How should Christians respond to political and cultural crises? This AG evangelist’s admonition from 1959 is timely today!

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Martin Luther Davidson, 1953.

This Week in AG History — October 18, 1959

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 13 October 2016

How should Christians respond to political and cultural crises? Assemblies of God evangelist Martin Luther Davidson, in a sermon at the 1959 General Council, encouraged listeners to learn from the example of the first-century church. The early church, he noted, endured significant persecution in a society rocked by political turmoil and moral decay. In the midst of this social upheaval, the church established its identity and experienced remarkable growth.

How was the early church able to overcome adversity? Davidson identified three characteristics of early Christians that he suggested “was the secret of their victory.”

First, early Christians overcame adversity because they were consecrated to Christ and His mission. They despised sin, they surrendered themselves to suffer for the sake of righteousness, and they stood firm in the faith. According to Davidson, “Those Early Church saints were strongly marked by a holy indifference to external adversaries.” Early Christians endured the most severe forms of persecution. “They scorned the violence of fire, the edge of the sword, trials of cruel mockings and scourgings,” he noted. Davidson prayed that God would give twentieth-century Christians the “steadfastness of faith” that characterized first-century Christians.

Second, early Christians overcame adversity because of their sincere “holiness of character.” Davidson defined holiness as the condition of a person’s character. He noted that holiness could not be achieved by wearing or doing certain things; holiness could only come from the sanctifying, indwelling presence of God. Davidson expressed concern that this biblical view of holiness was being replaced in some Pentecostal circles by either “legalistic ritualism” (emphasizing external actions over the condition of the heart) or “liberalism” (presuming that conduct has no relationship to the condition of the heart). Davidson admonished Pentecostals to retain the historic view of holiness, asserting that “anything less will fail is in these critical days.”

Third, early Christians overcame adversity because they were “unwavering in holy faith.” Unlike modern conceptions of faith as mere “positive thinking,” Davidson carefully described the principles of biblical faith. True Christian faith, according to Davidson, is grounded in the Bible, it trusts in the person of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, and it provokes the believer to action.

Davidson encouraged Pentecostals to learn from early Christians, who “became intoxicated on the Spirit so much” that outsiders concluded they must be drunk with wine because they had no fear of man. “If the Church is to advance in these perilous days of universal crises,” Davidson concluded, “it must be filled with Spirit-intoxicated men” who demonstrate consecration, holiness, and unwavering faith.

Read Martin Luther Davidson’s article, “Forward in the Face of Crises!” on pages 3-4 of the Oct. 18, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Praying in the Holy Ghost,” by Normand J. Thompson

• “Deaf Students Prepare for the Ministry,” by Maxine Strobridge

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 Story behind Speed-the-Light: How Assemblies of God Youth Raised Almost $300 Million for Missions

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An airplane (“Old Sikorsky”) purchased with Speed the Light funds. Circa 1946. Pictured (L-R) are: E. L Mason; H. B. Garlock; unidentified; Warren Straton; Fred Merian; unidentified; J. Robert Ashcroft.

This Week in AG History — October 11, 1953

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 13 October 2016

“Never mind, it will soon blow over.” These skeptical words greeted the enthusiasm of Christ’s Ambassadors (CA) Director Ralph Harris when he recounted that Assemblies of God young people had given over $100,000 in 1945 to the new missions fund, “Speed the Light.” Not many adults believed that the youth of their churches could sustain their excitement for providing missionary transportation vehicles in far-off countries.

The idea for the fund had come to Harris only a month after taking his new post as national youth director. It was 1944 and young people were beginning to come to grips with the changes in their world following World War II. Vehicles had been hard to come by as many automobile manufacturers stopped producing civilian vehicles in favor of military vehicles.

Harris knew the youth of America could identify with those who were without transportation. Harris also knew that the war had exhibited to young people the power of vehicles being used for destructive purposes. They had watched news reels of airplanes, jeeps, and boats destroy and be destroyed. Was there a way to show the world that the same vehicles that had been used to bring desolation to a nation could also be used to bring the good news of the hope of the gospel? Could the young people of the Assemblies of God lead the way in this effort?

General Superintendent E.S. Williams offered a less-than-positive response to Harris’s idea of using offerings from CA groups to purchase airplanes and motorcycles for missions. Williams later reported that his first thoughts were, “Jesus didn’t use a motorcycle. And Paul didn’t fly a plane.”

However, while Williams was very conservative in his approach to money, he was also a man in touch with God. While Harris was still trying to sell his idea, Williams felt the Holy Spirit reminding him that Jesus and Paul might not have used those vehicles, but they likely would have if they had been available. Within an hour of approaching his boss, Harris had the approval to begin promoting his new idea.

The program needed a name so Harris offered a prize to the young person that submitted the best name. Ernestine Houston of Arizona sent in the moniker “Speed-the-Light” (STL) and was awarded $15 in Gospel Publishing House materials for coining the new name, which is still used 72 years later.

Harris set the astronomical goal of $100,000 for their first year, 1945. CA members were told that if they each gave $1 their goal could be meet. It was greeted with skepticism on the part of some leadership but the Assemblies of God youth came through with $113,375.39. Their first major purchase was a small amphibian plane for the work in Liberia. It was the first non-military plane to ever fly into that country and caused quite a stir. The Liberians were so excited to see the plane that for many years they charged no duty fees on any STL equipment brought into the country.

Appeals soon began to pour in from all over the world. Boats were needed in the Bahamas, a jeep in Costa Rica, mules were requested in Nigeria, and bicycles in Upper Volta. The Assemblies of God discovered that one missionary, properly equipped, could do the work of 10 who lacked resources. Missionaries were going farther, faster, and easier than they ever had before.

Harris knew he had to keep the challenge fresh so he proclaimed the third Sunday of October “Dollar Day” when a special offering would be sent in from each CA group totaling $1 for each young person who attended the church. The Pentecostal Evangel lent its support to the project, running articles highlighting STL on that Sunday.

One young man, Loren, was 17 when STL was born. He later testified that STL built a bridge for him to different parts of the world as he read the updates in the Evangel articles and had the opportunity to contribute to something that was larger than himself. He was learning that he could impact an entire world for the good. He later became a pastor in Nebraska who supported STL in his local church until God called him to spend 12 years in Nicaragua, using his own STL vehicle. He later served as the field director for Latin America and, in 1997, Loren Triplett retired as executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions. It started with giving $1 to Speed the Light’s Dollar Day.

Since that first year in 1945, the youth of the Assemblies of God have given $294,632,533.46 to STL, including $8,285,525.77 in 2015. The third Sunday of October is still STL Day in the Assemblies of God. J. Philip Hogan, referring to the skeptic who told Harris that this excitement in the youth would “soon blow over,” wrote on STL’s 40th anniversary in 1984, “He was right! It has blown all over the world!”

Read stories and view photos from “Dollar Day” in the article, “Keep ‘Em Rolling,” on page 7 of the Oct. 11, 1953, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Family Worship and the Promise of Power,” by Norman V. Williams

• “Pentecostal Principles,” by James D. Menzies

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 Summer Camps Helped Ministry among Native Americans to Flourish in the Assemblies of God

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James F. Pepper, Assemblies of God evangelist and member of the Cherokee Nation. Circa 1960s.

This Week in AG History — October 06, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 06 October 2016

Native Americans were among the founders of the Assemblies of God. Two Cherokee ministers, William H. Boyles and Watt Walker, traveled from Oklahoma to attend the first General Council in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in April 1914.

Early Assemblies of God ministry among Native Americans was largely uncoordinated, consisting of individual evangelists and missionaries who went wherever they felt called to go. By the late 1930s, the newly formed Department of Home Missions began to give direction to these efforts to reach Native Americans with the gospel.

Ministry among Native Americans flourished. By 1945, the Assemblies of God supported 58 missionaries who worked in 37 mission stations, mostly on reservations. One of the most effective forms of large-scale evangelism was the development of “summer Indian camps.” The first camp specifically for Native Americans was held in 1948 on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. By the 1950s, the Assemblies of God regularly sponsored Native American camps across the nation. These camps served both spiritual and social functions, helping to evangelize non-believers and to network believers.

Victor Trimmer, Assemblies of God National Home Missions secretary, wrote about five Native American camps he had visited in an article published in the Oct. 6, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He described the “spirited singing, fervent prayer, and wholehearted worship” that he witnessed at the camps. Over 700 people attended one of the camps, the Apache Indian Camp at Carrizo, Arizona. Attendees camped in tepees, wick-i-ups, shades, and cowboy tents. While most Anglo camps of the era generally featured a cafeteria, which served as a commons for campers, the Native American campers cooked traditional food for themselves over an open campfire.

At a camp in Norris, South Dakota, Trimmer reported that God transformed many lives at the altar. He wrote, “Many sought God for salvation with tears. The hand of the Lord was stretched forth to heal, and I witnessed the greatest miracles of healing that I have ever seen in my life. Deaf, crippled, and sick were healed as these hungry, believing people looked to God for His help.”

At the end of his summer tour of the Indian camps, Trimmer expressed gratitude for the 100 Assemblies of God missionaries to Native Americans. He remarked, “Their consecration and willingness to deny themselves challenged me.”

The Assemblies of God has continued to flourish among Native Americans. In 2015, the Assemblies of God reported 47,212 Native American adherents in the United States. This represented a 38 percent increase since 2001. The districts with the largest numbers of Native American adherents in 2015 were: Arizona (7,291), Oklahoma (6,832), Northwest (4,348), North Carolina (2,860), New Mexico (2,748), Alaska (2,399), Northern California-Nevada (1,976), Southern California (1,562), South Dakota (1,444), Montana (1,421), Minnesota (1,294), and North Dakota (1,228). It is fitting that Native Americans, who are often called First Peoples, were among the first pioneers in the Assemblies of God. The strong foundation they laid now supports an important and growing segment of the Fellowship.

Read the entire article, “Summer Indian Camps” by Victor Trimmer, on pages 14 and 15 of the Oct. 6, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Christ’s Message to a Fallen Church,” by Frank J. Lindquist

• “The Ministry of Books,” by G. M. Strombeck

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

The photo of James F. Pepper is part of the James F. Pepper Collection, deposited at the Heritage Center by his granddaughter, evangelist Becky Fischer.

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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Now Hiring: Two Professional Archivist Positions at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in Springfield, MO

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The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in Springfield, Missouri, seeks to hire an Archivist and a Digital Archivist. The two positions are full time with benefits (see job descriptions below).

The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC) is the largest Pentecostal archives and research center in the world. Located in the Assemblies of God National Office, the FPHC’s collections span the broader Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. Staff members have the privilege of interacting with scholars, church leaders, and those who lived the history. The positions are ideal for a trained librarian or archivist who loves our Pentecostal heritage. Our work here is very meaningful.

Please forward this information to people who would be a good fit for the positions of Archivist or Digital Archivist. These are important positions, and it will take special persons to fill them.

All candidates must complete the application on the Assemblies of God National Office HR website: https://jobopenings.ag.org/careers.aspx  I would be delighted to speak to inquirers.

Darrin J. Rodgers, M.A., J.D.
Director, Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, MO 65802 USA
phone: (417) 862-1447, ext. 4400
toll free: (877) 840-5200
email: drodgers@ag.org
website: www.iFPHC.org

___________________

The position descriptions are listed below.

Archivist

Position summary:

The Archivist is a key member of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center’s curatorial and special collections team and plays a pivotal role in helping the FPHC to care for and promote its collections. S/he will be responsible for overseeing the organization, cataloging, processing, care and accessibility of its archival materials and rare book collections.

Experience required:

1) Two years work experience in a library or archives, including online cataloging; 2) Knowledge of archival principles of arrangement and description for cataloging, and familiarity with MARC data elements; 3) A working knowledge of Pentecostal history is needed for purposes of cataloging; 4) Computer/PC proficiency. Aptitude to catalog in multiple languages preferred.

Education/Training required:

Master’s Degree in Library/Archival Science or equivalent experience.

Personality qualities required:

Position requires good organizational skills, a high level of concentration, and attention to detail, in order to maintain necessary high quality and consistency.

Salary:

The salary is negotiable and commensurate with experience (Salary Range Code 19).

Job duties:

1) Process/Catalog archival materials.

  • Accession, process, inventory and catalog archival materials and publications;
  • Create MARC-format catalog records for FPHC online catalog;
  • Create word processed finding aids to facilitate access to archives and manuscript collections;
  • Establish name and subject entries and ensure the implementation of current, consistent cataloging standards; and
  • Identify manuscript materials in need of conservation treatment and recommend appropriate treatment.

2) Reference services.

3) Fulfill special tasks assigned by the Director.

______________________

Digital Archivist

Position summary:

The Digital Archivist is a key member of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center’s curatorial and special collections team. S/he will be responsible for overseeing the development of the FPHC website and digital resources.  The Digital Archivist will also process archival materials and supervises Archives Specialists.

Experience required:

1) Two years work experience in a library or archives or in a related history field; 2)  Knowledge of archival principles and procedures; 3) Computer/PC proficiency. Familiarity with scanning, Adobe Acrobat, WordPress, DSpace, CONTENTdm, and video and audio editing preferred.

Education/Training required:

Master’s Degree in Library/Archival Science or equivalent experience.

Personality qualities required:

Position requires good organizational skills, a high level of concentration, and attention to detail, in order to maintain necessary high quality and consistency.

Salary:

The salary is negotiable and commensurate with experience (Salary Range Code 20).

Job duties:
1. Maintain and develop Heritage Center website.

2. Digitize archival materials.

  • Scan, OCR, or capture photographs, text, audio, and video materials according to the accepted archival standards;
  • Assign appropriate identification as well as physical location for files;
  • Provide means for physical and file-format migration when needed; and
  • Establish working relations with outside vendors when assistance is needed.

3. Process paper archival materials as assigned by the Director.

4. Train and supervise part-time Archives Specialists.

5. Other responsibilities.

  • Keep abreast of technology and procedures useful in creating digital access to archival materials;
  • Assist the Director in developing and maintaining digital exhibits in the Museum;
  • Maintain quality control on scanning equipment;
  • Work with freelancers and vendors on projects; and
  • Complete other assignments as delegated by the Director.

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From the Cabaret to Musical Evangelist: Meyer Tan-Ditter, Jewish Assemblies of God Pioneer

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This Week in AG History — September 30, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 29 September 2016

Meyer Tan-Ditter (1896-1962) was an unlikely candidate to become an Assemblies of God evangelist and missionary. Born into an Orthodox Jewish home in London, England, Tan-Ditter abandoned his family’s strict religious standards when he reached adulthood. A gifted musician, he spent seven years playing in cabarets. He spent considerable time at race tracks, where he exercised horses. For nearly five years, he traveled the world in the British Naval Service and the American Merchant Marine. Tan-Ditter later described himself as living “the life of a sailor.” He spread his wings and imbibed deeply in the ways of the world.

A friendship with a Christian woman – known to history only as “Sister Wicks” – changed the trajectory of Tan-Ditter’s life. Wicks, knowing that the young man came from an observant Jewish background, began asking him about his childhood faith. At first, he resented her questions. He was not interested in discussing religion. Furthermore, his family had taught him to distrust Christians.

Wicks continued to show esteem for both Tan-Ditter and for Jewish traditions. Over time, he opened up to her. She asked about his thoughts regarding the identity of the Messiah, but she carefully refrained from mentioning the name of Jesus. Her inquiries sparked questions in Tan-Ditter’s mind. He was already very familiar with the Talmud and the Torah, and he began to suspect that it could be possible that the Messiah had already come.

One night while staying at his parents’ home, something jostled Tan-Ditter awake. He was startled to see a glow with a bright lighting shining in his eyes. The longer he stared at the light, the clearer it became. He soon realized that it was the face of Jesus Christ in the light! He jumped out of bed and ran into the kitchen, nervous and shocked.

His mother came into the kitchen and asked what was wrong. He was not sure what to say. His vision seemed to confirm what he already suspected – that Jesus could be the Messiah. He knew that his family would disown him if he confessed this belief. Finally, he told her that he had just seen Jesus in a vision.

Tan-Ditter’s mother began weeping, thinking that her son must be either crazy or apostate. Rumors circulated about his vision. A little while later his father asked, “What is this I hear? I hear you are becoming a Christian.” Tan-Ditter answered, “I am not becoming one, I have been one for three weeks.” His father immediately kicked his son out of the house and asked him to never return. The local Jewish community ostracized him, and people would come up to him on the streets and mockingly ask him to describe what Jesus looked like. Following Jesus would be costly.

Sister Wicks provided a room for the 25-year-old homeless convert and encouraged him to seek God in prayer. For 10 days, Tan-Ditter spent extended times of prayer on his knees. He asked God to show him whether Isaiah chapter 53 does indeed refer to Jesus. His vision of Jesus as Messiah held fast. His father brought him to two rabbis, who cross-examined the young man. But he held his vision of Jesus close to his heart, and the rabbis could not shake his faith.

Tan-Ditter received another vision. This time he saw an angel carrying a large book come into his room. The angel told him to eat the book, which he did. The next morning he awoke with a great hunger to share the message of Jesus Christ with the Jewish people. This vision propelled Tan-Ditter toward a life of ministry to the Jewish people.

To prepare for this calling, Tan-Ditter attended two Assemblies of God schools. He initially enrolled at Beulah Heights Bible Institute in North Bergen, New Jersey (now University of Valley Forge). After one year, he transferred to Bethel Bible Training School in Newark, New Jersey (now Evangel University). He graduated in 1922, was ordained as an Assemblies of God evangelist in 1924, and married Alice Laura French in 1926. Together, they served in pastoral ministry and became well-known musical evangelists and missionaries.

The Tan-Ditters served as missionaries to the Jewish people in the United States until Meyer’s death in 1962. Alice passed away in 1975. They couple did not have children.

Meyer Tan-Ditter’s testimony illustrates several themes in Pentecostal history. Many early Pentecostal converts testified that signs and wonders drew them to faith. Likewise, Tan-Ditter’s vision confirmed, in his mind, that Jesus was the Messiah. Early Pentecostals also often found that serving Jesus was costly. And Tan-Ditter was not the only early Pentecostal whose Jewish background and knowledge of Hebrew scripture proved to be a strong foundation for Pentecostal faith. Myer Pearlman, the noted Assemblies of God systematic theologian from the 1920s through the 1940s, had a similar testimony. The Assemblies of God, mirroring the Book of Acts, proved fertile ground for both Jews and Gentiles.

Read Meyer Tan-Ditter’s obituary on page 23 of the Sept. 30, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Open Doors in the Congo,” by Gail Winters

• “Dedicated to Sacrifice,” by Anthony Sorbo

• “Pioneering among the Deaf and among the Hearing,” by Maxine Strobridge

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Click here to read Meyer Tan-Ditter’s testimony, “How God Got Hold of a Jew,” published on page 8 of the January 22, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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David Wilkerson’s Warning to the Church: Don’t let your Pentecostal Fire be Replaced by the Fire of Indignation

david-wilkerson

In 1971, amidst riots at home and war in Vietnam, David Wilkerson wrote the following warning to the American church. It speaks directly to American Christians today. Read it carefully. Wilkerson’s greatest concern is not youthful sin and rebellion, but the reactions of Christians.

“There has never been a generation as deeply in trouble as ours. It is corrupted by drugs, crazed by sex, plagued by rebellion and violence.

But we will not lose this generation because of any of these things. Young people now are seeing through the revolution movements. Their leaders are consuming one another with hatred. Their leaders are writing books and making TV appearances and becoming rich capitalists!

No, we will not lose this generation in the ghetto, or in dirty theatres, or on campus. If we lose this generation, it will be lost in the hearts of God’s people! By saints and servants of God who were blind and deaf to the needs and cries of this generation. That is where we will lose this generation.

What we need to reach this generation is a new concept of patience and pity. This generation can be doomed and damned by our unforgiving, impatient spirit locked in the hearts of parents, ministers, and Christian workers.

Some young people today burn and loot. They curse parents. They spit on the flag. They boast about drugs and sex. They dress wild. And it makes our blood boil. Our patriotic spirit is offended. With righteous indignation we demand justice; we fight back with demands for conformity.

Suddenly we are no longer capable of Holy Ghost love. Pentecostal fire is replaced by the fire of indignation. Our love turns to bitterness. And hope turns to despair. Have we forgotten how much God has forgiven us? We have forgotten how patient our God really is!”

–adapted from World Pentecost magazine, Quarter 2, 1971, p. 1.

_______________

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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Filed under Ethics, History, Spirituality

The Healing of William Upshaw: Former Congressman and Presidential Candidate Discards Crutches After 59 Years

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Congressman William D. Upshaw, April 1920

This Week in AG History — September 23, 1951

By Glenn Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 22 September 2016

U.S. Congressman William D. Upshaw (1866-1952), one of the best-known physically disabled American politicians of his era, was healed in a 1951 Pentecostal revival meeting.

Upshaw was a well-known figure in American politics. The Georgia Democrat served four terms in Congress (1919-1927) and was a leading proponent of the temperance movement. He even ran for U.S. President on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1932. His inability to walk without crutches did not prevent him from a life of public service.

Then, near the end of his life, something amazing happened. Upshaw testified that, at age 84, he was miraculously healed on Feb. 8, 1951, in a revival service conducted by Pentecostal evangelists William Branham and Ern Baxter. He was able to walk unassisted for the first time in 59 years, discarding his crutches. His testimony of healing was published 65 years ago in the Sept. 23, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Upshaw related the story of the accident that led to his spinal injury and years of disability: “When I was eighteen years old I fell on a crosspiece in a wagon frame, fracturing my spine.” After the accident, he was bedridden for seven years, and then for the next 59 years he was able to walk with the aid of crutches.

He longed to be instantly healed. “Every time I prayed to be immediately healed,” he wrote, “the Lord seemed to say to me, ‘Not yet! I am going to do something through you in this condition that could not be done otherwise — leave it to Me!’”

Throughout the years, Upshaw made this his motto: “Let nothing discourage you — never give up.” And he didn’t.

In an era when people with physical disabilities often had very limited opportunities, he became a noted politician and public speaker. When he ran for U.S. President on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1932, he received 81,869 votes. Interestingly, he lost to Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was also physically disabled. While Roosevelt hid his inability to walk from the public, Upshaw did not.

Moving to California later in life, Upshaw became vice president and a faculty member of Linda Vista Bible College in San Diego. At age 72, he was ordained as a Baptist minister, and he continued to speak and preach across the nation.

In his 1951 testimony, Upshaw wrote that two years earlier he was healed of cancer on his face after Assemblies of God evangelist Wilbur Ogilvie had prayed for him. With his faith inspired, Upshaw continued to pray for faith to walk unassisted.

Upshaw noted that when he walked into the 1951 Pentecostal meeting where he was healed, he was “leaning on my crutches that had been my ‘buddies,’ my inseparable companions, for 59 of my 66 years as a cripple.” During concerted prayer at the end of the service, the evangelist declared: “the Congressman is healed.” Upshaw recalled that, after the service, “I walked out that night leaving my crutches on the platform, a song of deliverance ringing in my heart in happy consonance with the shouts of victory from those who thronged about me.”

After 66 years, William Upshaw was healed!

Read the article, “84-Year Old Cripple Discards Crutches,” on page 12 of the Sept. 23, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Ministry of Tears,” by Arne Vick

• “Tested but Triumphant,” by J. A. Synan

• “The General Council at a Glance”

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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