This Week in AG History — November 22, 1964
By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 19 December 2019
Morris Oliver Williams (1920-1991) is remembered for his faithful years of service as an Assemblies of God missionary in southern Africa. He was a missionary in Nyasaland (now Malawi) from 1946 to 1963 and in South Africa from 1963 to 1970. He also served as field secretary for Africa from 1971 to 1985. After leaving that office, he joined the faculty of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri, as associate professor of missions until his death.
Morris Williams was born in Kansas and raised in North Dakota. His father, Bruce Williams, was a Church of the Brethren minister who identified with the Pentecostal movement in the late 1920s and who later served as a teacher at Lakewood Park Bible School (now Trinity Bible College). Morris Williams was one of seven children, all of whom became active in Assemblies of God ministry. His siblings included Dr. Ward Williams (longtime professor at Southeastern University), Maxine Williams (faculty member at Northwest University), Harriet Schoonmaker-Bryant (missionary to India), Kay Trygg (wife of Rev. Elmer Trygg), Marian Brandt (wife of Rev. Robert L. Brandt), and Dorris Kingsriter (wife of Rev. Harland Kingsriter).
Morris Williams was saved at the age of eleven under the ministry of a missionary from Africa. After completing high school, he attended North Central Bible Institute (now North Central University) in Minneapolis. It was there that he met Alice Mae “Macey” Lundquist, who later became his wife. After their marriage, the Williamses pastored in northern Iowa for two and one-half years before he accepted the position of president of Christ’s Ambassadors (the Assemblies of God young people’s organization) for the West Central District. While serving as C.A. president, the Williamses offered themselves for missionary service, accepted a position in Nyasaland, and set sail in January 1946.
Morris Williams and his wife felt impressed to answer the call given in Mark 16:15: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” This most certainly included the people of Nyasaland.
It did not take long for the Williamses to begin to love these people in Africa like their own family. They soon discovered that people in Nyasaland were hungry for knowledge, education, better pay, a better lifestyle, and political freedom. But many did not see a need for Christ. They looked to the missionaries in a sense of hope to receive the things they longed for, not realizing that there were spiritual needs as well. The Williamses worked tirelessly to befriend Africans and to share the love of Christ. They started a mission station and established a Bible school in Dedza. Morris Williams also helped establish five other Bible schools in southern Africa. Williams was a prolific writer. He authored over 50 articles in the Pentecostal Evangel, as well as seven books, several of which were translated into the Swahili and French languages.
Missionaries can have very busy schedules. This was evident to Morris Williams’ three children. One December they asked him, “Are you going to be home for Christmas this year, Dad?” The plan was to have a nice family gathering on Christmas Eve and then celebrate Christmas Day with African friends. The Williamses put up a nice Christmas tree and hung three stockings on the mantelpiece. Mrs. Williams baked cookies, and there were many packages under the tree which had been mailed from friends in the United States. The children were eagerly waiting for after supper to open their gifts.
Eight o’clock arrived, and the children were clothed in their pajamas and ready to relish every happy moment of the evening. Morris Williams read the Christmas story, and the family started singing a Christmas carol. Then there came a knock on the door. A man named Chimetele was at the door and told them that his car was broken down, and his family was stranded. He wanted to know if the missionary would take him and his wife and children to their town 20 miles away.
After some quick calculating, Morris Williams determined that the road to Mphati was very rugged. The trip would take at least two hours to drive there and back. With compassion in his heart for the man’s family huddled in the darkness along the lonely African road, Morris Williams left his wife and children and unopened presents behind. Although this was a sacrifice, this gave him the opportunity “to let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
It was after 11:00 o’clock when Morris Williams returned home. Although their family Christmas celebration had been interrupted, Mrs. Williams said, “I’m glad you helped Chimetele. We never know when an act of kindness will be used to bring people to Christ—and that, after all, is what we’re here for.” This was a gratifying thought on Christmas Eve. It also is a beautiful Christmas illustration of how Morris Williams and other Assemblies of God missionaries and their families consecrated their lives to glorify God by serving people in lands far away from their own homes.
Also featured in this issue:
- “An Unforgettable Christmas,” by William Nelson Sachs
- “God’s Christmas List,” by Ann Ahlf
- “The Place of Education in the Pentecostal Ministry,” by G. Raymond Carlson
And many more!
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.
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