Tag Archives: Martyrdom

How J. W. Tucker’s Blood Became a Seed of the Assemblies of God in Congo


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This Week in AG History — November 21, 1965

By Glenn Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 19 November 2015

Thanksgiving 1964 was a day of mourning for Angeline Tucker. The previous day, she learned that her husband, J. W. (Jay) Tucker, had been killed by Congolese rebels. The Tuckers had served as Assemblies of God missionaries to Congo since 1939. After a furlough in America, they returned to Congo in August 1964. Less than two weeks later, J. W., Angeline, and their children were captured and placed under house arrest by rebel forces. The drama that unfolded over the next three months captured the attention of Assemblies of God members worldwide.

The tragedy came in the midst of a civil war which broke out in 1960, following the power vacuum that developed after Belgium granted independence to Belgian Congo. One group of rebels, the “Simbas,” eventually took control of the town of Paulis, where the Tucker family ministered. The rebels took Jay into custody and held him, along with other hostages, in a Catholic mission.

Fearing an attack by American and Belgian paratroopers, the insurgents hardened their attitudes toward the prisoners, and several were murdered. After days had passed with no word of her husband, Angeline was able to telephone the mission to inquire about his welfare. “How is my husband?” In guarded words, the Mother Superior hesitated, and then answered in French: “He is in heaven.”Those words became the title of a popular book written in 1965 by his widow. He Is In Heaven shared J. W. Tucker’s story and helped him to become the best-known martyr in Assemblies of God history.

Reflecting back on her husband’s martyrdom, Angeline wrote an article, “Congo: One Year After,” which was published in the November 21, 1965, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. She described, in painful detail, the events that changed her life forever:

“It was Thanksgiving morning, 1964. The sun was shining beautifully in Paulis, Congo, when I awakened. I looked at the clock; it was 6:10. I lay there a moment wondering what the day might bring forth. I had slept well in spite of the tenseness of the situation…. The previous morning when I had called the Catholic mission to inquire about my husband’s welfare, I had been totally unprepared for the reply of the Mother Superior, ‘He is in heaven.'”

Angeline Tucker was devastated. She knew that she, her three children, her coworkers Gail Winters and Lillian Hogan, and all foreigners were in grave danger. Not knowing what was ahead, she prayed for protection, and God answered. Later that day, a combined Belgian and American rescue operation brought the Tuckers and their coworkers to safety in the town of Leopoldville.

One year later, as she was looking back on the Congo situation, Angeline reported that the national army had regained control of Paulis and other towns in the Congo and that “the political situation seems to be fairly stable.” It was safe for missionaries to return.

One might expect that Angeline, overwhelmed from the loss of her husband, would want nothing to do with Congo. But she worked tirelessly to ensure that her loss would be Congo’s gain. She declared, “If Jesus tarries, there should be a wonderful harvest of souls in all of northeast Congo: for we truly believe that the ‘blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.'”

The Tuckers’ efforts, before and after J. W.’s martyrdom, paid off. The Mangbetu tribe had been resistant to the gospel when Jay Tucker ministered in the Congo. However, his death became the catalyst for many of them to accept the gospel. Missionary Derrill Sturgeon later reported that one of Tucker’s converts eventually became the police chief of Nganga, which was the homeland of the Mangbetus.

The police chief told the people about Tucker’s murder and that his body was thrown into “their river.” The Mangbetu culture considered the land and rivers where they lived to be theirs personally. Since Tucker’s blood had flowed through their waters, they believed they must listen to the message that he carried.

As a result of J. W. Tucker’s martyrdom, a great revival swept through the region. Thousands decided to follow Christ, and hundreds experienced divine healing. It was even reported some were raised from the dead. The Assemblies of God reported 4,710 adult members and other believers in 1964 in Congo. Fifty years later, in 2014, this tally had risen to 570,859 adherents. At least part of this incredible growth was due to the sacrifice of J. W. Tucker, who gave his life for the people of the Congo.

Read the entire article, “Congo: One Year After,” on pages 12-13 of the November 21, 1965, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “Songs in the Night,” by Emil A. Balliet
• “A Beachhead in Hong Kong,” by A. Walker Hall
• “Are We Loyal Americans?” by Gail P. Winters
• “Moments of Inspiration for Thanksgiving”

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Photo: Missionary J. W. Tucker standing at the airport gate in Little Rock, Arkansas, preparing to leave on his final trip to Belgian Congo, 1964.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of 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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William E. Simpson: A Missionary to China

This Week in AG History — July 23, 1932

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 22 Jul 2013 – 2:04 PM CST

William E. Simpson (1901-1932), a young Assemblies of God missionary, was killed by bandits near the Tibetan border in China. The July 23, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel devoted several pages to the memory of Simpson, whom it hailed as “a martyr for the gospel.”

Simpson, the son of noted missionaries William W. and Otilia Simpson, spent his youth in both China and the United States. He easily learned the Chinese language and spent the last thirteen years of his life living in the dangerous borderlands along Tibet. He shared the gospel with Tibetans and Chinese, with nomads, and with Buddhist priests. Simpson was able to traverse a part of the country normally inaccessible to Westerners.

In Simpson’s last letter to the Pentecostal Evangel, he recounted that Assemblies of God missionary policy stated, “The Pauline example shall be followed as far as possible by seeking out neglected regions where the gospel has not been preached.” He took this as a challenge and stated that he did not know of a “more extensive and neglected region” than the Tibetan borderlands. He lamented the small number of converts, but nevertheless pushed forward in his missionary call.

In life and death, Simpson built bridges across denominational divides. He worked extensively with Christian and Missionary Alliance missionaries and spoke at their conferences. Simpson built this bridge upon a family connection; prior to joining the Assemblies of God, Simpson’s father held credentials with the Alliance. Missionaries from both the Assemblies of God and the Christian and Missionary Alliance participated in Simpson’s funeral. Simpson, in his last letter, encouraged further cooperation between the churches: “God grant that the spirit of harmony that exists among us may grow and develop.”

Missions has always been central to the identity of the Assemblies of God. When missionaries share stories of spiritual victories and new converts, Assemblies of God members rejoice. But when young William E. Simpson died at the hands of bandits in 1932, it reminded believers that obedience to the Great Commission often has a high human cost.

Read the entire article, “A Martyr for the Gospel,” on pages 10, 11, and 14 of the July 23, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “High Lights in the Life of Peter,” by Dr. Charles S. Price

* “Questions Concerning Spiritual Gifts,” by Donald Gee

* “Power in the Word,” by Mrs. C. Nuzum

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 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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Review: History of Slavic-American Pentecostal Immigration to America


The Pentecostal Heritage of Slavic-Americans (Пятидесятнические истоки Славян-Американцев), by Anton Goroshko. [English and Russian language versions both in one volume]  Renton, WA: National Slavic District Council, 2009.

What is the future of Christianity? Demographers predict that it will look more Pentecostal and less Western. While Western Europe and North America long viewed themselves as the center of the Christian world, cultural and religious decline among people of Western European origin, combined with the robust growth of Christianity (and in particular Pentecostalism) among non-Westerners, portend a significant shift in the religious landscape.

American observers do not have to travel overseas to witness these changes. Most U.S. cities are now home to large immigrant communities, and these immigrants have added their own languages, churches, and values to America’s cultural mix.

Slavic immigrants from the former Soviet Union are among those who have been growing in visibility and influence in the United States. Since the 1980s when Mikhail Gorbachev began to allow Pentecostals – who long suffered persecution in the Soviet Union – to leave, many put down roots in America. For the most part, these Slavic Pentecostals initially kept to themselves and did not integrate into the broader American society. They grappled with their newfound freedoms and cultural challenges, reasserting their cultural boundary markers as a means to retain their religious and familial values. Many of these immigrants are now well-established in their communities, and their children who were born and raised in America often feel just as home in America as they do in their ancestral communities.

An estimated 300,000 Slavic Pentecostals now live in the U.S., mostly in congregations that are either independent or loosely affiliated with one of several Slavic Pentecostal unions. Increasing numbers of Slavic Pentecostal leaders are recognizing the value of being in fellowship with non-Slavic Pentecostals in America. In 2002, several Slavic Pentecostal churches in California joined the Assemblies of God and formed the Slavic Fellowship, which provided both a structure for Slavs to organize themselves within the Assemblies of God and also representation on the Fellowship’s General Presbytery. In September 2008, the leaders of the Slavic Fellowship, in addition to other Slavic Pentecostals interested in affiliating with the Assemblies of God, came together in Renton, Washington, and organized the National Slavic District. This new district gives greater strength and visibility to Slavic Pentecostals, both within the Assemblies of God and within the broader society.

Slavic Pentecostals have an important story to tell. American evangelicalism is at a crossroads – its close identification with declining American cultural and political themes has led some to question evangelicalism’s identity and future. However, the character of Slavic Pentecostalism has developed along a quite different trajectory. This story has been largely inaccessible to English-speakers. To help remedy this, Anton Goroshko, a Slavic Pentecostal minister and historian who emigrated from the Ukraine to America in 1990, has written a small book, The Pentecostal Heritage of Slavic-Americans, published by the National Slavic District, in conjunction with the Intercultural Ministries Department of Assemblies of God US Missions and the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

The Pentecostal Heritage of Slavic-Americans includes Goroshko’s account in Russian and translated into English, written “at the request of the many Slavic Pentecostals in North America who have expressed a desire to learn about the origins of the faith and ministry of their forefathers” (p. 5). Goroshko begins by placing Pentecostalism within the context of Christian history in the Ukraine. He proceeds to tell the stories of two heroes of the faith – Gustav Herbert Schmidt and Ivan Efimovich Voronaeff.  Both men were born in Slavic lands, immigrated to America about 100 years ago, and returned to Europe as Assemblies of God missionaries. Schmidt helped to organize the Russian and Eastern European Mission and Continue reading

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Review: The Suffering Body

The Suffering Body

The Suffering Body: Responding to the Persecution of Christians, edited by Harold D. Hunter and Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. Waynesboro, GA ; Milton Keynes, UK : Paternoster Press, 2006.

“Suffering with Christ was not only the experience of the early churches but is that of many churches today. This volume presents up-to-date, global reflections on the different ways in which Christians suffer: from class discrimination to government persecution; from inter-religious conflict to tensions between different Christian groups. With a special focus on Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity, but also bringing perspectives from other Christian traditions into the discussion, this book provides both theological and practical insight.” — Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches

“An important and timely publication, the more so because it is edited by leading Pentecostal academics from the USA, where the role of suffering in Christian experience is often ignored and sometimes denied. A comprehensive theological, historical, and socio-political analysis of the role of suffering internationally, this is an important corrective to ‘health and wealth’ gospels and ideologies of power.” — Allan Anderson, Professor of Global Pentecostal Studies, University of Birmingham Continue reading

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