This Week in AG History — April 23, 1961
By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 22 April 2021
Harold S. (1906-1970) and Margaret (Bishopp) Jones (1907-2003) were pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and South Africa. Harold, Margaret, and their three children endured hardships, but ultimately left a legacy that included a network of schools, a publishing ministry, and countless lives impacted by their service.
Margaret attended Bethel Temple in Los Angeles. At 14 years of age, after hearing a missionary tell about the Mossi people in West Africa, she felt God calling her to be a missionary to the Mossi people.
After graduating from high school, she attended Southern California Bible Institute (now Vanguard University) where she became active in the Africa missions prayer group. There she met Harold Jones, who also had a call to be a missionary in Africa. They developed a friendship, and after graduation, Harold because the district Christ’s Ambassadors president (D-CAP) for Kansas, his home state. Later, through correspondence, he and Margaret rekindled their friendship, which grew into love. Harold took the train to California, and they were married in March 1930.
As newlyweds, the Joneses borrowed $100, bought a car, and drove back to Kansas to raise support to go to Africa as missionaries. Their first child was born in October 1931, and in January 1932 they sailed for West Africa on a freighter, along with the A. E. Wilsons, who were veteran missionaries. After 21 days, they were glad to arrive in Ivory Coast, and then five more days of travel took them over unpaved bush roads to Mossiland, which was their destination. The rest of 1932 was spent in language study, and Margaret also was expecting her second child who arrived in January 1933. He was born with the assistance of an African midwife and a French doctor at the mission station in Ouagadougou, Upper Volta.
Harold Jones’ first assignment was to Yako in April 1933. Without a car, he covered an 80-mile circuit on bicycle, often in 100-degree heat, in order to reach the main preaching centers and outstations. Times were hard. Their oldest daughter was stricken with blackwater fever but was healed after much prayer. Margaret Jones also became ill during her third pregnancy and was told that she needed to return to the United States for the birth. A Mossi woman accompanied her and the two children on a trip to the coast. Then it took a month by boat to reach New York. From there they boarded a train to Los Angeles to stay with Margaret’s parents. The third child was born in Los Angeles in September 1936, and Harold did not get to see the new baby until nine months later.
After a year of deputation to raise more funds, the Joneses and their three children left for France to study the French language. By 1938 they were back in Upper Volta, opening a new work in Koudougou. The Joneses held Bible readings and prayers and began work on a church building and a Bible school. They taught new believers to read and write in their own language, using lessons that were mimeographed in the Mooré language. After World War II, the Joneses started an Assemblies of God (Protestant) elementary school. That school was later expanded to include a high school as well as an orphanage for babies. It eventually became the center for a network of 32 schools throughout the country.
Although he was a farmer’s son, Harold had also worked as a printer in Kansas. He established a small print shop in Koudougou and trained workers how to operate the presses and other printing equipment. Later this small print shop was transferred to the capital city of Ouagadougou and became the catalyst for Assemblies of God literature ministry in all of West Africa.
The last six years of Harold Jones’ life was spent in ministry in South Africa, where he and Margaret worked with International Correspondence Institute. Harold passed away in 1970, at the age of 63. Afterwards, Margaret ministered in South Africa for six more years before retiring from missionary work.
An article in the Pentecostal Evangel featured the print shop of Harold and Margaret Jones and literature for French-speaking Africa. Funds had been provided in 1956 to build the first building in French West Africa to be used solely as a publishing house and bookstore. This came to fruition under the ministry of Harold and Margaret Jones.
In 1961, it was estimated that the Assemblies of God Publishing House and Book Store in Ouagadougou would soon “reach some 20 million people.” Scripture portions, songbooks, tracts and study books were being printed in five of the 22 French West Africa languages. Speed the Light provided the funds for the press, folding machine, stitcher, and other equipment.
Harold Jones reported: “The Mossi Old Testament has been translated and all books soon will be printed.” He was pleased to be able to say that these books and pamphlets were being printed in Africa, rather than saying “Printed in the U.S.A.” The Joneses also established the French Gospel Publishing House which was set up to print Sunday School materials, Bible studies, and youth papers and tracts in the French language all over the globe, and not just in West Africa.
Read more in “Literature for French-Speaking Africa” on page 8 of the April 23, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Every-Day Evangelism,” by James A. Stewart
• “Witnessing Through Gospel Tracts,” by Alma Ware Crosby
• “Something Better Than Psychiatry,” by James La Valley
And many more!
Click here to read this issue now.
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
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