Melvin and Lois Hodges: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionaries to Latin America

This Week in AG History — September 13, 1941

By Glenn W. Gohr

Originally published on AG News, 16 September 2021

Melvin Lyle Hodges (1909-1988) and his wife, Lois (Crews) Hodges (1908-2011), were pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to Latin America. Their experience on the mission field taught them the importance of training local believers to lead the church, and Melvin went on to become a leading missiologist among Pentecostals and evangelicals.

Melvin and Lois were married in December 1928 and pastored churches in Colorado and Wyoming for seven years before gaining approval to go on the mission field. They were appointed by the Assemblies of God Foreign Missions Department and served Latin America, primarily in El Salvador and Nicaragua (1935-1953).

They returned to the U.S. in 1945 and Hodges served as editor of the Missionary Challenge publication for two years. He spent the next four years traveling between the United States and Central America, overseeing the work there. He returned to Central America fulltime in 1950 and served another three years in Nicaragua as a missionary. Lois became proficient in Spanish and actively participated in a teaching and training role alongside her husband. Her sister, Esther Crews, also assisted them in missionary work in Nicaragua.

Melvin Hodges was then appointed as field director for Latin America and the West Indies (1953-1973) and again spent time traveling and overseeing the work in Central America, although he maintained an office in Springfield, Missouri.

Melvin and Lois Hodges teamed with veteran missionary Ralph Williams, who practiced English missionary Roland Allen’s philosophy of indigenous principles. While ministering in Nicaragua, Hodges was given an opportunity to put into practice these principles, which Allen called “the missionary methods of St. Paul.” He established a Bible school in Matagalpa and ministered to native Nicaraguans.

In his retirement (1973-1985), Hodges served as professor of missions at the Assemblies of God Graduate School (now Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) in Springfield, Missouri, which allowed him to share his vast knowledge of missions with students and also to do more writing.

As an Assemblies of God missions leader, Hodges wrote prolifically about the value of developing indigenous (self-supporting, self-propagating, and self-governing) churches around the world. He was the author of 15 books and more than 300 articles and tracts. His books have been revised and reprinted and translated into numerous languages and used as textbooks in colleges and seminaries around the world. His two best-known books, The Indigenous Church (1953) and Build My Church (1957), shaped missionary policy not only for the Assemblies of God but for other evangelical missions groups as well.

Hodges authored at least 115 articles in the Pentecostal Evangel. In a 1941 article, Hodges recounted how he and Lois returned from furlough to Matagalpa, Nicaragua, where they were greeted by Esther Crews and a group of native workers. Upon returning, they witnessed testimonies of answered prayer, healings, and souls saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Melvin and Lois Hodges left a lasting legacy, not only in Latin America, but on the development of Christian missions around the world.

Read the article, “In Nicaragua Again!” on page 11 of the Sept. 13, 1941, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Four Days Ago I Was Fasting,” by Zelma Argue

• “Choosing God’s Best,” by Wesley R. Steelberg

• “How Shall I Curse, Whom God Hath Not Cursed?” by Lilian B. Yeomans

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

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