My Journey: An Autobiography of Dr. Lula Baird, by Lula Baird. Turlock, CA: The Author, 2004.
Lula Baird is part of, to use Tom Brokaw’s words, “The Greatest Generation.” Lula — along with thousands of other mostly unheralded men and women who were born in the first two decades of the twentieth century — built the Assemblies of God. Born in 1908 in Utah to a family of Mormon lineage, few could have imagined that Lula Ashmore Baird would serve as a leader in the emerging Pentecostal movement. But she did — serving as an Assemblies of God missionary and pastor to the Chinese people in Asia, Cuba, and the United States.
Lula recalled that when she was a child her older brother, Harry, told her about healings he had seen in Aimee Semple McPherson’s meetings in Los Angeles. However, Lula did not hear the gospel until after she graduated from high school and was working in Oakland, California. There, she accepted Christ and was spirit-baptized at First Assembly of God, pastored by J. Narver Gortner. Lula matriculated at Southern California Bible School in 1929 and received a calling to serve as a missionary to the Chinese one year later. After graduating in 1932, she gained ministry experience in the Kentucky mountains and in Texas.
In 1937, Lula was approved as an Assemblies of God missionary and set sail for Hong Kong, where she attended language school. Upon completion of her studies in 1939, she ministered in Singapore and Malaysia. The American entrance into World War II forced Lula to return home in December 1941. From 1943 to 1946, she worked among the Chinese in Cuba. In 1948, Lula Ashmore married Vallance Baird. They served as missionaries in Singapore until 1962, when Vallance’s poor health forced them to return to the United States. The Bairds went on to found seven Chinese congregations in northern California, in addition to helping a struggling Chinese church in New York. In recognition of her dedication to God and to missions, Bethany Bible College bestowed upon her an honorary doctorate.
In My Journey, Lula Baird shares the inspiring story of her life and ministry. Now 98 years old, she has witnessed the expansion of the Assemblies of God from its earliest decades to the present. Indeed, she played a significant role in the emergence of Assemblies of God ministry among the Chinese peoples in Singapore and in America. My Journey: An Autobiography of Dr. Lula Baird will evoke memories for those who have known her and is a welcome addition to the literature on Pentecostal missiology.
An online video log and slideshow of photographs from the ministry of Lula and Vallance Baird may be accessed here.
Reviewed by Darrin Rodgers
Paperback, 196 pages, illustrated. $10, plus $2 shipping. Order from: Dr. Lula Baird, 875 Park St., Turlock, CA 95380-4677 (phone: 209-668-0407).