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80 Years Ago: The Assemblies of God was a Founding Member of the National Association of Evangelicals

This Week in AG History — May 10, 1947

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 12 May 2022

Pentecostals were relatively isolated from mainstream Protestantism in the early twentieth century. Eighty years ago, in 1942, when the Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal churches were invited to become founding members of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), it was a watershed event that paved the way for increased cooperation between Pentecostals and other theologically conservative evangelical churches.

In 1947, Pentecostal Evangel Editor Stanley H. Frodsham recounted how participation in the NAE seemed to be a fulfillment of prophecy. Frodsham recalled that, years earlier, “a mature Pentecostal saint” made the following prediction: “The time will assuredly come when God will unite all true children of God in real heart fellowship, and will break down all the barriers that are now separating us from one another.”

The early Pentecostals who heard this prediction, according to Frodsham, discerned that it was in accordance with Scripture: “In our hearts we were convinced that this was a true prophecy, for did not our Lord Jesus pray that they (all His children) may be one?”

While the Bible admonished believers to exhibit unity, such unity was elusive. Frodsham lamented that “the saints have been busy through the centuries building denominational and sectarian walls of partition between themselves and other saints.”

Tearing down these walls of division among believers was one of the reasons why the Assemblies of God formed, Frodsham reminded readers. He wrote, “At the first Council of the Assemblies of God, held at Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1914, the ministers who attended all came with one mind, determined to oppose the raising of walls that would separate us as a Pentecostal people from other children of God.”

Frodsham believed the formation of the NAE helped to achieve the vision of unity promoted in the Bible and by early Pentecostals. He noted that the NAE brought together different strands within the broader evangelical family: “When the National Association of Evangelicals came into being five years ago, those who called for the convention did what no other group of Fundamentalist believers had done before – they invited the brethren of both the Holiness and the Pentecostal groups.”

Moreover, the NAE helped usher Pentecostals into the evangelical mainstream and also provided opportunities for interaction between the churches: “They recognized us as a people outstandingly aggressive in evangelism and missionary vision, and acknowledged that our coming together with others who are true to the fundamentals of the faith could mean mutual blessing,” Frodsham stated.

Today the Assemblies of God is the largest of the 40 denominations that are members of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Read Stanley Frodsham’s entire article, “Fifth Annual Convention of the NAE,” on pages 6 and 7 of the May 10, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “When Mother Looked!” by John Wright Follette

• “Divine Rules for Parents,” by S. M. Padgett

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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Don and Virginia Corbin: Assemblies of God Missionaries to Africa

This Week in AG History —May 5, 1974

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 14 April 2022

Don and Virginia Corbin, Assemblies of God missionaries to Africa, both received a heritage of service to God from their parents and, through God’s faithfulness, raised their own children to serve the Lord while experiencing the joys and challenges of missionary living.

The Corbin family came into the Pentecostal movement though the ministry of two evangelist sisters, Zella and Lillian Green, when Don’s great-grandfather, Daniel Boone Corbin, received the infilling of the Holy Spirit, as did his son, John, in Couch, Missouri. John’s son, Cecil, was saved and filled with the Spirit in 1919. Cecil’s son, Don Corbin, was born in 1937 and committed his life to Christ at a youth camp service in the Southern Missouri District of the Assemblies of God during his high school years.

Meanwhile, Virginia Jones was experiencing the adventurous life of a pioneer missionary kid in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), West Africa. Her parents, Harold and Margaret Jones, met at Southern California Bible Institute (now Vanguard University) and sailed for West Africa in January of 1932. The third child in the family, Virginia, was born in 1936 and grew up speaking English and French on the savanna of Mossiland, where she developed a love for African culture and people.

Corbin later attended Central Bible Institute (CBI, later Central Bible College) in Springfield, Missouri, in the 1950s where he was admitted to Burge Hospital for an appendectomy. There he was cared for by a student nurse named Virginia, who was preparing to return to her homeland of Upper Volta. They struck up a friendship, but the relationship was stalled because Corbin showed no interest in serving in Africa.

While traveling with a CBI musical group, The Crusaders Trio, Don spent some time in the apartment of Talmage Butler, a missionary to Senegal. Butler kept the young singer up until 3 a.m. with stories of the need and open opportunities in West Africa. Before turning in for the night, the elder missionary looked at young Corbin and said, “I feel compelled of the Holy Spirit to ask you what you will do with your life, considering the great need in the world.”

Through a gradual but persistent calling, Corbin surrendered his life to gospel work in Africa. He later was able to rekindle his friendship with Virginia, who had returned to Springfield for more education after using her nursing skills in Upper Volta. This time Corbin was ready to commit his life, not only to Virginia, but also to the land that she loved.

After graduating from CBI, the Corbins took a pastorate in Covelo, California, and received ministerial credentials with the Northern California-Nevada District of the Assemblies of God. In 1964, they sailed for Senegal, a country that was particularly resistant to the Christian faith and dominated by Islam for nine centuries. They were asked to take leadership of a small church, Evangel Temple, in the capital of Dakar. It was the only evangelical church in the city of one million people. During their time there, they were able to establish the first Christian secondary school in the land and make friends with people in the Islamic government.

In 1969, they moved to Kaolack, an important market town on the bank of the Saloum River. There they started a weekly radio broadcast giving greater credibility to the Christian message. When the government wanted to establish a radio station in the interior of the country, they asked Corbin to provide programming to fill in the time gaps. Soon they were broadcasting 50 Christian radio programs a week, using African voices, African music, and African proverbs to show people that Christianity was a faith for the African people. Many tribal chieftains heard the programming and invited them to come to their village to teach more.

In the May 5, 1974, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Africa Field Secretary Morris Williams highlighted the Corbin family in an article titled, “The Mission House.” He told of the “huge barn of a place” that had a second floor that served as a home for Don and Virginia and their four children, Cherisse, Christine, Donald (Craig), and Cathy while the first floor was a bustling headquarters of missionary activity. Williams describes their home as “a refuge for birds, monkeys, dogs, games, toys … and a place to bring your school friends on a holiday; a place warm with love and understanding where you can roam at will and let your imagination run wild. This home is a beehive of activity, and no one has time to dwell on the shortcomings of the shell.”

In 1975, Corbin became the area director for West and Central Africa with oversight of 11 countries: Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Zaire. Virginia helped to organize ministry to the multitudes of Africa women, taught in the Bible schools, and personally led all four of their children to faith in Christ.

After Morris Williams retired, Corbin was the logical choice to serve as the next field director (now regional director) for Africa. The Corbins faithfully served in this position for the next 17 years, seeing the Assemblies of God churches in Africa grow exponentially. Upon retiring in 2002, they continued to teach in the African context and travel the United States raising awareness of the need for new missionaries to carry on the work of God on the African continent. All four of their children continue to serve the Lord in education, African mission work, and in caring for their parents, now in their 80s.

When Daniel Boone Corbin came into the Pentecostal movement in the early 1900s and when Harold and Margaret Jones set foot on the shores of Africa in 1932, they could not have imagined that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren would carry on the Kingdom work that God had only begun in their lives. Continue to pray for the Corbin family, that God would raise up even yet another generation of workers in the whitened harvest fields of the world.

Read the article “The Mission House,” on page 8 of the May 5, 1974 of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Ruined Place that Became A Garden” by Ron Snider

• “Our Night of Miracles” by Medora Harvell

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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Speed the Light Growth Marked by 1967 Parade of Vehicles in Springfield, Missouri

This Week in AG History — April 30, 1967

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

Fifty-five years ago, an unusual parade of vehicles drove past the AG national office. This was a special presentation of the Speed the Light (STL) program held in 1967 when the Christ’s Ambassadors Department (now National Youth Ministries) wanted to demonstrate how much equipment was being raised for missionaries in a single year.

The origin of Speed the Light goes back to March 1943, when Ralph W. Harris (1912-2004) had just started as the first national director of the CA Department. Harris had an idea which he called “Speed the Light.” It would be a new avenue for youth to raise money for missions by having students raise funds for buying vehicles for missionaries. In later years, funds also purchased printing accessories and other needed equipment for missionaries. The well-known slogan, “Send the Light” was changed to “Speed the Light” to emphasize the importance of speeding the gospel message to a needy world.

The program kicked off in 1945 and enlisted thousands of youth across the country to raise more than $100,000 in the first year. One of the major purchases was a Sikorsky amphibian plane for use in Liberia. Later youth were instrumental in raising funds for other missionary planes, including Ambassador I and II which were used to transport AG missionaries overseas. Speed the Light efforts continue today. In 2021 AG youth raised $17.2 million, bringing the total since 1945 to more than $361 million.

Verne MacKinney, STL coordinator, was the innovator of the unusual demonstration on March 24, 1967. Arrangements were made with several Springfield, Missouri, car dealerships who loaned a total of 188 vehicles, including cars, a Jeep, buses, trucks, trailers, motorcycles, boats, and bicycles for “Operation Demonstration” which lined up on Boonville Avenue.

This was an impressive lineup six lanes wide which represented Speed the Light purchases the previous year (1966) when giving was over $650,000 for STL. During an era of many boisterous protests, this demonstration gave a picture of how Christian youth were dedicated to raise funds for a worthy cause. These vehicles were not the actual vehicles and equipment sent to missionaries, but it gave an idea of the magnitude of this ongoing project.

Christ’s Ambassadors from local churches as well as students from Central Bible College and Evangel College helped to stage this demonstration. In addition, about 30 representative U.S. and world missionaries were present in costume to add color and significance to the occasion. Speakers included Russell J. Cox, national secretary of Christ’s Ambassadors; J. Philip Hogan, director of Foreign Missions; and Thomas F. Zimmerman, general superintendent of the AG. News media also gave the event national publicity.

After three brief speeches, the cavalcade of people and vehicles moved about a quarter mile down Boonville Avenue, and after three simultaneous blasts of 188 horns to celebrate this accomplishment, the group disbanded.

Read “Operation Demonstration,” on page 24 of the April 30, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Spirit of the Age” by Don Mallough

• “Unto What Were You Baptized?” by C. M. Ward

And many more!

Click here to read these 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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Don and Sharon Kiser: Assemblies of God Missionaries to Florida’s Migrant Community for 25 Years

This Week in AG History — April 20, 1975

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

When Don Kiser and his wife, Sharon, graduated from Southeastern University (Lakeland, Florida) in 1972, they felt God’s call to minister among the migrant workers of Eloise, Florida. They moved into the impoverished community and, without money or significant ministry experience, started knocking on doors. They initially ministered in relative obscurity, building relationships with people often considered to be outcasts in society.

Over the next 25 years, the Kisers developed a thriving ministry among the migrants of central and south Florida. The young missionaries’ fascinating story was published in the April 20, 1975, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

In the 1970s and 1980s, many migrants in Florida lived in utter squalor. They lived in camps provided by the owners of the orange groves where they worked. Raw sewage ran in the streets between decaying shanties, liquor stores, and rusted-out mobile homes.

Eloise was considered a “permanent” migrant community, as some lived there all year instead of following the crops. But the social challenges remained — the lifestyles of many of the migrants made it difficult to integrate into the broader society. Most churches did not know how to minister to the migrants. They didn’t want dirty, smelly, barefoot children on their church carpet, and the deeply ingrained problems of the adults seemed an insurmountable obstacle to ministry.

It was in this environment that the Kisers, at the young age of 23, felt called to minister. In many ways, they were unlikely candidates for such an assignment. Don Kiser was raised in a well-to-do liberal Presbyterian home and as a teenager lost all interest in religion.

Everything changed after Don’s mother accepted Christ in a small Assemblies of God church. Don was 16 years old and wanted nothing to do with his mother’s newfound faith. But she told him about some pretty girls who attended the church, convincing him to visit. He ended up accepting Christ on his second visit to the church, and was later baptized in the Holy Spirit and felt God’s call into the ministry.

Don enrolled at Southeastern University, where he met and married Sharon. When they prayed about the nature of their future ministry, they felt God calling them to people who had no hope. Don, in particular, had no interest in serving in a comfortable pastorate; he felt called to make a difference in the lives of those who had the least.

While at Southeastern, the Kisers assisted an independent Pentecostal minister with his small outreach to the migrants in Eloise. The congregation met in an old remodeled cab stand. The Kisers saw a great need, and in that need they saw their future. After graduation, they moved to Eloise. The other minister soon moved on, leaving the ministry to the young couple.

The Kisers became well-known among migrants in the area. The young couple remodeled an old bus into a mobile chapel, which they drove throughout the migrant community in central Florida. They knocked on doors, befriended residents, prayed with people, and invited them to church. Don preached and Sharon played the organ.

The ministry was named Harvest Chapel. The name had dual appeal — referring to the “plentiful harvest” of souls in Luke 10:2, and also to the migrants’ labor.

Initially, Don had to work secular employment to supplement their meager ministry income. Other Assemblies of God congregations in the region began supporting the Kisers, allowing them to minister fulltime to migrants. Several years later they bought a building in Wahneta, located three miles south of Eloise, where they opened a second migrant church.

Ministry opportunities among the migrants seemed endless. Seeking to extend their outreach into the migrant camps in south Florida, in the early 1980s the Kisers purchased a utility van that they remodeled into a camper and mobile chapel. The front of the vehicle provided a home during their ministry trips, and the back of the vehicle opened up and became a ministry platform.

In addition to weekend services at the two churches, during the week the Kisers typically held three evening services using the portable chapel. Weekdays, ministered to children who were too young to work.

Don and Sharon Kiser continued ministering to the migrants of central Florida for 25 years. They poured their lives into people who might otherwise be overlooked or rejected. Their ministry was often very difficult and challenging. But they stayed true to God’s original calling to give hope to those who had the least. The Kisers retired in the late 1990s due to Don’s poor health and later moved to Mineral Bluff, Georgia.

The landscape of Assemblies of God history is dotted with the testimonies of consecrated men and women such as Don and Sharon Kiser, who devoted their lives to sharing the gospel in word and deed. Like many other Assemblies of God pioneers, they took a path that included hardship and discomfort. They feared that too much comfort might cause them to forget their calling to those who were hurting the most. The example of the Kisers reminds us that the Christian’s testimony often shines brightest in humble circumstances when ministering to the lowliest.

Read “Migrant Town Minister” on pages 14-17 of the April 20, 1975, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Foot upon the Leash,” by Thelma M. Moe

• “The Joy of the Firstfruits,” by John F. Hall

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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Ralph Williams, Assemblies of God Missionary to El Salvador: Pioneer of the Indigenous Church Principle

This Week in AG History —April 12, 1930

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 14 April 2022

Ralph Darby Williams (1902-1982), his wife, Jewyl, and baby, Owen, arrived in El Salvador on Christmas Eve of 1929 as Assemblies of God missionaries in Central America. As the Pentecostal church grew over their tenure of 50 years, Williams helped to develop the basis of the indigenous church principle that has driven the success of Assemblies of God missions endeavors.

In his report, “First Impressions of El Salvador,” published in the April 12, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Williams updated readers on their activities during their first few weeks stationed in El Salvador, a country of about two million people.

Born in England, Williams was saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit in his native land but traveled to the United States to receive training for mission work at Glad Tidings Bible Institute (later Bethany University) in California. There he met his future wife, Jewyl, who was also training for ministry.

Ralph and Jewyl felt a call to Mexico, but that country was closed to U.S. missionaries. For three years, Ralph and Jewyl trained Mexican workers in San Diego to return to their native country and plant churches, hoping that soon American missionaries would follow them. 

Meanwhile, the Pentecostal message had come to El Salvador through Canadian Frederick Mebius, who was influenced by Charles Parham’s Apostolic Faith Movement. Many received this message with open hearts, but without solid biblical instruction and pastoral guidance the few believers had fallen into dissension and bad teaching. One believer, Francisco Arbizu, was so concerned about the state of the church that he sold his possessions, used the money to finance a trip to the United States, and met with AG leaders asking them to send missionaries to El Salvador to guide his people into learning the principles of God’s Word.

The Williams family responded to this call and met with Arbizu on Christmas Day, 1929, in Santa Ana. He greeted them with a shout of praise, “Now we have a shepherd!”

Over the next few weeks, Arbizu took the family on a tour of the fledgling churches that had sprung up in private homes. Williams could see that the church had many committed believers, but he shared Arbizu’s concern at the lack of biblical knowledge and organization. 

The more he traveled the more Williams became convinced that it would take at least six missionaries to disciple the converts and reach the unevangelized. He knew that no other missionaries had expressed an interest in coming and that the church was not ready to support them even if they were there. Williams prayed about this and asked the Lord to show him the answer to the dilemma.

When the answer came it surprised even him: “the missionaries are already on the field!” The answer to his prayer were the very believers he was teaching. They didn’t need to bring more people from the United States; they needed to raise up the Salvadorian believers to reach their neighbors, pastor their churches, and send their own workers to the unreached villages around them.

Williams then began organizing conferences for church workers and held monthly fellowship meetings so that the workers would have fellowship with other believers from surrounding villages. Persecution was often great for these believers, who were religious minorities in their villages. But when the Pentecostal believers came together for conferences and meetings, they discovered that there were more than 1,000 believers. This knowledge that their numbers were growing gave them boldness to face their persecutors and to believe that they could reach their own nation.

During the Great Depression, it was often hard for the AG churches in the United States to fully support its missionaries. Many days, the Williams family of six, including four growing boys, had nothing to eat but black beans and tortillas. But God always provided and good came out of this situation. The Salvadorian believers began to support the gospel workers through their own tithes and offerings, many times taking the ministers and their families into their homes to keep them from having to pay rent when funds were low. 

When missionary Melvin Hodges arrived in El Salvador in 1936 to assist Williams, he was intrigued by the way the Salvadorians provided so much of the leadership for their own churches. When Hodges moved to Nicaragua he began to move the Nicaraguan church from a paternalistic structure, dependent on American financial assistance, to one based on the indigenous church principles modeled in El Salvador. Hodges went on to write the first missiology text by a Pentecostal, The Indigenous Church, which outlined these principles which became the standard missiology of the Assemblies of God.

Williams later became the field superintendent for Central America and, by 1959, the Central American work had grown from 12 small disorganized congregations to over 400 churches, 1,000 outstations, 18,000 believers, and seven Bible institutes. When Williams died in 1982, he left behind a well-equipped body of national believers ready to continue in the self-sustaining work for which he had devoted his life.

Read more about Williams’ first thoughts on arriving in El Salvador on page 10 of the April 12, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Passover and Pentecost,” by Stanley Frodsham

• “The Things That Are Above,” by J. Narver Gortner

• “Need of Native Evangelists,” by F.G. Leader

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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From Norway to Nepal: Agnes Beckdahl, Pioneer Pentecostal Missionary

This Week in AG History — April 9, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, April 7, 2022

Agnes Nikola (Thelle) Beckdahl (1876-1968) was one of the first Pentecostal evangelists to Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and England, and for over 50 years she served as an Assemblies of God missionary in Northern India near the border of Nepal.

Beckdahl was born at Andoen, an island near Kristiansand off the coast of Norway. She made a commitment to serve God in her teen years and later renewed her dedication at age 20. At that time, she felt a strong conviction that she was called to the mission field.

In December 1906, soon after the aftershocks from the Azusa revival had reached the European continent, Beckdahl ventured to Christiania (now Oslo), the capital of Norway, to help in mission and jail service at the Christiania Bymission (City Mission), founded by T. B. Barratt. While attending Barratt’s mission and Bible school, she opened her heart to more of God. Soon she received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Beginning in May 1907, Agnes, and a Norwegian coworker, Dagmar Gregersen, traveled as missionary evangelists in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, and several other places. Many years later she reported on these travels: “We were the first to bring the Pentecostal testimony to Germany in spring time 1907. Went through seven countries in Europe including the Eastern United States from Boston, Massachusetts and Connecticut and New York State. I think more than 2,000 were saved and filled with the Spirit on that tour. It was a wonderful revival with an outpouring of the Holy Ghost in convicting power upon the whole world during that time!”

After traveling in evangelistic work in Europe and the United States, Beckdahl attended the Missionary Institute at Nyack, New York, in preparation to go as a missionary to India. Stopping in Norway and in England first, she arrived in India on May 10, 1910. She visited Pandita Ramabai’s Mukti Mission in Poona, India. While at Poona, she met a Salvation Army officer from Denmark named Christian Beckdahl. They kept in touch. Agnes ended up going to the Mission House at Fyzabad, India, and Christian began missionary work near the border of Nepal with the American Pentecostal Mission. Later Agnes and two coworkers were at a mission station in Nepalganj, also on the border of Nepal. Christian and Agnes decided to get married. The marriage took place in the Scandinavian Evangelical Mission in Brooklyn, New York, on Aug. 14, 1915. Two days later, they both were ordained as missionaries with the Assemblies of God at Wells Memorial Gospel Assembly in Tottenville, New York.

After some deputational work, the Beckdahls sailed for India in December 1915. They established a work in Nanpara on the border of Nepal, where Agnes had previously lived. The Beckdahls traveled throughout Northern India and in Nepal, evangelizing everywhere they went. They served as missionaries together in India for over 50 years until Christian’s death in November 1950. They raised one son, Samuel Beckdahl, who also served as an AG missionary in India and who married Ruth Merian, daughter of AG missionaries Fred and Lillian Merian.

After her husband’s death, Agnes Beckdahl returned to the United States where she lived in retirement in Pinellas Park Home and later in Bethany Retirement Home in Lakeland, Florida. She passed away on Jan. 17, 1968, at the age of 91.

During the 1960s, the Pentecostal Evangel published a series of profiles of early Assemblies of God ministers and missionaries. One of these profiles featured Agnes Beckdahl and her missionary work at Nanpara, India.

Read Agnes Beckdahl’s article, “Along the Nepal Border,” on page 22 of the April 9, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Old Farmer” by Bruce S. Williams

• “Tend Your Garden,” by Joyce Wells Booze

And many more!

Click here to read these 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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Mark and Huldah Buntain: Helping the Poor of India

This Week in AG History — March 31, 1968

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, 18 March 2022

Mark Buntain (1923-1989), a longtime Assemblies of God (AG) missionary, is perhaps best known for founding a prominent hospital and feeding program in Calcutta, India. He and his wife, Huldah, became iconic symbols of the AG’s melding of gospel proclamation with works of compassion.

Buntain was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the son of Pentecostal minister, Daniel N. Buntain. In his youth he worked as a radio broadcaster, and then after marrying Huldah Monroe in 1944, he began pastoring churches in Saskatchewan. He also ministered as a missionary-evangelist in Taiwan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, and Japan before going to India in October 1954. What started as a one-year mission assignment there turned into a lifetime of ministry. Mark, Huldah, and their 1-year-old daughter, Bonnie, took a three-month voyage across the Atlantic. After arriving in India, they set up a tent on a vacant lot in Calcutta, and started telling people about the love of Jesus.

One day a man entered the tent, interrupting the preaching, and said, “Preacher, feed our bellies and then tell us about a God in heaven.” This changed everything. It became the catalyst for the Buntains to start a feeding program, now part of Calcutta Mercy Missions, that serves thousands of people, mostly children, every day.

Mark’s ministry was featured in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1968. The article began with this statement: “Give ye them to eat.” This is exactly what the Buntains did as they carried out their much-needed ministry in North India. Not only did they provide physical food for the hungry, but they sought to meet the medical needs as well as spiritual needs of the people who crossed their paths. A testimony is given of a man named Thottathil Rajan who was suffering from hunger, was a heavy drinker, and a cripple. When New Zealand evangelist Graham Truscott preached at one of Mark’s meetings, Rajan came and was saved and healed. Soon after this, he felt called to enter Bible school in order to preach the gospel.

On another occasion, Mark went to his office, and a staff member told him, “There’s a small boy dying on the steps!” He hurried out and found a 9-year-old boy who was almost dead. Buntain brought him inside and gradually nursed him back to health. After giving him a bath, he felt even better. Soon the boy went with the other children to attend school. Surprised to discover a new student, the teacher asked him, “Who are you?” “What are you doing here?” Without hesitancy, he quickly responded, “I belong to the Sahib (meaning Mark, who was the head missionary)!”

For many years the Buntains pastored the Assembly of God in Calcutta, which grew to more than 1,500 people in Sunday School each week and 4,000 in church attendance. Mark became the assistant superintendent of the AG in North India and aired a radio broadcast three times a week to a potential audience of 145 million listeners. Following Mark’s death, Huldah became senior pastor of the church and served as chairman of the ministry.

Today, almost 70 years later, the Buntains’ hearts to reach the people groups of India still continues. The hospital continues to serve 100,000 patients each year, providing many with charitable care. The ministry also grew to over 700 churches, hundreds of schools, children’s homes, and nutritional programs in India.

Mark passed away in 1989, and Huldah continued to help oversee the ministry until her death in 2021. Calcutta Mercy Ministries continues to feed, educate, and medically assist the poor of Calcutta, India, and surrounding areas.

Read the article, “I Belong to the Sahib,” on page 15 of the March 31, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tell Me About the Council on Evangelism”

• “Betinho: King of the Night,” by Missionary T. R. Hoover

• “Why Jews Need the Gospel,” by Ernest Kalapathy

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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Robert Kenneth Ware: Assemblies of God Missionary to French Jews, War Refugees, and Romani People

This Week in AG History —March 22, 1964

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 24 February 2022

Robert Kenneth Ware (1917-2005) was born in the United States and raised in Switzerland, but he devoted his ministry to persecuted Jews, displaced war refugees, and ostracized Romani people (also referred to as Gypsies) in France. Along the way he managed to learn at least five languages, establish the French Assemblies of God Bible school and Sunday School ministry, plant several churches, and provide an accurate translation of the New Testament for the French Bible Society.

Just a year after Kenneth Ware was born in Memphis, Tennessee, his father was killed in World War I. His Swiss-born mother was devastated and soon went into a deep depression. She took her young son to Switzerland where she went into seclusion to deal with her grief. Due to these early traumas, Ware developed a deep stammer that made schooling very difficult.

In 1932, English evangelist Smith Wigglesworth ministered in Vevey, Switzerland. Upon meeting young Ware on the street and seeing his predicament, he asked the boy to stick out his tongue. The evangelist touched his tongue and said, “This tongue shall preach the gospel.” From that time, his stammer ceased.

One year later, Ware surrendered his life to Christ at a revival led by Douglas Scott, a British minister who was instrumental in the formation of the French Assemblies of God. He felt a call to ministry and began to evangelize with other young people in the south of France. As a result of these efforts, at least 25 churches were planted.

Ware soon married Suzy Vinitski, a Jewish Christian. When Adolph Hitler invaded France in 1940, the Ware home became a refuge for Jews seeking to escape France into Switzerland. When a friend, under torture, revealed their names as a hiding place for Jews, the Wares attempted to flee into Switzerland. Their train was halted by Nazi agents, who ignored Suzy and their 7-month-old son, but took Kenneth for questioning. Brutally beaten and told he would be executed the next morning, he revealed to one guard that he was a pastor. This seemed upsetting to the guard who then snuck him through a darkened hallway and set him free.

Ware located his wife and son in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in 1948, they returned to France to find a devastated country flooded with refugees. Ware established a mission church for these displaced people. Remembering the care their friends and families had received before the war from the young pastors, many Jews came to his mission and later accepted Jesus as Messiah.

Because most of his money went to funding outreach, the Ware family lived in a part of Paris that was known as “the street of crimes.” Ware received permission to open a church in an abandoned night club. Within 10 years, the community was so transformed by this little church that the police no longer felt the need to patrol the streets.

In 1953, Ware was designated as a representative of the American Assemblies of God to the French Assemblies of God. He soon saw the need for greater discipleship among the French Christians. In the 1960 French General Council meetings, he requested permission to begin a Sunday School program. The response was not enthusiastic, but permission was granted.

Ware began a small printing operation in his home. While he translated Gospel Publishing House curriculum from English to French, Suzy and their two sons ran the duplicator. The operation soon became so successful that the March 22, 1964, Pentecostal Evangel reported that the Assemblies of God in the United States purchased larger printing equipment to enable the Ware family to meet the growing need for Sunday School curriculum in France.

During this time, there was a growing Pentecostal revival in the French Romani community. Once again, Ware’s heart was drawn to a people who were mistreated and thought to be of little human value. For seven years, Ware traveled to Romani camps, lived with them in trailers, established churches, and even built a Bible school and elementary school for the children. In 1972, their churches were so well established that a Romani superintendent was chosen, and Ware was able to turn his attention to other needs.

Throughout his ministry, Ware was a self-starting learner. He became an outstanding scholar of the Greek language and soon became the teacher of advanced Greek at the Continental Bible College in Brussels, Belgium. This experience motivated him to begin a Bible school for the French Assemblies of God in Paris. While at this school, the French Bible Society asked him to prepare a more accurate translation of the New Testament in French, a project that took him three years.

A stroke in 1984 curtailed the ministry of Kenneth and Suzy Ware but he continued to write and encourage the churches until his death in Courbevoie, France, in 2005. His influence continues today in French Sunday Schools, Romani communities, and every place a French-speaking person picks up a New Testament begins to read the Word of God. Smith Wigglesworth proved to be prophetic: the tongue of Kenneth Ware truly did preach the gospel.

Read Kenneth Ware’s article, “Paris Printing Plant” on page 23 of the March 22, 1964, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “How Cold is Too Cold?” by Donald L. Nelson

• “The Gospel for Ghana” by Robert L. Cobb

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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Herbert Edward Randall: Pioneer Canadian Pentecostal Missionary to Egypt

This Week in AG History — March 19, 1932

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, 18 March 2022

Herbert Edward Randall (1865-1938), an early Canadian Holiness missionary to Egypt, identified with the Pentecostal movement in 1907. He became an important Pentecostal pioneer in Canada and in Egypt, where he served as an Assemblies of God missionary. Randall prepared the way for larger-than-life figures like Aimee Semple McPherson and Lillian Trasher, but his own significant legacy has been neglected in many quarters.

Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, Randall’s family was Methodist. As a young man living in Ottawa, he attended revival meetings with Ralph Horner, where he accepted Christ and soon began pastoring a Methodist Church in Canada. In 1895 he was dismissed from ministry in the Methodist Church for refusing to take a pastoral change — he instead believed God led him to evangelistic ministry. This prompted him to join The Holiness Movement Church (HMC), a newly formed Canadian group started by Horner. Randall became the first missionary of that new movement, with his assignment being Egypt. He arrived in April 1899.

Randall ministered in Assiout, Egypt, and the surrounding region from 1899 to 1906. One description says, “A tall, rather slender young Canadian, clothed in black apparel from head to foot, with a brown beard, walked the streets of Assiout with Bible and song book under his arm, holding meetings.” These early meetings were mostly attended by children who sat down on mats they brought from home, and some ladies observed from their balconies. A song went out in Arabic, “They who choose Christ as refuge shall in Him find rest.” This drew more people to his meetings, and then he would deliver a plain message of salvation.

When he was through with one meeting, he went on to the next street. He ended up having several street meetings a day, and often there was a night service in a building.

Randall was soon joined by other missionaries of the HMC, so there were enough workers to open up outstations. Randall had high hopes of reaching Muslims for Christ, but he also began ministering to Coptic Christians in need of a new experience of the spiritual life.

Randall returned to Canada in 1906 and received the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit at the Hebden Mission in Toronto in March 1907. About three weeks later he attempted to describe this experience: “I feel like I have really lived 24 days, or since the 6th of March, when I was baptized with the Holy Ghost. Before that time I enjoyed much of God’s grace, but now I am simply amazed, the difference is so great, and all I can do is exclaim with wonder and delight, ‘The Comforter has come.’”

Randall became a key figure in the early development of Pentecostalism in Canada from 1907 to 1911. Shortly after resigning from the HMC, Randall held meetings in Ingersoll, Ontario, where 17-year-old Aimee Kennedy received the baptism in the Holy Spirit at one of his meetings. She later married his associate, Robert Semple, went as a missionary to Hong Kong, and eventually founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Randall also became a close associate of James and Ellen Hebden, Charles Chawner, R.E. McAlister, George Chambers, Frank Bartleman, A.H. Argue, and others.

Returning again to Egypt in 1912, Randall joined with other missionaries in founding a Pentecostal church in central Cairo. He translated several Pentecostal papers into Arabic such as The Good Report and The Morning Star. Some of these publications were also distributed to Syria, Palestine, Transjordan, Iraq, India, and other Arabic-speaking countries. He also helped to establish mission centers in Alexandria, Tanta, Port Said, etc. He was ordained by Robert E. McAlister, George Chambers, and C.E. Baker in 1919. Randall and his wife, Faith, were appointed as missionaries with the Assemblies of God on Dec. 19, 1922. Eventually Randall was made the superintendent of the Assemblies of God of Egypt. He worked closely with Lillian Trasher, Charles Doney, Ansel Post, Hugh and Mary Cadwalder, Mabel Dean, and other early AG missionaries in Egypt.

During the spring of 1932, Randall wrote several reports of a mighty revival in Egypt. At Beni Ady, a large cluster of four villages with a total population numbering 40,000, he reported ongoing revival. “In the course of three days and nights 60 souls received the Holy Ghost baptism, some of them in the meeting place, and others in their homes,” said Randall. At a women’s meeting during the daytime, 25 were baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Randall also reported opposition to the work of God, but he reported, “Men buying and selling are sometimes not able to speak their own language, but in some foreign tongue. This is for a sign.” The services were being held in temporary quarters with the congregation nightly reaching 600 “or as many can be crowded into the present place of meeting.” “The whole village is stirred, and there is great joy,” he continued. Someone compared it to Los Angeles in 1906 in Egyptian form.

Near the end of his life, he suffered a lengthy illness. When the end was near, he declared, “My traveling days are about over.” He told his nurse, “Tomorrow you are going to bury me.” The next day he passed away on March 11, 1938, concluding over 40 years of ministry, most of which was spent in Egypt. Andrew Crouch succeeded him as superintendent.

Besides being the catalyst to bring thousands to a saving knowledge of Christ, Herbert Randall was also the means of leading great numbers into the deeper Christian life through word, pen, and his Spirit-filled example.

Read H.E. Randall’s article, “A Remarkable Revival in Egypt,” on page 8 of the March 19, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

See also Dan Sheffield’s article, “Herbert E. Randall: A Canadian Holiness Missionary in Egypt and his Quest for More of the Holy Spirit,” published in the Canadian Journal of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity, which was an important source in the writing of this article.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Are the Sign Gifts in Evidence Today?” by J. Narver Gortner

• “Scriptural Holiness,” by W.E. Moody

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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Grace Agar: Linguist and Assemblies of God Missionary to China

This Week in AG History — March 12, 1967

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 10 March 2022

Grace Agar (1877-1966) was in high school when she sensed God telling her to prepare for missions work. A native of San Francisco, California, she followed God’s call and ended up on the other side of the Pacific, where she became an Assemblies of God missionary to China and a noted linguist.

Before she left America, however, Agar spent seven years in college, preparing for her future overseas. She graduated from Mills College (Oakland, California), a Christian school for women, and also studied at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, Illinois) and at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Bible School (Nyack, New York).

Finally, in 1902, the time came for Agar to set sail for China. The attractive, 25-year-old single female missionary watched her family and friends fade from sight as her boat left the harbor. Her heart sank as she realized, “I am all alone.” God whispered to her heart, just like when He called her as a missionary, and He reassured her, “I am here. I will never leave you.”

Agar excelled in school, but learning to listen to the voice of God was one of the most valuable disciplines she ever learned. In China, she continued her studies, learning the Chinese language and writing a widely-distributed book, Mandarin Tones Made Easy (1933). She also continued to draw close to the Lord in prayer and Bible study.

Her prayers and Bible teaching were very fruitful. Agar’s biography, Dark is the Land (Gospel Publishing House, 1962), noted that numerous people along the Chinese-Tibetan border accepted Christ after hearing her compelling preaching and witnessing that God answered her prayers.  

Agar initially served as a missionary with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. But after she was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1912, she identified with the Pentecostal movement and spent the next decade without any denominational backing. In 1922, she transferred to the Assemblies of God, which already supported numerous missionaries in China.

The civil war in China in 1937 forced Agar to flee the nation where she had devoted 35 years of her life. She returned to America to a hero’s welcome. After she passed away, the March 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel carried a tribute to Agar. “Certainly heaven has been enriched by the presence of this missionary heroine,” the obituary concluded, “who has now answered her Lord’s final call.”

Read the article, “Missionary Heroine with the Lord,” on page 28 of the March 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue

• “Unfeigned Faith,” by C. M. Ward

• “Little Feet, What Path?” by E. E. Krogstad

• “Sowing and Reaping in Navaholand,” by Eugene and Marian Herd

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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