This Week in AG History — June 8, 1929
By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 6 June 2019
William Theodore Gaston (1886-1956), better known as W.T. Gaston, was an early general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. He was born in Boone County, Arkansas (near Eureka Springs). His mother dedicated him to the Lord and affectionately called him her “little preacher boy.” Unfortunately, she died when William was about 3 years old, and he was cared for by other members of the family until he reached adulthood. He was converted at an early age and felt the call of God on his life.
As a teenager, he began testifying and witnessing, eventually becoming an evangelist. At age 20 he married Artie Mattox, the daughter of a fairly prosperous mercantile store owner. Gaston started out in full-time ministry at the age of 23. He participated in many early camp meetings including the organizational meeting of the Assemblies of God at Hot Springs in April 1914.
Gaston’s early ministry involved many hardships and sacrifices as he and his wife raised a large family. It has been said that he virtually “walked over” Arkansas in the early days of his ministry, as walking was his only means of transportation. He often went to small, out-of-the-way places to preach the gospel, and many times he was away from his family for weeks at a time. In addition to evangelistic work, he also pastored churches in Tahlequah and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. From 1919 to 1920 he was the pastor of Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri. He also pastored First Assembly in San Diego and helped with Berean Bible School, which was connected with the church.
After serving as general superintendent from 1925 to 1929 (during his tenure the title was changed from general chairman to general superintendent), for a short time he pastored a church in North Hollywood, and from there he was called to Bethel Temple in Sacramento, where he ministered for nine years. He was also widely known as an inspiring camp meeting preacher.
In 1944, he was elected to the office of district superintendent for Northern California and Nevada, where he served for 12 years until his death in 1956.
Gaston was noted for his generosity and for his encouragement and instruction of young ministers. He also took a special interest in the Christ’s Ambassadors program (now National Youth Ministries). He was vitally interested in education, being associated with three Assemblies of God Bible colleges. He helped with Berean Bible Institute in San Diego, was an early instructor at Central Bible College, and served on the board of Bethany Bible College in Santa Cruz, California.
Ninety years ago this week, Gaston wrote an article offering practical helps and hints for young ministers and Christian workers.
He extolled the value of a solid Bible education, yet he emphasized that “we can only learn to preach by preaching.” He believed that practical experience was an essential part of ministerial training.
He also stressed that a person in ministry must have the calling and anointing of God in order to succeed. He said, “A God-ordained ministry is taken from among those with inherent ability for particular service, upon whom the Lord has laid His hand and placed His gift and anointing.”
Another word of advice involved preaching. Gaston said, “We should remember that sermons that are really blessed to ourselves and others after all may not be quite perfect.” The key he said is to “learn something from every sermon you preach or hear.”
Gaston promoted the idea that if someone is called to preach, then he or she needs to go out and preach and not wait for circumstances to change. “Jesus said, ‘Go into all the world and preach,’” said Gaston, but there “is no inference that He expects us to wait for the world to send for us.” The conclusion from this, according to Gaston, is that “we may go on the streets, into jails, private home, or country schoolhouses. Go someplace — any place — but preach.”
After offering several more tidbits of advice for Christian workers, Gaston closed with these remarks: “Ordinary men, with concentration of purpose and unflagging zeal and devotion, have often accomplished extraordinary things. Shall we not stir into flame the gifts that are in us, and move forward with renewed determination to be and to do our best for the Lord and a world in need?”
Read more in “Helps and Hints for Christian Workers” on pages 5 and 7 of the June 8, 1929, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Darkness and Dawn,” by Blanche Appleby
• “The Beauties of the Redeemer,” by Perry W. Hadsock
• “Questions and Answers,” by Ernest S. Williams
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
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