Teen Challenge: Transforming the Lives of Drug and Alcohol Addicts Since 1958

Teen Challenge

Howard Foltz (left) and Dieter Bahr (right) standing in front of a Teen Challenge center in Europe

This Week in AG History — August 27, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 31 August 2017

Teen Challenge, among the world’s largest and most successful substance abuse recovery programs, grew out of an Assemblies of God minister’s burning desire to share Christ with troubled youth. The program’s origin with David Wilkerson in 1958 and its subsequent expansion around the world is a remarkable testimony to God’s life-changing power.

After reading a news article in the Feb. 24, 1958, issue of Life magazine which talked about a high-profile murder trial for members of a teen gang in New York, David Wilkerson, a young pastor in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, prayed about this situation. He felt a compelling burden to go to New York City and help those boys.

With the prayers of church members, and accompanied by his youth pastor, Wilkerson headed to New York City. He attempted to speak with the judge during the trial, but was thrown out of the courtroom. An embarrassing photo of him holding up a Bible was featured in the New York Daily News. Although his efforts seemed unfruitful, he learned that a number of gang members had been in the courtroom that day. The gang members figured if the cops didn’t like him, and the cops didn’t like them, they all were in the same boat.

The gang members began watching what Wilkerson did. He took advantage of this newfound popularity to preach the gospel both in street meetings and in crowded gang hideouts and heroin “shooting galleries.” Eventually he enlisted the aid of 65 Assemblies of God churches from New York and held a citywide rally for gang members and teens caught up in the gang culture. On the last night of the rally, members of the Mau Maus, Bishops, and several other gangs were in attendance. At the conclusion of the service, dozens of gang members came forward to accept Christ as Savior, including Nicky Cruz, a teen gang leader from Brooklyn.

From this small beginning, additional street rallies were held in New York City, and shelter was offered to young people in need. Evangelism, street meetings, and outreach to teens remained essential, but this new ministry also encompassed recovery from addiction, counseling, and training in practical life skills. This ministry, which is now known as Teen Challenge, focused not only on Christian conversion, but also on Christian discipleship.

In the early 1960s, Dave Wilkerson teamed up with John and Elizabeth Sherrill of Guideposts magazine to write the story behind Teen Challenge. The Cross and the Switchblade, published in 1963, gave the compelling story of David Wilkerson’s ministry to the gangs of New York City and the start of Teen Challenge. A popular movie of the same name was produced in 1970, which starred Pat Boone and Erik Estrada.

Teen Challenge centers sprang up in Brooklyn, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. Many of these new Teen Challenge ministries were pioneered by people who had read The Cross and the Switchblade or had visited another Teen Challenge ministry.

Teen Challenge, which is now a part of AG U.S. Missions, has garnered the attention of national leaders such as President Ronald Reagan, President Gerald Ford, and President George W. Bush.  President Reagan said, “Not only does Teen Challenge help our young people deal with their substance abuse, but it also gives our kids something to live for — a relationship with God, a healthy self-esteem, and a direction in their lives.”

Fifty years ago, in the Aug. 27, 1967, issue, the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted the ongoing growth of the Teen Challenge ministry in an article titled, “Teen Challenge on the Move.” This article featured two new Teen Challenge centers located in Denver and Bayamon, Puerto Rico, as well as centers in Detroit, Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston, and Dallas-Fort Worth. A dozen Teen Challenge centers had been established worldwide by 1967.

What began as an outreach by David Wilkerson to the gangs of New York City in 1958 has developed into one of the largest and most successful Christian treatment programs for individuals caught up in drugs, alcohol, and other life-controlling problems. In addition to 30 administrative offices and 227 Teen Challenge centers in the United States, Global Teen Challenge has been set up to assist with the development of new centers outside the U.S. In 2017, Global Teen Challenge is in 122 countries, representing 1,200 programs.

The specific challenges and methods have changed over the years, but Teen Challenge’s focus remains the same. Teen Challenge leaders recognize that preventing addiction and other life-controlling problems is a process, and Christ alone holds the key to prevention and cure.

Read “Teen Challenge on the Move,” on pages 16 and 17 of the Aug. 27, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Joy in Jerusalem”

• “The Lord’s Prayer” by G. Raymond Carlson

• “Good News Crusades in Nigeria”

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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Was the Dust Bowl a Sign of God’s Judgment on America? A Pentecostal Leader Responds to this Question.

Dust BowlThis Week in AG History — August 25, 1934

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 24 August 2017

In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus addressed the question, “Do tragic current events indicate God’s judgment for sin?” Jesus was referring to both a political crisis and the natural occurrence of a deteriorating tower that toppled and crushed 18 people.  In the Aug. 25, 1934, Pentecostal Evangel article, “Is It Superstition?” General Superintendent E. S. Williams addressed a similar question: “Is the Dust Bowl a sign that America is under God’s judgment?”

1934 was a difficult year for much of the United States. The Great Depression was still in full swing with an unemployment rate of 21.7 percent. The new president, Franklin Roosevelt, had begun a redistribution of wealth that some feared would lead the United States to a more Communistic form of government.  To top it off, 1934 saw the worst farming conditions in centuries with 71.6 percent of western North America in drought as the Dust Bowl reached its zenith.  This combination of political crisis in the Great Depression and natural crisis in the Dust Bowl caused many Americans to ask, “Are we under the judgment of God for our sins?”

One particular sin that seemed to be on the mind of some was the Department of Agriculture’s slaughter of 6,000,000 pigs in an attempt to control the price of pork in 1933.  Secretary of Agriculture, Henry A. Wallace, made the following statement, “My attention has been called to a statement by a minister out in the Corn Belt before the district conference of his faith. Concerning the actions of the New Deal he says: ‘… some of them are downright sinful as the destruction of foodstuffs in the face of present want.’ I have been used to statements of this sort by partisans, demagogues, politicians, and even newspaper columnists … But when a minister of the gospel makes a statement, we expect it to be the truth.”

In his opening paragraph, Williams addressed this directly: “… officials of the Department of Agriculture are a bit concerned over the spread of the superstition that the disastrous drought which had gripped our land was God’s way of punishing folks … (they) went on to say that this superstition started in the pulpits of Iowa.”

Williams took issue with the term “superstition” defining it as “a belief founded on irrational feelings, especially of fear.” He cautioned his readers that, indeed, they should “be careful … lest they reach rash and hurried conclusions” in their fear and concerns for the future of their livelihood and nation.

However, Williams also cautioned “At the same time it would be folly to blindly shut our eyes and refuse to inquire whether or not there may be back of present conditions a moral cause … Let us not be so foolish as to follow the worldly wise who know not God and for that reason may look upon wholesome fear and honest inquiry as but superstition.”

Williams believed that the root cause of the current troubles went much deeper than concern over agricultural direction: “Destruction of cattle and restriction of crops may have been a blunder; but we must look far deeper than to this alone if we would get to the bottom of our troubles. Our chiefest mischief as a nation is that we have departed from dependence upon and reverence for the living God.”

He bluntly asked the question of the drought, “Are these things mere accidents of an evolving nature or are they the voice of God?” Williams does not claim to know the answer to this question in its fullness on a national scale but he does counsel Evangel readers to use the current tragedy as occasion to examine their own need for repentance, encouraging them “if He shows you things which you ought to make right, make them right without delay, for, ‘except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.’”

Read the full article “Is It Superstition?” on page 2 of the Aug. 25, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“A Famous Entertainer Becomes a Faith Missionary,” by Esther B. Harvey

“Aeneas, Jesus Christ Cures You,” by Lilian Yeomans, M.D.

“Congo Women Touched By Gospel,” by Mary Walker

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 Prosperity Gospel and Worldliness: A Warning from an Early Pentecostal Leader

GAston

W. T. Gaston, circa 1927

This Week in AG History — August 16, 1953

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 17 August 2017

Will the Pentecostal movement follow “the path of gradual surrender to carnal forces” like most Christian renewal movements before it? This question, posed by former General Superintendent W. T. Gaston (1925-1929) in the Aug. 16, 1953, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, remains strikingly relevant.

Gaston wrote that history’s “tragic lesson” is that a church’s solid foundation does not prevent corruption from “fleshly elements within.” He offered this warning at a time when certain media-savvy Pentecostal healing evangelists had been exposed for their ungodly lifestyles, but who continued to promote themselves and their unbiblical message that God guarantees financial prosperity to believers.

Gaston suggested, “If we are to have a future that is better or even comparable and worthy of our past, we will need to learn over again some of the lessons of yesterday.” One of the important lessons to rediscover, he wrote, was the importance of promoting “pure, undefiled” religion.

He recalled that many early 20th century Pentecostal pioneers were bi-vocational ministers, that often met in homes or rented buildings, and that most were not very impressive by the standards of the surrounding culture. However, they did not need worldly goods and accolades in order for the Holy Spirit to accomplish great things through their lives and ministries.

Gaston wrote that he witnessed an “utter disregard for poverty or wealth or station in life” in the early Pentecostal movement. Yet “those rugged pioneers,” he noted, “had something that made them attractive and convincing.” The contrast between the attitudes of the world and the early Pentecostals was striking. According to Gaston, early believers were “completely satisfied without the world’s glittering tinsel, and content to be the objects of its scornful hatred.”

Believers must carefully guard their hearts, Gaston warned, or face a dissipation of this consecration and sacrificial spirit. He noted, as an example, that some ministers in the 1950s seemed to “project themselves and their projects instead of promoting the common cause and sharing equally in the honors and sufferings of the common brotherhood.”

Gaston identified a love of money as a danger to the Pentecostal movement and an impediment to the gospel. We “must draw the line against all comers with a money complex,” he asserted, in order “to retain its good sense and religious balance.” He lamented that certain high-profile evangelists promised God’s blessings to those who would give money to their ministries. He wrote, “Ministers of the gospel who lay up treasure on earth while they preach that people should lay theirs up in heaven are neither consistent nor worthy.” Gaston suspected that the “selfless, lowly Jesus” would “refuse to go along” with such ministers.

Furthermore, Gaston was troubled by sensationalism promoted by some of the big-name preachers in his day. “Full-orbed religion throbs with sensation,” he wrote. However, he warned against “unbridled sensationalism,” which could easily bring “disillusionment and disintegration” to those who have not developed a strong faith. Gaston concluded with “a simple appeal for consistency and reality in our religious approach,” praying that the Pentecostal movement would “purge itself of practices or propaganda patterns which are not compatible with the spirit and letter of the New Testament.”

Gaston’s article offers several important lessons to 21st century Pentecostals. First, Pentecostals should carefully guard their hearts. History demonstrates that selfishness and worldliness tend to creep into the church, and that even Christian renewal movements can drift from their founding ideals. Second, early Pentecostalism grew amidst widespread scorn and persecution as believers joyfully embodied consecrated, holy living. Third, Pentecostals can avoid the dangers of extremism and sensationalism by being solidly grounded in Scripture and biblical values.

Read W. T. Gaston’s article, “Guarding our Priceless Heritage,” in the Aug. 16, 1953, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Eternity-Proof,” by Arne Vick

* “Sunday Schools around the World”

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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Faith for Miracles: Louie Stokes and the Revival in Argentina

StokesThis Week in AG History — August 13, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 8 June 2017

Fifty years ago, the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted some key events in the life of Argentina missionary Louie Stokes (1909-1989).

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Stokes graduated from Beulah Heights Bible Institute (which now is Southeastern University). After graduation, he became a teacher at the school for seven years. While teaching at Beulah Heights, he met Lillian Lalor, who later became his wife. Together they traveled in evangelistic work before serving as dean of men at Central Bible Institute (1938-1940). They were appointed missionaries to Cuba (1940-1949), Argentina (1949-1976), and Panama (1976-1978).

In Argentina, the Stokeses taught in a Bible institute and conducted a radio program in Buenos Aires called The Voice of Faith. Louie Stokes also held street meetings and published tracts as well as a publication called ID (Go Ye). A massive evangelistic-healing campaign was held in Buenos Aires in 1954 (featuring Evangelist Tommy Hicks) which resulted in thousands of converts. After this crusade, with much work, the Stokeses converted an old shoe factory into a church and had a fruitful ministry in Argentina for the next 22 years.

The Aug. 13, 1967, Pentecostal Evangel featured some jottings from Louie Stokes’ then 27 years of service in Latin America. One testimony he shared was of a convert named Angel Magliotto who, at age 9, received a miracle. Stokes described, “He had been born clubfooted and suffered much because of his physical condition.” His mother became a believer and brought her son to the altar for prayer. “As a symbol of her simple trust in God, under her arm she carried a package with tennis shoes for the boy,” said Stokes. As he prayed, the answer came as “those twisted feet received a healing touch and later became normal.” Angel later became a native pastor in La Riestra, Argentina.

In the article, Stokes also reported on three ladies from his church in Buenos Aires who felt led to carry the gospel message to the far northern province of Salta, a thousand miles from the capital. They settled in the railroad center of Güemes, a town of 30,000 people, and began preaching on the streets and witnessing from house to house. Stokes reported that “miracles and healings took place, and within a year they invited me to come and baptize 23 converts.” He also put the new church in order and gave Bible studies when he came to visit. Then, just two years later, Stokes baptized 17 more converts. From that ministry center the believers soon opened up three outstations and sent out workers to preach in different places. Regarding these three ladies, Stokes declared, “I marvel when I observe how the Holy Spirit takes and uses such unlikely vessels.”

In his concluding remarks, he emphasized, “As I have visited dozens of churches, two outstanding things have impressed me profoundly. One is that almost all of our churches are full, sometimes with people standing for lack of space.” He continued, “The other is the large percentage of young people in the Assemblies of God churches.” He saw this as a source of promise for the future of the work in Argentina.

Read “Anthology of a Missionary,” on pages 8 and 9 of the Aug. 13, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Christ’s Prayer For Unity,” by Theodore E. Gannon

• “David Recovers His Family,” by J. Bashford Bishop

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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50 Years Ago: Thousands in Liberia Accept Christ in Good News Crusade with Paul Olson

Olson Paul

Paul Olson preaches at the Monrovia crusade.

This Week in AG History — August 6, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 8 June 2017

Fifty years ago this week, the Pentecostal Evangel featured a report of a massive evangelistic campaign in Monrovia, Liberia, conducted by missionary evangelist Paul Olson. The article, “Somebody Loves You … Monrovia,” described Olson’s six-week Good News Crusade in the capital of Liberia.

Good News Crusades, launched in 1959, is an organized evangelism effort for the Assemblies of God to sponsor and organize large city-wide crusades in mission areas across the globe, with follow-up and church planting afterwards. Through these efforts, Assemblies of God missionaries and national ministers work together to help fulfill the Great Commission.

For the Monrovia crusade, Paul Olson worked closely with missionary Joseph Judah, evangelist Herris Heidenreich, and C. T. Sampson, the host pastor. Preparation started with printing 100,000 pamphlets announcing the outreach. These tracts, made possible through Light for the Lost and BGMC, were titled, Somebody Loves You. The day before the crusade started, a Speed the Light plane flew over the city and scattered 25,000 tracts over all the main streets of the city. Tracts were also distributed from house to house and in the city markets. Workers hung street banners across the main thoroughfares and put up posters on walls and telephone poles. The outreach was announced on television and radio and in all three of the city newspapers.

The president of Liberia, Dr. William V. S. Tubman, personally gave the missionaries use of the newly remodeled Antoinette Tubman Sports Stadium, which was named after his wife. During the following weeks, thousands of people crowded into the stadium to hear the gospel preaching of evangelist Paul Olson. Hundreds of Africans accepted Christ as Savior, and many were miraculously healed.

One night there was a special healing service and it was reported that over 2,000 children received healing. One outstanding miracle was the healing of an old man who had been a cripple for nine years. After his healing he was able to walk unassisted. This man walked back to the crusade every night for the next five weeks — a living testimony of God’s healing power. A special highlight of the crusade was the Kru choir which sang gospel songs in tribal dialect.

According to the article, “An uncompromising call was given to sinners, ‘Are you ashamed of your sins? Are you truly sorry for them? … Do you really want Christ to change your life?’” During the first three weeks, well over 10,000 came forward and prayed for salvation. Total attendance for all three weeks of the outdoor part of this crusade reached 110,000. On the closing night, 15,000 filled the stadium.

After closing the open-air crusade, the services were moved to a local Assemblies of God church and for three more weeks the revival services continued with several hundred people receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. At the close of the meeting, over 6,000 new converts received follow-up discipleship training.

Olson also held Good News Crusades in Cape Palmas, Liberia; Georgetown, Guyana; Freetown, Sierra Leone; and other places in Africa. Hal Herman, Morris Plotts, and other missionary evangelists held similar crusades in other parts of the globe during this same time frame, and missionary crusades like this still continue to be held.

Read “Somebody Loves You … Monrovia,” on pages 8 and 9 of the Aug. 6, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Days of Heaven Upon the Earth,” by Aaron A. Wilson

• “Samson’s Strength and Weakness,” by Howard Carter

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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Wesley Steelberg: The Christ’s Ambassadors and Revivaltime Pioneer who became General Superintendent

SteelbergThis Week in AG History — July 27, 1952

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 27 July 2017

“With deep regret we announce the passing of our beloved General Superintendent, Wesley R. Steelberg, on July 8, 1952.”  This statement in the July 27, 1952, Pentecostal Evangel informed the constituency of the Assemblies of God of the vacancy in the General Superintendent’s office left by the sudden death of 50-year-old Steelberg (1902-1952).

At the age of 16, Steelberg was known as “The Boy Preacher.”  Born to Methodist parents in 1902, Steelberg was converted at the age of 8 while attending a children’s meeting at the Pentecostal Assembly in Denver, Colorado. While praying at the altar, a mother knelt beside him and encouraged him to begin to ask the Lord to fill him with the Holy Spirit. God answered his prayer that night and a Pentecostal preacher was born.

Steelberg’s young body had been sorely twisted by the effects of spinal meningitis. When God healed him in the Pentecostal church both of his parents joined the movement and encouraged their young son to follow God’s call. Steelberg worked at various trades from carpentry to racecar mechanic but always studied the Bible in his spare time. He began speaking, first in his home assembly, and then branching out into other opportunities as pastors would open their pulpit to the young preacher.

In 1919, an evangelist invited him to join on an evangelistic tour of the Northwest. That same year he was ordained with the 5-year-old Assemblies of God. (Steelberg would later, briefly, turn in his credentials when it was decided that no one could be ordained until he was 21.) During this time, Steelberg struggled with physical ailments and only felt relief when he fully consecrated himself to be willing even to die if that was what the work required.

Later that same year, at age 17, Steelberg became associate pastor at Victoria Hall in Los Angeles where he met Ruth Fisher, the daughter of Elmer Fisher, pastor of the Upper Room Mission. They were married and to this marriage were born four children: Wesley Paul, Juanita, Esther, and Marvel.

The Steelberg’s were soon called to the pastorate of Stockton, California, where he conceived the idea of a great Pentecostal youth movement. He organized many “Pentecostal Ambassadors for Christ” groups throughout the Northern California-Nevada District which later fully developed into a national ministry called “Christ’s Ambassadors.”

Later pastoring in Sacramento and Philadelphia, the young preacher became known as someone who displayed a rare combination of faithfulness to the old paths of Pentecostalism while aggressively meeting the challenges of the days in which he lived. While pastoring in Philadelphia, he saw the value of radio preaching and began to develop this ministry.

It was during this time that Steelberg came to the attention of the larger body of the Assemblies of God and was elected to serve as an Executive Presbyter and then as superintendent of the New York-New Jersey District. At age 43, he was elected one of four assistant general superintendents and was given charge of the Christ’s Ambassador’s ministry at the general headquarters. Upon the retirement of E. S. Williams in 1949, Steelberg was elected general superintendent.

In this capacity, as in every other position he had filled, he gave himself unsparingly to the task. Having struggled throughout his life with a weakness in body, he often worked far beyond his natural strength. Though he was never heard to complain, the travel required for his ministry often took a great toll on him. In March of 1952, he suffered a severe attack which left him confined to his bed for several weeks.

Against the advice of others, Steelberg summoned enough strength to record a few more broadcasts of the new Revivaltime radio program, initiated to replace Williams’ former program, Sermons in Song. Under the conviction that he should act in faith and that God would meet him as he went ahead, Steelberg made the long journey in late May to Great Britain for the World Conference of Pentecostal Churches.

He stopped in Cardiff, Wales, on June 7 for a Revivaltime Radio Rally and literally “preached his heart out.” That night’s effort was the final one for the boy preacher. He never left his bed again until his death a month later. His predecessor, E. S. Williams, said of him, “Even when physical strength was unequal to the demands which his office made upon him, he gladly gave his all. God has seen his fidelity and has now promoted him to the Paradise above.”

Steelberg left behind an old song book that he used as a young teenager. In it he wrote his name, “Wesley Rowland Steelberg” and underneath “All for Jesus.”  He lived for only 50 years, but those years left a legacy to the Assemblies of God: the youth ministry, Christ’s Ambassadors; Revivaltime Radio; and the example of one who gave his last full measure of devotion to the cause of Christ.

Read the full article, “Brother Steelberg Is With the Lord,” on page 5 of the July 27, 1952, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“An Outstanding End-Time Sign,” by J. Narver Gortner

“Popularity or Adversity,” by Vance Havner

“Caleb, One of the Two,” by Hermes Broadhead

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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Zelma Argue: Pioneer Pentecostal Evangelist and Writer

Argue Zelma

A. H. Argue (right) standing with his son Watson (left) and daughter Zelma (center) in front of a car at the Ohio State Pentecostal Camp Meeting at Findlay, Ohio.

This Week in AG History — July 24, 1937

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 20 July 2017

Zelma Argue (1900-1980) was the daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, and cousin of great preachers. When her father, A. H. Argue, was asked on an evangelistic campaign, “Where is (your wife)?” his answer came quickly, “Oh! She’s at home raising the preachers.” As an evangelist with her family, Zelma ably filled the pulpit, but it seems she was even more productive with her pen.

Upon her ordination and embarkment on the evangelistic trail in 1920, her family gave her a writing set and a portable typewriter. Over the next 60 years she put them to good use, penning eight books and writing for at least seven periodicals, including nearly 200 articles for the Pentecostal Evangel. Her first article, “Buying Gold,” appeared in the March 5, 1921, edition and her final article, “Threefold Purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit” was published on March 23, 1980, just two months after her death.

Argue wrote with a passion, challenging readers that the Christian life must carry an ever-increasing surrender to God’s service. While her words were oftentimes hard, she wrote in such a way that the resulting effect did not convey condemnation but conviction. Her common topics were intimacy with God, revival, prayer, worship, and the importance of soul-winning.

In an article in the July 24, 1937, Pentecostal Evangel, “The Next Towns Also: A Plea for Fresh Efforts at Direct Evangelism,” Argue examines the practical application of the words of Jesus in Mark 1:38, “Let us go into the next towns also…” In this passage, Christ is at the beginning of his ministry and has reached a zenith of popularity in Capernaum; so much so that He found the need to search for a solitary place, prompting Peter to remind Him that “all men seek for thee!”

Argue makes the proposition that Jesus was at a crisis point in ministry — one that we often face, as well. If He chose to stay in Capernaum it seemed that all would be going His way. If He chose to move on, He had no idea the reception He would face in another town. In addition, if He focused on others, what would happen to those whom He left behind? Argue states, “but in solitude He had heard from above. His answer was ready: ‘Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, for therefore came I forth.’ These last words seem to suggest that He had been pondering deeply and had only reached His conclusion by recalling what He must never forget: the goal set before Him.”

Argue illustrates the importance of consistently reaching out into new fields by comparing the church to a lively home where there are little children for whom to care. She argues that the home with babies is a much happier spot than a home where all the inhabitants were adults who “had little to do but sit around and disagree” with each other. She plainly states that an assembly with a stream of new blood constantly pouring into it was God’s best for a contented home church: “Fresh kindling catches fire better than burnt over wood!”

The genius of Argue’s writing is that she not only points out the need for reaching beyond current borders but offers practical solutions that can be easily and quickly implemented. She says that in “railroad stations and other public places I never see a box of Christian Science literature that I do not feel that we should have a box of Evangels.” She encourages churches to consider moving evening services into a tent for the summer or renting out a building in another part of town when having a guest speaker so that new ears are exposed to the gospel message.

Fifty years before they were widely popular, she encourages “Branch Sunday Schools” conducted in neighborhoods outside the church building to reach children and their families. Argue also admonishes churches to consider having meetings at different times of the day and week to reach those whose schedules or lifestyle is not conducive to Sunday or evening services. She also suggests that church take advantage of technological advances, like radio programming, to expand to new fields.

She pleads with readers that “not only foreign fields, but our next towns, our neighborhoods, our next-door neighbors, may present fields of opportunity … if someone will leave the well-tilled and well-reaped field, and search out those not yet reached, as Jesus Himself sought so faithfully to do.” His vision includes “the next town,” and ours must, also.

The Argue family continues to bless the Pentecostal movement with great Pentecostal preachers, such as David Argue (former Assemblies of God Executive Presbyter) and Don Argue (the first Pentecostal to serve as president of the National Association of Evangelicals). However, few would contest that some of the best preaching in the Argue family came through the pen of the lifelong spinster aunt, Zelma Argue.

Read the full article, “The Next Towns Also,” on page 2 of the July 24, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“Spiritual Promotion,” by W.E. Moody

“Pioneering in Nicaragua, by Melvin Hodges

“Healed of Pneumonia and Tuberculosis,” by Eunice Bailey

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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