Tag Archives: Assemblies of God

Frodsham: Prophecy Fulfilled by Pentecostal Participation in National Association of Evangelicals

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This Week in AG History–May 10, 1947
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 7 May 2015

Pentecostals were relatively isolated from mainstream Protestantism in the early twentieth century. When the Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal churches were invited to become founding members of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in 1942, it was a watershed event that paved the way for increased cooperation between Pentecostals and other theologically conservative evangelical churches.

In 1947, Pentecostal Evangel Editor Stanley H. Frodsham recounted how participation in the NAE seemed to be a fulfillment of prophecy. Frodsham recalled that, years earlier, “a mature Pentecostal saint” made the following prediction: “The time will assuredly come when God will unite all true children of God in real heart fellowship, and will break down all the barriers that are now separating us from one another.”

The early Pentecostals who heard this prediction, according to Frodsham, discerned that it was in accordance with Scripture: “In our hearts we were convinced that this was a true prophecy, for did not our Lord Jesus pray that they (all His children) may be one?”

While the Bible admonished believers to exhibit unity, such unity was elusive. Frodsham lamented that “the saints have been busy through the centuries building denominational and sectarian walls of partition between themselves and other saints.”

Tearing down these walls of division among believers was one of the reasons why the Assemblies of God formed, Frodsham reminded readers. He wrote, “At the first Council of the Assemblies of God, held at Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1914, the ministers who attended all came with one mind, determined to oppose the raising of walls that would separate us as a Pentecostal people from other children of God.”

Frodsham believed the formation of the NAE helped to achieve the vision of unity promoted in the Bible and by early Pentecostals. He noted that the NAE brought together different strands within the broader evangelical family: “When the National Association of Evangelicals came into being five years ago, those who called for the convention did what no other group of Fundamentalist believers had done before – they invited the brethren of both the Holiness and the Pentecostal groups.”

Moreover, the NAE helped usher Pentecostals into the evangelical mainstream and also provided opportunities for interaction between the churches: “They recognized us as a people outstandingly aggressive in evangelism and missionary vision, and acknowledged that our coming together with others who are true to the fundamentals of the faith could mean mutual blessing,” Frodsham stated.

Today the Assemblies of God is the largest of the 39 denominations that are members of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Read Stanley Frodsham’s entire article, “Fifth Annual Convention of the NAE,” on pages 6 and 7 of the May 10, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “When Mother Looked!” by John Wright Follette
• “Divine Rules for Parents,” by S. M. Padgett
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

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Mary Weems Chapman: Called to the Prostitutes and Untouchables of South India

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This Week in AG History–April 18, 1925
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 15 April 2015

When veteran missionary Mary Weems Chapman (1857-1927) felt God’s call to return to India, her family told her she was too old. But she persevered and became the first Assemblies of God missionary to South India. A veteran Free Methodist missionary before identifying with the Pentecostal movement, Mary was well-known in Holiness circles for her preaching, teaching, and writing. But she was perhaps best known for her advocacy of ministry to girl prostitutes and the “untouchables” – members of India’s lowest social caste.

Mary and her husband, George, were pioneer leaders in the Pentecost Bands, a Free Methodist missions organization known for promoting both holiness and social ministry. They founded the Free Methodist work in Monrovia, Liberia, in 1889.

Mary was a prolific author. She edited a volume of writings by Holiness advocate Eunice Parsons Cobb, “Mother Cobb, or Sixty Years with God” (1896). She also served a one year stint (1898) as founding editor of “Missionary Tidings,” published by the General Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Free Methodist Church.

George seemingly disappeared from Mary’s writings and missionary reports in the 1890s and 1900s. Whether he died or something else happened is unknown. But she continued in ministry as a single woman. She spent time in India, where she worked at a “Pentecostal Rescue Home” that plucked young girls out of prostitution and provided education and spiritual help.

Single and aging, she returned to America. But she could not shake the sense that God wanted her to help the suffering girls of India. By 1911 she surfaced in Pentecostal periodicals, writing gut-wrenching articles about the great need to rescue girls in India who had been sold into sexual slavery.

Feeling a holy restlessness, Mary decided to return to India. She was approaching 60 years old. Her family tried to dissuade her, telling her she was too old to endure the rigors of missionary work. But her mind was made up. She told her family, “If young people are not able to go, old people must go.”

Mary arrived in India one hundred years ago, in 1915, and established her first missionary base in Doddaballapur, near Bangalore. She conducted evangelistic meeting in numerous parts of South India. In 1917, she affiliated with the Assemblies of God and became that Fellowship’s first missionary in South India.

Mary’s extensive writing and editing skills proved useful in her missions work. She was concerned by the poor discipleship of new converts and by the vast amount of anti-Christian and anti-Pentecostal literature that was causing confusion. To help remedy these problems, in 1925 she co-founded a magazine called Penthecosthu Kahalam (Pentecostal Trumpet) in the Malayalam language. She also wrote over 50 articles and letters published in the Pentecostal Evangel from 1913 to 1927.

In one of those letters, published in the April 18, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Mary described the plight of the Dalits, also called the “untouchables” because of their low social position. She described the joy of the Dalits who accepted Christ and were “adopted in the family of heaven.” She noted that her missionary colleagues started a school to educate young converts, because Dalits were not permitted to attend school with people from other classes in Indian society.

After 10 years of ministry under the Assemblies of God banner, Mary Weems Chapman died on November 27, 1927. She was 70 years old.

Samuel Jabarethnan, Chapman’s interpreter for the last eight years of her life, wrote the following tribute: “I found Sister Chapman to be a most devoted and spiritual missionary. She stood not just for the Pentecostal experience, but emphasized the need for a deep spiritual, sanctified life…Sister Chapman was never satisfied with shallow, superficial things, either in a worker, a Christian or an assembly. She demanded reality and set the example in her own life…Sister Chapman loved to spend much of her time in prayer. She never allowed the duties or responsibilities of her work to interfere with her prayer life. She labored and groaned in deep intercessory prayer for the souls of men to be saved, and as a result the Lord richly blessed her ministry.”

Read Mary Chapman’s article, “Ministering to the Untouchables,” on page 11 of the April 18, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Faith in the Invisible,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Gleanings from the Book of Ruth,” by A. G. Ward

• “Denying Self,” by Alice Rowlands Frodsham

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

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Elsie Peters, Pioneer of Assemblies of God Deaf Ministries

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This Week in AG History–April 11, 1931
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 9 April 2015

Elsie Peters (1898-1965) was the earliest known Assemblies of God minister to the deaf. Peters’ call to deaf ministry came in 1919, when she befriended a deaf couple in Springfield, Missouri. At the time, Peters was a housewife with three children. One day, when stopping to catch her breath from the busyness of daily life, she uttered a little prayer, “Lord, what can I do for You today?” To her surprise, she felt the Lord answer her with the following instruction: “Go and visit a deaf mute.”

Peters visited a local deaf couple, Sullivan and Addie Chainey, who gladly welcomed her into their home. They told her that they often felt overlooked. It was difficult for them to make friends. Through their friendship with Peters, the Chaineys eventually accepted Christ and also entered into deaf ministry.

Elsie’s husband, Grover, worked for the railroad. His job meant they had to relocate to a new city every few years. In each new city, Elsie immersed herself in ministry. When they moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1920, Elsie brought with her a passion for working with deaf people. She could not keep quiet about the calling God had placed in her heart.

Assemblies of God leaders in Texas confirmed Elsie’s calling and, in 1924, ordained her to the ministry. In 1926, she secured the use of the Y.M.C.A. building in Fort Worth and held what she deemed to be the first Pentecostal revival services for the deaf. Deaf came from across the Midwest to attend the services. She later held similar revival campaigns across America, helping to meet the spiritual needs of the deaf and raising the profile of the deaf community within the church.

In the late 1920s, Elsie and Grover moved to Los Angeles. Elsie saw the move as an opportunity to reach the city’s large deaf community, which had been largely ignored by other churches. They launched the first Assemblies of God church started specifically for the deaf — First Full Gospel Church for the Deaf. The first service was held in a small mission on Hoover Street on Tuesday, October 29, 1929. That same day the stock markets crashed, which resulted in the Great Depression. But the small mission flourished and soon relocated to a 300-seat stucco church with parsonage. The April 11, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel included a report of this first Assemblies of God deaf congregation.

From this inauspicious beginning, the Assemblies of God ministry to the deaf emerged. Lottie Riekehof began teaching sign language at Central Bible Institute in 1948, and Home Missions (now U.S. Missions) created a division for Deaf Ministries in 1953. In 2014, the Assemblies of God included 33 deaf culture churches and 538 churches with some type of ministry in working with deaf people in the United States.

See the report and photograph of the First Full Gospel Church for the Deaf on page 13 of the April 11, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “An Open Door in Africa,” by W. Lloyd Shirer

• “A Visit to Central America and Mexico,” by Sunshine (Mrs. H. C.) Ball

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

– See more at: http://penews.org/Article/This-Week-in-AG-History-April-11-1931/#sthash.hQubSM28.dpuf

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

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Pentecostals, Pacifism, and Religious Liberty in World War I: The Waldron Case

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This Week in AG History–April 5, 1919
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 2 April 2015

Clarence H. Waldron (1885-1926), an early Baptist-turned-Pentecostal minister, became the central figure in the first important criminal court case involving religious opposition to World War I. Newspapers across America carried reports of Waldron’s trial in 1918 for violations of the Federal Espionage Act. Later historians dissected the case, determining that the pastor was likely unjustly convicted based on suspect allegations made by members of his Vermont Baptist church who did not like their pastor’s embrace of the Pentecostal revival.

The pages of the Pentecostal Evangel remained silent about the Waldron case until April 5, 1919, when Samuel R. Waldron, an Assemblies of God minister, reported on the status of his son. The Pentecostal Evangel editor prefaced the elder Waldron’s letter by noting, “Many of our readers have been interested in what is known as the ‘Waldron Case.'” Undoubtedly many Pentecostals were apprehensive about the case’s outcome. Waldron’s case carried weighty implications regarding religious liberty for Americans.

Waldron had been accused of attempting to undermine the U.S. government in a time of war. Early Pentecostals, like most other premillennialists of that era, preached that believers should be fully committed to Christ and His kingdom. They admonished avoidance of worldly entanglements that would conflict with their heavenly allegiance. Accordingly, most Pentecostals avoided politics. Many likewise believed that killing in war was moral compromise. When America entered World War I, it became increasingly difficult for Pentecostals to maintain their pacifist stance in the face of intense societal pressure to support the war effort.

Waldron had a respectable, successful background in Baptist ministry. He was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1907. When he accepted the pastorate of the Baptist church in Windsor, Vermont, in 1915, the church’s prospects seemed bleak. But Waldron’s energetic and winsome ministry won hearts and converts, and by 1917 attendance had tripled. In that year, a Pentecostal evangelist began holding revival services in Windsor. Waldron and about half of his growing congregation attended the services and embraced the Pentecostal movement. A segment of the church that opposed the revival decided to force the resignation of Waldron. They did this by accusing him of violating the Federal Espionage Act.

Did Waldron “willfully attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, and refusal of duty in the United States military forces”? This was the question that the courts tried to resolve. Waldron’s accusers identified at least two events they believed constituted offenses. First, Waldron refused to allow his church to participate in a patriotic-themed “Liberty Loan Sunday” event. He told his congregation that he believed that Sunday morning services should be reserved for preaching the gospel and not for politics or nationalism. Second, they accused Waldron of advising his church members, through preaching and the distribution of literature, that Christians should not bear arms in war.

A trial in January 1918 ended with a hung jury. Jury members could not reach a verdict, in part because they identified significant bias by witnesses on both sides. Cross-examination seemed to reveal that a church squabble was at the heart of the case, and Waldron’s accusers seemed to be using the law to force the pastor to resign.

At a second trial, in March 1918, the judge did not allow testimony regarding the anti-Pentecostal religious prejudice of Waldron’s accusers. The jury returned a guilty verdict and the judge sentenced Waldron to 15 years in federal prison.

The 1919 letter from Waldron’s father, published in the Pentecostal Evangel, reported that President Woodrow Wilson had commuted his sentence following the conclusion of the war. Waldron, according to his father, almost died from influenza and pneumonia during his year-long incarceration.

Shortly after his release from prison, Clarence Waldron received ordination with the Assemblies of God and moved to California. He spent the remaining years of his life in bivocational ministry, working in secular employment and occasionally ministering alongside Aimee Semple McPherson in San Diego and Los Angeles. Waldron’s trial and imprisonment had broken his health. He died in 1926 at the age of 41.

The trial of Clarence H. Waldron was widely reported in the press in 1917 and 1918, and historians have studied it ever since. The Waldron case highlights the fragility of religious liberty. Historian Gene Sessions, in his definitive 1993 article on the Waldron case published in “Vermont History,” concluded the following:

“In Windsor that national legislation, ostensibly directed against spies, provided a way to remove from town an individual whose religious views had split his congregation and embarrassed his denomination’s state hierarchy and whose pacifism, rooted in those same views, had confused and infuriated local patriots … the Espionage Act became in the hands of Windsor citizens a potent instrument for disciplining, harassing, and punishing a neighbor no longer welcome.”

While Clarence Waldron was tried for his advocacy of pacifism, the Waldron case stands for a broader proposition — that religious liberty needs to be carefully guarded.

Read “A Note of Praise,” by Samuel R. Waldron, on page 14 of the April 5, 1919, issue of the Christian Evangel [the predecessor of the Pentecostal Evangel].

Other articles also featured in this issue of the Evangel include:
• “The Pentecostal Baptism: Its Foundation,” by David H. McDowell
• “Healed and Filled with the Spirit,” by Mrs. E. M. Whittemore
And many more! Click here to read this issue now.

The fascinating account of Waldron’s trial, “Espionage in Windsor: Clarence H. Waldron and Patriotism in World War I,” published in the Summer 1993 issue of Vermont History, is accessible by clicking here.

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

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Methodist and United Brethren Churches Embrace 1919 Pentecostal Revival in Baltimore


This Week in AG History–March 19, 1921
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 19 March 2015

Methodist and United Brethren congregations in Baltimore, Maryland, embraced a revival sparked by Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson in 1919. McPherson, the most widely-known Pentecostal evangelist of her era in the United States, was a gifted orator who built bridges between Pentecostals and evangelicals. Her messages, focusing primarily on salvation, healing, and the spiritual life, garnered the cooperation of churches of various denominations. She was a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God for several years (1919-1922) prior to forming the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

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McPherson’s evangelistic efforts in Baltimore began with three weeks of daily services in the Lyric Theatre, December 4-21, 1919. Numerous healings attracted the attention of the secular press. She was invited to hold services in two Methodist and one United Brethren churches, where large audiences gathered to hear the female evangelist who preached that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”

McPherson returned to Baltimore in January 1920, where she held meetings for several weeks at the Franklin Street Memorial United Brethren Church (pastored by Edward Leech). After she left, Leech and another staff pastor at the church continued to hold special prayer meetings and revival services. The Pentecostal Evangel reprinted a 1921 report of the ongoing revival, authored by Leech and originally published in the United Brethren Church’s denominational periodical.

According to Leech, hundreds of people had accepted Christ and “a large number were instantaneously healed” in his church. In an era of religious skepticism, the healings provided proof of God’s power. “Surely no one will be so skeptical,” wrote Leech, “as to doubt the power of God to touch the sick with healing now as in that first century.”

Leech was initially cautious about telling others in his denomination that he had embraced the Pentecostal revival. He remained quiet about it for about a year, he wrote, “to test out my own church and people.” But in his 1921 article he proclaimed, “today I am fully persuaded as to the genuineness of the full gospel program.” He spoke favorably of McPherson’s ministry: “She preaches the whole truth, attracts the crowds, fills the altar with sinners and backsliders, prays down healing for the sick, and seeks to deepen the spiritual life of believers.”

McPherson, like many other early Pentecostals, aimed to build the kingdom of God and not merely a denomination. Leech warmly embraced this aim, writing that he had never before seen such levels of “cooperation” and “Christian love and fellowship.”

Read the article, “Big Revival in Baltimore,” on page 6 of the March 19, 1921, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel .

Also featured in this issue:

• “Is the Holy Spirit in All Believers?” by J. T. Boddy

• “The Modern Church in Effigy,” by W. V. Kneisley

• “The Coming Chinese Church”

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

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Robert Brown: The Irish Immigrant Who Became a Pentecostal Pioneer in New York City


This Week in AG History–March 6, 1948
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 5 March 2015

Robert A. Brown (1872-1948), with his wife Marie, founded Glad Tidings Tabernacle in New York City, which for many years was the largest congregation in the Assemblies of God. However, Robert began his life on the other side of the world and spent his youth far away from God. The March 6, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel published Robert’s life story.

Robert was born in a small town in Northern Ireland and grew into a tall, athletic, and popular young man. Seeking adventure, he moved to England and became a police officer. Robert went to the pubs, drank alcohol, and participated in the destructive habits of the world. He was an unlikely candidate to become a minister of the gospel.

One of Robert’s cousins in Ireland accepted Christ, became a zealous preacher, and began to pray for Robert. When Robert traveled back to Ireland to see his family, he decided to go hear his cousin preach. He thought he could make fun of his cousin’s newfound faith. But Robert was deeply impressed by his cousin’s earnest preaching and changed life. At the end of the service, his cousin came over to Robert and pleaded with him to turn his life over to God. Robert refused, but the Holy Spirit grabbed hold of his heart. The young policeman felt conviction for his sins and could not shake the sense that he needed to submit his life to God. For three days he experienced heavy conviction until, at last, Robert surrendered his life to the Lord in his family’s old Irish farm house.

Two of Robert’s close friends were also converted, and together the three young men decided to immigrate to America. They arrived in New York City in 1898. Robert studied for the ministry and was ordained by the Wesleyan Methodist Church. He displayed genuine faith and he lived out the gospel story in his lifestyle. He was a bivocational minister, working as chief engineer at a government building while also engaging in church work.

One day, in 1907, he decided to attend a service held a small Holiness mission in New York City. Two young women ministers, Marie Burgess and Jessie Brown (not related to Robert), led the service and were fearlessly preaching the Pentecostal message. Robert was moved by their preaching, but he refused to accept their contention that biblical spiritual gifts, such as speaking in tongues, were still available for Christians today. Yet he continued to attend their services, perhaps because of the spiritual power he sensed.

The meetings led by Marie Burgess and Jessie Brown grew in attendance. The growing congregation relocated to larger quarters, and the female preachers asked Robert to give the dedication sermon. He did, and two drunken bums accepted Christ that night. Robert still did not fully accept the Pentecostal message. He could not deny that God was present in the meetings. The gospel was being preached with miraculous results. Souls were being saved and bodies were healed.

Robert was asked to preach again, and he decided to preach on Acts 2:4 and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. As Robert preached, he grew under great conviction that he needed to experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He received the experience a little while later, on January 11, 1908.

Love blossomed, and Robert’s ministry colleague became his wife. He married Marie Burgess in 1909, and they established what became Glad Tidings Tabernacle. Robert had significant ministry and personality giftings. But, according to the Pentecostal Evangel article, he continually “expressed contempt” for the thought that he should rely on his gifts rather than on the Holy Spirit. He considered his gifts “unworthy substitutes for the power from on High.”

Robert loved the character “Valiant-for-Truth” in John Bunyan’s classic book, The Pilgrim’s Progress. He would often quote Valiant-for-Truth’s famous line, “I am a pilgrim, and am going to the Celestial City.” Similarly, Robert viewed himself as a pilgrim in a strange land, destined for heaven where his true citizenship lay.

Robert Brown became an Assemblies of God executive presbyter in 1915 and served numerous leadership roles, in addition to pastoring one of the most influential churches. But the Pentecostal Evangel article recalled his spiritual influence as his greatest trait. Robert Brown, the article extolled, “always stood for the highest standards of righteousness and holiness.”

Read the article, “Called Home,” on pages 3 and 11 of the March 6, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Pentecostal Revival in the Congo,” by Edmund Hodgson

• “The Test of True Discipleship,” by Robert A. Brown

• “A Mighty Revival at C.B.I.,” by Kathleen Belknap

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

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Mexican Americans and Pentecostal Growth During the Great Depression

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This Week in AG History–February 12, 1932
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 12 February 2015

While the Great Depression (beginning in 1929) affected everyone in the United States, it was particularly devastating to refugees who had fled the Mexican Revolution. Over one million people left the violence and poverty of Mexico and moved to the United States between 1910 and 1920. By 1932, about 200,000 of those refugees had returned to Mexico because they were unable to find shelter or food in the United States.

It was during this economic downturn that great growth occurred in the Assemblies of God among Mexicans in the United States and in Mexico. H. C. Ball, the legendary Assemblies of God missionary to Hispanics, wrote about these struggles and growth in an article published in the February 13, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Ball noted that most Mexican-American Pentecostals were poor laborers who had experienced significant hardship. Even the children of refugees who had been born in America “have been discriminated against most unjustly,” Ball noted. But in the midst of this cultural and economic chaos, he reported that “[t]he poor, hungry, perplexed Mexican people are turning to God.”

Assemblies of God Mexican missions in San Antonio and El Paso had capacity crowds. Students from Latin America Bible Institute were fanning out among the Mexican communities, witnessing of Christ’s saving and healing power. “While material blessings seem to be taken from [Mexican-Americans]”, Ball recounted, “spiritual blessings have surely taken their place.”

New converts spread the Pentecostal message in their homeland when they returned to Mexico. They led family members to Christ and started churches, despite laws that restricted the number of religious workers and buildings. Ball wrote, “The gospel must be preached in Mexico, it may mean martyrdom and prison, but it must be preached.”

The odds were stacked against the Mexican-American Pentecostals. They were a marginalized ethnic minority in the United States and a persecuted religious minority in Mexico. But they displayed uncommon strength, which they drew from their close relationship with God. “We don’t feel like getting discouraged because of the hard times,” Ball wrote, “for we feel that the Lord is near.”

Read the article, “Great Blessing at Latin American Council,” by H. C. Ball, on page 11 of the February 13, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Vital Need: A Forward Movement in Pentecost,” by W. E. Moody

• “What the Pentecostal People Believe and Teach,” by R. E. McAlister

• “Faith for Desperate Days,” by S. Chadwick

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

Leave a comment

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