Category Archives: Missions

Paul Bettex: Early Pentecostal Linguist, Missionary, Martyr


This Week in AG History–February 25, 1928
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 25 February 2015

This Week in AG History February 251928 | PE News// //

Paul Bettex (1864-1916) possessed one of the most impressive academic and social pedigrees of any early Pentecostal. Yet when Bettex accepted Christ and felt a definite call to be a missionary, he gave up all his advantages and set sail for lands afar, where he suffered war, famine, and persecution.

The Swiss-born Bettex was the son of a distinguished Christian educator and theologian, Jean Frederick Bettex. The elder Bettex, an evangelical Huguenot, contributed a chapter to the noted series of books, The Fundamentals (1910-1915), which affirmed orthodox Protestant beliefs against the emergence of theological liberalism. Despite his evangelical heritage, Paul Bettex did not make a personal commitment to Christ in his youth. Bettex studied at the University of Geneva, various Italian schools, and the Sarbonne. He studied ancient languages and political science, purposing to enter the French diplomatic corps.

While at the Sorbonne, Bettex was struck by the courage displayed by young women associated with the Salvation Army in Paris. He began attending Salvation Army meetings and yielded his heart to God. Following in his father’s footsteps, Bettex felt drawn to ministry. He moved to America, where he attended Princeton Theological Seminary and pastored several churches. He also served as a missionary in Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil in the 1890s. While Bettex originally planned to be a French ambassador, he ultimately served a much higher king and became an ambassador for Christ.

Bettex’s linguistic training served him well on the mission field; he was proficient in 13 languages. He put his scholarly and theological abilities into practice by living amongst the people to whom he ministered. Stories of the hardships he faced in South America circulated among American Christians, and he returned in 1903 as a missionary hero.

Upon his return to America, Bettex taught at Central Holiness University (Oskaloosa, Iowa). He attended meetings at the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, joined the ranks of the Pentecostals, and in 1910 headed for China as a missionary. Bettex published a periodical, Canton Pentecost, of which there are no known surviving copies. His wife, Nellie, died in China in 1912. In 1916, Bettex disappeared and was never again seen alive. Chinese Christians expended great energies in searching for Bettex and finally found his body, buried six feet under the ground with three bullet holes in his chest.

During his missionary work in South America, Bettex wrote, “And the more truly a Christian is a Christian the hotter rages the battle about him. All heaven and hell take part in his fate. Here there is no place for amateur Christians. It is a fight for life and death … Few are the martyrs on whose heads crowns have been lighted while they were asleep. Their preparatory school has ever been sorrow, suffering, poverty, year-long fulfillment of duty.” For Bettex, these were not mere words. He lived and died in absolute surrender to Jesus Christ.

Stanley Frodsham, long-time editor of the Pentecostal Evangel, took it upon himself to document the life story of Bettex, the fallen Pentecostal missionary hero. Frodsham wrote a tribute to Bettex in the February 25, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel and later wrote a book, Wholly for God: A Call to Complete Consecration, Illustrated by the Story of Paul Bettex, a Truly Consecrated Soul (Gospel Publishing House, 1934).

Read the tribute by Stanley Frodsham, “A Remarkable Pentecostal Missionary,” on pages 4 to 5 of the February 25, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “How the Dog Trainer Was Won,” by Mrs. Walter Searle

• “Starlight: A True Story of a Chinese Girl,” by A. O. Stott

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

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English Nurse Survives Gunfire and Dynamite to Become Pentecostal Pioneer in Kentucky Mountains in 1930s

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This Week in AG History–February 20, 1932
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 19 February 2015

Marion Eason Wakeman, an English nurse, did not intend to become a Pentecostal missionary to the Kentucky mountains. However, she followed her heart and God’s call and ultimately helped to pioneer Assemblies of God churches in the 1930s among some of the most impoverished people in America. Wakeman’s compelling story, which has now largely been forgotten, was published in the February 20, 1932, issue of the “Pentecostal Evangel.”

Wakeman expected to live in England, where she was born, for the rest of her life. In England, she was a nurse and administrator with the “District Nursing Work,” a healthcare system that worked primarily with poor and immigrant patients.

At the turn of the twentieth century, New England was experimenting with this healthcare model, in an attempt to meet the needs of the many recent immigrants. Wakeman was asked to move temporarily to Bristol, Rhode Island, to establish a new “District Nursing Work,” patterned after the English model.

After living in Bristol for three years, Wakeman read a book about the extreme poverty in the mountains of Kentucky. She was particularly disturbed by the unhealthy conditions endured by mothers at childbirth. She wrote, “God laid that work right on my heart, I could not get away from it.” She struggled with whether to stay in her well-funded position in Bristol, or to follow God’s call to work with neglected mothers and children in Kentucky. In the end, she headed for the mountains and cast her lot with those whose future was bleakest.

She began her missionary work in Guerrant, Kentucky. Conditions were worse than she had imagined. Ten to 12 people lived in windowless one-room huts. Children were dressed in rags, and chickens wandered freely through the huts. The men, women, and children were addicted to alcohol and tobacco. Violence was common and education was uncommon.

Wakeman provided health services to people in the community. She also began teaching young people how to read. When she arrived, she was shocked that the children could not read and that their spoken English was very poor. She gathered children for regular English lessons, which she would give by reading from the Bible. She recounted that many adults had never heard about Jesus, never prayed, and had never attended church.

The physical, social, and spiritual needs in the Kentucky mountains were overwhelming to Wakeman. On one occasion she admitted, “My throat ached and I felt like breaking down and crying.” But she endured. She saved money and built a house in the mountains near Oakdale, Kentucky, which became her living quarters and ministry outpost. She later moved to another house near Holly Creek, Kentucky. From those houses, she nursed people to health, she taught Sunday School classes for children, and she led to people to Jesus.

Wakeman understood that spiritual poverty was the root of destructive cultural patterns. She preached against the consumption of drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, because they contributed to disease, addiction, and violence in the community. She encouraged people to turn from sin and to find new life in Christ.

Certain local residents regarded Wakeman’s presence as a threat. She was awakened night after night by hostile neighbors who tried to frighten her away. Guns were fired at her house, and one time dynamite was even exploded near her house. She recalled, “my nerves began to frail,” and that she was afraid to walk across the room when she entered her house, for fear of violence.

One night, Wakeman got on her knees and cried out to God. If He wanted her to stay in Kentucky, she prayed, He would have to remove her fear. God took away her fear that night. The fear “fell from me like an old garment,” she recalled. “I went through the little house singing at the top of my voice,” she wrote. “I haven’t felt any fear from that day to this.”

Wakeman’s early missions work was supported by the Presbyterian Mission Board and the Free Methodist Missionary Board. Wakeman’s study of the Bible ultimately led her to identify with the Pentecostal movement. She came to believe that God still heals, and prayer for healing became a prominent aspect of her ministry. As a Pentecostal, Wakeman worked in conjunction with the Kentucky mountain missions work supported by Christian Assembly (Cincinnati, Ohio), which was pastored by O. E. Nash. Wakeman wrote that the Cincinnati church had five outstations (small missions churches) located in her part of the Kentucky mountains.

Wakeman’s testimony illustrates the consecration of early Pentecostals. She spent her life working with the impoverished, at great personal cost, and helped to lay the foundation for the Assemblies of God in the mountains of Kentucky. Her story also demonstrates that early Pentecostalism did not emerge in a vacuum; it benefited from veteran ministers from mainline Protestant denominations who brought their wisdom, experiences, and connections into their new churches.

“Our hearts are burning with the zeal of the work,” Wakeman wrote in the conclusion of her article, “and we see great possibilities and responsibilities.” Early Pentecostal pioneers, such as Wakeman, were passionate, committed and visionary. Together, these often unheralded men and women helped to form the identity of the Assemblies of God.

Read the article, “Pentecostal Work in the Kentucky Mountains,” on pages 1, 8 and 9 of the February 20, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Godhead,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Pentecost Today,” by R. E. McAlister

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

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100-Year-Old Hoopa Indian Woman Accepted Christ, Healed, Cured of Addiction; Still Testifying at 109

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This Week in AG History–February 8, 1930
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 5 February 2015

Aunt Fanny, a 100-year old Hoopa Indian woman, accepted Christ in about 1920 when a Mexican-American Pentecostal evangelist, A. C. Valdez, visited the Hoopa Indian Reservation in northern California. She was among the earliest Native American Pentecostals, and was almost certainly the oldest.

Aunt Fanny had long been revered in Native American circles. Born in about 1820, she recounted the sacred stories of her ancestors. She herself had lived longer than most everyone else. She remembered, as a girl, seeing the first white men come to her small village. She initially thought they were creatures sent from the Thunder Sky by the Great Spirit. Afterward, she witnessed white soldiers massacre many Native Americans in her village. She survived the massacre and forgave the white men who killed her people.

Sometime later, Aunt Fanny’s husband was hunting with a white man and saved him from being killed by a bear. He shot the bear through its heart with a flint-pointed arrow. The man, grateful for his life, gave a gun to Aunt Fanny’s husband. The gun made him the envy of others in the tribe. Aunt Fanny also learned to chew and smoke “pedro” tobacco from the white men. She became an addict.

When Aunt Fanny accepted Christ at her advanced age, others in the tribe took notice. Before her conversion, she was badly stooped over and was partly paralyzed in her mouth and an arm. After she accepted Christ, she was healed and could stand straight and would regularly walk 8 to 10 miles each day. She received widespread attention in the secular press because of her age. Numerous articles about Aunt Fanny appeared in newspapers across the United States throughout the 1920s. She shared her Christian testimony wherever she went, according to these press reports.

According to a lengthy 1925 article in the Times Standard newspaper published in Eureka, California, Aunt Fanny walked between five and eight miles to attend services at the Hoopa Pentecostal mission. The mission (now known as Hoopa Assembly of God) affiliated with the Assemblies of God in 1927. The article also noted that Aunt Fanny was able to overcome her tobacco addiction shortly after converting to Christ. The article reported: “Aunt Fanny . . . believes devoutly in healing, and attributes the fact that she is now able to stand straighter than in former years to Divine healing.”

J. D. Wells, an early Assemblies of God missionary to Native Americans, shared Aunt Fanny’s story with readers of the February 8, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. At the time, she was 109 years old and continued to present a strong Christian witness. He wrote, “Every one on the reservation welcomes Fanny for a stay at the home, as they feel that God will bless their household while she is present, and this seems to be the truth.”

Read the article, “A Veteran Enters the Lord’s Army,” by J. D. Wells, on pages 10-11 of the February 8, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Need of the Hour,” by Flem Van Meter

• “Divine Healing,” by J. N. Hoover

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangelarchived 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

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Successful Church Planting in the Assemblies of God: Cumberland, Maryland in the 1940s and 1950s

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This Week in AG History–January 31, 1954
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 29 January 2015

Church planting has always been part of the DNA of the Assemblies of God. While specific programs and personnel come and go, each new generation of leaders has emphasized the importance of starting new churches. In the 1950s, the National Home Missions Department (now U.S. Missions) promoted the “Mother Church Plan.” This program encouraged each Assembly of God congregation to start a “daughter church.”

The January 31, 1954, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted how one historic congregation, Central Assembly of God in Cumberland, Maryland, had started four churches in neighboring communities in the previous five years. Central Assembly of God, established in 1915, experienced a revival in 1939. As a result of this revival, young people in the church felt stirred to action and began holding prayer meetings in small towns without Assemblies of God churches. The prayer meetings developed into “outstations,” where small groups gathered for services in rented buildings, schoolhouses, or homes. Each outstation had a superintendent and was under the oversight of the “mother church.” A carload of people from Central Assembly of God, including speakers and musicians, would travel to the outstations to help with the services. The mother church financially and spiritually assisted its daughter churches in this manner until the new congregations grew and could become self-sustaining.

Central Assembly of God’s first daughter church to become self-sustaining was in Bedford Valley, Pennsylvania. By 1954 the Bedford Valley Assembly had an average attendance of 140 people. The Bedford Valley congregation soon mothered its own church in Rainesburg, Pennsylvania. The mother church, according to the Pentecostal Evangel article, had become a grandparent! Central Assembly of God planted two additional churches, in Fort Ashby, West Virginia, and Carpenter’s Addition, West Virginia.

Initially, some members of the Cumberland church were concerned that sending some of its best members to other communities to plant churches would weaken the mother church. However, the opposite proved true. The daughter churches broadened the mother church’s sphere of influence, and new leaders stepped up to fill the open ministry positions. The mother church became a ministry hub for a broader geographic region. In 1940, approximately 100 people attended Central Assembly of God’s Sunday School. By 1953, this number had risen to 342. The combined Sunday School attendance of the mother church and the daughter churches was about 700 people.

While the National Home Missions Department began promoting the “Mother Church Plan” in the 1950s, the concept had already been tried and found successful across the Fellowship. The 2009 General Council approved a similar program, whereby a church would be able to register its outreaches, which are distinct from the parent church, as “Parent Affiliated Churches.”

Read the article, “They Exist to Evangelize!” on pages 10-11 of the January 31, 1954, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Marvelous Healing,” by Mrs. Lee Jones

• “Miraculous Healing and Conversion,” by John C. Jackson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangelarchived 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

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W. W. Simpson’s Missionary Work in China


This Week in AG History–January 5, 1918
By Glenn Gohr

Also published in PE News, 6 January 2015

One of the best-known missionaries in the Assemblies of God was W. W. Simpson, an early missionary to Tibet and China. He was already on the mission field prior to the formation of the AG, and he was baptized in the Holy Spirit at Taochow, China, in 1912. After serving two years as principal of Bethel Bible Training School in Newark, New Jersey, Simpson returned to China in 1918 to continue his missionary work.

In the January 5, 1918, issue of the Evangel, with an article titled “Bro. W. W. Simpson’s Plans,” he  laid out a strategic plan for ministry in China. Some of the goals included: establishing a New Testament church, reaching out to Mandarin-speaking Chinese, establishing a Bible school for training Chinese preachers, setting up a training home for new missionaries, and holding Pentecostal meetings in new stations of missionary work.

Launching out with renewed vigor, the Simpson family located at Chenchow, Honan Province of China and later at Labrang, near the Tibetan border. Simpson writes: “I am still in the prime of life, just forty-eight years of age, and in good health.  And I have three children, Margaret, aged 20; Louise, aged 18; and William, aged 16, who belong to the Lord also for His work, and are eager to go forth to His service in China.” (His wife, Otilia, had passed away with cancer in 1917 while the family was living in New Jersey.)

For additional information, read the article, “Bro. W. W. Simpson’s Plans,” on page 7 of the January 5, 1918, issue of The Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Jews in Palestine.”

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

• “The Remarkable Spread of Pentecost in Chile,” by W. C. Hoover

• “Questions and Answers,” by E. N. Bell

• “Report From Maryland,” by O. P. Brann

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

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Work Amongst the Soldiers


This Week in AG History–December 22, 1917
By Glenn Gohr

Also published in PE News, 19 December 2014

Ministry to military servicemen has been promoted in the Assemblies of God almost from the beginning. Known for his patriotic red, white, and blue tent outreaches in World War II, Raymond T. Richey first began ministering to servicemen during World War I. Throughout his lifetime he ministered to thousands of military personnel and civilians in healing campaigns all across the globe.

In this edition of the Evangel, Richey reports on a big campaign scheduled to take place in Houston, Texas, on Dec. 23. In “Work Amongst the Soldiers,” he reports that the building would by 80 x 150 feet and would seat more than 2,000 people.

“In every respect it is believed that it will be one of the truest evangelist efforts being put forth anywhere in the United States in behalf of the soldiers now in camp,” Richey states. The article continues by saying that assisting Pastor Richey “will be a corps of workers, organized to do a real soul-saving work, before the men of Camp Logan are called to go to the trenches in France.”

Richey was planning many more revival campaigns similar to this: “God’s favor on the work will mean that at every point in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, where troops from the Northern and Central Mississippi Valley States are located, that such Tabernacle meetings will be conducted by real Holy Ghost filled leaders.”

Read the article, “Work Amongst the Soldiers” on page 10 of the Dec. 22, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Christmas Worship”

• “The Supernatural,” by F. A. Hale

• “Questions and Answers,” by E. N. Bell

• “The Porto Rican Revival,” by Frank Ortiz, Jr.

• “God’s Redeeming Love,” by Susan C. Easton

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now!

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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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Second AG General Council Marks 100th Anniversary

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By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published in AG-News, Thu, 13 Nov 2014 – 8:41 AM CST

One hundred years ago, hundreds of Assemblies of God pastors, evangelists and missionaries traveled to Chicago to attend the second General Council. Held November 15-29, 1914, at the Stone Church, this meeting’s explicit purpose was “to lay a firm foundation upon which to build the Assemblies of God.”

The Assemblies of God had been organized just seven months earlier in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The young Fellowship grew quickly as existing independent ministers joined its ranks. They appreciated the vision for fellowship, accountability and structure, while maintaining the autonomy of the local congregation. This growth caused founding chairman E. N. Bell to call for a second meeting, in order to make urgent decisions about the future of the new organization.

The Stone Church, one of the largest Pentecostal congregations in America, could easily accommodate the expected 1,000 participants. Delegates to the meeting made several important structural changes. They decided to move the headquarters from Findlay, Ohio, to St. Louis, Missouri, which would provide a more central location in a larger city. Delegates voted to expand the number of executive presbyters from 12 to 16, making the leadership more representative of the constituency. New leadership was also elected and Gospel Publishing House was authorized to expand its operations.

But the most far-reaching decision at the second General Council was one that was not on the original agenda. Assemblies of God leaders planned to take a missionary offering at the conclusion of the General Council. They had written articles encouraging people to bring money to give to missions. But the pastor of the Stone Church decided that the final offering should instead go to his own church, to help defray expenses related to hosting the council. Assemblies of God leaders, although frustrated with this turn of events, did not oppose the pastor’s request. Instead, they decided to issue a strongly-worded resolution in which they committed the Assemblies of God, from that point forward, to the cause of world evangelization. L. C. Hall drafted the resolution, which read:

“As a Council, we hereby express our gratitude to God for His great blessing upon the movement in the past. We are grateful to Him for the results attending this forward movement and we commit ourselves and the movement to Him for the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen. We pledge our hearty cooperation, prayers and help to this end.”

This iconic resolution, unanimously adopted by the delegates, has been widely quoted as illustrating how support for missions is part of the DNA of the Assemblies of God.

There is more to the story. In the spring of 1915, something shocking was discovered about the Stone Church pastor, R. L. Erickson, who had refused to let the offering go to missions. The May 29, 1915, issue of the “Weekly Evangel” alerted readers that Erickson had been removed from the ministerial list due to moral failure. In a lengthy article, E. N. Bell detailed how Erickson’s “greed” was evidence of poor moral character, which also manifested itself in other harmful ways in his life and ministry. What Satan meant for harm, Bell wrote, God could turn into good. And one hundred years later, the Assemblies of God remains committed to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.”

Read E. N. Bell’s article, “The Great Outlook,” in which he details the events surrounding the adoption of the resolution regarding missions, on pages 3 and 4 of the May 29, 1915, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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