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65th Anniversary of the Touch the World Fund: Assemblies of God Women’s Ministries and Missions

This Week in AG History — September 18, 1977

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, September 22, 2022

The Touch the World Fund — the missions arm of Assemblies of God Women’s Ministries — celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. The fund provides indoor equipment and furnishings for designated missionaries from AG World and U.S. Missions as well as compassion ministries.

When the fund was established in 1957, it was called The Etta Calhoun Fund. Women and girls who were part of Women’s Ministries and Missionettes (now National Girls Ministries) would take up a special offering for this fund on or near September 19, which is the birthday of Etta Calhoun, the founder of Women’s Ministries. Etta Calhoun died without realizing her ambition to go to the mission field. But she set a pattern of Spirit-inspired work for women by which the WMs have literally “reached their arms around the world.” The Touch the World Fund is one way that AG women and girls ministries can help support U.S. and World missions. Missionaries are indebted to funds received from programs such as BGMC, National Girls Ministries Coins for Kids, Royal Rangers Master’s Toolbox, Speed the Light, and the Touch the World Fund.

The original goal for these funds was to “help the missionary to get to the field and stay there.” This goal then led into many related avenues where funds were needed for equipment and furnishings. Over the years, this fund has helped Hillcrest Children’s Home and Highlands Child Placement Service (now COMPACT Family Services), servicemen’s centers, Teen Challenge centers, missionary Bible institutes, missionary rest houses, and special programs such as Hope for the Handicapped. A few of the items purchased through the Etta Calhoun Fund include refrigerators, stoves, water coolers, washing machines, dryers, beds, mattresses, desks, tables, chairs, pianos, and organs.

In September 1977, Linda Upton, WM representative, wrote an article titled, “Thanks to the Wonderful WMs,” which focused on the Etta Calhoun Fund. She shared some testimonies from recipients of the fund. Sam Johnson, head of the Mount Hope Portuguese Bible Institute in Lisbon, Portugal, said, “Please know we are indebted for your sacrificial contribution of $2,000.” One of the items purchased was a dishwasher. Leo Bankson, president of Good Shepherd Indian Bible School in Mobridge, South Dakota, wrote, “We have received the Etta Calhoun check, and from the deep of our hearts we are grateful!” Those funds helped the school to purchase two electric stoves, two refrigerators, and dorm furniture.

Howard Foltz, director of the Eurasia Teen Challenge, wrote, “We deeply appreciate the vital assistance that the Women’s Ministries gives to world evangelism…. We want to express special appreciation for $1,500 from the Etta Calhoun Fund for the equipment in our Teen Challenge Training Center here in Wiesbaden.” Missionary Byron Niles of Quito, Ecuador wrote, “Thanks to the wonderful WMs for your tremendous help in beginning our new Bible school program here in Quito.… Please accept our gratitude for the desks and blackboards.”

Testimonies also came from Verne Warner, coordinator of the Program of Advanced Christian Education (PACE) in Miami, Florida; the International Bible College in the Republic of South Africa; a group of AG missionaries in Temuco, Chile who gathered for a pastor’s retreat; Bethel Bible School in Bethel, Alaska; and the American Indian Bible Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.

A special project organized nationally in 1976 was the purchase of a new organ for the American Indian Bible Institute. The project in 1977 was to raise money for classroom furniture and equipment for the Assemblies of God School in Suva, Fiji Islands. Many districts designate a special project each year to earmark for a special offering for Touch the World. Some churches take up special offerings once a year, but monies can be given throughout the year to the Touch the World Fund.

Read, “Thanks to the Wonderful WMs,” on page 20 of the Sept. 18, 1977, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Jesus Noticed,” by C.M. Ward

• “Jesus Took Bread and Blessed It,” by Stan Michael

• “What Mean These Stones?” by Del Tarr

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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One of God’s Firebrands: Oren Munger, Assemblies of God Missionary to Nicaragua

This Week in AG History — September 15, 1945

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 15 September 2022

Oren Munger, an Assemblies of God missionary, died in Nicaragua at the young age of 25. The Sept. 15, 1945, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel alerted readers of his passing, which his colleague Harold McKinney, Jr. called a “great personal shock.”

Oren and his wife, Florence, graduated from Central Bible Institute in 1941 and had been in Nicaragua for three years. They had committed themselves fully to spreading the gospel. Oren was known for his powerful prayers and his musical abilities. He taught at the Bible school in Leon, Nicaragua, and often spent both days and nights interceding for revival.

Oren’s name, appropriately enough, was the imperative form of the Spanish verb meaning “to pray.” When he rode on muleback into rural areas in Nicaragua, people would ask, “What is your name?” He would respond, “Oren.” Because “oren” was a command in Spanish to pray, the inquirers would go away and start praying. After a while, they would come back and ask his name again, only to receive the same answer.

Oren lived up to his name. He regularly prayed until he was exhausted. His body weakened due to his strenuous ministry schedule and lack of sleep.

While ministering in a remote location in March 1945, Oren was stricken with typhoid. He died five months later, but not before he made a significant impact on the Assemblies of God in Nicaragua.

Oren’s passion for missions overflowed onto the pages of the letters he sent from Nicaragua. In one of his letters he wrote the following:

“The challenge of untouched regions is indeed great. God grant us in reality the purpose and power that motivated the apostle Paul. It is not in the great numbers of missionaries that the evangelism of the world lies, but in the intense glow with which the firebrands burn.”

Oren Munger was one of God’s firebrands.

Read the tributes to Oren Munger on page 11 of the Sept. 15, 1945, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Our Pastors in Uniform: Assemblies of God Chaplains,” by Harry A. Jaeger

• “Things Which Make Revivals Possible,” by Arthur H. Graves

• “Touching Our Lord Jesus,” by W.W. Simpson

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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David Yonggi Cho and Yoido Full Gospel Church: The Story Behind the World’s Largest Church

This Week in AG History —September 7, 1969

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 08 September 2022

David (Paul) Yonggi Cho (1936-2021) was a Korean Assemblies of God (AG) pastor, evangelist, author, church planter, and international church growth pioneer. Starting from a small tent in an impoverished neighborhood outside Seoul, his congregation grew exponentially until it became the largest church in the world, with three quarters of a million members.

Cho was born into a Buddhist family in Pusan but found that the religion of his ancestors did not meet the need for peace, joy, and love within him. When war came to Korea during his teenage years, money and food were so scarce that only one small meal a day was common. In 1953, the malnutrition and unsanitary conditions led to an enlarged heart, and tuberculosis invaded his lungs. Sent home to die at the age of 17, Cho’s father prayed to Buddha, but the young man had little confidence in his father’s prayers, having never seen them answered.

A young woman came to visit the Cho home one day and asked to tell the dying teen about Jesus. Cho ordered her out of the house, but she returned for several days each day praying for him, despite his cursing and intimidation. On the fifth day, Cho began to cry and said that he wanted to know this Jesus that brought her to his home. She left her Bible with him and instructed him to read the story of Jesus in the New Testament gospels. In his weakened state, he walked to an American mission and responded to the call to accept Christ.

His family renounced him as an “unholy Christian dog,” but an American missionary, Louis Richards, took him into his home and began to disciple the dying man and encouraged him to look to Jesus for healing. One night in prayer, Cho had a vision of Christ that overwhelmed him with love for the God of his new faith, and this love bubbled up through his mouth and he began to speak in another language. This frightened him until the missionary explained that this phenomenon was biblical and many others had also experienced “speaking in tongues.” While there were still effects in his body from weakness, the doctor soon noted that his lungs no longer showed signs of tuberculosis and his heart was returned to its normal size.

Cho enrolled in the Full Gospel Bible School in 1954, and in 1958 he and his future mother-in-law, Jashil Choi, put up a tent in a war-torn, poverty-stricken area outside of Seoul. There were no seats, only straw mats strewn on the ground, but Choi began to pray and Cho began to preach. On Sunday morning, he would go to the top of the hill and cry out over the rooftops, “It’s time for church, Come to church!”

The people responded. In three years, the church needed to move to a 1,500-seat auditorium in the Sodaemun area. The growth happened so quickly and the work of the ministry so exhausting, that the young pastor experienced a breakdown in 1964 while trying to juggle the demands of multiple services a day. Realizing he could not manage the ministry alone, he adopted Jethro’s advice to Moses in Exodus 18 and divided the membership into geographical districts and assigned workers as pastors over these flocks. By 1982, there were 12 districts, each divided into 10 to 17 sections, with 157 full-time ministers over these “cell groups.”

In 1968, the church purchased property in Osanri, 45 minutes north of Seoul, for a church cemetery. However, it quickly became a place of life rather than death. Sister Choi, the associate pastor, began making nightly trips to Osanri to pray. From that time, more and more joined her until “Prayer Mountain” became a place of prayer for thousands, eventually containing hundreds of “prayer caves” to provide for secluded times of intense praying.

In the Sept. 7, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Cordas C. Burnett, president of Bethany Bible College (Santa Cruz, California), reported on his trip to Seoul to participate in the groundbreaking of a new 10,000-seat church building in the Yoido area. Burnett spoke for the church during the week between Palm Sunday and Easter of 1969. He reported preaching for 27 services in that week to approximately 65,000 people. “Although we soon lost count, we know of at least 500 who were converted and 600 who were filled with the Holy Spirit, not to mention the hundreds who testified of being healed.”

Fluent in English, Japanese, and Korean, Cho broadcast sermons on radio and television and soon became internationally known. The church’s welfare programs, senior living centers, vocational training, and financial help for medically needy people brought political influence and great respect throughout South Korea. Reports from 1981 showed the church growing at a rate of 10,000 people per month. Of that number seven out of 10 were accompanied to church by their neighborhood cell group leader.

Cho had significant influence worldwide. He taught that prayer, lay-led small groups, biblical teaching, and evangelism are essential for spiritual and numerical growth. As chairman of the World AG Fellowship from 1992 to 2000, Cho encouraged AG national superintendents to believe God for vision that would see millions converted, Spirit-filled, and living a life of overcoming victory.

Upon Cho’s retirement in 2008, Yoido Full Gospel Church’s membership approached 1,000,000 members with almost 700 pastors. The sickly young man who cursed at the visiting female evangelist had written more than 100 books on the Christian faith and left an indelible mark upon the entire Korean nation and on the broader Pentecostal movement.

Read Cordas Burnett’s report, “We Saw Revival in Seoul, Korea” on page 8 of the Sept. 7, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Homes for Men in the Stars” by Raymond Cox

• “One Half Inch from Death” by David Atherto

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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Assemblies of God Missions Publications: From Missionary Challenge to Worldview Magazine

This Week in AG History —August 30, 1959

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 01 September 2022

The Pentecostal revival that birthed the Assemblies of God in 1914 brought with it a revival of dedication to the mission that each believer must “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” There was an urgency to take the message to the ends of the earth and, along with that, was born a pressing need to communicate the progress of this effort, along with its needs and concerns.

The first official weekly publication of the Assemblies of God, the Christian Evangel (later renamed the Pentecostal Evangel), began publishing updates and needs from the 32 recognized missionaries approved at the first General Council in April 1914. J. Roswell Flower, the first general secretary and, in 1919, the first missions secretary, also served as the editor of the Evangel and sought to use the publication to bring increased cooperation from the churches in support of the missions effort.

In 1944, under the direction of editor Kenneth Short, a separate quarterly publication devoted exclusively to missions was created. The Missionary Challenge (later changed to World Challenge) carried a format that highlighted a variety of updates from the field, emphasized a field in focus, provided a daily prayer devotional plan, and a prayer list for each missionary’s birthday. It also included a Junior Challenge with a story written specially to communicate to children the need for world missions.

As more departments of the General Council were created, the publication was used to highlight reports and opportunities provided by the Women’s Missionary Council (WMC), Boys’ and Girls’ Missionary Crusade (BGMC), Light for the Lost (LFTL), and Speed the Light (STL).

In March of 1959, World Challenge announced that the missions publication would merge with the denominational weekly, the Pentecostal Evangel, in order to increase the circulation of missionary articles.

However, the Aug. 30, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel features the relatively new promotions secretary of the Foreign Missions Department, J. Philip Hogan, announcing a new missions publication in an article titled, “Why Another Missionary Magazine?”

The new periodical was called Global Conquest after the new initiative approved by the missions department. Hogan gave three reasons for the decision to return to a separate missions publication: 1) The 1960s promised to be an era of “stepped-up communications” and the voice of missions must assert itself to be heard amongst the competing voices; 2) The commitment of the Assemblies of God was to communicate with each donor what was happening with their investment; and 3) Missions deserved “priority status” so as not to be lost among other reports featured within the larger Evangel publication.

Global Conquest
continued as the official missions initiative, along with the free quarterly publication of the same name until 1967, when it was determined that some people incorrectly thought the title implied political ambitions. The name was changed to Good News Crusades, in support of the mass evangelism efforts of city outreaches, also called Good News Crusades, taking place on the field. The publication was changed from quarterly to bi-monthly.

In 1979, missions leaders realized that “crusades” might also carry bad connotations in some parts of the world and Good News Crusades was replaced by a monthly magazine, Mountain Movers. This periodical was sent free of charge to every Assemblies of God missions donor for almost 20 years. Joyce Wells Booze served as its initial editor. Under her leadership, there was a concerted effort to provide short articles written by missionaries on a reading level that would appeal to all ages.

Mountain Movers was merged into the Pentecostal Evangel in 1998, and the first Sunday edition of each monthly Evangel featured solely missions content. This practice continued until the Pentecostal Evangel ceased print publication in 2014.

Without the Pentecostal Evangel, Assemblies of God missions leaders felt it was vital to continue a steady stream of print communication about the needs and concerns of the worldwide evangelistic mission of the church. Worldview magazine was commissioned in 2015 as a monthly periodical to continue to fulfill the imperative of the mission enunciated by Hogan in 1959: to ensure that world evangelism is a priority in the Assemblies of God.

Read the announcement of the publication of Global Conquest on page 7 of the Aug. 30, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Pentecost in the Philippines,” by Alfred Cawston

• “Miracles in A Missionary’s Life,” by C.M. Ward

• “Reaching the Children for Christ,” by Leonard and Genevieve Olson

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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How to Serve God in an Era of Social and Racial Unrest: Thurman Faison Speaks Out in 1970

This Week in AG History — August 23, 1970

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, August 25, 2022

Thurman L. Faison (1938- ) was one of the early leaders of the National Black Fellowship of the Assemblies of God and served on various committees with the AG. In 1970, Faison shared his thoughts on how best to serve God in a climate of social unrest.

Faison was born in Texarkana, Arkansas. After serving in the US Air Force, he began preparation for the ministry by studying at Eastern Pentecostal Bible College (Peterborough, Ontario, Canada), from which he graduated in 1963. He returned to the United States and served many years as an AG pastor and evangelist and also ministered on WCFC-TV 38, a Christian television station in Chicago started by AG minister Owen Carr. He received a BA from North Central Bible College in 1972. He also earned a master’s degree from National Louis University (Evanston, Illinois) in 1981.

Faison addressed the 1965 General Council, and he has been a guest speaker at various Assemblies of God colleges. In recent years, he has written a number of books, including: To the Spiritually Inclined, Be Spiritually Bold, The Spirit of Man, and As Far as the East Is From the West.

In 1970, Faison (then pastor of Southside Tabernacle AG in Chicago) addressed the annual convention of the Evangelical Home Missions Association (EHMA) on the subject, “How to Reach the Inner City.” That meeting was held in Kansas City in conjunction with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) convention.

“Climate of Change” was the title of Faison’s message. He did not deal with any specific methods for reaching the inner city. He said, “There are no sure-fire methods of reaching any community.” According to Faison, methods change with the environment. Some things work in Harlem that may not work in Chicago or some other large city.

Faison recognized a changing scene in the Black community, as well as in the rest of the world, with shifting of priorities and the emergence of new concepts. He felt like society was in the midst of “a social renaissance.” People were concerned that they were victims of cultural patterns and preconditioned concepts, a mentality that limited their full participation in society, and which prevented them from taking advantage of certain opportunities in life. He was well aware of cries for change — change in government, change in education, change in religion, and change in relationships.

In light of these challenges, Faison felt the key to reaching the inner city was to deal with the root cause of these problems, which he identified as sin. In a time of riots and civil unrest in America, Faison boldly stated, “The crippling power of any culture is its sin.” He continued: “When you talk about injustice, you mean sin. When you speak of inequality, you mean sin. When you talk about prejudice, you really mean sin.”

He emphasized that in the present crisis, Christians should “view the world in the light of the Scriptures, and not the Scriptures in the light of the world.” He said that one of Jesus’ main objectives was to destroy sin. He gave His life as a ransom for many, that “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Faison asserted that faith is vital to the Black community, and that spiritual priorities must not be obscured by shifting cultural currents. According to Faison, the depravity of man and the effects of sin remain with us to the present day. The real problem is not “the system,” but the sin. Before Jesus could tell a certain man in the Gospel of Mark to “rise up and walk,” He first said to him, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.”

A climate of change cannot occur, Faison said, until society rights the wrongs of the past and seeks forgiveness. He declared, “When sins are forgiven and guilt is removed, futility ceases, and a new life begins.” Faison did not suggest that the Church can undo the effects of centuries of complications. Instead, he suggested that American Christians need to “clean our own house where necessary, adjust our attitudes, and begin anew to be about our Father’s business.”

Read “Climate of Change” on page 14 of the Aug. 23, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Focus on Missions – ’70,” by David Kent Irwin

• “Road to Rehabilitation” (Orange County California Teen Challenge)

• “Circuit Riders of the North” (Arvin & Luana Glandon)

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. Roswell Flower: Pentecostal Pioneer, Church Leader, Publisher, Statesman, Educator

This Week in AG History — August 16, 1970

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 18 August 2022

J. Roswell Flower (1888-1970) was elected, at age 25, to serve as the first general secretary of the Assemblies of God. He went on to become one of the Fellowship’s most prominent leaders in its first four decades. When he went to be with the Lord, General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman declared, “The name of J. Roswell Flower was synonymous with the Assemblies of God.”

Flower demonstrated remarkable leadership at a young age. He proved adept at writing and publishing, which gave him a platform in the emerging Pentecostal movement. In 1908, just over one year after his conversion, he began publishing a small magazine, The Pentecost. At the time, he was just 20 years old. In 1910, he gave the magazine to ministry colleague A.S. Copley. He married Alice Reynolds in 1911, and together they began another magazine, the Christian Evangel, in 1913. It was the only weekly Pentecostal periodical in existence.

When the Assemblies of God was organized in April 1914, Flower was only 25 years old. There were many people in attendance who were older and more experienced, yet delegates entrusted Flower to serve as the first general secretary. He also served as manager of Gospel Publishing House and, in 1919, he became the first Foreign Missions secretary.

Flower was an early champion of education. In 1922, he encouraged Pentecostals to support the establishment of a school in India in order to secure “greater and more permanent results for God.” He was one of the original faculty members of Central Bible Institute (CBI), which was founded in Springfield, Missouri, in 1922. In 1923, he proposed that all Assemblies of God missionaries be required to spend a term at CBI, which would allow church leaders to train and get to know the character and abilities of prospective missionaries. Flower’s proposal proved unpopular, however, and he was not re-elected at the 1923 General Council. He instead became Foreign Missions treasurer. Two years later, he was not re-elected to that position.

J. Roswell and Alice Flower moved to Pennsylvania, where they spent the next decade in pastoral and district leadership. In 1929, he was elected to serve as superintendent of the Eastern District Council. He was a regular lecturer at Bethel Bible Training School, an Assemblies of God school in New Jersey. Significantly, he helped Alice to establish a summer Bible school, located on the Eastern District campground, which was the forerunner of the University of Valley Forge. Flower emphasized education because he believed that careful study of the Bible would be essential for the growth and maturation of the Assemblies of God.

Delegates to the 1935 General Council elected Flower to again serve as general secretary, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1959. During this period Flower emerged as a leading Pentecostal statesman, encouraging cooperative efforts among believers with similar faith commitments. He labored to make the Assemblies of God a founding member of the National Association of Evangelicals, and he helped form the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America and the Pentecostal World Fellowship. Flower also was involved in civic leadership, serving on the Springfield City Council and on the boards of various organizations.

J. Roswell Flower’s remarkable leadership flowed out of his rich spiritual life. He and Alice modeled a home life that bore witness to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Alice was a prolific author and preacher, and her sermons, books, and articles on the Christian home were widely read. They practiced what they preached. Five of their six children also entered full-time ministry; the sixth died while in Bible school.

It is appropriate that Flower became the namesake of the archives and museum located in the Assemblies of God national office. The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, which is the largest Pentecostal archives in the world, preserves and promotes the heritage of a movement for which Flower helped lay the foundation.

Read the article, “J.R. Flower with Christ,” on page 4 of the Aug. 16, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “What the Holy Spirit Does,” by Harvey McAlister

• “We Preached in Romania” by Joe G. Mazzu Jr.

• “New Arkansas Teen Challenge Reaching Desperate Youth”

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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The Mariel Boatlift of 1980: Cuban Refugees and the Assemblies of God

Workers sing and play gospel songs before a service with Cuban refugees at Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas, 1980

This Week in AG History —August 10, 1980

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 11 August 2022

On April 20, 1980, Cuban President Fidel Castro made a surprise proclamation in Havana that any Cuban citizen who was not happy under his regime and wished to immigrate to the United States could depart from the port of Mariel provided boats were available. 125,000 Cubans rushed to take the offer. Many Assemblies of God (AG) ministries were there to ease the difficulties of their arrival.

After the 1959 communist revolution, thousands of Cubans sought to flee their homeland’s restrictive policies. With few exceptions, the Castro regime refused those requests. During the 1970s, as economic conditions worsened, along with political and religious persecution, many Cubans grew desperate. In April 1980, several Cubans rushed the Peruvian embassy to seek asylum but were fired upon by Cuban guards. The embassy refused to return the Cubans to Castro, and soon more than 10,000 Cubans were crowding into the embassy gardens pleading for asylum.

When the April 20 announcement came that dissidents, whom the Cuban newspapers referred to as “criminals, lumpenproletariats, antisocialists, bums and parasites,” could leave the island if boats were ready to take them from the Mariel port, thousands of Cuban exiles in Florida hurriedly rented fishing boats to pick them up. By October, 125,000 refugees had crossed on these boats before the order was ended.

In May of 1980, the Pentecostal Evangel editor, Robert C. Cunningham, wrote in an editorial of the crisis: “As more and more people find themselves victims of oppressive governments, it is good to know there are still some countries where they can find refuge from their persecutors.” In June, the Evangel put out a call for assistance: “The Assemblies of God has launched an effort to provide financial aid for the refugees, sponsors to help in resettlement, and bilingual communicators who live near refugee camps to assist in meeting immediate needs.”

The Aug. 10, 1980, Pentecostal Evangel issue offered a report of the AG effort to aid Cubans fleeing from oppression and persecution. “Like the early settlers of the United States, they are seeking a home in a free land … Can we afford to ignore this great missionary challenge of offering the gospel to needy souls?” commented T.E. Gannon, national director of the Division of Home Missions. He further stated: “Immediately upon hearing of the plight of the Cuban immigrants, the Division of Home Missions began seeking to minister to these people. For evangelism to be effective and successful, it is necessary to reach the immigrants as soon as they arrive. This calls for emergency action.”

Life Publishers, the AG missions press, provided 19,000 Bibles to the camps where the refugees were resettled. CH (LTC) Robert E. Barker, USA Task Force Chaplain, wrote to the AG Chaplaincy department to thank them for their help in securing Bibles for Cuban refugees at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. “It was a thrill personally to watch several Cubans receive their Bibles with great pleasure and enthusiasm. They really appreciate owning their own Bibles! Thank you once again for your concern for these neglected people.”

Many Hispanic AG ministers and laypeople living near the refugee camps in Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania worked feverishly to provide ministry, housing, food, and clothing. They also served as interpreters and “pastors” in the camps. Sam Hernandez, a 1968 Cuban refugee and graduate of North Central Bible College, was granted a month’s leave from his church in St. Paul, Minnesota, to go to Wisconsin’s Camp McCoy to be of service. He conducted two to three services a day, discovering that the Pentecostal message did not die in Cuba when the missionaries were forced to leave as he found several members of Cuban Assemblies of God churches among those housed at Camp McCoy.

Adolfo Carrion, superintendent of the Spanish Eastern District, reported that many Cuban refugees were now attending Assemblies of God churches in cities where they were resettled, including one man who was of an “atheistic and communistic persuasion, who was a confirmed materialist” who was gloriously saved and never misses a service. It was found that after years of religious oppression, Cuban immigrants readily responded to the gospel.

Ruth A. Lyon, editor/promotions coordinator for the Department of Home Missions, concluded the August refugee update with an appeal to the Scriptures, “What we do, we must do quickly. And the extent of what we do depends on offerings received. This is one way you can help these strangers within our gates. Jesus said, “I was a stranger, and ye took me in” (Matthew 25:35).

Read Lyon’s report, “Meeting America’s Newest Home Missions Challenge,” on page 16 of the Aug. 10, 1980, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Cure for Depression” by Ada Nicholson Brownell

• “First National Men’s Convention”

• “How to Win Your Husband to Christ” by Stephen J. Vaudrey

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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Lewi Pethrus: Pentecostal Pioneer in Sweden

This Week in AG History — August 3, 1958

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, July 28, 2022

A little over sixty years ago, delegates from the U.S. Assemblies of God as well as representatives from many other Pentecostal organizations were preparing for the Fifth World Conference of Pentecostal Churches scheduled to convene in Toronto, Canada, at the Coliseum Arena of the Canadian National Exhibition, Sept. 14-21, 1958.

An article in the Pentecostal Evangel announced that the opening speaker on Sunday morning would be Lewi Pethrus, the well-known pastor of the Filadelfia Church in Stockholm, Sweden. Even though Pethrus had hosted the fourth Pentecostal World Conference in Stockholm three years earlier, it was important to introduce him to the readers of the Evangel.

Lewi Pethrus (1884-1974) was a former Baptist pastor in Sweden who became the leader of Pentecostalism in Sweden. The article gave an overview of his highly successful ministry. It said at that time he was 74 years old and the pastor of “what is believed to be the largest Protestant church in Europe.” His church was organized in 1910, starting with 29 members. By 1958, according to the article, the church had an “adult voting membership of 7,000 and has a major responsibility in the support of 400 overseas missionaries.” The building could seat more than 4,000.

In addition to his preaching activities, the article said Dr. Pethrus, in 1916, “initiated the publication of Evangelii Harold (Gospel Herald), a religious weekly with a circulation of 60,000.” It was reported that in 1945, in collaboration with Karl Ottoson, a Swedish industrialist, Pethrus “founded Dagen (The Day), a daily secular newspaper which in 1958 had a circulation of 25,000 and was sold on newsstands throughout Sweden.”

He also founded the Filadelfia Church Rescue Mission, the Filadelfia Publishing House, and the Filadelfia Bible School.

In an effort to assist Christians in money matters, in 1952, Pethrus took the lead in establishing a savings and credit bank which could help to finance many church projects. Pethrus also won a moral victory in 1955 when the Swedish government radio system held a monopoly on broadcasting. They reserved the right to censor content of religious broadcasts and also forbid the establishment of any private radio station. Lewi Pethrus took steps to organize an independent radio association to broadcast from Tangier, North Africa. The government tried to block his efforts, but when the matter was discussed in the Swedish Parliament, after much debate, he received approval to use this radio station to send broadcasts into Sweden.

IBRA Radio (now IBRA Media), international Christian broadcasting and media group founded by Lewi Pethrus, currently broadcasts Christian programs to more than 60 countries, including Sweden, in 100 languages.

Lewi Pethrus continued as pastor of the Filadelfia Church until his retirement later that same year in 1958. He remained an active voice in the Pentecostal movement until his death in 1974 at the age of 90.

Read more about Lewi Pethrus in “Swedish Leader to Preach at World Conference,” on page 15 of the Aug. 3, 1958, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Crisis in the Classroom,” by Charles W. H. Scott

• “Pentecostal Outpouring in Rangoon,” by Glen Stafford

• “A Man With a Jug of Water,” by Victor R. Ostrom

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

A pictorial report of the “Fifth World Conference of Pentecostal Churches” can be found in Oct. 26, 1958, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel on pages 8-11:

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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Don Wilkerson: Cofounder of Teen Challenge

President Gerald Ford (left) greets Don Wilkerson (right).

This Week in AG History — July 30, 1972

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, July 28, 2022

Don Wilkerson, who cofounded Teen Challenge with his brother David, has been actively involved with the ministry for almost 65 years. The well-known addiction recovery ministry was founded in 1958 by the two brothers, just after David Wilkerson began his monumental evangelism of gangs in New York City, which ended with a citywide crusade where several of the gang members were converted.

Teen Challenged opened the doors of its first facility in Brooklyn, New York, in 1960. Beginning in 1971, Don Wilkerson served as its executive director for 16 years. Don Wilkerson also served as executive director of Teen Challenge International for 26 years.

Among his other duties, Don was instrumental in developing the residential rehabilitation and discipleship program that has been a success in changing lives for many students of the Teen Challenge program. He helped develop the biblical curriculum that eventually became the standard teaching for the Teen Challenge program. The Brooklyn Teen Challenge Center became the inspiration and model for similar programs to be launched across the United States.

The Teen Challenge ministry rose to prominence with the publication of David Wilkerson’s book, The Cross and the Switchblade, in 1963. The book was released as a movie in 1970, and played in some 5,000 theaters across the United States.

In 1987 David and Don Wilkerson founded Times Square Church in Manhattan, New York City. After meeting in temporary quarters, the church leased the Mark Hellinger Theatre building on West 51st Street in 1989 and purchased that building two years later. In its new location the church has grown to a weekly attendance of 5,000.

In 1995, Don Wilkerson founded Global Teen Challenge and served as its executive director for 13 years (1995-2007). He helped to plant new Teen Challenge centers around the world and helped train leaders and workers. Global Teen Challenge now has 1,100 centers in 114 countries.

In June 2008 Don returned to lead the Brooklyn Teen Challenge Center in New York where Teen Challenge began over 60 years ago. His brother, David Wilkerson, passed away in a car accident in 2011. In 2018 the name for Teen Challenge USA was changed to Adult & Teen Challenge. Don is now retired from Brooklyn Teen Challenge and is president emeritus of Adult & Teen Challenge.

Don Wilkerson has authored and coauthored a number of books, including Bring Your Loved Ones to Christ, Called to the Other Side, A Coffee House Manual, Counseling by the Scriptures, The Cross is Still Mightier Than the Switchblade, Dear Graduate: Letters of Practical Advice from Don Wilkerson, Fast Track to Nowhere, The Gutter and the Ghetto, My Story: Confessions of a Hope Pusher, and Within a Yard of Hell.

Fifty years ago Don Wilkerson shared a testimony of a Teen Challenge resident named Joe who went to a scheduled court hearing and was sentenced to prison because of a previous crime he had committed. Joe had been in the Teen Challenge program in Brooklyn for two months, and it was assumed that the judge would allow him to stay in the program. Once the news reached them, all the staff and the young men in the program began to pray for Joe’s release. The court-assigned lawyer was Jewish, but he knew that Joe had accepted Jesus Christ and that it had made a difference in his life. He did not need to go to prison. The judge was unwilling to change his mind, so the lawyer took the case to a higher court. Everyone at the Teen Challenge Center continued to pray.

Four weeks after his sentencing, the state Supreme Court agreed to hear Joe’s case (and in the meantime he had won four cellmates to Christ). At the hearing, one of the Brooklyn staff members was allowed to approach the bench to explain the Teen Challenge program and what had happened to Joe. The judge listened carefully and decided to overrule the decision of the lower court. Joe was released to go back to Teen Challenge. Joe and everyone at the Teen Challenge Center believed God had answered their prayers.

Read “Miraculous Release” on page 24 of the July 30, 1972, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Supernatural Healing,” by Percy S. Brewster

• “The Faith That Brings Healing,” by Harvey McAlister

• “5 Biblical Methods of Healing,” by C.M. Ward

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Photo: President Gerald Ford (left) greets Don Wilkerson (right).

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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William W. Hays: From Crime and Addiction to Assemblies of God Prison Chaplain

This Week in AG History — July 22, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 21 July 2022

William W. Hays (1927-2010) came from a family known for drunkenness and crime, and he lived up to his family’s poor reputation. Addictions and debauchery almost led William to an early grave, but God delivered him and called him into ministry. The ex-convict and former addict became a noted Assemblies of God prison chaplain and evangelist, devoting his life to helping others escape the living hell that he knew well. He shared his story in the July 22, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

William was raised during the Great Depression in an impoverished community along the Arkansas River near Fort Smith, Arkansas. Moonshine, violence, and prostitutes were a way of life in the community. William started drinking moonshine at age 5. He got into daily fistfights with other children and dropped out of school in the seventh grade. He and his brother, Benny, devoted much of their time to helping their father make whiskey.

William’s mother had died, and his father never took his children to church. The boys had few positive influences, and they lived to satisfy their destructive desires. By age 17, William was an alcoholic. “I lied, cheated, and committed crimes,” he recalled, in order “to get the money for another drink of alcohol.”

At age 17, William fell in love with a lovely young girl, Edith Mae, who had been raised in a Christian home. He was attracted to her “clean way of living.” After a whirlwind courtship, they married a few weeks later, on the condition that he would stop drinking. But he could only fight the urge to drink for a few days, and he again succumbed to what he later described as the “demon forces” of alcohol. 

William had difficulty holding down a job and could not provide for his growing family. “I would leave my wife and children with nothing to eat,” he wrote, “and would awake from an intoxicated stupor to find myself hundreds of miles from home in some cheap joint or on Skid Row with the lowest characters.”

William’s wife, Edith Mae, spent much of the first 14 years of their marriage in tears and in prayer. She had six children in eight years. William was unstable. When he returned home from wandering, he would show tenderness to her and their children. But the next moment he might be wild and rash.

His life got even worse. William became addicted to morphine, and, at age 25, his body began to waste away. One more tragedy made life unbearable. His brother, Benny, who had been living in squalor with a prostitute, was murdered with a shotgun at close range. Seething with anger, he tried to find Benny’s killer, but was unsuccessful.

By age 31, William’s body was giving out. His nerves were shattered, his body was emaciated and addicted to alcohol and heroin, and his spirit was deadened to the world. He ended up in a state mental institution, where doctors gave him a few days to live.

William’s oldest daughter, Phyllis, called a Pentecostal Holiness Church preacher, Walter Brown, who came to his bedside. William, sensing this was his last chance, responded to Brown’s fervent prayers. “I began to cry to God for salvation,” he recounted. “Soon the tremendous load on my heart was lifted. I knew the power of the omnipotent God was working to set me free.”

Almost immediately, William’s condition began to improve. Brown helped to disciple William, teaching him how to follow Christ and to be a faithful husband and father. Brown warned him that he must take certain definite actions, or he would not experience lasting change. “You must study the Bible consistently and earnestly, and regularly attend a church,” he insisted. As William did this, he was able to overcome the temptations to return to his former addictions and lifestyle.

The new Christian felt compelled to share his testimony. He went to his former buddies on Skid Row, and they initially laughed at him. The road back to health was a struggle, but as William made progress, people took notice. When his former associates saw a lasting change in William’s life, they wanted to know more.

William read the Bible voraciously, hungry to know God. He sensed God’s call into the ministry and, in 1962, was ordained by the Assemblies of God. He pastored several churches, started rescue missions in Fort Smith and Oklahoma City, and then became director of the Teen Challenge center in Fort Worth, Texas. William felt a tug to prison chaplaincy, in part because his brother spent two stints in the Arkansas State Penitentiary, which was known as the “hell hole of the penal system.” He helped to lead a successful prison reform movement, which made prisons safer in Arkansas. He also engaged in chaplaincy work in dangerous prisons in Mexico. In his later years, he served as coordinator of prison and jail ministries for the Oklahoma District Council of the Assemblies of God.

William W. Hays was an unlikely candidate to become a minister, much less a prison chaplain. But when God changed his life, his early years behind bars and on the wrong side of the law became an asset for his new calling.

Read William W. Hays’ testimony, “Delivered from Dope and Death,” on pages 8-9 of the July 22, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “All May Prophesy,” by Donald Gee

• “New Church for Navajos in California,” by L. E. Halvorson

• “No Birth Certificate,” by L. Nelson Bell

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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