Category Archives: Biography

George and Margaret Kelley: Pioneer Pentecostal Missionaries to China

Kelley George

This Week in AG History — January 12, 1918

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 11 January 2018

George (1888-1975) and Margaret Kelley (1889-1933), two young pioneer Pentecostals, discovered that following God’s call could be exciting, fulfilling, and costly. The year 1910 was a whirlwind for the young couple. They married in January and soon afterward felt God calling them to serve as missionaries to China. They spent the bulk of the year traveling across the United States, raising financial support for their mission endeavor. Finances came together and, in November 1910, they arrived in Canton, China, where they would establish a thriving Pentecostal mission.

George and Margaret were barely in their twenties when they arrived in China; he was 22, she was 21. They did not have formal seminary or language training. However, they were determined to do whatever it took to fulfill God’s call on their lives. They learned Cantonese and began developing relationships with local residents. They met a Cantonese woman who led a small Pentecostal congregation of eight people who met in homes. She invited the Kelleys to pastor the flock, which grew significantly under their ministry.

Like many early Pentecostal missionaries, the Kelleys had to be entrepreneurs. They were not initially backed by a mission agency. They had to raise their own support; it was sink or swim. In 1915, they affiliated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, an interracial denomination that provided missionaries with a network of churches that promised financial support. After that organization identified with the Oneness movement and rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, the Kelleys transferred their missionary appointment to the Assemblies of God in 1917.

George Kelley became well-known in Assemblies of God circles. He authored 74 articles in the Pentecostal Evangel about their mission work in China. In an article published one hundred years ago – in the Jan. 12, 1918, issue of the Weekly Evangel (later Pentecostal Evangel) – he described some of the challenges faced by missionaries.

George lamented that some missionaries were impoverished and lived in unsanitary conditions. “We have many missionaries now living in quarters,” he wrote, “that would not be good enough for cattle at home.” However, he expressed gratitude that he and his family were able to live in a good house, and that God had provided sufficient finances to purchase a new building for their growing congregation.

Canton became home to the Kelleys. They spent more of their life in that Chinese city than they had spent in America. They experienced life and death in China. It was there that they had six sons, but only four survived into adulthood. Margaret contracted smallpox and died in China in 1933. George was remarried in 1935 to a Chinese Christian woman, Eugenia Wan, who was a noted Pentecostal evangelist and co-founder of a Bible school.

In many ways, George and Margaret Kelley exemplified the consecrated service of early Pentecostal missionaries. What they lacked in formal training, they learned on-the-job. They became part of the community they served, experiencing the challenges and joys of life, as well as the grief of death, in Canton. The Kelleys, like so many other Pentecostal pioneer missionaries, determined to follow God’s call, no matter the cost.

Read the article by George M. Kelley, “Wise Counsel and Good News from Sainam,” on page 11 of the Jan. 12, 1918, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Supernatural in Christianity” by F. A. Hale

• “The Mexican Work,” by H. C. Ball

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: www.iFPHC.org

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Mildred Whitney: The Housewife Who Started Assemblies of God Ministries for the Blind

WhitneyThis Week in AG History — December 8, 1957

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 07 December 2017

Mildred Whitney (1910-1994) almost single-handedly founded ministries for the blind in the Assemblies of God (AG). Her legacy is seen today in the AG Center for the Blind, under the leadership of Paul Weingartner.

Whitney’s life-long dream was to make Pentecostal literature available to the blind and visually impaired. The beginning of Whitney’s work goes back to a Sunday in October 1949 when she was praying in her morning devotions in East Jordan, Michigan, and felt God speaking to her to start up a braille ministry. That same Sunday she read an article in the Gospel Gleaners, the predecessor of the AG’s weekly Live magazine, which told about Gladys Carrington, a housewife, who had been transcribing Christian literature into braille. Whitney contacted Carrington who sent her a copy of the braille alphabet and other materials to get her started.

Whitney began learning the braille alphabet, and by 1951 she had mastered the art of writing braille and had started transcribing and producing Pentecostal literature for the blind in her home. The official start of her ministry to the blind began in 1952. On Nov. 16, the AG Center for the Blind, located in Springfield, Missouri, held an open house to celebrate 65 years of ministry.

In the beginning years, Mildred Whitney and her husband improvised to make their own type press, assembled their own drying racks, and used other equipment as needed. In 1954 she began using a braille typewriter to better carry out this vital ministry. This led to her taking select articles from the Pentecostal Evangel and other publications to produce the Pentecostal Digest in braille. Soon afterwards she began producing Sunday School quarterlies in braille.

Sixty years ago, in the Dec. 8, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Elva Hoover wrote an article called “Quarterlies for the Blind.” She described how Whitney worked for a number of years using “makeshift equipment with limited funds” in her own home to provide braille literature for the blind. “Although she does most of the work herself,” said Hoover, “various members of her family are pressed into service from time to time.” Because of the time-consuming process in producing braille literature (one page of quarterly materials requires almost five pages of braille), Whitney printed the Sunday School lessons on a monthly basis rather than quarterly.

The AG Center for the Blind still produces the Adult Student Guide in braille and digital audio files for other age levels of Sunday School materials, as well as God’s Word for Today, Live, PrimeLine, and selected books.

Read “Quarterlies for the Blind,” on pages 24 and 25 of the Dec. 8, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Sure Formula for Revival,” by E. R. Foster

• “Under the Blood,” by Donald Gee

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: www.iFPHC.org

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December 7, 2017 · 3:08 pm

Secret Police Dossier on Persecuted Bulgarian Pentecostal Leader Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

StefanovStefan Stefanov (1948-1988), a deacon in the Assemblies of God church in Shumen, Bulgaria, was persecuted by the communist government in the 1970s and 1980s. Stefan’s father, Nikola, had started the Shumen congregation in the late 1940s and was imprisoned following the infamous Pastoral Trial of 1948-1949. The communist government, aiming to stamp out Christianity, labeled his son, Stefan, a “fanatic” because he refused to compromise his faith.  The secret police told Stefan that he must not allow children to attend church services, which were held in his house.  He refused to obey, was beaten numerous times, and was placed under house arrest and exiled to surrounding villages for three years (1975-1978). Shortly before he died in 1988, Stefan received a prophecy that he would not leave Bulgaria, but that his testimony would travel around the world through his sons, Borislav and Nikolai.

After the Bulgarian communist government fell, Borislav went to the archives of the secret police and was allowed to photocopy his father’s dossier. The dossier includes confiscated personal correspondence, transcripts of intercepted phone conversations, and reports from informants. Nikolai and his wife, Michelle, today deposited a copy of the dossier at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center is committed to preserving and sharing the testimonies of Pentecostals from the persecuted church!

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: www.iFPHC.org

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William F. P. Burton: Pioneer Pentecostal Missionary, Author, and Artist in the Congo

BurtonThis Week in AG History — December 1, 1968

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 30 November 2017

William Frederick Padwick Burton (1886-1971) was an unlikely pioneer Pentecostal missionary. Willie, as he was known, enjoyed a privileged childhood. His mother was from English aristocracy, and his father was a ship captain. As a youth, Burton was not interested in spiritual things. He attended good schools in England and traveled around the world, developing a broadly-informed worldview. He excelled at cricket and tennis, and he became an accomplished artist. Realizing that art probably would not pay the bills, Burton focused on a more practical career path and studied electrical engineering at St. Lawrence College, Ramsgate.

In 1905, while in college, Burton attended an evangelistic service with a visiting American evangelist, Reuben A. Torrey. After hearing Torrey’s message, Burton became convinced that he was not a true Christian. Despite being a member of the Church of England, Burton came to realize that he had a very superficial faith. One night, Burton knelt by his bed, confessed his sins, placed his faith in God, and peace flooded his soul. Change was immediate in Burton’s life. He joyfully shared his newfound faith, he made restitution to those he had wronged, and he began what became lifelong disciplines of studying the Bible and praying.

Burton’s commitment to live wholly for God led him to identify with the Pentecostal movement. He heard about the Pentecostal revival in America and Scandinavia, so he and a friend decided to investigate the Pentecostal claims that Biblical spiritual gifts, such as speaking in tongues, healing, and prophecy, were still available to believers. They formed a group that met almost every night for the entire year of 1910, studying the Bible and praying for God’s power in their lives. Before the year was out, Burton and many others had been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Burton felt God’s call to full-time ministry. He stepped out in faith and, in 1911, quit his engineering job and became known as a “tramp preacher.” For three years he walked across the English countryside, preaching in homes and on village greens. During this formative period, he led numerous people to the Lord, witnessed miracles, developed his ministry gifts, and helped the young English Pentecostal movement to grow.

Ultimately, Burton felt called to serve as a missionary to Africa, where he would spend the rest of his life. He left England in 1914, just as World War I was breaking out, and spent a year preaching at various mission stations in South Africa. He was joined in 1915 by James Salter (the brother-in-law of noted healing evangelist Smith Wigglesworth), and together they journeyed to the Congo. He married Hettie Trollip in 1918. When the Congo Evangelistic Mission (later called the Zaire Evangelistic Mission) was formed in 1919, Burton became its first field director. Importantly, he was an early advocate for indigenous leadership of churches.

Burton art

An ink drawing by Burton

Burton employed his significant giftings as a builder, engineer, teacher, and artist to advance the gospel. He authored 28 books, including an important collection of Congo fables and proverbs. Burton’s engaging stories about African missions were widely read on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The Pentecostal Evangel introduced Burton to American readers in 1916 and, over the course of his life, published over 90 articles by him. Burton also raised money by selling his critically-acclaimed paintings and ink drawings of Congolese landscapes and life.

When Burton went to be with the Lord in 1971, the Congo Evangelistic Mission had grown to almost 2,000 churches. He had spent the majority of his life in Africa, far from the life of privilege he knew in England. While Willie Burton initially sacrificed a certain level of social status to become a Pentecostal preacher, he ultimately became a larger-than-life figure in the history of African Pentecostalism.

Read one of William F. P. Burton’s articles, “Receiving Power from on High,” on pages 6-7 of the Dec. 1, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Eternal Security: Is It Conditional?” by Henry H. Ness

• “God’s Interruptions,” by Kenneth D. Barney

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: www.iFPHC.org

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Ruth Garlock, Unsung Hero: A Female Missionary’s Forgotten Call and Legacy

GarlockThis Week in AG History — November 24, 1945

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 20 November 2017

Ruth Trotter Garlock (1897-1997) and her husband, Henry B. Garlock, were Assemblies of God missionary pioneers in Liberia, Ghana, and Malawi. Several generations of Assemblies of God members grew up reading Henry’s colorful stories about their lives and ministry among African cannibals and witch doctors. However, Ruth’s story often seemed overshadowed by her husband’s big personality. A careful reading of their writings reveals a remarkable woman who endured great sacrifice to follow God’s call.

Ruth received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as a teenager in an Assembly of God church in Newark, New Jersey, under Pastor E. S. Williams. After this experience, she believed that total consecration to God was her life’s calling. One evening in prayer, God showed her a triangle with Himself at the apex and her at one corner. There was a strong line connecting Him to her. At the other corner was the continent of Africa with a strong line connecting God to Africa. What was missing in the triangle was a line connecting Ruth to Africa. She felt God telling her He was already connected to Africa but so many there did not know it yet. She heard the call, “Will you be the connection to go tell them, and complete the triangle?”

Her mother strongly resisted the idea. Ruth was her only daughter and Africa was a terribly dangerous place even for strong young men. Ruth’s parents had divorced recently and her income was needed to help support the family. However, after hearing the passionate stories from a missionary to India, Ruth’s mother tearfully but willingly gave her total support to her daughter’s call to African missions.

After receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, Ruth determined that she would never marry a man unless he was a committed Christian. After her missions commitment, she added the requirement of a sincere call to Africa for any man she would consider. Her friends predicted she would die an old maid, but she was steadfast.

She took a job teaching school while her brother, Alfred, went to Beulah Heights Missionary Training School in North Bergen, New Jersey. She would often visit, bringing home-cooked goodies for him and his friends. One particular friend, Henry, was very friendly and attentive and Ruth found herself drawn to him. When she discovered the depth of his Christian character and his steadfast focus on African missions, she knew her requirements were met and gave herself permission to fall deeply in love with the dashing Henry Garlock.

Upon Henry’s graduation from Beulah Heights in 1920, they became engaged and Henry received Assemblies of God missionary appointment to Liberia, West Africa. Ruth saw him off at the pier in New York on Oct. 23, knowing that he was going to prepare a place for her to come as soon as her teaching contract was up in the spring of 1921.

Meanwhile, Henry found an abandoned missionary station in the Gropaka area of Liberia. The crudely erected gravestones in the yard testified why the building was empty. When Henry climbed the steps into the house they crumbled underneath him due to the damage caused by termites. Inside he found a rendezvous of rats, snakes, scorpions, and huge lizards. White ants had long ago eaten the bamboo shades on the windows.

Henry asked himself if it was the right thing to bring his young bride to such a place. After praying, he felt assurance from God that Ruth’s call was just as real as his, and her commitment to the mission was just as solid. He went to work, trusting that he could have it ready for her by her arrival sometime in June.

On June 26, 1921, Henry arose at daybreak and went to the coast to meet Ruth’s ship. Ruth had traveled thousands of miles to join him and the reunion was sweet after eight months apart.

The next day they engaged a boat to carry them deeper into the interior, and two days later they were wed with another missionary couple serving as witnesses and the hammock bearers and porters as the audience. For a ring, Henry hired a native blacksmith to melt down the gold from an English coin.

The day after the wedding they arose at 2 a.m. to begin the two-day trek to their home, riding in a dug-out canoe through crocodile-infested waters, walking miles on jungle trails in the rain, and wading through waist-high waters. When they arrived, Henry and Ruth were blessed to find that a neighboring chief had heard of their marriage and greeted them with a young steer and a goat for a wedding feast. That night they held their first church service together in Africa. The adventure of a lifetime had begun.

Together, Henry and Ruth spent more than 60 years in ministry, pioneering fields that now have strong Pentecostal churches.

When Henry passed away in 1985, his 86-year-old widow wanted to address the crowd gathered to honor the great missionary. In a strong voice she shared some of their story of love and adventure, ending with, “Well, folks, this is how Henry always did it. Every place we ever moved to, he went there first” to get things ready.

At age 89, Ruth’s daughter-in-law was leading a missions trip to Haiti. Ruth said to her, “Please take me with you. I want to be a missionary one more time.” Her assignment on the trip was to sit in a big rocker in the orphanage to cuddle and rock the dozens of infants, praying over each one, trusting that God would call some of them to finish the unfinished task of the missionary harvest.

When it comes to missionary couples, we often hear more of the adventurous exploits of the husband. Henry Garlock’s activities made him a legend and his book, Before We Kill and Eat You, is a standard missionary biography; however, the faithful bravery of Ruth Trotter Garlock made contributions to missions on the African continent that only heaven will reveal.

Read about one of Henry and Ruth Garlock’s treks in Africa on page 13 of the Nov. 24, 1945,  issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Life of Thanksgiving,” by Anna C. Berg

• “Giving Thanks Always,” by Grant Barber

• “Victory Through Praise,” by Hattie Pitts

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: www.iFPHC.org

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C. H. Austin: From the Saloons to Assemblies of God Railroad Evangelist

chaustin

This Week in AG History — November 16, 1929

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 16 November 2017

Clement Henderson Austin (1889-1973) knew railroads almost as well as he knew the gospel. He spent decades working as a train engineer, but he became mired in a lifestyle of drunkenness, gambling, violence, and addictions to alcohol and tobacco.

After a dramatic conversion, Austin became an Assemblies of God evangelist. He spent the rest of his life sharing the gospel and his testimony. Austin’s story was published in a tract, which was republished in the Nov. 16, 1929, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Austin’s life started to unravel when he was 8 years old, when his mother died. For years he carried this sorrow deep inside his soul, crying himself to sleep at night. He wondered why he could not have a mother, like all the other boys.

As a young teenager, Austin ventured onto the streets of Fort Worth, Texas, where he quickly adapted to the ways of the world. He started firing train engines at age 16, soon becoming a train engineer. A large young man, he learned how to fend for himself.

Saloons became a second home to young Austin. He started drinking and smoking, then gambling and stealing. He prided himself on his coarse speech, later calling himself “one of the ringleaders in oaths and smutty jokes.”

Austin recalled that he was “young and tender” when he started living on the streets. But as the years progressed, he noted, “my heart became more cold and hard.” He could feel “the enemy’s fangs” as they “sank into my soul and body.”

The coarse engineer married a young woman and they had a son. Austin tried to cover up his drunken and thieving ways by lying to his wife. But he knew that his life was spinning out of control, and he felt incredible guilt over the injustice he was committing against his family. He did not want his son to follow in his footsteps.

Austin had not been to church in 12 years. While Austin had tried to ignore God, he realized he needed to turn his life around, and he knew he could not do it alone. One night, while looking into the stars, he said aloud, “O God, help me to quit gambling.” Starting at that moment, Austin’s faith — birthed out of desperation — took root.

God seemed to chase after Austin. Two weeks before his conversion, Austin was running through a dark tunnel and heard a voice say, “Throw away your tobacco.” He did, and he never tasted it again.

In the meantime, Austin’s wife began attending revival services at a Pentecostal church in San Diego, California. At first, she did not tell Austin, afraid that he might mock her. But she could not keep quiet, and she told him about the miracles she witnessed. Cripples were leaving their crutches, and deaf people could hear again. He agreed to go hear the evangelist.

The revival services were being held in a small hall, which was packed with people. Austin recalled that “people sang as if they meant it,” and he could tell they had something that he was missing. A young sailor sat next to Austin, and when the evangelist called people to the altar, he tried to pull Austin forward for prayer. Austin knew that he needed to go forward, but he did not want to publicly admit that he needed God.

An intense battle ensued between Austin’s ears. He recalled hearing a voice tell him that he was “too big a sinner” to be on his knees in church. This voice, who Austin recognized as the devil, taunted him, telling him that his drinking buddies would laugh at him. But Austin looked past his suffering, had faith in God, and cried out, “O Lord, have mercy on me.”

After an emotional spiritual battle, Austin found himself laying on the floor. He felt spiritual oppression flee, and he felt a sweet peace sweep through his soul. Austin set his heart on Christ and never looked back.

Austin told his family, friends, and coworkers about his conversion. He returned money he had stolen and asked for forgiveness from those he had offended. “There is now no more drinking, no more gambling, no more taking the name of our Lord in vain, no more tobacco,” he wrote. Instead, “old things have passed away and all things have become new.”

Austin studied for the ministry at Berean Bible Institute, an Assemblies of God school in San Diego. He graduated in 1925 and was ordained as an Assemblies of God evangelist in 1926. He continued working as an engineer on the Rock Island, Southern Pacific, and San Diego and Arizona railroads, but he viewed his secular employment as a vehicle for his higher calling – to preach the gospel across the American Southwest. During the next half century, this large, gentle, earnest railroad engineer, armed with his testimony and a Bible, touched countless lives.

Read Clement H. Austin’s testimony, “Saved and Called to Preach,” on pages 12-13 of the Nov. 16, 1929, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Ten Reasons Why I Believe in Divine Healing,” by Thomas G. Atteberry

• “The Extra Portion,” by Mrs. Robert (Marie) Brown

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: www.iFPHC.org

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T. B. Barratt: Norwegian Pentecostal Pioneer

Barratt

T. B. Barratt with his wife, Laura; circa 1928.

This Week in AG History — October 20, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 19 October 2017

Thomas Ball Barratt (1862-1940), born to a Methodist family in England, became the most prominent Pentecostal pioneer in Norway. Barratt was recognized at a young age for being a gifted writer, artist, and composer of music. He could have succeeded in numerous professions. But following a life-changing encounter with God, the young Barratt dedicated his life to sharing the gospel.

When Barratt was four years old, his parents immigrated to Norway, where his father worked as a miner. At age 11, Barratt’s parents sent him back to England to attend a Methodist school, where he committed his life to God during a revival. After he moved back to Norway at age 16, he became a member of Stavanger Temperance Society and became a joyful advocate of heartfelt faith and godly living.

When Barratt returned to Norway, he initially began working as his father’s assistant. However, Barratt’s artistic abilities opened other doors. He studied under Norway’s greatest composer, Edvard Grieg, and under noted artist Olaf Dahl. By age 17, he began preaching in Methodist churches. He became an ordained Methodist deacon (1889) and elder (1891) and pastored several churches.

With a deep interest in spiritual things, Barratt became a prominent proponent of revival in Norway. Through the Oslo City Mission, which he founded in 1902, and its periodical, Byposten, Barratt encouraged people to draw close to God.

In 1906, Barratt traveled to America to raise funds for the Oslo City Mission. Although he failed to raise much money, he returned to Norway with something else that would change the trajectory of his ministry. Barratt had heard testimonies about the emerging Pentecostal revival at the interracial Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, and his heart grew hungry for a deeper experience of God. Just before going back to Norway, he stopped at the Holiness Mission in New York City, where some of the gospel workers had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. These newly-baptized Pentecostals, Robert A. Brown and Marie Burgess, prayed with Barratt. He spent an extended period of time seeking God at the altar. After he “emptied” his soul of self, he received the Pentecostal experience with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Upon his return to Norway, Barratt began promoting the Pentecostal message. He endured criticism by those who mocked the reported emotionalism of the Azusa Street Mission. The Methodist Church revoked his ministerial credentials, and his mission and newspaper were given to his assistant. Barratt had to start over, building up his ministry from scratch. Despite these impediments, Barratt kept his focus on the gospel and not on his critics. Crowds thronged to hear Barratt wherever he went. He founded the Filadelfia Church in Oslo, which grew to about 2,000 members. Pentecostal churches were soon organized across the nation. Under the leadership of Barratt, the Pentecostal movement in Norway became the second largest Protestant church in Norway, second only to the Lutheran church. Barratt’s influence also spread to North America, where he traveled on occasion and preached in English to American and Canadian audiences.

The story of T. B. Barratt is a reminder of the global scope of the Pentecostal movement. Barratt, an Englishman raised in Norway, identified with the Pentecostal revival during a visit to the United States. Barratt’s testimony also demonstrates that early Pentecostals prioritized the spiritual life. Barratt modeled heartful, joyful faith, which he lived out in a godly lifestyle. From his earliest days of ministry as a Methodist to his latter years as a Pentecostal statesman, he consistently emphasized the importance of deep faith. Barratt was willing to take risks to follow God’s will. And because he did, the religious landscape in Norway has never been the same.

The Pentecostal Evangel featured the story of Thomas Ball Barratt in 1957, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Pentecostalism in Norway. Read the article, “Norway’s Pentecostal Jubilee,” on page 20 of the Oct. 20, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Thirst for God,” by A. M. Alber

* “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” by James A. Stewart

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: www.iFPHC.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions