Category Archives: Spirituality

From Azusa Street to Cleveland: How the Book of Acts was Repeated in Ohio in 1906

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First Assembly of God, Cleveland, Ohio, circa 1950s


This Week in AG History — May 13, 1916

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 12 May 2016

The Pentecostal movement came to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1906 in a spiritual outpouring sparked by the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles. This revival did not occur in a vacuum. The ground in Cleveland had been watered for six years by the tears and prayers of a small group of people who experienced dissatisfaction with their own spiritual lives and who hungered for more of God.

Cleveland Pentecostals affiliated with the Assemblies of God and organized as The Pentecostal Church (now First Assembly of God, Lyndhurst, Ohio). B. F. Lawrence, an Assemblies of God pastor and historian, documented the congregation’s history in the May 13, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

The Cleveland revival was preceded by a protracted period of intense prayer and waiting upon God that began in the fall of 1900. One church member recalled that the pastor and people “became conscious of the fact that we were impotent, powerless, and in a large measure were in our own souls dried up spiritually.”

They began meeting nightly for months, “to wait at the feet of Jesus for power, for some outpouring from Him that would satisfy our hearts and make us more nearly the witnesses that we felt we ought to be.” The church member recounted that it took almost six years for God to answer their prayer.

When members heard in 1906 about an outpouring of God’s Spirit in Akron, Ohio, they went to investigate. Ivey Campbell, a female evangelist from the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, was leading the services in Akron. They became convinced that these Pentecostal meetings were scriptural — that what they read about in the Book of Acts was being repeated in Ohio. The revival spread to Cleveland. Numerous people accepted Christ, experienced bodily healings, and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

In addition to documenting the miracles and other exciting occurrences in the congregation’s first decade, the article also spent three paragraphs reporting on the church’s governmental structure. Lawrence suspected that some readers would not be interested in these details about church polity.

However, Lawrence noted that there was a growing conviction among early Pentecostals that the God who ordered the stars, moons, and all things in nature also wanted a well-ordered church. According to Lawrence, “That if there be no order in the church, it is the only place in all God’s creation where it is absent. And we have remarked that those churches which had enough system to prevent senseless disputes and preventable divisions were the churches which were doing something for God and His truth.”

The Pentecostal Church’s pastor, D. W. Kerr, also took great care to feed his flock from the Word of God. Kerr, an Assemblies of God executive presbyter, was the primary author of the Statement of Fundamental Truths, adopted in the 1916 general council. With emphases on deep spirituality, solid doctrine, and well-ordered church government, by 1916 the Cleveland congregation had become one of the strongest churches in the Assemblies of God.

Read the article by B. F. Lawrence, “How and When Pentecost Came to Cleveland,” on pages 4 and 5 of the May 13, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel (later renamed Pentecostal Evangel).

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Times of the Gentiles,” by W. E. Blackstone

• “Word from Mukti,” by Pandita Ramabai

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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50 Years after the Azusa Street Revival, Donald Gee Offered this Warning about Miracles

Gee P0111This Week in AG History — April 28, 1957

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 28 April 2016

Miracles have played an important role in the histories of both the early church and the Pentecostal movement. However, just as the Apostle Paul had to correct excesses in the first century church at Corinth, 20th century Pentecostal leaders were faced in some quarters with an overemphasis on miracles. British Assemblies of God leader Donald Gee (1891-1966) wrote an article, published in the April 28, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, in which he affirmed the miraculous but also called for balance.

“The unvarnished story of the New Testament reads like a refreshing gust of fresh air,” Gee wrote. The New Testament “not only blows away the stuffiness of our unbelief, but also cools the fever of our fanaticism.” Gee taught that miracles should be part of “any truly Pentecostal revival,” but he also warned against extremism.

Miracles naturally attract a crowd. But Gee observed that the existence of miracles did not necessarily signify repentance or a change of heart. He urged readers to pay greater attention to the “less spectacular ministries” that are necessary to disciple believers.

Writing only 50 years after the Azusa Street Revival, Gee wrote that he had witnessed “a constant swing of the pendulum” regarding the emphasis on miracles in the Pentecostal movement. When revival breaks out and miracles occur, it is almost predictable that some people will go to extremes in chasing after miracles. Then, predictably, others will react to the extremists by being more orderly and conservative.

Pentecostals should be neither unbalanced fanatics nor overly cautious regarding miracles, according to Gee. Instead, he identified “a strong central body of believers, constituting the very heart of the Pentecostal churches, who do not want extremes either way.” These balanced believers desire “leadership based on the Word of God,” Gee wrote, rather than based on personality or preference.

Gee’s repeated admonitions to avoid unbiblical extremes earned him the moniker, “The Apostle of Balance.” Gee was nurtured in the fires of the early Pentecostal revivals, and he was one of the Pentecostal movement’s foremost advocates. So when he spoke about the need for balance, Pentecostals of all stripes listened.

Read the entire article by Donald Gee, “After That — Miracles,” on pages 8-9 of the April 28, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Great Faith,” by Louis M. Hauff

* “Power in the Word,” by Mrs. C. Nuzum

* “Missions in Northern Alaska,” by B. P. Wilson

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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Pandita Ramabai: Prominent Female Social Reformer and Pentecostal Pioneer in India


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This Week in AG History — April 1, 1916

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 31 March 2016

Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922), widely regarded as one of India’s most prominent female social reformers and educators, played a significant role in pioneering the Pentecostal movement in India. Pandita came from a privileged family, and she used her education and resources to help the underprivileged of her society.

Despite a cultural proscription on educating girls, Pandita’s father, an educator and social reformer, taught her to read and write Sanskrit. By the age of 12, she memorized 18,000 verses of the Puranas, which were important Hindu religious texts. She became a noted Hindu scholar and was fluent in seven languages.

At a young age, Pandita devoted her life to helping widows and orphans, who were often despised and mistreated in her society. Pandita attended college in England, where she joined the Church of England. While traveling in the slums of London, she learned to distinguish between the institutional church and what she termed the “religion of Jesus Christ.” She returned to India and established homes for dispossessed widows and children. She also fought for social reform, including provision for quality healthcare and education.

Despite being marginalized by other social reformers who argued that her agenda was too radical, Pandita continued to promote her social vision for India, which was consistent with her Christian testimony. She weathered criticism and even became bolder in her efforts, founding additional orphanages and a home for prostitutes. Importantly, Pandita’s social ministries cared for both the body and the soul. They sheltered, educated, and fed women and children, and they also taught Christian doctrine and nurtured a generation of new Christians.

Pandita realized that some things only change through prayer, and she used her significant influence to encourage women to pray for spiritual and social change in India. In January 1905, she issued a call to prayer, and 550 women began meeting twice daily for intercessory prayer. That summer, Pandita sent 30 young women out into the villages to preach the gospel. These young female preachers were successful, and they reported an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on June 29, 1905, which included several being “slain in the Spirit” and experiencing a burning sensation. This Indian revival continued for several years. By 1906, participants also began receiving the gift of speaking in tongues. According to Pandita, the girls at the orphanage in Mukti prayed each day for more than 29,000 individuals by name. They prayed, among other things, for them to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and to become true and faithful Christian witnesses.

Pandita Ramabai and the revival at the Mukti mission played an important role in the story of the Pentecostal movement’s origin in India. Alfred G. Garr, the first missionary sent by the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, recounted his interactions with Pandita in a serialized history of the Pentecostal movement published in the April 1, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Read the article, “The Work Spreads to India,” by A. G. Garr on pages 4 and 5 of the April 1, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Face to Face,” by D. W. Kerr

• “Letter from a Brother Minister,” by W. Jethro Walthall

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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Marvin Buck and Larry Christenson: Methodist and Lutheran Pastors Refreshed by the Charismatic Renewal

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Larry Christenson, circa 1961


This Week in AG History — February 18, 1962

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 18 February 2016

In the late 1950s, Pentecostal revival began breaking out in places where Pentecostals least expected — mainline churches. This revival, which became known as the charismatic renewal, caused some confusion among Pentecostals, who were uncertain how to react.

Many expected these new charismatics to join Pentecostal congregations. Some did, and the Assemblies of God more than doubled in membership during the 1960s and 1970s, partly because of an influx of charismatics. However, many charismatics decided to stay put and worked to bring a refreshing move of the Holy Spirit into mainline churches.

The February 18, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel featured two articles about mainline ministers who had been touched by the Holy Spirit in the charismatic renewal.

The first article, by Methodist pastor Marvin Buck, described how he had been hungering for “the evidence of God’s power” in his life and ministry. He was grieved that the services in his small church in Beach, North Dakota, “had been dead and dry for so long.” His church members did not seem the least bit interested in prayer or evangelism. He was desperate for spiritual life, yet he did not know how to find it.

Buck went to hear an Episcopalian lay minister, Mrs. Jean Stone, who spoke in a neighboring town about a revival that was bringing new life to mainline churches. Stone, a prominent early leader within the charismatic renewal, encouraged those in attendance to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Buck went to the altar at the end of the meeting, eager to have more of God. He prayed and, for the first time in his life, he “sensed the reality of the Holy Spirit.” He described his body as being “flooded with a glow of warmth,” and he received the gift of speaking in tongues.

The next night, Buck shared what had experienced with the Sunday school superintendent at his Methodist church. He said that he experienced the love, joy, and peace of God in a profound way, and she responded, “This is what we all need.”

Buck reported that many members of the Beach Methodist Church became involved in the charismatic renewal. Some experienced healings, the Bible study doubled in attendance, and prayer meetings started again.

Larry Christenson authored the second Pentecostal Evangel article by a mainline charismatic minister. Christenson, a Lutheran, had a longstanding interest in the gift of healing. He read voraciously on the subject, he taught about healing in his Lutheran parish in San Pedro, California, and many church members experienced healings.

Christenson began to wonder about other spiritual manifestations found in scripture. Were they also for today?  He came into contact with an elderly lady – “a true saint of God” – who was a former Lutheran. She had begun attending a congregation associated with a Pentecostal denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. She invited Christenson to her church, where he heard a message on the gifts of the Spirit. This piqued Christenson’s interest, and a week later he attended special services with David du Plessis at the Assembly of God in San Pedro. He went forward to the altar for prayer and was baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Buck and Christenson, both baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1961, were pioneers of the charismatic renewal in mainline churches. Their testimonies were widely published, inspiring countless others to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. What happened to them? Buck ended up transferring his credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1965, while Christenson remained in the Lutheran church and became one of the most prominent leaders in the charismatic renewal.

Read the two articles in the February 18, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Marvin Buck, “This is What Happened When the Holy Spirit Came to a Methodist Church” (pages 6-7, 23)

Larry Christenson, “How a Lutheran Pastor Was Baptized with the Holy Spirit” (page 25)

Also featured in this issue

• “The Dynamics of Twentieth-Century Pentecost,” by Thomas F. Zimmerman

• “How to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” by Ralph M. Riggs

• “What Pentecost Means to Me,” by James L. McQueen

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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Samuel Jamieson: How a Presbyterian Minister was Baptized in the Holy Spirit

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Samuel and Hattie Jamieson, circa 1919


This Week in AG History — January 31, 1931

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 28 January 2016

Samuel A. Jamieson (1857-1933), one of the founding fathers of the Assemblies of God, previously served as a denominational leader in the Presbyterian church in Minnesota. Despite having all the outward signs of ministerial success, Jamieson felt that inside he was spiritually dry. Jamieson shared his testimony in the January 31, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Jamieson, a graduate of Wabash College and Lane Theological Seminary, was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1881. A pastor and church planter, he also served as superintendent over home missions for five Minnesota counties. He organized 35 Presbyterian congregations and 25 new churches were built under his direction.

Jamieson appeared to be a model minister, but he continued to grow more and more spiritually weary. What could he do? Jamieson and his wife, Hattie, had reached a point of desperation when they heard about the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, which was a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement. They believed it might be an answer to their prayers.

In 1908, Hattie Jamieson went to Atlanta, Georgia, where she attended services at the Pentecostal Mission for over three months. She was Spirit-baptized, and she testified that “He [God] flooded my soul with peace and joy.” She returned home and encouraged her husband to resign his position and also seek the Baptism.

Jamieson rejected his wife’s plea, fearing that identifying with the Pentecostals would be costly. “For me to give up my position of honor and my good salary,” he wrote, “would eventually lead me to the poorhouse.” Hattie continued to reason with him, saying that he needed to be “willing to pay the price” to follow God.

Finally, after three years, Jamieson relented. He began praying earnestly and, he recalled, “the Lord soon removed from my mind all hindrances to tarrying for the Baptism.” In 1911 he resigned his position in Duluth, Minnesota, and joined with Florence Crawford’s Apostolic Faith Mission in Portland, Oregon. The following year, they moved on to Dallas, Texas, where Jamieson was Spirit-baptized under the ministry of healing evangelist Maria Woodworth-Etter.

Jamieson attended the organizational meeting of the Assemblies of God in April 1914, and he became a noted pastor, educator, and executive presbyter in the Fellowship. He served as principal of Midwest Bible School (Auburn, Nebraska), which was the first Bible school owned by the General Council of the Assemblies of God. He also authored two books of sermons published by Gospel Publishing House: The Great Shepherd (1924) and Pillars of Truth (1926).

Jamieson, in his 1931 article, wrote that the baptism in the Holy Spirit changed his ministry in the following three ways. First, Jamieson realized that he had been relying upon his academic training rather than upon the Holy Spirit in his sermon preparation. He literally burned up his old sermon notes, humorously noting, “they were so dry that they burned like tinder.” Second, Jamieson wrote, “After I received my Baptism the Bible was practically a new book to me. I understood it as I never had done before. Preaching under the anointing became a delight, and my love for souls was very much increased.” Third, Jamieson wrote, “It increased my love for God and my fellow men, gave me a more consuming compassion for souls, and changed my view of the ministry so that it was no longer looked upon as a profession but as a calling.”

Samuel A. Jamieson’s testimony beautifully captures the early Pentecostal worldview. This worldview, at its core, included a transformational experience with God that brought people into a deeper life in Christ and empowered them to be witnesses. Jamieson concluded his 1931 article with the following admonition: “To those who would read this narrative I would suggest that if you want to succeed in your Christian work you should seek the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Jamieson hoped that his testimony would spur others to seek what he had found.

Read the article, “How a Presbyterian Preacher Received the Baptism,” by S. A. Jamieson, on page 2 of the January 31, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Thrilling Experience of a Congo Missionary,” by Alva Walker

• “The Pentecostal People and What They Believe,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “After Twenty Years in Egypt,” by Lillian Trasher

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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Barney Moore: Saved in a Methodist Revival with Signs and Wonders in 1901

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Barney and Mary Moore, circa 1919


This Week in AG History — January 17, 1931

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

When Barney S. Moore (1874-1956) converted to Christ in 1901, it was during a revival with signs and wonders in a Methodist church. His testimony, published in the January 17, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, recounted that the Methodist missionary at the revival “was preaching nearly everything that is now preached in Pentecost.”

Moore recalled that, as the congregation was in quiet prayer, the “heavens opened and a rushing mighty wind” filled the small Methodist church. About one-third of the congregation fell to the ground, overwhelmed by God’s glory and the power of the Holy Spirit. Moore experienced something unexpected — he began speaking in a language he had not learned. At first the pastor was uncertain how to respond to the revival and the gift of tongues. But they soon realized they had experienced something akin to the spiritual outpouring in the second chapter of Acts. At the end of the revival, Moore counted 85 people who had decided to repent of their sins and follow Christ.

At the encouragement of his pastor, Moore attended Taylor University (Upland, Indiana) and studied for the ministry. At his first pastorate, in Urbana, Illinois, in 1904, the power of God fell again. During the revival, he wrote, a lady in his church spoke in tongues she had not learned, which Moore deemed to be classical Hebrew and Latin.

Moore was ordained in 1906 by the Metropolitan Church Association, a small Holiness denomination. Before long he heard about the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, which had become a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement. He immediately recognized the similarity between his own spiritual experiences and what was happening at the Azusa Street Revival. He cast his lot with the Pentecostals.

In 1914, Moore and his wife, Mary, followed God’s call to serve as missionaries in Japan. They established a thriving mission and, in 1918, affiliated with the Assemblies of God. When a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 1923, devastating Yokohama and Tokyo and killing 140,000 people, the Moores turned their efforts toward relief work. Moore wrote a widely-distributed book, The Japanese Disaster: or the World’s Greatest Earthquake (1924), and spent years raising money to help the suffering Japanese people.

The testimony of Barney Moore demonstrates that early Pentecostals did not emerge in a vacuum. They were heirs to earlier revival traditions, including those in Methodist and Holiness churches. Moore was careful to document that his experience of speaking in tongues came before the broader Pentecostal movement came into being. His story also shows that early Pentecostals, when confronted by human suffering, were among those who demonstrated Christ’s love not just in word, but in deed.

Read Barney Moore’s article, “Glorious Miracles in the Twentieth Century,” on pages 2-3 of the January 17, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “The Gift of Faith,” by Donald Gee
• “Evidences of God’s Grace in Japan,” by Jessie Wengler
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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Joseph Conlee: From Methodist Pastor to Drunken Vagrant to Pentecostal Educator

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This Week in AG History — December 19, 1936

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 17 December 2015

Old Joe Conlee (1853-1929) was a dirty, ragged drunk. He spent every penny on liquor and begged on the street corners in Los Angeles for money to feed his addiction. Then, in 1897, a man from Conlee’s past recognized the emaciated beggar with the matted beard and invited him to his home. That encounter changed Conlee’s life.

Joseph Conlee didn’t start out on the streets. He was born into an evangelical Methodist family and was brought up in church and Sunday School on the prairies of Iowa. His parents encouraged him to enter the ministry, and he earned a bachelors degree from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree from a Methodist seminary. He married a lovely Christian woman, Hattie, and accepted a small parish in Iowa. Conlee was a brilliant thinker and orator and soon moved up in the ministerial ranks.

Despite the outward appearance of spiritual maturity and success, Conlee’s heart was far from where it should be. In seminary, his professors taught him that much within the Bible is mere superstition, encouraging him to read modern theologians who denigrated the authority of Scripture. He drifted away from the faith of his youth, even while pastoring a succession of growing Methodist churches in the Midwest and in California. He rejected what he called the “emotionalism” of his Methodist upbringing, instead opting to view things from a more “balanced” approach that would allow him to “see both sides of the question.” Instead of professing faith, he essentially became a neutral observer of faith.

Finally, when Conlee was pastor of the Methodist Church in Pomona, California, he told his wife that he could no longer stand his own hypocrisy. He had already denied that the virgin birth of Christ and the miracles in the Bible could have occurred. One Sunday, in the pulpit, he resigned his pastorate and told his congregation that he no longer believed the Bible.

The gifted writer transitioned easily to secular employment. He became the editor of the Santa Ana Herald and proceeded to establish his own newspapers, the East Los Angeles Exponent and the Covina Argus Independent. He sold these papers for a small fortune and became an editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Examiner.

However, Conlee soon lost his newfound wealth and employment due to his growing dependence upon alcohol. The celebrated pastor, publisher and journalist descended into inebriation, shuffling around in smelly rags. He became president of the Free Thinkers Association of California, an organization that promoted atheism. He gave lectures in which he would hold up his hand and challenge God to strike him dead. When nothing happened, he declared, “You see, friends, there is no God.”

But Conlee’s wife was a woman of prayer. She raised their five children without his love or support, and she prayed daily that her fallen husband would return to God. Then, in 1897 on a street corner in Los Angeles, Conlee encountered the man from his past who recognized him and invited him to his home. That man, a Christian doctor who had previously been a member of Conlee’s church, convinced Conlee that he needed a change in environment. Conlee agreed, and he ventured to Alaska, hoping to strike it rich in the Klondike Gold Rush.

In Alaska, Conlee discovered that life in the cabin “on the forty mile” — which described his location — was very lonely. He shared the small cabin with two other men — a Catholic and a spiritualist medium from San Francisco. Out of boredom, they began reading the small Bible that one of Conlee’s daughters had given to him. The medium became fascinated by the stories in the Bible, saying, “I had no idea there were things like that in the Bible.”

As they read the Bible more, their cursing and drunkenness became less frequent. Finally, after several months of Bible reading, the three men confessed to each other that they desperately wanted God to help them. They got on their knees and prayed loudly for hours, until they felt something happen on the inside of them. They then jumped up and started shouting, “Glory!”

Conlee returned to California in 1898, which was an answer to his wife’s prayers. He identified with the Pentecostal movement and ultimately became Dean of the Bible college operated by the Bible Standard Church (now New Hope Christian College in Eugene, Oregon). Conlee’s testimony was widely distributed in the form of a tract, The Lonely Cabin on the Forty Mile, which was published by Gospel Publishing House.

What does the life of Joseph Conlee teach Christians today? Theological liberalism, which undermines the authority of Scripture, led Conlee to reject Christ, which resulted in the loss of his family, fortune, and career. Theological liberalism naturally leads to spiritual death and the decline of families and culture. The same forces are at work in the world today, attempting to infiltrate evangelical and Pentecostal churches, just as they did in Methodist and other churches over 100 years ago. However, Scripture is God-breathed and continues to offer new life. Just as Conlee repented and regained his life, the Gospel continues to offer hope and new life to those who have faith, repent, and cast their burdens on Christ.

Conlee’s story was published in the December 19, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Read the article, “Christmas and Valentine’s Day in a Lonely Cabin,” by Charles S. Price, on pages 2-3 and 5 of the December 19, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tidings of Great Joy,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “How Far is Bethlehem,” by John Wright Follette

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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