Category Archives: History

The Prosperity Gospel and Worldliness: A Warning from an Early Pentecostal Leader

GAston

W. T. Gaston, circa 1927

This Week in AG History — August 16, 1953

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 17 August 2017

Will the Pentecostal movement follow “the path of gradual surrender to carnal forces” like most Christian renewal movements before it? This question, posed by former General Superintendent W. T. Gaston (1925-1929) in the Aug. 16, 1953, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, remains strikingly relevant.

Gaston wrote that history’s “tragic lesson” is that a church’s solid foundation does not prevent corruption from “fleshly elements within.” He offered this warning at a time when certain media-savvy Pentecostal healing evangelists had been exposed for their ungodly lifestyles, but who continued to promote themselves and their unbiblical message that God guarantees financial prosperity to believers.

Gaston suggested, “If we are to have a future that is better or even comparable and worthy of our past, we will need to learn over again some of the lessons of yesterday.” One of the important lessons to rediscover, he wrote, was the importance of promoting “pure, undefiled” religion.

He recalled that many early 20th century Pentecostal pioneers were bi-vocational ministers, that often met in homes or rented buildings, and that most were not very impressive by the standards of the surrounding culture. However, they did not need worldly goods and accolades in order for the Holy Spirit to accomplish great things through their lives and ministries.

Gaston wrote that he witnessed an “utter disregard for poverty or wealth or station in life” in the early Pentecostal movement. Yet “those rugged pioneers,” he noted, “had something that made them attractive and convincing.” The contrast between the attitudes of the world and the early Pentecostals was striking. According to Gaston, early believers were “completely satisfied without the world’s glittering tinsel, and content to be the objects of its scornful hatred.”

Believers must carefully guard their hearts, Gaston warned, or face a dissipation of this consecration and sacrificial spirit. He noted, as an example, that some ministers in the 1950s seemed to “project themselves and their projects instead of promoting the common cause and sharing equally in the honors and sufferings of the common brotherhood.”

Gaston identified a love of money as a danger to the Pentecostal movement and an impediment to the gospel. We “must draw the line against all comers with a money complex,” he asserted, in order “to retain its good sense and religious balance.” He lamented that certain high-profile evangelists promised God’s blessings to those who would give money to their ministries. He wrote, “Ministers of the gospel who lay up treasure on earth while they preach that people should lay theirs up in heaven are neither consistent nor worthy.” Gaston suspected that the “selfless, lowly Jesus” would “refuse to go along” with such ministers.

Furthermore, Gaston was troubled by sensationalism promoted by some of the big-name preachers in his day. “Full-orbed religion throbs with sensation,” he wrote. However, he warned against “unbridled sensationalism,” which could easily bring “disillusionment and disintegration” to those who have not developed a strong faith. Gaston concluded with “a simple appeal for consistency and reality in our religious approach,” praying that the Pentecostal movement would “purge itself of practices or propaganda patterns which are not compatible with the spirit and letter of the New Testament.”

Gaston’s article offers several important lessons to 21st century Pentecostals. First, Pentecostals should carefully guard their hearts. History demonstrates that selfishness and worldliness tend to creep into the church, and that even Christian renewal movements can drift from their founding ideals. Second, early Pentecostalism grew amidst widespread scorn and persecution as believers joyfully embodied consecrated, holy living. Third, Pentecostals can avoid the dangers of extremism and sensationalism by being solidly grounded in Scripture and biblical values.

Read W. T. Gaston’s article, “Guarding our Priceless Heritage,” in the Aug. 16, 1953, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Eternity-Proof,” by Arne Vick

* “Sunday Schools around the World”

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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Faith for Miracles: Louie Stokes and the Revival in Argentina

StokesThis Week in AG History — August 13, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 8 June 2017

Fifty years ago, the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted some key events in the life of Argentina missionary Louie Stokes (1909-1989).

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Stokes graduated from Beulah Heights Bible Institute (which now is Southeastern University). After graduation, he became a teacher at the school for seven years. While teaching at Beulah Heights, he met Lillian Lalor, who later became his wife. Together they traveled in evangelistic work before serving as dean of men at Central Bible Institute (1938-1940). They were appointed missionaries to Cuba (1940-1949), Argentina (1949-1976), and Panama (1976-1978).

In Argentina, the Stokeses taught in a Bible institute and conducted a radio program in Buenos Aires called The Voice of Faith. Louie Stokes also held street meetings and published tracts as well as a publication called ID (Go Ye). A massive evangelistic-healing campaign was held in Buenos Aires in 1954 (featuring Evangelist Tommy Hicks) which resulted in thousands of converts. After this crusade, with much work, the Stokeses converted an old shoe factory into a church and had a fruitful ministry in Argentina for the next 22 years.

The Aug. 13, 1967, Pentecostal Evangel featured some jottings from Louie Stokes’ then 27 years of service in Latin America. One testimony he shared was of a convert named Angel Magliotto who, at age 9, received a miracle. Stokes described, “He had been born clubfooted and suffered much because of his physical condition.” His mother became a believer and brought her son to the altar for prayer. “As a symbol of her simple trust in God, under her arm she carried a package with tennis shoes for the boy,” said Stokes. As he prayed, the answer came as “those twisted feet received a healing touch and later became normal.” Angel later became a native pastor in La Riestra, Argentina.

In the article, Stokes also reported on three ladies from his church in Buenos Aires who felt led to carry the gospel message to the far northern province of Salta, a thousand miles from the capital. They settled in the railroad center of Güemes, a town of 30,000 people, and began preaching on the streets and witnessing from house to house. Stokes reported that “miracles and healings took place, and within a year they invited me to come and baptize 23 converts.” He also put the new church in order and gave Bible studies when he came to visit. Then, just two years later, Stokes baptized 17 more converts. From that ministry center the believers soon opened up three outstations and sent out workers to preach in different places. Regarding these three ladies, Stokes declared, “I marvel when I observe how the Holy Spirit takes and uses such unlikely vessels.”

In his concluding remarks, he emphasized, “As I have visited dozens of churches, two outstanding things have impressed me profoundly. One is that almost all of our churches are full, sometimes with people standing for lack of space.” He continued, “The other is the large percentage of young people in the Assemblies of God churches.” He saw this as a source of promise for the future of the work in Argentina.

Read “Anthology of a Missionary,” on pages 8 and 9 of the Aug. 13, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Christ’s Prayer For Unity,” by Theodore E. Gannon

• “David Recovers His Family,” by J. Bashford Bishop

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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50 Years Ago: Thousands in Liberia Accept Christ in Good News Crusade with Paul Olson

Olson Paul

Paul Olson preaches at the Monrovia crusade.

This Week in AG History — August 6, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 8 June 2017

Fifty years ago this week, the Pentecostal Evangel featured a report of a massive evangelistic campaign in Monrovia, Liberia, conducted by missionary evangelist Paul Olson. The article, “Somebody Loves You … Monrovia,” described Olson’s six-week Good News Crusade in the capital of Liberia.

Good News Crusades, launched in 1959, is an organized evangelism effort for the Assemblies of God to sponsor and organize large city-wide crusades in mission areas across the globe, with follow-up and church planting afterwards. Through these efforts, Assemblies of God missionaries and national ministers work together to help fulfill the Great Commission.

For the Monrovia crusade, Paul Olson worked closely with missionary Joseph Judah, evangelist Herris Heidenreich, and C. T. Sampson, the host pastor. Preparation started with printing 100,000 pamphlets announcing the outreach. These tracts, made possible through Light for the Lost and BGMC, were titled, Somebody Loves You. The day before the crusade started, a Speed the Light plane flew over the city and scattered 25,000 tracts over all the main streets of the city. Tracts were also distributed from house to house and in the city markets. Workers hung street banners across the main thoroughfares and put up posters on walls and telephone poles. The outreach was announced on television and radio and in all three of the city newspapers.

The president of Liberia, Dr. William V. S. Tubman, personally gave the missionaries use of the newly remodeled Antoinette Tubman Sports Stadium, which was named after his wife. During the following weeks, thousands of people crowded into the stadium to hear the gospel preaching of evangelist Paul Olson. Hundreds of Africans accepted Christ as Savior, and many were miraculously healed.

One night there was a special healing service and it was reported that over 2,000 children received healing. One outstanding miracle was the healing of an old man who had been a cripple for nine years. After his healing he was able to walk unassisted. This man walked back to the crusade every night for the next five weeks — a living testimony of God’s healing power. A special highlight of the crusade was the Kru choir which sang gospel songs in tribal dialect.

According to the article, “An uncompromising call was given to sinners, ‘Are you ashamed of your sins? Are you truly sorry for them? … Do you really want Christ to change your life?’” During the first three weeks, well over 10,000 came forward and prayed for salvation. Total attendance for all three weeks of the outdoor part of this crusade reached 110,000. On the closing night, 15,000 filled the stadium.

After closing the open-air crusade, the services were moved to a local Assemblies of God church and for three more weeks the revival services continued with several hundred people receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. At the close of the meeting, over 6,000 new converts received follow-up discipleship training.

Olson also held Good News Crusades in Cape Palmas, Liberia; Georgetown, Guyana; Freetown, Sierra Leone; and other places in Africa. Hal Herman, Morris Plotts, and other missionary evangelists held similar crusades in other parts of the globe during this same time frame, and missionary crusades like this still continue to be held.

Read “Somebody Loves You … Monrovia,” on pages 8 and 9 of the Aug. 6, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Days of Heaven Upon the Earth,” by Aaron A. Wilson

• “Samson’s Strength and Weakness,” by Howard Carter

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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Wesley Steelberg: The Christ’s Ambassadors and Revivaltime Pioneer who became General Superintendent

SteelbergThis Week in AG History — July 27, 1952

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 27 July 2017

“With deep regret we announce the passing of our beloved General Superintendent, Wesley R. Steelberg, on July 8, 1952.”  This statement in the July 27, 1952, Pentecostal Evangel informed the constituency of the Assemblies of God of the vacancy in the General Superintendent’s office left by the sudden death of 50-year-old Steelberg (1902-1952).

At the age of 16, Steelberg was known as “The Boy Preacher.”  Born to Methodist parents in 1902, Steelberg was converted at the age of 8 while attending a children’s meeting at the Pentecostal Assembly in Denver, Colorado. While praying at the altar, a mother knelt beside him and encouraged him to begin to ask the Lord to fill him with the Holy Spirit. God answered his prayer that night and a Pentecostal preacher was born.

Steelberg’s young body had been sorely twisted by the effects of spinal meningitis. When God healed him in the Pentecostal church both of his parents joined the movement and encouraged their young son to follow God’s call. Steelberg worked at various trades from carpentry to racecar mechanic but always studied the Bible in his spare time. He began speaking, first in his home assembly, and then branching out into other opportunities as pastors would open their pulpit to the young preacher.

In 1919, an evangelist invited him to join on an evangelistic tour of the Northwest. That same year he was ordained with the 5-year-old Assemblies of God. (Steelberg would later, briefly, turn in his credentials when it was decided that no one could be ordained until he was 21.) During this time, Steelberg struggled with physical ailments and only felt relief when he fully consecrated himself to be willing even to die if that was what the work required.

Later that same year, at age 17, Steelberg became associate pastor at Victoria Hall in Los Angeles where he met Ruth Fisher, the daughter of Elmer Fisher, pastor of the Upper Room Mission. They were married and to this marriage were born four children: Wesley Paul, Juanita, Esther, and Marvel.

The Steelberg’s were soon called to the pastorate of Stockton, California, where he conceived the idea of a great Pentecostal youth movement. He organized many “Pentecostal Ambassadors for Christ” groups throughout the Northern California-Nevada District which later fully developed into a national ministry called “Christ’s Ambassadors.”

Later pastoring in Sacramento and Philadelphia, the young preacher became known as someone who displayed a rare combination of faithfulness to the old paths of Pentecostalism while aggressively meeting the challenges of the days in which he lived. While pastoring in Philadelphia, he saw the value of radio preaching and began to develop this ministry.

It was during this time that Steelberg came to the attention of the larger body of the Assemblies of God and was elected to serve as an Executive Presbyter and then as superintendent of the New York-New Jersey District. At age 43, he was elected one of four assistant general superintendents and was given charge of the Christ’s Ambassador’s ministry at the general headquarters. Upon the retirement of E. S. Williams in 1949, Steelberg was elected general superintendent.

In this capacity, as in every other position he had filled, he gave himself unsparingly to the task. Having struggled throughout his life with a weakness in body, he often worked far beyond his natural strength. Though he was never heard to complain, the travel required for his ministry often took a great toll on him. In March of 1952, he suffered a severe attack which left him confined to his bed for several weeks.

Against the advice of others, Steelberg summoned enough strength to record a few more broadcasts of the new Revivaltime radio program, initiated to replace Williams’ former program, Sermons in Song. Under the conviction that he should act in faith and that God would meet him as he went ahead, Steelberg made the long journey in late May to Great Britain for the World Conference of Pentecostal Churches.

He stopped in Cardiff, Wales, on June 7 for a Revivaltime Radio Rally and literally “preached his heart out.” That night’s effort was the final one for the boy preacher. He never left his bed again until his death a month later. His predecessor, E. S. Williams, said of him, “Even when physical strength was unequal to the demands which his office made upon him, he gladly gave his all. God has seen his fidelity and has now promoted him to the Paradise above.”

Steelberg left behind an old song book that he used as a young teenager. In it he wrote his name, “Wesley Rowland Steelberg” and underneath “All for Jesus.”  He lived for only 50 years, but those years left a legacy to the Assemblies of God: the youth ministry, Christ’s Ambassadors; Revivaltime Radio; and the example of one who gave his last full measure of devotion to the cause of Christ.

Read the full article, “Brother Steelberg Is With the Lord,” on page 5 of the July 27, 1952, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“An Outstanding End-Time Sign,” by J. Narver Gortner

“Popularity or Adversity,” by Vance Havner

“Caleb, One of the Two,” by Hermes Broadhead

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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Zelma Argue: Pioneer Pentecostal Evangelist and Writer

Argue Zelma

A. H. Argue (right) standing with his son Watson (left) and daughter Zelma (center) in front of a car at the Ohio State Pentecostal Camp Meeting at Findlay, Ohio.

This Week in AG History — July 24, 1937

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

Zelma Argue (1900-1980) was the daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, and cousin of great preachers. When her father, A. H. Argue, was asked on an evangelistic campaign, “Where is (your wife)?” his answer came quickly, “Oh! She’s at home raising the preachers.” As an evangelist with her family, Zelma ably filled the pulpit, but it seems she was even more productive with her pen.

Upon her ordination and embarkment on the evangelistic trail in 1920, her family gave her a writing set and a portable typewriter. Over the next 60 years she put them to good use, penning eight books and writing for at least seven periodicals, including nearly 200 articles for the Pentecostal Evangel. Her first article, “Buying Gold,” appeared in the March 5, 1921, edition and her final article, “Threefold Purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit” was published on March 23, 1980, just two months after her death.

Argue wrote with a passion, challenging readers that the Christian life must carry an ever-increasing surrender to God’s service. While her words were oftentimes hard, she wrote in such a way that the resulting effect did not convey condemnation but conviction. Her common topics were intimacy with God, revival, prayer, worship, and the importance of soul-winning.

In an article in the July 24, 1937, Pentecostal Evangel, “The Next Towns Also: A Plea for Fresh Efforts at Direct Evangelism,” Argue examines the practical application of the words of Jesus in Mark 1:38, “Let us go into the next towns also…” In this passage, Christ is at the beginning of his ministry and has reached a zenith of popularity in Capernaum; so much so that He found the need to search for a solitary place, prompting Peter to remind Him that “all men seek for thee!”

Argue makes the proposition that Jesus was at a crisis point in ministry — one that we often face, as well. If He chose to stay in Capernaum it seemed that all would be going His way. If He chose to move on, He had no idea the reception He would face in another town. In addition, if He focused on others, what would happen to those whom He left behind? Argue states, “but in solitude He had heard from above. His answer was ready: ‘Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, for therefore came I forth.’ These last words seem to suggest that He had been pondering deeply and had only reached His conclusion by recalling what He must never forget: the goal set before Him.”

Argue illustrates the importance of consistently reaching out into new fields by comparing the church to a lively home where there are little children for whom to care. She argues that the home with babies is a much happier spot than a home where all the inhabitants were adults who “had little to do but sit around and disagree” with each other. She plainly states that an assembly with a stream of new blood constantly pouring into it was God’s best for a contented home church: “Fresh kindling catches fire better than burnt over wood!”

The genius of Argue’s writing is that she not only points out the need for reaching beyond current borders but offers practical solutions that can be easily and quickly implemented. She says that in “railroad stations and other public places I never see a box of Christian Science literature that I do not feel that we should have a box of Evangels.” She encourages churches to consider moving evening services into a tent for the summer or renting out a building in another part of town when having a guest speaker so that new ears are exposed to the gospel message.

Fifty years before they were widely popular, she encourages “Branch Sunday Schools” conducted in neighborhoods outside the church building to reach children and their families. Argue also admonishes churches to consider having meetings at different times of the day and week to reach those whose schedules or lifestyle is not conducive to Sunday or evening services. She also suggests that church take advantage of technological advances, like radio programming, to expand to new fields.

She pleads with readers that “not only foreign fields, but our next towns, our neighborhoods, our next-door neighbors, may present fields of opportunity … if someone will leave the well-tilled and well-reaped field, and search out those not yet reached, as Jesus Himself sought so faithfully to do.” His vision includes “the next town,” and ours must, also.

The Argue family continues to bless the Pentecostal movement with great Pentecostal preachers, such as David Argue (former Assemblies of God Executive Presbyter) and Don Argue (the first Pentecostal to serve as president of the National Association of Evangelicals). However, few would contest that some of the best preaching in the Argue family came through the pen of the lifelong spinster aunt, Zelma Argue.

Read the full article, “The Next Towns Also,” on page 2 of the July 24, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“Spiritual Promotion,” by W.E. Moody

“Pioneering in Nicaragua, by Melvin Hodges

“Healed of Pneumonia and Tuberculosis,” by Eunice Bailey

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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Cross-Cultural Ministry in 1922: Mexican Refugees in Texas Reach Out to African Americans

P23628

By the 1930s, Hispanic Assemblies of God congregations had been organized across America. This photo is of a girls Sunday school class, Templo Cristiano, San Antonio, Texas, in June 1930 or 1931.

This Week in AG History — July 8, 1922

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 5 July 2017

The small town of Edna, Texas, was home to an early Assemblies of God congregation of Mexican refugees, whose members engaged in evangelistic work to African-Americans, even while their own legal status was uncertain.

This fascinating story of cross-cultural ministry came about because of an emerging social crisis. Over one million refugees from the Mexican Revolution came to the United States between 1910 and 1920. Many of the newcomers lived in makeshift camps, rife with disease and crime, located along the borderlands. Overwhelmed by this humanitarian crisis, local residents often did not know how to react. Social and political tensions flared in Texas and elsewhere.

Assemblies of God churches and ministers, seeing the unfolding tragedy, committed themselves to offer physical and spiritual assistance to the newcomers. Many Mexican refugees accepted Christ and formed small Asambleas de Dios congregations across the borderlands.

American Assemblies of God leaders were able to assist refugees who faced significant challenges. In one instance, Isabel Flores, a prominent Pentecostal leader among the Mexican refugees, was arrested in May 1918 and incarcerated in the Jackson County jail in Edna. The reason for the arrest is unknown. An account published in 1966 in La Luz Apostolica simply stated, “It was wartime, and the officer did not speak Spanish and Isabel did not speak English.” Henry C. Ball, an Assemblies of God missionary to the Mexicans, came to the aid of Flores. Ball traveled to Edna, where he spoke with the authorities and secured the prisoner’s release.

This brush with the law demonstrated that it was advantageous for Mexican immigrants to work with Americans. Earlier that year, Flores and Ball together had organized the Latin American Conference (later renamed the Latin American District), which brought existing Mexican Pentecostal congregations into the Assemblies of God.

Ball’s status as a native-born American, however, did not prevent him from encountering problems. The Assemblies of God, like many other premillennial American evangelicals, took a pacifist position during World War I. Ball’s work with Hispanics and his church’s pacifism caused government officials to view him with suspicion. Ball was arrested in Brownsville, Texas, on suspicion of being a German spy, but he was soon released.

As superintendent of the Latin American Conference, Ball traveled extensively and ministered among the Mexican immigrants.

In 1922, Ball returned to Edna, Texas, where he found an unexpected surprise. In a July 8, 1922, article in the Pentecostal Evangel, Ball reported that the Hispanic congregation maintained an active outreach to African-Americans, despite the language barrier.

The congregation met for worship in a private home located about three miles from Edna. Ball noted that about 30 Mexicans gathered for worship in a large room, and that an additional group of African-Americans joined them. The African-Americans, Ball observed, “have learned to sing the Spanish songs with the Mexicans, even though they know very little Spanish.”

Ball stated that the African-Americans “are anxious to hear Pentecost preached in their own language.” He lamented that “a white man could hardly preach to them in this part of the country,” presumably referring to Jim Crow laws that prevented whites and blacks from mixing.

The Mexican refugees could have used their own plight as an excuse to keep to themselves and to concentrate on building up their own community. But this marginalized group instead reached out to others who were likewise excluded from the benefits of mainstream American culture. Instead of dwelling on what they could not do, they found an area of ministry in which they had an advantage over white Americans. The Mexican immigrants were not subject to Jim Crow laws and could freely minister to African-Americans. When the Mexican immigrants sought to share God’s love with others, their seeming cultural disadvantage became an advantage.

Read the article by H. C. Ball, “The Work Prospering on the Mexican Border,” on page 13 of the July 8, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Whose Faith Follow: Important Lessons Learned from a Pentecostal Revival [Irvingites] of Nearly a Hundred Years Ago,” by A. E. Saxby

* “Very Fine Needlework,” by Grace E. Thompson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Read about the arrests of Isabel Flores and H. C. Ball in “Historia de los Primeros 50 Años de las Asambleas de Dios Latinas,” on pages 2 and 12 of the April 1966 issue of La Luz Apostolica.

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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Hélène Biolley’s Dining Room, a Parrot, and the Origins of French Pentecostalism

LeCossec1

By the 1950s, Assemblies of God congregations were scattered across France. Here, French Assemblies of God pastor Clement Le Cossec is standing in front of the Assembly of God, Rennes, France, circa 1950.

This Week in AG History — June 30, 1974

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 29 June 2017

Hélène Biolley (1854-1947), a highly educated Swiss linguist, was a catalyst to the formation of the Pentecostal movement in France. In 1974, Assemblies of God missionary R. Kenneth Ware wrote a Pentecostal Evangel article about Biolley’s influence, noting that the French Pentecostal revival started in her dining room. Humorously, he also remembered her quipping that the first Pentecostal “martyr” in France was a parrot!

Biolley was part of the Coeurs purs (Pure Heart) movement — a revival in 19th century Switzerland that encouraged Christians to examine their motives and cleanse their hearts from all wickedness. Biolley coupled this motivation toward inner holiness with social action, becoming active in the Temperance movement, which sought to rescue people from the destructiveness of alcohol.

Biolley moved to France in 1880 to work with a Temperance organization called the French Blue Cross Society. She settled in the harbor city of Le Havre, located on the English Channel, where in 1896 she opened a small Christian hotel and restaurant, Ruban Bleu. The establishment became a center for Temperance meetings, prayer services, and gospel outreach. According to Ware, “She served good meals but without alcoholic drinks, rented clean rooms, and talked about Jesus.”

Many missionaries and evangelists, including those from England, stayed at Ruban Bleu. In 1909, an Anglican vicar, Alexander Boddy, visited and testified about his baptism in the Holy Spirit. She was curious and wanted to learn more. She began inviting other Pentecostals, including Smith Wigglesworth and Gerrit R. Polman, to preach at Ruban Bleu. The dining room of Ruban Bleu became an important early Pentecostal ministry center in France.

Biolley became well known among missionaries for her linguistic skills. She provided French lessons in addition to room and board. Many missionaries headed to French-speaking African colonies first took language lessons from Biolley.

The Pentecostal movement remained relatively small in France until the early 1930s. For years Biolley had prayed that God would send missionaries to France. Her prayers were answered when Douglas Scott, an Englishman who felt a call to minister in Congo, arrived at Ruban Bleu in 1927. Biolley invited Scott to minister at Ruban Bleu. He prayed and preached with power, and several people were miraculously healed.

Biolley asked Scott to devote six months at her mission before going to the Congo. He agreed and returned to Le Havre in 1930, ultimately devoting the rest of his life to spreading the gospel across France. Scott sparked a significant Pentecostal revival and helped bring cohesiveness to the movement through the organization of the Assemblies of God of France in 1932.

The Pentecostal movement in France grew significantly during Scott’s 37 years of ministry in the country. However, it was not without opposition. Biolley made light of these difficulties, recounting the story of the first French Pentecostal “martyr” – a parrot which had learned many Scripture verses and slogans opposing alcohol consumption. A drunken sailor at a neighboring hotel and restaurant – apparently feeling conviction – killed the parrot to rid himself of the bothersome bird. In Biolley’s estimation, it was a “feathered martyr”!

When Hélène Biolley followed God’s call in 1880 to move to a new country and to start a Christian ministry center, she was a single woman in her twenties. Few people imagined that her ministry would amount to much. But in God’s providence, she was in the right place at the right time. Her linguistic skills, coupled with her hotel and restaurant, proved to be an important crossroads for visiting missionaries and evangelists. She prayed faithfully for 20 years for God to send Pentecostal missionaries to France. In her seventies, her prayers were answered, and revival sprang forth from the spiritual foundation that she had helped to lay.

Read R. Kenneth Ware’s article about Hélène Biolley, “Revival Started in the Dining Room,” on page 9 of the June 30, 1974, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Churches in Eastern Europe,” by Thomas F. Zimmerman

* “On Target with Mission France,” by Bill 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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