Walter Higgins: Miracles in the Ministry of a Pentecostal Pioneer

Higgins WalterThis Week in AG History — May 1, 1943

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 3 May 2018 

Walter J. Higgins (1884-1960) was one of the charter members of the Assemblies of God. When the Hot Springs, Arkansas, convention was held in April 1914, he attended as a pastor from Essex, Missouri, along with his family. He pioneered a number of churches in the bootheel of Missouri and also pastored churches in Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and many other places.

Seventy-five years ago, in 1943, he was pastoring First Assembly in Russellville, Arkansas, and he made a visit to the Gospel Publishing House in Springfield, Missouri, where he was interviewed, and his testimony was shared with the world.

Higgins said, “I began my ministry in 1911, three months after I was converted.” At that time he held some evangelistic meetings with a man named John Brown near Shawneetown, Illinois, and 81 souls were saved. Then Higgins came to Missouri. From 1912 to 1920 he helped establish 13 churches.

One of the churches was in Canalou, Missouri, where he was assisted by W. W. Childers. He reported that 100 souls were converted during the time he ministered there, although he endured a whipping for the sake of the gospel. After the beating, he went to a believer’s house. It was obvious what had happened to him as even his face was badly beaten. The woman questioned, “What has happened?” Higgins said, “I received a few stripes for Jesus Christ’s sake.” After she prayed and laid hands on his face, he revealed, “The Lord healed me excepting for a few marks.”

After leaving Canalou, Higgins evangelized and pastored churches in 18 states. In Alton, Illinois, Higgins says he preached healing and the people practiced it. People called him for prayer at all hours of the night. In one incident a 3-year-old child was sick and died with a doctor present. The family asked Higgins to come and pray, and he did. Higgins says that after he prayed, the child “opened its eyes and coughed, and the doctor said he had never seen a person survive after being dead.” The doctor attributed it to prayer.

Telling about other healings, Higgins recalled, “I have seen a limb shorter than the other made as long as the other.” He also shared, “One man totally blind was made to see in just a few minutes at Hot Springs, in 1914.” He saw another man healed of pellagra. And while living in Essex, Missouri, he saw three deaf people healed and begin to speak clearly. He also described a case of deliverance from demons. At a meeting in 1920, a man came to the altar, crawling on his stomach and hissing like a snake. Higgins declared, “This is demon power.” Higgins and two others prayed for the man, and he was delivered and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Higgins told how the Lord provided for his large family, which eventually grew to 17 children. In his early ministry he only had one suit of clothes, and it got dirty. He took the clothes to the cleaners “by faith.” He tried to find some work to earn some money, but nothing was available. He continued to pray, and three miles outside of the town he found a silver dollar, which was more than he needed to pay for the cleaning.

Another time he shared that all the family had to eat was potatoes and molasses. They had just settled into a new pastorate. “We had no salt, no shortening, no bread, no flour,” he said. “We boiled the potatoes in water, peeled them and soaked them in the molasses for three days.” Higgins and his family prayed for God to supply their needs. One evening he went to build a fire in the stove, and he found a basket was on the church platform. Higgins reported, “In this basket was flour, butter, bacon, sugar, salt, pepper, and some other articles that I had not asked the Lord for.” He did not know where this basket came from, for the doors had been locked. Once again, God had supplied his needs.

Read the article, “Recollections of a Pioneer Pentecostal Preacher,” on pages 6-7 of the May 1, 1943, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Need of Spiritual Mothers,” by Alice E. Luce

• “By My Spirit, Saith the Lord,” by Wilfred A. Brown

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Further information can be found in “Pioneering in Pentecost: The Experiences of Walter J. Higgins,” on pages 18-22, 34-35 of the Summer 1997 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage.

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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American Indian College: New Campus Dedicated 50 Years Ago

AIBCThis Week in AG History — April 28, 1968

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 26 April 2018 

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) American Indian College was founded Sept. 23, 1957, by Alta M. Washburn and her husband Clarence, under the name All Tribes Indian Bible School. They saw a great need to prepare Native Americans for church ministry. Classes first met on the church campus of All Tribes Assembly of God in downtown Phoenix. In 1967 the school was renamed American Indian Bible Institute (AIBI) and became a regional school of the Assemblies of God.

The school dedicated its current 10-acre site in a north Phoenix neighborhood in 1968. The Pentecostal Evangel reported that a number of district and national officials as well as staff members and students of the school, home missionaries, and friends from several states gathered for the dedication service.

It was an outdoor convocation held near the base of a towering lava hill in northeast Phoenix. Curtis W. Ringness, national secretary of the Home Missions Department, was master of ceremonies. The all-Indian AIBI choir sang several special songs for the dedication, and each member gave a brief, inspiring testimony. Eleven North American tribes from six states were represented in the school’s choir.

Charles W. H. Scott, executive director of Home Missions and chairman of the board of directors of the school, was the guest speaker. In his message titled “Vision and Task,” he challenged those in attendance “to believe God for the erection of needed buildings on the new site.” He reminded the audience that both vision and task was necessary to carry the building program through to completion. “A vision is but a fleeting dream without undertaking actual labor,” said Scott. “The task is just drudgery without a real vision.

Scott said he was anxious to see a classroom building constructed on the very place where the dedication was being held. He appealed to those in attendance to pray with him for the fulfillment of that desire. He reported on the progress of the Institute, mentioning among other things that an architect had been appointed by the school board to prepare the first blueprints for construction. Two dormitories, a dining hall-kitchen complex, and a classroom building were planned for the first phase of the relocation. Additional funds were needed to pay for the property as well as the new construction. A group called Friends of Indian Missions was dedicated to help with the fundraising efforts

The move to the new campus was completed in 1970. Just as Scott had envisioned, the main building for the school was erected in front of the towering lava hill, where the dedication service had been held two years earlier.

The school changed its name from AIBI to American Indian Bible College in 1982. The college received regional accreditation in 1988 and later changed its name to American Indian College of the Assemblies of God (AIC) in 1994. In 2016, AIC partnered with SAGU, Waxahachie, Texas, becoming SAGU American Indian College. It is one of 17 endorsed schools of higher education in the Assemblies of God.

Read the article, “New Campus Site for Indian Bible School Dedication,” on pages 14-15 of the April 28, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Verdict,” by Revivaltime Evangelist C. M. Ward

• “God Is for Squares,” by David Wilkerson

• “Strong Crying and Tears,” by Evangelist Arne Vick

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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Lula Bell Hough: Missionary to China and Japanese P.O.W.

Lula Bell HoughThis Week in AG History — April 21, 1934

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 19 April 2018

Lula Bell Hough (1906-2002) did not take the easy road in life. She sensed God’s call to ministry and was credentialed as an Assemblies of God missionary at the age of 23. She left her comfortable life in America and devoted herself to sharing the gospel in China, where she spent the next 45 years. As an unmarried woman in her 20s and 30s, she endured great deprivation and the ravages of war.

Hough’s greatest challenge on the mission field came during World War II, when she spent seven and one-half months as a Japanese prisoner of war. She did not know whether she would survive the ordeal, which began in December 1941. She later recalled that soldiers kept placing their bayonets to her throat, threatening to kill her. Women around her were raped, and thousands died from starvation. Some resorted to eating human flesh to survive. For the first two weeks of her captivity, she lived on nothing but wheat that was wormy and moldy. After that, she was given small food rations. The food was enough to keep her alive, but she lost 38 pounds in about six months. She was freed in a prisoner exchange — American prisoners were swapped for Japanese prisoners of war.

Living in difficult circumstances for over a decade in China had prepared Hough for the hardship of the prisoner-of-war camp. Hough sent regular letters to her supporters back in the United States. One of these letters, published in the April 21, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, described a trip to areas in south China where there were no Christians.

Hough humorously described having to share her accommodations with loud farm animals:

“When we reached the inn we were soaking wet and cold. After warming ourselves by an open fire in the center of the room we retired to our room. Cobwebs were hanging everywhere, and one corner was occupied by geese, which entertained us with special music at intervals during the night. Our room was really a hall where people had to pass through, and our bed was only a board. The next night we spent in Sha Hoh, and were thankful to find no geese in our room, but soon discovered there were pigs in the room just below us.”

New Christians often suffered for their faith. Hough described several instances of persecution in heart-wrenching detail. She wrote that one 18-year-old woman was beaten by her husband because of her newfound faith. Her mother-in-law scratched the young woman’s face until there were “deep sores and scars.” The villagers joined in the persecution, encouraging the family to sell the young wife into slavery if she didn’t recant her faith in Christ.

Why did Hough and other early missionaries leave their homes in the West and endure difficulties? They were motivated to be faithful to Christ in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Hough explained, “In some of these villages we were the first foreigners the villagers had ever seen, and in many, the first to preach the gospel. God has promised that His Word shall not return unto Him void, so we believe that if we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, He will be faithful in drawing souls unto himself.”

Lula Bell Hough’s life illustrates the early Pentecostal worldview that encouraged full consecration to Christ and His mission. Hough and countless other Assemblies of God missionaries spent their lives sharing the gospel, at great personal cost, and helped to lay the foundation for a worldwide Fellowship that now numbers over 68 million adherents.

Read the entire article by Lula Bell Hough, “Missionary Travels, S. China,” on pages 8-9 of the April 21, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Revelation of the Love of God,” by Kate Knight

• “Spiritual Awaking Follows Earthquake,” by Hilda Wagenknecht

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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Ruthie Oberg on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation


Reformation Day Chapel from Assemblies of God USA on Vimeo.

Rev. Ruthie Oberg was the featured speaker for a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation at the Assemblies of God National Office chapel in Springfield, Missouri, on October 31, 2017. Watch her rousing history lesson above.

Ruthie Oberg, an events speaker with the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, is available to speak at your church or district function. Ruthie’s sermons and presentations about Pentecostal history are educational, entertaining, inspirational, and convicting.

Ruthie is an ordained Assemblies of God minister and has served in senior and associate pastoral roles for 25 years. She speaks at national conferences and has also produced a daily radio program. Her articles have appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel, Enrichment, and Assemblies of God Heritage, and she is a regular contributor to “This Week in AG History” for AG News.

Invite Ruthie Oberg for a Sunday service, weekend training event, or special historical celebration.  Schedule a service by calling the Heritage Center at 877-840-5200 or emailing roberg@ag.org.

____________________________

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

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

 

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

Williams RalphThis Week in AG History — April 12, 1930

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 15 March 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also featured in this issue:

• “Passover and Pentecost,” by Stanley Frodsham

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

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

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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Pentecostals, Pacifism, and Religious Liberty in World War I: The Waldron Case

WWI

British soldiers prepare artillery shells and man a gun during World War I.

This Week in AG History — April 5, 1919

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 05 April 2018

Clarence H. Waldron (1885-1926), an early Baptist-turned-Pentecostal minister, became the central figure in the first important criminal court case involving religious opposition to World War I. Newspapers across America carried reports of Waldron’s trial in 1918 for violations of the Federal Espionage Act. Later historians dissected the case, determining that the pastor was likely unjustly convicted based on suspect allegations made by members of his Vermont Baptist church who did not like their pastor’s embrace of the Pentecostal revival.

The pages of the Pentecostal Evangel remained silent about the Waldron case until April 5, 1919, when Samuel R. Waldron, an Assemblies of God minister, reported on the status of his son. The Pentecostal Evangel editor prefaced the elder Waldron’s letter by noting, “Many of our readers have been interested in what is known as the ‘Waldron Case.'” Undoubtedly many Pentecostals were apprehensive about the case’s outcome. Waldron’s case carried weighty implications regarding religious liberty for Americans.

Waldron had been accused of attempting to undermine the U.S. government in a time of war. Early Pentecostals, like most other premillennialists of that era, preached that believers should be fully committed to Christ and His kingdom. They admonished avoidance of worldly entanglements that would conflict with their heavenly allegiance. Accordingly, most Pentecostals avoided politics. Many likewise believed that killing in war was moral compromise. When America entered World War I, it became increasingly difficult for Pentecostals to maintain their pacifist stance in the face of intense societal pressure to support the war effort.

Waldron had a respectable, successful background in Baptist ministry. He was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1907. When he accepted the pastorate of the Baptist church in Windsor, Vermont, in 1915, the church’s prospects seemed bleak. But Waldron’s energetic and winsome ministry won hearts and converts, and by 1917 attendance had tripled. In that year, a Pentecostal evangelist began holding revival services in Windsor. Waldron and about half of his growing congregation attended the services and embraced the Pentecostal movement. A segment of the church that opposed the revival decided to force the resignation of Waldron. They did this by accusing him of violating the Federal Espionage Act.

Did Waldron “willfully attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, and refusal of duty in the United States military forces”? This was the question that the courts tried to resolve. Waldron’s accusers identified at least two events they believed constituted offenses. First, Waldron refused to allow his church to participate in a patriotic-themed “Liberty Loan Sunday” event. He told his congregation that he believed that Sunday morning services should be reserved for preaching the gospel and not for politics or nationalism. Second, they accused Waldron of advising his church members, through preaching and the distribution of literature, that Christians should not bear arms in war.

A trial in January 1918 ended with a hung jury. Jury members could not reach a verdict, in part because they identified significant bias by witnesses on both sides. Cross-examination seemed to reveal that a church squabble was at the heart of the case, and Waldron’s accusers seemed to be using the law to force the pastor to resign.

At a second trial, in March 1918, the judge did not allow testimony regarding the anti-Pentecostal religious prejudice of Waldron’s accusers. The jury returned a guilty verdict and the judge sentenced Waldron to 15 years in federal prison.

The 1919 letter from Waldron’s father, published in the Pentecostal Evangel, reported that President Woodrow Wilson had commuted his sentence following the conclusion of the war. Waldron, according to his father, almost died from influenza and pneumonia during his year-long incarceration.

Shortly after his release from prison, Clarence Waldron received ordination with the Assemblies of God and moved to California. He spent the remaining years of his life in bivocational ministry, working in secular employment and occasionally ministering alongside Aimee Semple McPherson in San Diego and Los Angeles. Waldron’s trial and imprisonment had broken his health. He died in 1926 at the age of 41.

The trial of Clarence H. Waldron was widely reported in the press in 1917 and 1918, and historians have studied it ever since. The Waldron case highlights the fragility of religious liberty. Historian Gene Sessions, in his definitive 1993 article on the Waldron case published in “Vermont History,” concluded the following:

“In Windsor that national legislation, ostensibly directed against spies, provided a way to remove from town an individual whose religious views had split his congregation and embarrassed his denomination’s state hierarchy and whose pacifism, rooted in those same views, had confused and infuriated local patriots … the Espionage Act became in the hands of Windsor citizens a potent instrument for disciplining, harassing, and punishing a neighbor no longer welcome.”

While Clarence Waldron was tried for his advocacy of pacifism, the Waldron case stands for a broader proposition — that religious liberty needs to be carefully guarded.

Read “A Note of Praise,” by Samuel R. Waldron, on page 14 of the April 5, 1919, issue of the Christian Evangel [the predecessor of the Pentecostal Evangel].

The fascinating account of Waldron’s trial, “Espionage in Windsor: Clarence H. Waldron and Patriotism in World War I,” published in the Summer 1993 issue of Vermont History, is accessible by clicking here.

Other articles also featured in this issue of the Evangel include:

• “The Pentecostal Baptism: Its Foundation,” by David H. McDowell

• “Healed and Filled with the Spirit,” by Mrs. E. M. Whittemore

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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Mark and Huldah Buntain: Helping the Poor of India for Over 60 Years

BuntainThis Week in AG History — March 31, 1968

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 29 March 2018 

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

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

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

Mark’s ministry was featured in the Pentecostal Evangel 50 years ago. The article began with this statement: “Give ye them to eat.” This is exactly what the Buntains did as they carried out their much-needed ministry in North India. Not only did they provide physical food for the hungry, but they sought to meet the medical needs as well as spiritual needs of the people who crossed their paths. A testimony is given of a man named Thottathil Rajan who was suffering from hunger, was a heavy drinker, and a cripple. When New Zealand Evangelist Graham Truscott preached at one of Mark’s meetings, Rajan came and was saved and healed. Soon after this, he felt called to enter Bible school in order to preach the gospel.

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

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

Today, more than 60 years later, the Buntains’ hearts to reach the people groups of India still continues. Calcutta Mercy Ministries operates a hospital that serves people free of charge, over 900 churches have been established in North India, there are around 100 schools to educate thousands of students, and a clinic in the red-light district helps individuals involved in sexual trafficking who are as young as 12 years old. Mark and Huldah are possibly best known for the feeding ministry they established, which continues to serve thousands.

Although Mark passed away in 1989, Huldah still helps to oversee the ministry they founded. Calcutta Mercy Ministries continues to feed, educate, and medically assist the poor of Calcutta, India, and surrounding areas.

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

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tell Me About the Council on Evangelism”

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

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

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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