Tag Archives: Assemblies of God

Maria Woodworth-Etter and the Salt Lake City Revival of 1916

This Week in AG History — October 14, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 15 October 2020

Few early Pentecostal evangelists were as widely known as Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924). She traversed North America, holding services in large churches, auditoriums, and tents. Reports of revivals, including souls saved and bodies healed, regularly followed her ministry. People from a variety of backgrounds, including many non-Pentecostals, crowded into her meetings. Many heard about her reputation and sought to be healed.

Woodworth-Etter held an evangelistic campaign in Salt Lake City, Utah, in October 1916. The Pentecostal Evangel issue dated Oct. 7 and 14 promoted the campaign, which began on Oct. 6 and which was expected to continue three weeks or longer. Campaign planners rented an auditorium that seated 1,100, expecting to draw attendees from as far away as Denver, San Francisco, Portland, and Los Angeles.

The article noted that the Assembly of God mission in Salt Lake City was small. It had been opened just two years earlier, in August 1914. Several Assemblies of God evangelists, including Samuel and Sadie Finley, Robert Lowe, and Philip and Catherine Stokeley, helped develop the fledgling flock. Their hearts were drawn toward establishing a ministry of compassion. According to an Oct. 24, 1914, Pentecostal Evangel article, they desired to start a “Rescue Home for fallen girls.” They were unaware of the existence of any similar ministry in the city.

It was with the help of these local leaders in Salt Lake City that Woodworth-Etter began her 1916 campaign. Several weeks into the campaign, Woodworth-Etter’s associate August Feick reported that “there is much interest over a good part of this city.” According to Feick, “Many people are under deep conviction, and people surrender daily to God and get saved. Others again get healed and baptized with the Spirit.” The meetings were held in an auditorium that was a regular venue for boxing matches. Feick wrote, “On the same mat where prize fights are staged — stained with blood — sinners weep their way through to God, and saints receive their baptism.”

Feick reported a deeply spiritual atmosphere, noting that some participants could sense the glory of God present in the auditorium. Others saw a “peculiar mist” in the building, and several had visions of Jesus and angels. Bodily healings convinced many of the reality of the Pentecostal message. Feick explained that these healings were “proof” of the gospel that could not be denied.

These early meetings, over 100 years ago, helped to lay the foundation for the 15 Assemblies of God churches that today share the gospel in Salt Lake City.

Read reports of Maria Woodworth-Etter’s evangelistic 1916 campaign in Salt Lake City in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

October 7-14, 1916 (page 13).

November 4, 1916 (page 15).

Also featured in these issues:

• “Putting the Enemy to Flight,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “What it Costs to be a Missionary,” by Jessie Hertslet

And many more!

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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Charles Elmo Robinson: Early Assemblies of God Lawyer, Minister, and Author

This Week in AG History — October 09, 1926

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 08 October 2020

Charles Elmo Robinson (1867-1954) is one of the unsung leaders of the early Pentecostal movement. He was a minister, a lawyer, and for 22 years (1925-1947) the associate editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Born in Adrian, Michigan, and raised near Lamar, Missouri, Charles Elmo Robinson was converted at age 17 and began preaching in local Methodist churches. He attended law school in Washington, D.C., and passed the bar when he was 21. He practiced law with his father in Kansas City for several years before going into full-time gospel ministry. He married Mollie Cole in 1889, and they had several children.

Robinson’s wife contracted tuberculosis in 1899 and was not expected to live. After Robinson read testimonies of healing in the Leaves of Healing publication, he convinced her to go to Zion, Illinois, where she received healing through the ministry of John Alexander Dowie. The next year, Robinson decided to move with his family to Zion, where he was ordained by Dowie in 1902. In about 1905 his first wife died, and then he married Daisy Woolery in 1907, who also had been a member of Dowie’s church.

Robinson received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and became an Assemblies of God minister, pastoring a number of churches in Arkansas. He was ordained by the Arkansas District Council of the Assemblies of God in 1922.

He was serving as secretary-treasurer of the Arkansas district when he accepted a call to move to Springfield, Missouri, to become associate editor of the Pentecostal Evangel. In addition to his duties in the Evangel office, he served as a consulting attorney at the Assemblies of God national offices.

Robinson was highly respected for his sweet humility and simple faith. He loved people and was a friend to the poor and a support to the weak. His coworkers at the Gospel Publishing House called him “Daddy” Robinson. He seldom shouted, but he had a very close relationship with Christ and would speak to God in prayer as if he was speaking to a friend across the desk. One friend said, “You could not be around ‘Daddy’ Robinson for five minutes without knowing he was a real Christian.”

His prolific writings, in addition to articles in the Pentecostal Evangel and other publications, included books on Christian living, children’s books, tracts, etc.

He wrote a at least 17 books, of which Praying to Change Things is probably the best known. He also wrote Broken Ties, God and His Bible, God’s Mysteries Made Known, His Glorious Church, Guided Hearts, The Governor’s Choice (a historical romance), Lifted Shadows, The Marital Relation, A Modern Pentecost, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, The Winning of Aliene, and Victory! Significantly, evangelical publisher Zondervan published several of his books in the 1930s and 1940s, at a time when it was unusual for major evangelical publishers to promote Pentecostal authors.

His children’s books, such as The Adventures of Keo the Colt, have likewise had a wide circulation. Other children’s books he wrote include: The Adventures of Blacky the Wasp, The Adventures of Hush-Wing the Owl, The Adventures of Sally Cottontail, The Gnat’s Lifeboat and Other Stories, The Hilly Billy, and The Not-Ashamed Club.

He also wrote a number of gospel tracts, including “Are You Sick?” “How God Heals,” “Is Pentecost a New Religion?” etc. In addition, he wrote several articles in Sunday School literature and Christ’s Ambassadors Herald under the pen name of “Rajoma.”

After his retirement as associate editor in 1947, Robinson continued in Bible-teaching ministry in local Assemblies in various parts of the nation until ill health kept him from traveling. His wife, known as “Mother” Robinson, had a successful ministry as a prison chaplain and evangelist. She had a “near-death” experience where she felt the Lord speak to her to begin ministering to prisoners. In about 1931 she began holding services for inmates in the county jail in Springfield, Missouri. She was assisted by students from Central Bible Institute. She also ministered to prisoners at the Missouri State Prison in Jefferson City for many years before retiring. Charles Elmo Robinson and his wife are buried in Eastlawn Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri.

Robinson wrote a series of articles in the Pentecostal Evangel called “Homely Things from a Pastor’s Diary” in which he shared personal aspects of his life in a diary format. Most of these columns he wrote for the Pentecostal Evangel were later published in another book he wrote called A Pastor’s Diary (1937). In these pastor’s sketches, Robinson gives a picture of what it is like to be a pastor. Daily activities for a pastor can include counseling, personal prayer, prayer for the sick, and answers to prayer. A pastor may also deal with personal struggles as well as conflicts in general.

Read “Homely Things from a Pastor’s Diary” on page 6 of the Oct. 9, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Resurrection of the Roman Empire,” by D. M. Panton

• “Division Among Them,” by Robert A. Brown

• “Missionary Value of Gospel Literature,” by William M. Faux

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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Chi Alpha: Birthed with a Vision for Student-Led Spiritual Renewal

This Week in AG History — October 2, 1955

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 01 October 2020

College campuses birthed many of the world’s great Christian revival and reform movements. This fact was not lost on J. Calvin Holsinger, who pioneered Chi Alpha, the Assemblies of God ministry to college students.

In a Pentecostal Evangel article published 65 years ago, Holsinger recounted how Martin Luther, a professor at Wittenberg University, helped to spark the 16th century Protestant Reformation. He also noted that the great Methodist revival of the 18th and 19th centuries began when John Wesley, an Oxford University professor, gathered students for prayer and Bible study. The students in this “Holy Club,” as it came to be called, helped to spread revival across England and, ultimately, around the world.

Even the 20th century Pentecostal movement, Holsinger observed, had origins on a college campus. When students at Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, gathered in 1900 to study the Book of Acts, they experienced a profound spiritual outpouring that helped to birth the worldwide Pentecostal movement.

Why should the Assemblies of God support ministries to college students? To Holsinger, the answer to this question was obvious: history shows that students led many of the greatest revival movements. He asked, “It has been true in the past; why not today?”

Holsinger, at the time, was a professor at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri, and served as campus adviser for the National Christ’s Ambassadors Department, which was the youth organization of the Assemblies of God. He also led a college ministry at Southwest Missouri State College (now Missouri State University), one of a handful of AG campus ministries at non-Assemblies of God schools around the nation.

In 1953, Holsinger began developing plans for a national AG campus ministry at non-Assemblies of God schools. He developed manuals that defined the new organization’s purpose and mission, and he conceived a name — Chi Alpha. In 1955, the fledgling national campus ministry featured three services to college students: a Campus Ambassador magazine offered free to all Assemblies of God college students; local chapters on college campuses; and college chaplains.

By 2020, Chi Alpha had grown to 296 active chapters on campuses in the United States, served by over 1,500 affiliated staff. Chi Alpha is now the fourth-largest evangelical campus organization in the United States, after Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Read the article by J. Calvin Holsinger, “A Campus Witness,” on pages 17 and 20 of the Oct. 2, 1955, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Witnessing of the Acts 1:8 Variety,” by Robert L. Brandt

• “Witch Doctor Saved!” by John L. Franklin.

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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Esther Harvey: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionary to India

This Week in AG History — September 17, 1938

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 17 September 2020

Esther Bragg Harvey (1891-1986) served Jesus Christ and the people of India for 48 years before retiring as an Assemblies of God missionary in 1961. During her first nine years on the field she buried three children and her young husband. Yet when she passed away at age 95, hundreds of Indian children called her “Mama.”

Esther Bragg was not raised in a Christian home; yet at the age of 12 she witnessed the peace her grandfather experienced, singing a hymn as he passed from the earth. The young girl determined to find the God of her grandfather. When she asked about going to church her father forbade her to “get religion.” Bragg would sneak out of the house to attend church, often finding herself locked out of the house on her return. Her father finally told her she must choose between leaving the church or leaving her home. Heartbroken at the thought of leaving her mother, Bragg turned to God in prayer. The Lord gave her a vision of himself carrying His cross. She saw that her cross was much smaller than His and asked the Lord to forgive her and help her to carry whatever cross He laid on her back. Her father soon relented.

In her senior year of high school, Bragg became very ill. Pentecostal believers from a local mission prayed for her and she was healed. She began to attend Pentecostal services and in 1911 enrolled in a short-term Bible school in Norwalk, Ohio, where she met J. Roswell and Alice Flower. The couple led her into an experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and Harvey soon felt that God was leading her to mission work in India.

In obedience, Bragg set sail for India arriving in December 1913. Just a few months after her arrival, word came from a mission in Nawabganj that some American missionaries had to leave suddenly and left a 27-year-old former British soldier, James Harvey, alone to carry on the work. He had no money and no supplies and was in desperate need, traveling from village to village without even a pair of shoes. Bragg felt that she could be helpful and responded in answer to the call for help.

Unbeknownst to the other, both Esther Bragg and James Harvey wrote in their journals that they felt the Lord had brought them together. Soon “together” became the word that defined them, as they were married later that year (1914). Together they received some of the first credentials with the newly formed Assemblies of God, and together they traveled — holding meetings, helping others, encouraging workers, discipling new Christians, and building a school for boys. With joy they discovered that “together” would soon include another little life.

But their dreams were crushed and together they buried their first baby. Another new life promised hope, but a second small grave was dug next to the first. When a third pregnancy brought promise, Esther found herself also gripped with fear. However, God blessed them with a strong and healthy baby girl. A baby boy followed soon after but was soon very sickly and weak. Esther prayed, “Lord, I cannot and I will not give him up. I must keep him.” In her prayer, she was reminded of the commitment she made before she left for India: “I put it all on the altar — the things I know and the things I don’t know.” She realized losing children was one of the things she “didn’t know” and she had already laid them on the altar before they had even been born. Soon the heartbroken parents had three little graves near their mission house. Together James and Esther continued their work.

After bearing four babies in eight years, and burying three of them, the Harvey’s felt they had born well what had been laid on them. Then, in 1922, James became gravely ill. Esther nursed him for a month, while carrying on the school and mission work and caring for their 3-year-old daughter. In her exhaustion, she prayed for God to heal James quickly so she could get some rest. She felt the work was too great for her to carry alone and she could not go on waiting for James to get better. After two days and nights without sleep caring for her husband, Esther physically collapsed when she realized James had slipped away from the bonds of earth.

In her grief and weakness, Harvey fell into a deep depression. She could not pray and despaired that she had failed God in her short 29 years of life. But when she found herself too weak to do any praying on her own, others stepped in to pray for her. Soon she felt her strength return. A friend brought the young widow and her child into her home for rest. The presence of the Lord drew near and she felt resurrection life bring her back from the brink. Previously, she had leaned on her husband for strength, but now the single mother learned to trust the Lord’s strength to be sufficient to help her lead the school her husband had begun in Sharannagar.

Over the next 27 years, Esther established a church and oversaw the James Harvey Memorial School, building a missionary bungalow, sleeping quarters for workers, school buildings, and a dormitory for the orphan boys. In the Sept. 17, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, the editors published an SOS letter from Harvey detailing the destruction of the mission from flooding. They were in a critical place due to collapsing buildings, deadly cobras being washed up into their sleeping areas, and no money to buy food or help with rebuilding. Harvey wrote to the American Assemblies of God church members that, “we are in a desperate situation with not one cent of money to help ourselves or anyone else.” The editors encouraged the Evangel readers to give to “one of our largest mission stations in North India.”

God and the Assemblies of God responded to the need and the James Harvey Secondary School continues to this day in 2020.

After her retirement, Harvey traveled to American churches to share the needs of India. In her book, The Faithfulness of God, she looked back on her life and wrote, “I have had to go through many things, one sorrow after another, but I always found He giveth grace. When we are called to pass through the waters, He is there to hold us up.” She died at age 95, trusting in the God she began seeking at age 12. Even though she buried so many of her own children, her tombstone at Greenlawn Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri, calls her “Mama ji” – the name she was given by the children of northern India.

Read Esther Harvey’s request for help, “Calamity Strikes Sharannagar Mission,” on page 6 of the Sept. 17, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “For Jonathan’s Sake” by Carrie Judd Montgomery

• “Not By…But By” by F.M. Bellsmith

• “Are We Blind Also” by John L. Franklin

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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Dr. Alexander Vazakas: Early Greek-American Pentecostal, Philosopher, Linguist

This Week in AG History — September 2, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 03 September 2020

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 Sept. 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, former 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!

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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Lottie Riekehof and Assemblies of God Ministries to the Deaf

This Week in AG History — July 19, 1941

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 27 August 2020

Lottie Riekehof (1920-2020) was an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, author, and a pioneer in the field of sign language interpreting. She is also remembered for other ministry roles she filled in her almost 100 years of life.

Lottie Louise Riekehof was born in Germany on Aug. 13, 1920. She and her family emigrated to northern New Jersey in 1923 and settled in the town of Elizabeth.

In about 1945 she started working at Calvary Gospel Church in Washington, D.C., as the overseer of a home for Christian women and also assisted the church as a musician. She began learning ASL, a few signs a week, from a deaf woman she met at Calvary Church. She attended Gallaudet College in 1947-1948 and took ASL courses from Dr. Elizabeth Peet, who was considered one of the foremost experts on sign language at that time. This enabled Riekehof to become an interpreter and interpreter educator.

Riekehof earned a B.A. degree in 1951 at Central Bible College (CBC) in Springfield, Missouri, and served as dean of women for 21 years. During this time, she founded the CBC deaf program and trained both deaf college students and interpreters. She received an M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University, where she was engaged in teaching and research at the New York University Center for Research and Training in Deafness.

In 1970 she became dean of women and professor of deaf studies at Gallaudet College. She continued as dean of women at Gallaudet until the college abolished that position in 1974. She became the new coordinator for interpreter training for the American Sign Language program at Gallaudet and later served as department chair until her retirement in 1990.

Riekehof knew that resources for learning sign language were limited, and this led her to write her first book in 1961, called American Sign Language. This book was revised in 1963 with a new title, Talk to the Deaf. Starting in 1978, it was revised again and called The Joy of Signing. Countless hours were spent illustrating and designing the book so that sign language illustrations could help people learn to sign. The book includes a wide range of vocabulary, diagrams, the history of signing, and how to produce signs, etc. That book has sold over two million copies and is still in print. A video version, which includes nine hours of footage, was also produced. Supplemental instruction is also found in two Joy of Signing puzzle books she helped to create.

Much in demand as a seminar speaker and interpreter, Lottie Riekehof conducted workshops on sign language and deaf interpreting in various places in the U.S. as well as in Canada, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and other places. She was also selected as interpreter for special occasion in Washington, D.C., such as President Gerald Ford (in the oval office), Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, Mrs. Richard Nixon, and President Ronald Reagan (at his inauguration).

Riekehof was a long-time resident of Arlington, Virginia. She worked for many years with Linda Martin, an Assemblies of God pastor who is deaf. She and Linda were founding ministers for the Potomac Deaf Church at Arlington Assembly of God in Arlington, Virginia. Linda is the adoptive mother of 29 deaf children adopted from many countries. These children and now grandchildren all considered Lottie Riekehof as their grandmother. Lottie also was a member of Arlington Assembly of God for over 50 years. She served as an organist and pianist and also as a deacon. She passed away on Aug. 6, 2020, just one week short of her 100th birthday.

Riekehof wrote an inspiring report in the Evangel which highlighted Assemblies of God deaf camps in Augusta, Kansas, and Hartford City, Indiana. She described a typical day at camp that included everything from devotions (led by counselors trained in the use of sign language), chapel services, and educational classes to Christian living courses, crafts, and recreation.

The evening worship included “singing” using sign language, with personal testimonies also given in sign language. One lady who attended the camp in Indiana testified, “I learned here that I must be born again!” A woman from Kansas wanted to attend both the Kansas and Indiana camps because, as she put it, “I was afraid I would grow cold again.”

Read “Salvation for all the Camp” on pages 12-13 of the Aug. 29, 1954, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Receive Ye the Holy Ghost,” by J. Roswell Flower

• “Revival in Chile,” by Mrs. John C. Jackson

• “Joshua’s Last Campaign,” by E. S. Williams

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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Andrew Urshan and the Persecution of Early Pentecostals in Iran

This Week in AG History — August 19, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 20 August 2020

Andrew D. Urshan (1884-1967), the son of a Presbyterian pastor in Persia (now Iran), immigrated to the United States in 1901. He was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1908 in Chicago, where he started a Persian Pentecostal mission. He returned to his homeland in 1914 as an Assemblies of God missionary and, amidst much persecution, helped to establish an enduring Pentecostal church.

Urshan shared his testimony in a series of three articles published in 1916 in the Pentecostal Evangel. Persia was a melting pot of numerous people groups, including Arabs, Jews, and Armenians. But Urshan felt a call to minister to his own people, the Assyrians. The Assyrians, who mostly belonged to various Christian churches, had a long history of suffering as a persecuted religious and ethnic minority.

Interestingly, most of the persecution experienced by Urshan and other Pentecostals came from other Christians. Urshan recounted that Muslim leaders treated him with respect, because the Pentecostals and the Muslims shared similar moral values. When Urshan was placed in jail for preaching the gospel, Muslim leaders stated, “He says people shouldn’t get drunk, and that is why they have imprisoned him.”

Pentecostal revival spread in the Assyrian community. Urshan related the stories of the birth of Pentecostal churches in five towns. In each new church, miracles and changed lives were accompanied by suffering. In the town of Urmia, a mob of Eastern Orthodox Christians attacked a group of Pentecostal girls who were headed to church. The mob shot their rifles at the young converts, hitting three and killing one of the girls. The grief and violence did not deter the Pentecostals from meeting. Ultimately, about 50 people accepted Christ and were baptized in the Holy Spirit in Urmia. Similar stories happened in each town touched by Pentecostal revival.

Urshan pleaded for readers in America to learn from the deep spirituality of Persian believers. He wrote, “I have seen young girls like some of you interceding and agonizing for the salvation of souls in the whole world.” These young Persians, he explained, “walked carefully, with their eyes and hearts filled with God, singing praises unto Jesus, and pleading tearfully with souls, before their persecutors.”

When Urshan returned to America, he was troubled by the lack of consecration he found in some churches. Many Christians he met seemed to live “careless” lives and seemed most interested in “fashions of dress” and “the pleasures of this world.” Urshan wrote that he “suffered in the spirit” for American Christians. People who are “in danger of death,” he surmised, may actually be better off spiritually. Americans, he believed, should seek to cultivate spiritual depth by learning from the suffering church.

Read the series of three articles by Andrew D. Urshan, “Pentecost in Persia,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Click here for the Aug. 19, 1916, issue.

Click here for the Aug. 26, 1916, issue.

Click here for the Sept. 2, 1916, issue.

Also featured in the Aug. 19, 1916, issue:

• “The Unity of the Spirit,” by W. Jethro Walthall

• “Daily Portion from the King’s Bounty,” by Alice Reynolds Flower

And many more!

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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Paul and Evelyn Derr: Eyewitnesses to the Sinking of the ZamZam

Zamzam_1400This Week in AG History — July 19, 1941

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 23 July 2020

One of the gripping stories from World War II is the sinking of the ZamZam and the rescue of its inhabitants. Paul K. Derr gave an eyewitness account of the ZamZam voyage in 1941.

After completing a furlough, Assemblies of God missionaries Paul (1895-1986) and Evelyn Derr (1897-1994) boarded the Egyptian ship ZamZam to return to the former British Tanganika Territory. Traveling with them were their daughter, Ruth, and her husband, Claude Keck. A total of 136 missionaries and family members from 19 different faiths, as well as many others of all walks of life were on board the ship. It was carrying civilian passengers and was neutral in the war.

No one expected the ship to sink in the Atlantic Ocean!

On March 27, 1941, eight months before the U.S. entered World War II, the ship left New York bound for Alexandria, Egypt, stopping at Trinidad and Brazil and then heading toward the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

Early on the morning of April 17, amid the darkness of night, the German raider Atlantis (disguised as the freighter, Tamesis) misidentified the ZamZam as a British troopship and began shelling the ship without warning, striking it multiple times. The boat began sinking. Almost immediately, the panic-stricken passengers scrambled to lifeboats, although several of the lifeboats had been damaged by the gunfire.

The passengers and crew successfully evacuated, and the crew of the Atlantis eventually rescued everyone, and only a few were injured. Afterward the Germans sank what remained of the ZamZam with explosives.

Except for three men very critically injured, the ZamZamers were transferred from the raider to a small German freighter on April 18, the day after the sinking. The name of the freighter was Dresden, but for the ZamZamers it came to be known as “the prison ship.” They remained on that ship for almost six weeks, not knowing their fate.

The U.S. was not yet in World War II, so the Germans released the Derrs and other Americans to neutral Portugal. The Derrs were able to board an American ship called Exeter and then returned to the U.S. for the duration of the war.

Derr, in recalling the trauma, wrote, “We look back and see that our faith in God has been strengthened and our trust has become more sure in the Lord who cares for His own.”

After the war, Paul and Evelyn Derr returned to the land of their calling, serving as missionaries for three more years in Tanganyika Territory. They also served a term in Jamaica before retiring from missionary service.

This story of the sinking of the ZamZam was extensively covered by LIFE Magazine because one of their photojournalists was on the ship and took over 1,500 pictures, although most of these pictures were confiscated by the Germans. Now, almost 80 years later, this dramatic story is still captivating.

Read “Our Experience on the Zam Zam” on pages 1 and 11 of the July 19, 1941, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Plan For Setting the World Aflame,” by Sarah Foulkes Moore

• “Judgment and Revival,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “The Place of Refuge is the Place of Light,” by J. Narver Gortner

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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J. Robert Ashcroft’s Remarkable Warning from 1957 about Secularism, Statism, and Paganism

Ashcroft1This Week in AG History — July 14, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 16 July 2020

Sixty-three years ago, J. Robert Ashcroft delivered a remarkable address that encouraged the Assemblies of God to invest in Christian higher education. Pentecostals must train the next generation of “thinkers and doers,” he surmised, or lose their young to the forces of “selfism, secularism, (and) scientism.”

Ashcroft’s message, delivered at the 1957 commencement for Evangel College (now Evangel University), warned that family, church, and freedom were threatened by three emerging trends in society: secularism, statism, and paganism. All Americans, he noted, are subject to these societal pressures. It will be difficult, he predicted, for Christians to remain true to biblical values.

Secularism, the first trend that Ashcroft identified, results in the compartmentalization of religious beliefs from other daily activities. This runs counter to the Christian faith because, he noted, Christianity is concerned with “the whole of life.” While Ashcroft recognized a distinction between the secular and the sacred, he expressed concern that making the distinction “too severe” would harm both the secular and sacred elements.

A society that dispels the influence of religion impairs its ability to reflect deeply about morality and human need. Ashcroft noted that a society that jettisons religion ends up “sinking in a quagmire of immorality.” Ashcroft was quite clear: “Secularism leads to depravity.”

Statism, the second trend identified by Ashcroft, is when the state takes over most or all spheres of life, leaving little room for freedom of conscience. The state becomes the ultimate authority and the arbiter of morality. Ashcroft pointed to communism as typifying the statist approach. Statism undermines human dignity and freedom. “The individual must rise above statism,” he asserted, noting that Christians schools are an important bulwark for freedom.

Ashcroft identified paganism, the third trend, as “de-centered religion” — spirituality that de-emphasizes the person of Christ and biblical truths. “Orthodoxy and old-fashioned holiness,” Ashcroft noted, “are held up to ridicule while paganism and superficial religion are receiving the plaudits of men.”

How can Christians promote biblical values in a society that has drifted from its Christian roots? Ashcroft noted that many colleges and universities began as Christian institutions but over time drifted from their founding values and mission. A Christian heritage does not guarantee a Christian future. Christians must not reject higher education as ungodly, Ashcroft advised, and should instead work to develop institutions that reflect their values.

In his address, Ashcroft expressed a high calling for Evangel College — that it become “a true fountainhead of spiritual leadership, Christian character, and devoted orthodoxy.” This mission — that Assemblies of God schools serve as a training ground for reflective, faithful Christian leaders — remains a focus for the Fellowship 63 years later.

Read J. Robert Ashcroft’s commencement address, “A Call to Christian Service,” on pages 4-5 and 20-21 of the July 14, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Let the Fire Fall!” by Bert Webb

* “Should Christians Drink? Smoke?” by Betty Stirling

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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P.C. Nelson’s 1934 Plea for Liberal Arts Education in the Assemblies of God

PCNelson1This Week in AG History — June 16, 1934

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 18 June 2020

Peter C. (P. C.) Nelson, an Assemblies of God educator and theologian, made an eloquent plea for Pentecostal schools to develop curriculum in the liberal arts and to train students for non-ministry vocations in a 1934 Pentecostal Evangel article. Up to that point, all Assemblies of God colleges focused on the training of people for ministry. Nelson noted that increasing numbers of Assemblies of God young people have an “anointing of the Spirit for doing a worthy work in other fields besides that of the ministry.”

Nelson warned readers that the “moral and spiritual conditions in most schools and colleges” cause many Pentecostal young people to abandon the faith. “If we want our young people to remain loyal to our Movement,” Nelson wrote, “our Fellowship must provide instruction for them along all branches of study.” He envisioned new courses that would train teachers, musicians, businesspeople, stenographers, accountants, engineers, architects, carpenters, masons, auto mechanics, and printers.

Where would this new liberal arts school be located? Nelson suggested that Central Bible College, the national ministerial training school of the Assemblies of God, located in Springfield, Missouri, would be an ideal location. He recommended that its facilities be enlarged so that it could train even more ministers and also add a liberal arts curriculum.

Nelson was not alone in his support for the development of Pentecostal liberal arts education. His article received the unanimous support of the Executive Presbytery. There was a growing recognition that the Assemblies of God should develop educational programs for training young people in fields other than vocational ministry. Nelson began his article by pointing out that the Assemblies of God constitution, adopted in 1927, included the following paragraph: “The General Council shall be in sympathy with the establishment and maintenance of academic schools for the children of our constituency.”

Although Nelson did not mention it in his article, this vision for a Pentecostal liberal arts curriculum dated back to the founding of the Assemblies of God. The “Call to Hot Springs” — the open invitation to all Pentecostal “elders, pastors, ministers, evangelists, and missionaries” to attend the first General Council of the Assemblies of God — enumerated five purposes for the meeting. The fifth purpose was “to lay before the body for a General Bible Training School with a literary department for our people.” The phrase “literary department” was a 19th– and early-20th-century term that roughly corresponds to “liberal arts” today.

Nelson’s call for Central Bible College to train ministers alongside laypersons was not realized during his lifetime. However, other Assemblies of God Bible schools began expanding their curriculum. North Central Bible Institute (now North Central University, Minneapolis, Minnesota) added a two-year business college in 1938. Southwestern Bible College (now Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Waxahachie, Texas), the school founded by Nelson, opened a junior college in 1944. Northwest Bible Institute (now Northwest University, Kirkland, Washington) also added a junior college in 1955. That same year, the Assemblies of God established its new national liberal arts school, Evangel College (now Evangel University), in Springfield, Missouri.

Nelson encouraged readers to invest in Assemblies of God young people who possess “real sterling character, native ability, and spirituality.” The value of Pentecostal schools, asserted Nelson, “exceeds the cost…No investment will pay a larger dividend.”

Read the entire article by P. C. Nelson, “Enlarging Our Educational Facilities,” on page 7 of the June 16, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Finishing Our Course,” by Zelma Argue

• “Are the Gifts of the Spirit for Today?” by Otto J. Klink

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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