Tag Archives: H. C. Ball

Cross-Cultural Ministry in 1922: Mexican Refugees in Texas Reach Out to African Americans

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By the 1930s, Hispanic Assemblies of God congregations had been organized across America. This photo is of a girls Sunday school class, Templo Cristiano, San Antonio, Texas, in June 1930 or 1931.

This Week in AG History — July 8, 1922

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 5 July 2017

The small town of Edna, Texas, was home to an early Assemblies of God congregation of Mexican refugees, whose members engaged in evangelistic work to African-Americans, even while their own legal status was uncertain.

This fascinating story of cross-cultural ministry came about because of an emerging social crisis. Over one million refugees from the Mexican Revolution came to the United States between 1910 and 1920. Many of the newcomers lived in makeshift camps, rife with disease and crime, located along the borderlands. Overwhelmed by this humanitarian crisis, local residents often did not know how to react. Social and political tensions flared in Texas and elsewhere.

Assemblies of God churches and ministers, seeing the unfolding tragedy, committed themselves to offer physical and spiritual assistance to the newcomers. Many Mexican refugees accepted Christ and formed small Asambleas de Dios congregations across the borderlands.

American Assemblies of God leaders were able to assist refugees who faced significant challenges. In one instance, Isabel Flores, a prominent Pentecostal leader among the Mexican refugees, was arrested in May 1918 and incarcerated in the Jackson County jail in Edna. The reason for the arrest is unknown. An account published in 1966 in La Luz Apostolica simply stated, “It was wartime, and the officer did not speak Spanish and Isabel did not speak English.” Henry C. Ball, an Assemblies of God missionary to the Mexicans, came to the aid of Flores. Ball traveled to Edna, where he spoke with the authorities and secured the prisoner’s release.

This brush with the law demonstrated that it was advantageous for Mexican immigrants to work with Americans. Earlier that year, Flores and Ball together had organized the Latin American Conference (later renamed the Latin American District), which brought existing Mexican Pentecostal congregations into the Assemblies of God.

Ball’s status as a native-born American, however, did not prevent him from encountering problems. The Assemblies of God, like many other premillennial American evangelicals, took a pacifist position during World War I. Ball’s work with Hispanics and his church’s pacifism caused government officials to view him with suspicion. Ball was arrested in Brownsville, Texas, on suspicion of being a German spy, but he was soon released.

As superintendent of the Latin American Conference, Ball traveled extensively and ministered among the Mexican immigrants.

In 1922, Ball returned to Edna, Texas, where he found an unexpected surprise. In a July 8, 1922, article in the Pentecostal Evangel, Ball reported that the Hispanic congregation maintained an active outreach to African-Americans, despite the language barrier.

The congregation met for worship in a private home located about three miles from Edna. Ball noted that about 30 Mexicans gathered for worship in a large room, and that an additional group of African-Americans joined them. The African-Americans, Ball observed, “have learned to sing the Spanish songs with the Mexicans, even though they know very little Spanish.”

Ball stated that the African-Americans “are anxious to hear Pentecost preached in their own language.” He lamented that “a white man could hardly preach to them in this part of the country,” presumably referring to Jim Crow laws that prevented whites and blacks from mixing.

The Mexican refugees could have used their own plight as an excuse to keep to themselves and to concentrate on building up their own community. But this marginalized group instead reached out to others who were likewise excluded from the benefits of mainstream American culture. Instead of dwelling on what they could not do, they found an area of ministry in which they had an advantage over white Americans. The Mexican immigrants were not subject to Jim Crow laws and could freely minister to African-Americans. When the Mexican immigrants sought to share God’s love with others, their seeming cultural disadvantage became an advantage.

Read the article by H. C. Ball, “The Work Prospering on the Mexican Border,” on page 13 of the July 8, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Whose Faith Follow: Important Lessons Learned from a Pentecostal Revival [Irvingites] of Nearly a Hundred Years Ago,” by A. E. Saxby

* “Very Fine Needlework,” by Grace E. Thompson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Read about the arrests of Isabel Flores and H. C. Ball in “Historia de los Primeros 50 Años de las Asambleas de Dios Latinas,” on pages 2 and 12 of the April 1966 issue of La Luz Apostolica.

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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Mexican Refugees Poured into Texas 100 Years Ago. How Did the Assemblies of God Respond?

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H. C. Ball (front center) with ministers at the 32nd annual Latin American District Council meeting in Los Angeles, California, November 1-3, 1948.

This Week in AG History — May 27, 1916

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 26 May 2016

The Mexican Revolution, a decade-long civil war beginning in 1910, changed the North American social landscape. Thousands of displaced people fled the armed conflict and social disruption in Mexico and sought refuge along the borderlands in the United States. It was among these refugees that Henry C. Ball, a young preacher in Ricardo, Texas, planted one of the first Hispanic Assemblies of God congregations.

H. C. Ball (1896-1989) accepted Christ at age 14 and joined the Methodist Church in Kingsville, Texas. Approximately 10 days after his conversion, Ball attended a service held by a missionary to Venezuela. At that service, he felt a tug in his heart to serve as a missionary to Mexican refugees in his area. Encouraged by his Methodist pastor, the very next Sunday Ball held his first evangelistic service.

Ball went from house to house, inviting Mexicans to the Spanish-language service he had planned in a schoolhouse in Ricardo. Bell was undeterred by the fact that he did not even know Spanish. He memorized a one-sentence Spanish-language invitation, and he brought a Spanish hymn and Bible to the service. Two visitors joined Ball in that first service in late 1910. Ball was only 14 years old, he did not know Spanish, he had only accepted Christ weeks earlier, and yet he followed God’s call and pioneered a church among the Mexican refugees in Texas. The young preacher persevered and, in 1912, the Methodist church gave him a license to preach at age 16.

In 1914, Ball was Spirit-baptized under the ministry of Felix Hale, a Pentecostal evangelist affiliated with the newly formed Assemblies of God. This put Ball at odds with his Methodist superiors, who dismissed him from the denomination. Ball’s ordination was recognized by the Assemblies of God in January 1915, and his congregation of Mexicans became the seed from which much of the Hispanic work in the Assemblies of God grew.

The Pentecostal Evangel published frequent reports from Ball. The May 27, 1916, issue featured a photograph of the Asamblea de Dios in Ricardo, Texas, on the cover, and included an article by Ball about the new Mexican believers. He encouraged readers to pray for the immigrants. He wrote, “Here they are on our land, poor, homeless and without Jesus.”

Ball described the situation faced by the Mexicans: “The war in Mexico has driven many Mexicans from their homes in their native land to our side of the river. In the Rio Grande valley are many thousands of these refugees, besides the resident population. They have now been here some time, not able to return and fearful that their own nation may turn against them.” Ball asked Pentecostal Evangel readers to provide financial support and prayers for his efforts to reach the Mexican refugees with the gospel.

A strong Assemblies of God ministry developed among the Mexican refugees, initially led by H. C. Ball and others. This work not only helped to strengthen the Assemblies of God in Mexico when refugees returned home as Pentecostal believers, it also transformed the Assemblies of God in the United States. In 2014, 22.5 percent of Assemblies of God adherents in the United States were Hispanic.

Read the article by H. C. Ball, “The Mission to the Mexicans,” on page 12 of the May 27, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Pentecostal Work in Fort Worth, Texas,” by B. F. Lawrence

• “Answered Prayer: Healing When Evangel is Applied,” by Elmer Snyder

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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Mexican Americans and Pentecostal Growth During the Great Depression

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This Week in AG History–February 12, 1932
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 12 February 2015

While the Great Depression (beginning in 1929) affected everyone in the United States, it was particularly devastating to refugees who had fled the Mexican Revolution. Over one million people left the violence and poverty of Mexico and moved to the United States between 1910 and 1920. By 1932, about 200,000 of those refugees had returned to Mexico because they were unable to find shelter or food in the United States.

It was during this economic downturn that great growth occurred in the Assemblies of God among Mexicans in the United States and in Mexico. H. C. Ball, the legendary Assemblies of God missionary to Hispanics, wrote about these struggles and growth in an article published in the February 13, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Ball noted that most Mexican-American Pentecostals were poor laborers who had experienced significant hardship. Even the children of refugees who had been born in America “have been discriminated against most unjustly,” Ball noted. But in the midst of this cultural and economic chaos, he reported that “[t]he poor, hungry, perplexed Mexican people are turning to God.”

Assemblies of God Mexican missions in San Antonio and El Paso had capacity crowds. Students from Latin America Bible Institute were fanning out among the Mexican communities, witnessing of Christ’s saving and healing power. “While material blessings seem to be taken from [Mexican-Americans]”, Ball recounted, “spiritual blessings have surely taken their place.”

New converts spread the Pentecostal message in their homeland when they returned to Mexico. They led family members to Christ and started churches, despite laws that restricted the number of religious workers and buildings. Ball wrote, “The gospel must be preached in Mexico, it may mean martyrdom and prison, but it must be preached.”

The odds were stacked against the Mexican-American Pentecostals. They were a marginalized ethnic minority in the United States and a persecuted religious minority in Mexico. But they displayed uncommon strength, which they drew from their close relationship with God. “We don’t feel like getting discouraged because of the hard times,” Ball wrote, “for we feel that the Lord is near.”

Read the article, “Great Blessing at Latin American Council,” by H. C. Ball, on page 11 of the February 13, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Vital Need: A Forward Movement in Pentecost,” by W. E. Moody

• “What the Pentecostal People Believe and Teach,” by R. E. McAlister

• “Faith for Desperate Days,” by S. Chadwick

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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The Founding of the Latin American Conference in 1918


This Week in AG History–December 8, 1917
By Glenn Gohr

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 08 Dec 2014 – 4:49 PM CST

From the outset, the Assemblies of God has evangelized and ministered to Hispanics, as well as other ethnic groups. H. C. Ball had been ministering to Hispanics along the Texas-Mexico border for a number of years, and he felt the need for organization. After speaking with a number of the Hispanic workers and pastors, the decision was made to have a convention in Kingsville in 1917.

The December 8, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel published an important notice regarding this historic first convention. H. C. Ball was then living in Kingsville, Texas, and he announced: “There will be a special gathering of the Mexican preachers and workers, also missionaries, in Kingsville, Kleber County, Texas, January 13-21 inclusive.”

Ball went on to proclaim: “We expect to have a representative body from all parts of the State and are looking to God for a time of spiritual blessings. The work has so grown as to necessitate a season of council together.”

The planned first convention was not held until January of 1918. At this convention, H. C. Ball was authorized to organize the Assemblies of God work among the Spanish-speaking people. This led to a second convention of Hispanic ministers, which was held in the spring of 1918 in San Antonio, Texas. Soon after this convention, H. C. Ball became pastor of Templo Cristiano, the Spanish congregation in San Antonio, founded by M. M. Pinson and R. F. Baker.

These early Hispanic conventions spawned the “Latin American Conference” of the Texas District in 1918, which in turn led to the founding of the Latin American District Council in 1929 with H. C. Ball as its first superintendent. Ball’s move to San Antonio also led to the founding of the Latin American Bible Institute in San Antonio in 1926, as well as the establishment of a publishing house for Spanish language materials called Casa Evangelica de Publicaciones.

Today the Assemblies of God in the U.S. has grown to 14 Hispanic Districts, which all trace back to the historic first convention announced to be held in Kingsville, Texas.

Read the article, “Mexican Meeting” on page 13 of the December 8, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Call to Love,” by F. F. Bosworth

* “An Interesting Letter From the Congo,” by James Salter

* “Galatians Applied,” a sermon by E. N. Bell

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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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The Mexican Revolution and the Assemblies of God


Description: Congregation in front of Templo Cristiano in San Antonio, Texas in 1920. This church was first pastored by H. C. Ball and later by Demetrio Bazan.

This Week in AG History — March 11, 1916

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 10 Mar 2014 – 4:43 PM CST

History is repeating itself. 100 years ago, a flood of Mexican refugees came over the United States border. How should American Christians respond to the refugees from Latin America in 2014? A pioneer Assemblies of God minister in 1916 believed the refugees were heaven-sent: “Providence has sent them to our doors for Gospel light.” In other words, we should be more concerned with the duties of our heavenly citizenship than with defending the privileges of our earthly citizenship.

Continue reading for more about this important lesson from Pentecostal history.

In one of the most significant population migrations of the twentieth century, over one million people left Mexico and moved to the United States between 1910 and 1920. Many were refugees uprooted by the Mexican Revolution. While the United States government restricted the number of immigrants who could not speak English, an exception was granted for Mexicans, due to the scarcity of laborers in America during World War I.

Mexicans who had been displaced by war and poverty in their ancestral land faced many challenges in their new country. Many landed in refugee settlements along the borderlands, unable to provide for their families and uncertain how to cope in their new surroundings.

Assemblies of God minister John Preston, in a 1916 article in the “Pentecostal Evangel,” encouraged readers to take advantage of the “great opportunity” to help Mexican refugees with their spiritual and physical needs. Preston believed the refugees were heaven-sent: “Providence has sent them to our doors for Gospel light.” However, he lamented that “very little is being done for them compared to what could be.”

Preston encouraged readers to assist early Assemblies of God missionary to Hispanics, Henry C. Ball, in his efforts to help the refugees. According to Preston, when the Mexican refugees “return to their homes, they need not go as they came, in hopeless darkness, but as flames of light” who would be missionaries in their own communities.

A strong Assemblies of God ministry developed among the Mexican refugees, initially led by H. C. Ball and others. This work not only helped to strengthen the Assemblies of God in Mexico when refugees returned as Pentecostal believers, it also transformed the Assemblies of God in the United States. In 2012, over 20 percent of Assemblies of God churches in the United States were Hispanic. Like pollen scattered by a strong wind, Mexican believers have established churches whereever they happened to land.

Read the entire article by John Preston, “A Great Opportunity in the Mexican Work,” on page 12 of the March 11, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Conformity to Christ”

* “The Pentecostal or Latter Rain Outpouring in Los Angeles,” by Frank Bartleman

* “The Law of Faith,” by Mrs. G. N. Eldridge

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

**The first two paragraphs were added on 07/04/2014.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

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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