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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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Dr. Florence Murcutt, Early Assemblies of God Missionary and Surgeon

murcutt1

Florence Murcutt (sitting) with Alice Luce at Glad Tidings Bible Institute, San Francisco, California; circa 1920s

This Week in AG History —January 30, 1932

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 31 January 2019

Florence Murcutt (1868-1935) began life in Australia as a Jew, overcame prejudice to become a pioneer female surgeon in the United States, and ended life as an Assemblies of God missionary to Mexicans. She was likely the first medical doctor to serve as an Assemblies of God missionary, yet her name and significant evangelistic work as a Pentecostal has been largely forgotten.

Born in Australia to English parents, Murcutt was raised in the Jewish faith. Murcutt had an inquiring mind and explored the claims of Christianity. As a young woman she read the Bible for herself, cover to cover, in six weeks. She accepted Christ as the messiah and became active in Christian circles. She and her sister, Ada, immigrated to America in 1900 and became national speakers with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Murcutt graduated in 1907 from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (now Drexel University College of Medicine) and became a surgeon.

Murcutt’s life was forever altered when she attended a Pentecostal camp meeting in Portland, Oregon. At the meeting, a man who was entirely unfamiliar with the French language began prophesying in French under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Murcutt understood the prophecy, which testified that Jesus was the only way to God. Moved by this miraculous prophecy and by the palpable presence of God at the meeting, she knelt at the altar and committed to yield herself fully to God’s purposes for her life.

Murcutt was later baptized in the Holy Spirit and devoted the rest of her life to missionary work. In 1912, she traveled to Palestine, where she distributed gospel literature in Hebrew and Arabic. She was ordained as a missionary by the Assemblies of God on June 18, 1915. Murcutt served with Alice Luce and Henry C. Ball as a missionary to Mexicans living along the borderlands in Texas, California, and Mexico. In 1926, she helped Luce to establish a Spanish-language department of Berean Bible Institute in San Diego. This department was the foundation for what became Latin American Bible Institute in La Puente, California. Murcutt and Luce taught at the school, planted several Spanish and English congregations, and engaged in missionary work in Fiji and Australia. Murcutt died in December 1935 from injuries resulting from being struck by an automobile.

Florence Murcutt, one of the largely unheralded Pentecostal pioneers, had a testimony that reads like an adventure novel. She had many impressive achievements, but she found the greatest purpose and meaning when she committed herself fully to God.

Read Florence Murcutt’s article, “A Retrospect of the Lord’s Leadings,” on pages 7 and 9 of the Jan. 30, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Secret of Victorious Living,” by Rachel Craig

• “Is Pentecost a New Religion?” by Charles E. Robinson

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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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