Tag Archives: Asambleas de Dios

Alice E. Luce: Spanish-Speaking Pentecostals Have Three Special Claims

LABI

Faculty and students at Latin American Bible Institute, Los Angeles, California; circa 1941. Alice Luce (back row, far left); Josue Cruz (back row, 3rd from left), Demetrio Bazan (back row, 5th from left). Others unidentified.

This Week in AG History — June 25, 1927

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 27 June 2019

“A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time” (Isaiah 60:22). Alice Luce, an educator and missionary to Spanish speakers along the U.S.-Mexican border, referred to this verse in 1927 when describing the burgeoning Hispanic work in the Assemblies of God.

Luce noted that, only 12 years earlier, Henry C. Ball started a small Pentecostal mission among refugees from the Mexican Civil War who settled in Ricardo, Texas. What began as a small work quickly blossomed into an important and growing part of the Assemblies of God.

Luce tallied the existence of over 100 Spanish speaking congregations that served between 2,000 and 3,000 converts. Two Spanish language Bible schools were begun the prior year, one by Ball in Texas and another by Luce in California. These two schools, now known as Christ Mission College (San Antonio, Texas) and LABI College (La Puente, California), continue to serve an important role by training Spanish speaking ministers.

But the Spanish work in the Assemblies of God made an impact that stretched into the broader Christian tradition. In 1916 Ball published a Spanish language hymnal, Himnos de Gloria, that enjoyed wide distribution among Christians of all denominational stripes in the Western hemisphere. No fewer than 115,000 copies had been sold as of 1927. Ball’s monthly periodical, La Luz Apostolica, had a circulation of 2,000. In 1924, Casa Evangélicas de Publicaciones (Gospel Publishing House), was formed in San Antonio, Texas, and churned out countless pieces of Spanish language literature that circled the globe.

Luce wrote that the Spanish speaking churches could make a “special claim.” She identified three things that, taken together, set apart the missions work among the Hispanics. First, she believed that the Bible commanded Americans to be a witness to Mexicans. She wrote that Jesus commanded Christians to testify “first in Jerusalem (which for us means the town where we live), next in all Judea (which would represent our home country), and then in Samaria, which must represent Mexico, our nearest neighbor. These were all to be evangelized before the disciples should proceed to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

The second special claim of Hispanic ministry, according to Luce, was its “great fruitfulness.” She wrote, “from a purely business point of view this work has a special claim upon us, because its converts are numbered by the thousand, most of them receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost soon after they believe.” Importantly, she noted that the Hispanic work quickly became indigenous: “new missions are continually springing up, the message of full salvation being carried from place to place by the converts themselves.”

Thirdly, Luce wrote, “This Latin American work appeals to us in a special way because it can be done so easily and with so little expense.” This ministry did not require a passport or fundraising, just “the trouble to get a few Spanish tracts and go from door to door in the Mexican quarter of your own town.”

When Luce quoted Isaiah 60:22, she implied that the growing Spanish speaking constituency in the Assemblies of God would become “a strong nation.” Her prediction came true. In 2017, 23.2% of Assemblies of God adherents (744,297 people) in the United States were Hispanic.

Read the entire article by Alice E. Luce, “The Latin-American Pentecostal Work,” on pages 6 and 7 of the June 25, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Living in the Lord’s Banqueting House,” by A. G. Ward

• “Pentecostal Seekers,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “The Next War”

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Cross-Cultural Ministry in 1922: Mexican Refugees in Texas Reach Out to African Americans

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By the 1930s, Hispanic Assemblies of God congregations had been organized across America. This photo is of a girls Sunday school class, Templo Cristiano, San Antonio, Texas, in June 1930 or 1931.

This Week in AG History — July 8, 1922

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 5 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also featured in this issue:

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

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

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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

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Filed under History, Missions