Tag Archives: Christmas

Donald Gee: Christ is the Perfect Interpreter between God and Man

This Week in AG History —December 24, 1949

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 24 December 2020

In the 1949 Christmas Eve issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, noted British theologian and church leader Donald Gee gifted readers with a word picture of the mystery of the Incarnation. Sharing his vast experience of speaking through an interpreter, Gee illustrated the value of Jesus Christ, the God-Man, speaking the native language of both divinity and humanity.

Any speaker addressing an audience in a language unfamiliar to them will need a qualified interpreter to make sure that his message is accurately and adequately communicated to his hearers. After sharing some embarrassing and humorous incidents with interpreters in his own speaking career, Gee says that the best two interpreters with whom he worked shared the same distinction: a French father and an English mother. Both languages were spoken natively throughout their upbringing and, thus, they were equally at ease with either tongue.

Gee masterfully weaves this experience into an illustration of Jesus Christ in his article “An Interpreter is Born.” As the Son of God, Jesus spoke the language of heaven with the ease of a native son. Yet as the Son of Man, Jesus also spoke the language of earth with the same native ease. Jesus, therefore, was “the perfect Interpreter between God and man, for He — and He alone — speaks both languages perfectly.” With equal authority He could say “My Father in heaven” and my “mother and brethren” from Nazareth. He interpreted Heaven’s message of love to mankind and, in turn, can interpret the “feelings of our infirmities” at the right hand of God. In this sense, the Interpreter becomes the “one mediator between God and Man” — being born of both in Bethlehem. As the soul of man craves an explanation of the things of God, God has, in His redemptive plan, provided an Interpreter.

Gee takes the illustration one step further. Not only has Christ come to reveal the language of heaven to earth; He has equipped His followers to continue this task of interpretation. After providing for mankind to be “born from above” through salvation and, consequently, filled with the Holy Spirit, they become interpreters to others of the language of heaven. “Men wholly of this world cannot readily understand the things of God; they need interpreters — literally, ‘those who explain.’” Such interpretation “needs familiarity with the languages of heaven and of earth.” The interpreter cannot have a worldly mindedness that is unable to grasp the depth of meaning of the deep things of God nor yet can he or she have a “mistaken monasticism” that has lost touch with the language and experience of humanity.

The author then takes the illustration even one step further. While the task of interpretation is the duty of every Christian, it is especially relevant to the Pentecostal believer. “The Pentecostal gift of ‘interpretation of tongues’ in its own supernatural realm invites the same longing for the divine ability to bring the unknown into the realm of understanding … the language of ecstasy has its heavenly place, but happy is he who can translate it for our good into our more mundane speech.” We still need supernatural interpreters who, like Daniel, can explain the handwriting of God when He has a message for mankind.

Without the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus, there would be no satisfying revelation — or interpretation — of God to man and no adequate representative of man to God. Unto us an Interpreter is born; Emmanuel, “God with us,” who was born to bring understanding where confusion had reigned.

Gee invites us to accompany the shepherds to “even now go unto Bethlehem” and give thanks that an Interpreter has come — who will begin to unravel the mysteries of God and then “ever live to make intercession for us.”

Read “An Interpreter is Born” by Donald Gee on pages 2 and 13 of the Dec. 24, 1949, edition of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Our Immanuel – Christ Jesus” by P. C. Nelson

• “The Incarnation – Why Was it Necessary” by F. J. Lindquist

• “Christmas at Rupaidiha” by Hattie Hammond

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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Freddie’s Christmas: The Heart-Wrenching Story of Noted Pentecostal Songwriter F. A. Graves

graves-fa

F. A. Graves with wife, Vina. Standing in the back are their children (l-r): Irene, Carl, and Arthur, circa 1920s.

This Week in AG History — December 19, 1931

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 22 December 2016

A heart-wrenching true story titled “Freddie’s Christmas” appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel 85 years ago this week. “Freddie” referred to Frederick Arthur Graves (1856-1927), the noted songwriter who became an early leader in the Pentecostal movement.

“Little Freddie” began life as the son of a tailor, in a family of four boys and one girl. The family had weekly devotions and worship, and the children were taught to love and trust God. Freddie’s father worked long hours, going door-to-door to find work measuring and making clothes for men and boys. Eventually the work became too much, and he became sick and died. Freddie’s mother was frail and tried to care for the children by herself, but within three years she developed tuberculosis and also passed away. The children were farmed out to different homes.

Freddie was taken in by Mr. Hollis, a man who was “honest in his dealings with his neighbors but who was godless.” It seemed that he wanted a boy for the sole purpose of helping with chores on the farm. Freddie was given many tasks to do on the farm and worked very hard, but often he was sad. After saying his prayers, he would climb into his bed in the attic and “cry himself to sleep in his loneliness and homesickness.”

Mr. Hollis was very unkind to Freddie, often making the hapless young boy think it was his own fault that he became an orphan. Whenever cookies and other treats were shared among Mr. Hollis’ other children, Freddie was left out because he was “only an orphan.” When Christmas arrived, the children hung their stockings by the fireplace, and they had to beg their parents to let Freddie also have a stocking. Finally, the parents let Freddie put up a stocking next to the other ones.

Bright and early on Christmas morning, the other children gleefully opened their stockings. But Mr. Hollis told Freddie that he could not touch his until all the chores were done, so he bravely trudged through the snow and cold to milk the cows and feed the calves and chickens. After the chores were completed and everyone had finished breakfast, the man finally gave Freddie permission to open his stocking. “Freddie sat down on the floor and began very carefully to take out the shavings in the top of his stocking — on and on he went still taking out shavings clear down to the toe. Not one thing in all that stocking but shavings!”

Freddie’s heart almost stopped beating — and then Mr. Hollis began to roar with laughter, slapping his knee and saying to his wife, “That is the best joke I’ve had in a long time!” And he continued to laugh.

Freddie slowly picked up every shaving and ran to the barn as fast as he could. He climbed up into the hayloft, out of sight, and sobbed for a long time. Finally he talked with God and felt God’s comfort and peace, despite the circumstances. As it began to grow dark, he remembered there were more chores to be done, so he climbed down and faithfully went to work doing his chores. As he worked, the Lord enabled him to forgive the man who had been so mean to him.

Not long after this incident, Mr. Hollis began acting strangely and became increasingly moody and unhappy. (Some whispered it might be because of his cruelty to the poor orphan boy.) Then one day he went out to the barn and hung himself. Freddie, who had known much heartache and grief himself, was able to whisper words of comfort to the widow in her loss. Later, she hugged him and told Freddie what a comfort he had been to her.

The Lord helped Fred Graves to be a blessing, despite all the hardship he had borne. Years later he became a minister of the gospel, overcoming significant difficulties and receiving healing from epilepsy. He obtained ministerial credentials from Christian faith healer John Alexander Dowie in 1899 and transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God in 1916.

Graves’s testimony inspired him to write numerous songs, including “He Was Nailed to the Cross for Me,” “He’ll Never Forget to Keep Me,” and “Honey in the Rock.” Graves continues to make an impact through his songs, through the lives he touched, and through his influence on his son-in-law, Assemblies of God theologian Myer Pearlman.

Frederick A. Graves’ Christmas testimony reminds us of the hardships faced by early Pentecostals, and also illustrates how God can bring beauty from tragic circumstances.

Read Vina Graves’ article, “Freddie’s Christmas,” on pages 6 and 13 of the Dec. 19, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Child is Born,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “The Meaning of Christmas,” by C. H. Spurgeon

• “When Sankey Sang the ‘Shepherd Song’ on Christmas Eve”

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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Christmas Testimonies from Assemblies of God History

christmas-tree-great-depressionBy Darrin J. Rodgers

In the West, Christmas has become a symbol of excess. For most Christians in other times and places, however, Christmas has been a reminder that God came down to meet each one of us at our point of need.

The following Christmas testimonies are from some of our Assemblies of God saints who blazed the trail that we now tread. Read how they celebrated Christmas, compare it with your own celebrations, then reflect about how God met each one of these dear saints at the point of their need. You will see that God didn’t always meet needs with provisions; sometimes He provided lessons.

C. M. Ward was the voice of the Revivaltime radio broadcast from 1953 to 1978. He and his fiancée, Dorothy, set their wedding date for Christmas Day, 1929. Of course, one month before their wedding, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Ward couldn’t afford to buy a wedding ring, much less presents, for their first Christmas. He later learned that times of deprivation like this birthed one of two things: either desperation or despair. Desperation spurred people to work hard and be creative, while despair caused people to simply give up.

Daniel W. Kerr was the primary author of the 1916 Statement of Fundamental Truths. One of the early parsonages he and his family lived in was actually an abandoned log chicken house that Kerr made into living quarters. One Christmas, his two children each received one penny in their stockings. And for Christmas dinner — they boiled potatoes. With our material prosperity, we sometimes forget that many go without. When God does provide for our needs, but not our wants, do we express gratitude or do we grumble?

John Kolenda was a German District pastor and missionary to Brazil. His daughter, Graceann, recalled that “Dad always practiced and taught us to put God first, others second, and ourselves last.” She explained that, to her and her young sibling, “This seemed entirely wrong.” Two days before Christmas, Kolenda took his children aside and said that — absent a miracle — there would be no Christmas presents that year. After providing for the needy children in the Sunday school and for other people, he explained, there was nothing left to give his own children. Graceann recalled that her parents prayed in an unusually fervent manner that evening. The next day an unexpected check arrived in the mail, which provided for a memorable Christmas. When the situation seems hopeless — do we still pray to God to intervene?

Elizabeth Galley Wilson, a single female missionary, arrived in China in 1939 just before the outbreak of World War II. She wrote that she learned two things during her first Christmas in Peking. The first lesson was how lonely it could be in a foreign country without family, friends, or the traditional Christmas turkey or gifts. She got together with several other single female missionaries from other denominations, they ate, and Elizabeth distributed Christmas stockings to each of them. The second thing she learned, as she put it, was “that the Christ of Christmas can bring peace and dispel darkness as we seek Him in times like these.” Several years later, she became a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp in the Philippines. That Christmas, while in the internment camp, those little Christmas stockings that she made in Peking became the Christmas gift for the son of another missionary who was a fellow prisoner of war. Elizabeth’s testimony teaches us that seeking God during a struggle can “bring peace and dispel darkness.” Furthermore, just as the Christmas stockings were re-used to bring joy to the child who was a prisoner of war, we cannot begin to imagine how the good — or bad — things we do today might end up impacting others.

Esther Mae Cooper — also a single female — was a musical evangelist who ministered to servicemen. She described how she spent Christmas of 1942 on board a ship destined for Alaska. She was seasick, lonely, and bereft of her family and friends. She wrote the following: “Christmas morning I was awakened by the splashing of the waves against the ship. It was a peculiar sensation that I had when I realized I was spending my first Christmas away from home. I am ashamed of my first thoughts — Christmas morning, away from home, at sea, no friends. Merry Christmas! My heart sank! But again the voice of the Lord reassured me, ‘Lo, I am with you always!’” Esther Mae determined to make the best of the situation, and in her morning devotions she prayed, “make me a blessing all day and help me to spread cheer and sunshine.” This testimony reminds us that we can have confidence that God is always with us, particularly at our point of need. Because of this assurance, we can decide to be joyful and bless others, in spite of our circumstances.

Scholars employ a German word — Heilsgeschichte, meaning “salvation history” — to describe testimonies like these. The story of how God works among us is holy history. And this Christmas we are celebrating the central point in this holy history — the birth of Jesus, who is Immanuel, “God with us,” and who meets us in our weakness and in our poverty.

Sources:
Charles M. Ward, In Perils of…Brethren (Columbus, GA: Quill Publications, 1991), 55-57.
Lewis Wilson, “The Kerr-Peirce Role in A/G Education,” Assemblies of God Heritage 10:1 (Spring 1990): 6.
Graceann Kolenda, “John and Marguerite Kolenda: Putting God First,” Assemblies of God Heritage 13:1 (Spring 1993): 30.
Elizabeth Wilson, “A Special Christmas Eve in Peking,” Assemblies of God Heritage 2:4 (Winter 1982-1983): 3.
Esther Mae Cooper, “Christmas on the Pacific,” Christ’s Ambassadors Herald 16:12 (December 1943): 4.

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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