Category Archives: Missions

Hermano Pablo: Assemblies of God Missionary and Media Pioneer in Latin America

This Week in AG History —June 16, 1963

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 17 June 2021

Growing up as an Assemblies of God missionary kid in Puerto Rico in the 1920s and 1930s, Paul Finkenbinder (1921-2012) dreamed of reaching not just one country but all of Latin America with the gospel of Christ. He returned to the United States to attend Zion Bible Institute (Providence, Rhode Island) and Central Bible Institute (Springfield, Missouri). In 1943, he and his wife, Linda, packed up and moved to El Salvador where Paul began to work his dream into reality.

As Assemblies of God missionaries, Paul and Linda spent the next 12 years teaching in Bible schools, ministering in churches, and making themselves available for whatever needs arose in ministry. In 1955, God gave Paul a vision for expanding the message he was preaching through the larger avenue of short-wave radio broadcasts. At the time, radio was still a novelty for many living in Latin America.

Beginning with a Webcor recorder mounted on a missionary barrel in his garage, Paul began recording a short radio program called “La Iglesia del Aire” (The Church of the Air). By 1963, this 15-minute broadcast was the only gospel network program heard daily in all Latin America. Hermano Pablo (Brother Paul) began receiving testimonies from across the region of what God was doing through the radio messages. Of the six daily broadcasts, two were devoted to evangelistic sermons, one to issues of morality, and another addressed Bible questions. The remaining two were given to Scripture readings, Christian poetry, and gospel music.

In 1960, the ministry, then known as LARE (Latin American Radio Evangelism), pioneered the use of Christian drama to present parables and Bible stories on television. The response was overwhelming. This led to the production of six Bible drama films that are still in use today throughout Latin America. The realization of Brother Paul’s dream required utilizing every tool available — radio, television, the printed page, crusades, and special events — to present the Gospel of Christ to all of Latin America.

In 1964, Hermano Pablo and his family returned to the United States and established their headquarters in Costa Mesa, California. After four years in a makeshift recording studio in their garage, God provided a building for their studios and offices. Today Hermano Pablo Ministries’ four-minute “Un Mensaje a la Conciencia” (A Message to the Conscience) is broadcast more than 6,000 times per day and is published in over 80 periodicals. The Spanish language radio and television programs, along with the newspaper and magazine columns, are shipped to more than 33 countries of the world.

Hermano Pablo was honored by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) with the award for the “Hispanic Program of the Year.” Other awards include “Best Film of the Year” given by the National Evangelical Film Foundation (NEFF), and the “Best Spanish Broadcast” Angel Award given by Religion in Media (RIM). In 1993, the NRB awarded Hermano Pablo the “Milestone Award” for 50 years of service in religious broadcasting, and in 2003 he received the prestigious NRB Chairman’s Award.

On Jan. 25, 2012, Paul and Linda celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Later that evening he complained of a severe headache and was taken to the hospital where he slipped into a coma. Paul Finkenbinder died in the morning hours of Jan. 27, 2012, but the ministry of Hermano Pablo continues to live and thrive across an entire continent.

Hermano Pablo and his ministry were featured in an article, “La Iglesia del Aire,” published on pages 12-13 of the June 16, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Should A Christian Have A Breakdown,” by Anne Sandberg

• “A Former Gambler Testifies,” by Arthur Condrey

• “Another Minister Led Into Pentecostal Blessing,” by Ansley Orfila

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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Adeline Wichman and Pauline Smith: Assemblies of God Missionaries to Ghana

Adeline Wichman (left) and Pauline Smith (right), missionaries to Ghana, circa 1960s.

This Week in AG History —May 31, 1959

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 03 June 2021

When Adeline Wichman (1914-2004) and Pauline Smith (1916-2003) sat down in the dining room of Central Bible Institute (CBI, later Central Bible College, Springfield, Missouri) to talk about what they would do after graduation, they had no idea the conversation would lead to a 47-year partnership that would span two continents, expose them to dangers from which most others would flee, and impact thousands of believers across the Gold Coast of Africa.

Wichman grew up in Wisconsin and Smith in Delaware, and they met in Missouri at CBI. They had not been close friends during their college years, but as their 1943 graduation loomed upon them, they concluded it would be better to go together into the ministry than try to go it alone. CBI principal W.I. Evans and dean of women Eleanor Bowie both recommended them to a ministry in Washington, D.C., where they could assist in ministering to the young men serving in World War II. Together, the two women went willingly and served faithfully.

In a prayer meeting on New Year’s Eve, both women sensed separately a call to pursue ministry in Africa. International missions work was not something they had previously discussed. However, they talked after the service and discovered that the other had sensed the same call. They applied for missionary appointment with the Assemblies of God and were approved as “workers together.” In April 1946, they arrived in the Gold Coast, now known as Ghana, West Africa.

The weather was hot and humid and the women found insects, lizards, and snakes to be their constant roommates. They set about learning a new language in the evenings after working through the day to establish themselves with the Dagomba people of Yendi.

They discovered that portions of the Bible had already been translated into the language of the Dagomba but were no longer being printed. Smith and Wichman procured a Multigraph printer and painstakingly set out the type, letter by letter, to provide the Scriptures for their new friends.

After their first term, Smith and Wichman moved together to Wale Wale, also in northern Ghana. Believing that their priority was to make biblically literate disciples of Jesus Christ, they set up reading schools so that the villagers could read the Bible in their own language. Through these outreaches, entire villages turned to Christ, destroyed their fetishes, and supported a local pastor rather than a village witch doctor.

In 1959, a new opportunity opened itself up as the government schools presented the idea of conducting a daily “religion class” for students. Wichman and Smith had been in the country for more than a decade and were well respected. Soon requests came from 13 schools in their area for lessons that could be taught to the children. “A Door of Opportunity,” a report of this new ministry, was published in the May 31, 1959, Pentecostal Evangel. The women wrote, “the opportunity also presented a problem. It is one thing to tell a Bible story from time to time, but to prepare daily material is something else … the teachers are not schooled in the Word, and the pupils know very little about the Scriptures and nothing about God.” Smith and Wichman had occasionally received Sunday School papers in English through BGMC (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge) but they now needed more than 1300 papers and needed them immediately.

With the need so pressing, the women decided to write a basic catechism of Christian doctrine that would take the children through a month of lessons. They began with an understanding of God, including simple questions, “Who is God?,” “Where is God?,” and simple answers, along with a Scripture verse. They also included prayers for the children to learn, such as The Lord’s Prayer, mealtime prayers, and bedtime prayers. They then prepared 25 lessons on Jesus, salvation, the Bible, and other doctrines until they had lessons to cover 250 school days. At the time of publication, 1300 Ghanaian boys and girls, ages 5 to 13 were learning the answers to questions such as, “Who is Jesus?,” “Why did He come?,” “How many gods are there?,” from a biblical perspective.

After three terms in Wale Wale, Smith and Wichman moved to Bawku and continued the same kinds of ministry with the Kusasi people. Over their near 50 years serving together in Ghana, these partners experienced malaria, snake bites, and various other threats while being involved in literacy campaigns, prison ministry, church planting, Bible school teaching, medical work, and even organizing the first Assemblies of God men’s ministry in the nation.

During their last terms in Ghana, they were considered “semi-retired” but still taught in the Bible schools and ministered wherever the doors were opened. They were especially loved by the missionary children as they became fun-loving “aunties” filling in for extended families who were far away in the United States.

Upon retirement in 1993, Ghanaian church leaders thanked Wichman and Smith for their example of faith-filled Christianity – “simple, uncluttered, hardworking, sincere, dedicated, and selfless.” The two women found themselves coming full circle, as they moved to Maranatha Village in Springfield, Missouri, within sight of where they first met more than 50 years earlier. Their commitment that they would be “better together” held steadfast, with the roommates passing away within a year of each other, Smith at age 87, and Wichman at age 90.

Read Adeline Wichman and Pauline Smith’s article, “A Door of Opportunity,” on page 5 of the May 31, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Revival Continues in South Africa” by Vernon Pettenger

• “An Idol Worshipper’s Dream” by John Stetz

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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Clement Le Cossec: The French Pentecostal Pastor Who Became an Apostle to the Gypsies

Clement Le Cossec (far left), with a Gypsy family

This Week in AG History —March 30, 1969

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 01 April 2021

When Clement Le Cossec (1921-2001) was growing up in Brittany, a province in northwest France, his mother warned him, “Be careful! If you are not good, the [Roma, also known as] Gypsies will come and steal you away!” Frightened, Le Cossec promised his mother he would be good, so that he would never have to live with the Gypsies. Yet, God had a plan for him, and when this French pastor died in 2001, more than 2,000 Gypsies from across Europe attended his funeral, mourning the loss of the man who came to be known as “The Apostle to the Gypsies.” 

The March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared the fascinating story of Le Cossec and his ministry to the Gypsies. 

In 1952, while pastoring a church in Rennes, France, Le Cossec held a preaching campaign in Brest, near Normandy. At the end of one of the meetings a strongly built, dark man approached him and asked if the pastor would visit “us” at an encampment in the hedges alongside the road leading into town. When Le Cossec arrived, he found a caravan of trailers and a group of people with a story to tell. 

Two years earlier, one of the young men, Zino, had been given a terminal diagnosis. A traveling Pentecostal preacher prayed for him and he experienced healing. Upon hearing what had happened to Zino, his brother, Mandz, determined to tell the story of how God had power to heal in the name of Jesus. Since that time many of the Gypsies in this caravan had come to faith in Christ, but they had a serious problem. They heard that to be obedient to Christ they must be baptized. Mandz had gone from pastor to pastor asking for someone to come and baptize them but none were willing. 

Le Cossec invited them to come to a prayer meeting in a church member’s home. He opened the meeting by saying, “We are going to change the form of the meeting. We are not tied to a routine. We want to be sensitive to the direction of the Spirit. We are going to pray with our Gypsy brothers and sisters to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” After a brief meditation, the Gypsies knelt on the earthen floor and began to praise the Lord with all their hearts. Mandz suddenly lay on the floor, with his face down, and started to speak tongues. Many others shared his same experience. Le Cossec announced to the group, “The baptisms will be next week!” 

After the baptismal service, the police made the Gypsy caravan move from the area, and Le Cossec returned to his church in Rennes. One year later, in 1953, both Le Cossec and the Gypsies returned to Brest for a meeting. After the baptisms of the previous year, more than 100 Gypsies had come to know Christ, but Le Cossec could see that they were troubled. They shared with him, “Brother, on the road we have no one to lead meetings with us. Each evening when we stop, we light a fire and we gather around to sing and pray. If there is someone in the group, even a child, who knows how to read we ask him to read from the Bible. We need a servant of God.” Le Cossec replied, “That is impossible. There are no servants of God in Brittany who are free” to travel with you. 

Le Cossec felt he must help the Gypsies in some way. When the caravans came close to his church he would hold reading and Bible classes. But by 1958, more than 3,000 Gypsies had been converted, and Le Cossec could no longer be indifferent to this flock of sheep without a shepherd. A decision had to be made. He had a house and an assured salary and eight children who depended on him. The church in Rennes was doing well. Wouldn’t it be folly to leave a secure position and join his family to a caravan of traveling Gypsies? “There was a battle in my heart … but putting all my trust in the Lord, and refusing to count the cost, I threw myself into an adventure of faith … how very meaningful Christ’s words: ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.’” 

Eleven years later, in the 1969 Pentecostal Evangel articleLe Cossec shared with American readers how more than 20,000 Gypsies were serving the Lord. He told of their meetings in caravan conferences across Europe, including in Germany, where Hitler’s Nazi regime had exterminated tens of thousands of Gypsies in concentration camps. 

Le Cossec and his family traveled with the Gypsies through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and India. By his death at age 80, the “Apostle to the Gypsies” had traveled in more than 40 countries sharing the message that Gypsies, who had been “a rejected community,” have instead become “an elect community” in the Lord. On his tombstone, his friends and family engraved the words of Luke 14:22: “The servant said, ‘Master, what you have commanded has been done.’” 

Read more about Le Cossec’s Gypsy conference in Germany in “One People from Many Nations,” on page 16 of the March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel

Also featured in this issue:

• “Gifts of Healing,” by Howard Carter

• “How Can I Know God’s Will,” by J.W. Jepson

• “The Balm of Gratitude,” by Mel De Vries

And many more! 

Click here 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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Esther Harvey: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionary to India

This Week in AG History — September 17, 1938

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 17 September 2020

Esther Bragg Harvey (1891-1986) served Jesus Christ and the people of India for 48 years before retiring as an Assemblies of God missionary in 1961. During her first nine years on the field she buried three children and her young husband. Yet when she passed away at age 95, hundreds of Indian children called her “Mama.”

Esther Bragg was not raised in a Christian home; yet at the age of 12 she witnessed the peace her grandfather experienced, singing a hymn as he passed from the earth. The young girl determined to find the God of her grandfather. When she asked about going to church her father forbade her to “get religion.” Bragg would sneak out of the house to attend church, often finding herself locked out of the house on her return. Her father finally told her she must choose between leaving the church or leaving her home. Heartbroken at the thought of leaving her mother, Bragg turned to God in prayer. The Lord gave her a vision of himself carrying His cross. She saw that her cross was much smaller than His and asked the Lord to forgive her and help her to carry whatever cross He laid on her back. Her father soon relented.

In her senior year of high school, Bragg became very ill. Pentecostal believers from a local mission prayed for her and she was healed. She began to attend Pentecostal services and in 1911 enrolled in a short-term Bible school in Norwalk, Ohio, where she met J. Roswell and Alice Flower. The couple led her into an experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and Harvey soon felt that God was leading her to mission work in India.

In obedience, Bragg set sail for India arriving in December 1913. Just a few months after her arrival, word came from a mission in Nawabganj that some American missionaries had to leave suddenly and left a 27-year-old former British soldier, James Harvey, alone to carry on the work. He had no money and no supplies and was in desperate need, traveling from village to village without even a pair of shoes. Bragg felt that she could be helpful and responded in answer to the call for help.

Unbeknownst to the other, both Esther Bragg and James Harvey wrote in their journals that they felt the Lord had brought them together. Soon “together” became the word that defined them, as they were married later that year (1914). Together they received some of the first credentials with the newly formed Assemblies of God, and together they traveled — holding meetings, helping others, encouraging workers, discipling new Christians, and building a school for boys. With joy they discovered that “together” would soon include another little life.

But their dreams were crushed and together they buried their first baby. Another new life promised hope, but a second small grave was dug next to the first. When a third pregnancy brought promise, Esther found herself also gripped with fear. However, God blessed them with a strong and healthy baby girl. A baby boy followed soon after but was soon very sickly and weak. Esther prayed, “Lord, I cannot and I will not give him up. I must keep him.” In her prayer, she was reminded of the commitment she made before she left for India: “I put it all on the altar — the things I know and the things I don’t know.” She realized losing children was one of the things she “didn’t know” and she had already laid them on the altar before they had even been born. Soon the heartbroken parents had three little graves near their mission house. Together James and Esther continued their work.

After bearing four babies in eight years, and burying three of them, the Harvey’s felt they had born well what had been laid on them. Then, in 1922, James became gravely ill. Esther nursed him for a month, while carrying on the school and mission work and caring for their 3-year-old daughter. In her exhaustion, she prayed for God to heal James quickly so she could get some rest. She felt the work was too great for her to carry alone and she could not go on waiting for James to get better. After two days and nights without sleep caring for her husband, Esther physically collapsed when she realized James had slipped away from the bonds of earth.

In her grief and weakness, Harvey fell into a deep depression. She could not pray and despaired that she had failed God in her short 29 years of life. But when she found herself too weak to do any praying on her own, others stepped in to pray for her. Soon she felt her strength return. A friend brought the young widow and her child into her home for rest. The presence of the Lord drew near and she felt resurrection life bring her back from the brink. Previously, she had leaned on her husband for strength, but now the single mother learned to trust the Lord’s strength to be sufficient to help her lead the school her husband had begun in Sharannagar.

Over the next 27 years, Esther established a church and oversaw the James Harvey Memorial School, building a missionary bungalow, sleeping quarters for workers, school buildings, and a dormitory for the orphan boys. In the Sept. 17, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, the editors published an SOS letter from Harvey detailing the destruction of the mission from flooding. They were in a critical place due to collapsing buildings, deadly cobras being washed up into their sleeping areas, and no money to buy food or help with rebuilding. Harvey wrote to the American Assemblies of God church members that, “we are in a desperate situation with not one cent of money to help ourselves or anyone else.” The editors encouraged the Evangel readers to give to “one of our largest mission stations in North India.”

God and the Assemblies of God responded to the need and the James Harvey Secondary School continues to this day in 2020.

After her retirement, Harvey traveled to American churches to share the needs of India. In her book, The Faithfulness of God, she looked back on her life and wrote, “I have had to go through many things, one sorrow after another, but I always found He giveth grace. When we are called to pass through the waters, He is there to hold us up.” She died at age 95, trusting in the God she began seeking at age 12. Even though she buried so many of her own children, her tombstone at Greenlawn Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri, calls her “Mama ji” – the name she was given by the children of northern India.

Read Esther Harvey’s request for help, “Calamity Strikes Sharannagar Mission,” on page 6 of the Sept. 17, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “For Jonathan’s Sake” by Carrie Judd Montgomery

• “Not By…But By” by F.M. Bellsmith

• “Are We Blind Also” by John L. Franklin

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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Andrew Urshan and the Persecution of Early Pentecostals in Iran

This Week in AG History — August 19, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 20 August 2020

Andrew D. Urshan (1884-1967), the son of a Presbyterian pastor in Persia (now Iran), immigrated to the United States in 1901. He was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1908 in Chicago, where he started a Persian Pentecostal mission. He returned to his homeland in 1914 as an Assemblies of God missionary and, amidst much persecution, helped to establish an enduring Pentecostal church.

Urshan shared his testimony in a series of three articles published in 1916 in the Pentecostal Evangel. Persia was a melting pot of numerous people groups, including Arabs, Jews, and Armenians. But Urshan felt a call to minister to his own people, the Assyrians. The Assyrians, who mostly belonged to various Christian churches, had a long history of suffering as a persecuted religious and ethnic minority.

Interestingly, most of the persecution experienced by Urshan and other Pentecostals came from other Christians. Urshan recounted that Muslim leaders treated him with respect, because the Pentecostals and the Muslims shared similar moral values. When Urshan was placed in jail for preaching the gospel, Muslim leaders stated, “He says people shouldn’t get drunk, and that is why they have imprisoned him.”

Pentecostal revival spread in the Assyrian community. Urshan related the stories of the birth of Pentecostal churches in five towns. In each new church, miracles and changed lives were accompanied by suffering. In the town of Urmia, a mob of Eastern Orthodox Christians attacked a group of Pentecostal girls who were headed to church. The mob shot their rifles at the young converts, hitting three and killing one of the girls. The grief and violence did not deter the Pentecostals from meeting. Ultimately, about 50 people accepted Christ and were baptized in the Holy Spirit in Urmia. Similar stories happened in each town touched by Pentecostal revival.

Urshan pleaded for readers in America to learn from the deep spirituality of Persian believers. He wrote, “I have seen young girls like some of you interceding and agonizing for the salvation of souls in the whole world.” These young Persians, he explained, “walked carefully, with their eyes and hearts filled with God, singing praises unto Jesus, and pleading tearfully with souls, before their persecutors.”

When Urshan returned to America, he was troubled by the lack of consecration he found in some churches. Many Christians he met seemed to live “careless” lives and seemed most interested in “fashions of dress” and “the pleasures of this world.” Urshan wrote that he “suffered in the spirit” for American Christians. People who are “in danger of death,” he surmised, may actually be better off spiritually. Americans, he believed, should seek to cultivate spiritual depth by learning from the suffering church.

Read the series of three articles by Andrew D. Urshan, “Pentecost in Persia,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Click here for the Aug. 19, 1916, issue.

Click here for the Aug. 26, 1916, issue.

Click here for the Sept. 2, 1916, issue.

Also featured in the Aug. 19, 1916, issue:

• “The Unity of the Spirit,” by W. Jethro Walthall

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

And many more!

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

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

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

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Paul and Evelyn Derr: Eyewitnesses to the Sinking of the ZamZam

Zamzam_1400This Week in AG History — July 19, 1941

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 23 July 2020

One of the gripping stories from World War II is the sinking of the ZamZam and the rescue of its inhabitants. Paul K. Derr gave an eyewitness account of the ZamZam voyage in 1941.

After completing a furlough, Assemblies of God missionaries Paul (1895-1986) and Evelyn Derr (1897-1994) boarded the Egyptian ship ZamZam to return to the former British Tanganika Territory. Traveling with them were their daughter, Ruth, and her husband, Claude Keck. A total of 136 missionaries and family members from 19 different faiths, as well as many others of all walks of life were on board the ship. It was carrying civilian passengers and was neutral in the war.

No one expected the ship to sink in the Atlantic Ocean!

On March 27, 1941, eight months before the U.S. entered World War II, the ship left New York bound for Alexandria, Egypt, stopping at Trinidad and Brazil and then heading toward the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

Early on the morning of April 17, amid the darkness of night, the German raider Atlantis (disguised as the freighter, Tamesis) misidentified the ZamZam as a British troopship and began shelling the ship without warning, striking it multiple times. The boat began sinking. Almost immediately, the panic-stricken passengers scrambled to lifeboats, although several of the lifeboats had been damaged by the gunfire.

The passengers and crew successfully evacuated, and the crew of the Atlantis eventually rescued everyone, and only a few were injured. Afterward the Germans sank what remained of the ZamZam with explosives.

Except for three men very critically injured, the ZamZamers were transferred from the raider to a small German freighter on April 18, the day after the sinking. The name of the freighter was Dresden, but for the ZamZamers it came to be known as “the prison ship.” They remained on that ship for almost six weeks, not knowing their fate.

The U.S. was not yet in World War II, so the Germans released the Derrs and other Americans to neutral Portugal. The Derrs were able to board an American ship called Exeter and then returned to the U.S. for the duration of the war.

Derr, in recalling the trauma, wrote, “We look back and see that our faith in God has been strengthened and our trust has become more sure in the Lord who cares for His own.”

After the war, Paul and Evelyn Derr returned to the land of their calling, serving as missionaries for three more years in Tanganyika Territory. They also served a term in Jamaica before retiring from missionary service.

This story of the sinking of the ZamZam was extensively covered by LIFE Magazine because one of their photojournalists was on the ship and took over 1,500 pictures, although most of these pictures were confiscated by the Germans. Now, almost 80 years later, this dramatic story is still captivating.

Read “Our Experience on the Zam Zam” on pages 1 and 11 of the July 19, 1941, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Plan For Setting the World Aflame,” by Sarah Foulkes Moore

• “Judgment and Revival,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “The Place of Refuge is the Place of Light,” by J. Narver Gortner

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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Harold and Beatrice Kohl: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionary Educators

This Week in AG History — July 3, 1966

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, AG News, 2 July 2020

Harold Kohl (1923-2005) and Beatrice Wells Kohl (1926 – ) faithfully served the Assemblies of God as evangelists, pastors, missionaries, and educators. Beatrice began her ministry as a 9-year-old child evangelist and met Harold when his youth group hosted her 15th birthday party during revival services she was conducting at his church in Elizabeth, New Jersey. They struck up a conversation that led to a marriage and more than 50 years of ministry together.

Both Harold and Beatrice felt a call to ministry at the time of their respective baptisms in the Holy Spirit. After their marriage in 1946, they began traveling as evangelists and served as D-CAP (District Christ’s Ambassadors President) of the Potomac district’s youth organization. In 1948 they accepted the pastorate at Kitzmiller, Maryland. After two years of prosperous ministry, both Harold and Beatrice felt impressed of God to resign their church, but neither sensed what they were to do next.

In an act of difficult obedience, Harold tendered his resignation on a Wednesday evening and the couple walked into their rented home that evening and immediately knelt at the sofa to ask the Lord for clarity on what they were to do next. Neither of them felt a confidence in their next step.

On Saturday evening, a letter arrived from Derrick Hillary, missionary in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). His wife, Dorcas, was very ill and he felt that their term would be cut short. The Kohls had worked hard to raise money for a Speed the Light vehicle for them and Hillary felt impressed that God was calling the Kohls to take their place. He asked if they were willing to begin the process immediately to devote five years of their lives to missionary work in Ceylon.

After praying together, Harold and Beatrice filled out the paperwork, met with the Division of Foreign Missions (now AG World Missions), were accepted, and began their itineration to raise support. There was an urgent need, and God blessed them, and they were able to raise all their funds within four months! The Kohls served in Ceylon for five years as pastors, evangelists, and radio broadcasters, and oversaw the development of evangelistic and training literature.

After their term was up in 1956, they returned to the United States to serve in pastoral and church planting ministry in New Jersey. During a powerful move of God in a Sunday evening service in 1962, Harold and Beatrice felt again the call from God to resign their church and prepare for a return to missionary service. After several weeks of prayer, Harold called Maynard Ketcham, Asia field director, and asked him to pray with them for direction.

Meanwhile, Ketcham was praying about a need in his region. Several Bible institutes were training ministers; however, the schools were dependent on missionaries to serve as faculty. Ketcham saw the need for an indigenous church with administration and faculty of the schools in the hands of national leaders. Many of their ministers were going to non-Pentecostal schools and returned with views at variance to Pentecostalism. Others were traveling to the West for education and staying in the United States or Europe after receiving their education. Ketcham had the vision for an advanced international training school that would be thoroughly Pentecostal and rigorously academic. After praying about it, Ketcham contacted the Kohls to ask them if they would be interested in taking on this task.

Harold and Beatrice arrived in the Philippines in March 1963. Together with Ketcham, they invited various regional Assemblies of God organizations to send representatives to a meeting designed to plan the shape of the proposed new school. Representatives from Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Burma, and the Marshall Islands formed the Far East Bible School Administrative Committee, of which Harold Kohl served as chair.

It was agreed that the new school should be located on the grounds of Bethel Bible Institute in Malinta, Valenzuela, a suburb of Manila, and that it should be named Far East Advanced School of Theology (FEAST). Classes began in Harold Kohl’s office in the Fall of 1963, with five students completing the first semester. The first building was dedicated debt-free in 1964.

Beatrice set to work building a library for the new school. She took classes in Library Science and beginning in 1964, the Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade (BGMC) contributed a substantial amount of money for the development of the FEAST library. The Kohls managed the business of the school, recruited faculty and students, and worked to receive government permission for international students to receive visas to study in the Philippines. During this time, Harold also completed a Master of Arts degree in Education from New York University, and Beatrice attended Philippine Women’s College in Manila.

In an article in the July 3, 1966, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Harold wrote, “Bible schools have given necessary stability and continuing thrust to the work of the Church in the Philippines.” He referenced FEAST as “a new venture of faith” whose “purpose is to help ministers who have completed regular Bible school training prepare for Christian leadership and Bible school teaching.”

In 1973, Harold and Beatrice joined the International Correspondence Institute (ICI, now known as Global University) in Brussels, Belgium, developing its college division degree. Harold served as chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and Beatrice served as librarian. Aside from a year long stint as president of the Full Gospel Theological Seminary in Seoul, Korea, the Kohls continued to serve both ICI and FEAST until their retirement in 1993.

Over the years, FEAST moved from Manila to its own beautiful campus in Baguio City. Its name has been changed to Asia Pacific Theological Seminary and it now offers masters degrees and a Doctor of Ministry program. It is considered one of the finest centers of theological education in Asia.

Read Harold Kohl’s report, “Bible School Bias” on page 8 of the July 3, 1966, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “What Darkness Cannot Dim” by Joseph Sizoo

• “Trophy of Divine Grace” by Eunice Myrah

• “I Heard the Angels Sing” by Arthur F. Berg

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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Evangelism is not Optional: Christians will either Evangelize or Apostatize

tent revivalThis Week in AG History — May 23, 1954

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 21 May 2020

Could there be a task that is more important or more daunting than the evangelization of the world? James Stewart, in a 1954 Pentecostal Evangel article, challenged readers to creatively and proactively fulfill the Great Commission. He wrote, “The magnitude of the unfinished task forces us to witness in unconventional places, at unconventional times, with an unconventional approach. It is our duty to go to the unsaved with the Gospel and not wait until they come to us.”

Stewart appealed to the testimonies of believers from centuries past to inspire the current generation to reach the lost for Christ. He noted that many heralded evangelists ministered outside the walls of church buildings. John Wesley preached in a cemetery, atop his father’s tombstone. The Apostle Paul preached Christ on Mars Hill among the pagan temples and Greek philosophers. Dwight L. Moody accepted Christ in a shoe shop.

Stewart implored readers to think of the church not as a building, but as a body of believers. Past revivals, he noted, occurred when Christians shared the gospel “in the market squares, circus tents, village greens, prisons, public houses, and everywhere the unsaved frequented.”

While holding large evangelistic services in public areas has long been important in evangelical and Pentecostal churches, Stewart admonished that evangelism must also be personal. “Mass evangelism,” he wrote, “will never be a substitute for personal evangelism.”

Personal evangelism, according to Stewart, required the involvement of “ordinary, common believers.” The great revivals of the past involved carpenters, farmers, miners, street cleaners, teachers, and men and women from all walks of life who “went forth with flaming fire.” The Bible and church history teach that professional clergy alone cannot bring revival; a true move of God must catch fire at the grassroots.

Evangelism is not optional for Christians. Stewart wrote that Christians will “either evangelize or apostatize.” His concluding remarks encouraged believers to consecrate themselves to God and to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

He wrote, “Let us dedicate our lives, talents, possessions, and time to the sacred task of worldwide witness. We are couriers of the Cross. The task is great but not impossible. The Holy Ghost is here to empower us. Without the baptism of power our ministry is in vain.”

Read the article, “The Church is Challenged!” by James Stewart, on pages 4, 10, and 11 of the May 23, 1954, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Honor the Holy Spirit!” by P. S. Jones

• “How Spurgeon Found Christ”

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: iFPHC.org

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The Ambassador Airplanes: How the Assemblies of God Became Involved in Missionary Aviation

ambassador plane 1400c

Ambassador II, circa 1950

This Week in AG History — May 13, 1950

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 14 May 2020

Did you know that the Assemblies of God owned two passenger planes just after World War II that carried Assemblies of God missionaries overseas?

Following World War II, commercial flights were not readily available, so World Missions Director Noel Perkin located two surplus army planes and converted them to missionary planes. With help from young people and Speed the Light, the Assemblies of God first bought a C-46 cargo plane for only $5,000. Another $15,000 went into the conversion for civilian passenger service. It was called the Ambassador.

It was an exciting day in August 1948 when the big twin-engine Ambassador, loaded with missionaries and with WWII veterans at the controls, lifted off from the Springfield, Missouri, airport and headed toward the East Coast and eventually to Africa. It took 10 days for the Ambassador to reach Africa on its first flight. This was still much faster than traveling by boat.

After a little over a year of missionary flights, and some domestic flights, World Missions sold the Ambassador, and replaced it with a four-engine B-17 bomber, which was also converted to passenger service. Named Ambassador II, it carried fewer passengers, but the four engines — as opposed to only two on the C-46 — made it a safer plane for crossing oceans and mountains.

For two more years the converted bomber Ambassador II transported missionaries to faraway exotic places. By that time, commercial airlines were able to provide satisfactory overseas service, and the plane was sold.

Seventy years ago, the Pentecostal Evangel gave an account of the Ambassador II airplane on a return trip from Africa back to the United States.

Missionary Irene Crane reported that she left her mission station in Nigeria on Dec. 29, 1949, and traveled to the eastern side of the Niger River to join missionaries May Garner and Elsie Weber who also were traveling back to the U.S. from Nigeria.

These lady missionaries took a local flight from Port Harcourt to Lagos, and then after obtaining visas, they flew to Accra, Gold Coast (now Ghana), to meet up with the flight crew of the Ambassador II, including flight director Robert T. McGlasson. After some delays, the group left Accra on Jan. 23, but had to return back after a report of heavy evening ground fog in Ouagadougou, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), which was their intended destination. After spending the night in a hotel at the airport, the plane left early the next morning for the three-hour flight to Ouagadougou.

Upon their arrival, the local missionaries happily greeted them. A number of them had traveled quite a distance to welcome them. They soon found out that five ducks had been prepared the night before for a feast, so everyone had been disappointed when the plane did not arrive on schedule and was delayed another day. Two more missionaries, Mabel M. Schaefer and Henry I. Dahlberg, boarded the plane in Ouagadougou, and the next stop was Roberts Field, Liberia. “It took us around four hours to reach the airport there,” said Crane. “The going was rough all the way because of the hot air currents.”

The group stayed in army barracks at Roberts Field on a Tuesday night, and on Wednesday morning they had a nice visit with Henry B. Garlock, the AG field secretary for Africa. Later that day, the Liberian missionaries took them to visit the Firestone Plantations, which everyone enjoyed.

Leaving Roberts Field in the afternoon, they added seven more passengers to the plane. After leaving the airport, they traveled through a storm. “The ship was tossed about and for a moment fear came to my heart,” said Crane. But then she remembered the many safety devices on the plane and remembered that “hundreds of people all over the world were praying for our safety.” It took 10 hours and 40 minutes to cross the Atlantic from Roberts Field to Natal, Brazil.

Crane reported that the longest stretch of the journey went from Natal to Trinidad, which took 12 hours and 40 minutes. They stayed there only long enough to eat and refuel before taking off again for St. Petersburg, Florida. They flew all night — 10 hours. Then it was a thrill to reach American soil again. The missionaries were able to stay about 24 hours at the Pinellas Park Home where they had food and sleeping quarters.

The final leg of the journey went from St. Petersburg to Springfield, Missouri, in 5 hours and 20 minutes. A large crowd was at the Springfield airport to welcome the missionaries and the staff on board the plane. Crane shared that it was a wonderful feeling to be home at last.

This was one of the first trips made by the new Ambassador II airplane, and it gives an indication of the dangers and setbacks that had to be overcome with each flight. It took planning to map out each of these destinations in order to pick up AG missionaries needing to return home, and to make adjustments when the schedule had to be changed. It was a blessing to the missionaries that they had food and sleeping accommodations already arranged for them at each destination. The plane kept a busy schedule. In the first year of operation, the Ambassador II visited 38 countries.

The transoceanic flights of the two Ambassador airplanes lasted about three years. In July 1951, the Executive Presbytery approved the sale of Ambassador II because commercial flights were becoming more common.

Read “Trip Home on Ambassador,” on page 6 of the May 13, 1950, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Entire Conformity to Christ,” by Wesley R. Steelberg

• “Jesus and His Mother,” by Alice E. Luce

• “David Anointed King,” by Ernest A. Williams

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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During WWII, Assemblies of God Gave Spanish New Testaments to Military Personnel in Central and South America

Spanish NT_1400

This illustration accompanied the May 1, 1943 Pentecostal Evangel article about Spanish new testaments. The caption read, “Our Good Neighbor Policy.”

This Week in AG History — May 1, 1943

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 30 April 2020

World War II conjures up theaters of battle in Europe, Africa, and Asia, but Latin America also served a strategic role. Following the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, most of Latin America either severed relations with the Axis powers or declared war on them. The Panama Canal, which provided a link between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, was vital to both commerce and defense and Spanish-speaking soldiers found themselves fighting alongside English- and French-speaking comrades.

The Assemblies of God sought to reach out to servicemen through the distribution of literature. The May 1, 1943, Pentecostal Evangel, reported that the Home Missions Department, under direction of Fred Vogler, had printed 3,245,000 copies of Reveille, a paper specifically designed for servicemen, at a cost of approximately $24,000.

The article also makes reference to the response of the Assemblies of God young people, known as Christ’s Ambassadors, to a request in the Oct. 17, 1942, Evangel for $7,500 to provide copies of the New Testament to Merchant Mariners, United States civilian mariners who served to deliver military personnel and materials. The Merchant Mariners died at a rate of 1 in 26, the highest rate of casualty of any service in World War II. The response of the Christ’s Ambassadors exceeded the request by $2,500, which was used to place New Testaments in waterproof containers as part of standard equipment in lifeboats and rafts of naval vessels and military airplanes.

Much of this effort was led by Harry Jaeger, a 1937 graduate of Glad Tidings Bible Institute (later Bethany University) and Assemblies of God evangelist who had a burden to reach servicemen. Through his affiliation with the American Bible Society, he began a campaign to provide Scriptures to military personnel.

As pleased as Jaeger was with the response of the Assemblies of God to provide military Bibles in English, the Florida-based evangelist saw another need — Spanish Bibles were not available for soldiers serving from Central and South America. In response, the May 1, 1943, Evangel laid out the proposition before the Assemblies of God constituency to provide 250,000 Spanish New Testaments to South and Central American military personnel with an additional 50,000 testaments to be delivered to Guatemalan missionary John L. Franklin, at the cost of $45,000.

The request for financial donations ended with a plea for prayer: “Let us definitely ask the Lord that He will open hearts to receive His Word, and that as a result of this distribution there will be many souls in heaven who otherwise might not be there. And in addition to praying, ‘whatsoever He saith to you, do it.’” Funds were to be sent to the Home Missions Department designated as “Spanish Service Testament Fund.”

As a result of his work and creative vision in distributing literature to servicemen, Jaeger was invited to move his operation from Tampa, Florida, to Springfield just a few months after this article was published. In early 1944, the Servicemen’s Department, under Jaeger’s direction, was established within the Home Missions Division. This was the beginning of what is now a part of the Chaplaincy Department of U.S. Missions of the Assemblies of God. The Assemblies of God continues to be one of the largest evangelical distributors of discipleship literature printed in the Spanish language.

Read the article, “A Great Opportunity,” on page 1 of the May 1, 1943, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Need of Spiritual Mothers” by Alice Luce

• “Because of Covetousness” by Stanley Frodsham

• “Recollections of a Pioneer Pentecostal Preacher” by Walter J. Higgins

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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