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

fphc-vault

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

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

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

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

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

___________________

The position descriptions are listed below.

Archivist

Position summary:

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

Experience required:

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

Education/Training required:

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

Personality qualities required:

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

Salary:

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

Job duties:

1) Process/Catalog archival materials.

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

2) Reference services.

3) Fulfill special tasks assigned by the Director.

______________________

Digital Archivist

Position summary:

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

Experience required:

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

Education/Training required:

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

Personality qualities required:

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

Salary:

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

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

2. Digitize archival materials.

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

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

4. Train and supervise part-time Archives Specialists.

5. Other responsibilities.

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

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

tan-ditter-p8834

This Week in AG History — September 30, 1962

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also featured in this issue:

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

• “Dedicated to Sacrifice,” by Anthony Sorbo

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

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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

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

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

david-wilkerson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________

Courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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

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

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

upshaw

Congressman William D. Upshaw, April 1920

This Week in AG History — September 23, 1951

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After 66 years, William Upshaw was healed!

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

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Ministry of Tears,” by Arne Vick

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

• “The General Council at a Glance”

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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

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

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What Can Pentecostals Learn from the Prayer Revival of 1857?

1857-prayer-revival

Prayer Revival of 1857

This Week in AG History — September 14, 1969

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 15 September 2016

Early twentieth-century Pentecostal pioneers were hungry for authentic Christianity, and they looked to previous spiritual outpourings for inspiration and instruction. One of the revivals recounted by early Pentecostals — the Prayer Revival of 1857 — had occurred within their lifetime.

The social conditions that led up to the Prayer Revival of 1857, in many ways, mirror those in America today. Harold A. Fischer, an Assemblies of God minister, retold the compelling story of this revival in the Sept. 14, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

By 1857, spiritual decline in America had become alarming. Church membership was decreasing and public figures were scoffing at religion. A time of prosperity had caused people to forget about God. Furthermore, the nation’s attention was riveted by the unfolding political drama that ultimately resulted in the Civil War.

Things began to change in 1857, when a financial meltdown caused thousands of merchants to go bankrupt and forced many banks to close. People from all social backgrounds were affected. People began to turn away from materialism in the midst of their suffering. “As ruin stared men in the face,” Fischer wrote, “their only refuge was God.”

A declining church pastored by a man with little ministry experience helped to spark a revival in 1857 that spread across the nation. Jeremiah Lanphier, a businessman, felt God’s call to the ministry. At age 49, he gave up his career and accepted the pastorate of Old North Dutch Church on Fulton and Williams Streets in the heart of lower New York City.

The congregation was facing a slow demise. Immigrants were moving into the community, and the church’s members were moving elsewhere. Lanphier did not sit down and allow the inevitable to happen. He canvassed the neighborhood, praying with people and inviting people to church. Few responded, however, and he grew discouraged.

But then Lanphier thought about the businessmen of the community, and how they might like to get away for a short break over the lunch hour. He widely advertised a noon prayer meeting for businessmen. Six showed up on the first day, Sept. 23, 1857. Attendance grew, and it soon became a daily event.

Several weeks later, a stock market crash caused one of the worst financial panics in American history. The church, located near the financial district, became a destination for bankers, lawyers, and businessmen whose world had been turned upside down. Up to 3,000 people flooded into the noon prayer meeting, and similar prayer meetings began to be held around the nation.  Over the next year, between 300,000 and one million people accepted Christ across America during what came to be called the Prayer Revival of 1857.

What can Pentecostals learn from the Prayer Revival of 1857? Church work should never be viewed as the primary domain of clergy. The 1857 revival was largely carried on by laity who, according to Fischer, received an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that empowered them for unexpectedly effective ministry. Prayer was also one of the hallmarks of this revival. Charles Finney observed during the revival that people seemed to prefer prayer meetings over preaching services. When God moves, it usually seems to coincide with passionate prayer.  Finally, when God truly touches peoples’ hearts, there will be social implications to that heart change. After the 1857 revival, laypersons began to organize Sunday schools, local chapters of the Young Men’s Christian Association, and city missionary societies. The revival was a catalyst that provoked Christians to develop ministries to serve and love people, which built up both the churches and the communities where they were located.

The revival waned after one or two years, but churches were left in a stronger position and better able to address the tragedies that would be inflicted by the Civil War only a short time later. According to Fischer, “the effect of such praying had left its mark.”

Read Harold Fischer’s article, “The Great Revival of 1857,” on pages 18-19 of the Sept. 14, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Why Assemblies of God Colleges are Different,” by T. E. Gannon

• “The Prohibited Love,” by Gordon Chilvers

And many more!

Click 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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Amidst Increasing Worldliness in 1951, Steelberg Challenged the Assemblies of God to not Neglect its Spiritual Heritage

steelbergThis Week in AG History — September 9, 1951

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 8 September 2016

Sixty-five years ago, General Superintendent Wesley Steelberg opened the 24th General Council of the Assemblies of God with a heartfelt plea to remain true to “our dual spiritual heritage in Pentecost.”

Steelberg’s address, which was published in the Sept. 9, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, showed concern over the direction of the broader culture and church world. He prayed that “the Assemblies of God may not drift in the swift current of worldliness towards the precipice of apostasy.” He encouraged listeners to instead “stand true to God,” so that when the trumpet sounds, “we will all rise to meet him — an uncontaminated, untarnished host who believe in all the fullness of the Pentecostal experience.”

Even before Steelberg spoke, the platform was nearly filled with people on their knees in prayer. Delegates started singing, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” and God’s presence became palpable. Another article in the same issue reported that crowds at the altar “stood in God’s presence and lifted up their voices in united praise to the Lord.” According to the account, the prayer was reminiscent of the Book of Acts and sounded “as the mighty rush of many waters.”

The General Superintendent took the platform and identified two important aspects of the Pentecostal movement’s heritage: 1) the gift of the presence of the Holy Ghost; and 2) the faith of our forefathers. He admonished hearers to not neglect this heritage.

Steelberg asked a question of the audience: “Are we as appreciative of the Holy Spirit and His presence in our individual lives, in our churches, in our districts, in our great world-wide fellowship as we ought to be?” He reminded the ministers and lay delegates that it is frightfully easy to treat lightly that which has become familiar. According to Steelberg, Pentecostals must never allow themselves to be comfortable with the Third Person of the Trinity. He asserted that God did not intend for the Assemblies of God to be content to become “another in the long line of denominations.” Pentecostals must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, he cautioned, and not merely on the wisdom of men.

According to Steelberg, the faith handed down by Pentecostal pioneers should continue to characterize the Assemblies of God. “I have a firm conviction in my heart,” he declared, “that we are called to be a people for a specific service in a specific hour.” He characterized the Pentecostal heritage as a testimony more so than a tradition. The testimonies of Pentecostal pioneers, he spoke, “should be our testimony.” He pleaded with his listeners to pass on the fullness of the testimony of the Pentecostal experience to the next generation.

Concluded his message, Steelberg quoted Luke 18:8: “When Christ cometh will He find faith on the earth?” Steelberg prayed that succeeding generations would be able to respond to the question with a resounding, “Yes!”

Read Steelberg’s full address, “Our Dual Spiritual Heritage,” on pages 3-4 and 13-14 of the Sept. 9, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “What Happened in Atlanta,” a report of the 24th Biennial General Council

• “How to Be Healed and Stay Healed,” by Evangelist W.V. Grant

• “Famine in India,” by Maynard Ketchum

And many more!

Click 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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Dr. Alexander Vazakas: Early Greek Pentecostal, Philosopher, Linguist

Vazakas2

This Week in AG History — September 2, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 1 September 2016

Alexander Vazakas (1873-1965) began life in the Ottoman Empire, where his family suffered persecution on account of their evangelical faith. In 1902 he immigrated to America, where he became a linguist and philosopher. During the last years of his life, he served as a professor at Evangel College (now Evangel University) in Springfield, Missouri, and became well-known for melding his sharp mind with a passion for working with young people.

Vazakas played many roles during his life — persecuted religious minority, immigrant, academic, husband. But the common thread that connected these seemingly disparate roles was his deep Christian faith. His remarkable story was published in the September 2, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Born into privilege, Vazakas was raised in a suburb of Thessalonica, in what is now Greece. His father was a practicing physician and rubbed shoulders with important people from around the world.

Everything changed when his father began to read a New Testament given to him by the British Consul. At the time, it was illegal to own a Bible. However, Vazakas’ father read the New Testament voraciously and ended up accepting Christ as his Savior. He wanted to share the good news of the gospel with others, so he invited his patients to his home, where he would read Scripture to them.

Greek Orthodox Church leaders heard about the elder Vazakas’ home Bible studies and were incensed. They viewed Vazakas’ activities as a threat to their religious authority. The Greek Orthodox leaders, who had a close relationship with the government, had Vazakas arrested. After several years of persecution, which included time in and out of prison, he was attacked by bandits and killed.

Alexander Vazakas was only 8 years old when his father died. He consoled himself by reading the book for which his father was willing to die. At first, reading the Bible only seemed to make things worse. “Tortured by feelings of wretchedness and unworthiness,” the Pentecostal Evangel article recounted, Vazakas “began to beat his head against the stones of a wall.” He wished to die. Then the extent to which Christ loved him began to dawn on the teenager. He surrendered his life to Christ, and he would never be the same.

The young convert shared his Christian faith wherever he went. Vazakas’ testimony was so powerful that even merchants and the occasional Orthodox priest or monk would gather and listen to him. In the 1890s, while sharing his testimony, “he found himself unable to speak except as the Holy Spirit gave utterance.” He began speaking in a language that he did not learn — an experience that he reckoned to be similar to what he read about in the Bible.

Vazakas was a brilliant young man. By age 12 he could speak six languages — Greek, Russian, German, French, Spanish, and Bulgarian. As a teenager, he worked as a language tutor. When he immigrated to the United States in 1902, he immediately enrolled at New York University, where he earned his B.A. (1904). He went on to earn additional degrees at Union Theological Seminary (B.D., 1906), Columbia University (M.A., 1911), and the University of Chicago (Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Humanities, 1927). His doctoral dissertation explored Greek language usage in the first 15 chapters of the Book of Acts. Between earning degrees, he also served as international secretary for the Y.M.C.A. for France and Greece.

The Greek academic taught for 27 years at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, where he served as head of the department of modern languages. After retiring, he taught for short periods at three Christian colleges — Bethany College (a Lutheran school in Lindsborg, Kansas), Kansas City College and Bible School (affiliated with the Church of God [Holiness]), and the Holiness Bible Institute (Florida). The degree to which he emphasized his Pentecostal testimony while at these non-Pentecostal schools is unknown.

Finally, in 1958, Vazakas moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he taught Philosophy and Greek at Evangel College. The 1962 Pentecostal Evangel article noted that “the flame ignited in his heart by the Holy Spirit in the 1890s is still burning brightly.” Vazakas continued teaching at Evangel until his death in 1965 at the age of 91.

What can we learn from the life of Alexander Vazakas? Early American Pentecostals came from remarkably diverse backgrounds. Many were immigrants, and some had their own Pentecostal experiences prior to the revivals at Topeka (1901) and Azusa Street (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, which are frequently viewed as the beginning of the Pentecostal movement. Although Vazakas was not a credentialed minister, he nevertheless spent his life in active ministry and impacted countless people with his gospel witness. Furthermore, Vazakas’ impressive academic achievements run counter to the common assumption that early Pentecostals were anti-intellectual. And Vazakas’ stamina — the fact that he taught until his death at age 91 — shows that elderly Spirit-empowered believers still have much to offer to younger generations.

One of Vazakas’ students at Evangel was a young man named George O. Wood. Wood, now general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, still recalls Vazakas’ classes and quotes him in sermons from time to time. Never underestimate the long-ranging impact of a substantive and anointed witness.

Read the article, “The Pentecostal Professor from Thessalonica,” on pages 6-7 of the Sept. 2, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Chapel at the Devil’s Pit,” by Don Argue

• “From Thorns to Diadems,” by Anna Berg

• “Blessed Brokenness,” by D. H. McDowell

And many more!

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Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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

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

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