The Assemblies of God Developed its Missionary Identity Amidst War, Famine, and Economic Privation

 

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A group of Assemblies of God church leaders and missionaries at the 1919 General Council, Chicago, Illinois. J. Roswell Flower is pictured in the back row on the right.

This Week in AG History — March 20, 1920

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 17 March 2016

In the aftermath of the First World War (1914-1918), famine, disease, and economic privation compounded the human suffering that had been inflicted by warring soldiers. In the midst of the desperate global situation, the Assemblies of God launched and developed its fledgling missionary program.

Assemblies of God missionaries brought the gospel around the world, coupled in many instances with relief for the suffering. Assemblies of God schools and orphanages began in Egypt, India, China, and elsewhere. Every week, the Pentecostal Evangel published missionary letters that shared difficulties and triumphs experienced while sharing the gospel in word and deed around the world.

The March 20, 1920, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel published a column by Missions Secretary J. Roswell Flower, which he characterized as “a heart to heart talk,” about the importance of financially supporting AG missionaries.

In 1920, the Assemblies of God had approximately 200 men and women on its foreign missions roster. Flower noted that he had 40 additional applications for missionary endorsement on his desk. He wrote, “our best young men and young women are gladly offering themselves to go to the lands beyond the seas.”

A lack of funding threatened to keep these budding missionaries from their calling. Flower asked readers to have the faith to provide for these new missionaries, noting that missions is central to the identity of the Assemblies of God. Flower wrote, “Anyone who has had the privilege of observing the work of the Spirit as some of us have had, knows that the Pentecostal Movement is pre-eminently a missionary movement. With the first outpouring of the Spirit came an overwhelming desire to tell the whole world that Jesus is coming, with the results that many offered themselves for the foreign fields, and were sent on their mission with glad hallelujahs.”

Flower asked readers, “Shall we accept them [the new missionaries]…or shall we hold them back?” To Flower, the answer was clear — Pentecostals could not choose to ignore missions without denying their own identity. He explained, “the only thing we can do consistently with our faith and testimony is to go forward — not retrench — [and to] meet the need and care for our beloved missionaries.”

Read the article by J. Roswell Flower, “A Heart to Heart Talk,” on page 12 of the March 20, 1920, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Land Ahead!” by Elizabeth Sisson

• “Overcoming the World, the Flesh and the Devil,” by A. G. Ward

• “Great Outpouring of the Spirit at Winnipeg,” by A. H. Argue

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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She Listened to the Voice of God: Grace Agar, Linguist and Missionary to China

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Grace Agar at Bethany Retirement Home, Lakeland, Florida, circa 1962

This Week in AG History — March 12, 1967

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 10 March 2016

Grace Agar (1877-1966) was in high school when she sensed God telling her to prepare for missions work. A native of San Francisco, California, she followed God’s call and ended up on the other side of the Pacific, where she became an Assemblies of God missionary to China and a noted linguist.

Before she left America, however, Agar spent seven years in college, preparing for her future overseas. She graduated from Mills College (Oakland, California), a Christian school for women, and also studied at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, Illinois) and at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Bible School (Nyack, New York).

Finally, in 1902, the time came for Agar to set sail for China. The attractive, 25-year-old single female missionary watched her family and friends fade from sight as her boat left the harbor. Her heart sank as she realized, “I am all alone.” God whispered to her heart, just like when He called her as a missionary, and He reassured her, “I am here. I will never leave you.”

Agar excelled in school, but learning to listen to the voice of God was one of the most valuable disciplines she ever learned. In China, she continued her studies, learning the Chinese language and writing a widely-distributed book, Mandarin Tones Made Easy (1933). She also continued to draw close to the Lord in prayer and Bible study.

Her prayers and Bible teaching were very fruitful. Agar’s biography, Dark is the Land (Gospel Publishing House, 1962), noted that numerous people along the Chinese-Tibetan border accepted Christ after hearing her compelling preaching and witnessing that God answered her prayers.

Agar initially served as a missionary with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. But after she was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1912, she identified with the Pentecostal movement and spent the next decade without any denominational backing. In 1922, she transferred to the Assemblies of God, which already supported numerous missionaries in China.

The communist takeover of China forced Agar in 1937 to flee the nation where she had devoted 35 years of her life. She returned to America to a hero’s welcome. After she passed away, the March 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel carried a tribute to Agar. “Certainly heaven has been enriched by the presence of this missionary heroine,” the obituary concluded, “who has now answered her Lord’s final call.”

Read the article, “Missionary Heroine with the Lord,” on page 28 of the March 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue

  • “Unfeigned Faith,” by C. M. Ward
  • “Little Feet, What Path?” by E. E. Krogstad
  • “Sowing and Reaping in Navaholand,” by Eugene and Marian Herd

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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Giving out of their Poverty: Florence Steidel and the Lepers of Liberia

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This Week in AG History — March 4, 1951

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 3 March 2016

Sixty-five years ago, an Assemblies of God congregation of lepers in New Hope Town, Liberia, caught the vision of missions and desired to help those who were less fortunate than themselves. On Christmas Eve 1950, they took up an offering of $2.65, which they sent to the Leper Home of Uska Bazaar in North India.

Assemblies of God missionary Florence Steidel (1897-1962) wrote a letter recounting the sacrificial spirit of the congregation. The letter, published in the March 4, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, explained that the offering was quite generous, given the meager wages earned by the lepers (seven to ten cents per day).

Steidel had founded New Hope Town in 1947 with $100 and the help of lepers. Tribal chiefs gave her 350 acres of land upon which she could build a town for people with the skin-eating disease who were unwelcome in their own communities. Steidel, a nurse who came to the mission field in 1935, took a class in elementary building construction. She rallied those with leprosy to work alongside her in building roads and houses. From 1947 until 1962, she oversaw the construction of a well-laid out town, including 70 permanent buildings and six main streets.

While the lepers were diseased, they were not helpless. Steidel established a school to train them to become carpenters, weavers, brick makers, and clinic workers. They also planted 2,500 rubber trees, which helped the town to become economically self-sufficient.

Steidel realized that economic poverty has roots in poor spiritual and social conditions, which she worked to ameliorate. And only four years after establishing New Hope Town, its residents were already giving of their very limited resources to help others.

Steidel is remembered as one of the missionary heroes of the Assemblies of God. She melded compassion with proclamation of the gospel. Her work among the lepers helped to give credibility and strength to the Assemblies of God in Liberia.

Read the article by Florence Steidel, “I Still Have Strong,” in the March 4, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue

• “Pentecost’s Lost Coin,” by Paul Gaston

• “Our Greatest Need,” by Robert J. Wells

• “Words of Life,” by Wesley R. Steelberg

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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Assemblies of God Chaplain Talmadge F. McNabb and the Korean Conflict

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This Week in AG History — February 27, 1966

By Glenn Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 25 February 2016

Chap. Lt. Col. Talmadge F. McNabb (1924-2002), a man of many talents and interests, is remembered for his service as an Assemblies of God army chaplain in Korea, Fort Knox, Fort Dix, and other places.

He was influential in helping start an adoption agency for Korean orphans called Holt International Children’s Services. He also was an evangelist, teacher, pastor, historian, and writer, contributing articles to newspapers and magazines across the country. He donated a number of historical materials to the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

An article entitled “Chaplain With a Guitar,” gives an inspiring testimony about Chaplain McNabb in the February 27, 1966, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

McNabb, who was then serving as chaplain of the 4th Missile Command, Camp Page, Korea, began thinking of ways he might better serve the lonely men in the units for which he was responsible. Remembering that men usually love to sing, he decided “why not visit the men during their off-duty hours and have informal songfests?” He took his guitar and a religious film, “climbed in his jeep and made the rounds.” He found the groups eager to join in happy, informal singing. He reported, “For an hour or so the men forget the loneliness of their isolated situation.” These songfests were a great success in boosting morale and ministering to the spiritual needs of servicemen.

This same issue of the Pentecostal Evangel had other features concerning ministry to servicemen. One article called “Reveille No. 33 Joins the Ranks,” told about a new release of Reveille, a nondenominational periodical produced by the Servicemen’s Department of the Assemblies of God. The article proclaimed, “Another issue of Reveille, G. I. Joe’s favorite gospel bulletin, has joined the ranks. Issue No. 33 has just been printed and mailed to thousands of military personnel around the world. After 25 years, Reveille is still going strong.” These attractive service bulletins earned distinction during World War II for their “hard-hitting gospel articles, written in servicemen’s language and dressed up with eye-catching illustrations.” More than 17,550,000 copies were printed between 1941 and 1966.

Read “Chaplain With a Guitar” and “Reveille No. 33 Joins the Ranks” on page 24 of the February 27, 1966, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Recent Vatican Council,” by Charles A. Bolton

• “Cracks in the Bamboo Curtain,” by Maynard L. Ketcham

• “Under the Anointing,” by Oscar W. Neate

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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Marvin Buck and Larry Christenson: Methodist and Lutheran Pastors Refreshed by the Charismatic Renewal

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Larry Christenson, circa 1961


This Week in AG History — February 18, 1962

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 18 February 2016

In the late 1950s, Pentecostal revival began breaking out in places where Pentecostals least expected — mainline churches. This revival, which became known as the charismatic renewal, caused some confusion among Pentecostals, who were uncertain how to react.

Many expected these new charismatics to join Pentecostal congregations. Some did, and the Assemblies of God more than doubled in membership during the 1960s and 1970s, partly because of an influx of charismatics. However, many charismatics decided to stay put and worked to bring a refreshing move of the Holy Spirit into mainline churches.

The February 18, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel featured two articles about mainline ministers who had been touched by the Holy Spirit in the charismatic renewal.

The first article, by Methodist pastor Marvin Buck, described how he had been hungering for “the evidence of God’s power” in his life and ministry. He was grieved that the services in his small church in Beach, North Dakota, “had been dead and dry for so long.” His church members did not seem the least bit interested in prayer or evangelism. He was desperate for spiritual life, yet he did not know how to find it.

Buck went to hear an Episcopalian lay minister, Mrs. Jean Stone, who spoke in a neighboring town about a revival that was bringing new life to mainline churches. Stone, a prominent early leader within the charismatic renewal, encouraged those in attendance to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Buck went to the altar at the end of the meeting, eager to have more of God. He prayed and, for the first time in his life, he “sensed the reality of the Holy Spirit.” He described his body as being “flooded with a glow of warmth,” and he received the gift of speaking in tongues.

The next night, Buck shared what had experienced with the Sunday school superintendent at his Methodist church. He said that he experienced the love, joy, and peace of God in a profound way, and she responded, “This is what we all need.”

Buck reported that many members of the Beach Methodist Church became involved in the charismatic renewal. Some experienced healings, the Bible study doubled in attendance, and prayer meetings started again.

Larry Christenson authored the second Pentecostal Evangel article by a mainline charismatic minister. Christenson, a Lutheran, had a longstanding interest in the gift of healing. He read voraciously on the subject, he taught about healing in his Lutheran parish in San Pedro, California, and many church members experienced healings.

Christenson began to wonder about other spiritual manifestations found in scripture. Were they also for today?  He came into contact with an elderly lady – “a true saint of God” – who was a former Lutheran. She had begun attending a congregation associated with a Pentecostal denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. She invited Christenson to her church, where he heard a message on the gifts of the Spirit. This piqued Christenson’s interest, and a week later he attended special services with David du Plessis at the Assembly of God in San Pedro. He went forward to the altar for prayer and was baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Buck and Christenson, both baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1961, were pioneers of the charismatic renewal in mainline churches. Their testimonies were widely published, inspiring countless others to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. What happened to them? Buck ended up transferring his credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1965, while Christenson remained in the Lutheran church and became one of the most prominent leaders in the charismatic renewal.

Read the two articles in the February 18, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Marvin Buck, “This is What Happened When the Holy Spirit Came to a Methodist Church” (pages 6-7, 23)

Larry Christenson, “How a Lutheran Pastor Was Baptized with the Holy Spirit” (page 25)

Also featured in this issue

• “The Dynamics of Twentieth-Century Pentecost,” by Thomas F. Zimmerman

• “How to Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” by Ralph M. Riggs

• “What Pentecost Means to Me,” by James L. McQueen

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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Minna Seaholm: Pioneer Assemblies of God Military Chaplain

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This Week in AG History — February 13, 1943

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 11 February 2016

The United States government did not permit females to serve as military chaplains during World War II, but that did not deter Minna Seaholm (1894-1944), an Assemblies of God evangelist who felt a call to minister to young men in uniform.  A 1943 Pentecostal Evangel article titled “Our Lady Chaplain” reported on her activities, noting that she overcame significant odds to follow God’s call.

Seaholm served as a roving chaplain to military bases and Civil Conservation Corps camps. Assemblies of God literature regularly published reports of her meetings, and the Home Missions Department (now U.S. Missions) collected offerings to assist her.  She often held three or four speaking engagements each day. “Her absorbing passion,” the article explained, was to offer young men “a chance to find God before they go out into the dangers and uncertainties of war.”

Seaholm experienced difficulty in obtaining official government approval to meet with the troops and to hold meeting on the bases. However, the article reported that Seaholm was “never daunted” and made contact with President Franklin Roosevelt and other high-ranking officers in the army. She succeeded in gaining access to numerous camps and bases across the United States and also spoke at high school assemblies. Although Seaholm did not hold a commission as a chaplain from the United States government (the military restricted the chaplaincy to males until 1974), the article noted that “her commission has been granted from a heavenly source.”

Read the article, “Our Lady Chaplain,” on page 11 of the February 13, 1943, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Why Preach Divine Healing Today?” by Lee Krupnick

• “The Message of the Scars,” by Noel Perkin

• “Self-Test Questions for Christians,” by W. R. Munger

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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How Men’s Ministries Helped Evangel Temple (Kansas City, MO) to Grow in the 1930s

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This Week in AG History — February 5, 1938

By Glenn Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 5 February 2016

A. A. Wilson (1891-1984) was an early pastor and district superintendent in the Assemblies of God who had a burden for reaching men with the gospel. Born in New Madrid County, Missouri, he was ordained in 1922. His first pastorate was in Puxico, Missouri. He later served as superintendent of the Southern Missouri District AG from 1926-1931.

While serving as district superintendent, he helped start a church in 1928 which he claimed was the first Assemblies of God congregation in Kansas City. Two years later the congregation asked him to become their full-time pastor, and he ministered there for the next 31 years. While he was pastor, the church changed locations from its original building at 13th and College streets and changed its name from Assembly of God Tabernacle to First Assembly of God.

Wilson gives a glowing report of growth in his church in the February 5, 1938 issue of the Pentecostal Evangel in an article entitled “Pentecostal Men at Work in Kansas City, MO, Taking Men for Christ!” He credits the increases to reaching out to men, who in turn brought their families into the church.

Wilson reports in the article that when he came to Kansas City in April 1930, “The first Sunday we found only about 100 in Sunday school, but seeing the possibilities, we began to work and pray, and as a result the last four Sundays we had an average of 794 and last Easter Sunday more than 1,000 attended.” Wanting to see men involved in the church and Sunday school, he exclaimed, “Much is said concerning women and children in the Sunday school, but God has burdened my heart for men.” He further interjects: “Our Pentecostal Movement cannot achieve its best without reaching men.”

The congregation continued to grow, and in 1941 they were able to move to an even large structure on East 31st Street and eventually to Swope Parkway where the name became Evangel Temple AG. Wilson retired from Evangel Temple (now Evangel Church) in 1961, but continued preaching revivals. In his retirement years he also helped establish Park Crest AG (now Life360 Church) in Springfield, Missouri.

Read the article, Pentecostal Men at Work in Kansas City, MO.” On pages 12, 13, and 16 of the February 5, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Spirit-Refined Life,” by Gayle F. Lewis

• “The Gospel Among the Mossi People,” by E. Chastagner

• “The Place of Men in the Work of the Church,” by Ralph M. Riggs

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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