Category Archives: Missions

George and Margaret Kelley: Pioneer Pentecostal Missionaries to China

Kelley George

This Week in AG History — January 12, 1918

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also featured in this issue:

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

• “The Mexican Work,” by H. C. Ball

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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Assemblies of God Missionaries Ralph and Frances Hiatt: Pioneering a Church in Argentina 50 Years Ago

Ralph Hiatt 1967

This Week in AG History — January 7, 1968

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 04 January 2018

Ralph and Frances Hiatt were appointed missionaries to Argentina in March 1964. Three years later they moved to San Juan, Argentina, in May 1967 with the intention to plant a church. After just eight months they were able to give a glowing report of their evangelistic efforts in the Jan. 7, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

As they began their missionary work in San Juan, the Hiatts prayed about the best way to proceed. They were joined by Angel Vega, a recent graduate of an Assemblies of God Bible school in Argentina. Since they were living in the Southern Hemisphere, May was the start of winter. Because of the cold, they were prevented from holding outdoor evangelistic campaigns until maybe the warmer days of October. At the time, San Juan was a busy, university town nestled at the foot of the Andes Mountains with over 300,000 people.

Together they prayed, “Lord, what is our first step?” The answer led them to rent a hall in the center of the city. Looking through ads in the newspaper, they found a 42-foot long hall in the heart of the city which was exactly what they needed. They claimed it for God!

Over the next three weeks they constructed a platform and assembled a pulpit and pews. They also placed windows in the front entryway of the building. Next they used a loudspeaker on their Speed the Light car and distributed over 4,000 invitations to come to revival meetings. Their expectations were high, but at the opening service not even one person came. They did not give up. They continued holding services nightly.

Eventually curiosity seekers came, and some stayed. Most of these were university students. The building became known as Centro Biblico (Bible Center). Instead of a traditional worship service followed by a sermon, the Hiatts decided to broadcast taped or live organ music through a loudspeaker mounted above the outside door to draw in people from the streets.  A projector also showed a rotation of slides of Bible verses and an occasional notice: “We invite you to come in without obligation.” Angel would stand outside on the sidewalk talking to people to encourage them to enter the Bible center.

Those who came into the building were greeted with music from an electric organ, a Hawaiian guitar, and other instruments. They were encouraged to look through a literature rack to pick up any gospel tracts. They were also invited to ask questions. Many of them were students, and they had lots of questions about the Bible and God, which the Hiatts did their best to answer.

Whenever a small group of people assembled, the Hiatts would lead in prayer followed by a few choruses and a short sermonette, often accompanied by a chalk drawing to illustrate the message. After one group would leave, then another group might come in, and the process would start all over again. After filling out a visitor’s card, each person would leave with a Gospel of John. Follow-up could be done later.

This continued night after night. Some would come back, bringing their friends to listen to the music or ask questions. Although these services were not conventional, the gospel was being shared, and souls were being saved.

Ralph Hiatt expressed, “As new missionaries in a new city, we cannot imagine the possibilities that might lie in the future for the San Juan Bible Center.” He concluded by saying, “We are enjoying the thrill that accompanies those who stand on the threshold of great opportunities and know they are following the quiet leading of the Holy Spirit.”

This is just one example of missions work in Argentina from 50 years ago. Currently the Assemblies of God has 22 missionaries in Argentina. There are 1.2 million Assemblies of God members and adherents with 1,753 ministers and 1,567 churches and preaching points.

Read “Unique Evangelism in Argentina,” on pages 12 and 13 of the Jan. 7, 1968 issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Good Works Were Not Enough,” by Marguerite Mandel

• “Why We Believe in the Second Coming,” by Robert B. Larter

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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2018 Marks the Centennial of the First Organization for Hispanic Assemblies of God Churches and Ministers

HC Ball

This Week in AG History — December 28, 1918

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 28 December 2017

The first organization for Hispanic Assemblies of God churches and ministers in the United States was formed in 1918. At the time, the Pentecostal movement among Hispanics was in its infancy and consisted primarily of scattered, unorganized missions along the U.S.-Mexican border. Two Assemblies of God conventions were held in Texas in 1918 — one in January and a second in November. These conventions united Hispanic Pentecostals and laid the foundation for one of the largest and fastest growing segments of the Assemblies of God.

Hispanics forged their own Assemblies of God identity — developing indigenous leaders, schools, and governance structures — which gave believers a voice in a society where they were often marginalized. Asambleas de Dios congregations now dot the American landscape. In 2016, 22.2 percent of U.S. Assemblies of God adherents (718,785) were Hispanic.

The January 1918 convention was organized by Isabel Flores (a male Mexican-American pastor) and Henry C. Ball (an Anglo missionary to Mexicans). They ministered among the 300,000 refugees from the Mexican Revolution who lived along the borderlands in Texas. These refugees, uprooted from their families and their native land, often lived in squalid conditions. They had an uncertain legal status and, in the eyes of many observers, not much of a future.

While the broader American society often rejected the Mexican refugees, Pentecostals reacted differently. Flores, Ball, and other Pentecostal ministers fanned out, offering food, shelter, and medical assistance to those who were hurting. They viewed the refugees as a heaven-sent opportunity to share the gospel, which they did in both word and deed.

The first superintendent of the newly organized Hispanic work was Ball — probably chosen because as an Anglo he was able to navigate the difficult legal and cultural issues facing the Mexican refugees. On at least one occasion, he helped free a refugee pastor who had been imprisoned on false charges. Ball was himself imprisoned on suspicion of being a German spy during World War I because of his work with the refugees, who were viewed as a national threat during war time.

Despite legal, political, and economic tensions, Ball maintained his focus on helping the Pentecostal movement among Hispanics to mature and grow. He stressed the importance of developing indigenous leaders who could serve as pastors, evangelists, and missionaries to Hispanics in the United States and across Latin America.

Ball developed these themes in an article in the Dec. 28, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. In the article, Ball reported on the November 1918 convention, noting that the Hispanic believers were united in doctrine, that there was a spirit of “sweet cooperation,” and that the churches aimed to be self-supporting and to ultimately send missionaries to their countries of origin. This vision for indigenous leadership was more fully realized in 1939, when Demetrio Bazan succeeded Ball as the first Hispanic leader of the Latin American District Council of the Assemblies of God.

The vision to bring the gospel to suffering Mexican refugees ultimately helped to transform the American church. Those refugees became the seeds from which a resilient Hispanic Pentecostal movement was birthed. Today, Hispanics and other ethnic minorities are helping to fuel the continuing growth of the Assemblies of God in the United States.

Read H. C. Ball’s article, “A Report of the Spanish Pentecostal Convention,” on page 7 of the Dec. 28, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Plea for Unity,” by A. P. Collins

• “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men,” by Raymond T. Richey

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Photo caption: The first graduating class of Latin American Bible Institute, San Antonio, Texas; 1928. Front row (l-r): H. C. Ball, Sunshine Ball, and 2 unidentified. Back row (l-r) Benito Mendez, Manuel Bustamante, Ruben Arevalo, Samuel Robles, Juan C. Orozco, Horacio Menchaca, Dario Lopez, Enrique Rosales, and Josue Cruz.

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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Ambassadors in Mission: The Origin of the Short-term Missions Program for Assemblies of God Youth

AIM

This Week in AG History — December 22, 1968

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 21 December 2017

AIM (Ambassadors in Mission) is the missions-sending arm of the Assemblies of God (AG) National Youth Ministries. Through involvement in short-term mission trips, Assemblies of God youth experience firsthand the need for national and international workers and discover their part in meeting those needs.

In the mid-1960s, AG educator Dr. Ward Williams suggested to AG leadership that AG youth (known as Christ’s Ambassadors, or CA’s) could serve as temporary workers on the mission field. He envisioned trips lasting two to six weeks, in which CA’s could contribute to the mission work, while stretching their own skills and personal experiences with God.

Some districts had already begun providing missions trips for their youth groups, including Northern and Southern California. Indiana D-CAP (district youth director) Brenton Osgood had recently taken a team of 70 CA’s to Latin America with Loren Cunningham’s organization for a summer of service.

In 1966 AG leaders gave approval to do something similar on the national level. That summer twelve CA’s went on a “Caribbean Youth Witness” trip to Jamaica and British Honduras. In 1967 two more teams of thirty-two youth revisited the areas that had been targeted the previous year.

In 1968 Norm Correll, director of MAPS (Mobilization and Placement Services), and Brenton Osgood, newly appointed director of Speed the Light, strategized a plan that would involve the efforts of five departments to implement the vision for youth mission trips: the Education Department would provide promotion, Men’s Ministries would provide literature through Light for the Lost (LFTL), Women’s Ministries would provide for meals and housing, Spiritual Life-Evangelism would provide training, and the CA Department would provide the workers. CA’s, themselves, would provide the money for airfare. They named the effort Ambassadors in Mission – making good use of the name of the national youth department, Christ’s Ambassadors.

These well-planned trips consisted of a training program in which the youth would travel to Springfield for a three-day orientation with leaders such as J. Philip Hogan, the director of the Foreign Missions Department. Students became acquainted with the concepts of culture shock, interpersonal relationships, witnessing strategies, and spiritual readiness. A frequent visitor to each training period was Alice Reynolds Flower, wife of the first General Secretary of the Assemblies of God, who met and encouraged each student in their journey. After training, students embarked on a four-week witnessing program in countries such as Brazil, El Salvador, Germany, Liberia, Kenya, and many others.

Each American youth was paired with a young person from the host national church. Together they would go, two by two, to visit homes in the neighborhood of an Assemblies of God church. Using LFTL literature, they would strike up conversations and share the gospel message, along with an invitation to special services being held each night at the local church. Those who accepted the gospel message through the witnessing efforts or the evening services received six follow-up visits with teaching based on the Gospel of John.

That first year of well-organized strategy saw young people from thirty states participate in the program. The Pentecostal Evangel reported in its December 22, 1968 article “AIM! On Target to Win Today’s World” that “these Christ’s Ambassador’s had unforgettable experiences that deeply affected their lives, and at the same time produced thrilling results on the mission field. The combined total of decisions through door-to-door witnessing and the accompanying Good News Crusades came to 3,122.”

The same article quotes the testimonies of several teens as to the impact these summer trips had upon their own personal and spiritual development. One CA, Deloris Rykhoek shared, “Never before have I felt such an anointing upon my life. I said things that amazed me. God melted hearts, brought joy to the helpless, and placed a hunger for more of Him.”

Since those early days, tens of thousands of AG youth have experienced their first taste of missions on an AIM trip. Many current AG missionaries responded to the call of God while serving on these short-term outreaches. Ambassadors in Mission continues to provide Assemblies of God teens with a life-changing experience as they spend their summers expanding their own horizons while expanding the Kingdom of God.

Read more of the 1968 AIM reports on page 16 of the December 22, 1968, issue of the  Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Pre-Christmas Pilgrimage” by Mary Tregenza

* “What Christmas Means to Me” by students from Central Bible Institute, Tokyo, Japan

* “The Goads of God” by R.L. Brandt

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

PHOTO CAPTION: Kansas students on the 1971 AIM Christmas trip. Six districts (Kansas, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and North Texas) combined to send 275 students to spend their Christmas break evangelizing in Monterrey, Mexico.

FRONT ROW:
Randy Payne, Stan Smith, Cliff Rogers, Joseph Romero, Ron Mickley (KS D-CAP)

SECOND ROW:
Carol Compton, Marilyn Zemp, Debbie Howard, Pam Dolezilek, Gwen Foster, Pauleta Mickley

THIRD ROW:
Cherine Yubanks, Sherry Sneath, Betty Smith, Grace Romero

FOURTH ROW:
Reggie Marselus, Steve Bell, Mike Soter, Exie Barber

_________________

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

BurtonThis Week in AG History — December 1, 1968

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burton art

An ink drawing by Burton

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

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

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

Also featured in this issue:

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

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

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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

GarlockThis Week in AG History — November 24, 1945

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also featured in this issue:

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

• “Giving Thanks Always,” by Grant Barber

• “Victory Through Praise,” by Hattie Pitts

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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The Story Behind Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge (BGMC)

BGMC Buddy BarrelThis Week in AG History — November 12, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 09 November 2017

BGMC is a vibrant Assemblies of God missions program for kids that has a rich history. Originally called Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade, but now known as Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge, BGMC was first introduced at the National Sunday School Convention in Springfield, Missouri, in March 1949. Before that time there was a missions program in place for adults, and a missions program for youth called “Speed the Light,” but nothing for the kids. The concept was developed by Hart Armstrong (1912-2001), a former missionary and editor of Gospel Publishing House Sunday School materials.

BGMC is a program used to promote missions among kids and also raise funds for various missionary projects. It especially focuses on sending out Sunday School and training literature for missionaries to distribute. The first BGMC offering was received in October 1949, and BGMC giving that first year reached $1,290.39.

Barrel banks were chosen as the collection containers because at that time anything sent to a foreign field was packed in sturdy wooden barrels. This evolved into Buddy Barrel becoming the mascot or symbol for BGMC.

The program started with small wooden barrel banks that kids took to their homes in order to collect coins for missions. After collecting coins throughout the month, on a designated Sunday, each Sunday School child would return his or her barrel to give that money in an offering for BGMC. The method has changed from small wooden barrels to larger plastic barrels. The current Buddy Barrel bank is made of transparent plastic. The concept of Buddy Barrel has also evolved into a life-like puppet mascot (a large barrel with a face) that helps to encourage kids to give to BGMC.

The money for BGMC comes from kids giving in Buddy Barrels and adults receiving special offerings. The money is used to support various Assemblies of God missionary projects and ministries. Since 2001, BGMC has been the official children’s missions education program for the Assemblies of God.

In 1950, Frances Foster was appointed to oversee the BGMC program. She remained in this position for 21 years. In 1952, BGMC began to emphasize a specific mission field every year. Throughout the year, emphasis is placed on one field and its missionaries, with a special offering taken up on BGMC Day, which includes the adults in the church.

Fifty years ago, Foster, the BGMC coordinator, wrote an article, “BGMC Comes of Age” in the Nov. 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. She mentioned that it had been 18 years since the start of BGMC. She said, “Two considerations prompted this missionary program for Assemblies of God children 12 years and under.” One was the “urgent need of a children’s missionary program.” The other consideration was a great need for gospel literature overseas.

According to Foster, “Missionaries needed literature to strengthen their teaching ministry,” as well as for evangelizing. Overseas Bible schools had meager libraries or none at all. Foster asserted, “One of the biggest areas of need was for translating and printing Sunday School literature in foreign languages and dialects.” This is important. Literature sometimes goes where a missionary cannot go and it can remain even after a missionary must leave. Now missionaries can use BGMC funds for anything they need to help them spread the gospel. Only the lack of funds can curtail the impact and effectiveness of BGMC.

At the time of Foster’s article, BGMC giving had reached almost $2 million in 18 years. Since it was started 68 years ago, BGMC has raised more than $145 million for missions. 

Read “BGMC Comes of Age,” on pages 26 and 27 of the Nov. 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Keep Thyself Pure,” by Wilson A. Katter

• “Evangelistic Center Dedicated in Pretoria, South Africa” by Vernon Pettenger

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Portions of this article adapted from the BGMC website.

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

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