Charlie Lee: Acclaimed Navajo Artist and Assemblies of God Leader

P10833 Lee
This Week in AG History — April 24, 1960

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 21 April 2016

Charlie Lee (1924-2003), a talented young Navajo artist, won widespread recognition and numerous awards for his paintings and sketches of life on the reservation. Despite his success, Lee felt dissatisfied with his life. In the fall of 1947, an Apache school friend invited him to visit an Assemblies of God church at the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona, where he found new life and accepted Christ on New Year’s Day, 1948.

Feeling called to the ministry, Lee enrolled at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri. He graduated in 1951 and traveled extensively as an evangelist among Native Americans. In 1953, Lee and his wife, Coralie, returned to his home state of New Mexico and pioneered Mesa View Assembly of God in Shiprock. Lee wanted to share the hope he had found in Christ with other Native Americans.

Lee continued to paint, mostly depictions of Native life, but his primary concern was ministry. Within 10 years, his congregation grew to several hundred people, mostly converts who had previously been addicted to alcohol or other drugs.

Lee became one of the best-known Native American pastors within the Assemblies of God. His congregation in Shiprock, in 1976, became the first Native American church on a federally recognized reservation to make the transition from being a supported mission to a fully indigenous, self-supporting, General Council-affiliated church. While some non-Christians criticized Lee for neglecting his art in favor of ministry, Lee responded that he derived a “greater thrill” from seeing the “Master Artist” painting on the canvas of people’s lives.

Read Lee’s testimony, “Navajo Artist Builds a Church for His People,” which was published on pages 8 and 9 of the April 24, 1960, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Africa As I Saw It,” by C. C. Crace

• “Busy Mother Ministers to the Blind,” by Maxine Strobridge

• “Has God Forgotten?” by Meyer and Alice Tan-Ditter

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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