Tag Archives: Missionaries

Victor and Grace Plymire: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionaries to China and Tibet

plymire

Victor Plymire with first wife, Grace, and infant son, John, in Tibet

This Week in AG History — January 19, 1935

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 17 January 2019

Assemblies of God missionary Victor Plymire (1881-1956) was a man who never backed down from an adventure — if the adventure included being able to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Serving in China and Tibet from 1908 through 1949, Plymire did not waver from his passion for sowing seeds of good news wherever he went and whatever the cost.

Plymire was born in 1881 in Loganville, Pennsylvania. His first career was in the new electrical industry. After achieving the highest wage one could be paid for such work, he felt that God wanted him to leave the electrical field for the gospel ministry. Exchanging his well-paying job for pastoral work was an act of faith and obedience that would lead him to adventures he could never have imagined.

After pastoring for three years, Plymire once again responded to the call of God into unfamiliar territory. On Feb. 4, 1908, he left the United States as a Christian and Missionary Alliance missionary to northwest China. During these early years he learned the language and the culture, developed friendships, shared the gospel, bandaged sword wounds, pulled rotten teeth, amputated fingers, lanced boils, and applied himself to whatever else his hand found to do. He worked in extremely difficult living conditions and did not see his first convert for more than a decade.

Plymire married fellow missionary Grace Harkness in 1919 and, on a return visit to the United States, they were exposed to the Pentecostal message and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They affiliated with the Assemblies of God in 1920.

Adding a son, John, they returned to China in 1922. God blessed their ministry and they began plans for a long trek into the deepest part of Tibet for evangelistic work in 1927. However, Grace and John, now 5 years old, became ill with smallpox. Victor nursed both his wife and son and asked God to spare their lives, but God had other plans. In January 1927, both Grace and John died from their illness. Victor made a coffin for his small son and villagers helped to provide one for Grace. A local farmer sold him a small plot on a mountainside and Victor placed both Grace and John into one grave in the frozen ground in Tangar, China.

Despite his grief, Plymire continued to make plans for the 2000-mile trek into Tibet, leaving behind the lonely grave and trusting God that He would honor his family’s commitment and sacrifice.

Taking along 47 yaks and five companions, the group trekked through mountain passes, navigating some of the world’s highest peaks, facing blizzards, avalanches, bandits, attempted poisonings, and hostile chieftains. Upon arriving in India on Feb. 26, 1928, his small expedition had passed out 74,000 Gospels and 40,000 tracts in the Mongolian and Tibetan language. Many of their recipients having heard the gospel for the first time.

Victor traveled from India back to China and met other missionaries in Peking. Among them was Ruth Weidman, whom Victor married in August of that year.

Together Victor and Ruth served in China for 21 more years, sending back many fascinating reports to their Assemblies of God supporters in the States. One such report, “A Great Door and Effectual” was featured in the Jan. 19, 1935, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, detailing their evangelist outreach after having been invited to the wedding of the brother of a tribal chief. Victor shared with readers of his opportunity to share the gospel with a member of each of the 1,200 families in the tribe at this important wedding.

In 1949, Victor and Ruth, along with their children, David and Mary Ann, had to leave China due to the Communist revolution. The churches were closed and many of their converts suffered imprisonment and were forced to worship in secret. Victor and Ruth passed away in 1956 and 1975, respectively, spending the remainder of their lives praying for their beloved churches behind the Bamboo Curtain.

In the 1980s and 1990s change came to China and, eventually, some churches were allowed to reopen. The government returned property to churches who could show legal written proof that the church had previously owned the property.

In Tangar (now Huangyuan) the son of one of Plymire’s associates requested the return of the church property, but he had no legal deed to show to authorities. He contacted Victor’s son, David, and asked him to look through his father’s papers for a deed to any property in Tangar. David was able to find only one deed — not to any church property but to a lonely burial site on a mountainside. For unknown reasons, the deed had been made out to the church rather than to Victor himself. The officials accepted the deed and the property was returned to the church. Sixty-seven years after Victor buried his wife and son, God used their gravesite to restore a church to His people.

Victor’s son, David, wrote a book about his father’s life in 1959, titled, High Adventure in Tibet. In the foreword, Noel Perkin, Assemblies of God World Missions director from 1927-1959, wrote, “Victor Plymire fought a good fight, and he kept the faith. He rests from his labors, and his works follow him.” Even though the Plymires had to leave China, the church they began continues.

Read Victor Plymire’s report on a Tibetan wedding outreach on page 10 of the Jan. 19, 1935, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Manifestation of the Holy Spirit” by Howard Carter

• “Quietness and Confidence,” by Alice Luce

• “North Dakota Revivals,” by Wesley R. Hurst

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, Missions

Anna Ziese: The Legendary Assemblies of God Missionary to China

zieseThis Week in AG History —January 12, 1935

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 10 January 2019

Anna Ziese (1895-1969), the legendary Assemblies of God missionary, began her life in Germany and lost her life during the height of the Cultural Revolution in China. Between these two events, she showed tremendous courage and creativity as she lived and ministered on three continents.

Anna was born in eastern Germany, where she graduated from public school. She accepted Christ at age 16. Her mother and father died within a year of each other and, by age 17, Anna was an orphan. Anna was forced to grow up quickly. She and two of her sisters immigrated to the United States, hoping for a better life.

In America, Anna worked as a nanny and became engaged to marry a dentist. Her future seemed bright and comfortable. But God had other plans for Anna. She felt called to China as a missionary. Her fiancé did not share her call, so they broke up. Anna attended Elim Bible Training Institute (Rochester, New York) from 1916 to 1918 to prepare for her future overseas.

Anna’s two sisters also received calls into the ministry. One sister married E. C. Steinberg, a Pentecostal missionary to Taiyuan, China. The other sister married Frederick Drake, an Assemblies of God minister. When Anna finally received missionary appointment with the Assemblies of God in 1920, she sailed to China and joined her sister and brother-in-law.

When Anna arrived in China, the nation was in the midst of social turmoil. Imperial dynasties had ruled China for thousands of years, but the final dynasty had been overthrown in 1912. By 1920, two warring factions, the Communists and the Nationalists, were fighting for control of the nation. The ongoing war left the countryside in shambles, and many missionaries seized the opportunity to help those in distress.

Anna worked to alleviate the suffering caused by war and famine. She wrote numerous letters, published in the Pentecostal Evangel, describing the horrors of daily life endured by many Chinese. She sought funds to provide food for the hungry, and she ventured into the war camps to minister to the prisoners. In an article published in the Jan. 12, 1935, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, she reported that 86 prisoners followed Christ in water baptism.

Anna did not try to maintain Western standards of living while ministering to the impoverished. Instead, she adapted to Chinese ways of life. When the Communists shelled and took the city of Taiyuan in 1949, she stayed and did not flee with the other Westerners. Anna was the only American Assemblies of God missionary who stayed in mainland China after the Communists gained control. All others returned to the West or transferred to other nations.

While China closed its doors to Western missionaries, Anna was able to remain because she never became an American citizen. She was born in eastern Germany, so following World War II she received a passport from the new communist government in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

Anna lived in China during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, when possibly a million or more people were killed because of supposed ties to the West or to the former Chinese ruling class. The last two decades of her life are shrouded in mystery, as she lived behind what became known as the “Bamboo Curtain.” One surviving report about Anna, from the “block-watcher” where Anna lived, spoke highly of Anna’s noble character and frugality. Anna lived in a one-room adobe structure that was common in China and received a $3 monthly stipend (the average wage of that time) from the Chinese communist government. During her two decades in communist China, Anna continued to share the gospel and train converts and ministers. When Anna died in the summer of 1969, her remains were placed in a local crematorium, as is common in China.

Anna Ziese gave up a life that promised comfort in America to follow God’s call in China. She did so as a single woman in an era that generally required women to be subservient to men. She adapted to the Chinese lifestyle and loved their culture. She consecrated her life completely to minister to the Chinese people and was even accepted by and supported by the communist government. In an era when heightened political tensions made it almost impossible for Western missionaries to minister in China, Anna Ziese’s love for the Chinese people and her humble ways made her calling possible.

Read the report by Anna Ziese, “Eighty-Six Prisoners Baptized,” on page 10 of the Jan. 12, 1935, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Marks of a Christian,” by J. Narver Gortner

• “Strength for the Journey,” by Zelma Argue

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions

Ernest and Grace Lindholm: Assemblies of God Missionaries to Congo

LindholmThis Week in AG History — December 21, 1940

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 21 November 2018

Assemblies of God missionary Ernest Paul Lindholm (1907-1940) committed his life in service to God with a passion for African people. He died in the jungle just one year after arriving in the Belgian Congo. When asked the question on his missionary application in 1937, “Do you realize that certain privations and sacrifices are involved in a missionary career and do you seek appointment with the full knowledge of such possibilities and a readiness to meet them with persistent courage for Christ’s sake?” The young man, along with his fiancé, Grace Wallace, answered, “Yes.”

When Ernest and Grace set sail for the Congo in October of 1939, he was a proud husband of less than five months. Joining them on their journey were five other newly appointed missionaries: three singles — Angeline Pierce and Jay Tucker (who later married), and Gail Winters; and one couple — Ragnar and Alice Udd. Their plans had been to go to language school in Belgium, but the outbreak of World War II made that impossible, and so they traveled directly to their appointed station, taking a boat up the Nile River and settling in the Belgian Congo village of Nobe.

Ernest, a young minister with the New England district, was described as “a rare example of complete dedication to God.” He was originally appointed to serve in the Gold Coast of Africa with another single missionary, but the other missionary was unable to fulfill his commitment and so Ernest was reappointed to the Congo. By that time, he had married Grace Wallace, who also had committed her life to serve in Africa before their marriage, and she was very early in their first pregnancy when they arrived in the Congo on her birthday, Nov. 26, 1939. Their son, Stephen Paul, was born in May of 1940.

Most of their initial time was spent in establishing initial friendships, becoming familiar with the language, and opening up a construction site. Due to the outbreak of war, support checks were often delayed in arrival, so Ernest negotiated with Congolese construction workers to provide meat in exchange for labor, even though he was not overly interested in African big game hunting.

On the one-year anniversary of their arrival, Ernest awoke early in the morning with the goal in mind of finding a buffalo to pay his workers and surprise his wife with the special treat of meat for her birthday. He left before she awoke, gathered a few Congolese friends, and went to find one of the buffalo that often approached their camp.

Grace began preparing breakfast for his return when two women came running up the road and told them that an animal had killed “Bwana” (the Swahili word for “Master”). Many Congolese rushed out to help the young man they had grown to love in the past year, but found that he had been gored by a wounded African Cape Buffalo, one of the most dangerous animals on the continent. The Dec,. 21, 1940, Pentecostal Evangel published news about his death in an article entitled “Young Missionary Called to His Reward.”

When fellow missionary Gladys Taylor confirmed to Grace that her husband was dead, one of the first things she said was, “Do you think they will send me home?” Grace had felt a call to service in Africa before she was married and was concerned that the Assemblies of God would not allow a young single woman with a 6-month-old son to remain in the jungles of Africa. When Gladys Taylor wrote to Noel Perkin, the director of the missions department, regarding Ernest’s death and the desire of Grace to stay, she stated, “Mrs. Lindholm speaks well in Bagala and has a very sweet spiritual ministry.” She described Grace as having a ministry very “broken” before the Lord and “I am sure it will be more so now after this great sorrow. Such a ministry is greatly needed here.”

Grace and Stephen were allowed to stay in the Congo until she returned home for furlough in 1945. While at home, she studied practical nursing at the Salvation Army Hospital in New York. This proved to be invaluable as a need was presented in 1948 for a leper home in the Congo. Grace later wrote of this opportunity, “I left the sphere of self-reliance and entered the realm of utter dependence on the Lord. We had no money, no equipment, no land . . . to begin our work.” By 1954, Grace was providing for more than 300 lepers under her constant treatment.

Grace stayed in the Congo for 22 years after her husband’s death. She retired to New York and on March 29, 1993, her son Stephen stopped by her house to bring her the newspaper and found her unresponsive. She died that afternoon from a massive heart attack.

Gladys Taylor remarked to Noel Perkin that the ministry of broken people was much needed in the Belgian Congo. Grace Lindholm fit that description. Although her 1939 missionary interviewer remarked, “No one has pointed out any weakness in her,” it was her brokenness that God used to minister to broken people. As she said to many who urged her to return to the States after her husband’s death, “God’s grace is sufficient.”

Read the report on Ernest Lindholm’s death on page 8 of the Dec. 21, 1940, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Salvation, Separation, Satisfaction” by E. S. Williams

• “Some Hindrances to Healing,” by Carrie Judd Montgomery

• “Pentecost in Central America,” by Melvin Hodges

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, Missions

Bernice Lee: A Missionary to Lepers in India

This Week in AG History — November 23, 1929

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 21 November 2018

Bernice Lee (1879-1958), was one of the many single women who played a vital role in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in the early days of the Assemblies of God. As a missionary, Bernice Lee served the lepers of India for nearly 30 years.

Born in Benson, Illinois, Lee was privileged to graduate from high school and find employment as a schoolteacher. When she heard the Pentecostal message in 1907, she immediately accepted it. In her Nov. 23, 1929, Pentecostal Evangel article, “The Leper Work at Uska Bazar” she wrote, “Many of us had been praying for years ‘Lord Jesus, make Thyself to me a living, bright reality.’ And that prayer was answered to us at the time of the outpouring of the blessed Spirit of God . . . at that time many were led to go forth into the various fields, and many others were led to sacrifice that the gospel might be spread to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

Lee left her school teaching position and became an evangelist after the infilling of the Spirit but she felt a call to broader fields across the ocean. E. N. Bell (later the first general chairman of the Assemblies of God) ordained her in 1910 as a missionary to North India. By 1913, she and another single lady, Edith Baugh, were providing leadership to a leper colony at Uska Bazar, India. In 1915, they founded another leper colony 140 miles away at Chupra.

In 1921, Lee joined the newly formed Assemblies of God as a fully appointed missionary. In her 1929 article she wrote, “I believe no other people have been more faithful in putting ambassadors and funds and prayers on the altar. But can we say that we have done all that God has required? Might it be that we feel sufficient funds have gone forth for the spreading of the gospel? Might it be that we feel that we have prayed sufficiently to convert the whole world? Ah, no, friends, ‘yet there is room.’”

Lee stated her dismay at those who said to her, “It must take a great deal of grace to love those lepers.” She wrote, “That hurts me . . . never think it is hard to love a leper. It is not . . . love is a language that is universally understood; and those dear people very quickly respond to it. Although you may be not able to make them understand with your tongue at first, they will understand the touch!”

Writing from the United States where she returned for a short break from her labor due to health concerns she said, “I had to ask God for grace to come back here. I love that land and people. I love to think that, if Jesus tarries, in a few months hence I shall be able to go back again.”

Lee was able to return for a third term at the Indian leper colony in 1930. After her heart was damaged by rheumatic fever in 1935, she returned home for a furlough before serving a final term in India. In February 1940, she returned to the United States in broken health. She continued to write and intercede for missions until her death in Oakland, California, in 1958.

Bernice Lee ended her 1929 Evangel article with this plea, “I look at the suffering of the world, groping in the darkness of hate and sin, and the words come, ‘Yet there is room.’” In 2018, 89 years later, there is still room for workers in the harvest field.

Read Bernice Lee’s article “The Leper Work at Uska Bazar” on page 5 of the Nov. 23, 1929, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Children of God Triumphant,” by Harold H. Moss

• “The City Foursquare,” by Mrs. William Connell

• “Among the Lisu Tribes, China,” by Leonard Bolton

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, Missions

Christian and Violet Schoonmaker: Pioneer Pentecostal Missionaries to India

SchoonmakerThis Week in AG History — July 27, 1918

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 26 July 2018

Christian H. Schoonmaker (1881-1919) was the founding chairman of the Assemblies of God of India in 1918. While he served as a missionary in northern India for only nine years, Schoonmaker and his family significantly influenced Indian Pentecostal missions.

After finishing school in the late 1890s, Schoonmaker moved from his home in Albany, New York, to New York City to look for work. There he became involved with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. During this time, he had a vision of a great multitude of Hindu men and women. He felt he had found his purpose in life — to reach the Hindu people of India for Christ. He soon enrolled in the Alliance Bible School in Nyack, New York.

During his time at the Bible school (1905-1907), the Pentecostal revival began to sweep across the United States. Many of the students at the Alliance school experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Schoonmaker’s teachers encouraged him to continue seeking God but warned him against people who taught that speaking in tongues was a sign of the Spirit’s baptism. However, he soon noticed that those who showed the most joy and fervent devotion to God were those who had experienced the fullness of the Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues. He began to seek all that God had for him, even if it included speaking in tongues.

Meanwhile, beginning in 1905, a Pentecostal revival had also impacted his desired destination, India. When Schoonmaker arrived in India in the fall of 1907, he urged others to partake of the blessing of the Spirit. It was on Christmas Eve, 1907, that Christian Schoonmaker’s life and ministry were changed immeasurably — he also received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.

A young single missionary named Violet Dunham (1879-1965) had been in India since 1902. She was warned by several sources to have nothing to do with the kinds of meetings that were happening in the Pentecostal circles. She saw so many other missionaries becoming involved that she prayed earnestly to be kept from their fanaticism. The Lord comforted her with Proverbs 1:33, “Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” With this promise, she felt free to attend one of the meetings where Schoonmaker and the other Pentecostals were ministering. On the second day of the meetings, the Spirit began to fall upon the missionaries and the national workers just as in the book of Acts.

Violet became Mrs. Christian Schoonmaker in August of 1909 and soon three children blessed their home. However, their ministry was cut short in 1914 by the outbreak of World War I. They returned to North America where they led a church in Toronto.

During the war years, God blessed them with two more children. They transferred their ordination in 1917 to the newly formed Assemblies of God. They desired to return to India and received missionary appointment with the Assemblies of God. The July 27, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel included a report from C. H. Schoonmaker reporting that they had landed in India. Due to government restrictions, however, they were not permitted to return to the area where they had previously worked. He earnestly requested “prayer that God will plant us in the right place and use us to reach the unevangelized with the message of salvation.”

They settled in Lonavia, where Violet gave birth to their sixth child. During this time, Schoonmaker felt the need for a unified body of Pentecostal ministers in northern India. There was a need for a closer bond and mutual counsel. In November of 1918, a conference was held and the “Indian Assemblies of God” was formed, electing Christian Schoonmaker as its first chairman.

Just three months later, Schoonmaker returned home from ministry feverish and too tired to eat. The next morning a rash appeared on his chest. Violet knew the signs of smallpox and sent for a nurse. Christian was immediately quarantined from the children. As Violet was nursing their youngest infant, she also was kept from him. He died in their home in India on Feb. 2, 1919, at the age of 37.

Violet’s life was permanently altered in a matter of days. She was now a widow with six children under the age of nine, in a country where widows were often viewed unfavorably. She wrote to the Assemblies of God leadership in the United States, asking if she and her children would be able to continue their missionary appointment. She served in India before she was married and wished to continue that service. She was relieved by the answer — if her calling continued, then her support would also.

Violet Schoonmaker remained in India for another 32 years, retiring in 1951. She continued to speak and write missionary articles until her death at age 86. Christian and Violet’s ministry in India did not stop when either of them died. Five of their six children returned as Assemblies of God missionaries and the sixth, born just before his father died, also served the Indian people as a medical missionary doctor.

Read more about Schoonmaker’s report on landing in India on page 8 of the July 27, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Pentecost in Central Africa” by James Salter

• “Physical Manifestations of the Spirit,” by Alice E. Luce

• “Questions and Answers,” by E.N. Bell

And many more!

Click 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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions, Uncategorized

Lula Bell Hough: Missionary to China and Japanese P.O.W.

Lula Bell HoughThis Week in AG History — April 21, 1934

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 19 April 2018

Lula Bell Hough (1906-2002) did not take the easy road in life. She sensed God’s call to ministry and was credentialed as an Assemblies of God missionary at the age of 23. She left her comfortable life in America and devoted herself to sharing the gospel in China, where she spent the next 45 years. As an unmarried woman in her 20s and 30s, she endured great deprivation and the ravages of war.

Hough’s greatest challenge on the mission field came during World War II, when she spent seven and one-half months as a Japanese prisoner of war. She did not know whether she would survive the ordeal, which began in December 1941. She later recalled that soldiers kept placing their bayonets to her throat, threatening to kill her. Women around her were raped, and thousands died from starvation. Some resorted to eating human flesh to survive. For the first two weeks of her captivity, she lived on nothing but wheat that was wormy and moldy. After that, she was given small food rations. The food was enough to keep her alive, but she lost 38 pounds in about six months. She was freed in a prisoner exchange — American prisoners were swapped for Japanese prisoners of war.

Living in difficult circumstances for over a decade in China had prepared Hough for the hardship of the prisoner-of-war camp. Hough sent regular letters to her supporters back in the United States. One of these letters, published in the April 21, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, described a trip to areas in south China where there were no Christians.

Hough humorously described having to share her accommodations with loud farm animals:

“When we reached the inn we were soaking wet and cold. After warming ourselves by an open fire in the center of the room we retired to our room. Cobwebs were hanging everywhere, and one corner was occupied by geese, which entertained us with special music at intervals during the night. Our room was really a hall where people had to pass through, and our bed was only a board. The next night we spent in Sha Hoh, and were thankful to find no geese in our room, but soon discovered there were pigs in the room just below us.”

New Christians often suffered for their faith. Hough described several instances of persecution in heart-wrenching detail. She wrote that one 18-year-old woman was beaten by her husband because of her newfound faith. Her mother-in-law scratched the young woman’s face until there were “deep sores and scars.” The villagers joined in the persecution, encouraging the family to sell the young wife into slavery if she didn’t recant her faith in Christ.

Why did Hough and other early missionaries leave their homes in the West and endure difficulties? They were motivated to be faithful to Christ in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Hough explained, “In some of these villages we were the first foreigners the villagers had ever seen, and in many, the first to preach the gospel. God has promised that His Word shall not return unto Him void, so we believe that if we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, He will be faithful in drawing souls unto himself.”

Lula Bell Hough’s life illustrates the early Pentecostal worldview that encouraged full consecration to Christ and His mission. Hough and countless other Assemblies of God missionaries spent their lives sharing the gospel, at great personal cost, and helped to lay the foundation for a worldwide Fellowship that now numbers over 68 million adherents.

Read the entire article by Lula Bell Hough, “Missionary Travels, S. China,” on pages 8-9 of the April 21, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Revelation of the Love of God,” by Kate Knight

• “Spiritual Awaking Follows Earthquake,” by Hilda Wagenknecht

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions

Maynard and Gladys Ketcham: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionaries to India

KetchamThis Week in AG History — March 15, 1947

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

Maynard Ketcham (1905-1993) arrived in Purulia, India, in 1926 as the first Assemblies of God missionary to Bengal. His sweetheart, Gladys, arrived one year later. Together they served the people of North India and the far east until their retirement in 1969.

In the March 15, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Ketcham told the story of Padda, one of the girls he and Gladys rescued from a life of “serving the gods” as a Hindu temple prostitute. He appealed to Evangel readers of the need to continue to develop the girl’s orphanage in Purulia to provide homes and education for girls like Padda. He sent a plea: “Who will help us?”

Ketcham, himself, was the answer to a similar plea for help in India 37 years earlier.

About the same time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street in California, a Methodist orphanage for girls on Elliot Road in Calcutta, India, experienced a similar outpouring. The respected director, Miss Fanny Simpson, noticed that the girls were gathering on their own in the prayer chapel. During these prayer times, the girls began to praise, to shout, and then to speak in unknown tongues and also reported seeing visions. Soon they were coming to her office and confessing sins of stealing rice and cheating on exams.

Simpson was in awe and wonderment and was not quite sure what to do about these occurrences. But the simple faith and joy of these little girls soon convinced her that even she needed more of Christ in her life. She soon knelt in the chapel, surrounded by orphans who were recently redeemed from Calcutta’s gutters, and received the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

As the girls began to tell others of what was happening in the Methodist orphanage it came to the attention of the bishop, and Simpson was dismissed from her leadership role and sent back to the United States. She was obedient to her superiors but her heart remained with the orphan girls of India.

Simpson became a musical evangelist for the Methodist church and made a practice of inviting those who were interested in learning more about the secret to true spiritual power to stay after the service where she offered prayer for the fullness of the Spirit.

During one of these “extra services,” Inda Ketcham, a widow from Eastport, Long Island, came to her for prayer. Simpson prayed for the widow who received the baptism in the Holy Spirit but her attention was drawn to the wiggly 5-year old boy standing behind his mother. Asking for his name, Simpson laid her hands on the young boy and prophesied, “Maynard Ketcham will be the missionary who one day will take Pentecost to Calcutta and all of Bengal and beyond.”

While young Maynard did not appreciate the significance of this event, his mother did. She filled their home with missionary magazines and story books of the great sagas of missionary adventures. Simpson also kept in touch with the family and kept them in her constant prayers.

After turning down scholarships to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ketcham graduated from Beulah Heights Bible and Missionary Training School in New Jersey, where he met and courted Gladys Koch. Soon he received a letter from Simpson, who had laid aside her own funds and returned to India. She had purchased property for a missions compound in Purulia, 200 miles west of Calcutta, and wrote to Ketcham, “Remember, Maynard, you are ordained of God to be the pioneer of Pentecost to Eastern India. The doors are open!”

Gladys Koch’s pastor felt she was too young to be a missionary so Ketcham set sail for India alone in 1926. Gladys followed one year later and they married in India in 1928. Using the land that Simpson purchased with money received from her mother’s estate, they opened the Door of Hope orphanage in Purulia, where young girls received a safe home, education, and training to take the gospel into one of the neediest nations on earth.

Fanny Simpson lived to see the fulfillment of the vision God had given her to provide God’s love and care to the orphaned girls of India and the place the young Maynard Ketcham would play in it. Maynard and Gladys became the first Assemblies of God missionaries to the Bengali-speaking area of Eastern India, which includes Calcutta and what was then called East Bengal.

But God was not done with her vision even then. When Ketcham became the Assemblies of God field director for the Far East he saw potential in a young evangelist and invited him to come to do missions work in Calcutta. The young man had invitations elsewhere but agreed to pray about Calcutta. In 1955, at the encouragement from Maynard Ketcham, evangelists Mark and Huldah Buntain moved to Calcutta. In a final twist, Buntain built a Pentecostal church on Elliot Road in Calcutta, across the street from the Methodist orphanage Simpson was forced to leave in 1907.

Read more about Ketcham’s call for help for the Purulia orphanage on page 8 of the March 15, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Grace Abounding,” by A.G. Ward

• “Wet Wood Among the Saints,” by Nelson Hinman

• “A Challenge to Christian Youth,” by E.S. Williams

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

IMAGE – Back row (left to right): Esther Olson, Virginia Watts, Gladys Ketcham. Sophie Erhardt is in the back row, far right; with some of the girls from the Purulia orphanage.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions