Category Archives: Missions

John P. Kolenda: The German-American Assemblies of God Missionary to Brazil

Kolenda_1400bThis Week in AG History — July 11, 1942

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 12 July 2018 

John Peter Kolenda (1898-1984), an Assemblies of God missionary to Brazil and Germany, was a man of vision who was sold out for the gospel. He pastored churches in the U.S., founded churches on the mission field, established Bible schools, started printing plants, and taught extension courses. He never grew tired of doing the Lord’s work.

Kolenda was born in Germany and lived in Brazil from ages 4 to 11 before his family immigrated to the United States. After he was converted at age 18, he began reading Maria Woodworth-Etter’s classic Pentecostal book, Signs and Wonders, which led him to accept divine healing. Not long afterwards, through the ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson, he and other members of his family were filled with the Spirit.

After graduating from Southern California Bible Institute (now Vanguard University), Kolenda was ordained in 1922. He met his future wife, Marguerite Westmark, in Bible school, and they were married later that same year.

Kolenda sold cars in Los Angeles for a short time after graduation, and then after he was married he served as an evangelist for about six months, before pastoring a series of small churches in Michigan. The Kolendas raised two daughters, Dorothy and Grace Ann.

Kolenda had always felt a call to serve on the mission field in Brazil. His wife also shared that calling. He was over 40 years old when the door finally opened for him to go as a missionary to Brazil in 1939, even as World War II was breaking out in Europe. He arrived in Rio de Janeiro and rented an apartment as he became reacquainted with the people of his youth. Soon he felt directed to move to the state of Santa Catarina which had a great need for the gospel.

Kolenda started quite a few churches in Brazil during the 14 years he ministered there. When he left for his first furlough, over 100 churches or preaching points had been established.

He returned to Brazil and continued teaching at Bible conferences and served as the superintendent of the work in the state of Santa Catarina. He established a monthly publication called Messenger of Peace and provided Sunday School literature to his constituents. He also served as a missionary to Germany for 10 years. He later returned to both mission fields to evangelize and teach in their Bible schools. Through his preaching and teaching he touched untold thousands. His work in training young ministers in Brazil and Germany has significantly shaped the Pentecostal work in both those countries.

The Kolenda family made a large impact on the Pentecostal movement. One of John P. Kolenda’s older brothers, Paul Kolenda, was an Assemblies of God pastor in Illinois and Michigan. He became the father of 10 sons, many of whom went into the ministry. One of Paul’s descendants is Daniel Kolenda, who is the president and CEO of Christ For All Nations, which was established by Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.

During World War II there was a great missions advance in South America, spearheaded by missionaries John and Marguerite Kolenda and others. An article Kolenda wrote in the Pentecostal Evangel in July 1942, called “Missions Advance in Brazil,” gave reports from several missionaries on the field.

In the article, Kolenda told how, in February 1942, he was accompanied by missionaries Virgil and Ramona Smith as they conducted two weeks of evangelistic meetings in the northern part of the state of Santa Catarina and in the state of Parana. They held special services and Bible studies among the Russian colonists who had settled there. The trip was very interesting. Taking the train, which was greatly delayed, Kolenda reported, “When we finally reached the station it was one o’clock in the morning.” The believers who met them there with wagons said they would have to remain in the station until daybreak since the river they must cross had overflowed its banks and was very dangerous. The next morning they had to cross the river in small boats and then go by wagon a few more hours to their destination. They held a camp meeting service with the believers who came. Kolenda reported, “The Lord truly met with us and we believe the results will abide.”

Missionaries Erma Miller and Lillian Flessing gave an account that the Kolendas held five services for them, with nine people getting saved, and several backsliders being restored. “Each evening saw the altar lined with people seeking God,” said Miller and Flessing, “and we feel their visit was the means of starting a Holy Ghost revival in Sao Carlos which we pray shall continue until Jesus comes.”

Read more exciting reports in “Missions Advance in Brazil,” on pages 6 and 7 of the July 11, 1942, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Give Ye Them to Eat,” by John Wright Follette

• “The World Moves On,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Isaiah’s Consecration and Call,” by J. Bashford Bishop

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions

How Compassion Ministries and Miracles Fueled Growth in the Assemblies of God in India

IndianMission_728This Week in AG History — June 20, 1925

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 21 June 2018

The Assemblies of God, from its earliest years, has been ministering the gospel in word and deed around the world. The June 20, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted the work of an early Assemblies of God mission located in Nawabganj, a city in northern India near the border of Nepal, which operated ministries to help the poverty-stricken and disadvantaged of India.

A boys’ school at the Nawabganj mission rescued street children and nourished their souls, bodies, and minds. The school, equipped with modern living quarters for about 70 boys, provided a safe, healthy environment and ‘intellectual and practical training.” Technical training included weaving, carpentry, and machine work in the school’s industrial department.

The mission also ministered to those affected by the contagious, skin-eating disease of leprosy. While the broader society often rejected lepers, the mission attempted to affirm their dignity as humans and provided them with physical comfort and the hope of eternal life with Christ.

The mission’s work among women was termed “zenana” – an Urdu word referring to women. Women missionaries ministered to women, often widows or those who had experienced extreme poverty or suffering. The mission, according to the article, provided a home for society’s “most unfortunate victims.” Many of these women became Christians, and prayer became an important part of their lives.

In addition to these works of compassion, the mission was home to a vibrant evangelistic ministry. Indian Christians went into the surrounding villages and preached the gospel. Persecution against those preachers, according to the article, was “beyond endurance and almost unbelievable.” However, the preaching of the Word was not in vain. As these indigenous Christians ministered in the face of incredible opposition, the truth of the gospel was confirmed by acts of compassion and by miracles of deliverance and healing. One by one, people repented of their sins and accepted Christ.

The mission at Nawabganj demonstrates how the Assemblies of God, since its inception, has encouraged holistic ministry to spiritual, intellectual, and physical needs. The Nawabganj mission built its institutions to meet the needs of the community’s most impoverished — those who had been rejected by the broader society. These works of compassion, coupled with miracles and prayer, gave credibility to the gospel, which allowed Indian Christians to successfully plant churches across northern India despite stiff opposition.

Read the entire article, “More about the India Mission Stations,” by William M. Faux, on page 10 of the June 20, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Second Coming of Christ,” by Finis J. Dake

• “Mexican Border Work Prospers,” 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

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Missions

Hillcrest Children’s Home: Caring for Children Since 1944

Hinson

Hillcrest founder Gladys Hinson in November 1944 with the first children received into the home.

This Week in AG History — June 17, 1956

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 14 June 2018

Hillcrest Children’s Home, an Assemblies of God ministry located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, was founded in 1944 in obedience to the scriptural mandate to care for orphans (James 1:27).

Edward Weaver, director of Hillcrest Children’s Home, posed the following question to readers of the Pentecostal Evangel on Father’s Day in 1956: “It’s nice to have children to remember you on Father’s Day – but how would you like to provide for 70 of them every day?” Weaver knew that men would resonate with the difficulty of providing for a family of any size and wanted to share the enormous need of managing the daily lives of 70 children plus 15 staff.

Hillcrest began as the vision of a woman who was disappointed that she was unable to serve on the foreign mission field. As a young lady, Gladys Hinson was inspired by the example of Assemblies of God missionary Lillian Trasher, who opened a home for orphaned and abandoned children in Egypt. Hinson felt a definite call to do the same in China and began making preparation for that assignment. The bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States involvement in World War II dashed her dreams as the window of opportunity to enter China was closed.

Struggling with the burden that she felt for the abandoned children of China, she turned to God for direction while waiting for the fulfillment of her dream. The scriptural command of “Occupy till I come” led Hinson to believe it was unacceptable to neglect the needs of children in her own country while waiting for doors in China to reopen.

With only a dime in her pocket, Hinson approached the leaders of the Assemblies of God with the idea of opening a nationally supported home to provide for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of America’s most vulnerable children. Approval was given and ideal property was soon found in Hot Springs, the birthplace of the Assemblies of God.

It took time to meet all the requirements of the Board of Child Welfare of the State of Arkansas, but the home was finally opened in 1944 for the first children: three brothers, Douglas, Milton, and Ronnie Davis. Over the next few years, many more children came to Hinson’s home: brothers who had witnessed their father shoot and kill their mother, five children abandoned in a cold midwestern town trying to survive by eating out of garbage cans and sleeping in vacated buildings, the child of a mother who died with no other family who could care for her, children whose new stepparent did not want them. The reasons they came were as varied as the children themselves.

Just like her inspiration, Lillian Trasher, Gladys Hinson cared for children who were neglected or forgotten by others. But unlike Trasher, who was able to work for 50 years with the children of Egypt, Hinson went to be with the Lord just a few years after founding the orphanage. She was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1949 at the age of 36, never knowing that just six years later, Trasher would pay a visit to the children of Hillcrest while on furlough from Egypt.

Every good missionary knows they must prepare others to carry on their work. Many followed in Hinson’s footsteps as directors and staff of the children’s home, including Edward Weaver, who made the plea for financial support on Father’s Day, June 17, 1956. Evangel readers responded to his plea and soon a remodeled cottage and new workers accommodations were both dedicated at the Hot Springs campus.

Hillcrest Children’s Home continues to operate today under CompACT Family Services of the Assemblies of God.

Read Edward Weaver’s Father’s Day request on page 16 of the June 17, 1956, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Church Militant” by C. W. H. Scott

* “Fathers, Provoke Not Your Children to Wrath” by C. M. Ward

* “First Freshman Class Completes Year’s Work at Evangel College”

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

Lula Bell Hough: Missionary to China and Japanese P.O.W.

Lula Bell HoughThis Week in AG History — April 21, 1934

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 19 April 2018

Lula Bell Hough (1906-2002) did not take the easy road in life. She sensed God’s call to ministry and was credentialed as an Assemblies of God missionary at the age of 23. She left her comfortable life in America and devoted herself to sharing the gospel in China, where she spent the next 45 years. As an unmarried woman in her 20s and 30s, she endured great deprivation and the ravages of war.

Hough’s greatest challenge on the mission field came during World War II, when she spent seven and one-half months as a Japanese prisoner of war. She did not know whether she would survive the ordeal, which began in December 1941. She later recalled that soldiers kept placing their bayonets to her throat, threatening to kill her. Women around her were raped, and thousands died from starvation. Some resorted to eating human flesh to survive. For the first two weeks of her captivity, she lived on nothing but wheat that was wormy and moldy. After that, she was given small food rations. The food was enough to keep her alive, but she lost 38 pounds in about six months. She was freed in a prisoner exchange — American prisoners were swapped for Japanese prisoners of war.

Living in difficult circumstances for over a decade in China had prepared Hough for the hardship of the prisoner-of-war camp. Hough sent regular letters to her supporters back in the United States. One of these letters, published in the April 21, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, described a trip to areas in south China where there were no Christians.

Hough humorously described having to share her accommodations with loud farm animals:

“When we reached the inn we were soaking wet and cold. After warming ourselves by an open fire in the center of the room we retired to our room. Cobwebs were hanging everywhere, and one corner was occupied by geese, which entertained us with special music at intervals during the night. Our room was really a hall where people had to pass through, and our bed was only a board. The next night we spent in Sha Hoh, and were thankful to find no geese in our room, but soon discovered there were pigs in the room just below us.”

New Christians often suffered for their faith. Hough described several instances of persecution in heart-wrenching detail. She wrote that one 18-year-old woman was beaten by her husband because of her newfound faith. Her mother-in-law scratched the young woman’s face until there were “deep sores and scars.” The villagers joined in the persecution, encouraging the family to sell the young wife into slavery if she didn’t recant her faith in Christ.

Why did Hough and other early missionaries leave their homes in the West and endure difficulties? They were motivated to be faithful to Christ in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Hough explained, “In some of these villages we were the first foreigners the villagers had ever seen, and in many, the first to preach the gospel. God has promised that His Word shall not return unto Him void, so we believe that if we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, He will be faithful in drawing souls unto himself.”

Lula Bell Hough’s life illustrates the early Pentecostal worldview that encouraged full consecration to Christ and His mission. Hough and countless other Assemblies of God missionaries spent their lives sharing the gospel, at great personal cost, and helped to lay the foundation for a worldwide Fellowship that now numbers over 68 million adherents.

Read the entire article by Lula Bell Hough, “Missionary Travels, S. China,” on pages 8-9 of the April 21, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Revelation of the Love of God,” by Kate Knight

• “Spiritual Awaking Follows Earthquake,” by Hilda Wagenknecht

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

Ralph Williams, Missionary to El Salvador: Pioneer of the Indigenous Church Principle

Williams RalphThis Week in AG History — April 12, 1930

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 15 March 2018

Ralph Darby Williams (1902-1982), his wife, Jewyl, and baby Owen arrived in El Salvador on Christmas Eve of 1929 as Assemblies of God missionaries in Central America. As the Pentecostal church grew over their tenure of 50 years, Williams helped to develop the basis of the indigenous church principle that has driven the success of Assemblies of God missions endeavors.

In his report, “First Impressions of El Salvador,” published in the April 12, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Williams updated readers on their activities during their first few weeks stationed in El Salvador, a little country of about two million people.

Born in England, Williams was saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit in his native land but traveled to the United States to receive training for mission work at Glad Tidings Bible Institute (later Bethany University) in California. There he met his future wife, Jewyl, who was also training for ministry.

Ralph and Jewyl felt a call to Mexico but that country was closed to U.S. missionaries. For three years, Ralph and Jewyl trained Mexican workers in San Diego to return to their native country and plant churches, hoping that soon American missionaries would follow them.

Meanwhile, the Pentecostal message had come to El Salvador through Canadian Frederick Mebius, who was influenced by Charles Parham’s Apostolic Faith Movement. Many received this message with open hearts, but without solid biblical instruction and pastoral guidance the few believers had fallen into dissension and bad teaching. One believer, Francisco Arbizu, was so concerned about the state of the church that he sold his possessions, used the money to finance a trip to the United States, and met with AG leaders asking them to send missionaries to El Salvador to guide his people into learning the principles of God’s Word.

The Williams family responded to this call and met with Arbizu on Christmas Day, 1929, in Santa Ana. He greeted them with a shout of praise, “Now we have a shepherd!”

Over the next few weeks, Arbizu took the family on a tour of the fledgling churches that had sprung up in private homes. Williams could see that the church had many committed believers but he shared Arbizu’s concern at the lack of biblical knowledge and organization.

The more he traveled the more he became convinced that it would take at least six missionaries to disciple the converts and reach the unevangelized. He knew that no other missionaries had expressed an interest in coming and that the church was not ready to support them even if they were there. Williams prayed about this and asked the Lord to show him the answer to the dilemma.

When the answer came it surprised even him: “the missionaries are already on the field!” The answer to his prayer were the very believers he was teaching. They didn’t need to bring more people from the United States; they needed to raise up the Salvadorian believers to reach their neighbors, pastor their churches, and send their own workers to the unreached villages around them.

Williams then began organizing conferences for church workers and held monthly fellowship meetings so that the workers would have fellowship with other believers from surrounding villages. Persecution was often great for these believers, who were religious minorities in their villages. But when the Pentecostal believers came together for conferences and meetings, they discovered that there were more than 1,000 believers. This knowledge that their numbers were growing gave them boldness to face their persecutors and to believe that they could reach their own nation.

During the Great Depression, it was often hard for the AG churches in the United States to fully support its missionaries. Many days, the Williams family of six, including four growing boys, had nothing to eat but black beans and tortillas. But God always provided and good came out of this situation. The Salvadorian believers began to support the gospel workers through their own tithes and offerings, many times taking the ministers and their families into their homes to keep them from having to pay rent when funds were low.

When missionary Melvin Hodges arrived in El Salvador in 1936 to assist Williams, he was intrigued by the way the Salvadorians provided so much of the leadership for their own churches. When Hodges moved to Nicaragua he began to move the Nicaraguan church from a paternalistic structure, dependent on American financial assistance, to one based on the indigenous church principles modeled in El Salvador. Hodges went on to write the first missiology text by a Pentecostal, The Indigenous Church, which outlined these principles which became the standard missiology of the Assemblies of God.

Williams later became the field superintendent for Central America and, by 1959, the Central American work had grown from 12 small disorganized congregations to over 400 churches, 1,000 outstations, 18,000 believers, and seven Bible institutes. When Williams died in 1982, he left behind a well-equipped body of national believers ready to continue in the self-sustaining work for which he had devoted his life.

Read more about Williams’ first thoughts on arriving in El Salvador on page 10 of the April 12, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Passover and Pentecost,” by Stanley Frodsham

• “The Things That Are Above,” by J. Narver Gortner

• “Need of Native Evangelists,” by F.G. Leader

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

Mark and Huldah Buntain: Helping the Poor of India for Over 60 Years

BuntainThis Week in AG History — March 31, 1968

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 29 March 2018 

Mark Buntain (1923-1989), a longtime Assemblies of God missionary, is perhaps best known for founding a prominent hospital and feeding program in Calcutta, India. He and his wife, Huldah, became iconic symbols of the AG’s melding of gospel proclamation with works of compassion.

Buntain was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the son of Pentecostal minister, Daniel N. Buntain. In his youth he worked as a radio broadcaster, and then after marrying Huldah Monroe in 1944, he began pastoring churches in Saskatchewan. He also ministered as a missionary-evangelist in Taiwan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, and Japan before going to India in October 1954. What started as a one-year mission assignment there turned into a lifetime of ministry. Mark, Huldah, and their 1-year-old daughter, Bonnie, took a three-month voyage across the Atlantic. After arriving in India, they set up a tent on a vacant lot in Calcutta, and started telling people about the love of Jesus.

One day a man entered the tent, interrupting the preaching, and said, “Preacher, feed our bellies and then tell us about a God in heaven.” This changed everything. It became the catalyst for the Buntains to start a feeding program, now part of Calcutta Mercy Missions, that serves thousands of people, mostly children, every day.

Mark’s ministry was featured in the Pentecostal Evangel 50 years ago. The article began with this statement: “Give ye them to eat.” This is exactly what the Buntains did as they carried out their much-needed ministry in North India. Not only did they provide physical food for the hungry, but they sought to meet the medical needs as well as spiritual needs of the people who crossed their paths. A testimony is given of a man named Thottathil Rajan who was suffering from hunger, was a heavy drinker, and a cripple. When New Zealand Evangelist Graham Truscott preached at one of Mark’s meetings, Rajan came and was saved and healed. Soon after this, he felt called to enter Bible school in order to preach the gospel.

On another occasion, Mark went to his office, and a staff member told him, “There’s a small boy dying on the steps!” He hurried out and found a 9-year-old boy who was almost dead. Buntain brought him inside and gradually nursed him back to health. After giving him a bath, he felt even better. Soon the boy went with the other children to attend school. Surprised to discover a new student, the teacher asked him, “Who are you?” “What are you doing here?” Without hesitancy, he quickly responded, “I belong to the Sahib!” (meaning Mark, who was the head missionary).

For many years the Buntains pastored the Assembly of God in Calcutta, which grew to more than 1,500 people in Sunday School each week and 4,000 in church attendance. Mark became the assistant superintendent of the AG in North India and aired a radio broadcast three times a week to a potential audience of 145 million listeners.

Today, more than 60 years later, the Buntains’ hearts to reach the people groups of India still continues. Calcutta Mercy Ministries operates a hospital that serves people free of charge, over 900 churches have been established in North India, there are around 100 schools to educate thousands of students, and a clinic in the red-light district helps individuals involved in sexual trafficking who are as young as 12 years old. Mark and Huldah are possibly best known for the feeding ministry they established, which continues to serve thousands.

Although Mark passed away in 1989, Huldah still helps to oversee the ministry they founded. Calcutta Mercy Ministries continues to feed, educate, and medically assist the poor of Calcutta, India, and surrounding areas.

Read the article, “I Belong to the Sahib,” on page 15 of the March 31, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tell Me About the Council on Evangelism”

• “Betinho: King of the Night,” by Missionary T. R. Hoover

• “Why Jews Need the Gospel,” by Ernest Kalapathy

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

3 Comments

Filed under Biography, History, Missions

Maynard and Gladys Ketcham: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionaries to India

KetchamThis Week in AG History — March 15, 1947

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 15 March 2018

Maynard Ketcham (1905-1993) arrived in Purulia, India, in 1926 as the first Assemblies of God missionary to Bengal. His sweetheart, Gladys, arrived one year later. Together they served the people of North India and the far east until their retirement in 1969.

In the March 15, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Ketcham told the story of Padda, one of the girls he and Gladys rescued from a life of “serving the gods” as a Hindu temple prostitute. He appealed to Evangel readers of the need to continue to develop the girl’s orphanage in Purulia to provide homes and education for girls like Padda. He sent a plea: “Who will help us?”

Ketcham, himself, was the answer to a similar plea for help in India 37 years earlier.

About the same time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street in California, a Methodist orphanage for girls on Elliot Road in Calcutta, India, experienced a similar outpouring. The respected director, Miss Fanny Simpson, noticed that the girls were gathering on their own in the prayer chapel. During these prayer times, the girls began to praise, to shout, and then to speak in unknown tongues and also reported seeing visions. Soon they were coming to her office and confessing sins of stealing rice and cheating on exams.

Simpson was in awe and wonderment and was not quite sure what to do about these occurrences. But the simple faith and joy of these little girls soon convinced her that even she needed more of Christ in her life. She soon knelt in the chapel, surrounded by orphans who were recently redeemed from Calcutta’s gutters, and received the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

As the girls began to tell others of what was happening in the Methodist orphanage it came to the attention of the bishop, and Simpson was dismissed from her leadership role and sent back to the United States. She was obedient to her superiors but her heart remained with the orphan girls of India.

Simpson became a musical evangelist for the Methodist church and made a practice of inviting those who were interested in learning more about the secret to true spiritual power to stay after the service where she offered prayer for the fullness of the Spirit.

During one of these “extra services,” Inda Ketcham, a widow from Eastport, Long Island, came to her for prayer. Simpson prayed for the widow who received the baptism in the Holy Spirit but her attention was drawn to the wiggly 5-year old boy standing behind his mother. Asking for his name, Simpson laid her hands on the young boy and prophesied, “Maynard Ketcham will be the missionary who one day will take Pentecost to Calcutta and all of Bengal and beyond.”

While young Maynard did not appreciate the significance of this event, his mother did. She filled their home with missionary magazines and story books of the great sagas of missionary adventures. Simpson also kept in touch with the family and kept them in her constant prayers.

After turning down scholarships to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ketcham graduated from Beulah Heights Bible and Missionary Training School in New Jersey, where he met and courted Gladys Koch. Soon he received a letter from Simpson, who had laid aside her own funds and returned to India. She had purchased property for a missions compound in Purulia, 200 miles west of Calcutta, and wrote to Ketcham, “Remember, Maynard, you are ordained of God to be the pioneer of Pentecost to Eastern India. The doors are open!”

Gladys Koch’s pastor felt she was too young to be a missionary so Ketcham set sail for India alone in 1926. Gladys followed one year later and they married in India in 1928. Using the land that Simpson purchased with money received from her mother’s estate, they opened the Door of Hope orphanage in Purulia, where young girls received a safe home, education, and training to take the gospel into one of the neediest nations on earth.

Fanny Simpson lived to see the fulfillment of the vision God had given her to provide God’s love and care to the orphaned girls of India and the place the young Maynard Ketcham would play in it. Maynard and Gladys became the first Assemblies of God missionaries to the Bengali-speaking area of Eastern India, which includes Calcutta and what was then called East Bengal.

But God was not done with her vision even then. When Ketcham became the Assemblies of God field director for the Far East he saw potential in a young evangelist and invited him to come to do missions work in Calcutta. The young man had invitations elsewhere but agreed to pray about Calcutta. In 1955, at the encouragement from Maynard Ketcham, evangelists Mark and Huldah Buntain moved to Calcutta. In a final twist, Buntain built a Pentecostal church on Elliot Road in Calcutta, across the street from the Methodist orphanage Simpson was forced to leave in 1907.

Read more about Ketcham’s call for help for the Purulia orphanage on page 8 of the March 15, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Grace Abounding,” by A.G. Ward

• “Wet Wood Among the Saints,” by Nelson Hinman

• “A Challenge to Christian Youth,” 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.

IMAGE – Back row (left to right): Esther Olson, Virginia Watts, Gladys Ketcham. Sophie Erhardt is in the back row, far right; with some of the girls from the Purulia orphanage.

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