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William E. Simpson: Assemblies of God Martyr and Missionary to China

Missionaries W. E. Simpson, Martha Simpson, W. W. Simpson, and Torsten Halldorf; China, circa 1925

This Week in AG History —July 23, 1932

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 22 July 2021

William E. Simpson (1901-1932), a young Assemblies of God missionary, was killed by bandits near the Tibetan border in China. The July 23, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel devoted several pages to the memory of Simpson, whom it hailed as “a martyr for the gospel.”

Simpson, the son of noted missionaries William W. and Otilia Simpson, spent his youth in both China and the United States. He easily learned the Chinese language and spent the last 13 years of his life living in the dangerous borderlands along Tibet. He shared the gospel with Tibetans and Chinese, with nomads, and with Buddhist priests. Simpson was able to traverse a part of the country normally inaccessible to Westerners.

In Simpson’s last letter to the Pentecostal Evangel, he recounted that Assemblies of God missionary policy stated, “The Pauline example shall be followed as far as possible by seeking out neglected regions where the gospel has not been preached.” He took this as a challenge and stated that he did not know of a “more extensive and neglected region” than the Tibetan borderlands. He lamented the small number of converts, but nevertheless pushed forward in his missionary call.

In life and death, Simpson built bridges across denominational divides. He worked extensively with Christian and Missionary Alliance missionaries and spoke at their conferences. Simpson built this bridge upon a family connection; prior to joining the Assemblies of God, Simpson’s father held credentials with the Alliance. Missionaries from both the Assemblies of God and the Christian and Missionary Alliance participated in Simpson’s funeral. Simpson, in his last letter, encouraged further cooperation between the churches: “God grant that the spirit of harmony that exists among us may grow and develop.”

Missions has always been central to the identity of the Assemblies of God. When missionaries share stories of spiritual victories and new converts, Assemblies of God members rejoice. But when young William E. Simpson died at the hands of bandits in 1932, it reminded believers that obedience to the Great Commission often has a high human cost.

Read the entire article, “A Martyr for the Gospel,” on pages 10, 11, and 14 of the July 23, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “High Lights in the Life of Peter,” by Dr. Charles S. Price

• “Questions Concerning Spiritual Gifts,” by Donald Gee

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

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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A Shared Testimony: The Roots of the Pentecostal World Fellowship

This Week in AG History —July 16, 1961

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, 15 July 2021

Pentecostalism’s growth in the early 20th century made it a global movement. Just prior to and following World War II, efforts were made to build bridges between the various Pentecostal fellowships around the world for the purpose of cooperation in evangelism, publications, and education. One of the important organizations that emerged to fulfill these aims was the Pentecostal World Conference (PWC).

In 1921 the Assemblies of God passed a resolution on “World-Wide Cooperation” which helped to lay the groundwork for the PWC. Then in 1937, several Pentecostal leaders from various nations were invited to attend the Assemblies of God General Council in Memphis. This was followed by a European Pentecostal Conference held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1939.

After World War II, Gustave Kinderman served as field secretary for the Assemblies of God Foreign Missions Department in Europe, and he opened an office in Basel, Switzerland, in 1946. He began working closely with Leonard Steiner, pastor of the largest Pentecostal congregation in that city. Through their efforts, and with cooperation from many Pentecostal leaders around the globe, the Pentecostal World Conference was organized at a conference for Pentecostal leaders held in Zurich, Switzerland, May 4-9, 1947.

Since that time, the PWC has met every three years in various locations, attended by church leaders and members from around the world. One of main purposes of the PWC is to promote spiritual fellowship among Pentecostals, regardless of denominational affiliation or ethnic background. Another outgrowth of these meetings was the publication of a worldwide Pentecostal magazine founded by Donald Gee. It was called Pentecost (1947-1966) and was succeeded by World Pentecost (1971-1998). It reported on Pentecostal revivals, church growth, and events happening around the globe. For its first 54 years, the PWC was more of an event than a formal organization. In 2001, the group adopted a constitution and changed its name to Pentecostal World Fellowship.

Sixty years ago, in a special declaration given at the Sixth Pentecostal World Conference in Jerusalem, held May 19-21, 1961, the delegates advocated for a “renewing of the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit with all believers” and they pledged to “call all believers to continued prayer, faith, and obedience to the Word of God.”

This meeting closed on Pentecost Sunday, May 21, 1961. It was reported that “volumes of praise swell from thousands of voices and God moves upon us in a significant way.” The morning speaker on the closing day was the esteemed Pentecostal veteran, Lewi Pethrus of Stockholm, with Frank Lindquist of Minneapolis serving as interpreter. Afterwards the delegates shared Communion. Thomas F. Zimmerman gave the final message, challenging the delegates to help promote 20th-century Pentecost. The final report of those registered for the 1961 conference was 2,595 delegates from 40 different countries.

Read the article, “Going Up to Jerusalem,” by Don Mallough, on page 12 of the July 16, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Prophets of the Lord,” by Violet Schoonmaker

• “It’s Miserable to Be a Mule,” by Donald Gee

• “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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Edith Mae Pennington: The Beauty Queen Who Left Hollywood for a Pentecostal Pulpit

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pennington.jpg

This Week in AG History —July 4, 1931

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 08 July 2021

Edith Mae Pennington (1902-1970) traded the glamour and fame of Hollywood for a Pentecostal pulpit. Her testimony, published in 1931 in the Pentecostal Evangel, shared her journey from small town America to Hollywood and back again.

Reared in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Edith accepted Christ at a young age in her family’s evangelical church. By high school, she had become a ravishing young woman and lost interest in spiritual things. She enjoyed popularity and, she wrote, “the love of the world gripped my heart.” She spent her time going to dances and engaging in the frivolities of the world. She did not intentionally reject God, but nonetheless drifted away from her faith.

After high school, Edith attended college. She intended to become a teacher but soon found herself on another path. She entered a beauty pageant in 1921 and beat out 7,000 other young women to capture the title, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the United States.”

Edith’s life would never be the same. Gifts and money were showered upon her, and she received numerous invitations to speak at luncheons and christen buildings and public works projects. “I was dined and feted, flattered, and honored,” she recalled. She wore expensive clothing, had a car and chauffeur, and regularly made guest appearances at theaters.

Even though Edith seemed to have everything, she felt empty on the inside. “It was very exciting, alluring, inviting — yet it did not satisfy,” she wrote. During her travels across America, she decided to try the screen rather than the stage. She settled in Hollywood, hoping for a change.

Edith’s mother was her constant companion, helping to protect her and line up events. But her mother’s most important work, perhaps, was accomplished in the prayer closet. Edith noted, “Mother would be behind the curtain praying for me at my request and her desire — for God to help me and not let me make any mistakes.”

These prayers were soon answered, but not before witnessing the depravity of Hollywood. Edith appeared in several motion pictures, but became increasingly “shocked” at the “wicked world” surrounding her. “I was horrified at the immorality and the things I witnessed,” she wrote, noting that she had “several narrow escapes which frightened me.” She realized that her hopes for fame and fortune had been misplaced. “My air castles shattered at my feet,” she cried.

In her despair, Edith turned to God. She began attending church and heard the gospel preached by the power of the Holy Spirit. She felt conviction for her sins and “awakened to the startling realization that I was a sinner, lost and undone.” She began to read the Bible, which seemed to make everything “brighter” and her “soul lighter.” However, she hesitated to make the decision to become a true follower of Christ.

Edith knew that she would have to leave her lifestyle behind if she recommitted herself to Christ. She understood that there would need to be a parting of ways: “One way led to a career, fame, and fortune, but there was sin, the world, and a lost soul at the end. The other way revealed the Cross, and Jesus the Savior who had died for me that peace, joy, and forgiveness might be mine.”

Initially, Edith tried to have both God and the world. She went to church and also went to theaters and parties where sin abounded and where God was dishonored. She was miserable and ultimately recognized that she needed “deliverance from the bondage of the world.”

She visited churches that she described as “nominal,” and they were unable to help her find victory from her bondage to sin. She knew she wanted to live for the Lord, but she could not seem to separate herself from the destructive paths of the world. She experienced painful cognitive dissonance. She liked dressing like a Hollywood starlet, but deep inside she knew that she could not serve both God and flesh.

Finally, Edith decided to visit a Pentecostal church. She had heard that Pentecostal churches believed in the power of God. And Edith knew that she needed God’s power. She attended several Sunday evening services at a Pentecostal church in Los Angeles in October 1925. One evening, after a message in tongues seemed to be a direct rebuke from God, she ran to the altar and fully surrendered her life to God. She began to weep uncontrollably and then experienced unexplainable peace and quietness. She recalled, “I was happy, and felt so free, so light, so clean.”

The next night Edith returned to church. This time, she decided not to wear her characteristically gaudy jewelry. She received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and felt God call her to preach the gospel. Edith returned to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where, in 1930, she became the pastor of the Assemblies of God congregation.

Edith Mae Pennington spent the rest of her life in ministry as a pastor and noted evangelist. Throngs of people would come to hear “The Most Beautiful Girl in the United States” share how she left the lights of Hollywood for the light of the Cross. Edith’s decision to forsake the world and to follow Christ changed the course of not only her life, but thousands of others.

Read the article by Edith Mae Pennington, “From the Footlights to the Light of the Cross,” published serially in the July 4, 1931, and July 11, 1931, issues of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in the July 4, 1931, issue:

• “The Overflowing Stream,” by P. C. Nelson

• “Is Life Worth Living?” by Myer Pearlman

And many more!

Click these links to read the July 4th and July 11th issues 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 and Ebba Nilsen: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionaries in the Congo

This Week in AG History —June 30, 1974

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

Joseph Walter Nilsen (1897-1974), son of Swedish immigrants to America, laid much of the foundation for the growing Assemblies of God work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). He also was the first Assemblies of God missionary in Tanzania and established the first Assemblies of God mission station in northern Malawi. During his 30-year term as a missionary, he and his wife, Ebba, supervised day schools, evangelized villages, built churches, and opened medical clinics, while serving God and the Congolese people faithfully.

The son of Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church pastors, Nilsen served in the United States Navy during World War I and then joined the Standard Oil Company in California. He was successfully climbing the business ladder when he met a shy young lady, Ebba Arvidson, at a church meeting. His friends bet him that he could not make her talk, so he took the bet and made a date with Ebba. He asked her father for her hand in marriage and was given permission upon making the promise that he would never take her more than a day’s journey from her parents.

While on a business trip, Nilsen felt an impression that God was calling him to ministry. He quit his well-paying job and enrolled in the Assemblies of God school in San Francisco, Glad Tidings Bible Institute (later Bethany College). One evening, while in prayer after the church service, Joseph prayed that God would use him to help meet the world’s great need. As he prayed, he had a vision of a map of Africa that gradually became focused on the central region of the Belgian Congo. He saw a missionary going from village to village, building chapels. He was amazed to see that the missionary was himself.

He said nothing to Ebba about this vision. She had married a strong young man in the burgeoning oil industry who had then quit his job to go to Bible school. He also promised he would not remove her from her family. After graduation, Joseph and Ebba accepted a pastorate in Montana and had two children, but the young pastor was restless, consistently hearing in his heart that word, Congo! He prayed in desperation, “Lord, I am willing to go, but you must speak to my wife.”

Not long after, when tucking their 8-year-old daughter, Ruth, into bed after a church service, she said to her parents, “Tonight the Lord asked me if I would be a missionary to the Congo. I told him I would go if my mommy and daddy went with me.” Neither of her parents spoke. Finally, Ebba said softly, “The Lord has been asking me the same thing. I told him he would need to speak to my husband.” In 1929, with 8-year-old Ruth and infant Paul, they embarked on the 10-week journey to the Belgian Congo, conducting services each Sunday on the ship taking them to Africa.

Four days after arriving, Joseph was down with dysentery. The next week, little Paul had a serious fever. Within the first six months, all of the family experienced some form of illness including fever, measles, dysentery, and malaria. Finally, they settled on the edge of the Ituri Forest, where the sun never penetrated the thick jungle. The forest was home to wild animals, witch doctors, juju priests, and shy Pygmies. The family set about learning new languages, making friends, and building a mud home. Soon they had not only a circle of friends, but a small group of Christian believers.

In their first six-year term, the Nilsen family started a school, built churches, and established a mission station. During their second term, they opened a Bible school to train Congolese men and women to lead their own churches. More areas began to open to the gospel and the Nilsens were asked to help. Joseph took Ebba and their now three children across Central Africa and helped to establish the church in Tanzania. While in Tanzania, a chief from Malawi invited Nilsen to begin a church in his area. Later, Morris and Macey Williams came to take charge of the Malawi work and the Nilsens were able to return to the Congo.

The Assemblies of God of the Belgian Congo was formally established in 1956 and Joseph Nilsen was elected to serve as the first superintendent. However, due to the constant exhausting work and the effects of many and varied diseases, both Joseph and Ebba’s health had deteriorated over the years. By August 1959, 63-year-old Joseph knew that their health would not permit them to continue the rigorous work, and they returned to the United States leaving their work in the capable hands of Congolese workers and young missionaries whom they had trained, such as Jay and Angeline Tucker.

In 1960, political unrest caused most of the missionaries to be evacuated. However, due to the groundwork laid by Nilsen in training and commissioning Congolese converts to lead the work, every phase of the Assemblies of God ministries was able to continue under national leadership.

The Pentecostal Evangel announced the passing of pioneer missionary Joseph Nilsen in its June 30, 1974, issue, reporting that “in the face of great spiritual opposition, he established the work…” Despite the political turmoil that followed decolonization of the Congo in the 1960s, including the martyrdom of Nilsen’s young fellow missionary, J. W. Tucker, the Congolese Assemblies of God has continued to be a strong church committed to training and mobilizing workers for the harvest in Pentecostal power, largly due to the foundational work of pioneer missionaries like the Nilsen family.

Read the announcement of Nilsen’s death 28 in the June 30, 1974, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Upper Window” by Emil Balliet

• “The Churches in Eastern Europe” by T.F. Zimmerman

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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Bert Webb: How a Teenager from Wellston, Oklahoma Became an Assemblies of God National Leader

Bert Webb, his wife, Charlotte, and their children, Tommy and Sue, sitting in their living room; circa 1956

This Week in AG History —June 20, 1954

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, 24 June 2021

Bert Webb (1906-1995) held many positions of leadership in the Assemblies of God. He served as a district youth director, evangelist, pastor, district official, an assistant general superintendent for the Assemblies of God for 20 years, and in his retirement years he was campus pastor at Evangel College (now Evangel University) in Springfield, Missouri.

Born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, he moved with his parents to a farm at Weleetka, Oklahoma, when he was 8 years old. Three years later, his family moved to Wellston, a small farming community in the central part of Oklahoma. Before the 1920s, Webb described Wellston as “a most ungodly place.” As a teenager, he said that he did not know any young people who claimed to know Christ, including himself.

But that all changed when Bert was a senior in high school. Dexter Collins, a new convert, came to Wellston in 1922 and conducted what amounted to a year-long revival. Starting small, the meetings soon attracted many individuals and families who were saved, healed, and baptized in the Holy Spirit. After Webb’s mother was healed of asthma, he went to services out of curiosity. Then he too was saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit. When the meetings ended, it was estimated that some 300 were saved in his hometown of only 600. His high school senior class officers were saved and filled with the Spirit. Nineteen of the new converts went into the ministry, including Webb.

Ordained in 1926 in the Oklahoma district, Webb first ministered as an evangelist. He met his future wife, Charlotte Williamson, at a district youth convention where he was preaching in June 1927. They eventually were married at Faith Tabernacle in Oklahoma City in June 1931. The Williamson family were gifted musicians, and Charlotte’s musical abilities were an asset to Bert’s ministry as an evangelist and pastor.

Webb continued evangelizing and also pastored churches in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Arkansas before coming to Springfield, Missouri, in 1939, when he was elected as pastor of Central Assembly of God. In addition to preaching at the church, Webb also spoke three times weekly on Springfield’s KTTS radio station with a program called The Church by the Side of the Road. At the same time, on KWTO radio station, he hosted a weekly radio broadcast called, Assembly Vespers. Charlotte Webb served as director of the orchestra, and Sunday School exceeded all previous attendance records when the Webbs were pastors. One of the high points of the Webbs’ ministry at Central was a meeting they hosted with Dr. Charles S. Price, which was held at the Shrine Mosque in 1940.

Next Webb was elected superintendent of the Southern Missouri district for six years before becoming an assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God from 1949 to 1969. In that position he served as the executive director of the Sunday School, Youth, Evangelism, Radio, Personnel, and Publications. He also was chairman of the building committee for the administration building at 1445 N. Boonville Avenue, which was erected in 1960 and dedicated on March 2, 1962.

Webb served on numerous interchurch committees. He was chairman of the Assemblies of God Commission on Chaplains. He served on the National Advisory Board for the U.S. Air Force Chief of Chaplains in Washington, D.C. He was president of the National Sunday School Association, which was comprised of some 40 Protestant denominations. He also served on boards with the National Religious Broadcasters and the National Association of Evangelicals. His ministry took him to more than 62 countries where he led missions conventions, teaching seminars, and revival campaigns.

In retirement, he and Charlotte moved to California, where they became administrators of a 262-bed church-operated convalescent home. In 1974 they started a church in Mission Viejo, California, pastoring there for a year. Webb then traveled in ministers institutes and camp meetings until January 1977, when he returned to Springfield to accept the position of campus pastor of Evangel College (now Evangel University), where he served until 1983.

The Webbs continued to accept ministry invitations from many places. They served interim pastorates in Eugene, Oregon; Houston and Fort Worth, Texas; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Omaha, Nebraska. He passed away in Springfield, Missouri in January 1995 at the age of 88. Assemblies of God General Superintendent Thomas Trask stated, “This Fellowship owes a great debt of gratitude to Bert Webb for his years of leadership…. This man faithfully served the Lord and this church and we shall miss him.”

While serving as executive director of the National Sunday School Department, Webb wrote an article called, “It is Time to Seek the Lord,” found on page 4 of the June 20, 1954, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Head of the House,” by James D. Menzies

• “Hundreds Converted in South Africa,” by Vernon D. Pettenger

• “Graduation at the L.A.B.I,” by Kenny Savage

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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Alice Wood: The Orphan Who Became the First Pentecostal Missionary to Argentina

This Week in AG History —May 29, 1920

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 28 May 2021

The first Pentecostal missionary to Argentina, Alice Wood (1870-1961), holds another great distinction: she served more than 60 years on the mission field, the last 50 without a furlough. When she finally retired at age 90, she left behind a thriving church pastored by Argentinians whom she raised up for the purpose of impacting a country for Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

When the call came in the December 1913 issue of Word and Witness for a gathering of Pentecostal believers in Hot Springs, Arkansas, E.N. Bell published the five reasons for this first General Council of what would become the Assemblies of God. The third reason stated: “We come together for another reason, that we may get a better understanding of the needs of each foreign field, and may know how to place our money … that we may discourage wasting money on those who are running here and there accomplishing nothing, and may concentrate our support on those who mean business for our King.”

Alice Wood received the call but was unable to attend. She was a single, 44-year-old Canadian Pentecostal missionary in Gualeguaychú, Argentina, with no visible means of support. Encouraged by the vision to support missions, Wood sent in an application to be included among the first official missionaries of the fledgling Assemblies of God. She was accepted onto the roster on Nov. 2, 1914.

Wood was an adventurous woman who looked on fearful obstacles as challenges to be overcome. When she was 7 years old, one of the older school girls told her, “Conquer a snake and you will conquer everything you undertake.” The next time she saw a snake, she ran to put her foot on its head while encouraging her sister to pelt it with rocks until it was dead. From childhood, she was a woman who ran toward things from which others ran away.

Orphaned at age 16, Wood lived with a foster family. While she was raised in the Friends (Quaker) church, she also attended Methodist and Holiness conventions and sought the presence of God in her life. At age 25, she enrolled in the Friends’ Training School in Cleveland. Upon graduation she began pastoring a church in Beloit, Ohio.

When a young missionary visited her church, she “longed to go where Christ had never been preached.” She resigned her church and became involved with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, which sent her to Venezuela in 1898 and to Puerto Rico in 1902. While there, overwork took its toll on her health and she returned to the United States for rest. During this time she heard of a great revival in Wales and began to pray, “Lord, send a revival and begin it in me.” While in Philadelphia she heard of another outbreak of revival at a small mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, only increasing her hunger.

Seeking after God, Wood received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues at a camp meeting in Ohio, along with a re-commissioning from the Lord to return to South America. Upon receiving the news of her Pentecostal experience, the Christian and Missionary Alliance broke ties with her.

In 1910, with no commitment of support, Wood sailed for Argentina as the first Pentecostal missionary to that nation, trusting that God would provide. After a few years working on the field, some health problems returned but, knowing of the power of the Holy Spirit, she turned to God rather than doctors for healing. She later wrote, “Then I learned to take Christ as my life. Jesus healed me of cancer, nervousness, and many other ailments. Let His name be praised.”

When she joined the newly formed Assemblies of God, the 16-year veteran missionary’s experience lent credibility and stability to the organization. However, she never attended a district or General Council meeting, nor did she travel to raise support and share her needs. From the time she arrived in Argentina in 1910 until her retirement in 1960 at age 90, she never took a furlough. When asked why she never returned to America to visit and itinerate, she responded that God had called her to Argentina and she understood the call to be for life. 

When Wood was 88, a national worker became concerned about her overwork and made known to Field Secretary Melvin Hodges that a clothes washer would ease her load. Wood had been washing all the clothes at the mission on a washboard. Since she had been a missionary before the founding of the district councils, Wood had no home district that watched out for her needs, so her lack was sometimes overlooked. Wood, at age 89, became the proud recipient of a brand new 1958 washer paid for by the newly formed Etta Calhoun Fund of the Women’s Missionary Council. She wrote back expressing her gratitude: “You have greatly lightened the work … I have never seen anything like it. It is ornamental as well as useful.”

When Wood finally returned to the United States in 1960, a year before her death at age 91, her travel companion, Lillian Stokes, wrote, “As I saw her few little ragged belongings I thought, ‘the earthly treasures of a missionary,’ but the Word of God says, ‘great is her reward in heaven.’”

This veteran single female missionary laid the foundation work for the revival that continues today in Argentina. In 1912, she wrote, “Ours is largely foundation work … but we believe our Father is preparing to do a mighty work and pour out the ‘latter rain’ upon the Argentine in copious showers before Jesus comes.” The sweeping Argentine revival of the 1980s and 1990s under evangelists Carlos Annacondia and Claudio Freidzon saw their beginning in Alice Wood, the fearless little missionary lady from Canada.

Read one of Alice Wood’s many reports from the field on page 12 of the May 29, 1920, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“Fire From Heaven and Abundance of Rain,”by Alice Luce

“The Great Revival in Dayton, Ohio,” by Harry Long

“Questions and Answers,” by E.N. Bell

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Note: Quotations in this article come from Alice Wood’s missionary file at the AGWM archives.IMAGE – Argentine Christians bid farewell to veteran missionary Alice Wood. (L-r): Pastor Ernest Diaz, Mrs. Diaz (seated), Miss Alice Wood, and Evangelist Ruben Ortiz; July 12, 1960

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

This Week in AG History —May 13, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 13 May 2021

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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Hillcrest Children’s Home (Hot Springs, Arkansas), Social Concern, and the Assemblies of God

This Week in AG History — May 7, 1961

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 07 May 2021

Hillcrest Children’s Home in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is a 52-acre campus owned and operated by the Assemblies of God. When Miss Gladys Hinson founded Hillcrest (originally called the National Children’s Home of the Assemblies of God) in 1944, she said, “God has given us a vision of hundreds and thousands of neglected children, of those from broken homes, of the orphans and those who will yet be orphaned by the war.” Today Hillcrest continues to serve children and adolescents who need transitional living as well as those with developmental disabilities or those needing qualified residential treatment.

Sixty years ago, J. Roswell Flower, former general secretary of the Assemblies of God, spoke at the dedication of the Garrison Memorial Cottage at Hillcrest. This was the first of several cottages on the campus devoted to housing children and youth.

The story behind this cottage began when “Aunt” Hallie Garrison, a widow, who was a member of the Assembly of God church in Childress, Texas, contacted Hillcrest. She was a wealthy landowner who ended up giving thousands of dollars to Hillcrest and to various youth homes and churches in Texas.

In a letter of June 6, 1960, she expressed her desire to “do something for the children” at Hillcrest. The children’s home contacted her, and she ended up donating money and approved preliminary plans for a cottage for teen boys. She wrote a check for $41,195 to pay for the construction, and she was eager to see construction begin. She hoped the cottage might be completed by the end of the year.

Shortly after receiving her check, ground was broken for the building. It was named the Garrison Memorial Cottage in honor of the donor and in memory of her son who had recently passed away. She also had lost a daughter.

By mid-December, the cottage was ready for the teen boys to occupy. It was a large, comfortable single-story brick cottage (51 by 76 feet) that could house 18 boys plus the house parents. The house included a kitchen, shower room, living room, and 11 bedrooms. The addition of this cottage increased the capacity of Hillcrest at that time to one hundred children.

At the dedication service on Dec. 15, 1960, which Mrs. Garrison attended, Flower said, “We are not here to dedicate a church, nor to dedicate a school, ….” Instead, he emphasized, “We are here to dedicate a home — a place of refuge for boys where they can be cared for under home conditions as nearly normal as it is possible to provide in institutional life.”

Flower mentioned that “Help sometimes comes from unexpected quarters.” He felt that God must have put the concern for children at Hillcrest in Garrison’s heart, for she had not been approached by any of the administrators to make this gift. She was the one who had contacted Hillcrest and then made a generous donation for this boys’ cottage.

Today there are eight cottage homes of this type at Hillcrest. Garrison was the first. In order of completion date, they are — Garrison, Hardcastle, Anderson I, Anderson II, Netzel, Anthony, Wilmoth, and Gilliam. Each cottage is currently licensed to house five to eight residents, depending on the program of need. The original Garrison Cottage was built in 1960 as a home for teen boys. It was later leveled, and a new Garrison Cottage was built in 1998, which currently serves girls.

Hillcrest Children’s Home in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is part of COMPACT Family Services, a nationally accredited child welfare and family services agency, operated by the Assemblies of God. In 2019 Hillcrest celebrated 75 years, and it is still serving the church and the community. Over the years its ministries have broadened, thanks to generous donations like Garrison’s and many answered prayers. The campus now has a total of 23 buildings and includes a chapel, a dining hall, and facilities for indoor and outdoor activities.

Read more in “Dedicated to Our Boys” on page 8 of the May 7, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Evangelistic Campaigns in the Local Church,” by Lloyd Christiansen

• “Music in Evangelism,” by Edwin P. Anderson

• “Revival in Uruguay,” by Leroy Atwood

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 Gave this Warning about Miracles

This Week in AG History —April 28, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 29 April 2021

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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Harold and Margaret Jones: Assemblies of God Missionary Educators and Publishers in Africa

This Week in AG History — April 23, 1961

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 22 April 2021

Harold S. (1906-1970) and Margaret (Bishopp) Jones (1907-2003) were pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and South Africa. Harold, Margaret, and their three children endured hardships, but ultimately left a legacy that included a network of schools, a publishing ministry, and countless lives impacted by their service.

Margaret attended Bethel Temple in Los Angeles. At 14 years of age, after hearing a missionary tell about the Mossi people in West Africa, she felt God calling her to be a missionary to the Mossi people.

After graduating from high school, she attended Southern California Bible Institute (now Vanguard University) where she became active in the Africa missions prayer group. There she met Harold Jones, who also had a call to be a missionary in Africa. They developed a friendship, and after graduation, Harold because the district Christ’s Ambassadors president (D-CAP) for Kansas, his home state. Later, through correspondence, he and Margaret rekindled their friendship, which grew into love. Harold took the train to California, and they were married in March 1930.

As newlyweds, the Joneses borrowed $100, bought a car, and drove back to Kansas to raise support to go to Africa as missionaries. Their first child was born in October 1931, and in January 1932 they sailed for West Africa on a freighter, along with the A. E. Wilsons, who were veteran missionaries. After 21 days, they were glad to arrive in Ivory Coast, and then five more days of travel took them over unpaved bush roads to Mossiland, which was their destination. The rest of 1932 was spent in language study, and Margaret also was expecting her second child who arrived in January 1933. He was born with the assistance of an African midwife and a French doctor at the mission station in Ouagadougou, Upper Volta.

Harold Jones’ first assignment was to Yako in April 1933. Without a car, he covered an 80-mile circuit on bicycle, often in 100-degree heat, in order to reach the main preaching centers and outstations. Times were hard. Their oldest daughter was stricken with blackwater fever but was healed after much prayer. Margaret Jones also became ill during her third pregnancy and was told that she needed to return to the United States for the birth. A Mossi woman accompanied her and the two children on a trip to the coast. Then it took a month by boat to reach New York. From there they boarded a train to Los Angeles to stay with Margaret’s parents. The third child was born in Los Angeles in September 1936, and Harold did not get to see the new baby until nine months later.

After a year of deputation to raise more funds, the Joneses and their three children left for France to study the French language. By 1938 they were back in Upper Volta, opening a new work in Koudougou. The Joneses held Bible readings and prayers and began work on a church building and a Bible school. They taught new believers to read and write in their own language, using lessons that were mimeographed in the Mooré language. After World War II, the Joneses started an Assemblies of God (Protestant) elementary school. That school was later expanded to include a high school as well as an orphanage for babies. It eventually became the center for a network of 32 schools throughout the country.

Although he was a farmer’s son, Harold had also worked as a printer in Kansas. He established a small print shop in Koudougou and trained workers how to operate the presses and other printing equipment. Later this small print shop was transferred to the capital city of Ouagadougou and became the catalyst for Assemblies of God literature ministry in all of West Africa.

The last six years of Harold Jones’ life was spent in ministry in South Africa, where he and Margaret worked with International Correspondence Institute. Harold passed away in 1970, at the age of 63. Afterwards, Margaret ministered in South Africa for six more years before retiring from missionary work.

An article in the Pentecostal Evangel featured the print shop of Harold and Margaret Jones and literature for French-speaking Africa. Funds had been provided in 1956 to build the first building in French West Africa to be used solely as a publishing house and bookstore. This came to fruition under the ministry of Harold and Margaret Jones.

In 1961, it was estimated that the Assemblies of God Publishing House and Book Store in Ouagadougou would soon “reach some 20 million people.” Scripture portions, songbooks, tracts and study books were being printed in five of the 22 French West Africa languages. Speed the Light provided the funds for the press, folding machine, stitcher, and other equipment.

Harold Jones reported: “The Mossi Old Testament has been translated and all books soon will be printed.” He was pleased to be able to say that these books and pamphlets were being printed in Africa, rather than saying “Printed in the U.S.A.” The Joneses also established the French Gospel Publishing House which was set up to print Sunday School materials, Bible studies, and youth papers and tracts in the French language all over the globe, and not just in West Africa.

Read more in “Literature for French-Speaking Africa” on page 8 of the April 23, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Every-Day Evangelism,” by James A. Stewart

• “Witnessing Through Gospel Tracts,” by Alma Ware Crosby

• “Something Better Than Psychiatry,” by James La Valley

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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