The Assemblies of God Developed its Missionary Identity Amidst War, Famine, and Economic Privation



A group of Assemblies of God church leaders and missionaries at the 1919 General Council, Chicago, Illinois. J. Roswell Flower is pictured in the back row on the right.

This Week in AG History — March 20, 1920

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 17 March 2016

In the aftermath of the First World War (1914-1918), famine, disease, and economic privation compounded the human suffering that had been inflicted by warring soldiers. In the midst of the desperate global situation, the Assemblies of God launched and developed its fledgling missionary program.

Assemblies of God missionaries brought the gospel around the world, coupled in many instances with relief for the suffering. Assemblies of God schools and orphanages began in Egypt, India, China, and elsewhere. Every week, the Pentecostal Evangel published missionary letters that shared difficulties and triumphs experienced while sharing the gospel in word and deed around the world.

The March 20, 1920, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel published a column by Missions Secretary J. Roswell Flower, which he characterized as “a heart to heart talk,” about the importance of financially supporting AG missionaries.

In 1920, the Assemblies of God had approximately 200 men and women on its foreign missions roster. Flower noted that he had 40 additional applications for missionary endorsement on his desk. He wrote, “our best young men and young women are gladly offering themselves to go to the lands beyond the seas.”

A lack of funding threatened to keep these budding missionaries from their calling. Flower asked readers to have the faith to provide for these new missionaries, noting that missions is central to the identity of the Assemblies of God. Flower wrote, “Anyone who has had the privilege of observing the work of the Spirit as some of us have had, knows that the Pentecostal Movement is pre-eminently a missionary movement. With the first outpouring of the Spirit came an overwhelming desire to tell the whole world that Jesus is coming, with the results that many offered themselves for the foreign fields, and were sent on their mission with glad hallelujahs.”

Flower asked readers, “Shall we accept them [the new missionaries]…or shall we hold them back?” To Flower, the answer was clear — Pentecostals could not choose to ignore missions without denying their own identity. He explained, “the only thing we can do consistently with our faith and testimony is to go forward — not retrench — [and to] meet the need and care for our beloved missionaries.”

Read the article by J. Roswell Flower, “A Heart to Heart Talk,” on page 12 of the March 20, 1920, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Land Ahead!” by Elizabeth Sisson

• “Overcoming the World, the Flesh and the Devil,” by A. G. Ward

• “Great Outpouring of the Spirit at Winnipeg,” by A. H. Argue

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

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