Tag Archives: Central America

During WWII, Assemblies of God Gave Spanish New Testaments to Military Personnel in Central and South America

Spanish NT_1400

This illustration accompanied the May 1, 1943 Pentecostal Evangel article about Spanish new testaments. The caption read, “Our Good Neighbor Policy.”

This Week in AG History — May 1, 1943

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 30 April 2020

World War II conjures up theaters of battle in Europe, Africa, and Asia, but Latin America also served a strategic role. Following the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, most of Latin America either severed relations with the Axis powers or declared war on them. The Panama Canal, which provided a link between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, was vital to both commerce and defense and Spanish-speaking soldiers found themselves fighting alongside English- and French-speaking comrades.

The Assemblies of God sought to reach out to servicemen through the distribution of literature. The May 1, 1943, Pentecostal Evangel, reported that the Home Missions Department, under direction of Fred Vogler, had printed 3,245,000 copies of Reveille, a paper specifically designed for servicemen, at a cost of approximately $24,000.

The article also makes reference to the response of the Assemblies of God young people, known as Christ’s Ambassadors, to a request in the Oct. 17, 1942, Evangel for $7,500 to provide copies of the New Testament to Merchant Mariners, United States civilian mariners who served to deliver military personnel and materials. The Merchant Mariners died at a rate of 1 in 26, the highest rate of casualty of any service in World War II. The response of the Christ’s Ambassadors exceeded the request by $2,500, which was used to place New Testaments in waterproof containers as part of standard equipment in lifeboats and rafts of naval vessels and military airplanes.

Much of this effort was led by Harry Jaeger, a 1937 graduate of Glad Tidings Bible Institute (later Bethany University) and Assemblies of God evangelist who had a burden to reach servicemen. Through his affiliation with the American Bible Society, he began a campaign to provide Scriptures to military personnel.

As pleased as Jaeger was with the response of the Assemblies of God to provide military Bibles in English, the Florida-based evangelist saw another need — Spanish Bibles were not available for soldiers serving from Central and South America. In response, the May 1, 1943, Evangel laid out the proposition before the Assemblies of God constituency to provide 250,000 Spanish New Testaments to South and Central American military personnel with an additional 50,000 testaments to be delivered to Guatemalan missionary John L. Franklin, at the cost of $45,000.

The request for financial donations ended with a plea for prayer: “Let us definitely ask the Lord that He will open hearts to receive His Word, and that as a result of this distribution there will be many souls in heaven who otherwise might not be there. And in addition to praying, ‘whatsoever He saith to you, do it.’” Funds were to be sent to the Home Missions Department designated as “Spanish Service Testament Fund.”

As a result of his work and creative vision in distributing literature to servicemen, Jaeger was invited to move his operation from Tampa, Florida, to Springfield just a few months after this article was published. In early 1944, the Servicemen’s Department, under Jaeger’s direction, was established within the Home Missions Division. This was the beginning of what is now a part of the Chaplaincy Department of U.S. Missions of the Assemblies of God. The Assemblies of God continues to be one of the largest evangelical distributors of discipleship literature printed in the Spanish language.

Read the article, “A Great Opportunity,” on page 1 of the May 1, 1943, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Need of Spiritual Mothers” by Alice Luce

• “Because of Covetousness” by Stanley Frodsham

• “Recollections of a Pioneer Pentecostal Preacher” by Walter J. Higgins

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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Lois Hodges oral history interview


Lois Hodges, the widow of leading Assemblies of God missiologist Melvin L. Hodges (1909-1988), celebrated her 100th birthday on September 23, 2008. Darrin Rodgers, director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, recently sat down with Sister Hodges and recorded an oral history interview.

The interview was recorded in two parts. In part one, Sister Hodges discussed her childhood as well as the background of her husband. Melvin Hodges’s father, Charles, was a 1902 graduate of Boston Theological Seminary (now Boston University School of Theology), the oldest Methodist seminary in the United States. While pastoring in Washington State, he grew disenchanted with “ecclesiasticism,” cast his lot with the Pentecostals, and ultimately joined the Assemblies of God. His son, Melvin, was called to the ministry at age 10, learned Greek from his father at age 13, and matriculated at Colorado College at age 15. A precocious young man, Melvin’s theological knowledge and preaching skills became widely noted, including by a young woman named Lois from Fort Collins, Colorado. Melvin and Lois married in 1928.

In part two of the interview, Sister Hodges recounted her life and ministry with Melvin, telling stories of how they had to live by faith during the Great Depression — when they did not have a regular income and food was scarce. They pioneered churches in Colorado and Wyoming until leaving for the mission field in Central America in 1935 with three young children. Melvin and Lois returned to Springfield in 1954. From 1954 to 1973, Melvin Hodges served as AG field director for Latin America and the West Indies. He then became a professor of missions at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. He was a prolific writer, and many of his publications deal with missions, church growth, and the indigenous church principle.

Click here to listen to PART ONE and PART TWO of the oral history interview with Lois Hodges.

Posted by Darrin J. Rodgers

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