Tag Archives: Melvin Hodges

Danger Signals: How to Tell if a Revival Movement is in Decline

HodgesThis Week in AG History —September 29, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 27 September 2018

“Has the 20th century Pentecostal revival reached the zenith of its spirituality and usefulness, and is it now doomed to fade as a potent force from the modern spiritual scene; or do greater glories still lie ahead?”

This question was posed by Assemblies of God missions leader Melvin Hodges in a 1957 Pentecostal Evangel article. At the time, the modern Pentecostal movement was about 50 years old. Pioneers of the movement were passing from the scene, and memories of the early revivals were fading.

Hodges noted that previous Protestant revival movements originated in “deep spirituality, holiness, and a sense of destiny.” However, they each “lost their fervor and one by one settled down to take their places in the ecclesiastical world as yet another denomination.”

He looked further back into church history, drawing parallels between the early church and Pentecostalism. “The New Testament Church,” he wrote, “gradually lost the purity and power that characterized her apostolic beginnings, and became adulterated by worldliness, greed and paganism as she increased in numbers and influence.” Would the Pentecostal church likewise stray from its biblical ideals and become corrupted by the world?

“We dare not ignore the lessons of history,” Hodges warned. He identified three characteristics of a declining revival movement: 1) a diminishing hunger for God; 2) a lack of concern for holiness; and 3) the loss of the sense of mission and destiny.

While spiritual decline over time is likely, Hodges suggested that it is not inevitable. He admonished readers to rediscover the deep spirituality common among early Pentecostals: “Let hunger for God be reawakened in our hearts. May a walk in holiness, worthy of our vocation, be our goal, and let us consecrate ourselves anew to the fulfilling of our world destiny in the plan of God.”

If Pentecostals draw close to God and commit themselves to His mission, according to Hodges, they “can face the future with confident expectancy that the future holds still greater revelations of the glory of God.”

Read the entire article, “Danger Signals” by Melvin Hodges, on pages 4 and 5 of the Sept. 29, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Taking Christ to the People,” by R. J. Carlson

• “The Silence of the Trinity,” by P. T. Walker

• “The Living Dead,” by Oswald J. Smith

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Ralph Williams, Missionary to El Salvador: Pioneer of the Indigenous Church Principle

Williams RalphThis Week in AG History — April 12, 1930

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 15 March 2018

Ralph Darby Williams (1902-1982), his wife, Jewyl, and baby Owen arrived in El Salvador on Christmas Eve of 1929 as Assemblies of God missionaries in Central America. As the Pentecostal church grew over their tenure of 50 years, Williams helped to develop the basis of the indigenous church principle that has driven the success of Assemblies of God missions endeavors.

In his report, “First Impressions of El Salvador,” published in the April 12, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Williams updated readers on their activities during their first few weeks stationed in El Salvador, a little country of about two million people.

Born in England, Williams was saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit in his native land but traveled to the United States to receive training for mission work at Glad Tidings Bible Institute (later Bethany University) in California. There he met his future wife, Jewyl, who was also training for ministry.

Ralph and Jewyl felt a call to Mexico but that country was closed to U.S. missionaries. For three years, Ralph and Jewyl trained Mexican workers in San Diego to return to their native country and plant churches, hoping that soon American missionaries would follow them.

Meanwhile, the Pentecostal message had come to El Salvador through Canadian Frederick Mebius, who was influenced by Charles Parham’s Apostolic Faith Movement. Many received this message with open hearts, but without solid biblical instruction and pastoral guidance the few believers had fallen into dissension and bad teaching. One believer, Francisco Arbizu, was so concerned about the state of the church that he sold his possessions, used the money to finance a trip to the United States, and met with AG leaders asking them to send missionaries to El Salvador to guide his people into learning the principles of God’s Word.

The Williams family responded to this call and met with Arbizu on Christmas Day, 1929, in Santa Ana. He greeted them with a shout of praise, “Now we have a shepherd!”

Over the next few weeks, Arbizu took the family on a tour of the fledgling churches that had sprung up in private homes. Williams could see that the church had many committed believers but he shared Arbizu’s concern at the lack of biblical knowledge and organization.

The more he traveled the more he became convinced that it would take at least six missionaries to disciple the converts and reach the unevangelized. He knew that no other missionaries had expressed an interest in coming and that the church was not ready to support them even if they were there. Williams prayed about this and asked the Lord to show him the answer to the dilemma.

When the answer came it surprised even him: “the missionaries are already on the field!” The answer to his prayer were the very believers he was teaching. They didn’t need to bring more people from the United States; they needed to raise up the Salvadorian believers to reach their neighbors, pastor their churches, and send their own workers to the unreached villages around them.

Williams then began organizing conferences for church workers and held monthly fellowship meetings so that the workers would have fellowship with other believers from surrounding villages. Persecution was often great for these believers, who were religious minorities in their villages. But when the Pentecostal believers came together for conferences and meetings, they discovered that there were more than 1,000 believers. This knowledge that their numbers were growing gave them boldness to face their persecutors and to believe that they could reach their own nation.

During the Great Depression, it was often hard for the AG churches in the United States to fully support its missionaries. Many days, the Williams family of six, including four growing boys, had nothing to eat but black beans and tortillas. But God always provided and good came out of this situation. The Salvadorian believers began to support the gospel workers through their own tithes and offerings, many times taking the ministers and their families into their homes to keep them from having to pay rent when funds were low.

When missionary Melvin Hodges arrived in El Salvador in 1936 to assist Williams, he was intrigued by the way the Salvadorians provided so much of the leadership for their own churches. When Hodges moved to Nicaragua he began to move the Nicaraguan church from a paternalistic structure, dependent on American financial assistance, to one based on the indigenous church principles modeled in El Salvador. Hodges went on to write the first missiology text by a Pentecostal, The Indigenous Church, which outlined these principles which became the standard missiology of the Assemblies of God.

Williams later became the field superintendent for Central America and, by 1959, the Central American work had grown from 12 small disorganized congregations to over 400 churches, 1,000 outstations, 18,000 believers, and seven Bible institutes. When Williams died in 1982, he left behind a well-equipped body of national believers ready to continue in the self-sustaining work for which he had devoted his life.

Read more about Williams’ first thoughts on arriving in El Salvador on page 10 of the April 12, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Passover and Pentecost,” by Stanley Frodsham

• “The Things That Are Above,” by J. Narver Gortner

• “Need of Native Evangelists,” by F.G. Leader

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 to Tell if a Revival Movement is in Decline


This Week in AG History–September 29, 1957
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 29 Sep 2014 – 4:30 PM CST

“Has the twentieth century Pentecostal revival reached the zenith of its spirituality and usefulness, and is it now doomed to fade as a potent force from the modern spiritual scene; or do greater glories still lie ahead?”

This question was posed by Assemblies of God missions leader Melvin Hodges in a 1957 Pentecostal Evangel article. At the time, the modern Pentecostal movement was about 50 years old. Pioneers of the movement were passing from the scene, and memories of the early revivals were fading.

Hodges noted that previous Protestant revival movements originated in “deep spirituality, holiness and a sense of destiny.” However, they each “lost their fervor and one by one settled down to take their places in the ecclesiastical world as yet another denomination.”

He looked further back into church history, drawing parallels between the early church and Pentecostalism. “The New Testament Church,” he wrote, “gradually lost the purity and power that characterized her apostolic beginnings, and became adulterated by worldliness, greed and paganism as she increased in numbers and influence.” Would the Pentecostal church likewise stray from its biblical ideals and become corrupted by the world?

“We dare not ignore the lessons of history,” Hodges warned. He identified three characteristics of a declining revival movement: 1) a diminishing hunger for God; 2) a lack of concern for holiness; and 3) the loss of the sense of mission and destiny.

While spiritual decline over time is likely, Hodges suggested that it is not inevitable. He admonished readers to rediscover the deep spirituality common among early Pentecostals: “Let hunger for God to be reawakened in our hearts. May a walk in holiness, worthy of our vocation, be our goal, and let us consecrate ourselves anew to the fulfilling of our world destiny in the plan of God.”

If Pentecostals draw close to God and commit themselves to His mission, according to Hodges, they “can face the future with confident expectancy that the future holds still greater revelations of the glory of God.”

Read the entire article, “Danger Signals” by Melvin Hodges, on pages 4 and 5 of the September 29, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Taking Christ to the People,” by R. J. Carlson

* “The Silence of the Trinity,” by P. T. Walker

* “The Living Dead,” by Oswald J. Smith

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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Filed under Church, Missions, Spirituality

Call to Calmness and Steadfastness


This Week in AG History–September 23, 1944
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 22 Sep 2014 – 1:47 PM CST

“Is it possible to maintain calm and serenity in the midst of the world-shaking storms that are raging today?”

Melvin Hodges (1909-1988), an Assemblies of God missionary to Central America, posed this question in the September 23, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Hodges proceeded to describe the seemingly intractable conflicts around the world. “Nations are locked in a struggle for their very existence,” he wrote, and countless people are killed “as opposing systems of government struggle [to maintain] their way of life.”

How should the Christian respond to such conflict? Hodges encouraged believers to exhibit “calmness and steadfastness.” Believers will stay “on a true course regardless of the storms that rage,” according to Hodges, if they have faith in the promises of God and submit to God’s will.

Significantly, Hodges admonished readers to reject the racism that had permeated vast segments of the world:

“We must not be moved from the love of God in our hearts toward all men by the spirit of racial hatred being fostered today. Some hold the Jew responsible for all the ills of the world. Others are moved to intense hatred of the enemy nations. Again, some manifest bitterness toward certain racial groups in America. This is not democratic, much less Christian. It is a false diagnosis of the ills of this sick world that places the blame for its troubles on the blood strain of a particular race rather than on the evil nature of all unregenerate mankind. Deprive any racial group of Christian influences, placing them under barbarous teachings and environment, and the resultant generation will be barbarians irrespective of their racial background.”

Christians must not assign blame for social problems to racial or cultural groups, according to Hodges. This wise counsel continues to be true today.

Read “Call to Calmness and Steadfastness” by Melvin Hodges on page 8 of the September 23, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Why I Came to Egypt Thirty-Four Years Ago,” by Lillian Trasher

* “V Day,” by Lester Sumrall

* “Family Worship,” by Walter Scott

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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