Melvin Hodges: A Pentecostal Response to War and Racism

HodgesThis Week in AG History — September 23, 1944

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 26 September 2019

“Is it possible to maintain calm and serenity in the midst of the world-shaking storms that are raging today?”

Melvin Hodges (1909-1988), an Assemblies of God missionary to Central America, posed this question in 1944 in the Pentecostal Evangel. The Second World War was on everyone’s mind, and Hodges described the seemingly intractable conflicts around the world. “Nations are locked in a struggle for their very existence,” he wrote, and countless people are killed “as opposing systems of government struggle [to maintain] their way of life.”

How should the Christian respond to such conflict? Hodges encouraged believers to exhibit “calmness and steadfastness.” Believers will stay “on a true course regardless of the storms that rage,” according to Hodges, if they have faith in the promises of God and submit to God’s will.

Significantly, Hodges also admonished readers to reject the racism that had permeated vast segments of the world. Hodges wrote, “We must not be moved from the love of God in our hearts toward all men by the spirit of racial hatred being fostered today. Some hold the Jew responsible for all the ills of the world. Others are moved to intense hatred of the enemy nations. Again, some manifest bitterness toward certain racial groups in America.”

According to Hodges, blaming people groups or nations “is a false diagnosis of the ills of this sick world.” Instead, he identified the world’s woes as being rooted in “the evil nature of all unregenerate mankind.”

Hodges is perhaps best known for his promotion of indigenous church missions theory — the belief that churches should be self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating, rather than controlled by outside missionaries. Hodges’ article, though, pertains to what are usually regarded as missionary-sending nations, offering a critique of racism in America and Europe, as well as in non-Western nations.

It would have been easier for Hodges to remain silent when confronted by racial hatred in his own culture. By speaking out, he risked marginalization. But Hodges believed that racial hatred and God’s love were incompatible, and that Christians must not assign blame for social problems to racial or cultural groups. This wise counsel continues to be true today.

Read “Call to Calmness and Steadfastness” by Melvin Hodges on page 8 of the Sept. 23, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Why I Came to Egypt Thirty-Four Years Ago,” by Lillian Trasher

• “V Day,” by Lester Sumrall

• “Family Worship,” by Walter Scott

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: iFPHC.org

 

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