Tag Archives: France

Robert Kenneth Ware: Assemblies of God Missionary to French Jews, War Refugees, and Romani People

This Week in AG History —March 22, 1964

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 24 February 2022

Robert Kenneth Ware (1917-2005) was born in the United States and raised in Switzerland, but he devoted his ministry to persecuted Jews, displaced war refugees, and ostracized Romani people (also referred to as Gypsies) in France. Along the way he managed to learn at least five languages, establish the French Assemblies of God Bible school and Sunday School ministry, plant several churches, and provide an accurate translation of the New Testament for the French Bible Society.

Just a year after Kenneth Ware was born in Memphis, Tennessee, his father was killed in World War I. His Swiss-born mother was devastated and soon went into a deep depression. She took her young son to Switzerland where she went into seclusion to deal with her grief. Due to these early traumas, Ware developed a deep stammer that made schooling very difficult.

In 1932, English evangelist Smith Wigglesworth ministered in Vevey, Switzerland. Upon meeting young Ware on the street and seeing his predicament, he asked the boy to stick out his tongue. The evangelist touched his tongue and said, “This tongue shall preach the gospel.” From that time, his stammer ceased.

One year later, Ware surrendered his life to Christ at a revival led by Douglas Scott, a British minister who was instrumental in the formation of the French Assemblies of God. He felt a call to ministry and began to evangelize with other young people in the south of France. As a result of these efforts, at least 25 churches were planted.

Ware soon married Suzy Vinitski, a Jewish Christian. When Adolph Hitler invaded France in 1940, the Ware home became a refuge for Jews seeking to escape France into Switzerland. When a friend, under torture, revealed their names as a hiding place for Jews, the Wares attempted to flee into Switzerland. Their train was halted by Nazi agents, who ignored Suzy and their 7-month-old son, but took Kenneth for questioning. Brutally beaten and told he would be executed the next morning, he revealed to one guard that he was a pastor. This seemed upsetting to the guard who then snuck him through a darkened hallway and set him free.

Ware located his wife and son in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in 1948, they returned to France to find a devastated country flooded with refugees. Ware established a mission church for these displaced people. Remembering the care their friends and families had received before the war from the young pastors, many Jews came to his mission and later accepted Jesus as Messiah.

Because most of his money went to funding outreach, the Ware family lived in a part of Paris that was known as “the street of crimes.” Ware received permission to open a church in an abandoned night club. Within 10 years, the community was so transformed by this little church that the police no longer felt the need to patrol the streets.

In 1953, Ware was designated as a representative of the American Assemblies of God to the French Assemblies of God. He soon saw the need for greater discipleship among the French Christians. In the 1960 French General Council meetings, he requested permission to begin a Sunday School program. The response was not enthusiastic, but permission was granted.

Ware began a small printing operation in his home. While he translated Gospel Publishing House curriculum from English to French, Suzy and their two sons ran the duplicator. The operation soon became so successful that the March 22, 1964, Pentecostal Evangel reported that the Assemblies of God in the United States purchased larger printing equipment to enable the Ware family to meet the growing need for Sunday School curriculum in France.

During this time, there was a growing Pentecostal revival in the French Romani community. Once again, Ware’s heart was drawn to a people who were mistreated and thought to be of little human value. For seven years, Ware traveled to Romani camps, lived with them in trailers, established churches, and even built a Bible school and elementary school for the children. In 1972, their churches were so well established that a Romani superintendent was chosen, and Ware was able to turn his attention to other needs.

Throughout his ministry, Ware was a self-starting learner. He became an outstanding scholar of the Greek language and soon became the teacher of advanced Greek at the Continental Bible College in Brussels, Belgium. This experience motivated him to begin a Bible school for the French Assemblies of God in Paris. While at this school, the French Bible Society asked him to prepare a more accurate translation of the New Testament in French, a project that took him three years.

A stroke in 1984 curtailed the ministry of Kenneth and Suzy Ware but he continued to write and encourage the churches until his death in Courbevoie, France, in 2005. His influence continues today in French Sunday Schools, Romani communities, and every place a French-speaking person picks up a New Testament begins to read the Word of God. Smith Wigglesworth proved to be prophetic: the tongue of Kenneth Ware truly did preach the gospel.

Read Kenneth Ware’s article, “Paris Printing Plant” on page 23 of the March 22, 1964, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “How Cold is Too Cold?” by Donald L. Nelson

• “The Gospel for Ghana” by Robert L. Cobb

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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Clement Le Cossec: The French Pentecostal Pastor Who Became an Apostle to the Gypsies

Clement Le Cossec (far left), with a Gypsy family

This Week in AG History —March 30, 1969

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 01 April 2021

When Clement Le Cossec (1921-2001) was growing up in Brittany, a province in northwest France, his mother warned him, “Be careful! If you are not good, the [Roma, also known as] Gypsies will come and steal you away!” Frightened, Le Cossec promised his mother he would be good, so that he would never have to live with the Gypsies. Yet, God had a plan for him, and when this French pastor died in 2001, more than 2,000 Gypsies from across Europe attended his funeral, mourning the loss of the man who came to be known as “The Apostle to the Gypsies.” 

The March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared the fascinating story of Le Cossec and his ministry to the Gypsies. 

In 1952, while pastoring a church in Rennes, France, Le Cossec held a preaching campaign in Brest, near Normandy. At the end of one of the meetings a strongly built, dark man approached him and asked if the pastor would visit “us” at an encampment in the hedges alongside the road leading into town. When Le Cossec arrived, he found a caravan of trailers and a group of people with a story to tell. 

Two years earlier, one of the young men, Zino, had been given a terminal diagnosis. A traveling Pentecostal preacher prayed for him and he experienced healing. Upon hearing what had happened to Zino, his brother, Mandz, determined to tell the story of how God had power to heal in the name of Jesus. Since that time many of the Gypsies in this caravan had come to faith in Christ, but they had a serious problem. They heard that to be obedient to Christ they must be baptized. Mandz had gone from pastor to pastor asking for someone to come and baptize them but none were willing. 

Le Cossec invited them to come to a prayer meeting in a church member’s home. He opened the meeting by saying, “We are going to change the form of the meeting. We are not tied to a routine. We want to be sensitive to the direction of the Spirit. We are going to pray with our Gypsy brothers and sisters to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” After a brief meditation, the Gypsies knelt on the earthen floor and began to praise the Lord with all their hearts. Mandz suddenly lay on the floor, with his face down, and started to speak tongues. Many others shared his same experience. Le Cossec announced to the group, “The baptisms will be next week!” 

After the baptismal service, the police made the Gypsy caravan move from the area, and Le Cossec returned to his church in Rennes. One year later, in 1953, both Le Cossec and the Gypsies returned to Brest for a meeting. After the baptisms of the previous year, more than 100 Gypsies had come to know Christ, but Le Cossec could see that they were troubled. They shared with him, “Brother, on the road we have no one to lead meetings with us. Each evening when we stop, we light a fire and we gather around to sing and pray. If there is someone in the group, even a child, who knows how to read we ask him to read from the Bible. We need a servant of God.” Le Cossec replied, “That is impossible. There are no servants of God in Brittany who are free” to travel with you. 

Le Cossec felt he must help the Gypsies in some way. When the caravans came close to his church he would hold reading and Bible classes. But by 1958, more than 3,000 Gypsies had been converted, and Le Cossec could no longer be indifferent to this flock of sheep without a shepherd. A decision had to be made. He had a house and an assured salary and eight children who depended on him. The church in Rennes was doing well. Wouldn’t it be folly to leave a secure position and join his family to a caravan of traveling Gypsies? “There was a battle in my heart … but putting all my trust in the Lord, and refusing to count the cost, I threw myself into an adventure of faith … how very meaningful Christ’s words: ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.’” 

Eleven years later, in the 1969 Pentecostal Evangel articleLe Cossec shared with American readers how more than 20,000 Gypsies were serving the Lord. He told of their meetings in caravan conferences across Europe, including in Germany, where Hitler’s Nazi regime had exterminated tens of thousands of Gypsies in concentration camps. 

Le Cossec and his family traveled with the Gypsies through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and India. By his death at age 80, the “Apostle to the Gypsies” had traveled in more than 40 countries sharing the message that Gypsies, who had been “a rejected community,” have instead become “an elect community” in the Lord. On his tombstone, his friends and family engraved the words of Luke 14:22: “The servant said, ‘Master, what you have commanded has been done.’” 

Read more about Le Cossec’s Gypsy conference in Germany in “One People from Many Nations,” on page 16 of the March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel

Also featured in this issue:

• “Gifts of Healing,” by Howard Carter

• “How Can I Know God’s Will,” by J.W. Jepson

• “The Balm of Gratitude,” by Mel De Vries

And many more! 

Click here 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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Filed under Biography, History, Missions

Clement Le Cossec: The French Pastor Who Became an Apostle to the Gypsies

LeCossec

Clement Le Cossec (far left), with a Gypsy family

This Week in AG History — March 30, 1969

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 30 March 2017

When Clement Le Cossec (1921-2001) was growing up in Brittany, a province in northwest France, his mother warned him, “Be careful! If you are not good, the Gypsies will come and steal you away!” Frightened, Le Cossec promised his mother he would be good, so that he would never have to live with the Gypsies. Yet, God had a plan for him, and when this French pastor died in 2001, more than 2,000 Gypsies from across Europe attended his funeral, mourning the loss of the man who came to be known as “The Apostle to the Gypsies.”

The March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared the fascinating story of Le Cossec and his ministry to the Gypsies.

In 1952, while pastoring a church in Rennes, France, Le Cossec held a preaching campaign in Brest, near Normandy. At the end of one of the meetings a strongly built, dark man approached him and asked if the pastor would visit “us” at an encampment in the hedges alongside the road leading into town. When Le Cossec arrived, he found a caravan of trailers and a group of people with a story to tell.

Two years earlier, one of the young men, Zino, had been given a terminal diagnosis. A traveling Pentecostal preacher prayed for him and he experienced healing. Upon hearing what had happened to Zino, his brother, Mandz, determined to tell the story of how God had power to heal in the name of Jesus. Since that time many of the Gypsies in this caravan had come to faith in Christ, but they had a serious problem. They heard that to be obedient to Christ they must be baptized. Mandz had gone from pastor to pastor asking for someone to come and baptize them but none were willing.

Le Cossec invited them to come to a prayer meeting in a church member’s home. He opened the meeting by saying, “We are going to change the form of the meeting. We are not tied to a routine. We want to be sensitive to the direction of the Spirit. We are going to pray with our Gypsy brothers and sisters to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” After a brief meditation, the Gypsies knelt on the earthen floor and began to praise the Lord with all their hearts. Mandz suddenly lay on the floor, with his face down, and started to speak tongues. Many others shared his same experience. Le Cossec announced to the group, “The baptisms will be next week!”

After the baptismal service, the police made the Gypsy caravan move from the area, and Le Cossec returned to his church in Rennes. One year later, in 1953, both Le Cossec and the Gypsies returned to Brest for a meeting. After the baptisms of the previous year, more than 100 Gypsies had come to know Christ, but Le Cossec could see that they were troubled. They shared with him, “Brother, on the road we have no one to lead meetings with us. Each evening when we stop, we light a fire and we gather around to sing and pray. If there is someone in the group, even a child, who knows how to read we ask him to read from the Bible. We need a servant of God.” Le Cossec replied, “That is impossible. There are no servants of God in Brittany who are free” to travel with you.

Le Cossec felt he must help the Gypsies in some way. When the caravans came close to his church he would hold reading and Bible classes. But by 1958 more than 3,000 Gypsies had been converted, and Le Cossec could no longer be indifferent to this flock of sheep without a shepherd. A decision had to be made. He had a house and an assured salary and eight children who depended on him. The church in Rennes was doing well. Wouldn’t it be folly to leave a secure position and join his family to a caravan of traveling Gypsies? “There was a battle in my heart … but putting all my trust in the Lord, and refusing to count the cost, I threw myself into an adventure of faith … how very meaningful Christ’s words: ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.’”

Eleven years later, in the 1969 Pentecostal Evangel articleLe Cossec shared with American readers how more than 20,000 Gypsies were serving the Lord. He told of their meetings in caravan conferences across Europe, including in Germany, where Hitler’s Nazi regime had exterminated tens of thousands of Gypsies in concentration camps.

Le Cossec and his family traveled with the Gypsies through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and India. By his death at age 80, the “Apostle to the Gypsies” had traveled in more than 40 countries sharing the message that Gypsies, who had been “a rejected community,” have instead become “an elect community” in the Lord. On his tombstone, his friends and family engraved the words of Luke 14:22: “The servant said, ‘Master, what you have commanded has been done.’”

Read more about Le Cossec’s Gypsy conference in Germany in “One People from Many Nations,” on page 16 of the March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Gifts of Healing,” by Howard Carter

* “How Can I Know God’s Will,” by J.W. Jepson

* “The Balm of Gratitude,” by Mel De Vries

And many more!

Click here 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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions