Category Archives: Missions

Gustav Schmidt Describes the Horror of Soviet Persecution of Pentecostals in the 1930s

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Assemblies of God missionary Ivan Voronaev (center) meets with new leaders of the Union on Christians of Evangelical Faith in Odessa, Ukraine (September 1926). Voronaev and countless other Slavic Pentecostals would later be imprisoned and martyred for their faith.


This Week in AG History — August 4, 1934

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 4 August 2016

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the newly formed Soviet Union launched a campaign to eradicate Christianity within its borders. It relentlessly pursued a policy of militant atheism. Clergy were imprisoned or murdered, churches were demolished or converted to other uses, and an intensive propaganda campaign sought to convince people that Christianity was a harmful superstition. It was in this context of persecution that the Pentecostal movement among Slavs (peoples of the former Soviet Union) formed its identity.

The Pentecostal movement found fertile soil in Russia. Early evangelists, impacted by the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) and the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), first brought the Pentecostal movement to Russia a decade before the 1917 revolution. Prior to the revolution, the Orthodox church occupied a favored place in society and cooperated with the czarist government to persecute both political insurgents and religious minorities, including Pentecostals.

Following the revolution, communist government officials began persecuting their former persecutors, seeking to stamp out the Orthodox church. The government soon targeted other churches, including Baptists, Mennonites, Seventh Day Adventists, and Pentecostals.

While the Soviet Union ostensibly guaranteed its citizens the “freedom of religion,” this freedom only allowed individuals the right to believe and not the right to practice their faith. If Christians practiced their faith, they became lawbreakers and were subject to fines, imprisonment, or exile to Siberia.

Laws forbade Christians to hold church services, to provide religious instruction to their children, or to share the gospel. The government further marginalized Christians by excluding them from professional and government positions.

Gustav H. Schmidt, a pioneer Assemblies of God missionary to Poland, wrote a series of three articles, published in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1934, which described the suffering endured by Pentecostals in the Soviet Union.

Slavic Pentecostals developed a deep faith burnished by persecution. Schmidt wrote, “In those prisons and places of exile matured that heroism for Christ which shrinks from no difficulties.” The communists mistakenly believed they could quash the Christian faith by destroying church buildings and imprisoning pastors.

Prisons became the proving grounds for Christian leaders. According to Schmidt, “there were many thousands of true believers who had been trained in the school of suffering and persecution.”

These Pentecostals, Schmidt wrote, became “a valiant army of gospel workers through whose testimony and preaching a mighty revival soon swept over the vast plains of Russia.” By 1930, approximately 500 Pentecostal churches had been organized in Russia and Ukraine. Each convert to Christ knew that their decision would cost them dearly.

One of the most insidious Soviet plans, according to Schmidt, was the insistence that the government, and not the parents, be in charge of the education of the youth. Government schools, hostile to Christianity, attempted to undermine the faith of the parents.

Schmidt wrote, “A mother who sends her children to school knows that they will be taught to hate God, and Christianity will be presented to them in such a way as to make it appear ridiculous to them and this in an endeavor to cause them to despise the very idea of religion.”

Laws prohibited parents from providing religious teaching to their own children. But many Christian parents obeyed a higher law. Schmidt suggested that “a mother in Russia who loves Jesus Christ will, in spite of such rules, teach her child to pray and to live a life of respect and godliness.”

Teachers would ask young students, who were likely to tell the truth, whether their parents taught them about religion. In this way, many students unwittingly let the government know that their parents were committing treason.

Another attempt to destroy families and the freedom of conscience, according to Schmidt, was the collectivization of agriculture. Eighty percent of Russians lived on farms, so when the government took over all farms, it made farmers into slaves of the state. This was an attempt to “destroy the (peasant’s) home and rob him of his privacy.” Agricultural workers were forced to live in communal buildings, their children were taken away, and it was difficult for people to practice their faith without being noticed.

“In Russia the follower of Christ is constantly beset with trouble and is always in danger,” Schmidt recounted. “He has to be ready to be torn away from his loved ones any time, Bolshevik police will break into a home during the night, after twelve o’clock maybe and bid the husband, father, or son to accompany them, and with a bleeding and broken heart they bid their loved ones a hurried last good-by.”

Prison sentences, consisting of hard labor, frequently lasted 10 or 20 years. Many died within several years due to malnutrition and disease.

Persecution separated consecrated believers from nominal Christians. Schmidt wrote, “Anyone who is zealous for Jesus in Russia is marked for arrest and this makes Christian activity hazardous. Therefore we find no half-hearted Christians in Russia . . . Such who are not fully consecrated will not be able to stand the strain for any length of time but will step over into the enemy’s camp.”

Despite great dangers confronting Christians, the Slavic church saw no shortage of leaders. Unpaid elders led the congregations, which met in homes. Elders took turns preaching and, when one was arrested, another took his place. Congregational leaders did not receive qualification from a Bible college (there were none), but from their willingness to suffer and die for Christ.

Soviet authorities predicted that every church would be destroyed by May 1, 1937. But Schmidt responded that the true church does not consist of buildings. There are “real Christians in Russia,” he wrote, and they “are dying for their faith . . . We know that the Bolshevists will never be able to destroy Christianity.”

Communist persecution not only failed to destroy Christianity; it helped to create a very strong and vibrant Pentecostal movement in the former Soviet Union. Today, there are over 1.2 million Pentecostals in the former Soviet Union in churches that are in a fraternal relationship with Assemblies of God World Missions.

Beginning in the late 1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev began to allow persecuted religious minorities to emigrate, many put down roots in America. An estimated 350,000 Slavic Pentecostals from this recent wave of immigration now live in the United States. While most are in congregations that are either independent or loosely affiliated with one of several Slavic Pentecostal unions, many are deciding to join the Assemblies of God.

In 2002, several Slavic Pentecostal churches in California joined the Assemblies of God and formed the Slavic Fellowship, which provided both a structure for Slavs to organize themselves within the Assemblies of God and also representation on the Fellowship’s General Presbytery. In September 2008, the leaders of the Slavic Fellowship, in addition to other Slavic Pentecostals interested in affiliating with the Assemblies of God, came together in Renton, Washington, and organized the National Slavic District. The district gives greater strength and visibility to Slavic Pentecostals, both within the Assemblies of God and within the broader society.

The Slavs, with deep faith burnished by decades of persecution, are poised to provide leadership within the broader church. And their leadership could not have come at a better time, as they have already proven their mettle in a culture that is hostile to biblical values.

Read the series of three articles by Gustav H. Schmidt, “Bolshevism Battling Against Christianity,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Click here now for the July 21, 1934, issue.

Click here for the July 28, 1934, issue.

Click here for the Aug. 4, 1934, issue.

Also featured in the August 4, 1934, issue:

* “The Merry Heart,” by Donald Gee

*  “The Secret of an Abiding Pentecost,” by Leonard Gittings

*  “Spoiled Christians,” by E. F. M. Staudt

And many more!

Click here to read the August 4, 1934, 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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Mabel Dean: An Unexpected Pioneer of the Assemblies of God in Egypt

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This Week in AG History — July 16, 1961

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 14 July 2016

When Mabel Dean (1884-1961) sensed God’s call to be a missionary to Africa, she was 40 years old. An unmarried, unassuming bank clerk in Chicago, she did not seem to be the ideal missionary candidate. But God opened unexpected doors, and she became a pioneer Assemblies of God missionary to Egypt.

When John W. Welch read Mabel Dean’s application for missionary appointment in 1924, he wrote across the top, “I would judge her to be a good helper for someone but not qualified to assume control.” Welch, who served as general chairman (now called “general superintendent”) of the Assemblies of God, apparently had good reason for this statement. The missions board felt that Dean lacked many of the skills that would be helpful on the mission field. Furthermore, at age 40, it might be difficult for her to learn a new language.

All of Dean’s life, people did not expect her to amount to much. Despite what others said, Dean believed that she had a mandate from God for missions work in Africa. She later stated, “I was the only homely one in my family. Yet I was the one that He chose for His work.”

Dean’s missionary story began with a vision from the Lord on her daily train commute. She saw Jesus standing with a small stone in his hand. He threw the stone across the ocean and said to her, “That small stone is you. I want you to go to Africa.” She pondered the vision but did not share it with anyone. It was at the very next church service that her pastor, Kelso R. Glover of Stone Church in Chicago, approached her and said, “Sister Dean, obey whatever God is telling you. Say ‘Yes’ from your heart.”

It was not long before Hattie Salyer, a missionary on furlough, visited Stone Church. After hearing Dean’s story, she exclaimed, “Why don’t you come with me to Egypt?” Taken aback, Dean replied, “But I feel that God has called me to Africa.” Smiling, the missionary replied, “But Egypt is in Africa!”

On October 1, 1924, Dean arrived with Salyer in Cairo, Egypt, where she assisted in a small school for children run by missionaries. Soon after their arrival, Salyer succumbed to illness, leaving her inexperienced assistant to continue on alone. Dean, who was used to contributing roles, was thrust into a position of leadership.

Two years later, Lillian Trasher, an Assemblies of God missionary who had begun an orphanage in Assiout, Egypt, encouraged Dean to open a work for children in the small village of Minia, located 70 miles north of Assiout. Bringing with her one small girl named Salma, Dean moved to Minia, where she started a Sunday school for street children.

After the move to Minia, Dean felt the urge to broaden her evangelistic work. She began praying for God’s guidance regarding how to begin. Meanwhile, a revival was taking place in Trasher’s work in Assiout. Six young girls from Trashers orphanage felt God leading them to go into surrounding villages and tell others about Christ. Trasher sent them north to work with Dean. These six girls, along with little Salma, became the first of Mabel’s evangelistic teams. She sent them out two by two into the villages around Minia. The girls were soon joined by several young men who began preaching under Dean’s guidance. Dean soon had 20 evangelistic teams engaged in church planting.

Dean proved to be an effective leader, despite the missions board’s initial concerns. However, the board’s apprehension about her linguistic abilities proved valid. Dean never did master Arabic. Her practice was to teach her workers enough English so that she could disciple them personally, then send them out to preach in their native language.

Dean believed in the power of prayer, and she would pray while her students preached. When the residents of one village, Izbet, responded to her workers with indifference, Dean told them, “Do not waste your time and strength there now. I will make this a matter of prayer.” Soon after she began praying, representatives from the village requested that a team return to Izbet and even offered to pay the costs for the establishment of a church.

Dean ran a faith mission. She always seemed to have more faith than money. But God always seemed to provide just enough money at just the right time. Dean kept the mission’s money in a tin can. When a need arose, members of her ministry team could go to the can and retrieve the needed funds. When the can was empty she took it to the Lord in prayer, trusting Him to refill it. In spite of this uncertain funding method, she was never afraid to spend money. She told her workers, “God’s money is like water in a faucet. You have to let it run to receive what’s coming next.”

Dean’s attitude about money and God’s provision was demonstrated when one of her gospel workers lost a five pound note on a trip into town to buy supplies. The young lady returned in distress, but Dean encouraged her to not cry. She told the girl that perhaps a very poor man had been praying for money, and God was using their loss to meet his need.

When Mabel Dean passed away at her mission house on June 4, 1961, at age 77, she had served 37 years in Egypt. She was one of a handful of early Assemblies of God missionaries who had never taken a furlough to return home to the United States.

Philip Crouch, fellow missionary to Egypt, lauded Dean for helping to develop “one of the strongest indigenous works in Egypt.” By the time of her death, Dean’s teams of young workers had established 15 churches that owned their own buildings and about 30 other active congregations meeting in rented facilities. The “little stone” that Jesus wanted to throw across the ocean had become a foundation stone for a ministry that continued long after her death.

Read Dean’s obituary, “Missionary Called Home,” on page 9 of the July 16, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tragedy on a Thailand Canal,” by F.A. Sturgeon

• “Going Up to Jerusalem,” by Don Mallough

• “A Day in the Life of a Missionary’s Wife,” by Mrs. O.B. Treece

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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Reaching Remotest Alaska: Byron and Marjory Personeus and the Gospel Boat

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Byron and Marjory Personeus on board the Fair-Tide II, 1945

This Week in AG History — July 7, 1945

By Glenn Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 7 July 2016

Byron and Marjory Personeus, Assemblies of God missionaries to Alaska, developed a unique evangelistic tool at the close of World War II.

In 1945, funds from Speed the Light, together with money Byron had raised itinerating, made it possible for him to purchase the Fair-Tide II. This gasoline-powered cabin cruiser was an answer to prayer, as he longed for a mission boat to evangelize in Southeastern Alaska.

Byron Personeus was born in Juneau, Alaska, and grew up on the mission field as the son of pioneer AG missionaries Charles and Florence Personeus who first went to Alaska in 1917. After Byron finished Bible college in 1940, he worked with his father in Ketchikan and later helped him build the first Assembly of God church in Pelican.

After he was ordained in 1944, Byron presented the idea of Alaskan boat ministry to the Northwest District, and he was granted approval to itinerate among the churches to raise funds for this project. Because of gasoline rationing during the second world war, he used a motorcycle as he traveled some 5,000 miles raising funds.

An article entitled “Gospel Boat for Alaska,” published July 7, 1945, in the Pentecostal Evangel, reports on the Fair-Tide II, which “will be used to carry the gospel to fishermen, cannery workers and villagers among the many islands sprawling along the southeastern coast of Alaska where the Full Gospel has never been preached.”

The Fair-Tide II, built by the Stephens Boat Company of Stockton, California, in 1930, was commissioned in 1934. It was 43 feet long and could accommodate up to nine people. At the time of the article in the Evangel, the newly-acquired boat was on its way from Portland to Seattle, where it would be “recommissioned and dedicated to the service of the Lord.” While in Seattle, the boat was equipped with a public address system, and a few other necessary alterations were made before Byron and his new bride, Marjory, embarked for Alaska.

During the summer months, the Personeuses lived on the boat, taking the gospel to many isolated villagers and cannery workers. The Fair-Tide II was used regularly in gospel ministry until it was sold in 1949 because of needed repairs. After that, additional funds were raised so that other mission boats called the Anna Kamp and the Taku could be skippered by Byron Personeus as he and his wife continued to spread the gospel to the remote island areas of Southeastern Alaska.

Read “Gospel Boat for Alaska” on page 11 of the July 7, 1945 issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “When Pentecost Came to the Moluccas,” by Mrs. R. M. Devin
• “Not Limiting the Holy One of Israel,” by Zelma Argue
• “Hints to Preachers,” by A. G. Ward
And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of 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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Hermano Pablo: Assemblies of God Media Pioneer in Latin America

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This Week in AG History — June 16, 1963

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 16 June 2016

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 shortwave 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 January 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 January 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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Mexican Refugees Poured into Texas 100 Years Ago. How Did the Assemblies of God Respond?

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H. C. Ball (front center) with ministers at the 32nd annual Latin American District Council meeting in Los Angeles, California, November 1-3, 1948.

This Week in AG History — May 27, 1916

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 26 May 2016

The Mexican Revolution, a decade-long civil war beginning in 1910, changed the North American social landscape. Thousands of displaced people fled the armed conflict and social disruption in Mexico and sought refuge along the borderlands in the United States. It was among these refugees that Henry C. Ball, a young preacher in Ricardo, Texas, planted one of the first Hispanic Assemblies of God congregations.

H. C. Ball (1896-1989) accepted Christ at age 14 and joined the Methodist Church in Kingsville, Texas. Approximately 10 days after his conversion, Ball attended a service held by a missionary to Venezuela. At that service, he felt a tug in his heart to serve as a missionary to Mexican refugees in his area. Encouraged by his Methodist pastor, the very next Sunday Ball held his first evangelistic service.

Ball went from house to house, inviting Mexicans to the Spanish-language service he had planned in a schoolhouse in Ricardo. Bell was undeterred by the fact that he did not even know Spanish. He memorized a one-sentence Spanish-language invitation, and he brought a Spanish hymn and Bible to the service. Two visitors joined Ball in that first service in late 1910. Ball was only 14 years old, he did not know Spanish, he had only accepted Christ weeks earlier, and yet he followed God’s call and pioneered a church among the Mexican refugees in Texas. The young preacher persevered and, in 1912, the Methodist church gave him a license to preach at age 16.

In 1914, Ball was Spirit-baptized under the ministry of Felix Hale, a Pentecostal evangelist affiliated with the newly formed Assemblies of God. This put Ball at odds with his Methodist superiors, who dismissed him from the denomination. Ball’s ordination was recognized by the Assemblies of God in January 1915, and his congregation of Mexicans became the seed from which much of the Hispanic work in the Assemblies of God grew.

The Pentecostal Evangel published frequent reports from Ball. The May 27, 1916, issue featured a photograph of the Asamblea de Dios in Ricardo, Texas, on the cover, and included an article by Ball about the new Mexican believers. He encouraged readers to pray for the immigrants. He wrote, “Here they are on our land, poor, homeless and without Jesus.”

Ball described the situation faced by the Mexicans: “The war in Mexico has driven many Mexicans from their homes in their native land to our side of the river. In the Rio Grande valley are many thousands of these refugees, besides the resident population. They have now been here some time, not able to return and fearful that their own nation may turn against them.” Ball asked Pentecostal Evangel readers to provide financial support and prayers for his efforts to reach the Mexican refugees with the gospel.

A strong Assemblies of God ministry developed among the Mexican refugees, initially led by H. C. Ball and others. This work not only helped to strengthen the Assemblies of God in Mexico when refugees returned home as Pentecostal believers, it also transformed the Assemblies of God in the United States. In 2014, 22.5 percent of Assemblies of God adherents in the United States were Hispanic.

Read the article by H. C. Ball, “The Mission to the Mexicans,” on page 12 of the May 27, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Pentecostal Work in Fort Worth, Texas,” by B. F. Lawrence

• “Answered Prayer: Healing When Evangel is Applied,” by Elmer Snyder

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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Despite Opposition, Assemblies of God Founders Supported Missionaries AND Famine Relief

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Alfred and Myrtle Blakeney, Assemblies of God missionaries to India, and their five children (1920)

This Week in AG History — April 16, 1921

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 14 April 2016

The Assemblies of God, in its first decade, provided significant financial resources to the alleviation of hunger in other nations. A devastating famine hit China in 1920 and 1921, causing the deaths of an estimated half million people. This tragedy inspired Assemblies of God leaders to make an extended appeal for donations for Chinese famine relief. This decision was not without controversy.

J. Roswell Flower, Assemblies of God Missions Treasurer, in the April 16, 1921, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, recounted that church leaders expressed concern that an appeal for famine relief would likely decrease giving to support missionaries already on the field.  This fear was realized, and Flower reported that total missions giving did not increase in the first four months of the year. Donors shifted from supporting missionaries to famine relief. Missionaries were in danger of not receiving sufficient monetary support on which to live.

Despite this challenging financial situation, Flower defended the appeal for famine relief. He explained, “The famine need was so great…that we took the risk with such good results as you have seen.” To make up for the decrease in giving toward missionaries, Flower asked readers to contribute additional offerings.

How did Assemblies of God members respond to the challenge to expand their giving to include support for both missionaries and famine relief?

The 1921 General Council minutes reported that missions giving increased by almost 19 percent. The Foreign Missions Department received a record $107,953.55 during the fiscal year ending August 1921. Of that total, almost 10 percent ($10,383.12) was given to Chinese famine relief.

Read the article, “The Famine in China,” by J. Roswell Flower on page 12 of the April 16, 1921, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

•  “Looking from the Top,” by Christine Peirce

• “Tithes and Offerings,” by Elizabeth Sisson

• “Unity,” by C. W. Doney

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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Budding Assemblies of God Missionary, Paul Weidman, Jr., Died in Africa at Age 7

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Pastor Quaysom and missionaries Virginia and Paul Weidman, Accra, Gold Coast, 1951.


This Week in AG History — March 26, 1938

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 24 March 2016

Paul and Virginia Weidman, pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to Africa, traveled in 1937 to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), where they worked among the Mossi people. One of their sons, Paul, Jr., learned the Mossi language quickly and was able to interpret for his missionary father. The Mossi loved this little boy, who played with their children and who became a bridge across the cultural and linguistic divides.

Little Paul’s budding missionary career was cut short when he contracted blackwater fever and died on February 8, 1938. Paul, Jr., who was just under seven years of age, was buried in a dirt cemetery near the town of Tenkodogo.

Seventy-eight years ago, the March 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared Virginia Weidman’s account of this tragedy:

“Saturday afternoon he lay in his bed and sang with all his heart (in the More language) “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus.” Then he preached, as he so often did, saying, “Do not follow Satan’s road but follow God’s road, for it alone leads to heaven through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In a short time extreme pain started. How we did call unto God for deliverance; yet He gave us grace to say, “Not my will but Thine be done.” What a ray of sunshine he has been in our home! Only God can fill the vacancy. In times like this we are made to know that our Redeemer liveth.”

Paul Jr.’s death was the first of several tragedies to befall the Weidmans as they pioneered the Assemblies of God in Upper Volta. Was this suffering worth it? Forty years later the Weidmans, who had retired from mission work, returned to Burkina Faso for a visit. An elderly Mossi pastor, who decades earlier had witnessed the death of Paul Jr., assured them, “It was not in vain, missionary. There are now churches everywhere.”

Today, the Assemblies of God is the largest Protestant denomination in Burkina Faso, with more than 1,204,000 members and over 3,600 churches and preaching points.

Read the article, “Little One Called Home,” by Virginia Weidman on page 7 of the March 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

General Superintendent George O. Wood, the nephew of Paul and Virginia Weidman, recounted the story of their missionary work in Burkina Faso in the 2007 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage, which is accessible by clicking here.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Not Debarred from our Priestly Service,” by T. J. Jones

• “Setting the Oppressed Free,” by Arthur W. Frodsham

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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