Category Archives: Biography

J. R. Evans: Early Pastor, Evangelist, and General Secretary

This Week in AG History — August 12, 1951

By Glenn W. Gohr

Originally published on AG News, 12 August 2021

J. R. Evans (1869-1951) served as an early Assemblies of God pastor and is best remembered for serving as general secretary of the Assemblies of God. Born in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, his full name was James Richards Evans. He lost his first wife early in life, and in 1913 he married Elsie Leonard, who previously had served as a missionary to India with the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

J. R. and Elsie Evans belonged to the Pentecostal Church [Assemblies of God] of Cleveland, Ohio, which was pastored by D. W. Kerr.

Feeling a call to the ministry, J. R. Evans at age 45, and Elsie at age 39, were both ordained by Kerr on March 28, 1915. Evans served the Assemblies of God as a pastor in Cleveland, Ohio; Osborne, Kansas; Broken Arrow and Pawhuska, Oklahoma; Toronto, Canada; Chicago, Illinois; Portland, Oregon; and Syracuse, New York. He also served as an evangelist in the general field. While living in Oklahoma he served as Oklahoma district superintendent (1917).

Elsie served as an assistant pastor, evangelist, and Bible teacher. She also led singing at the churches they pastored as well as at camp meetings and conventions. She passed away on May 15, 1936, at the age of 59 and was buried in Springfield, Missouri. One of her sisters was Lavada Morrison, an early AG missionary to China. Another sister was Ruth Phillips, the mother of Guy and Everett Phillips, both well-known Assemblies of God ministers.

In 1923 Evans was elected general secretary of the AG and served in that position for 12 years (general secretary from 1923-1927 and general secretary-treasurer from 1927-1935).

Cataracts formed on his eyes in 1933, and within months, he began to go blind. J. R. Evans served as an executive presbyter and general presbyter from 1936-1942.

Evans was granted a retirement allowance when he left office, and he moved back to Cleveland, Ohio, for a few years. He did some evangelistic work in various places in Ohio. In 1938 he served a short time as interim pastor of the Full Gospel Church [Assemblies of God] at Youngstown, Ohio. He then moved to Tampa, Florida, for a few years. He spent the last two years of his life in the Pinellas Park Home in Florida which was established to house retired ministers and missionaries of the Assemblies of God.

J. R. Evans passed away on July 18, 1951, at Pinellas Park, Florida, at the age of 81. He was survived by his third wife, the former H. Mary Engle, whom he married on July 3, 1941.

Read the article, “Former Executive of General Council Promoted to Glory,” on page 14 of the Aug. 12, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “You Have One Problem—Solve It!” by U. S. Grant

• “Why a General Council?” by J. Roswell Flower

• “Wait, Examine the Facts!” by Stanley Horton

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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Hermano Pablo: Assemblies of God Missionary and Media Pioneer in Latin America

This Week in AG History —June 16, 1963

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 17 June 2021

Growing up as an Assemblies of God missionary kid in Puerto Rico in the 1920s and 1930s, Paul Finkenbinder (1921-2012) dreamed of reaching not just one country but all of Latin America with the gospel of Christ. He returned to the United States to attend Zion Bible Institute (Providence, Rhode Island) and Central Bible Institute (Springfield, Missouri). In 1943, he and his wife, Linda, packed up and moved to El Salvador where Paul began to work his dream into reality.

As Assemblies of God missionaries, Paul and Linda spent the next 12 years teaching in Bible schools, ministering in churches, and making themselves available for whatever needs arose in ministry. In 1955, God gave Paul a vision for expanding the message he was preaching through the larger avenue of short-wave radio broadcasts. At the time, radio was still a novelty for many living in Latin America.

Beginning with a Webcor recorder mounted on a missionary barrel in his garage, Paul began recording a short radio program called “La Iglesia del Aire” (The Church of the Air). By 1963, this 15-minute broadcast was the only gospel network program heard daily in all Latin America. Hermano Pablo (Brother Paul) began receiving testimonies from across the region of what God was doing through the radio messages. Of the six daily broadcasts, two were devoted to evangelistic sermons, one to issues of morality, and another addressed Bible questions. The remaining two were given to Scripture readings, Christian poetry, and gospel music.

In 1960, the ministry, then known as LARE (Latin American Radio Evangelism), pioneered the use of Christian drama to present parables and Bible stories on television. The response was overwhelming. This led to the production of six Bible drama films that are still in use today throughout Latin America. The realization of Brother Paul’s dream required utilizing every tool available — radio, television, the printed page, crusades, and special events — to present the Gospel of Christ to all of Latin America.

In 1964, Hermano Pablo and his family returned to the United States and established their headquarters in Costa Mesa, California. After four years in a makeshift recording studio in their garage, God provided a building for their studios and offices. Today Hermano Pablo Ministries’ four-minute “Un Mensaje a la Conciencia” (A Message to the Conscience) is broadcast more than 6,000 times per day and is published in over 80 periodicals. The Spanish language radio and television programs, along with the newspaper and magazine columns, are shipped to more than 33 countries of the world.

Hermano Pablo was honored by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) with the award for the “Hispanic Program of the Year.” Other awards include “Best Film of the Year” given by the National Evangelical Film Foundation (NEFF), and the “Best Spanish Broadcast” Angel Award given by Religion in Media (RIM). In 1993, the NRB awarded Hermano Pablo the “Milestone Award” for 50 years of service in religious broadcasting, and in 2003 he received the prestigious NRB Chairman’s Award.

On Jan. 25, 2012, Paul and Linda celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Later that evening he complained of a severe headache and was taken to the hospital where he slipped into a coma. Paul Finkenbinder died in the morning hours of Jan. 27, 2012, but the ministry of Hermano Pablo continues to live and thrive across an entire continent.

Hermano Pablo and his ministry were featured in an article, “La Iglesia del Aire,” published on pages 12-13 of the June 16, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Should A Christian Have A Breakdown,” by Anne Sandberg

• “A Former Gambler Testifies,” by Arthur Condrey

• “Another Minister Led Into Pentecostal Blessing,” by Ansley Orfila

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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Adeline Wichman and Pauline Smith: Assemblies of God Missionaries to Ghana

Adeline Wichman (left) and Pauline Smith (right), missionaries to Ghana, circa 1960s.

This Week in AG History —May 31, 1959

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 03 June 2021

When Adeline Wichman (1914-2004) and Pauline Smith (1916-2003) sat down in the dining room of Central Bible Institute (CBI, later Central Bible College, Springfield, Missouri) to talk about what they would do after graduation, they had no idea the conversation would lead to a 47-year partnership that would span two continents, expose them to dangers from which most others would flee, and impact thousands of believers across the Gold Coast of Africa.

Wichman grew up in Wisconsin and Smith in Delaware, and they met in Missouri at CBI. They had not been close friends during their college years, but as their 1943 graduation loomed upon them, they concluded it would be better to go together into the ministry than try to go it alone. CBI principal W.I. Evans and dean of women Eleanor Bowie both recommended them to a ministry in Washington, D.C., where they could assist in ministering to the young men serving in World War II. Together, the two women went willingly and served faithfully.

In a prayer meeting on New Year’s Eve, both women sensed separately a call to pursue ministry in Africa. International missions work was not something they had previously discussed. However, they talked after the service and discovered that the other had sensed the same call. They applied for missionary appointment with the Assemblies of God and were approved as “workers together.” In April 1946, they arrived in the Gold Coast, now known as Ghana, West Africa.

The weather was hot and humid and the women found insects, lizards, and snakes to be their constant roommates. They set about learning a new language in the evenings after working through the day to establish themselves with the Dagomba people of Yendi.

They discovered that portions of the Bible had already been translated into the language of the Dagomba but were no longer being printed. Smith and Wichman procured a Multigraph printer and painstakingly set out the type, letter by letter, to provide the Scriptures for their new friends.

After their first term, Smith and Wichman moved together to Wale Wale, also in northern Ghana. Believing that their priority was to make biblically literate disciples of Jesus Christ, they set up reading schools so that the villagers could read the Bible in their own language. Through these outreaches, entire villages turned to Christ, destroyed their fetishes, and supported a local pastor rather than a village witch doctor.

In 1959, a new opportunity opened itself up as the government schools presented the idea of conducting a daily “religion class” for students. Wichman and Smith had been in the country for more than a decade and were well respected. Soon requests came from 13 schools in their area for lessons that could be taught to the children. “A Door of Opportunity,” a report of this new ministry, was published in the May 31, 1959, Pentecostal Evangel. The women wrote, “the opportunity also presented a problem. It is one thing to tell a Bible story from time to time, but to prepare daily material is something else … the teachers are not schooled in the Word, and the pupils know very little about the Scriptures and nothing about God.” Smith and Wichman had occasionally received Sunday School papers in English through BGMC (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge) but they now needed more than 1300 papers and needed them immediately.

With the need so pressing, the women decided to write a basic catechism of Christian doctrine that would take the children through a month of lessons. They began with an understanding of God, including simple questions, “Who is God?,” “Where is God?,” and simple answers, along with a Scripture verse. They also included prayers for the children to learn, such as The Lord’s Prayer, mealtime prayers, and bedtime prayers. They then prepared 25 lessons on Jesus, salvation, the Bible, and other doctrines until they had lessons to cover 250 school days. At the time of publication, 1300 Ghanaian boys and girls, ages 5 to 13 were learning the answers to questions such as, “Who is Jesus?,” “Why did He come?,” “How many gods are there?,” from a biblical perspective.

After three terms in Wale Wale, Smith and Wichman moved to Bawku and continued the same kinds of ministry with the Kusasi people. Over their near 50 years serving together in Ghana, these partners experienced malaria, snake bites, and various other threats while being involved in literacy campaigns, prison ministry, church planting, Bible school teaching, medical work, and even organizing the first Assemblies of God men’s ministry in the nation.

During their last terms in Ghana, they were considered “semi-retired” but still taught in the Bible schools and ministered wherever the doors were opened. They were especially loved by the missionary children as they became fun-loving “aunties” filling in for extended families who were far away in the United States.

Upon retirement in 1993, Ghanaian church leaders thanked Wichman and Smith for their example of faith-filled Christianity – “simple, uncluttered, hardworking, sincere, dedicated, and selfless.” The two women found themselves coming full circle, as they moved to Maranatha Village in Springfield, Missouri, within sight of where they first met more than 50 years earlier. Their commitment that they would be “better together” held steadfast, with the roommates passing away within a year of each other, Smith at age 87, and Wichman at age 90.

Read Adeline Wichman and Pauline Smith’s article, “A Door of Opportunity,” on page 5 of the May 31, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Revival Continues in South Africa” by Vernon Pettenger

• “An Idol Worshipper’s Dream” by John Stetz

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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E.T. and Katherine Quanabush: Assemblies of God Ministers and Musicians

This Week in AG History —May 20, 1956

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, 20 May 2021

E.T. (Ensley T.) Quanabush (1909-2001) had a broad field of ministry in the Assemblies of God. He was a pastor, evangelist, and missionary evangelist. He also spoke at many gatherings of charismatics who were interested in the Baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Quanabush was born in Belmar, New Jersey. He grew up having a great love for music, and at an early age he began playing the trombone as well as many other musical instruments. At first he thought he wanted to make a career of playing in the orchestra. However, God changed his mind. He was not a church member, but in his late teens he decided to attend an old-fashioned revival meeting at a Pentecostal church.

There he heard the gospel preached in power and conviction. He knew he needed to take a step of faith to follow God, but he was not quite ready. This started a period of soul-searching. After many sleepless nights and restless days, he returned to the church again. This time, when an altar call was given, he could resist no longer. Once he surrendered his life to Christ, a wave of peace flooded his soul, and he knew that his sins were forgiven and he was saved.

He decided to attend Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri, to prepare for the ministry. There he met his wife, Katherine, who also was preparing for ministry. E.T. Quanabush later enrolled in Southern California Bible School (now Vanguard University) and graduated in 1931. He was ordained by the Eastern District Council in Jamaica, Long Island, New York, on April 25, 1935. At that time, he was a pastor in Trenton, New Jersey. He also served as a pastor in Lansing and Detroit, Michigan; Paterson, New Jersey; and Columbus, Ohio. But for many years he served as an evangelist and was a well sought-after speaker in many places across the U.S.

E.T. and Katherine Quanabush became a team of nationally known evangelists, holding meetings in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, and in Europe. Before the Lord saved them, they each were engaged in radio work as musical entertainers, singing, and playing in jazz orchestras. Once they both were called into full-time ministry, they used these talents to play music, sing, and preach for the glory of God. One poster advertised, “The Quanabushes will render both vocal and instrumental selections with Italian piano accordion, Spanish guitar, Hawaiian tiple, and the slide trombone.” They also hosted radio broadcasts in various places where they lived and appeared on a local TV broadcast during the time they pastored in Detroit. In addition, they were guest speakers at college and university campuses, camp meetings, minister’s institutes, and district council meetings.

One pastor said, “They are great preachers and their singing and playing goes over well with the people.” “Not barnstormers,” he added, “but good, solid, forceful, constructive preachers. They get results.” Another pastor said, “You will not be disappointed.” Others made comments: “most effective crusade in this area,” “a crusade that spanned the generation and communication gap,” etc. In his lifetime, Quanabush held more than 300 evangelistic campaigns and crossed America over 65 times.

In 1957, the Quanabushes held a 112-day evangelistic tour through 13 European countries, with five weeks in Communist nations in Eastern Europe. That same year they held a 10-day meeting at First Assembly in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where pastor Elmer G. Bilton invited people of all denominations to hear Quanabush, whom he called a “dynamic personality who respects all classes and religions.”

During the 1970s, the Quanabushes held charismatic crusades. At a 10-day meeting in June 1972 at Brookdale Assembly in Minneapolis, the crusade included several well-known charismatics as speakers: Father Dennis Bennett, Pat Boone, Harald Bredesen, Ray Charles Jarman, and Father Robert Arrowsmith. In January 1973 he held an “Interdenominational Charismatic Clinic” at Evangel Tabernacle Assembly of God in Louisville, Kentucky. He spoke at other charismatic meetings as well.

In 1981, Quanabush was honored as Vanguard University’s alumnus of the year. His wife, Katherine, passed away in 1995, and E.T. Quanabush passed away in 2001 in Irvine, California, at the age of 91. The Quanabushes left a rich legacy of playing music, singing, and preaching the gospel around the globe, ministering in churches, camp meetings, and interdenominational gatherings.

In 1956, for Pentecost Sunday, Quanabush wrote an article comparing the work of the Holy Spirit to the sign of the heavenly dove in Scriptures and to the ringing of bells on the Day of Atonement. Looking at types and shadows in the Scriptures, the dove is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. He said the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost confirmed the atonement and resurrection of Christ.

Quanabush said, “Jesus lives today” is the message of the heavenly Dove and of the bells of Pentecost. He said this was the same message found in the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and on the Day of Pentecost.

Read more in “The Heavenly Dove and the Ringing Bells” on pages 8-9 of the May 20, 1956, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “This Is That Which Was Spoken by the Prophet,” by Atwood Foster

• “How to Receive the Pentecostal Baptism,” by R. M. Riggs

• “Speaking With Tongues and Prophesying,” 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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Clement Le Cossec: The French Pentecostal Pastor Who Became an Apostle to the Gypsies

Clement Le Cossec (far left), with a Gypsy family

This Week in AG History —March 30, 1969

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 01 April 2021

When Clement Le Cossec (1921-2001) was growing up in Brittany, a province in northwest France, his mother warned him, “Be careful! If you are not good, the [Roma, also known as] Gypsies will come and steal you away!” Frightened, Le Cossec promised his mother he would be good, so that he would never have to live with the Gypsies. Yet, God had a plan for him, and when this French pastor died in 2001, more than 2,000 Gypsies from across Europe attended his funeral, mourning the loss of the man who came to be known as “The Apostle to the Gypsies.” 

The March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared the fascinating story of Le Cossec and his ministry to the Gypsies. 

In 1952, while pastoring a church in Rennes, France, Le Cossec held a preaching campaign in Brest, near Normandy. At the end of one of the meetings a strongly built, dark man approached him and asked if the pastor would visit “us” at an encampment in the hedges alongside the road leading into town. When Le Cossec arrived, he found a caravan of trailers and a group of people with a story to tell. 

Two years earlier, one of the young men, Zino, had been given a terminal diagnosis. A traveling Pentecostal preacher prayed for him and he experienced healing. Upon hearing what had happened to Zino, his brother, Mandz, determined to tell the story of how God had power to heal in the name of Jesus. Since that time many of the Gypsies in this caravan had come to faith in Christ, but they had a serious problem. They heard that to be obedient to Christ they must be baptized. Mandz had gone from pastor to pastor asking for someone to come and baptize them but none were willing. 

Le Cossec invited them to come to a prayer meeting in a church member’s home. He opened the meeting by saying, “We are going to change the form of the meeting. We are not tied to a routine. We want to be sensitive to the direction of the Spirit. We are going to pray with our Gypsy brothers and sisters to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” After a brief meditation, the Gypsies knelt on the earthen floor and began to praise the Lord with all their hearts. Mandz suddenly lay on the floor, with his face down, and started to speak tongues. Many others shared his same experience. Le Cossec announced to the group, “The baptisms will be next week!” 

After the baptismal service, the police made the Gypsy caravan move from the area, and Le Cossec returned to his church in Rennes. One year later, in 1953, both Le Cossec and the Gypsies returned to Brest for a meeting. After the baptisms of the previous year, more than 100 Gypsies had come to know Christ, but Le Cossec could see that they were troubled. They shared with him, “Brother, on the road we have no one to lead meetings with us. Each evening when we stop, we light a fire and we gather around to sing and pray. If there is someone in the group, even a child, who knows how to read we ask him to read from the Bible. We need a servant of God.” Le Cossec replied, “That is impossible. There are no servants of God in Brittany who are free” to travel with you. 

Le Cossec felt he must help the Gypsies in some way. When the caravans came close to his church he would hold reading and Bible classes. But by 1958, more than 3,000 Gypsies had been converted, and Le Cossec could no longer be indifferent to this flock of sheep without a shepherd. A decision had to be made. He had a house and an assured salary and eight children who depended on him. The church in Rennes was doing well. Wouldn’t it be folly to leave a secure position and join his family to a caravan of traveling Gypsies? “There was a battle in my heart … but putting all my trust in the Lord, and refusing to count the cost, I threw myself into an adventure of faith … how very meaningful Christ’s words: ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.’” 

Eleven years later, in the 1969 Pentecostal Evangel articleLe Cossec shared with American readers how more than 20,000 Gypsies were serving the Lord. He told of their meetings in caravan conferences across Europe, including in Germany, where Hitler’s Nazi regime had exterminated tens of thousands of Gypsies in concentration camps. 

Le Cossec and his family traveled with the Gypsies through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and India. By his death at age 80, the “Apostle to the Gypsies” had traveled in more than 40 countries sharing the message that Gypsies, who had been “a rejected community,” have instead become “an elect community” in the Lord. On his tombstone, his friends and family engraved the words of Luke 14:22: “The servant said, ‘Master, what you have commanded has been done.’” 

Read more about Le Cossec’s Gypsy conference in Germany in “One People from Many Nations,” on page 16 of the March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel

Also featured in this issue:

• “Gifts of Healing,” by Howard Carter

• “How Can I Know God’s Will,” by J.W. Jepson

• “The Balm of Gratitude,” by Mel De Vries

And many more! 

Click here 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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William Upshaw’s Healing: Former Congressman and Presidential Candidate Discards Crutches After 59 Years

This Week in AG History — September 23, 1951

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 24 September 2020

U.S. Congressman William D. Upshaw (1866-1952), one of the best-known physically disabled American politicians of his era, was healed in a 1951 Pentecostal revival meeting.

Upshaw was a well-known figure in American politics. The Georgia Democrat served four terms in Congress (1919-1927) and was a leading proponent of the temperance movement. He even ran for U.S. President on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1932. His inability to walk without crutches did not prevent him from a life of public service.

Then, near the end of his life, something amazing happened. Upshaw testified that, at age 84, he was miraculously healed on Feb. 8, 1951, in a revival service conducted by Pentecostal evangelists William Branham and Ern Baxter. He was able to walk unassisted for the first time in 59 years, discarding his crutches. His testimony of healing was published 65 years ago in the Sept. 23, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Upshaw related the story of the accident that led to his spinal injury and years of disability: “When I was 18 years old I fell on a crosspiece in a wagon frame, fracturing my spine.” After the accident, he was bedridden for seven years, and then for the next 59 years he was able to walk with the aid of crutches.

He longed to be instantly healed. “Every time I prayed to be immediately healed,” he wrote, “the Lord seemed to say to me, ‘Not yet! I am going to do something through you in this condition that could not be done otherwise — leave it to Me!’”

Throughout the years, Upshaw made this his motto: “Let nothing discourage you — never give up.” And he didn’t.

In an era when people with physical disabilities often had very limited opportunities, he became a noted politician and public speaker. When he ran for U.S. President on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1932, he received 81,869 votes. Interestingly, he lost to Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was also physically disabled. While Roosevelt hid his inability to walk from the public, Upshaw did not.

Moving to California later in life, Upshaw became vice president and a faculty member of Linda Vista Bible College in San Diego. At age 72, he was ordained as a Baptist minister, and he continued to speak and preach across the nation.

In his 1951 testimony, Upshaw wrote that two years earlier he was healed of cancer on his face after Assemblies of God evangelist Wilbur Ogilvie had prayed for him. With his faith inspired, Upshaw continued to pray for faith to walk unassisted.

Upshaw noted that when he walked into the 1951 Pentecostal meeting where he was healed, he was “leaning on my crutches that had been my ‘buddies,’ my inseparable companions, for 59 of my 66 years as a cripple.” During concerted prayer at the end of the service, the evangelist declared: “the Congressman is healed.” Upshaw recalled that, after the service, “I walked out that night leaving my crutches on the platform, a song of deliverance ringing in my heart in happy consonance with the shouts of victory from those who thronged about me.”

After 66 years, William Upshaw was healed!

Read the article, “84-Year Old Cripple Discards Crutches,” on page 12 of the Sept. 23, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Ministry of Tears,” by Arne Vick

• “Tested but Triumphant,” by J. A. Synan

• “The General Council at a Glance”

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of 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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Esther Harvey: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionary to India

This Week in AG History — September 17, 1938

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 17 September 2020

Esther Bragg Harvey (1891-1986) served Jesus Christ and the people of India for 48 years before retiring as an Assemblies of God missionary in 1961. During her first nine years on the field she buried three children and her young husband. Yet when she passed away at age 95, hundreds of Indian children called her “Mama.”

Esther Bragg was not raised in a Christian home; yet at the age of 12 she witnessed the peace her grandfather experienced, singing a hymn as he passed from the earth. The young girl determined to find the God of her grandfather. When she asked about going to church her father forbade her to “get religion.” Bragg would sneak out of the house to attend church, often finding herself locked out of the house on her return. Her father finally told her she must choose between leaving the church or leaving her home. Heartbroken at the thought of leaving her mother, Bragg turned to God in prayer. The Lord gave her a vision of himself carrying His cross. She saw that her cross was much smaller than His and asked the Lord to forgive her and help her to carry whatever cross He laid on her back. Her father soon relented.

In her senior year of high school, Bragg became very ill. Pentecostal believers from a local mission prayed for her and she was healed. She began to attend Pentecostal services and in 1911 enrolled in a short-term Bible school in Norwalk, Ohio, where she met J. Roswell and Alice Flower. The couple led her into an experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and Harvey soon felt that God was leading her to mission work in India.

In obedience, Bragg set sail for India arriving in December 1913. Just a few months after her arrival, word came from a mission in Nawabganj that some American missionaries had to leave suddenly and left a 27-year-old former British soldier, James Harvey, alone to carry on the work. He had no money and no supplies and was in desperate need, traveling from village to village without even a pair of shoes. Bragg felt that she could be helpful and responded in answer to the call for help.

Unbeknownst to the other, both Esther Bragg and James Harvey wrote in their journals that they felt the Lord had brought them together. Soon “together” became the word that defined them, as they were married later that year (1914). Together they received some of the first credentials with the newly formed Assemblies of God, and together they traveled — holding meetings, helping others, encouraging workers, discipling new Christians, and building a school for boys. With joy they discovered that “together” would soon include another little life.

But their dreams were crushed and together they buried their first baby. Another new life promised hope, but a second small grave was dug next to the first. When a third pregnancy brought promise, Esther found herself also gripped with fear. However, God blessed them with a strong and healthy baby girl. A baby boy followed soon after but was soon very sickly and weak. Esther prayed, “Lord, I cannot and I will not give him up. I must keep him.” In her prayer, she was reminded of the commitment she made before she left for India: “I put it all on the altar — the things I know and the things I don’t know.” She realized losing children was one of the things she “didn’t know” and she had already laid them on the altar before they had even been born. Soon the heartbroken parents had three little graves near their mission house. Together James and Esther continued their work.

After bearing four babies in eight years, and burying three of them, the Harvey’s felt they had born well what had been laid on them. Then, in 1922, James became gravely ill. Esther nursed him for a month, while carrying on the school and mission work and caring for their 3-year-old daughter. In her exhaustion, she prayed for God to heal James quickly so she could get some rest. She felt the work was too great for her to carry alone and she could not go on waiting for James to get better. After two days and nights without sleep caring for her husband, Esther physically collapsed when she realized James had slipped away from the bonds of earth.

In her grief and weakness, Harvey fell into a deep depression. She could not pray and despaired that she had failed God in her short 29 years of life. But when she found herself too weak to do any praying on her own, others stepped in to pray for her. Soon she felt her strength return. A friend brought the young widow and her child into her home for rest. The presence of the Lord drew near and she felt resurrection life bring her back from the brink. Previously, she had leaned on her husband for strength, but now the single mother learned to trust the Lord’s strength to be sufficient to help her lead the school her husband had begun in Sharannagar.

Over the next 27 years, Esther established a church and oversaw the James Harvey Memorial School, building a missionary bungalow, sleeping quarters for workers, school buildings, and a dormitory for the orphan boys. In the Sept. 17, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, the editors published an SOS letter from Harvey detailing the destruction of the mission from flooding. They were in a critical place due to collapsing buildings, deadly cobras being washed up into their sleeping areas, and no money to buy food or help with rebuilding. Harvey wrote to the American Assemblies of God church members that, “we are in a desperate situation with not one cent of money to help ourselves or anyone else.” The editors encouraged the Evangel readers to give to “one of our largest mission stations in North India.”

God and the Assemblies of God responded to the need and the James Harvey Secondary School continues to this day in 2020.

After her retirement, Harvey traveled to American churches to share the needs of India. In her book, The Faithfulness of God, she looked back on her life and wrote, “I have had to go through many things, one sorrow after another, but I always found He giveth grace. When we are called to pass through the waters, He is there to hold us up.” She died at age 95, trusting in the God she began seeking at age 12. Even though she buried so many of her own children, her tombstone at Greenlawn Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri, calls her “Mama ji” – the name she was given by the children of northern India.

Read Esther Harvey’s request for help, “Calamity Strikes Sharannagar Mission,” on page 6 of the Sept. 17, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “For Jonathan’s Sake” by Carrie Judd Montgomery

• “Not By…But By” by F.M. Bellsmith

• “Are We Blind Also” by John L. Franklin

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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German Pentecostal Pioneer Martin Gensichen and His Theology of Humility

This Week in AG History — September 2, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 10 September 2020

Martin Gensichen (1879-1965), a prominent Pentecostal pioneer in Germany, encouraged Christians to preach and model humility. Gensichen came from a long line of German Lutheran ministers. For three centuries, men in his family served Lutheran pulpits in Germany. After Martin Gensichen accepted Christ in 1900 and sensed a call to the ministry, it was quite natural that he would serve in his ancestral church.

After graduation from seminary, Gensichen became pastor of a small Lutheran congregation in Germany. Gensichen was excited to be able to share what he called “simple faith.” Gensichen preached about sin, repentance, and being born again.

But things did not go well for the earnest young preacher. Gensichen’s parishioners became angry and stopped attending services after he preached about sin. He preached to empty benches week after week. He felt humiliated.

Gensichen was not a typical German Lutheran preacher. He had been influenced by the Holiness movement and had experienced a profound work of the Holy Spirit in his life in 1905. His father and grandfather also each had a personal encounter with God and identified with revival movements in their earlier generations. By 1908, Martin Gensichen had cast his lot with the Pentecostal church, which he deemed to be the revival movement of his generation.

Gensichen shared his testimony in an article published in the Sept. 8, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

In the article, Gensichen emphasized the importance of humility in the life of faith. He viewed his earlier humiliation in the Lutheran church, when the members left because he preached against sin, as a spiritual blessing.

God “wanted to break my heart,” Gensichen wrote. “No one can soar into the heights of faith unless they have first had a broken and a contrite heart. Humility is the soil in which faith can grow.”

When Gensichen joined the Pentecostal church, he realized that it would cost him dearly in his social circles. He recounted that in the early 20th century Pentecostals were “much despised,” even by many evangelicals in Germany. Instead of resenting the fact that his faith marginalized him from broader society, he embraced his low social position. He wrote, “We must learn to rejoice when we suffer or are despised.”

Humility, Gensichen believed, is not just necessary for individuals. It is necessary for nations, too. Before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Germany was flexing its military and economic might around the world. German leaders oversaw colonies and envisioned themselves as rivaling the British Empire. Gensichen was troubled by Germany’s imperial ambitions. Gensichen’s primary interest was in building God’s kingdom, rather than the German Empire. Furthermore, he believed that revival would not come to Germany unless it had been humbled.

Gensichen’s theology of humility caused him to reject movements that placed excessive pride in one’s own nation. He wrote, “God set me free from nationalism. I am neither German, nor American, nor English — I belong to heaven.”

Gensichen also applied this theology of humility to education. He identified himself as a “German theologian,” noting that he had studied for 20 years to master Greek and Hebrew. While affirming the value of education, he also noted that “Our intellect is much too small to comprehend the vastness of His love.”

The young Lutheran pastor who experienced humiliation because he wanted to preach “simple faith” became a prominent Pentecostal leader in Germany. He also witnessed the humiliation of his nation during two world wars, but he took joy in identifying his primarily allegiance as the Kingdom of heaven. His testimony continues to remind new generations that faith and humility go hand in hand.

Read the article by Martin Gensichen, “Honoring God by Simple Faith,” on pages 1, 8, and 9 of the Sept. 8, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Conditional Covenant to Heal His People,” by John Roach Straton

• “Standing for the Pentecostal Testimony,” by Jacob Miller

• “Report of Assemblies in Russia,” by Ivan Voronaev

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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Dr. Alexander Vazakas: Early Greek-American Pentecostal, Philosopher, Linguist

This Week in AG History — September 2, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 03 September 2020

Alexander Vazakas (1873-1965) began life in the Ottoman Empire, where his family suffered persecution on account of their evangelical faith. In 1902 he immigrated to America, where he became a linguist and philosopher. During the last years of his life, he served as a professor at Evangel College (now Evangel University) in Springfield, Missouri, and became well-known for melding his sharp mind with a passion for working with young people.

Vazakas played many roles during his life — persecuted religious minority, immigrant, academic, husband. But the common thread that connected these seemingly disparate roles was his deep Christian faith. His remarkable story was published in the Sept. 2, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Born into privilege, Vazakas was raised in a suburb of Thessalonica, in what is now Greece. His father was a practicing physician and rubbed shoulders with important people from around the world.

Everything changed when his father began to read a New Testament given to him by the British Consul. At the time, it was illegal to own a Bible. However, Vazakas’ father read the New Testament voraciously and ended up accepting Christ as his Savior. He wanted to share the good news of the gospel with others, so he invited his patients to his home, where he would read Scripture to them.

Greek Orthodox Church leaders heard about the elder Vazakas’ home Bible studies and were incensed. They viewed Vazakas’ activities as a threat to their religious authority. The Greek Orthodox leaders, who had a close relationship with the government, had Vazakas arrested. After several years of persecution, which included time in and out of prison, he was attacked by bandits and killed.

Alexander Vazakas was only 8 years old when his father died. He consoled himself by reading the book for which his father was willing to die. At first, reading the Bible only seemed to make things worse. “Tortured by feelings of wretchedness and unworthiness,” the Pentecostal Evangel article recounted, Vazakas “began to beat his head against the stones of a wall.” He wished to die. Then the extent to which Christ loved him began to dawn on the teenager. He surrendered his life to Christ, and he would never be the same.

The young convert shared his Christian faith wherever he went. Vazakas’ testimony was so powerful that even merchants and the occasional Orthodox priest or monk would gather and listen to him. In the 1890s, while sharing his testimony, “he found himself unable to speak except as the Holy Spirit gave utterance.” He began speaking in a language that he did not learn — an experience that he reckoned to be similar to what he read about in the Bible.

Vazakas was a brilliant young man. By age 12 he could speak six languages — Greek, Russian, German, French, Spanish, and Bulgarian. As a teenager, he worked as a language tutor. When he immigrated to the United States in 1902, he immediately enrolled at New York University, where he earned his B.A. (1904). He went on to earn additional degrees at Union Theological Seminary (B.D., 1906), Columbia University (M.A., 1911), and the University of Chicago (Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Humanities, 1927). His doctoral dissertation explored Greek language usage in the first 15 chapters of the Book of Acts. Between earning degrees, he also served as international secretary for the Y.M.C.A. for France and Greece.

The Greek academic taught for 27 years at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, where he served as head of the department of modern languages. After retiring, he taught for short periods at three Christian colleges — Bethany College (a Lutheran school in Lindsborg, Kansas), Kansas City College and Bible School (affiliated with the Church of God [Holiness]), and the Holiness Bible Institute (Florida). The degree to which he emphasized his Pentecostal testimony while at these non-Pentecostal schools is unknown.

Finally, in 1958, Vazakas moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he taught Philosophy and Greek at Evangel College. The 1962 Pentecostal Evangel article noted that “the flame ignited in his heart by the Holy Spirit in the 1890s is still burning brightly.” Vazakas continued teaching at Evangel until his death in 1965 at the age of 91.

What can we learn from the life of Alexander Vazakas? Early American Pentecostals came from remarkably diverse backgrounds. Many were immigrants, and some had their own Pentecostal experiences prior to the revivals at Topeka (1901) and Azusa Street (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, which are frequently viewed as the beginning of the Pentecostal movement. Although Vazakas was not a credentialed minister, he nevertheless spent his life in active ministry and impacted countless people with his gospel witness. Furthermore, Vazakas’ impressive academic achievements run counter to the common assumption that early Pentecostals were anti-intellectual. And Vazakas’ stamina — the fact that he taught until his death at age 91 — shows that elderly Spirit-empowered believers still have much to offer to younger generations.

One of Vazakas’ students at Evangel was a young man named George O. Wood. Wood, former general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, still recalls Vazakas’ classes and quotes him in sermons from time to time. Never underestimate the long-ranging impact of a substantive and anointed witness.

Read the article, “The Pentecostal Professor from Thessalonica,” on pages 6-7 of the Sept. 2, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Chapel at the Devil’s Pit,” by Don Argue

• “From Thorns to Diadems,” by Anna Berg

• “Blessed Brokenness,” by D. H. McDowell

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of 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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Lottie Riekehof and Assemblies of God Ministries to the Deaf

This Week in AG History — July 19, 1941

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 27 August 2020

Lottie Riekehof (1920-2020) was an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, author, and a pioneer in the field of sign language interpreting. She is also remembered for other ministry roles she filled in her almost 100 years of life.

Lottie Louise Riekehof was born in Germany on Aug. 13, 1920. She and her family emigrated to northern New Jersey in 1923 and settled in the town of Elizabeth.

In about 1945 she started working at Calvary Gospel Church in Washington, D.C., as the overseer of a home for Christian women and also assisted the church as a musician. She began learning ASL, a few signs a week, from a deaf woman she met at Calvary Church. She attended Gallaudet College in 1947-1948 and took ASL courses from Dr. Elizabeth Peet, who was considered one of the foremost experts on sign language at that time. This enabled Riekehof to become an interpreter and interpreter educator.

Riekehof earned a B.A. degree in 1951 at Central Bible College (CBC) in Springfield, Missouri, and served as dean of women for 21 years. During this time, she founded the CBC deaf program and trained both deaf college students and interpreters. She received an M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University, where she was engaged in teaching and research at the New York University Center for Research and Training in Deafness.

In 1970 she became dean of women and professor of deaf studies at Gallaudet College. She continued as dean of women at Gallaudet until the college abolished that position in 1974. She became the new coordinator for interpreter training for the American Sign Language program at Gallaudet and later served as department chair until her retirement in 1990.

Riekehof knew that resources for learning sign language were limited, and this led her to write her first book in 1961, called American Sign Language. This book was revised in 1963 with a new title, Talk to the Deaf. Starting in 1978, it was revised again and called The Joy of Signing. Countless hours were spent illustrating and designing the book so that sign language illustrations could help people learn to sign. The book includes a wide range of vocabulary, diagrams, the history of signing, and how to produce signs, etc. That book has sold over two million copies and is still in print. A video version, which includes nine hours of footage, was also produced. Supplemental instruction is also found in two Joy of Signing puzzle books she helped to create.

Much in demand as a seminar speaker and interpreter, Lottie Riekehof conducted workshops on sign language and deaf interpreting in various places in the U.S. as well as in Canada, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and other places. She was also selected as interpreter for special occasion in Washington, D.C., such as President Gerald Ford (in the oval office), Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, Mrs. Richard Nixon, and President Ronald Reagan (at his inauguration).

Riekehof was a long-time resident of Arlington, Virginia. She worked for many years with Linda Martin, an Assemblies of God pastor who is deaf. She and Linda were founding ministers for the Potomac Deaf Church at Arlington Assembly of God in Arlington, Virginia. Linda is the adoptive mother of 29 deaf children adopted from many countries. These children and now grandchildren all considered Lottie Riekehof as their grandmother. Lottie also was a member of Arlington Assembly of God for over 50 years. She served as an organist and pianist and also as a deacon. She passed away on Aug. 6, 2020, just one week short of her 100th birthday.

Riekehof wrote an inspiring report in the Evangel which highlighted Assemblies of God deaf camps in Augusta, Kansas, and Hartford City, Indiana. She described a typical day at camp that included everything from devotions (led by counselors trained in the use of sign language), chapel services, and educational classes to Christian living courses, crafts, and recreation.

The evening worship included “singing” using sign language, with personal testimonies also given in sign language. One lady who attended the camp in Indiana testified, “I learned here that I must be born again!” A woman from Kansas wanted to attend both the Kansas and Indiana camps because, as she put it, “I was afraid I would grow cold again.”

Read “Salvation for all the Camp” on pages 12-13 of the Aug. 29, 1954, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Receive Ye the Holy Ghost,” by J. Roswell Flower

• “Revival in Chile,” by Mrs. John C. Jackson

• “Joshua’s Last Campaign,” by E. S. Williams

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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