Lula Bell Hough, Missionary to China and Japanese P.O.W.

By Darrin Rodgers

This Week in AG History–April 21, 1934
Also published in AG-News, Mon, 21 Apr 2014 – 4:30 PM CST.

Lula Bell Hough (1906-2002) did not take the easy road in life. She never married and instead devoted her life to ministry. Hough was ordained as an Assemblies of God missionary on November 3, 1929, just five days after the Wall Street stock market crash that led to the Great Depression. She spent the next 45 years in China and Hong Kong.

Hough’s greatest challenge on the mission field came during World War II, when she spent seven and one-half months as a Japanese prisoner-of-war. She did not know whether she would survive the ordeal, which began in December 1941. She later recalled that soldiers kept placing their bayonets to her throat, threatening to kill her. Women around her were raped, and thousands died from starvation. Some resorted to eating human flesh to survive. For the first two weeks of her captivity, she lived on nothing but “wormy, mouldy whole wheat.” After that, she was given small food rations. The food was enough to keep her alive, but she lost 38 pounds in about six months.

Living in difficult circumstances for over a decade in China had prepared Hough for the hardship of the prisoner-of-war camp. Hough sent regular letters to her supporters back in the United States. One of these letters, published in the April 21, 1934, issue of the “Pentecostal Evangel,” described a trip to areas in south China where there were no Christians.

Hough humorously described having to share her accommodations with loud farm animals:

“When we reached the inn we were soaking wet and cold. After warming ourselves by an open fire in the center of the room we retired to our room. Cobwebs were hanging everywhere, and one corner was occupied by geese, which entertained us with special music at intervals during the night. Our room was really a hall where people had to pass through, and our bed was only a board. The next night we spent in Sha Hoh, and were thankful to find no geese in our room, but soon discovered there were pigs in the room just below us.”

New Christians often suffered for their faith. Hough described several instances of persecution in heart-wrenching detail. She wrote that one eighteen-year-old woman was beaten by her husband because of her newfound faith. Her mother-in-law scratched the young woman’s face until there were “deep sores and scars.” The villagers joined in the persecution, encouraging the family to sell the young wife into slavery if she didn’t recant her faith in Christ.

Why did Hough and other early missionaries leave their homes in the West and endure difficulties? They were motivated to be faithful to Christ in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Hough explained, “In some of these villages we were the first foreigners the villagers had ever seen, and in many, the first to preach the gospel. God has promised that His Word shall not return unto Him void, so we believe that if we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, He will be faithful in drawing souls unto Himself.”

Read the entire article by Lula Bell Hough, “Missionary Travels, S. China,” on pages 8-9 of the April 21, 1934, issue of the “Pentecostal Evangel.”

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Revelation of the Love of God,” by Kate Knight

* “Spiritual Awaking Follows Earthquake,” by Hilda Wagenknecht

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now:

A two-part oral history interview with Lula Bell Hough was recorded in 1987 by former Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center director Wayne Warner. To listen to Hough’s amazing testimony, click on the following links:

Tape 1: [audio]

Tape 2: [audio]

“Pentecostal Evangel” archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center ( For current editions of the “Evangel,” see

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


Filed under Audio, Missions

6 responses to “Lula Bell Hough, Missionary to China and Japanese P.O.W.

  1. Lucille Renfroe

    SOO enjoyed this article. Sis. Hough’s life would be an inspiration to anyone today (especially to our new missionary candidates). Since my husband & I have been such an advocate of world missions for years, we naturally enjoyed reading this report and also listening to her interview taped also. God bless your work in the Kingdom.

    By the way, I used to ride to church on some Sunday nights with Sis. Blanche Appleby in our car. Of course, I was a young girl at the time.

    • Von

      My grandmother became good friends with Ms. Hough. She was from Hong Kong and Hough treated her like a daughter. This is how my whole family (now Americans) became believers. My grandmother always tells her testimony and mentions how Hough introduced her to Christ. Truly an amazing woman. I wish I could have met her. My grandma (now 96!) is so fond of her. Amazing how she was used to bring a whole family lineage to come to know God. And my children and after me. Praise God !

  2. Eben Hough Appleton

    Lula Bell Hough was my beloved aunt. I now have a great love and sympathy for those in captivity. In my case, North Korea. I well remember Aunt Lula Bell’s heart wrenching stories of her captivity. Do partly to her influence, I have the faith and love of Jesus Christ in my heart. He is the great I Am. Once I listened to your link of an interview with her. I remembered her voice well. It made me cry. I have never been able to get the link to work again. Only once.

  3. Karen Goerky Smith

    Karen Goerky Smith
    July 8, 2017
    Who do I contact to get an update on the status of the church Lula Bell Hough founded and pastored for 24 years in Fanling, China?

  4. Karen Goerky Smith

    If anyone in archives is interested, I interviewed Lula Bell for an article that was published in the Dayton Daily News, December 20, 1995. I would really like to know if there is any news about the church she founded and pastored.

  5. Timothy Wong

    I am attending the church that Ms. Lula Bell established even though I was baptized at another English speaking church in Germany. Would you still like to contact the person in charge of Fanling Assembly of God Church?

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