Edmund Hodgson: Pentecostal Martyr and Missionary to Belgian Congo

HodgsonThis Week in AG History — March 6, 1948

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 05 March 2020

Edmund “Teddy” Hodgson (1898-1960) was a British Pentecostal missionary to the Belgian Congo, Africa, from 1920 to 1960. He served his Lord and his church as a preacher, teacher, doctor, dentist, carpenter, hunter, husband, father, and friend. Ultimately, he gave his life as a martyr for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Born in Preston, a city in northern England, Hodgson left formal schooling at age 13 and went to work as a delivery boy for a bakery. One day his employer asked him if he attended Sunday School. He replied that he did, but the man then asked a deeper question, “And do you love the Lord Jesus?” The question bothered him and he found no answer to give. Not long after, he knelt with his employer and committed his life to the service of Christ.

Finding that he was gifted with his hands, he became an apprentice to a cabinetmaker at age 14. At the same time, he became acquainted with students at a Pentecostal Bible school and a pioneer missionary in the Congo. After receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit and admitting his love of adventure, he made a promise to God and to the missionary to consider serving in the Congo.

While still a teenager, Hodgson enlisted in the British Armed Forces and served in front line trench warfare in France in World War I. Though the other soldiers called him “Holy Hodgson,” they respected his natural ability as a crack shot and his fearless leadership. Following orders to move out into no-man’s land, Hodgson was hit by a German shell. He recovered but found his trigger finger useless.

After the war, Hodgson returned to England to rebuild his life. Driven and capable, he soon built a thriving business restoring furniture. There were times when the Congo crossed his mind but, having seen enough suffering on the front lines of war, he believed he could serve God better by making money to give to missions rather than going himself. Then one day the missionary he had met before the war walked into his shop. He asked, “Well, Teddy, what about the Congo?”

Over the next days a battle as fierce as anything he experienced in France took place within his heart. He wrestled with the sacrifice it would mean for him as a young man to leave a promising business and disappear into the darkness of Africa. However, when he finally surrendered to God, it was total. After saying “yes” to God, Teddy Hodgson never looked back.

He sailed to the Congo in 1920 and found that he had to walk the last 150 miles through mosquito-infested swamps. Within a week, he was suffering with malaria. After nine months of pain he was nearly blind and argued with God about bringing him to the Congo and leaving him useless. Finally, in desperation, he cried out, “Lord, either heal me or take me to heaven.” The next day, he was able to get out of bed and he packed his bags to go into the villages to begin his work.

Though his skill in the Kiluba language was limited, Hodgson approached the village chief in Kisanga and asked to speak to the people. After receiving permission, he thought, “Well, here’s my audience, so here goes!” As he began to speak, he felt such an overwhelming love for these people that the words seemed to simply flow from his mouth. When he finished, he thanked them and left.

As he was leaving, two boys who had been helping him build his house in Kisanga followed him with great laughter. They told him how funny it was that when he was speaking to them while working they could hardly understand him but that morning as he spoke they could all understand every word. Hodgson was greatly encouraged at his miraculous provisional help from God. This was the first of many times he found that God blessed and provided all he needed when he made his own resources available.

In the coming years as he traveled from village to village, Hodgson had many hair-raising experiences with witch doctors, angry chiefs, hungry lions, rogue elephants, hippos, and crocodiles. Though his trigger finger was useless, he trained himself to shoot with his middle finger. Over the years, God used his ability with a rifle to win many friends among the villages. Over the years he killed more than 60 marauding lions. He never shot for sport or pleasure, only to protect the people he loved.

Serving in the Belgian Congo for 40 years, Hodgson also buried two wives and was constrained to send his five children back to England for care and education. These experiences pained him deeply and challenged his resolve, but his love for Christ and the people to whom he was called compelled him to continue.

In the March 6, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Hodgson wrote about a great revival that was taking place in the Congo in response to prayer for renewal among the Christians. The revival featured miraculous exercise of the gifts of the Spirit leading to the conversion, infilling, and baptism of well over a thousand souls.

After the Congo declared its independence in 1960, the atmosphere changed for Hodgson and his fellow Christian workers. The missionaries soon found themselves contained in a small area in Kamina by rebels. Other missionaries from New Zealand, Elton Knauf and his wife, joined them there. Knauf was concerned that he had left in such a hurry that he had been unable to deliver much needed supplies and money to the hospital workers in Lulungu. He was convinced he could travel safely if he went by “the back road.” Hodgson agreed to accompany him.

When they reached Mukuya, they were confronted by a band of surly rebels who were singing one of the songs of the rebellion, “We want no words from the white man’s God!” The missionaries tried to negotiate that they would leave the supplies and return back to Kamina. However, the rebel forces demanded that they march with them. A few Christians in the area heard of the trouble and followed from a distance. After marching for a short time, the Christians saw the rebels stop. They watched in horror as the machetes were raised and Hodgson and Knauf were hacked to pieces before their eyes.

Hodgson wrote in his book, Out of the Darkness, “The Lord Jesus illustrated and commended a Christianity that bent its back, soiled its hands, and blistered its feet in stooping to help fallen man. Just as positively He denounced and condemned a professional religion that passes by on the other side when man’s need is at the greatest. Some are called to be Apostles, but every Christian is called to be an Epistle (a love letter of God, read of men).” Hodgson served God as both Apostle and Epistle.

Read Edmund Hodgson’s article, “A Pentecostal Revival in the Congo,” on page 2 of the March 6, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Test of True Discipleship” by Robert A. Brown

• “A Mighty Revival at CBI” by Kathleen Belknap

• “Jeremiah of Anathoth” by Walter Beuttler

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


Filed under Biography, History, Missions

7 responses to “Edmund Hodgson: Pentecostal Martyr and Missionary to Belgian Congo

  1. Lynn Riddick

    Thank you for sharing this.
    This is my Grandad.
    It’s always exciting to find articles still being written about him.
    I never met him as he was martyred before my parents even met.

    • Dave Wigmore

      Hi Lynn
      My name is Dave Wigmore and currently live with my wife Patti in Lindsay, Ontario.I had traveled to Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo back in 2008. Before going on this journey the mother of one of our friends shared with me information on the Congo Evangelistic Mission, which your Grandad was part of. She has an autograph book as well, in which your Grandad signed it for her as well as F P Burton and James Salter. Her father was a pastor of a small church in Wales and when the missionaries, while on furlough, would come and preach at the church they would stay in their home. While in the DR Congo I was so blessed to see so many of our Brothers and Sisters in the Lord as a result of their hard work. God is so good.

      • Lynn Riddick

        WOW!!! Thank you for sharing.
        What a great and ongoing legacy he and his co-workers have left behind.
        It would be an amazing thing to see the area in which he worked and meet the people who have been influenced by their lives. I’m glad you got to do that on my behalf :)
        I live in California but fully we intend to make our way to the New England states and over to Toronto one of these days (If we’re ever allowed out of quarantine- haha). Perhaps if it ever happens we can meet up and you can share your stories with us.

  2. Rebecca Hodgson

    My name is Rebecca Hodgson . I am married to Michael the son of Teddy.
    Michael is the only one left out of the five children.
    We are always happy to share the testimony of Teddy Hodgson.
    I have put many photos etc on Willie Burton Missionary to Congo page.
    At present I am re-reading Out of Darkness.

  3. John Robley

    My name is John Robley, I am the first cousin, once removed, of Teddy Hodgson. I am retired and living in Western Australia. I spent several years in my youth as a District Forest Officer in Ghana, Southern Cameroons and Nyasaland. My maternal grandmother was Sarah Hodgson. Teddy was something of a legend in our family and I can well remember my mother being very upset when she learned of his tragic death. Thank you for the information on this website and I have also a copy of the Book “Sore hands and Blistered feet”.

    • Lynn Riddick

      Hi John – cousin :)
      I’m Teddy’s granddaughter. I grew up learning about my granddad. My dad, Michael, spent the first 10 years of his life in the Congo and has great sotires to tell.
      But outside of him I hadn’t heard about any of the other family members.
      So I am currently building a family tree, trying to find other “Hodgsons”.
      I would love to be able to connect with you and maybe get some family history if you’d be willing to share.
      If you see this and respond then I’ll provide my email address next time.

  4. John Robley

    Hi Lynn,
    great end me your email and I can give you much more information on the family of Sarah Hodgson. Best wishes, John

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