Tag Archives: Compassion

Albert Norton, Pioneer Pentecostal Missionary to India: Preaching Must be Accompanied by Good Works

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This Week in AG History —February 22, 1919

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 23 February 2017

In the early twentieth century, many mainline Protestant churches were in the process of redefining the Christian faith. New academic theories undermined the authority of Scripture, and a faith in science replaced faith in the God of miracles as described in the Bible. These theological liberals pioneered a “Social Gospel” movement defined by doing good works, even as they left behind the seemingly antiquated notion that “Truth” could be found in Scripture.

In America, evangelicals and Pentecostals often responded to the Social Gospel movement by re-asserting biblical truths. Some tried to reform older denominations from within; others formed new, purer churches. Some backed away from social action, concerned that an emphasis on good works could distract from what they believed was the more important duty to preach the Word.

Outside America, missionaries were often surrounded by great suffering and felt compelled to minister in both word and deed. One such missionary was Albert Norton, an early Assemblies of God missionary to India.

In a 1919 Pentecostal Evangel article, Norton wrote the following bold statement, which argues that Christian preaching must be accompanied by works of compassion:

“A Christianity that coldly sits down, and goes on its routine of formal work, and allows its fellowmen to starve, or to be obliged to go through all the hard sufferings and exposure connected with famine, without effort to help them, might as well quit its preaching.”

Norton, who was witnessing an unfolding human tragedy, asked that “all missionaries, Mission Boards and Committees and all Christian Workers to do what they can to save their brothers and sisters in India from dying of starvation or from the kindred train of evils following famine.”

Pentecostal Evangel editor Stanley H. Frodsham responded and devoted the entire front page of the Feb. 22, 1919, issue to the desperate situation in India. He asked readers to send famine relief to Gospel Publishing House, which he promised would “be promptly sent to the field.”

Frodsham provided three justifications for this request to save bodies as well as souls. First, he stated that Scripture required it, quoting Proverbs 19:17 and 24:11-12. Second, he noted that the Methodist church had asked its members to forego luxuries for a few months and to instead provide money for Indian relief. He challenged Pentecostals to do likewise.

Third, he noted that the future of the church depended upon rescuing those who are starving now. He again quoted Norton, “There are young men and women in India today, who were saved as famine orphans several years ago, and now they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and being greatly used in the extension of Christ’s Kingdom.” Meeting the physical needs to the starving today would yield preachers tomorrow. He continued, “How unutterably sad it would have been if they had been allowed to die of starvation.”

Early Pentecostal missionaries such as Norton had very limited physical resources to share, but they still recognized the need to minister in both word and deed. When the Assemblies of God, at its 2009 General Council, added compassion as the fourth element for its reason for being — joining worship, evangelism, and discipleship — this was an affirmation of a long-standing practice.

Read Frodsham’s entire article, “Plague and Famine Raging in India,” on pages 1-2 of the Feb. 22, 1919, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Run to Help the Dying,” by A. E. L.

* “Hints Regarding Divine Healing,” by Florence Burpee

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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Despite Opposition, Assemblies of God Founders Supported Missionaries AND Famine Relief

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Alfred and Myrtle Blakeney, Assemblies of God missionaries to India, and their five children (1920)

This Week in AG History — April 16, 1921

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 14 April 2016

The Assemblies of God, in its first decade, provided significant financial resources to the alleviation of hunger in other nations. A devastating famine hit China in 1920 and 1921, causing the deaths of an estimated half million people. This tragedy inspired Assemblies of God leaders to make an extended appeal for donations for Chinese famine relief. This decision was not without controversy.

J. Roswell Flower, Assemblies of God Missions Treasurer, in the April 16, 1921, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, recounted that church leaders expressed concern that an appeal for famine relief would likely decrease giving to support missionaries already on the field.  This fear was realized, and Flower reported that total missions giving did not increase in the first four months of the year. Donors shifted from supporting missionaries to famine relief. Missionaries were in danger of not receiving sufficient monetary support on which to live.

Despite this challenging financial situation, Flower defended the appeal for famine relief. He explained, “The famine need was so great…that we took the risk with such good results as you have seen.” To make up for the decrease in giving toward missionaries, Flower asked readers to contribute additional offerings.

How did Assemblies of God members respond to the challenge to expand their giving to include support for both missionaries and famine relief?

The 1921 General Council minutes reported that missions giving increased by almost 19 percent. The Foreign Missions Department received a record $107,953.55 during the fiscal year ending August 1921. Of that total, almost 10 percent ($10,383.12) was given to Chinese famine relief.

Read the article, “The Famine in China,” by J. Roswell Flower on page 12 of the April 16, 1921, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

•  “Looking from the Top,” by Christine Peirce

• “Tithes and Offerings,” by Elizabeth Sisson

• “Unity,” by C. W. Doney

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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Barney Moore: Saved in a Methodist Revival with Signs and Wonders in 1901

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Barney and Mary Moore, circa 1919


This Week in AG History — January 17, 1931

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 14 January 2016

When Barney S. Moore (1874-1956) converted to Christ in 1901, it was during a revival with signs and wonders in a Methodist church. His testimony, published in the January 17, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, recounted that the Methodist missionary at the revival “was preaching nearly everything that is now preached in Pentecost.”

Moore recalled that, as the congregation was in quiet prayer, the “heavens opened and a rushing mighty wind” filled the small Methodist church. About one-third of the congregation fell to the ground, overwhelmed by God’s glory and the power of the Holy Spirit. Moore experienced something unexpected — he began speaking in a language he had not learned. At first the pastor was uncertain how to respond to the revival and the gift of tongues. But they soon realized they had experienced something akin to the spiritual outpouring in the second chapter of Acts. At the end of the revival, Moore counted 85 people who had decided to repent of their sins and follow Christ.

At the encouragement of his pastor, Moore attended Taylor University (Upland, Indiana) and studied for the ministry. At his first pastorate, in Urbana, Illinois, in 1904, the power of God fell again. During the revival, he wrote, a lady in his church spoke in tongues she had not learned, which Moore deemed to be classical Hebrew and Latin.

Moore was ordained in 1906 by the Metropolitan Church Association, a small Holiness denomination. Before long he heard about the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, which had become a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement. He immediately recognized the similarity between his own spiritual experiences and what was happening at the Azusa Street Revival. He cast his lot with the Pentecostals.

In 1914, Moore and his wife, Mary, followed God’s call to serve as missionaries in Japan. They established a thriving mission and, in 1918, affiliated with the Assemblies of God. When a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 1923, devastating Yokohama and Tokyo and killing 140,000 people, the Moores turned their efforts toward relief work. Moore wrote a widely-distributed book, The Japanese Disaster: or the World’s Greatest Earthquake (1924), and spent years raising money to help the suffering Japanese people.

The testimony of Barney Moore demonstrates that early Pentecostals did not emerge in a vacuum. They were heirs to earlier revival traditions, including those in Methodist and Holiness churches. Moore was careful to document that his experience of speaking in tongues came before the broader Pentecostal movement came into being. His story also shows that early Pentecostals, when confronted by human suffering, were among those who demonstrated Christ’s love not just in word, but in deed.

Read Barney Moore’s article, “Glorious Miracles in the Twentieth Century,” on pages 2-3 of the January 17, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “The Gift of Faith,” by Donald Gee
• “Evidences of God’s Grace in Japan,” by Jessie Wengler
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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Maria Gerber: The Pentecostal “Angel of Mercy” During the Armenian Genocide in Turkey

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Maria A. Gerber (front row, third from left) with widows from Zion Orphan’s Home in Turkey

This Week in AG History — December 4, 1915

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 3 December 2015

An estimated 800,000 to 1,500,000 ethnic Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire (present day Turkey) were systematically rounded up and killed by Ottoman authorities between the years 1915 and 1918. The Armenian Genocide, as it came to be known, is the second-most studied case of genocide, following the Jewish Holocaust.

Newspapers around the world reported on the suffering endured by the mostly Christian Armenians. Right in the midst of the conflict was Maria A. Gerber (1858-1917), an early Pentecostal missionary who had established an orphanage in Turkey for Armenian victims.

Gerber was born in Switzerland, where she was raised with 11 siblings by Mennonite parents. As a child, she did not have an interest in spiritual things, because she saw her mother weep when she read her Bible. She thought that Scripture must be the cause of sadness.

Maria was a carefree child and loved to sing and dance. But, at age 12, she was stricken with multiple ailments, including rheumatic fever, heart trouble, tuberculosis, and dropsy. The doctor’s prognosis was not good — Maria only had a short time to live.

Fear gripped Maria’s heart. She had never committed her life to the Lord. She knew that if she died, she would not go to heaven. Maria cried out, “Jesus, I want you to save me from my sins.” Immediately, she felt peace deep inside her soul. She was ready to die.

But God had other plans for the young girl. Maria quickly recovered from her incurable illness, much to everyone’s surprise! Maria’s mother had been so confident that her daughter was on death’s doorstep that she had already given away all of her clothing. Her mother scrounged around and found clothes for Maria.

Maria shared her testimony of salvation and healing at school and in surrounding villages. She found her calling. She read Matthew 28:18 and sensed that verse was meant for her: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Jesus]. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

Maria’s faith deepened as she blossomed into a young woman. She received training as a nurse, but in her heart she wanted to become a missionary. In 1889 a remarkable revival featuring healing and speaking in tongues came to her town in Switzerland. In her 1917 autobiography, Passed Experiences, Present Conditions, Hope for the Future, Gerber recounted the rapturous praise and numerous miracles that occurred in that early Swiss revival.

The young nurse wanted training for missions work and, in 1891, she headed for Chicago, where she attended Moody Bible Institute. By the mid-1890s, she heard about massacres of Armenian Christians that were occurring in the Ottoman Empire. Maria and a friend, Rose Lambert, felt God calling them to minister to the Armenian widows and orphans.

Maria and Rose arrived in Turkey in 1898 and began working with the besieged Armenians. They began caring for orphans and purchased camel loads of cotton for widows to make garments for the orphans and for sale. Donors from America and Europe began supporting these two audacious women who had ventured into very dangerous territory to do the Lord’s work.

Maria, in particular, found support among wealthy German Mennonites who lived in Russia. In 1904, they funded the construction of a series of large buildings to house hundreds of orphans and widows. Zion Orphans’ Home, located near Cesarea, became a hub of relief work and ministry in central Turkey. When persecution of Armenians intensified in 1915, resulting in the extermination of most Christian Armenians from Turkey, Zion Orphans’ Home was ready to help those in distress.

Maria identified with the emerging Pentecostal movement as early as 1910. This should not be surprising, as she had experienced her own Pentecost 21 years earlier. The Assemblies of God supported her missions efforts, and numerous letters by Maria were published in the Pentecostal Evangel. Assemblies of God leader D. W. Kerr, in the foreword to Maria’s 1917 autobiography, wrote that he had known Maria for 26 years and that her story will encourage readers “to greater self denial and a deeper surrender.”

Maria suffered a stroke and passed away on December 6, 1917. Gerber’s obituary, published in the Pentecostal Evangel, stated that she was known as “the angel of mercy to the downtrodden Armenians.”

It would have been easy for Maria Gerber to ignore the persecution of Armenians. The massacres were on the other side of the world. She could have stayed safe in America or in Europe. But Maria followed God’s call and spent almost 20 years ministering to refugees who faced persecution and death. Few people today remember her name. But according to early Assemblies of God leaders, Maria Gerber personified what it meant to be Pentecostal.

Read one of Maria Gerber’s articles, “Great Results Seen in Answer to Prayer,” on page 4 of the December 4, 1915, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Divine Love: The Supreme Test,” by Arch P. Collins

• “What Think Ye of Christ?” by M. M. Pinson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Read Maria A. Gerber’s obituary in the January 5, 1918, edition of the Pentecostal Evangel (p. 13).

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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Assemblies of God Founders Were Diverse, Yet They Believed They Could Do More Together Than Apart

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A group stands in front of a tent at an Aimee Semple McPherson camp meeting in Wesson, Arkansas, ca. 1920. W. J. Walthall is in the center (tenth from right).

This Week in AG History — November 8, 1924

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 5 November 2015

The founders of the Assemblies of God were not “cookie-cutter” Pentecostals. They were pastors, evangelists, and missionaries who hailed from a variety of religious and social backgrounds. Some came from large northern cities; others from small southern hamlets. Many were entrepreneurs who had launched churches, orphanages, and rescue missions without any denominational backing. They often differed on ministry methods, which were shaped by their personalities and cultural preferences. They were not all cut from the same mold. However, they all believed they were helping to restore the vibrant witness of the New Testament church, and they all believed that they could do more together than they could apart.

This diversity within the early Assemblies of God naturally created tension. However, many founders embraced this tension and sounded a common theme — that they aimed for “unity of the Spirit” until one day they could achieve “unity of the faith.”

The first masthead of the Christian Evangel (the original title of the Pentecostal Evangel), from 1913, stated: “The simplicity of the Gospel, In the bonds of peace, The unity of the Spirit, Till we all come to the unity of the faith.” This call to unity implicitly recognized that readers did not yet have “unity of the faith” — that disagreement existed on some matters. In the meantime, they affirmed that believers should aim for “unity of the Spirit.”

The minutes from the first General Council, held in April 1914, reveal that the convention began with devotions. The devotions set the tone for the next 11 days of meetings. According to the minutes, the devotions brought together “Men of God, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,” but who “were not yet in perfect unity in faith.” The minutes then reported that participants “retained the unity of the Spirit until the unity of Faith was being much manifested in the meetings.” This language about keeping “unity of the Spirit” while aiming for “unity of the faith” was repeated in the resolution that officially formed the General Council of the Assemblies of God.

The Pentecostal Evangel, in 1924, published a devotional article about “the two unities” — the unity of the Spirit and the unity of the faith. The article, by pioneer Assemblies of God pastor W. Jethro Walthall, illuminated what early Pentecostals meant when they used the phrases “unity of the Spirit” and “unity of the faith.” According to Walthall, “unity of the faith” — which is the believer’s eschatological hope — cannot be fully achieved on earth. Before they achieve perfection in heaven, Christians can maintain “unity of the Spirit” on earth. Walthall wrote that “unity of the Spirit” is achieved by “walking worthy of our calling, and this is done by a meek and lowly walk with God, and maintaining a loving and long-suffering attitude to all saints.”

These insights — showing how early Pentecostals theologically explained the existence of differences amongst themselves — provide hope to those today who struggle to find unity amidst diversity.

Read “The Two Unities” by W. Jethro Walthall on page 5 of the November 8, 1924, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Also featured in this issue:
• “The Sin of Hopelessness,” by Florence L. Personeus
• “The Old-Time Power,” by Donald Gee
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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How Compassion Ministries and Miracles Fueled Growth in the Assemblies of God in India

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This Week in AG History–June 20, 1925
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 18 June 2015

The Assemblies of God, from its earliest years, has been ministering the gospel in word and deed around the world. The June 20, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted the work of an early Assemblies of God mission located in Nawabganj, a city in northern India near the border of Nepal, which operated ministries to help the poverty-stricken and disadvantaged of India.

A boys’ school at the Nawabganj mission rescued street children and nourished their souls, bodies, and minds. The school, equipped with modern living quarters for about seventy boys, provided a safe, healthy environment and “intellectual and practical training.” Technical training included weaving, carpentry and machine work in the school’s “industrial department.”

The mission also ministered to those affected by the contagious, skin-eating disease of leprosy. While the broader society often rejected lepers, the mission attempted to affirm their dignity as humans and provided them with physical comfort and the hope of eternal life with Christ.

The mission’s work among women was termed “zenana” — an Urdu word referring to women. Women missionaries ministered to women, often widows or those who had experienced extreme poverty or suffering. The mission, according to the article, provided a home for society’s “most unfortunate victims.” Many of these women became Christians, and prayer became an important part of their lives.

In addition to these works of compassion, the mission was home to a vibrant evangelistic ministry. Indian Christians went into the surrounding villages and preached the gospel. Persecution against those preachers, according to the article, was “beyond endurance and almost unbelievable.” However, the preaching of the word was not in vain. As these indigenous Christians ministered in the face of incredible opposition, the truth of the gospel was confirmed by acts of compassion and by miracles of deliverance and healing. One by one, people repented of their sins and accepted Christ.

The mission at Nawabganj demonstrates how the Assemblies of God, since its inception, has encouraged holistic ministry to spiritual, intellectual, and physical needs. The Nawabganj mission built its institutions to meet the needs of the community’s most impoverished — those who had been rejected by the broader society. These works of compassion, coupled with miracles and prayer, gave credibility to the gospel, which allowed Indian Christians to successfully plant churches across northern India despite stiff opposition.

Read the entire article, “More about the India Mission Stations,” by William M. Faux, on page 10 of the June 20, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “The Second Coming of Christ,” by Finis J. Dake
• “Mexican Border Work Prospers,” by H. C. Ball
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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Hillcrest Children’s Home: 1960s Film “A Child Is Wanting” Now Online!

A Child Is WantingGladys Hinson, a Christian schoolteacher in Arkansas, had a vision to provide a loving home for destitute children. She was inspired by the example of Assemblies of God missionary Lillian Trasher, who founded the large orphanage in Assiout, Egypt. In 1944, Hinson overcame significant obstacles and founded Hillcrest Children’s Home in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

A promotional film for Hillcrest, “A Child Is Wanting” (produced by Curtis Ringness and Charles W. H. Scott in the 1960s), has been digitized and is now accessible online on AGTV.

Hillcrest Children’s Home, now part of COMPACT Family Services, is the national children’s home for the Assemblies of God. COMPACT will be celebrating its 70th anniversary on September 27, 2014. You are invited to attend the celebration of this compassion ministry!

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

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

Leave a comment

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