Category Archives: Spirituality

German Pentecostal Pioneer Martin Gensichen and His Theology of Humility

This Week in AG History — September 2, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 10 September 2020

Martin Gensichen (1879-1965), a prominent Pentecostal pioneer in Germany, encouraged Christians to preach and model humility. Gensichen came from a long line of German Lutheran ministers. For three centuries, men in his family served Lutheran pulpits in Germany. After Martin Gensichen accepted Christ in 1900 and sensed a call to the ministry, it was quite natural that he would serve in his ancestral church.

After graduation from seminary, Gensichen became pastor of a small Lutheran congregation in Germany. Gensichen was excited to be able to share what he called “simple faith.” Gensichen preached about sin, repentance, and being born again.

But things did not go well for the earnest young preacher. Gensichen’s parishioners became angry and stopped attending services after he preached about sin. He preached to empty benches week after week. He felt humiliated.

Gensichen was not a typical German Lutheran preacher. He had been influenced by the Holiness movement and had experienced a profound work of the Holy Spirit in his life in 1905. His father and grandfather also each had a personal encounter with God and identified with revival movements in their earlier generations. By 1908, Martin Gensichen had cast his lot with the Pentecostal church, which he deemed to be the revival movement of his generation.

Gensichen shared his testimony in an article published in the Sept. 8, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

In the article, Gensichen emphasized the importance of humility in the life of faith. He viewed his earlier humiliation in the Lutheran church, when the members left because he preached against sin, as a spiritual blessing.

God “wanted to break my heart,” Gensichen wrote. “No one can soar into the heights of faith unless they have first had a broken and a contrite heart. Humility is the soil in which faith can grow.”

When Gensichen joined the Pentecostal church, he realized that it would cost him dearly in his social circles. He recounted that in the early 20th century Pentecostals were “much despised,” even by many evangelicals in Germany. Instead of resenting the fact that his faith marginalized him from broader society, he embraced his low social position. He wrote, “We must learn to rejoice when we suffer or are despised.”

Humility, Gensichen believed, is not just necessary for individuals. It is necessary for nations, too. Before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Germany was flexing its military and economic might around the world. German leaders oversaw colonies and envisioned themselves as rivaling the British Empire. Gensichen was troubled by Germany’s imperial ambitions. Gensichen’s primary interest was in building God’s kingdom, rather than the German Empire. Furthermore, he believed that revival would not come to Germany unless it had been humbled.

Gensichen’s theology of humility caused him to reject movements that placed excessive pride in one’s own nation. He wrote, “God set me free from nationalism. I am neither German, nor American, nor English — I belong to heaven.”

Gensichen also applied this theology of humility to education. He identified himself as a “German theologian,” noting that he had studied for 20 years to master Greek and Hebrew. While affirming the value of education, he also noted that “Our intellect is much too small to comprehend the vastness of His love.”

The young Lutheran pastor who experienced humiliation because he wanted to preach “simple faith” became a prominent Pentecostal leader in Germany. He also witnessed the humiliation of his nation during two world wars, but he took joy in identifying his primarily allegiance as the Kingdom of heaven. His testimony continues to remind new generations that faith and humility go hand in hand.

Read the article by Martin Gensichen, “Honoring God by Simple Faith,” on pages 1, 8, and 9 of the Sept. 8, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Conditional Covenant to Heal His People,” by John Roach Straton

• “Standing for the Pentecostal Testimony,” by Jacob Miller

• “Report of Assemblies in Russia,” by Ivan Voronaev

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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Azusa Street Participant George Studd: Seven Characteristics of Early Pentecostals

This Week in AG History — August 11, 1945

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 13 August 2020

When the Pentecostal movement began to take root at the Azusa Street Mission in 1906 under the leadership of William J. Seymour, there were other missions springing up in Los Angeles that joined with what God was doing at the small African American church. One of those was The Upper Room Mission, led by Elmer Kirk Fisher (1866-1919) and George Brown Studd (1859-1945).

Fisher was a pastor at Calvary Baptist church in Los Angeles when a revival erupted in the nearby First Baptist Church led by Pastor Joseph Smale. As a result of the revival, Smale began the New Testament Church of Los Angeles and Fisher soon joined him as associate pastor. When revival services began at the Azusa Street Mission under the direction of Seymour, Smale supported the movement until October 1906, when he felt that the church needed more order. At this time, Fisher began the Upper Room Mission on Spring Street and began a close relationship with Seymour. Congregants flowed freely between the Upper Room Mission and the meetings on Azusa Street.

Studd was born to a well-to-do family in Wiltshire, England. While studying at Eton, his father became an evangelical Christian and, in 1878, Studd and his three brothers were converted to the Christian faith. He later went on to Cambridge where he served as captain of the cricket team and achieved fame in the English sporting world. When his brother, C. T. Studd, went to China as one of the “Cambridge Seven” missionaries, George visited him and made a full commitment to Christ. He soon moved to California where he became involved with the Pentecostal movement at Azusa Street in 1907, making arrangements for the small mission to pay off its deed and become debt-free.

Studd, an accomplished preacher and teacher, was asked by Fisher to take leadership of the noon meetings at the Upper Room. The two soon began working closely together, while maintaining their relationship with Seymour. In June 1909, they began to publish a paper, The Upper Room, which they continued until May 1911.

The official publication of the Assemblies of God, The Pentecostal Evangel, reprinted excerpts of the paper published by Fisher and Studd in the Aug. 11, 1945, issue. Reports are shared from India, Holland, Germany, South Wales, North China, Chile, South Africa, and England with stories of Pentecostal experiences among Methodists, Catholics, and Anglicans.

Among the excerpts is a statement from George Studd describing seven characteristics reported by those who came in contact with the Pentecostal people and the Pentecostal movement:

1. They always exalt Jesus Christ and honor His precious blood.

2. They honor the Holy Spirit; they give Him room to work and expect His operations.

3. They are earnestly looking for the coming of the Lord. It is almost a watch-word in their lives and in their services that ‘Jesus is coming so soon.’

4. They are certainly a missionary people. They have a burning desire to spread the gospel far and near; and to this end they pray, and give, and go as only Pentecostal people can.

5. They really do trust God for money, seldom taking collections and never begging. At the call of God they get up and go to the end of the earth without a board at their back to guarantee them salary or anything else.

6. The spirit of praise, of worship, and of prayer that is manifested in their private lives and meetings is phenomenal, to say the least.

7. Their joy and liberty in the Spirit are very marked. To those who are not too loaded down with prejudice, this is a very attractive and convincing feature of the Pentecostal experience. Who does not want to be happy and free in God?

The editors of the 1945 Evangel added their own thoughts to these reprints from 36 years previous, “It is a very easy thing to drift away from the simplicity that characterized the Pentecostal movement in its early days, and it will do us all good to read and re-read” these testimonies.

Pentecostals are now 75 years removed from the 1945 reprint. It is still good for us to “read and re-read” the testimonies of what God has done and seek for a refreshing and renewal that will continue to characterize the modern Pentecostal movement.

Read excerpts from the The Upper Room in, “The Early Days of Pentecost” on page 2 of the Aug. 11, 1945, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Challenge of ‘Tongues’ Today” by Donald Gee

• “Bountiful Provision for All” by Stanley Frodsham

• “The Fine Linen: Of What Does It Consist?” 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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J. Robert Ashcroft’s Remarkable Warning from 1957 about Secularism, Statism, and Paganism

Ashcroft1This Week in AG History — July 14, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 16 July 2020

Sixty-three years ago, J. Robert Ashcroft delivered a remarkable address that encouraged the Assemblies of God to invest in Christian higher education. Pentecostals must train the next generation of “thinkers and doers,” he surmised, or lose their young to the forces of “selfism, secularism, (and) scientism.”

Ashcroft’s message, delivered at the 1957 commencement for Evangel College (now Evangel University), warned that family, church, and freedom were threatened by three emerging trends in society: secularism, statism, and paganism. All Americans, he noted, are subject to these societal pressures. It will be difficult, he predicted, for Christians to remain true to biblical values.

Secularism, the first trend that Ashcroft identified, results in the compartmentalization of religious beliefs from other daily activities. This runs counter to the Christian faith because, he noted, Christianity is concerned with “the whole of life.” While Ashcroft recognized a distinction between the secular and the sacred, he expressed concern that making the distinction “too severe” would harm both the secular and sacred elements.

A society that dispels the influence of religion impairs its ability to reflect deeply about morality and human need. Ashcroft noted that a society that jettisons religion ends up “sinking in a quagmire of immorality.” Ashcroft was quite clear: “Secularism leads to depravity.”

Statism, the second trend identified by Ashcroft, is when the state takes over most or all spheres of life, leaving little room for freedom of conscience. The state becomes the ultimate authority and the arbiter of morality. Ashcroft pointed to communism as typifying the statist approach. Statism undermines human dignity and freedom. “The individual must rise above statism,” he asserted, noting that Christians schools are an important bulwark for freedom.

Ashcroft identified paganism, the third trend, as “de-centered religion” — spirituality that de-emphasizes the person of Christ and biblical truths. “Orthodoxy and old-fashioned holiness,” Ashcroft noted, “are held up to ridicule while paganism and superficial religion are receiving the plaudits of men.”

How can Christians promote biblical values in a society that has drifted from its Christian roots? Ashcroft noted that many colleges and universities began as Christian institutions but over time drifted from their founding values and mission. A Christian heritage does not guarantee a Christian future. Christians must not reject higher education as ungodly, Ashcroft advised, and should instead work to develop institutions that reflect their values.

In his address, Ashcroft expressed a high calling for Evangel College — that it become “a true fountainhead of spiritual leadership, Christian character, and devoted orthodoxy.” This mission — that Assemblies of God schools serve as a training ground for reflective, faithful Christian leaders — remains a focus for the Fellowship 63 years later.

Read J. Robert Ashcroft’s commencement address, “A Call to Christian Service,” on pages 4-5 and 20-21 of the July 14, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Let the Fire Fall!” by Bert Webb

* “Should Christians Drink? Smoke?” by Betty Stirling

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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What can Pentecostals learn from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism?

Wesley_1400This Week in AG History — June 3, 1944

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 04 June 2020

What can Pentecostals learn from John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism?

Wesley, an Anglican priest in England, helped to lay the foundation for large segments of the evangelical and Pentecostal movements. Despite living in a nation that identified as Christian, he recognized that most people did not have saving faith. He pioneered new evangelism and discipleship methods, which upset some of the religious leaders of his day. He appointed itinerant, unordained evangelists who traveled and preached the gospel. He also encouraged the formation of small groups of Christians for the purpose of discipleship, accountability, and Bible study.

Wesley encouraged each person to experience God’s love. However, he insisted that if a person was truly saved, an experience with God must yield a transformed life. True Christians, he taught, would live holy lives. When the Holy Spirit transformed a person’s desires, this inner holiness would naturally be manifested in outward holiness.

In many ways, early Pentecostals identified themselves in the tradition of Wesley. The June 6, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel published an article that shared the “secret” of “Wesley’s power.” Three reasons existed, according to the article, which caused Wesley’s ministry to be so powerful.

First, Wesley believed that the Bible was “the very Word of God.” The Bible was the standard for everything, and he prayerfully consulted it for guidance.

Second, Wesley “preached with a living sense of divine authority.” He believed his sermons were given “by direct communication of the Spirit,” based on the Bible, and “applied logically, earnestly, passionately to the hearts of men.”

Third, Wesley “lived and preached in the presence and power of the Holy Ghost.” His deep spirituality was formed by living daily in the presence of God and by developing daily habits of “prayer and song, fellowship and meditation, study and preaching.”

Wesley taught that changed hearts should ultimately change society. He and his followers (known as Methodists) became leaders in social issues of his day, including the abolition of slavery and prison reform.

In the present era of social and family disintegration, Wesley’s admonitions point Christians back toward holiness and deep spirituality. He understood that humanity’s woes flow from the human heart, and he encouraged people to change society one heart at a time.

Read the entire article by Samuel Chadwick, “Wesley’s Secret of Power,” on page 4 of the June 3, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Direct Answers to Prayer,” by Frederick M. Bellsmith

• “Following Jesus,” by H. A. Baker

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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The Spiritual Legacy of Camp Meetings: From the Scottish Covenanters to the Assemblies of God

Tent meeting

Tent meeting in Seminole, Oklahoma, circa 1930s.

This Week in AG History — May 29, 1937

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 28 May 2020

If you attended meetings in the years of the early Pentecostal movement, you might remember a summer church event that included sawdust floors, crude benches, tents, and open tabernacles. Those early tents and brush arbors have since given way to air-conditioned auditoriums and indoor plumbing, but the rousing fellowship and memorable spiritual experiences continue to ensure that summer camp meetings have a place in the life of the church.

Although the Assemblies of God has a long tradition with the camp meeting, the phenomenon predates the Pentecostal movement. It was in 17th-century Scotland that a group of Presbyterians, known as Covenanters, refused to recognize the right of the king to mandate religious conformity and were expelled from their churches. They began to hold illegal open-air meetings. Attendance at these meetings was declared a capital offense and many Covenanters were martyred for their stand.

Some fled to Ireland and along with others formed the base of the Scots-Irish immigration of the 1700s. Many eventually settled south into Virginia and the Carolinas, with a large concentration in the Appalachian region. They brought with them their tradition of the extended outdoor meeting.

It was one of these Scottish Presbyterian camp meetings in Cane Ridge, Kentucky, in 1801 that brought thousands of Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists together for an outdoor meeting that featured revivalistic preaching, enthusiastic singing, and extended prayer meetings with a flood of religious enthusiasm. The revival fires of the Cane Ridge Camp meetings set off the Second Great Awakening that sparked a movement of camp meeting revivalism that shaped the course of western American Protestantism.

By the mid-18th century, the Baptists and Presbyterians largely abandoned the camp meeting for indoor protracted meetings. The Methodists, however, began to build permanent meeting sites for the purpose of joining together with other believers for Bible teaching, extended prayer, and exhortational preaching. These camp meetings became a staple for the Holiness Movement of the later 18th century.

When the Pentecostal movement sprang out of the influence of the Holiness churches, it was natural to continue the camp meeting practice. Early Assemblies of God adherents, such as those in Wisconsin who rented Camp Byron in Fond du Lac County from the Methodist church, used these meetings for inspiration, fellowship, consecration, and response to the call of God.

The May 29, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel served as a promotional tool for many of the scheduled camp meetings of that summer. In the article, “Let’s All Go to Camp Meeting,” Evangel readers are made aware of the many district camp schedules for that year, including Wisconsin-Northern Michigan, Kansas, Virginia, Texico, Northern California-Nevada, New England, Potomac, Northwest, West Central, Illinois, Yellowstone, Arkansas, Louisiana, Rocky Mountain, and the North Central districts. Speakers included W. I. Evans, E. S. Williams, Myer Pearlman, Otto Klink, Charles Price, Ralph Riggs, Howard Carter, and many other pastors and lay preachers, both male and female.

These camp meetings were not limited to the members of the host district. The West Central district camp at Storm Lake, Iowa, reminded readers that “last year the crowd was estimated at six to seven thousand people … and we are expecting a larger crowd this year. More than half of the states in the union were represented at last year’s meeting.”

The schedule varied by district, but the one listed by the Appalachian district, held at Pentecostal Park in Bristol, Virginia, was typical: Devotional at 7 a.m., Children’s service at 9 a.m., Bible teaching at 10:30 a.m., preaching at 2:30 p.m., young people’s service at 6 p.m., and an evangelistic service at 8 p.m.

While the meetings had some limited focus on certain demographics, the services were not segregated by age. Adults attended children’s services, and children attended alongside the adults. It was in these services that many children and young people were introduced to the leaders of the Pentecostal movement as they were exposed to anointed teaching in each service.

Many Pentecostal laypeople trace their first exposure to the baptism in the Holy Spirit to these protracted meetings. Ministers and missionaries testify of receiving their call to lifelong service around the altar at camp meeting. Other benefits included the tight bond of fellowship established between those who attended different churches but found lasting relationships at camp, including missionary Melvin Hodges. Not only was he was introduced to a love for Bible teaching by a camp speaker, but camp also provided the opportunity, as it did for many others, to meet a future spouse.

Although much has changed in our camp meeting presentation over the years, it remains an important chapter in our shared heritage. As the Evangel said in 1937, “It is blessed to be able to drop the daily tasks for a while and to go to some place where you can give yourself wholly to the things of God.”

Read the article, “Let’s All Go to Camp Meeting,” on page 9 of the May 29, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “How Moody Used the Power” by Zelma Argue

• “The Result of One Day’s Travailing Prayer” by Charles G. Finney

• “God’s Condition for Revival” by Beatrice Pannabecker

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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Amanda Benedict: The Early Pentecostal Prayer Warrior in Springfield, Missouri

AmandaBenedict_1400This Week in AG History — March 19, 1927

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 19 March 2020

Amanda Benedict (1851-1925) is remembered as a fervent prayer warrior and one of the early participants in the Pentecostal movement in Springfield, Missouri. When she died, Assemblies of God leaders credited her prayers for the success of the local congregation and national ministries located in the city.

When Benedict moved to Springfield around 1910, she was 60 years old and had already served the Lord with distinction in a rescue home for girls in Chicago and in a faith home for children in Iowa.

Soon after moving to Springfield, while working as a door-to-door salesperson, Benedict met Lillie Corum. The two ladies got acquainted and, in conversation, Corum shared about her experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Corum had been baptized in the Spirit on June 1, 1907, under the ministry of her sister, Rachel Sizelove, who had brought the Pentecostal message from Azusa Street.

Benedict expressed interest in receiving this blessing and began seeking it. The two ladies began praying together regularly, and soon Amanda herself was filled with the Spirit. Corum, Benedict, Birdie Hoy, and a few others prayed fervently and helped with the beginnings of what became Central Assembly of God.

With a burden for lost souls, Benedict prayed and interceded for days on end, until she felt the burden lift or victory came. She often prayed all night in a grove of trees near the corner of Campbell Avenue and Calhoun Street, which later became the site of Central Assembly of God. She prayed many times for Springfield to make a spiritual impact on the world, and that God’s blessings would flow through Springfield to the ends of the earth. At one point, she felt led to fast and pray for Springfield for one entire year — living only on bread and water.

In 1915, Benedict moved to Aurora, Missouri, where she started a Pentecostal church that became affiliated with the Assemblies of God. After pastoring in Aurora for almost a decade, she died in 1925 at the age of 74. At her funeral service at Central Assembly of God in Springfield, church members, Bible school students, and others gave inspiring testimonies of her life.

Stanley Frodsham, the editor of the Pentecostal Evangel, reported that Benedict helped to launch a tent meeting in the early days of revival in Springfield and “spent whole nights praying under the canvas.” Among other things, “She prayed for a Pentecostal Assembly in Springfield.” And on the very site where she prayed, the first building for Central Assembly was erected. Frodsham and others believed that Central Assembly of God, Central Bible College, and the Assemblies of God national office, all located in Springfield, resulted largely from Benedict’s fervent, effectual prayers.

Benedict was buried without a grave marker in Eastlawn Cemetery in Springfield. In 2007, 82 after her death, a marker was finally placed on her grave. The marker features a fitting tribute: “She prayed and fasted for the city of Springfield.” On the back is a Scripture verse: “Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Frodsham published a sermon by Benedict, titled “Abundance for All,” a couple of years after her death. The sermon compared the blessings of the baptism in the Holy Spirit to a multitude of savory items held in a locked bakery. She said, “I would fail to satisfy a vigorous physical appetite to look through the windows of a locked bakery.” She continued: “Just so it is unsatisfying to a healthy spiritual appetite to see what Pentecost meant in the years that are past, and yet not partake of it now in this present day.” She felt that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was necessary to receive all the blessings of God. She said, “Pentecost means appetite and a free table loaded with solid food and with dainties hitherto unknown.”

She exhorted the reader to depend on God and ask Him for this blessing: “If you are a seeker of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, see to it that you receive with the God-appointed sign, promised by Christ himself (Mark 16:17), that the disciples received when they were first filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:4).”

Read “Abundance for All,” by Amanda Benedict on page 5 of the March 19, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Holy Ground,” by James H. McConkey

• “Judgments of God and Revival Fires in Poland,” by Gustave H. Schmidt

• “Job,” by Ernest S. Williams

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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Prominent Novelist Sven Lidman Shocked Sweden in 1921 by Converting to Pentecostalism

Lidman1This Week in AG History — March 12, 1927

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 12 March 2020

When Sven Lidman (1882-1960), one of Sweden’s most prominent authors, accepted Christ as Savior and was baptized at the leading Pentecostal church in Stockholm in 1921, it seemed as though the entire nation took notice.

Sven Lidman (pronounced Leed’man) was born into great privilege. He received a classical education and he earned a law degree from the University of Uppsala. He spent several years in the military and then studied the Italian language and literature. By 1920, he was an acclaimed author and had published 13 books and collections of poetry.

Lidman was a renaissance man. His writing explored family issues and sexuality, philosophy and ethics, and religion and politics. He cultivated relationships with the leaders of his day, and his early life was steeped in worldly pleasures.

Despite Lidman’s background, his conversion to Christ was not entirely unexpected. For years, he had experienced a deep spiritual struggle. He felt deep inner longings that could not be satisfied with brandy, tobacco, and women. He openly shared this struggle through his pen, most notably by authoring in 1920 an annotated translation of St. Augustine’s Confessions. Lidman closely identified with this fifth-century-Christian theologian who abandoned a life of youthful sin and who used his testimony to proclaim the transformative power of the gospel. Lidman soon followed in Augustine’s footsteps.

However, it came as a shock to many that Lidman cast his lot with the Pentecostals. Lidman could have easily joined a respectable Lutheran congregation of the State Church of Sweden. Instead, Swedish Pentecostal leader Lewi Pethrus baptized him at the Filadelfia Church.

Lidman’s conversion was widely covered by the nation’s press and became an ongoing topic of conversation at dinner tables across Scandinavia. The Christian press in other corners of the world also trumpeted this news.

Why did Lidman join the Pentecostals? Lidman’s conversion to Pentecostalism, according to a March 12, 1927, Pentecostal Evangel article, occurred because “Lidman is no half-way man.” Lidman would not settle for anything less than genuine, historic, biblical Christianity. “He believes in the power of Christ’s blood and redeeming death to save from sin,” the article continued. “He believes in a whole dedication to the Christian witness.”

Lidman rejected the notion that his conversion consisted merely of “a series of processes in the subconscious.” Rather, he maintained that “real conversion” to Christ was “the consequence of meeting with a supernatural power.” True Christians who have encountered and submitted to God’s power, Lidman wrote, are living sacrifices. “It is only upon the whole offering on the Lord’s altar that His fire falls,” he declared.

Lidman illustrated this theology of full consecration with his own testimony. At first, Lidman was not willing to surrender all of his ways to God. Early in his Christian life he defended his use of brandy and tobacco. But he recounted how his mind changed after an encounter with a man who had suffered the ravages of alcoholism. He realized he could not calmly stand before an alcoholic and say, “Drinking is an adiaphoron, a matter of indifference, and not a sin per se.” He could no longer in good conscience say, “There are many splendid and real Christians who are not abstainers.” Lidman came to believe that saving faith should permeate every aspect of a Christian’s life. Lidman submitted his destructive habits to God, and God took away his desire for alcohol and tobacco.

Although Lidman was an intellectual, he grew disenchanted with certain intellectual fads of his day. He had the independence of mind to challenge prevailing cultural assumptions and instead wanted something real. And reality, for Lidman, was the living Christian faith that he found in the Pentecostal church. The Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit, he wrote, “is a full-blooded reality and no pale intellectual ideal.”

Filadelfia Church pastor Lewi Pethrus asked Lidman to become editor of the leading Pentecostal magazine, Evangelii Härold. Lidman accepted and served in that position from 1922 until 1948. Lidman became a popular Pentecostal preacher, and countless people accepted Christ through his voluminous writings. Lidman became the second best-known Pentecostal in Sweden, after Lewi Pethrus.

The article concluded by noting that Lidman encouraged both education and heartfelt faith. While some “rationalists” and “revivalists” seemed to believe that faith and understanding are mutually exclusive, Lidman asserted that Christians need both.

“I know not how the forces of cold and darkness can ever be driven from the heart save through revival Christianity. They can never be cultivated away,” he wrote. “But after revival has gone ahead with its spring break-up of ice and frost the work of education begins.” According to Lidman, education is a work of the Spirit.

Sven Lidman’s profound influence on Swedish Pentecostalism may have faded from the memory of many American Pentecostals, but his testimony and writings continue to challenge readers to seek the fullness of God. Lidman had the world but found it wanting. Like Augustine before him, the Swedish novelist and intellectual found that only Jesus could satisfy his deepest longings.

Read the article, “The Witness of a Swedish Novelist,” on pages 4 and 5 of the March 12, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Reminiscences of a Faith Life,” by Marie Burgess Brown

* “African or Scriptural Brick,” by Arthur S. Berg

* “The Blood,” by J. Narver Gortner

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions are 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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Alice Reynolds Flower: Thanksgiving in the Life of a Pentecostal Pioneer

Flowerfamily_1400

Flower family portrait at Scranton, Pennsylvania, December 1930. (L-r): Suzanne, George, J. Roswell, Joseph, David, Roswell, Alice R., and Adele Flower.

This Week in AG History — November 22, 1964

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 21 November 2019

Alice Reynolds Flower (1890-1991), affectionately known as “Mother Flower,” was known far and wide for her godly example, her preaching and teaching, devoted prayer life, her writings, and pearls of wisdom. She also was very thankful to God for His many blessings in her life.

She was thankful for healing. Her mother experienced a dramatic healing in 1883 (which was seven years before Alice was born). Mary Reynolds was an invalid, suffering for seven years from incurable diseases brought on by a nervous collapse. Mrs. Reynolds had ulcers in her throat and lungs, and eating caused great pain. She visited prominent doctors across the country, seeking relief from her chronic pain, but the medical profession seemed incapable of helping her.

After years of suffering, Mary Reynolds’ thoughts turned to God. A question formed in her mind: Why don’t you take your case to the Lord in prayer? A friend suggested that a Quaker evangelist, R. H. Ramsey, could come and pray for her, and he did.

“When Mr. Ramsey anointed me,” said Mrs. Reynolds, “I urged that he not only pray for me bodily, but my spiritual welfare also.” The next day she was overjoyed when she realized that she had been healed — both body and soul. This was such an astounding miracle that the editor of the Indianapolis Journal (who was a friend of the family), wrote an article entitled, “Another Cure By Faith,” which was published on the front page of the paper. Other newspapers also reported on her healing. Mary’s healing served as a visible reminder that God is real and that He continues to provide for His people. She gladly shared her testimony of healing for the rest of her life, and this had a profound influence on her daughter, Alice.

In later years, Alice herself, while in her early teens, was near death with double pneumonia. After much prayer, her mother knelt by her sick bed and said, “My dear, the Bible conditions have been met — use what breath you have left to praise God.” Between gasps, Alice followed her mother’s advice, and her condition changed within the hour. “My recovery was phenomenal — a real miracle,” recalled Alice. She was back in school within a couple of days.

Alice Reynolds Flower was thankful for salvation and for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. As a young girl of 16, she attended a meeting conducted by Rev. Tom Hezmalhalch in Indianapolis on Easter Sunday of 1907. She had been seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and at the meeting she prayed: “Lord, please give me this baptism of the Holy Spirit. I believe You to do it just now and I thank You for it in Jesus’ name.” That was her simple prayer of faith. Then she lifted her hands and boldly declared, “I thank You, Lord, for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Soon she felt the physical manifestation of God’s power and sank to the floor and began speaking in tongues.

“Wave after wave of glory swept over me,” said Alice, “until there seemed to be a shining path reaching from my opened heart right into the presence of God.”

Mother Flower was thankful for her family. She dedicated one of her books of poetry, From Under the Threshold, to her six boys and girls — “whose care and training has been my greatest school and richest joy in life.” The first poem is called “My Blossoms Six.” The first stanza follows:

Rich are the lessons that you have brought
Since first one by one you came,
Lessons of patience, tenderness, trust,
As daily we played life’s game.
I gave to you the best I could
And you gave your best to me
But oh how little you each one guessed
How rich would those lessons be.

She raised six children, one of whom died while preparing for the mission field as a student at Central Bible College. Her other five children all became ordained ministers with the Assemblies of God and served Christ with distinction.

Alice Reynolds Flower was the wife of J. Roswell Flower, the first general secretary of the Assemblies of God (elected at Hot Springs, Arkansas, in April 1914). She also was an ordained minister herself, preaching for revivals and other special events. She and her husband started what became known as the Pentecostal Evangel. The Flowers also helped to found what today is the University of Valley Forge in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Alice also taught Sunday School and led a weekly prayer meeting at Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, for over 60 years.

Her anointed writings included many tracts and poems as well as a few books, including The Home — A Divine Sanctuary, Building Her House Well, and Grace for Grace. She emphasized holiness and godly Christian living.

She liked to write about thankfulness. Three of her poems are “Thanksgiving Grace,” “Thanksgiving Hymn,” and “Thanksgiving Praise.” In “Thanksgiving Praise” she answered these questions: Whom shall I praise?, How shall I praise?, When shall I praise?, For what shall I praise?, and How long shall I praise? In the poem she recounted “countless days of His rich mercies” which followed her all the days of her life.

Fifty-five years ago, Mother Flower wrote a piece on thankfulness for the Pentecostal Evangel called, “Rejoice in the Lord Alway!” She emphasized that for those “who rejoice in the love of a faithful Heavenly Father and His wonderful redemption, thanksgiving is far more than a seasonal occasion.” She emphasized that one needs to be thankful even in the midst of hardship and even when answers to prayer seem slow. Alice reminded her audience that “He told us to lift up our head and rejoice for our redemption draweth nigh.” She closed out the article with these words of wisdom: “Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, may your life in its every expression be a song of praise unto Him this blessed Thanksgiving season.”

Read Mother Flower’s article, “Rejoice in the Lord Alway!” on pages 5 and 6 of the Nov. 22, 1964, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Thank God and Take Courage,” by Elva J. Hoover

• “Women of the Harvest,” by Ann Ahlf

• “We Are Thankful,” by Mildred Pitts

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

For the poem, “Thanksgiving Praise,” click here.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions are 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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Joseph Smale and the Lost Sermons that Prepared Los Angeles for the Azusa Street Revival

Pentecostal BlessingThis Week in AG History — October 7, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 10 October 2019

The Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles and the African-American pastor of the Azusa Street Mission, William Seymour, have become iconic symbols of the Pentecostal movement. However, historians and participants in the revival point to a lesser-known Baptist pastor and graduate of Spurgeon’s College, Joseph Smale, who helped prepare Los Angeles for the revival.

The immediate catalyst for the Azusa Street Revival came in the summer of 1905 when Smale, pastor of First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, returned from a visit to Wales. He had attended meetings during the great Welsh Revival, during which entire towns experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Smale witnessed countless people repent of sin and turn toward God, and he prayed for God to do a similar work in Los Angeles.

Smale opened up his church for daily intercessory prayer meetings. Spiritually hungry people came from across Los Angeles and cried out to God for revival — praying specifically for a new “Pentecost.”

The prayer meetings attracted large numbers of people. However, some Baptist leaders opposed the spontaneous character of the prayer. They forced Smale to resign as pastor. He formed a new congregation, The New Testament Church of Los Angeles, which became a hub for people who committed themselves to pray for revival.

In the fall of 1905, Smale preached a series of sermons titled “The Pentecostal Blessing.” He encouraged believers to seek a restoration of the spiritual blessings described in the New Testament. Under Smale’s ministry, countless people developed a great hunger for God and engaged in deep prayer and Bible study.

Joseph Smale - FBCLAWhen William Seymour came to Los Angeles in the spring of 1906 and began encouraging believers to seek biblical spiritual gifts, he found fertile ground for his message. People from varied backgrounds and from numerous churches — including Smale’s church — crowded into the Azusa Street Mission to experience the modern-day Pentecost for which they had been praying.

Historians have long known that Smale’s sermon series, “The Pentecostal Blessing,” played a pivotal role leading up to the Azusa Street Revival. The sermons were a manifesto on the importance of recovering the spiritual life of the early church. They convicted and persuaded many to seek for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit. However, it appeared that Smale’s sermons had been lost to history. No copies apparently survived.

Then the unexpected happened. Several years ago, someone bought a copy of Smale’s sermons at a garage sale in Oklahoma. He was not aware of their significance and showed them to Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center director Darrin Rodgers, who immediately discerned their importance. The sermons were deposited at the Heritage Center, where they are safely preserved for posterity.

Importantly, Gospel Publishing House has republished The Pentecostal Blessing, which was officially released as part of its “Spirit-Empowered Classics” series in 2017. The book includes a series foreword by noted Azusa Street Revival historian Cecil M. Robeck Jr. and a biographical sketch of Smale by his biographer, British Baptist educator Tim Welch.

The sermons that prepared Los Angeles for the Azusa Street Revival – long thought to be lost – are now available to 21st century readers.

The Oct. 7, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel includes an article by Stanley Horton about the Azusa Street Revival, which begins by describing Smale’s role in the revival.

Read Stanley Horton’s article, “Pentecostal Explosion: Once the Spirit Fell at Azusa Street the Waves of Pentecostal Power Quickly Spread throughout the Religious World,” on pages 8-9 of the Oct. 7, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Ecumenicity: False and True,” by Frank M. Boyd

• “Tribes, Tongues, and Triumphs,” by Marion E. Craig

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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