C. M. Ward Interviews Florida Governor Reubin Askew: An Example of Integrity During Political Scandals

This Week in AG History —July 13, 1975

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

Charles Morse Ward (1909-1996) is known in the Assemblies of God as a great preacher but he was also one of its most prolific writers. His role as the speaker of the radio program, Revivaltime, provided a platform for printing of sermons, tracts, booklets, and interviews. He previously served as editor of The Pentecostal Testimony, the official publication of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, and he also wrote columns for the local newspaper when pastoring in Bakersfield, California.

Ward’s published interviews on a diverse range of characters, including Colonel Sanders, of restaurant fame. He interviewed scientists, professors, hotel magnates, journalists, businessmen, astronauts, and a circus ringmaster for the Revivaltime tract series.

In the July 13, 1975, issue of The Pentecostal Evangel, Lee Shultz, radio announcer for Revivaltime, reported on Ward’s interview with Reubin Askew (1928-2014), who had just been reelected to his second term as governor of Florida. The race took place during the height of the Nixon Watergate scandal and distrust of government officials was high.

Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Askew’s parents divorced when he was just 2, due primarily to his father’s struggles with alcohol. He never saw his father after age 10 and his mother struggled to raise six children alone through the Great Depression, moving to Pensacola, Florida, in 1937. Askew sold magazines, shined shoes, bagged groceries, and sold his mother’s homemade pies to help supplement his mother’s income as a waitress and seamstress. His mother insisted that he attend church and instilled a love for righteousness that would serve him well.

After graduating from high school in 1946, Askew served as an army paratrooper and then as an intelligence officer in the Air Force during the Korean War. After earning a law degree from the University of Florida, he married Donna Harper in 1956 and won election to the Florida House of Representatives in 1958. He then served in the Florida Senate and in 1970 was elected governor on the Democratic ticket.

Askew, along with Jimmy Carter, was one of the first of the “New South” governors and supported school desegregation, intentionally helping black Floridians to re-enter the political system a short time after the passage of the Voting Acts Right of 1965. He appointed the first African-American to a state government position since Reconstruction, the first African-American to hold a cabinet level office in modern Florida history. He also named the first African-American state supreme court justice at a time when this was not politically expedient.

In Ward’s interview with Askew, the governor highlighted the high importance of prayer in his personal life: “I went through a period between my election and inauguration which probably was the most difficult time of my life. There were pressures. I was trying to form an administration. There are strong temptations to lean toward flesh — toward political expediency. I needed help, and I found help at the Throne. Prayer had always been a very important part of my life. I prayed more earnestly about what to do and how to do it. I would not attempt the burdens of this office without a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

When Ward asked about the political climate of 1975, Askew responded that it had become “a heavy, spiritual burden” that credibility be restored to every level of government. He said that the challenge for our nation in this hour “isn’t finding those with innate ability to provide answers. It is, rather, finding those with strong convictions, willing to seek answers.”

Governor Askew worked hard to live up to his standard of transparency in governing and leading by example. By all accounts, his marriage was a happy one and, unlike his father, he remained faithful to his wife throughout their marriage, leading both of his children to Christ at an early age. Throughout his life, Askew refrained from smoking, drinking, swearing, and gambling.

Askew was a member of a Presbyterian church. However, Ward believed that everyone, regardless of religious affiliation, could benefit from Askew’s example of a faithful public servant in the midst of an era of political crisis.

When Askew died in 2014, it was remarked that at a time of government scandals he established a reputation for personal integrity. His nickname around the statehouse was “Reubin the Good.” While that moniker began as cynical and derisive, one of his political opponents admitted that “he has established a kind of morality in office that causes people to have faith in government.”

At his death, Askew was ranked by the Tampa Bay Times as the second-best governor in Florida history. The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University rated him one of the top 10 governors of the 20th century.

But C.M. Ward gave him an even higher honor: “I saw Jesus in this man.”

Read Lee Shultz’s article, “When the Governor Talked, the Park Became a Chapel” on page 20 of the July 13, 1975, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel and the expanded interview on “The Governor Who Prays,” a Revivaltime miniature tract.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Nothing Short of a Miracle” by Samuel M. Buick

• “Marks of the Millennium” by Ian McPherson

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

100 Years Ago: Mexican Refugees in Texas Minister to African Americans

This Week in AG History — July 8, 1922

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 07 July 2022

The small town of Edna, Texas, was home to an early Assemblies of God congregation of Mexican refugees, whose members engaged in evangelistic work to African-Americans, even while their own legal status was uncertain.

This fascinating story of cross-cultural ministry came about because of an emerging social crisis. Over one million refugees from the Mexican Revolution came to the United States between 1910 and 1920. Many of the newcomers lived in makeshift camps, rife with disease and crime, located along the borderlands. Overwhelmed by this humanitarian crisis, local residents often did not know how to react. Social and political tensions flared in Texas and elsewhere.

Assemblies of God churches and ministers, seeing the unfolding tragedy, committed themselves to offer physical and spiritual assistance to the newcomers. Many Mexican refugees accepted Christ and formed small Asambleas de Dios congregations across the borderlands.

American Assemblies of God leaders were able to assist refugees who faced significant challenges. In one instance, Isabel Flores, a prominent Pentecostal leader among the Mexican refugees, was arrested in May 1918 and incarcerated in the Jackson County jail in Edna. The reason for the arrest is unknown. An account published in 1966 in La Luz Apostolica simply stated, “It was wartime, and the officer did not speak Spanish and Isabel did not speak English.” Henry C. Ball, an Assemblies of God missionary to the Mexicans, came to the aid of Flores. Ball traveled to Edna, where he spoke with the authorities and secured the prisoner’s release.

This brush with the law demonstrated that it was advantageous for Mexican immigrants to work with Americans. Earlier that year, Flores and Ball together had organized the Latin American Conference (later renamed the Latin American District), which brought existing Mexican Pentecostal congregations into the Assemblies of God.

Ball’s status as a native-born American, however, did not prevent him from encountering problems. The Assemblies of God, like many other premillennial American evangelicals, took a pacifist position during World War I. Ball’s work with Hispanics and his church’s pacifism caused government officials to view him with suspicion. Ball was arrested in Brownsville, Texas, on suspicion of being a German spy, but he was soon released.

As superintendent of the Latin American Conference, Ball traveled extensively and ministered among the Mexican immigrants.

In 1922, Ball returned to Edna, Texas, where he found an unexpected surprise. In a July 8, 1922, article in the Pentecostal Evangel, Ball reported that the Hispanic congregation maintained an active outreach to African-Americans, despite the language barrier.

The congregation met for worship in a private home located about three miles from Edna. Ball noted that about 30 Mexicans gathered for worship in a large room, and that an additional group of African-Americans joined them. The African-Americans, Ball observed, “have learned to sing the Spanish songs with the Mexicans, even though they know very little Spanish.”

Ball stated that the African-Americans “are anxious to hear Pentecost preached in their own language.” He lamented that “a white man could hardly preach to them in this part of the country,” presumably referring to Jim Crow laws that prevented whites and blacks from mixing.

The Mexican refugees could have used their own plight as an excuse to keep to themselves and to concentrate on building up their own community. But this marginalized group instead reached out to others who were likewise excluded from the benefits of mainstream American culture. Instead of dwelling on what they could not do, they found an area of ministry in which they had an advantage over white Americans. The Mexican immigrants were not subject to Jim Crow laws and could freely minister to African-Americans. When the Mexican immigrants sought to share God’s love with others, their seeming cultural disadvantage became an advantage.

Read the article by H.C. Ball, “The Work Prospering on the Mexican Border,” on page 13 of the July 8, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Whose Faith Follow: Important Lessons Learned from a Pentecostal Revival [Irvingites] of Nearly a Hundred Years Ago,” by A.E. Saxby

• “Very Fine Needlework,” by Grace E. Thompson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Read about the arrests of Isabel Flores and H. C. Ball in “Historia de los Primeros 50 Años de las Asambleas de Dios Latinas,” on pages 2 and 12 of the April 1966 issue of La Luz Apostolica.

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

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Nazi Rocket Scientist Wernher von Braun Converted to Christ, Interviewed in 1966 by C. M. Ward

C.M. Ward interviews Dr. Wernher von Braun (center) in his office at the Space Center headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama, May 9, 1966. Lee Shultz (right) looks on.

This Week in AG History — June 26, 1966

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 30 June 2022

Wernher von Braun (1912-1977), one of Nazi Germany’s leading rocket scientists, became a pioneer in America’s space program following World War II. But it was von Braun’s conversion to Christ that captured the attention of Assemblies of God radio preacher C.M. Ward. Ward interviewed the scientist in 1966, during which von Braun described the relationship between his newfound faith and his lifework in science.

Von Braun’s interest in rocket science had been sparked by a desire to explore space, but he came to regret that his work was being used to cause tremendous destruction of human life. He had developed the V-1 and V-2 rockets, which allowed Germany to pummel Allied targets up to 500 miles away during World War II. The rockets, manufactured by slave labor, indiscriminately killed thousands of people.

Sensing disloyalty, the Gestapo arrested von Braun in 1944 and charged him with espionage. Von Braun’s work was deemed essential to the success of the war effort, so Nazi leader Albert Speer intervened and ordered the release of the scientist. When American soldiers marched into central Germany in May 1945, they found that von Braun had organized the surrender of 500 of his top scientists, along with plans and test vehicles.

Von Braun and his German scientists were relocated to the United States, where they became indispensable to the development of American military and space programs. Von Braun’s life had changed drastically within the course of a year. But it was in a little church in El Paso, Texas, that von Braun experienced a spiritual transformation that would change him from the inside out.

In Germany, von Braun had been nominally Lutheran but functionally atheist. He had no interest in religion or God. In Texas, while living at Fort Bliss, a neighbor invited him to church. He went, expecting to find the religious equivalent of a country club. Instead, he found a small white frame building with a vibrant congregation of people who loved the Lord. He realized that he had been morally adrift and that he needed to surrender himself to God. He converted to Christ and, over the coming years, became quite outspoken in his evangelical faith and frequently addressed the complementarity of faith and science.

C.M. Ward’s 1966 interview of von Braun took place in Huntsville, Alabama, at the George Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA), where he served as director. Von Braun contrasted the large empty cathedrals of Europe to the large numbers of churches he found in Texas, many meeting in temporary buildings, pastored by “humble preachers driving second-hand buses,” who led “thriving congregations.” The German scientist was impressed and noted: “Here is a growing, aggressive church and not a dignified, half-dead institution. Here is spiritual life.”

Ward published von Braun’s story and his thoughts on faith and science in an article in the June 2, 1966, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, as well as in a 15-page booklet, The Farther We Probe into Space, the Greater My Faith (Gospel Publishing House, 1966), of which almost 500,000 copies were published.

Read the article by Lee Shultz, “Revivaltime Speaker C.M. Ward Interviews Dr. Wernher von Braun,” on page 26-27 of the June 26, 1966, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Circuit-riding Chaplain,” by Richard D. Wood

• “I Discovered God in the Manned Spacecraft Center,” by David L. Johnson

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

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A.G. Ward: The Canadian Pentecostal Pioneer Who Was Converted During His Own Sermon

This Week in AG History —June 22, 1946

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 23 June 2022

A.G. (Alfred George) Ward (1881-1960), a Pentecostal pioneer in Canada, was an example of an unconverted minister. According to his own account, he began in ministry as a Methodist circuit-riding preacher — before he became a Christian. He later converted during his own sermon!

Ward shared this humorous anecdote in the June 22, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He became a prominent Canadian camp-meeting speaker and evangelist, but was possibly best known as the father of longtime Revivaltime speaker C.M. Ward. 

A.G. Ward took great care to preach about the importance of having a vibrant spiritual life, as he knew from experience how easy it is to possess a form of religion without substance. His sermons frequently focused on the threefold theme of his life: salvation, consecration, and divine healing, all accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. His messages resonated with listeners across North America.

A.G. Ward’s father, an alcoholic, died when his son was only 2 months old. The strain of struggling alone to raise four children took its toll, and Ward’s mother died when he was 13. Just before his mother’s death, he attended a Methodist revival meeting. Although he felt a desire to become a Christian, the church leader who spoke with him only encouraged him to believe the Scriptures. Ward did not have an understanding of repentance or the availability of power to live a Christian life. 

Nevertheless, young Alfred wanted to be a preacher. After finishing high school, he was appointed as a Methodist circuit-rider on the western frontier of the Canadian Rockies. At the time, young preachers were expected to receive practical experience as ministers before receiving education. During these early meetings, he preached the Bible; but he did not truly know God. His preaching lacked power, conviction, and results.

In the Pentecostal Evangel article, he recalled, “On my second circuit as a Methodist preacher … during a series of special meetings while I was doing the preaching, I was converted. I was the only convert in a week’s meetings, but I have always been thankful and a few others have been saved since, as a result of the preacher getting converted.”

It was not long after this experience that Ward met a group of Methodists in northwestern Canada who taught holiness and believed that Jesus healed people in answer to the prayer of faith. Ward met Christian and Missionary Alliance founder A.B. Simpson, a teacher of divine healing. 

Simpson sent Ward to begin an Alliance work in Winnipeg, where he met and married a Mennonite evangelist, Mary Markle. In 1907, at a holiness prayer meeting in Winnipeg, they both received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This ended their affiliation with both the Mennonites and the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

A.G. and Mary took a step of faith and, in 1909, organized one of the first Pentecostal camp meetings held in Ontario. The young evangelists had no money to give in the offering at the camp meeting. However, they felt impressed to physically place their infant son, Charles Morse Ward, in the offering basket as their gift to God’s work. They did so, and young C. M. grew up with a calling to the ministry from a young age.

After the meeting, Ward raised funds by selling his tent to another young Canadian evangelist, future Foursquare Gospel Church founder Aimee Semple McPherson, and began holding meetings in schoolhouses, churches, and other places across Canada and later throughout the U.S. 

Ward not only preached consecration, he modeled it in his own life. C.M. Ward, in a Revivaltime booklet titled Intimate Glimpses of My Father’s Life, described his father’s deep spiritual life. The younger Ward wrote, “I would rather have been born in such a home than have the honor of sitting in the White House.”  C.M. credited the example of his father’s message of holy consecration, lived out through the power of the Holy Spirit, as his own model for ministry. 

Read the full sermon “Christ or Self — Which Shall It Be” on page 3 of the June 22, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel

Also featured in this issue:

• “Signs of the Times,”by Ralph M. Riggs

• “A Harvest of Souls in Jamaica,” by Harvey McAlister

• “How to Have Revival,” by George T.B. Davis

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

From Fascism to Christ: Bruno Frigoli Fought for Mussolini, Found Christ, and Became an Assemblies of God Leader in Bolivia

Bruno Frigoli (right), who ministered to Colonel Banzer’s soldiers in 1958, presenting a Bible to Hugo Banzer, president of Bolivia, in 1972.

This Week in AG History — June 18, 1972

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, June 16, 2022

In his teenage years, Bruno Frigoli was an Italian soldier and fought for Mussolini in World War II. After he was tried and acquitted of war crimes, he decided to start a new life in Bolivia, where he converted to Christ. Bruno became an Assemblies of God minister and missionary, serving in both Bolivia and the United States.

Bruno Robert Frigoli (1926-2020) was born in Ronchi dei Legionari, Northern Italy. His father was a lieutenant colonel in the Italian army, and at the age of 17, Bruno joined the war effort as a soldier under Mussolini. He attended a military college in Italy and trained for specialized anti-guerilla operations. He received several commendations for his work in this kind of warfare. He became a first lieutenant in the Italian army with the special troops of the Alps and took part in several dangerous missions.

In his last mission, before the collapse of the Italian army, he and a fellow officer were chosen to scout out an area, and they were ambushed. The other officer was killed by a barrage of bullets. Frigoli’s ear was grazed, so he decided to lay down on the ground next to the other officer to pretend he also had been killed. Later that night, once the coast was clear, he crawled and staggered back to camp, bringing the body of his comrade with him so that he would have the honor of a military funeral.

When the war ended, Frigoli and other Italian officers were confined to a prison at Sondrio, Italy. Over time, each of them were brought to trial for their war crimes, and 12 out of 13 of them were executed. Only Bruno remained. When it was his turn to come to trial, the Catholic chaplain took the opportunity to speak favorably of Bruno. He said that Bruno was a kind-hearted man. He could not be a brutal killer and was only carrying out orders. Something changed the attitude of the prosecutor, and suddenly he pronounced that Officer Frigoli should be freed. The judge said, “Cleared. Not guilty! You are free to go.”

Even with his freedom, there were still people who wanted Bruno dead because of his previous involvement with the Fascist army. He determined that he must leave Italy. He managed to scrape up enough money to travel to Argentina to begin a new life, and there he became a construction foreman under the Argentine government, overseeing a thousand workers. He married a hometown sweetheart from Italy named Tilly, and they had three children together. Even with successes in his life, he felt unsettled.

Eventually a friend convinced Bruno that riches awaited him in the jungles of northern Bolivia. He left his construction business in Bariloche, Argentina, and went to the Beni area of Bolivia in search of gold. After discouraging results from the search for gold, he established himself in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, working in the lumber industry. He became the manager of a sawmill that his wife’s family had purchased.

One day Bruno was traveling from Santa Cruz toward the jungle. He flung his army shirt over the back of the seat. After several hours he noticed the shirt was gone, and it had all his important documents in it. By this time it was getting dark. What was he going to do? He came across two women, Pearl Estep and Flora Shafer, who were Assemblies of God missionaries. They were traveling toward Santa Cruz. He told them about losing the shirt somewhere along the way. He asked if they would look for it and return it to him when he came back to the city. If they found it, the best place to meet, they said, was the church.

Bruno agreed to meet them at their church on his return trip. He arrived at the church in time for the morning service, and he met the pastor, missionary Everett Hale. The pastor told him the women had not returned, but if he would come to the evening service, he could talk to them. The women came to the evening service, but they had been unable to locate the shirt.

Bruno was not very impressed with the little church and was disappointed that his shirt was not found. But something about the church caused him to return. On Good Friday, April 3, 1953, a guest preacher from the Salvation Army preached. Bruno and his brother-in-law, Leonardo, both were in attendance. The message was about the Prodigal Son, and both of the men felt like they needed God. They both went forward at the altar call and prayed for salvation. One year later, Bruno received the baptism in the Holy Spirit at a church in La Paz, Bolivia.

Soon after this, Bruno began preparing for ministry. He became a Sunday School superintendent and pioneered a new assembly at the edge of the jungle. He was anxious to serve God in any way possible. He asked himself repeatedly, “Am I doing enough?” He wanted to step into full-time ministry.

Then tragedy struck. The Frigolis were in a terrible auto accident, and Tilly was killed. Bruno suffered major injuries and was flown back to Italy to recover. His three children were placed with Tilly’s parents. He eventually returned to Bolivia, and he became a full-time pastor.

Bruno received local ordination in December 1961. He attended Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri, in 1962. During this same time he met his wife, Frances Ruth (Hiddema) Frigoli, who was serving as a missionary nurse in Bolivia. They were married on June 18, 1962.

Bruno received U.S. ordination through the New Jersey District in October 1967 while serving as a missionary. At that time he was pastor of the Evangelistic Center of the Assemblies of God, which was Bolivia’s largest Protestant church and located in the heart of La Paz, the capital city. He also served as the national secretary before becoming general superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Bolivia. He was an international Bible teacher, and he also was in charge of a night Bible school in Bolivia. He served on various boards, including the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization.

The Frigolis served together as missionaries in Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina for 30 years. They also worked for LIFE Publishers. Frances passed away in July 2019, and Bruno passed away on May 10, 2020, in Grandville, Michigan.

In an interview with Bruno Frigoli in 1972, he shared about his amazing conversion and his subsequent missionary work in Bolivia and Latin America. He had been trained to fight in anti-guerrilla warfare in the Alps of Italy and ended up becoming a soldier of the Cross in the Andes of South America.

Frigoli’s story was also featured in a Revivaltime booklet produced by C. M. Ward that outlined his testimony of a former Fascist who later served Christ as a missionary in Bolivia.

Read “From the Alps to the Andes” on page 24 of the June 18, 1972, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Day That Changed My Life,” by Glen Bonds

• “Outreach to a College Community”

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

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

These Assemblies of God Missionaries Fought Sex Trafficking in Japan over 100 Years Ago

This Week in AG History — June 9, 1917

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 09 June 2022

The June 9, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel featured a shocking photograph on its front cover — a picture of 10 female prostitutes in Japan, locked behind a window with bars. The caption read, “Sold! Carest thou not that we perish?” This image of sexual slavery was intended to provoke readers to pray for and support the ministry of William and Mary Taylor, early Assemblies of God missionaries who helped to free women involved in prostitution in Japan.

The caption beneath the photograph further described the plight of the women: “Sold to work evil, the conditions of thousands of these poor girls is indeed pitiful. These hopeless slaves are dolled up, painted and powdered, and then exposed to the gaze of every passerby, whose trade they are expected to solicit.”

The Taylors and their ministry colleagues, through the Door of Hope Mission in Kobe, Japan, worked tirelessly to free woman who found themselves caught in a life of sex trafficking. Prostitution had been first legalized in Japan 300 years earlier, in 1617. In an article in The Weekly Evangel, William Taylor described the disastrous consequences of the sex trade. He pled for readers to pray for the women — whom he called “somebody’s daughter, somebody’s sister.”

Christians must not be silent about the evil of sex trafficking, Taylor warned. He cited Scripture, “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).

William and Mary Taylor, citizens of Great Britain, first arrived as missionaries in Japan in 1905 and were sent by the Japan Evangelistic Band, an evangelical missions organization. William Taylor was the second cousin of Hudson Taylor of the China Inland Mission. They returned to Britain on furlough in 1910 and were baptized in the Holy Spirit. They transferred their credentials to the Pentecostal Missionary Union of Great Britain and returned to Japan in 1913, and then to the American Assemblies of God in 1917. They were among the earliest Pentecostal missionaries to Japan, and they continued their work with victims of Japanese sex trafficking into the 1920s.

The story of the William and Mary Taylor illustrates that veteran evangelical missionaries became some of the first Pentecostal missionaries, and that the Assemblies of God, since its earliest years, has supported ministry to meet the deepest spiritual and social needs of people around the world.

Read the article by William J. Taylor, “So I Opened My Mouth,” on pages 1 and 3 of the June 9, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Pictures of Pentecost in the Old Testament,” by Alice E. Luce

• “Sweet Smelling Roses on Thorny Bushes, or God’s Encouragement Along the Way,” by Max Freimark

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel and The Weekly 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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Aaron A. Wilson: Assemblies of God Pioneer in Puxico and Kansas City, Missouri

This Week in AG History — June 04, 1972

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, June 02, 2022

Aaron Aubrey Wilson (1891-1984), better known as A.A. Wilson, was a pastor, evangelist, district superintendent, and executive presbyter with the Assemblies of God. Wilson had a long and fruitful ministry. Historian William Menzies called him a real “war horse” of the Assemblies of God.

In a testimony in 1939, Wilson said, “Like Amos I am not the son of a prophet, I made my start as a farmer. God called me from between a pair of plow handles when I was plowing with a pair of Missouri mules, blessed my life with the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire, spoke to me and said, ‘Go,’ and I have been going now for 18 years.” He was proud to have grown up on a farm, and he felt his upbringing helped him to reach out to all kinds of people. Wilson said he was not blessed with the privilege of going to Bible school, but he spent a lot of time on his knees with his Bible, and he was privileged to see quite a few people pray through to salvation and to the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Wilson was born Oct. 3, 1891, in Farrenburg, Missouri. He married Louise Cruchon on Feb. 8, 1910, in Cairo, Illinois. Wilson’s conversion and baptism in the Spirit came after he was married. He entered the ministry at age 28 and was ordained by the Southern Missouri district on Aug. 25, 1922.

Wilson’s first pastorate was at Puxico, Missouri, from 1923 to 1926, where the church grew to over 200 members. In 1924 he was elected secretary of the Southern Missouri district, and in 1925 he was elected assistant district superintendent. He then served as Southern Missouri district superintendent from 1926 to 1931.

In 1928, Wilson helped start First Assembly of God in Kansas City, Missouri (now Evangel Church), where he was elected the pastor in April 1930. Sunday School was an important part of Wilson’s ministry. Around 100 people attended Sunday School when he first came to the church. By 1937, the Sunday School was averaging close to 800 people with 1,000 attending on Easter Sunday. He was especially proud to have a large men’s Sunday School class. The church went through several building programs while Wilson was pastor. He spent 31 years with that congregation, retiring in May 1961. During his time as pastor, the church mothered 10 other churches in the area. He also served as a general presbyter (1926-1937) and as an executive presbyter (1937-1963).

In retirement, he was a popular speaker at revivals and camp meetings. In 1969, he was asked to pastor a small group of believers in Springfield, Missouri, which later became Park Crest Assembly of God (now Life360 Church). He continued as pastor until 1972. By then he was 81 years old.

Wilson became a spiritual father to many through his years of pastoral ministry and through the revivals he preached in various places. Stewart H. Robinson, who pastored various churches in Southern Missouri, was saved as a teenager under Wilson’s ministry and counted him as a spiritual father. Robinson said, “I always recognized him, not only as a ‘Prince of Preachers,’ but also as a practicer of what he proclaimed and preached.”

Mark Buntain, well-known missionary to Calcutta, India, received his call to the mission field while attending a camp meeting that Wilson preached at Braeside Camp in Ontario, Canada. Some other pastors and missionaries who counted him as their spiritual father included Bob Mackish, missionary to Austria and Russia; Aaron Rothganger, missionary to the Philippines and the Far East; Bob Crabtree, who became Ohio district superintendent; children’s evangelists, Charles and Irene Senechal; Army chaplain Chuck Adams; and missionary David K. Irwin.

A.A. Wilson passed away on Nov. 6, 1984, in Springfield, Missouri, at the age of 93. Wilson and his wife are both buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.

Wilson published some small booklets and two books, The Gospel Reveille and Things Most Surely Believed Among Us. He also wrote a number of articles for the Pentecostal Evangel.

Fifty years ago, A.A. Wilson wrote an article called “Hands That Speak,” found on page 2 of the June 4, 1972, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Miracles Make the Difference,” by Joe Contreras

• “God Had a Better Idea,” by C.M. Ward

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dutch Pentecostal Pioneer Gerrit Polman: Spiritual Unity Should Accompany Revival

This Week in AG History — May 29, 1926

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 26 May 2022

Gerrit R. Polman (1868-1932) is regarded as the founder of the Pentecostal movement in the Netherlands. Polman was originally a member of the Reformed Church and joined the Salvation Army in 1890. Influenced by reports of revivals in Wales and at Azusa Street in Los Angeles, Polman and his small congregation in Amsterdam identified with the Pentecostal movement in 1907.

Polman wrote a historical account of Dutch Pentecostalism, which was published in the May 29, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Polman recounted testimonies of how lives were transformed. He recalled that in one city, “The sick were healed, demons cast out, souls saved, and other manifestations of the power of God were given.” This pattern was repeated, with some variations, in cities and villages throughout the nation.

According to Polman, people who experienced God’s power did not stay the same. He wrote, “What a wonderful change it brings in our lives when the Holy Spirit comes in, in Pentecostal power; how it changed our conduct, our hearts, and lives; what a fellowship in the Spirit with our risen Lord!”

Polman used his article about Pentecostalism in his corner of the world to encourage unity among Pentecostals everywhere. He gave praise to God for “the unity in the Spirit” that existed among Dutch Pentecostals. He believed that this unity would be “a testimony in the midst of the spiritual deadness.” One’s Christian citizenship, he argued, should outweigh all earthly allegiances: “by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether we be American or Dutch, English or German.” He continued, “The body of Christ is a new race of people, born from heaven, and as such, they are a heavenly people, seeking the things which are above.”

Polman was a Pentecostal leader in his nation, but he grasped a vision of the body of Christ that was much bigger than the churches he oversaw. A similar vision for Pentecostal unity, grounded in God’s Word and for the purpose of worldwide evangelization, also energized the founders of the Assemblies of God in 1914. Early Pentecostals recognized the tensions between heavenly and earthly allegiances, and they regularly encouraged believers to seek unity by forming their identity around biblical ideals.

Read the entire article by G.R. Polman, “The Pentecostal Work in Holland,” on pages 2-3 of the May 29, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Newspapers Report Mrs. McPherson Drowned”

• “Pentecostal Power,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Brother Wigglesworth in Ceylon,” by Walter H. C. Clifford

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Owen Carr, Still Ministering at 99: Assemblies of God Pastor, TV Station Founder, College President

This Week in AG History —May 21, 1961

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 19 May 2022

Owen C. Carr has served the Assemblies of God as a pastor, evangelist, district and national youth leader, television producer, fundraiser, general presbyter, college president, and assistant district superintendent – but at heart he has always been, first and foremost, a preacher of the Word of God who seeks to see souls saved.

Born to an Oklahoma farmer in 1923, Carr grew up loving the Bible and the church. Before he was able to read, his mother saw that he was able to memorize Scripture, and required the quoting of a Scripture verse before releasing him for play.

Even though his early childhood was in a devout Methodist home, he still keenly felt that he needed God. When he was 10 years old, four of the churches in Kaw City, Oklahoma, got together for meetings in the high school auditorium. The Methodist evangelist, George Rose, said to those gathered, “I want to preach so simply that a 6-year old child will understand and no one will be able to say that they cannot understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.” That night, Carr went to the altar and wept as though his heart would break at the realization of his own sinfulness. The next day, he took his Bible and found a place to be alone with God – a practice that he has continued for 89 years.

When war was declared during Carr’s senior year in high school in 1941, the future seemed uncertain. Not knowing what was coming in the world, Carr married his girlfriend, Priscilla Seidner, on Jan. 1, 1942, less than a month after the war declaration. It was not long after this that Carr felt a call to preach. When he asked the superintendent of the Kansas district what he should do, he was told, “There is a church in Gerlane with hardly any people. You can’t do much damage there. Let’s try it out.” The 19-year-old pastor and his brand-new wife arrived to find a town of about 25 people with a church of just a few folks who had served God longer than their pastors had been alive. Carr hired himself out as a farmhand and began his ministry by cutting the weeds in front of the church.

The recent high school graduate knew he was inadequate for the job and went to the Lord in prayer, “God, I don’t know why You called me. I have no special talents. I can’t sing. I’m not even that smart.” Carr felt the response from the Lord to be, “These people will not answer for what you think or what you know. Just give them My Word. They will be held accountable for that.”

From that time, Owen Carr became a student and a preacher of the Bible. He made it a goal to read the Bible through once a year. After achieving that goal, he marked off enough pages in his Bible to read it twice a year. Then three times a year. With this method he developed his Bible knowledge and began to see connections in the Scriptures, giving him plenty of material to use in his preaching. From his earliest days, his sermons were full of biblical references.

After serving as a pastor for several years, Carr was chosen as the Kansas district leader of the youth department, Christ’s Ambassadors, and on May 21, 1961, the Pentecostal Evangel announced that he had been chosen to travel for the national youth department to represent the Speed-the-Light youth missionary program. This gave the young preacher an opportunity to travel broadly and, though his primary responsibility was to raise money for missionary endeavors, he was convicted that, after giving his short appeal for funds, he must open the Scriptures to the youth who gathered to hear him. God was faithful and the youth gave generously. Just one year later, Carr was named as the head of the youth department of the Assemblies of God.

One of Carr’s passions during his time as national youth secretary was to raise up biblically literate young people who would use their gifts in ministry. He stated, “their talents need to be challenged and channeled. If we fail to use their abilities and influence … we not only do them an injustice, but we miss their important contribution to the cause of Christ.” As a result of this passion, two continuing youth ministries were born during Carr’s tenure: Teen Bible Quiz and Teen Talent (now Fine Arts).

Carr would go on from the position of national youth secretary to pastor six more churches, including the historic Stone Church of Chicago, and establish television Channel 38 as a venue for preaching the Word of God in Chicagoland. He also served as president of Valley Forge Christian College (now University of Valley Forge) where he put his primary focus on raising up preachers of the gospel. Serving as an evangelist in the 1980s, Carr did much to promote urban church planting for the Decade of Harvest initiative.

After it became difficult for Priscilla to travel with him, the couple moved to Springfield, Missouri, where, in their 80s, they planted a new church in the downtown area. When Priscilla passed away in 2011, Carr married Norma Lee Shoults Fite and moved to Maranatha Village where, at age 99, he continues to preach any time the opportunity presents itself and to contribute to the raising up of young preachers through the Pastor and Mrs. Owen C. Carr Scholarship Fund. He also still takes time to read the Bible, having just completed his 122nd cycle of reading Genesis through Revelation. While Carr has served capably in many areas of ministry, he hopes that his primary legacy will be as a preacher of the Word.

Read the article, “Owen Carr Joins National C.A. Staff,” on page 27 of the May 21, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue

• “Apostolic Christianity” by Thomas F. Zimmerman

• “Revivals in Colombia” by Verlin E. Stewart

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

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized