Category Archives: Missions

John and Cuba Hall: Assemblies of God Missionaries and Linguists in Upper Volta

John Cuba Hall_1400

John and Cuba Hall with their four children; circa 1956. (L-r): James, Cuba, Betty Ann, Evelyn, John, and David Hall.

This Week in AG History — August 2, 1936

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 22 August 2019

John F. Hall (1906 – 1984), Assemblies of God missionary, Bible translator, and teacher, was born in New Jersey on April 15, 1906, the same day William Seymour opened his mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The Pentecostal revival sparked in that mission would introduce Hall to a power that would carry him through more than 50 years of ministry in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Togo.

At the age of 13, Hall responded to his Baptist pastor’s appeal to accept Christ at the close of a Sunday School lesson. The next year, Emil Sywulka of the African Inland Mission came to speak at their church. The young teen responded to a call from God to African missions. After graduating high school, he attended Wheaton College, where he associated with the children of missionaries. From them he learned the side of missionary life which he had not heard from church platforms. He became more aware of the hardships that accompany missions work but was even more determined to face difficulties to fulfill the call on his life.

At Wheaton, Hall majored in French and took extra courses in medicine. He graduated and set sail for Paris to study practical French before proceeding to Africa. In June 1931, he arrived in Minna, Nigeria, as a missionary with the Sudan Interior Mission.

While stationed in Niger Colony, French West Africa, he met Assemblies of God missionaries at Ouagadougou and Tenkodogo, Upper Volta. From this friendship, Hall became convinced that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a scriptural experience. He developed a desire to experience the fullness of the power of God. He also enjoyed the company of one of the Pentecostal missionaries, Miss Cuba Hill. Hill, a graduate of Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University), had pioneered and pastored two churches in California before receiving appointment in Upper Volta. They married in November 1935 and returned to the United States for furlough.

While traveling to share their vision for Africa, John and Cuba visited Berean Bible Institute, an AG school in San Diego. While ministering there, John prayed with a boy who wanted to receive Christ and experience the baptism in the Spirit. John felt deep in his heart that he was unable to lead the boy into an experience through which he had not yet passed. The next morning, Hall requested prayer from the students that God would fill him with the Spirit.

Hall spent much of the remainder of his time at the school in the prayer room, feeling keenly that he could not go on without the fulness of the power of God. One night they asked him to speak in the service but he was so hungry for the fulness of the Spirit that he asked to tarry in the prayer room rather than be a speaker. Finally, on the last night of their visit, Hall found himself flat on his back in the prayer room, exhausted from prolonged intercession, yet determined to seek God. That evening the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in a way he had never experienced. He later recounted, “There was such a restful feeling from head to foot. How wonderful to be wholly filled with the Lord’s Spirit and have him praise our Lord Jesus Christ in another language … then came a burden for souls and the tears rolled down my cheeks, behind my ears, and dropped on the floor … then came singing in the Spirit … after this I arose with the joy of the Lord flooding my being. Bro Harriss looked so good to me that I picked him up, kissed him with joy, and praised the Lord. We began singing ‘This is Like Heaven to Me’ and IT WAS!”

Eighty-three years ago this week, the Aug. 22, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel announced the AG missionary appointment of John F. Hall, joining his wife, Cuba, as “an experienced missionary” who “just a few months ago” was “graciously filled” with the Spirit in California.

Together, John and Cuba Hall served God faithfully in Africa for five decades. They spearheaded the translation of the entire Bible into the Mossi language, helping to create the written text of the language itself, reproducing book after book on mimeograph machine. During this work, he personally typed the Bible six times.

God blessed the Halls with five children. Their son, Billie, died of dysentery in Upper Volta at just 6 months of age. They carried on in spirit of their grief, trusting God for the health and well-being of their other children. Cuba later said, “The Africans lose so many children to death that our experience allowed us to identify with them as in no other manner.” The other four children, Evelyn, David, James, and Betty grew up in Africa and served God as adults in world and home missions.

Read more about the Hall’s missionary appointment on page 9 of the Aug. 22, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Home Atmosphere,” by Alice Reynold Flower

• “God Works,” by Zelma Argue

• “Can We Learn Anything from a Wasp,” by J. Narver Gortner

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, History, Biography

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

Paul Olson preaches at the Monrovia crusade.

This Week in AG History — August 6, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 8 August 2019

Fifty-two 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

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Missions

William Fetler, the Welsh Revival, and Early Russian Pentecostalism

This Week in AG History — July 22, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 25 July 2019

St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire, was in the midst of social turmoil in the 1910s. A decade of civil unrest and strikes, followed by the communist revolution, toppled the ruling czar. Political assassinations and mass uprisings became commonplace. Compounding these problems, the First World War led to high prices and a scarcity of food and other consumer goods. It was into this chaotic situation that William Fetler, a Latvian Baptist pastor, became a Pentecostal pioneer in the Russian capital city.

William Fetler (1883-1957), born in Latvia, was the son of a Baptist pastor. As a young man he worked as an interpreter and bookkeeper in the Latvian capital of Riga. He was quite sharp and had mastered seven languages, four of which he could speak fluently. He felt a call to the ministry and enrolled at Spurgeon’s College, the ministerial training school in London founded by noted Baptist Calvinist Charles H. Spurgeon.

Fetler was profoundly touched by the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) during his time at Spurgeon’s College. The Welsh Revival, which lasted only for about a year, resulted in over 100,000 converts to Christ. The revival, which included enthusiastic worship and miracles, left a lasting imprint on the religious landscape of Wales. Evan Roberts, the primary leader in the Welsh Revival, was asked by the Spurgeon’s College principal if he had a message for the students. Roberts replied, “Tell them to live near to God. That is the best life — near to God.”

William Fetler took that message to heart and was never the same. He felt a great burden to see revival in Russia and Latvia. He would spend the rest of his life working to see Latvians and Russians come to Christ. After graduating with honors in 1907, he moved to St. Petersburg. He found a ready audience with nobility who were already believers, including Princess Lieven, Baron Nicolay, Madam Tchertkoff, and others. His impassioned preaching in multiple languages attracted large audiences. He raised money for the construction of a large “Gospel House” in St. Petersburg.

The Welsh Revival fed into the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), which was a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement. Fetler rejoiced at the news of this latest spiritual outpouring. What had been somewhat localized in the Welsh Revival became a worldwide movement in Pentecostalism. Fetler maintained his Baptist identity and also worked within the Pentecostal movement and became a regular speaker at Pentecostal conferences across Europe.

Events in Russia overtook Fetler’s St. Petersburg ministry. Government officials viewed him with suspicion and kicked him out of Russia in 1912. Fetler recounted persecution in Russia, as well as healings, visions, and miracles he witnessed in an article published in 1916 in the Weekly Evangel. He moved back to his native Latvia, where he led a thriving congregation. Fetler, possibly the best-known Latvian pastor in the West, wrote a book about his life experiences under the pen name Basil Malof. Fetler, along with his wife and their 13 musically-gifted children, became legendary figures in Latvian church history. Sensing that war was imminent, Fetler gathered his family and moved to America in 1939. He founded the Russian Bible Society in 1944 and spent the rest of his life advocating on behalf of Eastern European Christians, raising money for Bibles, missions, and relief.

The testimony of William Fetler is a reminder that Pentecostalism has deep roots in Europe. Fetler melded his training at Spurgeon’s College in London with the Welsh Revival and became a noted advocate of the emerging Pentecostal movement, all while retaining his Baptist identity. He set the stage for the development of evangelical and Pentecostal churches in St. Petersburg, Russia, and in Latvia, and became a prominent voice in the West on behalf of Eastern Europeans.

Fetler experienced many disappointments and much persecution over his decades of ministry. But when one door would shut, it always seemed that God would open another. Fetler lived out his belief that the best life was to live close to God, and as a result he changed the course of history for countless thousands of Christians in Russia and Latvia.

Read Fetler’s article, “Pentecostal Power in Russia,” on pages 4 and 5 of the July 22, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tithing,” by E. L. Banta

• “Daily Portion from the King’s Bounty,” by Alice Reynolds Flower

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Weekly 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 Church, Missions

Dr. Wang Yun Wu: Leading Chinese Scholar Abandoned Atheism after Witnessing a Miracle

Wang

Dr. Wang Yun-Wu, Vice Premier of the Republic of China (1958-1963)

This Week in AG History — May 2, 1931

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 2 May 2019

A prominent Chinese scholar, Dr. Wang Yun Wu (1888-1979), abandoned atheism in 1924 after he witnessed the miraculous healing of his sister’s eyesight. Dr. Wang later became Vice Premier of the Republic of China (Taiwan). His story was recounted by W. W. Simpson (1869-1961), pioneer Assemblies of God missionary to China, in the May 2, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Wang’s sister was healed in an unplanned revival. Simpson and fellow Assemblies of God missionary Florence Hanson were in Shanghai for the purpose of printing a Chinese-language hymnal. Their business trip quickly turned into a spiritual awakening. Hanson prayed for someone whose name is now lost to history, that person was healed, and residents clamored to find out what happened.

Local Christians organized services and invited Hanson to share the Pentecostal message. Numerous residents, including community leaders, flocked to the meetings. Many were healed or baptized in the Holy Spirit. One of the first people swept up in this move of God was Wang’s sister, Mrs. Ching. Not only was she baptized in the Holy Spirit, but God also corrected her eyesight! For 10 years she had been dependent upon her eyeglasses for daily life and for her writing duties at work. She was employed at the Commercial Press, a large publishing house where her brother, Dr. Wang, served as editor-in-chief.

Mrs. Ching’s healing astounded her family. Wang asked to speak to Simpson, who had prayed for his sister. Simpson gladly consented to this invitation. Simpson recalled how Wang ushered him into a rich library stocked with books in many languages and espousing many religions and philosophies.

Wang explained that he was reared “a strict Confucianist, believing in no God and worshipping his ancestors not as gods but simply to show his respect for them.” He had also studied western philosophies extensively and had accepted the modern theory of evolution. He had not discovered anything that “could not be explained by evolution” or which “required a God in order to exist.” But all that changed once he witnessed his sister’s healing.

Simpson wrote, “I shall never forget that afternoon in the library with one of China’s greatest scholars, and that moment when he said he was forced by the reception of the Spirit by his sister to admit there must be a living and a true God.”

Wang began the day a Confucian atheist and ended the day convinced of the deity of Christ. Wang went on to become a noted scholar of history and political science and also invented Shih Chiao Hao Ma, a form of Chinese lexicography. He opposed the communists during the Chinese revolution, entered politics, and served as Vice Premier of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 1958 to 1963.

According to Simpson, Wang’s story demonstrates how the “baptism in the Spirit is more effective in combating atheism than all the learned disquisitions of the Fundamentalists, for it is God giving a sign to this unbelieving modern world.”

Read W. W. Simpson’s entire article, “A Confucian Atheist Convinced of the Deity of Christ,” on pages 1 and 7 of the May 2, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“See and Hear,” by P. C. Nelson

“To Seekers after the Baptism in the Holy Ghost,” by Donald Gee

“My Pentecostal Experience,” 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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions

Ministering to Military Families Since 1957: Assemblies of God Retreats in Germany

Military retreat

Assemblies of God servicemen’s retreat,  Berchtesgaden, Germany, 1968

This Week in AG History — April 27, 1969

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 25 April 2019

An annual retreat for AG servicemen (and now servicewomen) in Europe has been held in Germany for the last 62 years. This yearly event has done much to encourage military personnel and their families stationed in Europe.

The first AG servicemen’s retreat in Europe was held at the Chiemsee Retreat Center in Berchtesgaden in March 1957, and these retreats in the Bavarian Alps have continued to be held every year. Since 2004 the retreats have been held at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, also in the mountains of Southern Bavaria.

The retreat was started so that Assemblies of God military personnel serving in Europe would have an annual retreat of their own, since they would not be able to attend a retreat in the U.S. while serving overseas. Organized by the Commission on Chaplains, the Berean Missionary Fellowship (BMF), and the Chaplain Liaison Officers, the retreat was set up to offer spiritual support to servicemen and channel funds into missions projects in Europe.

The speakers and the planning for the annual event for many years were organized by the BMF, with the assistance of chaplains who were assigned to teach classes, lead in worship, do special music, offer prayers, and participate in Communion.

At the 12th annual retreat held in 1968, as reported in an article in the Pentecostal Evangel, over 450 Assemblies of God servicemen and their families were in attendance, coming from various places across Europe. Missionaries and other denominational personnel currently on assignment in Europe also attended the spiritual emphasis retreat. The week was packed with recreation, inspiration, worship, challenge, and Christian fellowship.

The retreat theme, “Christ Is Lord,” became the “personal testimony of many who gave their hearts to Christ before the week ended,” it was reported. “Others made new consecrations, and several were filled with the Holy Spirit,” the article continued.

Howard S. Bush, assistant general superintendent and chairman of the Assemblies of God Commission on Chaplains, was the speaker for each of the morning services. James E. Hamill, pastor of First Assembly in Memphis, Tennessee, spoke at the evening services. Morning devotions were conducted by Joseph Mazzu, missionary to France. Eddie and Ruth Washington were in charge of music for the retreat, and the Singing Kolenda Family also added to the spiritual tone of the retreat.

Read more in “Spiritual Tone Prevails at Servicemen’s Retreat” on page 30 of the April 27, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Hallmarks of Genuine Revival,” by John W. Everett

• “He Is Keeping Me,” by Louie Stokes

• “A Man Greatly Beloved” [Howard S. Bush, assistant general superintendent]

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

1 Comment

Filed under History, Missions

Mary Weems Chapman: Called to the Prostitutes and Untouchables of South India

Chapman Mary

Mary Weems Chapman, from her 1921 passport application

This Week in AG History — April 18, 1925

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 18 April 2019

When veteran missionary Mary Weems Chapman (1857-1927) felt God’s call to return to India, her family told her she was too old. But she persevered and became the first Assemblies of God missionary to South India. A veteran Free Methodist missionary before identifying with the Pentecostal movement, Mary was well-known in Holiness circles for her preaching, teaching, and writing. But she was perhaps best known for her advocacy of ministry to girl prostitutes and the “untouchables” — members of India’s lowest social caste.

Mary and her husband, George, were pioneer leaders in the Pentecost Bands, a Free Methodist missions organization known for promoting both holiness and social ministry. They founded the Free Methodist work in Monrovia, Liberia, in 1889. They returned to America in 1893.

Mary was a prolific author. She edited a volume of writings by Holiness advocate Eunice Parsons Cobb, Mother Cobb, or Sixty Years with God (1896). She also served a one-year stint (1898) as founding editor of Missionary Tidings, published by the General Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Free Methodist Church.

George seemingly disappeared from Mary’s writings in the 1890s. Whether he died or something else happened is unknown. But she continued in ministry as a single woman. She moved to India in about 1900, where she worked at a Pentecostal Rescue Home that plucked young girls out of prostitution and provided education and spiritual help.

Single and aging, in about 1909 she returned to America. But she could not shake the sense that God wanted her to help the suffering girls of India. By 1911 she surfaced in Pentecostal periodicals, writing gut-wrenching articles about the great need to rescue girls in India who had been sold into sexual slavery.

Feeling a holy restlessness, Mary decided to return to India. She was approaching 60 years old. Her family tried to dissuade her, telling her she was too old to endure the rigors of missionary work. But her mind was made up. She told her family, “If young people are not able to go, old people must go.”

Mary arrived in India in 1915 and established her first missionary base in Doddaballapur, near Bangalore. She conducted evangelistic meeting in numerous parts of South India. In 1917, she affiliated with the Assemblies of God and became the Fellowship’s first missionary in South India.

Mary’s extensive writing and editing skills proved useful in her missions work. She was concerned by the poor discipleship of new converts and by the vast amount of anti-Christian and anti-Pentecostal literature that was causing confusion. To help remedy these problems, in 1925 she co-founded a magazine called Penthecosthu Kahalam (Pentecostal Trumpet) in the Malayalam language. She also wrote over 50 articles and letters published in the Pentecostal Evangel from 1913 to 1927.

In one of those letters, published in the April 18, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Mary described the plight of the Dalits, also called the “untouchables” because of their low social position. She described the joy of the Dalits who accepted Christ and were “adopted in the family of heaven.” She noted that her missionary colleagues started a school to educate young converts, because Dalits were not permitted to attend school with people from other classes in Indian society.

After 10 years of ministry under the Assemblies of God banner, Mary Weems Chapman died on Nov. 27, 1927. She was 70 years old.

Samuel Jabarethnan, Chapman’s interpreter for the last eight years of her life, wrote the following tribute: “I found Sister Chapman to be a most devoted and spiritual missionary. She stood not just for the Pentecostal experience, but emphasized the need for a deep spiritual, sanctified life . . . Sister Chapman was never satisfied with shallow, superficial things, either in a worker, a Christian, or an assembly. She demanded reality and set the example in her own life . . . Sister Chapman loved to spend much of her time in prayer. She never allowed the duties or responsibilities of her work to interfere with her prayer life. She labored and groaned in deep intercessory prayer for the souls of men to be saved, and as a result the Lord richly blessed her ministry.”

Read Mary Chapman’s article, “Ministering to the Untouchables,” on page 11 of the April 18, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Faith in the Invisible,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Gleanings from the Book of Ruth,” by A. G. Ward

• “Denying Self,” by Alice Rowlands 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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions

John and Ella Franklin: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionaries to Guatemala

John Franklin

John and Ella Franklin, standing outside their home in Guatemala, circa 1938.

This Week in AG History — April 11, 1942

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 11 April 2019

John L. Franklin (1910-1999) was orphaned shortly after birth by the death of his mother, and he spent the majority of his young life in an orphanage. Yet even as a young boy he felt that God had laid His hand on him for a greater work — that of missionary service.

While attending Southern California Bible School (now Vanguard University) in the early 1930s, this call grew ever stronger. Franklin believed he needed more of God’s power if he were to attempt such an undertaking. He began to seek for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. After a time of prayer and fasting, he traveled to a mountain top overlooking the city of Pasadena. There he committed to give himself fully to God for the cities of the world. The next morning in the college chapel service, Franklin started to praise the Lord in his usual manner when he found himself speaking in a language he did not know. He was consumed with a burden of prayer for nation after nation.

Franklin soon became involved with evangelistic efforts on the Mexican border. From this experience he believed God was sending him to Guatemala in answer to the request from a small group of Pentecostal believers who were looking for help with discipleship and in reaching their neighbors. Assemblies of God missionaries Christopher and Inez Hines went to Guatemala in 1916 and stayed until 1925. No others had been sent in the interim to minister to their converts. Franklin and his new wife, Ella, responded to the call.

Bringing along their possessions — consisting of a mattress, an accordion, a typewriter and a barrel of household items — they arrived in Jutiapa in April 1937. Securing a mule to ride out into the countryside they located the five small congregations scattered among the mountains. These believers had prayed fervently for someone to come and lead them. They knew the Pentecostal message, but few had received the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Franklins stayed with each group, in turn, sleeping in hammocks, bathing in mountain streams, drinking unsafe water, and eating many meals of beans and tortillas. They struggled with illness in growing accustomed to the new way of living but were very happy to see God working in the lives of their new friends.

By early 1938, 300 people gathered together to form the first council of the Assemblies of God in Guatemala. John Franklin was named the first superintendent and Socorro Ramirez as secretary.

In 1941, Franklin opened a church in Guatemala City holding services every day for five months. The attendance was mostly children. On Good Friday of that year, God moved in a special way and seven people were filled with the Holy Spirit. This service sparked a revival, and the meeting room was always full after this. Soon a large evangelistic center was established in Guatemala City.

In a report in the April 11, 1942, Pentecostal Evangel, Franklin wrote of several healings and expressed thanks for the gift of a 1938 Chevrolet “in splendid condition and undoubtedly good for many years of service if Jesus tarries.” Even though the roads were primitive and, in many places, nonexistent, the car enabled them to carry abundant supplies and provisions. Franklin explained, “You cannot imagine how much easier it is than traveling by mule back.” (This was before the advent of the Assemblies of God Speed the Light program which purchases transportation for missionaries.)

Franklin also shared in the article the system of church planting they were using. “Each pastor is made to feel responsible for the villages surrounding the assembly of his charge … he is encouraged to evangelize and seek to bring other assemblies into being. In this effort he is assisted by his congregation which accompanies him on preaching trips to the new fields. Thus every pastor become an evangelist, and every member a pioneer worker.”

Church planting was not easy for the young Pentecostal movement in Guatemala. Franklin describes, “There is hardship entailed — hunger, fatigue, inconvenience of every kind. It means miles and miles of walking … intolerable heat at noonday and the chill of mountain heights because of scanty clothing or lack of sufficient covers at night. It means hours of torture because of insufferable plagues of mosquitoes or fleas. At times every effort to do good is repulsed and the works are reviled or threatened. Some have been stoned, others cruelly mistreated… it seems that a price must be paid for every victory gained — but how can we expect it otherwise? Our Lord paid a tremendous price for our salvation.” Franklin believed that there was no price too high for him or the believers he discipled to pay for the salvation of the people of Guatemala.

In 1977, 40 years after arriving in Guatemala, the Franklins retired from full-time ministry, returning to the United States. They made numerous short-term trips back to Guatemala to rejoice with the people who had become their family. From the five small groups of believers they found in 1937, God had blessed them with 600 established churches, 700 licensed ministers, and 55,000 Assemblies of God believers.

Read more of Franklin’s report, “A Harvest That Rewards the Sacrifice,” on pages 6-7 of the April 11, 1942, Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Plea for Wholehearted Service,” by P. C. Nelson

• “Shut Out – the Fate of the Foolish Virgins,” by James Salter

• “Portions for Whom Nothing is Prepared,” by Margaret Ann Bass

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions