Category Archives: Missions

Despite Opposition, Assemblies of God Founders Supported Missionaries AND Famine Relief

TWApril17_1400

Alfred and Myrtle Blakeney, Assemblies of God missionaries to India, and their five children (1920)

This Week in AG History — April 16, 1921

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 14 April 2016

The Assemblies of God, in its first decade, provided significant financial resources to the alleviation of hunger in other nations. A devastating famine hit China in 1920 and 1921, causing the deaths of an estimated half million people. This tragedy inspired Assemblies of God leaders to make an extended appeal for donations for Chinese famine relief. This decision was not without controversy.

J. Roswell Flower, Assemblies of God Missions Treasurer, in the April 16, 1921, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, recounted that church leaders expressed concern that an appeal for famine relief would likely decrease giving to support missionaries already on the field.  This fear was realized, and Flower reported that total missions giving did not increase in the first four months of the year. Donors shifted from supporting missionaries to famine relief. Missionaries were in danger of not receiving sufficient monetary support on which to live.

Despite this challenging financial situation, Flower defended the appeal for famine relief. He explained, “The famine need was so great…that we took the risk with such good results as you have seen.” To make up for the decrease in giving toward missionaries, Flower asked readers to contribute additional offerings.

How did Assemblies of God members respond to the challenge to expand their giving to include support for both missionaries and famine relief?

The 1921 General Council minutes reported that missions giving increased by almost 19 percent. The Foreign Missions Department received a record $107,953.55 during the fiscal year ending August 1921. Of that total, almost 10 percent ($10,383.12) was given to Chinese famine relief.

Read the article, “The Famine in China,” by J. Roswell Flower on page 12 of the April 16, 1921, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

•  “Looking from the Top,” by Christine Peirce

• “Tithes and Offerings,” by Elizabeth Sisson

• “Unity,” by C. W. Doney

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Missions

Budding Assemblies of God Missionary, Paul Weidman, Jr., Died in Africa at Age 7

Weidmans_1400

Pastor Quaysom and missionaries Virginia and Paul Weidman, Accra, Gold Coast, 1951.


This Week in AG History — March 26, 1938

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 24 March 2016

Paul and Virginia Weidman, pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to Africa, traveled in 1937 to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), where they worked among the Mossi people. One of their sons, Paul, Jr., learned the Mossi language quickly and was able to interpret for his missionary father. The Mossi loved this little boy, who played with their children and who became a bridge across the cultural and linguistic divides.

Little Paul’s budding missionary career was cut short when he contracted blackwater fever and died on February 8, 1938. Paul, Jr., who was just under seven years of age, was buried in a dirt cemetery near the town of Tenkodogo.

Seventy-eight years ago, the March 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared Virginia Weidman’s account of this tragedy:

“Saturday afternoon he lay in his bed and sang with all his heart (in the More language) “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus.” Then he preached, as he so often did, saying, “Do not follow Satan’s road but follow God’s road, for it alone leads to heaven through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In a short time extreme pain started. How we did call unto God for deliverance; yet He gave us grace to say, “Not my will but Thine be done.” What a ray of sunshine he has been in our home! Only God can fill the vacancy. In times like this we are made to know that our Redeemer liveth.”

Paul Jr.’s death was the first of several tragedies to befall the Weidmans as they pioneered the Assemblies of God in Upper Volta. Was this suffering worth it? Forty years later the Weidmans, who had retired from mission work, returned to Burkina Faso for a visit. An elderly Mossi pastor, who decades earlier had witnessed the death of Paul Jr., assured them, “It was not in vain, missionary. There are now churches everywhere.”

Today, the Assemblies of God is the largest Protestant denomination in Burkina Faso, with more than 1,204,000 members and over 3,600 churches and preaching points.

Read the article, “Little One Called Home,” by Virginia Weidman on page 7 of the March 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

General Superintendent George O. Wood, the nephew of Paul and Virginia Weidman, recounted the story of their missionary work in Burkina Faso in the 2007 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage, which is accessible by clicking here.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Not Debarred from our Priestly Service,” by T. J. Jones

• “Setting the Oppressed Free,” by Arthur W. Frodsham

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

1 Comment

Filed under History, Missions

The Assemblies of God Developed its Missionary Identity Amidst War, Famine, and Economic Privation

 

TWMarch17_1400

A group of Assemblies of God church leaders and missionaries at the 1919 General Council, Chicago, Illinois. J. Roswell Flower is pictured in the back row on the right.

This Week in AG History — March 20, 1920

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 17 March 2016

In the aftermath of the First World War (1914-1918), famine, disease, and economic privation compounded the human suffering that had been inflicted by warring soldiers. In the midst of the desperate global situation, the Assemblies of God launched and developed its fledgling missionary program.

Assemblies of God missionaries brought the gospel around the world, coupled in many instances with relief for the suffering. Assemblies of God schools and orphanages began in Egypt, India, China, and elsewhere. Every week, the Pentecostal Evangel published missionary letters that shared difficulties and triumphs experienced while sharing the gospel in word and deed around the world.

The March 20, 1920, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel published a column by Missions Secretary J. Roswell Flower, which he characterized as “a heart to heart talk,” about the importance of financially supporting AG missionaries.

In 1920, the Assemblies of God had approximately 200 men and women on its foreign missions roster. Flower noted that he had 40 additional applications for missionary endorsement on his desk. He wrote, “our best young men and young women are gladly offering themselves to go to the lands beyond the seas.”

A lack of funding threatened to keep these budding missionaries from their calling. Flower asked readers to have the faith to provide for these new missionaries, noting that missions is central to the identity of the Assemblies of God. Flower wrote, “Anyone who has had the privilege of observing the work of the Spirit as some of us have had, knows that the Pentecostal Movement is pre-eminently a missionary movement. With the first outpouring of the Spirit came an overwhelming desire to tell the whole world that Jesus is coming, with the results that many offered themselves for the foreign fields, and were sent on their mission with glad hallelujahs.”

Flower asked readers, “Shall we accept them [the new missionaries]…or shall we hold them back?” To Flower, the answer was clear — Pentecostals could not choose to ignore missions without denying their own identity. He explained, “the only thing we can do consistently with our faith and testimony is to go forward — not retrench — [and to] meet the need and care for our beloved missionaries.”

Read the article by J. Roswell Flower, “A Heart to Heart Talk,” on page 12 of the March 20, 1920, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Land Ahead!” by Elizabeth Sisson

• “Overcoming the World, the Flesh and the Devil,” by A. G. Ward

• “Great Outpouring of the Spirit at Winnipeg,” by A. H. Argue

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

 Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Missions

She Listened to the Voice of God: Grace Agar, Linguist and Missionary to China

Agar

Grace Agar at Bethany Retirement Home, Lakeland, Florida, circa 1962

This Week in AG History — March 12, 1967

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 10 March 2016

Grace Agar (1877-1966) was in high school when she sensed God telling her to prepare for missions work. A native of San Francisco, California, she followed God’s call and ended up on the other side of the Pacific, where she became an Assemblies of God missionary to China and a noted linguist.

Before she left America, however, Agar spent seven years in college, preparing for her future overseas. She graduated from Mills College (Oakland, California), a Christian school for women, and also studied at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, Illinois) and at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Bible School (Nyack, New York).

Finally, in 1902, the time came for Agar to set sail for China. The attractive, 25-year-old single female missionary watched her family and friends fade from sight as her boat left the harbor. Her heart sank as she realized, “I am all alone.” God whispered to her heart, just like when He called her as a missionary, and He reassured her, “I am here. I will never leave you.”

Agar excelled in school, but learning to listen to the voice of God was one of the most valuable disciplines she ever learned. In China, she continued her studies, learning the Chinese language and writing a widely-distributed book, Mandarin Tones Made Easy (1933). She also continued to draw close to the Lord in prayer and Bible study.

Her prayers and Bible teaching were very fruitful. Agar’s biography, Dark is the Land (Gospel Publishing House, 1962), noted that numerous people along the Chinese-Tibetan border accepted Christ after hearing her compelling preaching and witnessing that God answered her prayers.

Agar initially served as a missionary with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. But after she was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1912, she identified with the Pentecostal movement and spent the next decade without any denominational backing. In 1922, she transferred to the Assemblies of God, which already supported numerous missionaries in China.

The communist takeover of China forced Agar in 1937 to flee the nation where she had devoted 35 years of her life. She returned to America to a hero’s welcome. After she passed away, the March 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel carried a tribute to Agar. “Certainly heaven has been enriched by the presence of this missionary heroine,” the obituary concluded, “who has now answered her Lord’s final call.”

Read the article, “Missionary Heroine with the Lord,” on page 28 of the March 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue

  • “Unfeigned Faith,” by C. M. Ward
  • “Little Feet, What Path?” by E. E. Krogstad
  • “Sowing and Reaping in Navaholand,” by Eugene and Marian Herd

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Missions

Giving out of their Poverty: Florence Steidel and the Lepers of Liberia

TW_Steidel_1400
This Week in AG History — March 4, 1951

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 3 March 2016

Sixty-five years ago, an Assemblies of God congregation of lepers in New Hope Town, Liberia, caught the vision of missions and desired to help those who were less fortunate than themselves. On Christmas Eve 1950, they took up an offering of $2.65, which they sent to the Leper Home of Uska Bazaar in North India.

Assemblies of God missionary Florence Steidel (1897-1962) wrote a letter recounting the sacrificial spirit of the congregation. The letter, published in the March 4, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, explained that the offering was quite generous, given the meager wages earned by the lepers (seven to ten cents per day).

Steidel had founded New Hope Town in 1947 with $100 and the help of lepers. Tribal chiefs gave her 350 acres of land upon which she could build a town for people with the skin-eating disease who were unwelcome in their own communities. Steidel, a nurse who came to the mission field in 1935, took a class in elementary building construction. She rallied those with leprosy to work alongside her in building roads and houses. From 1947 until 1962, she oversaw the construction of a well-laid out town, including 70 permanent buildings and six main streets.

While the lepers were diseased, they were not helpless. Steidel established a school to train them to become carpenters, weavers, brick makers, and clinic workers. They also planted 2,500 rubber trees, which helped the town to become economically self-sufficient.

Steidel realized that economic poverty has roots in poor spiritual and social conditions, which she worked to ameliorate. And only four years after establishing New Hope Town, its residents were already giving of their very limited resources to help others.

Steidel is remembered as one of the missionary heroes of the Assemblies of God. She melded compassion with proclamation of the gospel. Her work among the lepers helped to give credibility and strength to the Assemblies of God in Liberia.

Read the article by Florence Steidel, “I Still Have Strong,” in the March 4, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue

• “Pentecost’s Lost Coin,” by Paul Gaston

• “Our Greatest Need,” by Robert J. Wells

• “Words of Life,” by Wesley R. Steelberg

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

1 Comment

Filed under History, Missions

The Anglican-turned-Pentecostal Missionary Who Became the Primary Shaper of Early Assemblies of God Missiology

ALuce_1400
This Week in AG History — January 22, 1921

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 21 January 2016

Alice E. Luce (1873-1955), a British-born Anglican missionary, learned of the emerging Pentecostal movement when she was engaged in ministry in India. After hearing about two women in India who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, she visited them in order to learn more. After Luce became convinced that their experience was biblical, she also was Spirit-baptized in about 1910. Luce identified with the Pentecostal movement and, in 1915, she transferred her ordination to the Assemblies of God.

Luce became the most prominent missiologist (theologian of missions) in the Assemblies of God in its early decades. Luce authored a series of three articles, titled “Paul’s Missionary Methods,” published in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1921. In these articles, Luce endeavored to show that the Apostle Paul taught that missionaries should aim to build indigenous churches — churches that were self-supporting, self-propagating, and self-governing. Importantly, this indigenous church principle differed from the majority of mainline Christian missions agencies, which equated Westernization with Christianization. The Apostle Paul, according to Luce, preached Christ, not culture.

The Pentecostal Evangel editor commended Luce as “an experienced missionary” who wrote the articles “with the express purpose of helping our Pentecostal missionaries to get a clear vision of Paul’s methods of evangelization.” The editor furthermore stated that these methods were applicable not just overseas, but also “to every town and community and district in the homeland.” The editor also affirmed the centrality of missions in the young Pentecostal movement: “The Pentecostal people are peculiarly missionary, and the growth of the Pentecostal movement is due largely to this missionary spirit.”

It is well known that missions has been a primary focus of the Assemblies of God since its earliest years. Many may not realize, however, that it was a female Anglican-turned-Pentecostal missionary, Alice Luce, who was the primary shaper of early Assemblies of God missiology.

Read the series of three articles by Alice E. Luce, “Paul’s Missionary Methods,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel (click the following links):

January 8, 1921 (pages 6-7).

January 22, 1921 (pages 6 and 11).

February 5, 1921 (pages 6-7).

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Call to Prayer,” by J. W. Welch

* “Some Last Things,” by J. Narver Gortner

And many more!

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Missions

Barney Moore: Saved in a Methodist Revival with Signs and Wonders in 1901

P22706

Barney and Mary Moore, circa 1919


This Week in AG History — January 17, 1931

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 14 January 2016

When Barney S. Moore (1874-1956) converted to Christ in 1901, it was during a revival with signs and wonders in a Methodist church. His testimony, published in the January 17, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, recounted that the Methodist missionary at the revival “was preaching nearly everything that is now preached in Pentecost.”

Moore recalled that, as the congregation was in quiet prayer, the “heavens opened and a rushing mighty wind” filled the small Methodist church. About one-third of the congregation fell to the ground, overwhelmed by God’s glory and the power of the Holy Spirit. Moore experienced something unexpected — he began speaking in a language he had not learned. At first the pastor was uncertain how to respond to the revival and the gift of tongues. But they soon realized they had experienced something akin to the spiritual outpouring in the second chapter of Acts. At the end of the revival, Moore counted 85 people who had decided to repent of their sins and follow Christ.

At the encouragement of his pastor, Moore attended Taylor University (Upland, Indiana) and studied for the ministry. At his first pastorate, in Urbana, Illinois, in 1904, the power of God fell again. During the revival, he wrote, a lady in his church spoke in tongues she had not learned, which Moore deemed to be classical Hebrew and Latin.

Moore was ordained in 1906 by the Metropolitan Church Association, a small Holiness denomination. Before long he heard about the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, which had become a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement. He immediately recognized the similarity between his own spiritual experiences and what was happening at the Azusa Street Revival. He cast his lot with the Pentecostals.

In 1914, Moore and his wife, Mary, followed God’s call to serve as missionaries in Japan. They established a thriving mission and, in 1918, affiliated with the Assemblies of God. When a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 1923, devastating Yokohama and Tokyo and killing 140,000 people, the Moores turned their efforts toward relief work. Moore wrote a widely-distributed book, The Japanese Disaster: or the World’s Greatest Earthquake (1924), and spent years raising money to help the suffering Japanese people.

The testimony of Barney Moore demonstrates that early Pentecostals did not emerge in a vacuum. They were heirs to earlier revival traditions, including those in Methodist and Holiness churches. Moore was careful to document that his experience of speaking in tongues came before the broader Pentecostal movement came into being. His story also shows that early Pentecostals, when confronted by human suffering, were among those who demonstrated Christ’s love not just in word, but in deed.

Read Barney Moore’s article, “Glorious Miracles in the Twentieth Century,” on pages 2-3 of the January 17, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “The Gift of Faith,” by Donald Gee
• “Evidences of God’s Grace in Japan,” by Jessie Wengler
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

1 Comment

Filed under History, Missions, Spirituality