. C. Ball

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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Hillcrest Children’s Home: Caring for Children Since 1944

Hinson

Hillcrest founder Gladys Hinson in November 1944 with the first children received into the home.

This Week in AG History — June 17, 1956

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 14 June 2018

Hillcrest Children’s Home, an Assemblies of God ministry located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, was founded in 1944 in obedience to the scriptural mandate to care for orphans (James 1:27).

Edward Weaver, director of Hillcrest Children’s Home, posed the following question to readers of the Pentecostal Evangel on Father’s Day in 1956: “It’s nice to have children to remember you on Father’s Day – but how would you like to provide for 70 of them every day?” Weaver knew that men would resonate with the difficulty of providing for a family of any size and wanted to share the enormous need of managing the daily lives of 70 children plus 15 staff.

Hillcrest began as the vision of a woman who was disappointed that she was unable to serve on the foreign mission field. As a young lady, Gladys Hinson was inspired by the example of Assemblies of God missionary Lillian Trasher, who opened a home for orphaned and abandoned children in Egypt. Hinson felt a definite call to do the same in China and began making preparation for that assignment. The bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States involvement in World War II dashed her dreams as the window of opportunity to enter China was closed.

Struggling with the burden that she felt for the abandoned children of China, she turned to God for direction while waiting for the fulfillment of her dream. The scriptural command of “Occupy till I come” led Hinson to believe it was unacceptable to neglect the needs of children in her own country while waiting for doors in China to reopen.

With only a dime in her pocket, Hinson approached the leaders of the Assemblies of God with the idea of opening a nationally supported home to provide for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of America’s most vulnerable children. Approval was given and ideal property was soon found in Hot Springs, the birthplace of the Assemblies of God.

It took time to meet all the requirements of the Board of Child Welfare of the State of Arkansas, but the home was finally opened in 1944 for the first children: three brothers, Douglas, Milton, and Ronnie Davis. Over the next few years, many more children came to Hinson’s home: brothers who had witnessed their father shoot and kill their mother, five children abandoned in a cold midwestern town trying to survive by eating out of garbage cans and sleeping in vacated buildings, the child of a mother who died with no other family who could care for her, children whose new stepparent did not want them. The reasons they came were as varied as the children themselves.

Just like her inspiration, Lillian Trasher, Gladys Hinson cared for children who were neglected or forgotten by others. But unlike Trasher, who was able to work for 50 years with the children of Egypt, Hinson went to be with the Lord just a few years after founding the orphanage. She was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1949 at the age of 36, never knowing that just six years later, Trasher would pay a visit to the children of Hillcrest while on furlough from Egypt.

Every good missionary knows they must prepare others to carry on their work. Many followed in Hinson’s footsteps as directors and staff of the children’s home, including Edward Weaver, who made the plea for financial support on Father’s Day, June 17, 1956. Evangel readers responded to his plea and soon a remodeled cottage and new workers accommodations were both dedicated at the Hot Springs campus.

Hillcrest Children’s Home continues to operate today under CompACT Family Services of the Assemblies of God.

Read Edward Weaver’s Father’s Day request on page 16 of the June 17, 1956, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Church Militant” by C. W. H. Scott

* “Fathers, Provoke Not Your Children to Wrath” by C. M. Ward

* “First Freshman Class Completes Year’s Work at Evangel College”

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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Arthur F. Berg: How a Powerful Revival Among Children Produced a Future Pastor and Missionary

Berg Arthur F

Arthur and Anna Berg, with daughter, Agnes, circa 1930

This Week in AG History — June 9, 1968

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 07 June 2018

Arthur F. Berg (1896-1983), a pioneer Assemblies of God missionary and pastor, recognized the importance of taking seriously the spiritual lives of children. He learned this from his own experience. At age 14, Arthur surrendered his life to Christ and was baptized in the Holy Spirit during a Minneapolis revival sparked by visiting Pentecostal leader William Durham. Interestingly, it was primarily young people who responded to the gospel — countless children were saved, 25 were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and 30 followed the Lord in water baptism.

For the rest of his life, Berg would share his testimony about this 1911 revival, which spiritually shaped him. The Pentecostal Evangel published his story in 1968.

Berg was born in an era when children were expected to be seen and not heard, and many traditional church services offered little to inspire or attract young people. However, early Pentecostal services — featuring testimonies, lively sermons, and peppy gospel songs — were often very accessible to young people. Countless people — both young and old — surrendered their lives to Christ in early Pentecostal services, which were known for their clear presentation of the gospel, coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

So it was with Berg. He was raised in a Christian home, but it was not until he experienced the Holy Spirit’s permeating presence during the Pentecostal revival that Berg finally committed his life to Christ. He described the revival as “glorious,” and that “hearts were melted together in the love of God.” The presence of God was so strong in those meetings that young people who normally did not want to attend church did not want to leave the revival services.

“The convicting power and pull of the Holy Spirit was so strong, so irresistible,” Berg recalled, “that I found myself at the altar weeping and praying my way through to a definite experience of old-fashioned salvation.” He went on to experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit and, he wrote, “exuberant glory flooded my soul.”

The revival led Berg to consecrate his life to Christian ministry. He married his childhood sweetheart, Anna, who shared a similar calling. He was ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1919, they served as missionaries in Belgian Congo from 1922 to 1926, and for the next 33 years they pastored congregations in Sisseton and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was also instrumental in starting the World Missions Plan, a program that encouraged Assemblies of God churches to systematically give money to home and world missions.

When William Durham went to Minneapolis in 1911, he was on a mission to talk with Pentecostal pastors regarding disagreements over the doctrine of sanctification. While the impact Durham made on adults on that trip is unknown, the revival services he led left a lasting mark on several dozen young people. One of them, Arthur Berg, became a noted pioneer Assemblies of God pastor and missionary.

Read the article, “How a Boy Received the Baptism,” on pages 24-25 of the June 9, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Who is My Neighbor?” by Everett Stenhouse

• “Children Need to be Nurtured,” by Jerry Stroup

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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