Tag Archives: Burkina Faso

Emile Chastagner: The Atheist Who Became an Assemblies of God Missionary

Emile and Minnie Chastagner

Emile Chastagner family circa 1937. (L-r): David, Emile, Minnie, Paul (in Minnie’s lap), and John

This Week in AG History — August 27, 1932

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 29 August 2019

Emile Chastagner (1882-1956) was a convinced atheist at age 21, but he became an Assemblies of God missionary to French West Africa (now Burkina Faso) at age 45. The road between these events was marked by hardship, which brought him to faith in Christ.

Chastagner shared his testimony in the Aug. 27, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He was born in New York City, the son of French immigrants. His parents came from a Catholic background but did not take their faith seriously. He followed his parents’ example and stayed away from church. By the age of 21, he became an atheist, unable to reconcile the existence of both suffering and God. He was quick to argue and “tear [the Bible] to pieces, appealing to ‘reason’ and ‘common sense.'” He later admitted that he was merely repeating the claims of others and that he had never himself investigated the claims of the Bible.

After only two and a half years of marriage, Chastagner’s wife was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She became bedridden and experienced intense pain. Both Chastagner and his wife were devastated by this unexpected turn of events. However, the suffering led them to faith in Christ. Books by two Christian authors, Edward P. Roe (a Presbyterian pastor and novelist) and Carrie Judd Montgomery (a Pentecostal healing evangelist), caused Chastagner and his wife to reconsider their atheism.

Chastagner recounted his slow conversion. In Roe’s writings, he found a love for people that he had never encountered before. Roe’s love, he discerned, arose from his faith, which was grounded in the Bible. Chastagner then read Montgomery’s The Prayer of Faith, which was the autobiography of a woman who was healed of an ailment similar to the one that afflicted his wife. He carefully studied the Bible and examined how the teachings of various churches lined up with Scripture. They made the decision to follow Christ and joined a small Pentecostal church. They jumped in with both feet and began helping in Sunday School and visiting the sick. Chastagner’s wife lived for another seven years and, even though she herself was sick, had an active ministry of praying for others who were sick.

Five weeks after his wife’s death, Chastagner received a call to serve as a missionary. This call came while a visiting missionary was speaking at the church. Chastagner recalled that the visiting missionary and the entire congregation confirmed this call, even though he was uncertain how it could come to pass. He decided to accept the call and, in faith, enrolled at Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University) to study to become a missionary.

Chastagner, already fluent in French, felt a call to the Mossi people in French West Africa. While in college, he met a young lady, Minnie Moore, who also felt a call to be a missionary. They married and set sail for Africa, where they served as Assemblies of God missionaries for 16 years.

Few who knew Chastagner as a youth would have guessed that he would become a faithful Christian, much less a missionary to Africa. But God not only transforms hearts, He also changes the trajectory of lives. Was it worth it? Chastagner testified, “God has met us and supplied every need and given joy to outweigh every trial and test.”

Read the article by Emile Chastagner, “An Atheist Who Became a Missionary,” on pages 1 and 10-11 of the Aug. 27, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “How to Cure Fanaticism” by Donald Gee

• “How God Helped the Shoemaker,” by Mrs. M. E. Thorkildson

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: iFPHC.org

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John and Cuba Hall: Assemblies of God Missionaries and Linguists in Upper Volta

John Cuba Hall_1400

John and Cuba Hall with their four children; circa 1956. (L-r): James, Cuba, Betty Ann, Evelyn, John, and David Hall.

This Week in AG History — August 2, 1936

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 22 August 2019

John F. Hall (1906 – 1984), Assemblies of God missionary, Bible translator, and teacher, was born in New Jersey on April 15, 1906, the same day William Seymour opened his mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The Pentecostal revival sparked in that mission would introduce Hall to a power that would carry him through more than 50 years of ministry in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Togo.

At the age of 13, Hall responded to his Baptist pastor’s appeal to accept Christ at the close of a Sunday School lesson. The next year, Emil Sywulka of the African Inland Mission came to speak at their church. The young teen responded to a call from God to African missions. After graduating high school, he attended Wheaton College, where he associated with the children of missionaries. From them he learned the side of missionary life which he had not heard from church platforms. He became more aware of the hardships that accompany missions work but was even more determined to face difficulties to fulfill the call on his life.

At Wheaton, Hall majored in French and took extra courses in medicine. He graduated and set sail for Paris to study practical French before proceeding to Africa. In June 1931, he arrived in Minna, Nigeria, as a missionary with the Sudan Interior Mission.

While stationed in Niger Colony, French West Africa, he met Assemblies of God missionaries at Ouagadougou and Tenkodogo, Upper Volta. From this friendship, Hall became convinced that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a scriptural experience. He developed a desire to experience the fullness of the power of God. He also enjoyed the company of one of the Pentecostal missionaries, Miss Cuba Hill. Hill, a graduate of Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University), had pioneered and pastored two churches in California before receiving appointment in Upper Volta. They married in November 1935 and returned to the United States for furlough.

While traveling to share their vision for Africa, John and Cuba visited Berean Bible Institute, an AG school in San Diego. While ministering there, John prayed with a boy who wanted to receive Christ and experience the baptism in the Spirit. John felt deep in his heart that he was unable to lead the boy into an experience through which he had not yet passed. The next morning, Hall requested prayer from the students that God would fill him with the Spirit.

Hall spent much of the remainder of his time at the school in the prayer room, feeling keenly that he could not go on without the fulness of the power of God. One night they asked him to speak in the service but he was so hungry for the fulness of the Spirit that he asked to tarry in the prayer room rather than be a speaker. Finally, on the last night of their visit, Hall found himself flat on his back in the prayer room, exhausted from prolonged intercession, yet determined to seek God. That evening the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in a way he had never experienced. He later recounted, “There was such a restful feeling from head to foot. How wonderful to be wholly filled with the Lord’s Spirit and have him praise our Lord Jesus Christ in another language … then came a burden for souls and the tears rolled down my cheeks, behind my ears, and dropped on the floor … then came singing in the Spirit … after this I arose with the joy of the Lord flooding my being. Bro Harriss looked so good to me that I picked him up, kissed him with joy, and praised the Lord. We began singing ‘This is Like Heaven to Me’ and IT WAS!”

Eighty-three years ago this week, the Aug. 22, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel announced the AG missionary appointment of John F. Hall, joining his wife, Cuba, as “an experienced missionary” who “just a few months ago” was “graciously filled” with the Spirit in California.

Together, John and Cuba Hall served God faithfully in Africa for five decades. They spearheaded the translation of the entire Bible into the Mossi language, helping to create the written text of the language itself, reproducing book after book on mimeograph machine. During this work, he personally typed the Bible six times.

God blessed the Halls with five children. Their son, Billie, died of dysentery in Upper Volta at just 6 months of age. They carried on in spirit of their grief, trusting God for the health and well-being of their other children. Cuba later said, “The Africans lose so many children to death that our experience allowed us to identify with them as in no other manner.” The other four children, Evelyn, David, James, and Betty grew up in Africa and served God as adults in world and home missions.

Read more about the Hall’s missionary appointment on page 9 of the Aug. 22, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Home Atmosphere,” by Alice Reynold Flower

• “God Works,” by Zelma Argue

• “Can We Learn Anything from a Wasp,” 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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Tragedy and Adventure in the Life of Paul L. Kitch, Assemblies of God Missionary to French West Africa

Kitch1This Week in AG History — March 13, 1943

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 14 March 2019

Paul L. Kitch (1910-2005) was an Assemblies of God missionary to Burkina Faso at a time when it was still known as French West Africa or Mossi land. He left the United States in 1938 with his wife, Bernadine, and young son, Paul, ready to give all he had for the cause of the furtherance of the gospel of Christ. It would cost him his wife, his daughter, and lead him on a 10-day adventure with 35 others in a lifeboat adrift in the Atlantic Ocean.

Kitch graduated from Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri, in 1931. It was there that he met and married his wife, Bernadine. They received ministry credentials with the Illinois District Council and sailed for mission’s appointment in French West Africa on March 30, 1938. After spending a few months in language school in France, they settled in Tenkodogo with the Mossi tribe. In August of 1939, God blessed them with a baby girl, Lita Ann.

As happened with so many early missionaries, typhus claimed the life of Lita Ann at the age of 2. Seven months later, her mother followed in death. At the time of Bernadine’s death, Kitch was so ill himself that it was an entire month before he was told that his wife had died. Paul Jr. was also very ill with typhus.

Both Kitch and his son recovered and moved to Ouagadougou to convalesce for several weeks. In October 1942, it was decided that they should return to America to fully regain their health and seek God for direction. They boarded the S.S. West Kebar, an American cargo vessel with a crew of about 70 and nine other passengers.

One night, after about three weeks on board, the Kitches were having devotions in their cabin when there was a great explosion. The lights went out. Young Paul asked his father if they were having another lifeboat drill. He replied, “Yes, son. We’re having a real lifeboat drill.” Going up on deck, they discovered that the ship had been torpedoed by a submarine. One of the four lifeboats was completely destroyed; another had been blown away from the ship. Kitch saw the third pulling away; another with about 15 already on board was still there.

Within moments 35 people crammed into the 28-foot lifeboat. Kitch asked if there was time to retrieve things from the ship, as all their worldly goods were on that boat. The captain responded that if they were within 50 to 75 yards of the ship when it went down it would suck them under with it. Kitch watched as they rowed away from everything he owned.

A plan began to be made for their survival. The captain believed he had an idea of their whereabouts and set a course for land. Rations were to be handed out twice a day. In the mornings, they received two ounces of water, two small crackers, and one ounce of pemmican. Each evening, they received the same with a small chocolate square substituted for the pemmican. Since they had been reading Robinson Crusoe, Kitch encouraged his son to play the part of the characters in the book; embrace the adventure, and trust God to see them through.

There were only four blankets among 35 people and the heavy rains caused them to be sopping wet and freezing during the nights and scorched in the tropic sun during the day. On the eighth day at sea, they spotted a ship passing by but their tiny lifeboat was not sighted.

On the ninth day, they sighted land and on the 10th day a plane spotted them and alerted the coastal patrol. A sub chaser came out to meet them and took them to the island of Barbados, off the coast of Venezuela. The Barbados newspaper reported of their rescue, “The Sunday arrivals had been in a lifeboat for many days, yet 8-year-old Paul Kitch was in the best of health and spirits, and his first request was for ice cream.”

For one month they stayed on the island and Kitch had the opportunity to speak in various churches and share of the faithfulness of God even amid great loss and danger. Later he learned that many of the believers had been praying that a Pentecostal missionary would come and visit them, and they rejoiced that God answered prayer in bringing him their way.

In the March 13, 1943, Pentecostal Evangel, Kitch relays the story and recollects that “in the 30 days following our rescue I preached 25 times. It was remarkable how much strength and energy the Lord had blessed me with after the 10 days at sea.” Of about 80 persons on the S.S. West Kebar, more than half perished.

Paul Kitch later remarried after returning to the States and pastored Assembly of God churches in Missouri. In 1985, 42 years after leaving the continent, Paul Jr. returned to West Africa with his wife, Delma, where they served in Togo and then South Africa.

Read the full article, “Ten Days in a Lifeboat,” on page 1 of the March 13, 1943, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“For the Name of the Lord Jesus,” by William Long

“The Sifting of the Church,” by D.M. Panton

“Reaching Interned Japanese in Idaho,” by Marie Juergensen

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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Budding Assemblies of God Missionary, Paul Weidman, Jr., Died in Africa at Age 7

Weidmans_1400

Pastor Quaysom and missionaries Virginia and Paul Weidman, Accra, Gold Coast, 1951.


This Week in AG History — March 26, 1938

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 24 March 2016

Paul and Virginia Weidman, pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to Africa, traveled in 1937 to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), where they worked among the Mossi people. One of their sons, Paul, Jr., learned the Mossi language quickly and was able to interpret for his missionary father. The Mossi loved this little boy, who played with their children and who became a bridge across the cultural and linguistic divides.

Little Paul’s budding missionary career was cut short when he contracted blackwater fever and died on February 8, 1938. Paul, Jr., who was just under seven years of age, was buried in a dirt cemetery near the town of Tenkodogo.

Seventy-eight years ago, the March 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared Virginia Weidman’s account of this tragedy:

“Saturday afternoon he lay in his bed and sang with all his heart (in the More language) “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus.” Then he preached, as he so often did, saying, “Do not follow Satan’s road but follow God’s road, for it alone leads to heaven through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In a short time extreme pain started. How we did call unto God for deliverance; yet He gave us grace to say, “Not my will but Thine be done.” What a ray of sunshine he has been in our home! Only God can fill the vacancy. In times like this we are made to know that our Redeemer liveth.”

Paul Jr.’s death was the first of several tragedies to befall the Weidmans as they pioneered the Assemblies of God in Upper Volta. Was this suffering worth it? Forty years later the Weidmans, who had retired from mission work, returned to Burkina Faso for a visit. An elderly Mossi pastor, who decades earlier had witnessed the death of Paul Jr., assured them, “It was not in vain, missionary. There are now churches everywhere.”

Today, the Assemblies of God is the largest Protestant denomination in Burkina Faso, with more than 1,204,000 members and over 3,600 churches and preaching points.

Read the article, “Little One Called Home,” by Virginia Weidman on page 7 of the March 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

General Superintendent George O. Wood, the nephew of Paul and Virginia Weidman, recounted the story of their missionary work in Burkina Faso in the 2007 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage, which is accessible by clicking here.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Not Debarred from our Priestly Service,” by T. J. Jones

• “Setting the Oppressed Free,” by Arthur W. 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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1981 Interview with Murray Brown, Sr.


Dr. Delbert H. Tarr interviews Murray N. Brown, Sr., in Springfield, Missouri, March 4, 1981. They are discussing Brown’s work as an Assemblies of God missionary in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), West Africa.
ID: V005

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