Tragedy and Adventure in the Life of Paul L. Kitch, Assemblies of God Missionary to French West Africa

Kitch1This Week in AG History — March 13, 1943

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 14 March 2019

Paul L. Kitch (1910-2005) was an Assemblies of God missionary to Burkina Faso at a time when it was still known as French West Africa or Mossi land. He left the United States in 1938 with his wife, Bernadine, and young son, Paul, ready to give all he had for the cause of the furtherance of the gospel of Christ. It would cost him his wife, his daughter, and lead him on a 10-day adventure with 35 others in a lifeboat adrift in the Atlantic Ocean.

Kitch graduated from Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri, in 1931. It was there that he met and married his wife, Bernadine. They received ministry credentials with the Illinois District Council and sailed for mission’s appointment in French West Africa on March 30, 1938. After spending a few months in language school in France, they settled in Tenkodogo with the Mossi tribe. In August of 1939, God blessed them with a baby girl, Lita Ann.

As happened with so many early missionaries, typhus claimed the life of Lita Ann at the age of 2. Seven months later, her mother followed in death. At the time of Bernadine’s death, Kitch was so ill himself that it was an entire month before he was told that his wife had died. Paul Jr. was also very ill with typhus.

Both Kitch and his son recovered and moved to Ouagadougou to convalesce for several weeks. In October 1942, it was decided that they should return to America to fully regain their health and seek God for direction. They boarded the S.S. West Kebar, an American cargo vessel with a crew of about 70 and nine other passengers.

One night, after about three weeks on board, the Kitches were having devotions in their cabin when there was a great explosion. The lights went out. Young Paul asked his father if they were having another lifeboat drill. He replied, “Yes, son. We’re having a real lifeboat drill.” Going up on deck, they discovered that the ship had been torpedoed by a submarine. One of the four lifeboats was completely destroyed; another had been blown away from the ship. Kitch saw the third pulling away; another with about 15 already on board was still there.

Within moments 35 people crammed into the 28-foot lifeboat. Kitch asked if there was time to retrieve things from the ship, as all their worldly goods were on that boat. The captain responded that if they were within 50 to 75 yards of the ship when it went down it would suck them under with it. Kitch watched as they rowed away from everything he owned.

A plan began to be made for their survival. The captain believed he had an idea of their whereabouts and set a course for land. Rations were to be handed out twice a day. In the mornings, they received two ounces of water, two small crackers, and one ounce of pemmican. Each evening, they received the same with a small chocolate square substituted for the pemmican. Since they had been reading Robinson Crusoe, Kitch encouraged his son to play the part of the characters in the book; embrace the adventure, and trust God to see them through.

There were only four blankets among 35 people and the heavy rains caused them to be sopping wet and freezing during the nights and scorched in the tropic sun during the day. On the eighth day at sea, they spotted a ship passing by but their tiny lifeboat was not sighted.

On the ninth day, they sighted land and on the 10th day a plane spotted them and alerted the coastal patrol. A sub chaser came out to meet them and took them to the island of Barbados, off the coast of Venezuela. The Barbados newspaper reported of their rescue, “The Sunday arrivals had been in a lifeboat for many days, yet 8-year-old Paul Kitch was in the best of health and spirits, and his first request was for ice cream.”

For one month they stayed on the island and Kitch had the opportunity to speak in various churches and share of the faithfulness of God even amid great loss and danger. Later he learned that many of the believers had been praying that a Pentecostal missionary would come and visit them, and they rejoiced that God answered prayer in bringing him their way.

In the March 13, 1943, Pentecostal Evangel, Kitch relays the story and recollects that “in the 30 days following our rescue I preached 25 times. It was remarkable how much strength and energy the Lord had blessed me with after the 10 days at sea.” Of about 80 persons on the S.S. West Kebar, more than half perished.

Paul Kitch later remarried after returning to the States and pastored Assembly of God churches in Missouri. In 1985, 42 years after leaving the continent, Paul Jr. returned to West Africa with his wife, Delma, where they served in Togo and then South Africa.

Read the full article, “Ten Days in a Lifeboat,” on page 1 of the March 13, 1943, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“For the Name of the Lord Jesus,” by William Long

“The Sifting of the Church,” by D.M. Panton

“Reaching Interned Japanese in Idaho,” by Marie Juergensen

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Giving out of their Poverty: Florence Steidel and the Lepers of Liberia

TW_Steidel_1400

This Week in AG History — March 4, 1951

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 07 March 2019

In 1950, an Assemblies of God congregation of lepers in New Hope Town, Liberia, caught the vision of missions and desired to help those who were less fortunate than themselves. On Christmas Eve, they took up an offering of $2.65, which they sent to the Leper Home of Uska Bazaar in North India.

Assemblies of God missionary Florence Steidel (1897-1962) wrote a letter recounting the sacrificial spirit of the congregation. The letter, published in the March 4, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, explained that the offering was quite generous, given the meager wages earned by the lepers (7 to 10 cents per day).

Steidel had founded New Hope Town in 1947 with $100 and the help of lepers. Tribal chiefs gave her 350 acres of land upon which she could build a town for people with the skin-eating disease who were unwelcome in their own communities. Steidel, a nurse who came to the mission field in 1935, took a class in elementary building construction. She rallied those with leprosy to work alongside her in building roads and houses. From 1947 until 1962, she oversaw the construction of a well-laid-out town, including 70 permanent buildings and six main streets.

While the lepers were diseased, they were not helpless. Steidel established a school to train them to become carpenters, weavers, brick makers, and clinic workers. They also planted 2,500 rubber trees, which helped the town to become economically self-sufficient.

Steidel realized that economic poverty has roots in poor spiritual and social conditions, which she worked to ameliorate. And only four years after establishing New Hope Town, its residents were already giving of their very limited resources to help others.

Steidel is remembered as one of the missionary heroes of the Assemblies of God. She melded compassion with proclamation of the gospel. Her work among the lepers helped to give credibility and strength to the Assemblies of God in Liberia.

Read the article by Florence Steidel, “I Still Have Strong,” on page 9 of the March 4, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue

• “Pentecost’s Lost Coin,” by Paul Gaston

• “Our Greatest Need,” by Robert J. Wells

• “Words of Life,” by Wesley R. Steelberg

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Assemblies of God Missionaries Mark and Gladys Bliss: Remembering the Deaths of Their Three Children in Iran

Mark BlissThis Week in AG History — March 1, 1970

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 28 February 2019

This year marks 50 years since the deaths of four young children who were killed in a traffic accident in Iran. Three of these belonged to AG missionaries Mark and Gladys Bliss who arrived in Tehran in 1965. The other was the son of Iranian national, Haik Hovsepian-Mehr.

In 1969, the missionary work of the Blisses was prospering. Assemblies of God churches had been established and were growing. New fellowships were being planted. Mark was helping to establish a Bible school in Tehran. On Oct. 24, 1969, Mark and Gladys attended a pastor’s conference.

The next day they made arrangements to travel with Haik Hovsepian-Mehr and his family to Gorgan, where a new church was being established. They started the six-hour drive on winding, narrow two-lane roads. They hoped to arrive before nightfall.

On the way they traveled through a village of about 10,000 people where Mark and Haik had been arrested a few months earlier for evangelizing. The men decided to stop for a few moments to pray for the salvation of the village. Their time of prayer lasted longer than they expected, and this meant that the last part of their journey would be after dark.

Unknown to the families, that prayer meeting would change their lives forever. Mark got back into the driving seat with his daughters Karen (13) and Debbie (11) in the front seat. Gladys Bliss and 3-year-old Mark Jr. were in the back along with the Hovsepians and their 3-month-old son.

Energized by the prayer time and fully alert, Mark drove on toward the new church building in Gorgan. All of a sudden, he was blinded momentarily when an oncoming vehicle did not dim its lights. Mark’s vehicle came upon a tractor-trailer loaded with grain that was going very slow and had no lights. With no time to react, the impact was devastating. Mark Jr., Karen, and Debbie Bliss, and the Hovsepians’ young son, Joseph, all died in the accident. The four adults were taken to a local hospital. Mark had minor injuries compared to the others who spent a couple months recovering.

When Haik Hovsepian heard the news that his baby son had died, he raised his hands from his hospital bed and said, “Praise the Lord.” When Mark was discharged he found a piano and began to worship and sing, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Despite their terrible loss and grief, Mark and Gladys Bliss never wavered in their faith in God.

But grief was not the only suffering they endured. As the driver of a car involved in a fatal accident, Mark faced charges of manslaughter, a large fine, and possibly a prison sentence. It took three years until the case was heard. An acquittal did not look possible. Mark was tried in front of three Islamic judges, men who likely would not be sympathetic toward an American Christian. Mark needed a translator who was fluent in Farsi. He was able to enlist his friend Sam, who was an Iranian national who had been working with him to establish the Bible school in Tehran.

When the court date arrived, Mark testified, “I do not consider myself guilty. But if you do consider me guilty, please consider in your verdict that I have already suffered the loss of my three children.” He continued testifying, “But my children are not dead. They are alive.” He shared Jesus’s words that He is “the resurrection and the life and he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall live.” Mark left the court a free man. A 10-month prison sentence was reduced to two years’ probation.

Mark and Gladys Bliss continued to minister to the Iranian church until they transferred to another field in 1980. Years later Mark reflected on the remarkable growth of the Church in Iran. He shared, “After the tragedy, we prayed saying, ‘We have planted three seeds for the sake of the harvest in Iran.’ Today, we are seeing that harvest.”

Charles Greenaway reported on the accident and the Bliss’ faith in, “I Have Planted Three Seeds,” on pages 8-9 of the March 1, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Good Shepherd,” by J. Bashford Bishop

• “Guyana Revisited”

• “Your Questions Answered,” by Ernest S. Williams

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Albert Norton, Pioneer Pentecostal Missionary to India: Preaching Must be Accompanied by Good Works

Norton AlbertThis Week in AG History — February 22, 1919

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 21 February 2019

One hundred years ago, Assemblies of God missionary Albert Norton witnessed the tragic starvation and suffering of countless people in India. He responded to this humanitarian crisis in a Pentecostal Evangel article, in which he argued that Christian preaching must be accompanied by works of compassion.

Norton’s experience in India gave him a different perspective than many other Christians in America. At the time, there was a growing divide within Christianity between evangelicals and theological liberals. In the early 20th century, many mainline Protestant churches were in the process of redefining the Christian faith. New academic theories undermined the authority of Scripture, and a faith in science replaced faith in the God of miracles as described in the Bible. These theological liberals pioneered a “Social Gospel” movement defined by doing good works, even as they left behind the seemingly antiquated notion that “Truth” could be found in Scripture.

In America, evangelicals and Pentecostals often responded to the Social Gospel movement by reasserting biblical truths. Some tried to reform older denominations from within; others formed new, purer churches. Some backed away from social action, concerned that an emphasis on good works could distract from what they believed was the more important duty to preach the Word.

Outside America, missionaries such as Albert Norton were often surrounded by great suffering and felt compelled to minister in both word and deed.

In a 1919 Pentecostal Evangel article, Norton wrote the following bold statement:

“A Christianity that coldly sits down, and goes on its routine of formal work, and allows its fellowmen to starve, or to be obliged to go through all the hard sufferings and exposure connected with famine, without effort to help them, might as well quit its preaching.”

Norton, who was witnessing an unfolding human tragedy, asked that “all missionaries, Mission Boards and Committees and all Christian Workers to do what they can to save their brothers and sisters in India from dying of starvation or from the kindred train of evils following famine.”

Pentecostal Evangel editor Stanley H. Frodsham responded and devoted the entire front page of the Feb. 22, 1919, issue to the desperate situation in India. He asked readers to send famine relief to Gospel Publishing House, which he promised would “be promptly sent to the field.”

Frodsham provided three justifications for this request to save bodies as well as souls. First, he stated that Scripture required it, quoting Proverbs 19:17 and 24:11-12. Second, he noted that the Methodist church had asked its members to forego luxuries for a few months and to instead provide money for Indian relief. He challenged Pentecostals to do likewise.

Third, he noted that the future of the church depended upon rescuing those who are starving now. He again quoted Norton, “There are young men and women in India today, who were saved as famine orphans several years ago, and now they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and being greatly used in the extension of Christ’s kingdom.” Meeting the physical needs to the starving today would yield preachers tomorrow. He continued, “How unutterably sad it would have been if they had been allowed to die of starvation.”

Early Pentecostal missionaries such as Norton had very limited physical resources to share, but they still recognized the need to minister in both word and deed. When the Assemblies of God, at its 2009 General Council, added compassion as the fourth element for its reason for being — joining worship, evangelism, and discipleship — this was an affirmation of a long-standing practice.

Read Frodsham’s entire article, “Plague and Famine Raging in India,” on pages 1-2 of the Feb. 22, 1919, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Run to Help the Dying,” by A. E. L.

• “Hints Regarding Divine Healing,” by Florence Burpee

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Sidney Goodwin: The Untimely Death and Legacy of an Assemblies of God Missionary to Ghana

GoodwinThis Week in AG History — February 17, 1963

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 14 February 2019

When Assemblies of God missionary Sidney Goodwin (1936-1963) arrived in Ghana, West Africa, it was a homecoming he had been looking forward to for many years. Raised by missionary parents Homer and Thelma Goodwin, Sidney grew up in Ghana, knew its languages and customs, and loved its people. After studying in the United States, he returned to his family and friends shortly before Christmas of 1962 as a fully appointed missionary, bringing his own wife, Sandra, and their 3-year-old daughter, Gwenda.

Excitement was in the air for Goodwin’s African friends. The presbyter for the Bawku area, where Sidney grew up, requested the entire Goodwin family to come to a village called Tili for a mass “welcome home” service and outdoor Christmas revival. On Christmas Eve, the Goodwin families arrived to find their friends had spared no expense to show their love and appreciation. Sidney and Sandra were presented with six live chickens, dozens of eggs, yams, and other fruits and vegetables. Water had been transported in abundance, a grass shelter had been erected, and an estimated 600 had gathered for the evening service.

Because the service was to be held in the evening, Sidney brought along a portable light plant in the Speed-the-Light (STL) vehicle. When they tested it earlier in the day, it was not functioning properly, but as service time approached it seemed to be doing better, though still not up to par. Just as the service was scheduled to begin, Sidney went to check on the light plant.

Suddenly, there was a flash of light and the church shelter went dark. Homer Goodwin rushed to the STL vehicle to find that the portable generator in the pickup tailgate had exploded. Sidney was trapped in the camper that covered the pickup bed. Homer quickly rolled Sidney onto the ground to extinguish the flames. There were no witnesses so there could only be speculation as to the cause of the explosion.

The African church went immediately to prayer and Sidney was rushed to the hospital, 22 miles away. With burns over 60 percent of his body, the doctors did not offer the family much hope. For eight days, Sidney exhibited exceptional bravery, patience, and concern for those around him while many worked tirelessly to save his life. Ghanaian Christians trekked through the night over unmarked bush trails to donate blood to the boy they had loved since he was a child. One devoted African friend stayed at the door of Sidney’s room, 24 hours a day, sleeping on the cement floor. The Ghana Air Force, British Royal Air Force, and American embassy did all they could to supply much needed plasma from as far away as New York. Many cried out to God for help as three generations of Goodwin missionaries waited in the hospital for a miracle.

Sidney realized the gravity of his situation and told his family that he loved them but needed to say good-bye. When his father insisted that God had more for him to do, Sidney replied, “Daddy, I’m not afraid to die. This is God’s will.”

On Jan. 1, 1963, Sidney quietly slipped away and was buried the next day on the western edge of the Assemblies of God Mission plot in Bawku where he had played as a child. The area presbyter, Abiwini Kusasi, said to those who were gathered there, “Many years ago, when all of us Kusasis were in spiritual darkness, Reverend and Mrs. Goodwin came to bring us the light of the gospel. Our brother Sidney came with them as a baby. Through the years he prepared himself and had returned with his wife and baby to help us further. We do not understand why God has taken him, but we know God does all things well.”

The Feb. 17, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel carried the story of Sidney’s death. After the publication of the article, additional details were later provided by the family that gave a fuller picture of the incident.

Sandra and Gwenda moved to the central Ashanti area with Sidney’s parents and his younger siblings. For two years they ministered as a family to the Ashanti people until, reluctantly, Sandra and Gwenda returned to the States for a furlough and the opportunity to seek God for the future. After receiving more education and ministerial ordination, Sandra moved to Tanzania, East Africa, where she taught in the Bible training school.

Twelve years after Sidney was buried, Sandra and Gwenda returned to Ghana for the dedication of a memorial library at the North Ghana Bible School in his honor. Sandra was touched to hear story after story from pastors, evangelists, and leaders who told of passing by the young missionary’s grave each day on the path as they walked to school. Many of them, at different times, had paused to kneel there and dedicate their lives to continue the work the young man had begun.

Sandra spent 20 years as a single parent and saw her daughter graduate from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. Sandra later married Myron Clopine and served the Assemblies of God as National Women’s Ministries Director from 1986 to 1994. She also provided leadership to the founding of the National Prayer Center and served as chaplain for Maranatha Village in Springfield. After Myron passed away, Sandra married David Drake, long-time professor at Central Bible College. The Goodwin/Clopine/Drake families have exemplified what God can do with a family willing to consecrate all to His service.

Read the report on Sidney’s homegoing on page 8 of the Feb. 17, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Dramatic Deliverance” by Louise Nankivell

• “Take My Best,” by G.F. Lewis

• “Building Churches in India,” by Elton Hill

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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From Wittenberg to Azusa and Beyond: How Gospel Tracts Have Fueled Revival

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Ralph Riggs praying over the first run of the GPH “Hi, Neighbor” tracts in the 1950s.

This Week in AG History — February 10, 1940

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 7 February 2019

Nearly every major religious revival since the invention of the printing press has seen prolific use of the small printed pamphlet known as the gospel tract. The Pentecostal revival has been no exception.

While some religious movements, like the Wycliffites of the 14th century, made good use of the printed pamphlet even before the evolution of movable type, it was Gutenberg’s invention in the 15th century that helped make the religious tract a publishing phenomenon. Taken from the word “tractate” (meaning “treatise”), tracts have been used as a cost-effective way to reach large numbers of people with a simple message of persuasion.

It was after Luther’s 95 Theses were translated into German and distributed in tract form that the Protestant Reformation gained traction with the common people. The Wesleyan revival depended heavily on the reprinting of John Wesley’s sermons and Charles Wesley’s songs in an inexpensive format that could be easily carried and disseminated by the circuit riding preachers of the Methodist revival. Charles Finney wrote and distributed the small booklets. D. L. Moody believed in them so much that he founded an association of students to print and distribute them from gospel wagons, which led to the creation of Moody Press.

The American Tract Society was founded in 1825 and, during the Civil War, it joined forces with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) to distribute tracts to soldiers in the Union Army. In the South, the Evangelical Tract Society was formed to meet the needs of the Confederate soldiers. Both societies reported an urgent need for more printed materials along with great response on the part of the soldiers. Many young men came to the saving knowledge of Jesus through their response to these tracts that made their way through the armies.

From the beginning of their own revival movement, Pentecostals were prolific publishers. Some of the credit for the promotion of the Azusa Street revival belongs to a tract by journalist Frank Bartleman. Just days after the meetings began at Azusa Street, a great earthquake hit San Francisco. Bartleman believed that this great California earthquake was a message from God that people must repent and turn to God before it was too late. He wrote a tract titled “The Earthquake” and distributed more than 125,000 copies. This drew even more attention to the revival that was taking place in Los Angeles.

The Assemblies of God, through Gospel Publishing House (GPH), began publishing tracts almost immediately upon its inception in 1914. GPH published tracts by their own Fellowship leaders, such as E.N. Bell, E. S. Williams, and Stanley Frodsham, as well as prominent preachers such as A. G. Ward and, later, his son, C. M. Ward.

In the Feb. 10, 1940, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel a call was published for “Ten Men Wanted.” “Good men – saved men who are burdened for blinded, misguided, indifferent, sin-hardened souls. Women…young people are wanted, too.” The advertisement went on to say, “Ten workers, with the Lord’s help can accomplish wonders. Let each contribute $1.00 toward a $10.00 37-pound order of our full gospel tracts” in order to “keep public literature containers well stocked with papers and tracts…” They were reminded to “anoint your efforts with earnest prayer. Carry tracts wherever you go, and you will do much good.”

GPH tracts covered a wide variety of topics, such as the need for holiness and separation from worldliness through consecration to God. Many contained testimonies of how God had delivered people from sin and life-controlling addictions. Others told the simple message of the gospel in easily understood form, while many provided a doctrinal defense of Pentecostal distinctives.

One Assemblies of God layman in Springfield, Missouri, Lester Buttram, felt the Lord telling him in 1926 to “Print My Word.” Buttram felt that God put some strictures on him, however. He was never to charge for his productions and he would not promote one particular denomination. The 22-year-old man withdrew $7.10 from his bank account and went to a local printer with his message. The printer was so impressed that he offered to double the order and print $15 worth of Buttram’s tracts. This led to the formation of the Gospel Tract Society, which is still in business and based in Independence, Missouri.

While most Pentecostals believe that the most effective evangelism technique is one-on-one relationship building, many still use tracts. With gospel tracts, believers are able to leave written and visual material in a variety of places, providing all kinds of people with a relevant message. Gospel Publishing House, through My Healthy Church, continues to offer a wide variety of tracts for use in evangelistic ministry.

Read the call for tract distribution on page 3 of the Feb. 10, 1940, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Healthy Assembly” by Donald Gee

• “Sign Posts on the Spirit-Filled Highway,” by Willard Peirce

• “When God Is In It,” by Charles Elmo Robinson

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Dr. Florence Murcutt, Early Assemblies of God Missionary and Surgeon

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Florence Murcutt (sitting) with Alice Luce at Glad Tidings Bible Institute, San Francisco, California; circa 1920s

This Week in AG History —January 30, 1932

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 31 January 2019

Florence Murcutt (1868-1935) began life in Australia as a Jew, overcame prejudice to become a pioneer female surgeon in the United States, and ended life as an Assemblies of God missionary to Mexicans. She was likely the first medical doctor to serve as an Assemblies of God missionary, yet her name and significant evangelistic work as a Pentecostal has been largely forgotten.

Born in Australia to English parents, Murcutt was raised in the Jewish faith. Murcutt had an inquiring mind and explored the claims of Christianity. As a young woman she read the Bible for herself, cover to cover, in six weeks. She accepted Christ as the messiah and became active in Christian circles. She and her sister, Ada, immigrated to America in 1900 and became national speakers with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Murcutt graduated in 1907 from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (now Drexel University College of Medicine) and became a surgeon.

Murcutt’s life was forever altered when she attended a Pentecostal camp meeting in Portland, Oregon. At the meeting, a man who was entirely unfamiliar with the French language began prophesying in French under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Murcutt understood the prophecy, which testified that Jesus was the only way to God. Moved by this miraculous prophecy and by the palpable presence of God at the meeting, she knelt at the altar and committed to yield herself fully to God’s purposes for her life.

Murcutt was later baptized in the Holy Spirit and devoted the rest of her life to missionary work. In 1912, she traveled to Palestine, where she distributed gospel literature in Hebrew and Arabic. She was ordained as a missionary by the Assemblies of God on June 18, 1915. Murcutt served with Alice Luce and Henry C. Ball as a missionary to Mexicans living along the borderlands in Texas, California, and Mexico. In 1926, she helped Luce to establish a Spanish-language department of Berean Bible Institute in San Diego. This department was the foundation for what became Latin American Bible Institute in La Puente, California. Murcutt and Luce taught at the school, planted several Spanish and English congregations, and engaged in missionary work in Fiji and Australia. Murcutt died in December 1935 from injuries resulting from being struck by an automobile.

Florence Murcutt, one of the largely unheralded Pentecostal pioneers, had a testimony that reads like an adventure novel. She had many impressive achievements, but she found the greatest purpose and meaning when she committed herself fully to God.

Read Florence Murcutt’s article, “A Retrospect of the Lord’s Leadings,” on pages 7 and 9 of the Jan. 30, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Secret of Victorious Living,” by Rachel Craig

• “Is Pentecost a New Religion?” by Charles E. Robinson

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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