Tag Archives: Missionaries

Edmund Hodgson: Pentecostal Martyr and Missionary to Belgian Congo

HodgsonThis Week in AG History — March 6, 1948

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 05 March 2020

Edmund “Teddy” Hodgson (1898-1960) was a British Pentecostal missionary to the Belgian Congo, Africa, from 1920 to 1960. He served his Lord and his church as a preacher, teacher, doctor, dentist, carpenter, hunter, husband, father, and friend. Ultimately, he gave his life as a martyr for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Born in Preston, a city in northern England, Hodgson left formal schooling at age 13 and went to work as a delivery boy for a bakery. One day his employer asked him if he attended Sunday School. He replied that he did, but the man then asked a deeper question, “And do you love the Lord Jesus?” The question bothered him and he found no answer to give. Not long after, he knelt with his employer and committed his life to the service of Christ.

Finding that he was gifted with his hands, he became an apprentice to a cabinetmaker at age 14. At the same time, he became acquainted with students at a Pentecostal Bible school and a pioneer missionary in the Congo. After receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit and admitting his love of adventure, he made a promise to God and to the missionary to consider serving in the Congo.

While still a teenager, Hodgson enlisted in the British Armed Forces and served in front line trench warfare in France in World War I. Though the other soldiers called him “Holy Hodgson,” they respected his natural ability as a crack shot and his fearless leadership. Following orders to move out into no-man’s land, Hodgson was hit by a German shell. He recovered but found his trigger finger useless.

After the war, Hodgson returned to England to rebuild his life. Driven and capable, he soon built a thriving business restoring furniture. There were times when the Congo crossed his mind but, having seen enough suffering on the front lines of war, he believed he could serve God better by making money to give to missions rather than going himself. Then one day the missionary he had met before the war walked into his shop. He asked, “Well, Teddy, what about the Congo?”

Over the next days a battle as fierce as anything he experienced in France took place within his heart. He wrestled with the sacrifice it would mean for him as a young man to leave a promising business and disappear into the darkness of Africa. However, when he finally surrendered to God, it was total. After saying “yes” to God, Teddy Hodgson never looked back.

He sailed to the Congo in 1920 and found that he had to walk the last 150 miles through mosquito-infested swamps. Within a week, he was suffering with malaria. After nine months of pain he was nearly blind and argued with God about bringing him to the Congo and leaving him useless. Finally, in desperation, he cried out, “Lord, either heal me or take me to heaven.” The next day, he was able to get out of bed and he packed his bags to go into the villages to begin his work.

Though his skill in the Kiluba language was limited, Hodgson approached the village chief in Kisanga and asked to speak to the people. After receiving permission, he thought, “Well, here’s my audience, so here goes!” As he began to speak, he felt such an overwhelming love for these people that the words seemed to simply flow from his mouth. When he finished, he thanked them and left.

As he was leaving, two boys who had been helping him build his house in Kisanga followed him with great laughter. They told him how funny it was that when he was speaking to them while working they could hardly understand him but that morning as he spoke they could all understand every word. Hodgson was greatly encouraged at his miraculous provisional help from God. This was the first of many times he found that God blessed and provided all he needed when he made his own resources available.

In the coming years as he traveled from village to village, Hodgson had many hair-raising experiences with witch doctors, angry chiefs, hungry lions, rogue elephants, hippos, and crocodiles. Though his trigger finger was useless, he trained himself to shoot with his middle finger. Over the years, God used his ability with a rifle to win many friends among the villages. Over the years he killed more than 60 marauding lions. He never shot for sport or pleasure, only to protect the people he loved.

Serving in the Belgian Congo for 40 years, Hodgson also buried two wives and was constrained to send his five children back to England for care and education. These experiences pained him deeply and challenged his resolve, but his love for Christ and the people to whom he was called compelled him to continue.

In the March 6, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Hodgson wrote about a great revival that was taking place in the Congo in response to prayer for renewal among the Christians. The revival featured miraculous exercise of the gifts of the Spirit leading to the conversion, infilling, and baptism of well over a thousand souls.

After the Congo declared its independence in 1960, the atmosphere changed for Hodgson and his fellow Christian workers. The missionaries soon found themselves contained in a small area in Kamina by rebels. Other missionaries from New Zealand, Elton Knauf and his wife, joined them there. Knauf was concerned that he had left in such a hurry that he had been unable to deliver much needed supplies and money to the hospital workers in Lulungu. He was convinced he could travel safely if he went by “the back road.” Hodgson agreed to accompany him.

When they reached Mukuya, they were confronted by a band of surly rebels who were singing one of the songs of the rebellion, “We want no words from the white man’s God!” The missionaries tried to negotiate that they would leave the supplies and return back to Kamina. However, the rebel forces demanded that they march with them. A few Christians in the area heard of the trouble and followed from a distance. After marching for a short time, the Christians saw the rebels stop. They watched in horror as the machetes were raised and Hodgson and Knauf were hacked to pieces before their eyes.

Hodgson wrote in his book, Out of the Darkness, “The Lord Jesus illustrated and commended a Christianity that bent its back, soiled its hands, and blistered its feet in stooping to help fallen man. Just as positively He denounced and condemned a professional religion that passes by on the other side when man’s need is at the greatest. Some are called to be Apostles, but every Christian is called to be an Epistle (a love letter of God, read of men).” Hodgson served God as both Apostle and Epistle.

Read Edmund Hodgson’s article, “A Pentecostal Revival in the Congo,” on page 2 of the March 6, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Test of True Discipleship” by Robert A. Brown

• “A Mighty Revival at CBI” by Kathleen Belknap

• “Jeremiah of Anathoth” by Walter Beuttler

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: iFPHC.org

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John Eric Booth-Clibborn: The Assemblies of God Missionary Who Gave His Life for Burkina Faso

ClibbornThis Week in AG History — January 2, 1926

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 2 January 2019

John Eric Booth-Clibborn, a 29-year-old Assemblies of God missionary, laid down his life in the French West African colony of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) on July 8, 1924. He died from dysentery and malaria only two weeks after he, his pregnant wife Lucile, and their young daughter arrived on the mission field.

Eric’s death came as a shock, not only to his family, but also to their friends and supporters around the world. Eric’s family was well known in evangelical and Pentecostal circles. He was the grandson of Salvation Army founder William Booth and the son of Pentecostal author and evangelist Arthur Booth-Clibborn. Articles in the Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals mourned his passing.

A remarkable testimony of faith emerged from Eric’s tragic death. His widow, Lucile, wrote an account of their lives and short ministry, titled “Obedient unto Death.” Former General Superintendent George O. Wood called Lucile’s story, published in the Jan. 2, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, “one of the most gripping accounts of faith in the history of this Movement.”

The young widow dealt with her grief by replaying in her mind every moment she had with Eric. Lucile recalled that she and Eric gathered with fellow believers just prior to their departure for Africa. Together, they prayed and sang a tune composed by Eric’s mother, Catherine Booth-Clibborn. The words of that song prefigured Eric’s impending sacrifice:

“At Thy feet I fall
Yield Thee up my all
To suffer, live or die
For my Lord crucified.”

Lucile’s article recounted in great detail their voyage and ministry together in Africa. She also described gut-wrenching moments at Eric’s funeral. Her emotional wounds remain palpable: “Then after a word of prayer, the top was put on the coffin and the nails hammered in. You can imagine the pain that shot through my heart at each pound of the hammer.” Reflecting on her pain, Lucile wrote that she did not regret going to Africa, “even though it tore from me the beloved of my heart.”

Lucile courageously viewed her loss through faith-filled eyes, seeing Eric’s death as an opportunity for God to be glorified. She wrote: “I realize that present missionary success is greatly due to the army of martyrs who have laid down their lives on the field for the perishing souls they loved so much … It has been said that a lonely grave in faraway lands has sometimes made a more lasting impression on the lives and hearts of the natives than a lifetime of effort; that a simple wooden cross over a mound of earth has spoken more eloquently than a multitude of words.”

The Assemblies of God in Burkina Faso remembers John Eric Booth-Clibborn as a hero of the faith who gave his life to follow God’s call. Today, the Assemblies of God is the largest Protestant fellowship in Burkina Faso, with over 4,500 churches and preaching points serving over 1.2 million believers.

Read Lucile Booth-Clibborn’s article, “Obedient unto Death,” on pages 12 -14 and 20 of the Jan. 2, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:

•   “A Passion for Christ and for Souls,” by George Hadden

•   “How Pentecost Came to Barquisimeto,” by G. F. Bender

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: iFPHC.org

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Morris Plotts was told he was too old to be a missionary. That didn’t stop him…

MorrisPlotts_1400

Morris Plotts, 1980s

This Week in AG History — September 6, 1964

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 5 September 2019

Morris Plotts (1906-1997) was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He received Christ in an evangelical church in 1923 and began his preaching career two years later. In 1932, Plotts received the baptism in the Holy Spirit while attending a meeting in Kennett, Missouri.

In 1933 he planted a church in New Sharon, Iowa, and evangelized neighboring towns. The services in Montezuma, Iowa, included loud singing, shouts, and preaching which lasted from 8 p.m. to as late as 3 a.m. Soon he found himself in jail for 30 days with a charge of disturbing the peace. Undeterred, Plotts continued to preach the gospel from his jail cell. Afterwards he continued evangelizing and pioneering churches. He built a church in Lynnville, Iowa, and later took a pastorate in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

In 1955, at age 49, Morris Plotts felt an urgency to do overseas missions work. The Division of Foreign Missions (now Assemblies of God World Missions) felt he was too old to go as a first-time missionary. After his application was rejected, he decided to raise his own support and go out on his own. He packed up his bags and went to Africa. His answer to critics was that God had called him.

He traveled to Kenya and worked with the Wanga people, who had never heard the gospel. The chief offered land for him to build a church and a school. Plotts built a 500-seat church and began preaching salvation, healing, and Spirit baptism, and also prayed and cast out demons.

That initial missionary effort gave Plotts the assurance that God without a doubt had called him to Africa. Morris and his wife, Neva, were given AG missionary appointments in 1960. His ministry took him into other jungles, facing lions, elephants, and cannibals. He fearlessly faced villagers who had seen few white men or none at all. His burning desire was to reach people for whom Christ died, people who had never heard the gospel.

Later he served as a missionary-evangelist in Tanzania and Guyana and other places. Plotts’ large frame (he was over 6 feet tall and wore a size 16 shoe) earned him the African nickname, “Bwana Tembo,” meaning “Lord Elephant.” As a missionary evangelist, his ministry extended from Africa to as far away as Australia, Indonesia, and Japan.

Plotts’ later vision turned to raising money for missionary projects and taking on the responsibility of constructing churches and schools across Africa. His drive took him away from home for many months, reaching another tribe or raising money in the U.S. for still another missions building. His daughter Marilyn said when he visited churches, “He made missions real. Elephants trumpeted, lions roared, and hippos splashed in rivers.” But most of all, U.S. congregations saw the crying need of unreached people.

While Plotts may have been initially considered too old for missionary service in 1955, it is reported that he traveled 2 million miles, preached 10,500 times in 3,367 places, raised more than $3 million for missions, built 38 churches and three Bible schools, finally retiring in 1989 at the age of 83.

Morris Plotts wrote an article, “The Undelivered Letter: A Story of Blight and Blessing,” published in 1964 in the Pentecostal Evangel. It was written as a parable to emphasize that missionary service is not optional. And of all people, Morris Plotts knew that well, for he let nothing stop him from the calling he had to go forward in missions, even when others said he was too old.

The parable told of a man named “Farmer Bliss” who was destined for bankruptcy, but a wealthy benefactor paid off all of his debts, so that he could become successful. A wonderful transformation took place in the Bliss family as the weight of unpaid debts was gone, and the farm began to prosper. The same story included a second man named “Poorman Knight” who lived a good distance away. The wealthy benefactor wanted Mr. Bliss to deliver a letter and check to Mr. Knight so that he also could be delivered from bankruptcy. With good intentions, Mr. Bliss set the letter aside and failed to deliver the check. After several years went by, and he never found the time to deliver the letter, he heard the startling news that this Mr. Knight had passed away due to starvation. It was too late to contact Mr. Knight. He was gone. Similar to this parable, Jesus came to deliver us from the debt of sin so that we may walk in newness of life through salvation. And we have a message to deliver to other lost souls still waiting to hear the gospel. We are all called to fulfill the Great Commission to preach the gospel to all nations and make disciples before it is too late.

Read more about “The Undelivered Letter” on pages 2 and 3 of the Sept. 6, 1964, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Try the Spirits,” by Joe Newby

• “Light-for-the-Lost in Bombay, India,” by Everett L. James

• “Revivaltime Choir and Prison Division Collaborate in Prison Evangelism,” by Stanley Michael

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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Emile Chastagner: The Atheist Who Became an Assemblies of God Missionary

Emile and Minnie Chastagner

Emile Chastagner family circa 1937. (L-r): David, Emile, Minnie, Paul (in Minnie’s lap), and John

This Week in AG History — August 27, 1932

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 29 August 2019

Emile Chastagner (1882-1956) was a convinced atheist at age 21, but he became an Assemblies of God missionary to French West Africa (now Burkina Faso) at age 45. The road between these events was marked by hardship, which brought him to faith in Christ.

Chastagner shared his testimony in the Aug. 27, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He was born in New York City, the son of French immigrants. His parents came from a Catholic background but did not take their faith seriously. He followed his parents’ example and stayed away from church. By the age of 21, he became an atheist, unable to reconcile the existence of both suffering and God. He was quick to argue and “tear [the Bible] to pieces, appealing to ‘reason’ and ‘common sense.'” He later admitted that he was merely repeating the claims of others and that he had never himself investigated the claims of the Bible.

After only two and a half years of marriage, Chastagner’s wife was diagnosed with a terminal illness. She became bedridden and experienced intense pain. Both Chastagner and his wife were devastated by this unexpected turn of events. However, the suffering led them to faith in Christ. Books by two Christian authors, Edward P. Roe (a Presbyterian pastor and novelist) and Carrie Judd Montgomery (a Pentecostal healing evangelist), caused Chastagner and his wife to reconsider their atheism.

Chastagner recounted his slow conversion. In Roe’s writings, he found a love for people that he had never encountered before. Roe’s love, he discerned, arose from his faith, which was grounded in the Bible. Chastagner then read Montgomery’s The Prayer of Faith, which was the autobiography of a woman who was healed of an ailment similar to the one that afflicted his wife. He carefully studied the Bible and examined how the teachings of various churches lined up with Scripture. They made the decision to follow Christ and joined a small Pentecostal church. They jumped in with both feet and began helping in Sunday School and visiting the sick. Chastagner’s wife lived for another seven years and, even though she herself was sick, had an active ministry of praying for others who were sick.

Five weeks after his wife’s death, Chastagner received a call to serve as a missionary. This call came while a visiting missionary was speaking at the church. Chastagner recalled that the visiting missionary and the entire congregation confirmed this call, even though he was uncertain how it could come to pass. He decided to accept the call and, in faith, enrolled at Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University) to study to become a missionary.

Chastagner, already fluent in French, felt a call to the Mossi people in French West Africa. While in college, he met a young lady, Minnie Moore, who also felt a call to be a missionary. They married and set sail for Africa, where they served as Assemblies of God missionaries for 16 years.

Few who knew Chastagner as a youth would have guessed that he would become a faithful Christian, much less a missionary to Africa. But God not only transforms hearts, He also changes the trajectory of lives. Was it worth it? Chastagner testified, “God has met us and supplied every need and given joy to outweigh every trial and test.”

Read the article by Emile Chastagner, “An Atheist Who Became a Missionary,” on pages 1 and 10-11 of the Aug. 27, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “How to Cure Fanaticism” by Donald Gee

• “How God Helped the Shoemaker,” by Mrs. M. E. Thorkildson

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: iFPHC.org

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John and Ella Franklin: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionaries to Guatemala

John Franklin

John and Ella Franklin, standing outside their home in Guatemala, circa 1938.

This Week in AG History — April 11, 1942

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 11 April 2019

John L. Franklin (1910-1999) was orphaned shortly after birth by the death of his mother, and he spent the majority of his young life in an orphanage. Yet even as a young boy he felt that God had laid His hand on him for a greater work — that of missionary service.

While attending Southern California Bible School (now Vanguard University) in the early 1930s, this call grew ever stronger. Franklin believed he needed more of God’s power if he were to attempt such an undertaking. He began to seek for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. After a time of prayer and fasting, he traveled to a mountain top overlooking the city of Pasadena. There he committed to give himself fully to God for the cities of the world. The next morning in the college chapel service, Franklin started to praise the Lord in his usual manner when he found himself speaking in a language he did not know. He was consumed with a burden of prayer for nation after nation.

Franklin soon became involved with evangelistic efforts on the Mexican border. From this experience he believed God was sending him to Guatemala in answer to the request from a small group of Pentecostal believers who were looking for help with discipleship and in reaching their neighbors. Assemblies of God missionaries Christopher and Inez Hines went to Guatemala in 1916 and stayed until 1925. No others had been sent in the interim to minister to their converts. Franklin and his new wife, Ella, responded to the call.

Bringing along their possessions — consisting of a mattress, an accordion, a typewriter and a barrel of household items — they arrived in Jutiapa in April 1937. Securing a mule to ride out into the countryside they located the five small congregations scattered among the mountains. These believers had prayed fervently for someone to come and lead them. They knew the Pentecostal message, but few had received the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Franklins stayed with each group, in turn, sleeping in hammocks, bathing in mountain streams, drinking unsafe water, and eating many meals of beans and tortillas. They struggled with illness in growing accustomed to the new way of living but were very happy to see God working in the lives of their new friends.

By early 1938, 300 people gathered together to form the first council of the Assemblies of God in Guatemala. John Franklin was named the first superintendent and Socorro Ramirez as secretary.

In 1941, Franklin opened a church in Guatemala City holding services every day for five months. The attendance was mostly children. On Good Friday of that year, God moved in a special way and seven people were filled with the Holy Spirit. This service sparked a revival, and the meeting room was always full after this. Soon a large evangelistic center was established in Guatemala City.

In a report in the April 11, 1942, Pentecostal Evangel, Franklin wrote of several healings and expressed thanks for the gift of a 1938 Chevrolet “in splendid condition and undoubtedly good for many years of service if Jesus tarries.” Even though the roads were primitive and, in many places, nonexistent, the car enabled them to carry abundant supplies and provisions. Franklin explained, “You cannot imagine how much easier it is than traveling by mule back.” (This was before the advent of the Assemblies of God Speed the Light program which purchases transportation for missionaries.)

Franklin also shared in the article the system of church planting they were using. “Each pastor is made to feel responsible for the villages surrounding the assembly of his charge … he is encouraged to evangelize and seek to bring other assemblies into being. In this effort he is assisted by his congregation which accompanies him on preaching trips to the new fields. Thus every pastor become an evangelist, and every member a pioneer worker.”

Church planting was not easy for the young Pentecostal movement in Guatemala. Franklin describes, “There is hardship entailed — hunger, fatigue, inconvenience of every kind. It means miles and miles of walking … intolerable heat at noonday and the chill of mountain heights because of scanty clothing or lack of sufficient covers at night. It means hours of torture because of insufferable plagues of mosquitoes or fleas. At times every effort to do good is repulsed and the works are reviled or threatened. Some have been stoned, others cruelly mistreated… it seems that a price must be paid for every victory gained — but how can we expect it otherwise? Our Lord paid a tremendous price for our salvation.” Franklin believed that there was no price too high for him or the believers he discipled to pay for the salvation of the people of Guatemala.

In 1977, 40 years after arriving in Guatemala, the Franklins retired from full-time ministry, returning to the United States. They made numerous short-term trips back to Guatemala to rejoice with the people who had become their family. From the five small groups of believers they found in 1937, God had blessed them with 600 established churches, 700 licensed ministers, and 55,000 Assemblies of God believers.

Read more of Franklin’s report, “A Harvest That Rewards the Sacrifice,” on pages 6-7 of the April 11, 1942, Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Plea for Wholehearted Service,” by P. C. Nelson

• “Shut Out – the Fate of the Foolish Virgins,” by James Salter

• “Portions for Whom Nothing is Prepared,” by Margaret Ann Bass

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

Norton AlbertThis Week in AG History — February 22, 1919

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 21 February 2019

One hundred years ago, Assemblies of God missionary Albert Norton witnessed the tragic starvation and suffering of countless people in India. He responded to this humanitarian crisis in a Pentecostal Evangel article, in which he argued that Christian preaching must be accompanied by works of compassion.

Norton’s experience in India gave him a different perspective than many other Christians in America. At the time, there was a growing divide within Christianity between evangelicals and theological liberals. In the early 20th 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 reasserting 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 such as Albert Norton were often surrounded by great suffering and felt compelled to minister in both word and deed.

In a 1919 Pentecostal Evangel article, Norton wrote the following bold statement:

“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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Sidney Goodwin: The Untimely Death and Legacy of an Assemblies of God Missionary to Ghana

GoodwinThis Week in AG History — February 17, 1963

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 14 February 2019

When Assemblies of God missionary Sidney Goodwin (1936-1963) arrived in Ghana, West Africa, it was a homecoming he had been looking forward to for many years. Raised by missionary parents Homer and Thelma Goodwin, Sidney grew up in Ghana, knew its languages and customs, and loved its people. After studying in the United States, he returned to his family and friends shortly before Christmas of 1962 as a fully appointed missionary, bringing his own wife, Sandra, and their 3-year-old daughter, Gwenda.

Excitement was in the air for Goodwin’s African friends. The presbyter for the Bawku area, where Sidney grew up, requested the entire Goodwin family to come to a village called Tili for a mass “welcome home” service and outdoor Christmas revival. On Christmas Eve, the Goodwin families arrived to find their friends had spared no expense to show their love and appreciation. Sidney and Sandra were presented with six live chickens, dozens of eggs, yams, and other fruits and vegetables. Water had been transported in abundance, a grass shelter had been erected, and an estimated 600 had gathered for the evening service.

Because the service was to be held in the evening, Sidney brought along a portable light plant in the Speed-the-Light (STL) vehicle. When they tested it earlier in the day, it was not functioning properly, but as service time approached it seemed to be doing better, though still not up to par. Just as the service was scheduled to begin, Sidney went to check on the light plant.

Suddenly, there was a flash of light and the church shelter went dark. Homer Goodwin rushed to the STL vehicle to find that the portable generator in the pickup tailgate had exploded. Sidney was trapped in the camper that covered the pickup bed. Homer quickly rolled Sidney onto the ground to extinguish the flames. There were no witnesses so there could only be speculation as to the cause of the explosion.

The African church went immediately to prayer and Sidney was rushed to the hospital, 22 miles away. With burns over 60 percent of his body, the doctors did not offer the family much hope. For eight days, Sidney exhibited exceptional bravery, patience, and concern for those around him while many worked tirelessly to save his life. Ghanaian Christians trekked through the night over unmarked bush trails to donate blood to the boy they had loved since he was a child. One devoted African friend stayed at the door of Sidney’s room, 24 hours a day, sleeping on the cement floor. The Ghana Air Force, British Royal Air Force, and American embassy did all they could to supply much needed plasma from as far away as New York. Many cried out to God for help as three generations of Goodwin missionaries waited in the hospital for a miracle.

Sidney realized the gravity of his situation and told his family that he loved them but needed to say good-bye. When his father insisted that God had more for him to do, Sidney replied, “Daddy, I’m not afraid to die. This is God’s will.”

On Jan. 1, 1963, Sidney quietly slipped away and was buried the next day on the western edge of the Assemblies of God Mission plot in Bawku where he had played as a child. The area presbyter, Abiwini Kusasi, said to those who were gathered there, “Many years ago, when all of us Kusasis were in spiritual darkness, Reverend and Mrs. Goodwin came to bring us the light of the gospel. Our brother Sidney came with them as a baby. Through the years he prepared himself and had returned with his wife and baby to help us further. We do not understand why God has taken him, but we know God does all things well.”

The Feb. 17, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel carried the story of Sidney’s death. After the publication of the article, additional details were later provided by the family that gave a fuller picture of the incident.

Sandra and Gwenda moved to the central Ashanti area with Sidney’s parents and his younger siblings. For two years they ministered as a family to the Ashanti people until, reluctantly, Sandra and Gwenda returned to the States for a furlough and the opportunity to seek God for the future. After receiving more education and ministerial ordination, Sandra moved to Tanzania, East Africa, where she taught in the Bible training school.

Twelve years after Sidney was buried, Sandra and Gwenda returned to Ghana for the dedication of a memorial library at the North Ghana Bible School in his honor. Sandra was touched to hear story after story from pastors, evangelists, and leaders who told of passing by the young missionary’s grave each day on the path as they walked to school. Many of them, at different times, had paused to kneel there and dedicate their lives to continue the work the young man had begun.

Sandra spent 20 years as a single parent and saw her daughter graduate from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. Sandra later married Myron Clopine and served the Assemblies of God as National Women’s Ministries Director from 1986 to 1994. She also provided leadership to the founding of the National Prayer Center and served as chaplain for Maranatha Village in Springfield. After Myron passed away, Sandra married David Drake, long-time professor at Central Bible College. The Goodwin/Clopine/Drake families have exemplified what God can do with a family willing to consecrate all to His service.

Read the report on Sidney’s homegoing on page 8 of the Feb. 17, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Dramatic Deliverance” by Louise Nankivell

• “Take My Best,” by G.F. Lewis

• “Building Churches in India,” by Elton Hill

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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