Tag Archives: Assemblies of God

David Yonggi Cho and Yoido Full Gospel Church: The Story Behind the World’s Largest Church

This Week in AG History —September 7, 1969

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 08 September 2022

David (Paul) Yonggi Cho (1936-2021) was a Korean Assemblies of God (AG) pastor, evangelist, author, church planter, and international church growth pioneer. Starting from a small tent in an impoverished neighborhood outside Seoul, his congregation grew exponentially until it became the largest church in the world, with three quarters of a million members.

Cho was born into a Buddhist family in Pusan but found that the religion of his ancestors did not meet the need for peace, joy, and love within him. When war came to Korea during his teenage years, money and food were so scarce that only one small meal a day was common. In 1953, the malnutrition and unsanitary conditions led to an enlarged heart, and tuberculosis invaded his lungs. Sent home to die at the age of 17, Cho’s father prayed to Buddha, but the young man had little confidence in his father’s prayers, having never seen them answered.

A young woman came to visit the Cho home one day and asked to tell the dying teen about Jesus. Cho ordered her out of the house, but she returned for several days each day praying for him, despite his cursing and intimidation. On the fifth day, Cho began to cry and said that he wanted to know this Jesus that brought her to his home. She left her Bible with him and instructed him to read the story of Jesus in the New Testament gospels. In his weakened state, he walked to an American mission and responded to the call to accept Christ.

His family renounced him as an “unholy Christian dog,” but an American missionary, Louis Richards, took him into his home and began to disciple the dying man and encouraged him to look to Jesus for healing. One night in prayer, Cho had a vision of Christ that overwhelmed him with love for the God of his new faith, and this love bubbled up through his mouth and he began to speak in another language. This frightened him until the missionary explained that this phenomenon was biblical and many others had also experienced “speaking in tongues.” While there were still effects in his body from weakness, the doctor soon noted that his lungs no longer showed signs of tuberculosis and his heart was returned to its normal size.

Cho enrolled in the Full Gospel Bible School in 1954, and in 1958 he and his future mother-in-law, Jashil Choi, put up a tent in a war-torn, poverty-stricken area outside of Seoul. There were no seats, only straw mats strewn on the ground, but Choi began to pray and Cho began to preach. On Sunday morning, he would go to the top of the hill and cry out over the rooftops, “It’s time for church, Come to church!”

The people responded. In three years, the church needed to move to a 1,500-seat auditorium in the Sodaemun area. The growth happened so quickly and the work of the ministry so exhausting, that the young pastor experienced a breakdown in 1964 while trying to juggle the demands of multiple services a day. Realizing he could not manage the ministry alone, he adopted Jethro’s advice to Moses in Exodus 18 and divided the membership into geographical districts and assigned workers as pastors over these flocks. By 1982, there were 12 districts, each divided into 10 to 17 sections, with 157 full-time ministers over these “cell groups.”

In 1968, the church purchased property in Osanri, 45 minutes north of Seoul, for a church cemetery. However, it quickly became a place of life rather than death. Sister Choi, the associate pastor, began making nightly trips to Osanri to pray. From that time, more and more joined her until “Prayer Mountain” became a place of prayer for thousands, eventually containing hundreds of “prayer caves” to provide for secluded times of intense praying.

In the Sept. 7, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Cordas C. Burnett, president of Bethany Bible College (Santa Cruz, California), reported on his trip to Seoul to participate in the groundbreaking of a new 10,000-seat church building in the Yoido area. Burnett spoke for the church during the week between Palm Sunday and Easter of 1969. He reported preaching for 27 services in that week to approximately 65,000 people. “Although we soon lost count, we know of at least 500 who were converted and 600 who were filled with the Holy Spirit, not to mention the hundreds who testified of being healed.”

Fluent in English, Japanese, and Korean, Cho broadcast sermons on radio and television and soon became internationally known. The church’s welfare programs, senior living centers, vocational training, and financial help for medically needy people brought political influence and great respect throughout South Korea. Reports from 1981 showed the church growing at a rate of 10,000 people per month. Of that number seven out of 10 were accompanied to church by their neighborhood cell group leader.

Cho had significant influence worldwide. He taught that prayer, lay-led small groups, biblical teaching, and evangelism are essential for spiritual and numerical growth. As chairman of the World AG Fellowship from 1992 to 2000, Cho encouraged AG national superintendents to believe God for vision that would see millions converted, Spirit-filled, and living a life of overcoming victory.

Upon Cho’s retirement in 2008, Yoido Full Gospel Church’s membership approached 1,000,000 members with almost 700 pastors. The sickly young man who cursed at the visiting female evangelist had written more than 100 books on the Christian faith and left an indelible mark upon the entire Korean nation and on the broader Pentecostal movement.

Read Cordas Burnett’s report, “We Saw Revival in Seoul, Korea” on page 8 of the Sept. 7, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Homes for Men in the Stars” by Raymond Cox

• “One Half Inch from Death” by David Atherto

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. Roswell Flower: Pentecostal Pioneer, Church Leader, Publisher, Statesman, Educator

This Week in AG History — August 16, 1970

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 18 August 2022

J. Roswell Flower (1888-1970) was elected, at age 25, to serve as the first general secretary of the Assemblies of God. He went on to become one of the Fellowship’s most prominent leaders in its first four decades. When he went to be with the Lord, General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman declared, “The name of J. Roswell Flower was synonymous with the Assemblies of God.”

Flower demonstrated remarkable leadership at a young age. He proved adept at writing and publishing, which gave him a platform in the emerging Pentecostal movement. In 1908, just over one year after his conversion, he began publishing a small magazine, The Pentecost. At the time, he was just 20 years old. In 1910, he gave the magazine to ministry colleague A.S. Copley. He married Alice Reynolds in 1911, and together they began another magazine, the Christian Evangel, in 1913. It was the only weekly Pentecostal periodical in existence.

When the Assemblies of God was organized in April 1914, Flower was only 25 years old. There were many people in attendance who were older and more experienced, yet delegates entrusted Flower to serve as the first general secretary. He also served as manager of Gospel Publishing House and, in 1919, he became the first Foreign Missions secretary.

Flower was an early champion of education. In 1922, he encouraged Pentecostals to support the establishment of a school in India in order to secure “greater and more permanent results for God.” He was one of the original faculty members of Central Bible Institute (CBI), which was founded in Springfield, Missouri, in 1922. In 1923, he proposed that all Assemblies of God missionaries be required to spend a term at CBI, which would allow church leaders to train and get to know the character and abilities of prospective missionaries. Flower’s proposal proved unpopular, however, and he was not re-elected at the 1923 General Council. He instead became Foreign Missions treasurer. Two years later, he was not re-elected to that position.

J. Roswell and Alice Flower moved to Pennsylvania, where they spent the next decade in pastoral and district leadership. In 1929, he was elected to serve as superintendent of the Eastern District Council. He was a regular lecturer at Bethel Bible Training School, an Assemblies of God school in New Jersey. Significantly, he helped Alice to establish a summer Bible school, located on the Eastern District campground, which was the forerunner of the University of Valley Forge. Flower emphasized education because he believed that careful study of the Bible would be essential for the growth and maturation of the Assemblies of God.

Delegates to the 1935 General Council elected Flower to again serve as general secretary, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1959. During this period Flower emerged as a leading Pentecostal statesman, encouraging cooperative efforts among believers with similar faith commitments. He labored to make the Assemblies of God a founding member of the National Association of Evangelicals, and he helped form the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America and the Pentecostal World Fellowship. Flower also was involved in civic leadership, serving on the Springfield City Council and on the boards of various organizations.

J. Roswell Flower’s remarkable leadership flowed out of his rich spiritual life. He and Alice modeled a home life that bore witness to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Alice was a prolific author and preacher, and her sermons, books, and articles on the Christian home were widely read. They practiced what they preached. Five of their six children also entered full-time ministry; the sixth died while in Bible school.

It is appropriate that Flower became the namesake of the archives and museum located in the Assemblies of God national office. The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, which is the largest Pentecostal archives in the world, preserves and promotes the heritage of a movement for which Flower helped lay the foundation.

Read the article, “J.R. Flower with Christ,” on page 4 of the Aug. 16, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “What the Holy Spirit Does,” by Harvey McAlister

• “We Preached in Romania” by Joe G. Mazzu Jr.

• “New Arkansas Teen Challenge Reaching Desperate Youth”

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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The Mariel Boatlift of 1980: Cuban Refugees and the Assemblies of God

Workers sing and play gospel songs before a service with Cuban refugees at Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas, 1980

This Week in AG History —August 10, 1980

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 11 August 2022

On April 20, 1980, Cuban President Fidel Castro made a surprise proclamation in Havana that any Cuban citizen who was not happy under his regime and wished to immigrate to the United States could depart from the port of Mariel provided boats were available. 125,000 Cubans rushed to take the offer. Many Assemblies of God (AG) ministries were there to ease the difficulties of their arrival.

After the 1959 communist revolution, thousands of Cubans sought to flee their homeland’s restrictive policies. With few exceptions, the Castro regime refused those requests. During the 1970s, as economic conditions worsened, along with political and religious persecution, many Cubans grew desperate. In April 1980, several Cubans rushed the Peruvian embassy to seek asylum but were fired upon by Cuban guards. The embassy refused to return the Cubans to Castro, and soon more than 10,000 Cubans were crowding into the embassy gardens pleading for asylum.

When the April 20 announcement came that dissidents, whom the Cuban newspapers referred to as “criminals, lumpenproletariats, antisocialists, bums and parasites,” could leave the island if boats were ready to take them from the Mariel port, thousands of Cuban exiles in Florida hurriedly rented fishing boats to pick them up. By October, 125,000 refugees had crossed on these boats before the order was ended.

In May of 1980, the Pentecostal Evangel editor, Robert C. Cunningham, wrote in an editorial of the crisis: “As more and more people find themselves victims of oppressive governments, it is good to know there are still some countries where they can find refuge from their persecutors.” In June, the Evangel put out a call for assistance: “The Assemblies of God has launched an effort to provide financial aid for the refugees, sponsors to help in resettlement, and bilingual communicators who live near refugee camps to assist in meeting immediate needs.”

The Aug. 10, 1980, Pentecostal Evangel issue offered a report of the AG effort to aid Cubans fleeing from oppression and persecution. “Like the early settlers of the United States, they are seeking a home in a free land … Can we afford to ignore this great missionary challenge of offering the gospel to needy souls?” commented T.E. Gannon, national director of the Division of Home Missions. He further stated: “Immediately upon hearing of the plight of the Cuban immigrants, the Division of Home Missions began seeking to minister to these people. For evangelism to be effective and successful, it is necessary to reach the immigrants as soon as they arrive. This calls for emergency action.”

Life Publishers, the AG missions press, provided 19,000 Bibles to the camps where the refugees were resettled. CH (LTC) Robert E. Barker, USA Task Force Chaplain, wrote to the AG Chaplaincy department to thank them for their help in securing Bibles for Cuban refugees at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. “It was a thrill personally to watch several Cubans receive their Bibles with great pleasure and enthusiasm. They really appreciate owning their own Bibles! Thank you once again for your concern for these neglected people.”

Many Hispanic AG ministers and laypeople living near the refugee camps in Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania worked feverishly to provide ministry, housing, food, and clothing. They also served as interpreters and “pastors” in the camps. Sam Hernandez, a 1968 Cuban refugee and graduate of North Central Bible College, was granted a month’s leave from his church in St. Paul, Minnesota, to go to Wisconsin’s Camp McCoy to be of service. He conducted two to three services a day, discovering that the Pentecostal message did not die in Cuba when the missionaries were forced to leave as he found several members of Cuban Assemblies of God churches among those housed at Camp McCoy.

Adolfo Carrion, superintendent of the Spanish Eastern District, reported that many Cuban refugees were now attending Assemblies of God churches in cities where they were resettled, including one man who was of an “atheistic and communistic persuasion, who was a confirmed materialist” who was gloriously saved and never misses a service. It was found that after years of religious oppression, Cuban immigrants readily responded to the gospel.

Ruth A. Lyon, editor/promotions coordinator for the Department of Home Missions, concluded the August refugee update with an appeal to the Scriptures, “What we do, we must do quickly. And the extent of what we do depends on offerings received. This is one way you can help these strangers within our gates. Jesus said, “I was a stranger, and ye took me in” (Matthew 25:35).

Read Lyon’s report, “Meeting America’s Newest Home Missions Challenge,” on page 16 of the Aug. 10, 1980, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Cure for Depression” by Ada Nicholson Brownell

• “First National Men’s Convention”

• “How to Win Your Husband to Christ” by Stephen J. Vaudrey

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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Don Wilkerson: Cofounder of Teen Challenge

President Gerald Ford (left) greets Don Wilkerson (right).

This Week in AG History — July 30, 1972

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, July 28, 2022

Don Wilkerson, who cofounded Teen Challenge with his brother David, has been actively involved with the ministry for almost 65 years. The well-known addiction recovery ministry was founded in 1958 by the two brothers, just after David Wilkerson began his monumental evangelism of gangs in New York City, which ended with a citywide crusade where several of the gang members were converted.

Teen Challenged opened the doors of its first facility in Brooklyn, New York, in 1960. Beginning in 1971, Don Wilkerson served as its executive director for 16 years. Don Wilkerson also served as executive director of Teen Challenge International for 26 years.

Among his other duties, Don was instrumental in developing the residential rehabilitation and discipleship program that has been a success in changing lives for many students of the Teen Challenge program. He helped develop the biblical curriculum that eventually became the standard teaching for the Teen Challenge program. The Brooklyn Teen Challenge Center became the inspiration and model for similar programs to be launched across the United States.

The Teen Challenge ministry rose to prominence with the publication of David Wilkerson’s book, The Cross and the Switchblade, in 1963. The book was released as a movie in 1970, and played in some 5,000 theaters across the United States.

In 1987 David and Don Wilkerson founded Times Square Church in Manhattan, New York City. After meeting in temporary quarters, the church leased the Mark Hellinger Theatre building on West 51st Street in 1989 and purchased that building two years later. In its new location the church has grown to a weekly attendance of 5,000.

In 1995, Don Wilkerson founded Global Teen Challenge and served as its executive director for 13 years (1995-2007). He helped to plant new Teen Challenge centers around the world and helped train leaders and workers. Global Teen Challenge now has 1,100 centers in 114 countries.

In June 2008 Don returned to lead the Brooklyn Teen Challenge Center in New York where Teen Challenge began over 60 years ago. His brother, David Wilkerson, passed away in a car accident in 2011. In 2018 the name for Teen Challenge USA was changed to Adult & Teen Challenge. Don is now retired from Brooklyn Teen Challenge and is president emeritus of Adult & Teen Challenge.

Don Wilkerson has authored and coauthored a number of books, including Bring Your Loved Ones to Christ, Called to the Other Side, A Coffee House Manual, Counseling by the Scriptures, The Cross is Still Mightier Than the Switchblade, Dear Graduate: Letters of Practical Advice from Don Wilkerson, Fast Track to Nowhere, The Gutter and the Ghetto, My Story: Confessions of a Hope Pusher, and Within a Yard of Hell.

Fifty years ago Don Wilkerson shared a testimony of a Teen Challenge resident named Joe who went to a scheduled court hearing and was sentenced to prison because of a previous crime he had committed. Joe had been in the Teen Challenge program in Brooklyn for two months, and it was assumed that the judge would allow him to stay in the program. Once the news reached them, all the staff and the young men in the program began to pray for Joe’s release. The court-assigned lawyer was Jewish, but he knew that Joe had accepted Jesus Christ and that it had made a difference in his life. He did not need to go to prison. The judge was unwilling to change his mind, so the lawyer took the case to a higher court. Everyone at the Teen Challenge Center continued to pray.

Four weeks after his sentencing, the state Supreme Court agreed to hear Joe’s case (and in the meantime he had won four cellmates to Christ). At the hearing, one of the Brooklyn staff members was allowed to approach the bench to explain the Teen Challenge program and what had happened to Joe. The judge listened carefully and decided to overrule the decision of the lower court. Joe was released to go back to Teen Challenge. Joe and everyone at the Teen Challenge Center believed God had answered their prayers.

Read “Miraculous Release” on page 24 of the July 30, 1972, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Supernatural Healing,” by Percy S. Brewster

• “The Faith That Brings Healing,” by Harvey McAlister

• “5 Biblical Methods of Healing,” by C.M. Ward

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Photo: President Gerald Ford (left) greets Don Wilkerson (right).

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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100 Years Ago: Mexican Refugees in Texas Minister to African Americans

This Week in AG History — July 8, 1922

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 07 July 2022

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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Aaron A. Wilson: Assemblies of God Pioneer in Puxico and Kansas City, Missouri

This Week in AG History — June 04, 1972

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, June 02, 2022

Aaron Aubrey Wilson (1891-1984), better known as A.A. Wilson, was a pastor, evangelist, district superintendent, and executive presbyter with the Assemblies of God. Wilson had a long and fruitful ministry. Historian William Menzies called him a real “war horse” of the Assemblies of God.

In a testimony in 1939, Wilson said, “Like Amos I am not the son of a prophet, I made my start as a farmer. God called me from between a pair of plow handles when I was plowing with a pair of Missouri mules, blessed my life with the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire, spoke to me and said, ‘Go,’ and I have been going now for 18 years.” He was proud to have grown up on a farm, and he felt his upbringing helped him to reach out to all kinds of people. Wilson said he was not blessed with the privilege of going to Bible school, but he spent a lot of time on his knees with his Bible, and he was privileged to see quite a few people pray through to salvation and to the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Wilson was born Oct. 3, 1891, in Farrenburg, Missouri. He married Louise Cruchon on Feb. 8, 1910, in Cairo, Illinois. Wilson’s conversion and baptism in the Spirit came after he was married. He entered the ministry at age 28 and was ordained by the Southern Missouri district on Aug. 25, 1922.

Wilson’s first pastorate was at Puxico, Missouri, from 1923 to 1926, where the church grew to over 200 members. In 1924 he was elected secretary of the Southern Missouri district, and in 1925 he was elected assistant district superintendent. He then served as Southern Missouri district superintendent from 1926 to 1931.

In 1928, Wilson helped start First Assembly of God in Kansas City, Missouri (now Evangel Church), where he was elected the pastor in April 1930. Sunday School was an important part of Wilson’s ministry. Around 100 people attended Sunday School when he first came to the church. By 1937, the Sunday School was averaging close to 800 people with 1,000 attending on Easter Sunday. He was especially proud to have a large men’s Sunday School class. The church went through several building programs while Wilson was pastor. He spent 31 years with that congregation, retiring in May 1961. During his time as pastor, the church mothered 10 other churches in the area. He also served as a general presbyter (1926-1937) and as an executive presbyter (1937-1963).

In retirement, he was a popular speaker at revivals and camp meetings. In 1969, he was asked to pastor a small group of believers in Springfield, Missouri, which later became Park Crest Assembly of God (now Life360 Church). He continued as pastor until 1972. By then he was 81 years old.

Wilson became a spiritual father to many through his years of pastoral ministry and through the revivals he preached in various places. Stewart H. Robinson, who pastored various churches in Southern Missouri, was saved as a teenager under Wilson’s ministry and counted him as a spiritual father. Robinson said, “I always recognized him, not only as a ‘Prince of Preachers,’ but also as a practicer of what he proclaimed and preached.”

Mark Buntain, well-known missionary to Calcutta, India, received his call to the mission field while attending a camp meeting that Wilson preached at Braeside Camp in Ontario, Canada. Some other pastors and missionaries who counted him as their spiritual father included Bob Mackish, missionary to Austria and Russia; Aaron Rothganger, missionary to the Philippines and the Far East; Bob Crabtree, who became Ohio district superintendent; children’s evangelists, Charles and Irene Senechal; Army chaplain Chuck Adams; and missionary David K. Irwin.

A.A. Wilson passed away on Nov. 6, 1984, in Springfield, Missouri, at the age of 93. Wilson and his wife are both buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.

Wilson published some small booklets and two books, The Gospel Reveille and Things Most Surely Believed Among Us. He also wrote a number of articles for the Pentecostal Evangel.

Fifty years ago, A.A. Wilson wrote an article called “Hands That Speak,” found on page 2 of the June 4, 1972, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Miracles Make the Difference,” by Joe Contreras

• “God Had a Better Idea,” by C.M. Ward

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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Owen Carr, Still Ministering at 99: Assemblies of God Pastor, TV Station Founder, College President

This Week in AG History —May 21, 1961

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 19 May 2022

Owen C. Carr has served the Assemblies of God as a pastor, evangelist, district and national youth leader, television producer, fundraiser, general presbyter, college president, and assistant district superintendent – but at heart he has always been, first and foremost, a preacher of the Word of God who seeks to see souls saved.

Born to an Oklahoma farmer in 1923, Carr grew up loving the Bible and the church. Before he was able to read, his mother saw that he was able to memorize Scripture, and required the quoting of a Scripture verse before releasing him for play.

Even though his early childhood was in a devout Methodist home, he still keenly felt that he needed God. When he was 10 years old, four of the churches in Kaw City, Oklahoma, got together for meetings in the high school auditorium. The Methodist evangelist, George Rose, said to those gathered, “I want to preach so simply that a 6-year old child will understand and no one will be able to say that they cannot understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.” That night, Carr went to the altar and wept as though his heart would break at the realization of his own sinfulness. The next day, he took his Bible and found a place to be alone with God – a practice that he has continued for 89 years.

When war was declared during Carr’s senior year in high school in 1941, the future seemed uncertain. Not knowing what was coming in the world, Carr married his girlfriend, Priscilla Seidner, on Jan. 1, 1942, less than a month after the war declaration. It was not long after this that Carr felt a call to preach. When he asked the superintendent of the Kansas district what he should do, he was told, “There is a church in Gerlane with hardly any people. You can’t do much damage there. Let’s try it out.” The 19-year-old pastor and his brand-new wife arrived to find a town of about 25 people with a church of just a few folks who had served God longer than their pastors had been alive. Carr hired himself out as a farmhand and began his ministry by cutting the weeds in front of the church.

The recent high school graduate knew he was inadequate for the job and went to the Lord in prayer, “God, I don’t know why You called me. I have no special talents. I can’t sing. I’m not even that smart.” Carr felt the response from the Lord to be, “These people will not answer for what you think or what you know. Just give them My Word. They will be held accountable for that.”

From that time, Owen Carr became a student and a preacher of the Bible. He made it a goal to read the Bible through once a year. After achieving that goal, he marked off enough pages in his Bible to read it twice a year. Then three times a year. With this method he developed his Bible knowledge and began to see connections in the Scriptures, giving him plenty of material to use in his preaching. From his earliest days, his sermons were full of biblical references.

After serving as a pastor for several years, Carr was chosen as the Kansas district leader of the youth department, Christ’s Ambassadors, and on May 21, 1961, the Pentecostal Evangel announced that he had been chosen to travel for the national youth department to represent the Speed-the-Light youth missionary program. This gave the young preacher an opportunity to travel broadly and, though his primary responsibility was to raise money for missionary endeavors, he was convicted that, after giving his short appeal for funds, he must open the Scriptures to the youth who gathered to hear him. God was faithful and the youth gave generously. Just one year later, Carr was named as the head of the youth department of the Assemblies of God.

One of Carr’s passions during his time as national youth secretary was to raise up biblically literate young people who would use their gifts in ministry. He stated, “their talents need to be challenged and channeled. If we fail to use their abilities and influence … we not only do them an injustice, but we miss their important contribution to the cause of Christ.” As a result of this passion, two continuing youth ministries were born during Carr’s tenure: Teen Bible Quiz and Teen Talent (now Fine Arts).

Carr would go on from the position of national youth secretary to pastor six more churches, including the historic Stone Church of Chicago, and establish television Channel 38 as a venue for preaching the Word of God in Chicagoland. He also served as president of Valley Forge Christian College (now University of Valley Forge) where he put his primary focus on raising up preachers of the gospel. Serving as an evangelist in the 1980s, Carr did much to promote urban church planting for the Decade of Harvest initiative.

After it became difficult for Priscilla to travel with him, the couple moved to Springfield, Missouri, where, in their 80s, they planted a new church in the downtown area. When Priscilla passed away in 2011, Carr married Norma Lee Shoults Fite and moved to Maranatha Village where, at age 99, he continues to preach any time the opportunity presents itself and to contribute to the raising up of young preachers through the Pastor and Mrs. Owen C. Carr Scholarship Fund. He also still takes time to read the Bible, having just completed his 122nd cycle of reading Genesis through Revelation. While Carr has served capably in many areas of ministry, he hopes that his primary legacy will be as a preacher of the Word.

Read the article, “Owen Carr Joins National C.A. Staff,” on page 27 of the May 21, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue

• “Apostolic Christianity” by Thomas F. Zimmerman

• “Revivals in Colombia” by Verlin E. Stewart

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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80 Years Ago: The Assemblies of God was a Founding Member of the National Association of Evangelicals

This Week in AG History — May 10, 1947

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 12 May 2022

Pentecostals were relatively isolated from mainstream Protestantism in the early twentieth century. Eighty years ago, in 1942, when the Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal churches were invited to become founding members of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), 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 40 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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Speed the Light Growth Marked by 1967 Parade of Vehicles in Springfield, Missouri

This Week in AG History — April 30, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, April 28, 2022

Fifty-five years ago, an unusual parade of vehicles drove past the AG national office. This was a special presentation of the Speed the Light (STL) program held in 1967 when the Christ’s Ambassadors Department (now National Youth Ministries) wanted to demonstrate how much equipment was being raised for missionaries in a single year.

The origin of Speed the Light goes back to March 1943, when Ralph W. Harris (1912-2004) had just started as the first national director of the CA Department. Harris had an idea which he called “Speed the Light.” It would be a new avenue for youth to raise money for missions by having students raise funds for buying vehicles for missionaries. In later years, funds also purchased printing accessories and other needed equipment for missionaries. The well-known slogan, “Send the Light” was changed to “Speed the Light” to emphasize the importance of speeding the gospel message to a needy world.

The program kicked off in 1945 and enlisted thousands of youth across the country to raise more than $100,000 in the first year. One of the major purchases was a Sikorsky amphibian plane for use in Liberia. Later youth were instrumental in raising funds for other missionary planes, including Ambassador I and II which were used to transport AG missionaries overseas. Speed the Light efforts continue today. In 2021 AG youth raised $17.2 million, bringing the total since 1945 to more than $361 million.

Verne MacKinney, STL coordinator, was the innovator of the unusual demonstration on March 24, 1967. Arrangements were made with several Springfield, Missouri, car dealerships who loaned a total of 188 vehicles, including cars, a Jeep, buses, trucks, trailers, motorcycles, boats, and bicycles for “Operation Demonstration” which lined up on Boonville Avenue.

This was an impressive lineup six lanes wide which represented Speed the Light purchases the previous year (1966) when giving was over $650,000 for STL. During an era of many boisterous protests, this demonstration gave a picture of how Christian youth were dedicated to raise funds for a worthy cause. These vehicles were not the actual vehicles and equipment sent to missionaries, but it gave an idea of the magnitude of this ongoing project.

Christ’s Ambassadors from local churches as well as students from Central Bible College and Evangel College helped to stage this demonstration. In addition, about 30 representative U.S. and world missionaries were present in costume to add color and significance to the occasion. Speakers included Russell J. Cox, national secretary of Christ’s Ambassadors; J. Philip Hogan, director of Foreign Missions; and Thomas F. Zimmerman, general superintendent of the AG. News media also gave the event national publicity.

After three brief speeches, the cavalcade of people and vehicles moved about a quarter mile down Boonville Avenue, and after three simultaneous blasts of 188 horns to celebrate this accomplishment, the group disbanded.

Read “Operation Demonstration,” on page 24 of the April 30, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Spirit of the Age” by Don Mallough

• “Unto What Were You Baptized?” by C. M. Ward

And many more!

Click here to read these issues 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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Don and Sharon Kiser: Assemblies of God Missionaries to Florida’s Migrant Community for 25 Years

This Week in AG History — April 20, 1975

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 21 April 2022

When Don Kiser and his wife, Sharon, graduated from Southeastern University (Lakeland, Florida) in 1972, they felt God’s call to minister among the migrant workers of Eloise, Florida. They moved into the impoverished community and, without money or significant ministry experience, started knocking on doors. They initially ministered in relative obscurity, building relationships with people often considered to be outcasts in society.

Over the next 25 years, the Kisers developed a thriving ministry among the migrants of central and south Florida. The young missionaries’ fascinating story was published in the April 20, 1975, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

In the 1970s and 1980s, many migrants in Florida lived in utter squalor. They lived in camps provided by the owners of the orange groves where they worked. Raw sewage ran in the streets between decaying shanties, liquor stores, and rusted-out mobile homes.

Eloise was considered a “permanent” migrant community, as some lived there all year instead of following the crops. But the social challenges remained — the lifestyles of many of the migrants made it difficult to integrate into the broader society. Most churches did not know how to minister to the migrants. They didn’t want dirty, smelly, barefoot children on their church carpet, and the deeply ingrained problems of the adults seemed an insurmountable obstacle to ministry.

It was in this environment that the Kisers, at the young age of 23, felt called to minister. In many ways, they were unlikely candidates for such an assignment. Don Kiser was raised in a well-to-do liberal Presbyterian home and as a teenager lost all interest in religion.

Everything changed after Don’s mother accepted Christ in a small Assemblies of God church. Don was 16 years old and wanted nothing to do with his mother’s newfound faith. But she told him about some pretty girls who attended the church, convincing him to visit. He ended up accepting Christ on his second visit to the church, and was later baptized in the Holy Spirit and felt God’s call into the ministry.

Don enrolled at Southeastern University, where he met and married Sharon. When they prayed about the nature of their future ministry, they felt God calling them to people who had no hope. Don, in particular, had no interest in serving in a comfortable pastorate; he felt called to make a difference in the lives of those who had the least.

While at Southeastern, the Kisers assisted an independent Pentecostal minister with his small outreach to the migrants in Eloise. The congregation met in an old remodeled cab stand. The Kisers saw a great need, and in that need they saw their future. After graduation, they moved to Eloise. The other minister soon moved on, leaving the ministry to the young couple.

The Kisers became well-known among migrants in the area. The young couple remodeled an old bus into a mobile chapel, which they drove throughout the migrant community in central Florida. They knocked on doors, befriended residents, prayed with people, and invited them to church. Don preached and Sharon played the organ.

The ministry was named Harvest Chapel. The name had dual appeal — referring to the “plentiful harvest” of souls in Luke 10:2, and also to the migrants’ labor.

Initially, Don had to work secular employment to supplement their meager ministry income. Other Assemblies of God congregations in the region began supporting the Kisers, allowing them to minister fulltime to migrants. Several years later they bought a building in Wahneta, located three miles south of Eloise, where they opened a second migrant church.

Ministry opportunities among the migrants seemed endless. Seeking to extend their outreach into the migrant camps in south Florida, in the early 1980s the Kisers purchased a utility van that they remodeled into a camper and mobile chapel. The front of the vehicle provided a home during their ministry trips, and the back of the vehicle opened up and became a ministry platform.

In addition to weekend services at the two churches, during the week the Kisers typically held three evening services using the portable chapel. Weekdays, ministered to children who were too young to work.

Don and Sharon Kiser continued ministering to the migrants of central Florida for 25 years. They poured their lives into people who might otherwise be overlooked or rejected. Their ministry was often very difficult and challenging. But they stayed true to God’s original calling to give hope to those who had the least. The Kisers retired in the late 1990s due to Don’s poor health and later moved to Mineral Bluff, Georgia.

The landscape of Assemblies of God history is dotted with the testimonies of consecrated men and women such as Don and Sharon Kiser, who devoted their lives to sharing the gospel in word and deed. Like many other Assemblies of God pioneers, they took a path that included hardship and discomfort. They feared that too much comfort might cause them to forget their calling to those who were hurting the most. The example of the Kisers reminds us that the Christian’s testimony often shines brightest in humble circumstances when ministering to the lowliest.

Read “Migrant Town Minister” on pages 14-17 of the April 20, 1975, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Foot upon the Leash,” by Thelma M. Moe

• “The Joy of the Firstfruits,” by John F. Hall

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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