Tag Archives: Missions

John and Cuba Hall: Assemblies of God Missionaries and Linguists in Upper Volta

John Cuba Hall_1400

John and Cuba Hall with their four children; circa 1956. (L-r): James, Cuba, Betty Ann, Evelyn, John, and David Hall.

This Week in AG History — August 2, 1936

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 22 August 2019

John F. Hall (1906 – 1984), Assemblies of God missionary, Bible translator, and teacher, was born in New Jersey on April 15, 1906, the same day William Seymour opened his mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The Pentecostal revival sparked in that mission would introduce Hall to a power that would carry him through more than 50 years of ministry in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Togo.

At the age of 13, Hall responded to his Baptist pastor’s appeal to accept Christ at the close of a Sunday School lesson. The next year, Emil Sywulka of the African Inland Mission came to speak at their church. The young teen responded to a call from God to African missions. After graduating high school, he attended Wheaton College, where he associated with the children of missionaries. From them he learned the side of missionary life which he had not heard from church platforms. He became more aware of the hardships that accompany missions work but was even more determined to face difficulties to fulfill the call on his life.

At Wheaton, Hall majored in French and took extra courses in medicine. He graduated and set sail for Paris to study practical French before proceeding to Africa. In June 1931, he arrived in Minna, Nigeria, as a missionary with the Sudan Interior Mission.

While stationed in Niger Colony, French West Africa, he met Assemblies of God missionaries at Ouagadougou and Tenkodogo, Upper Volta. From this friendship, Hall became convinced that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a scriptural experience. He developed a desire to experience the fullness of the power of God. He also enjoyed the company of one of the Pentecostal missionaries, Miss Cuba Hill. Hill, a graduate of Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University), had pioneered and pastored two churches in California before receiving appointment in Upper Volta. They married in November 1935 and returned to the United States for furlough.

While traveling to share their vision for Africa, John and Cuba visited Berean Bible Institute, an AG school in San Diego. While ministering there, John prayed with a boy who wanted to receive Christ and experience the baptism in the Spirit. John felt deep in his heart that he was unable to lead the boy into an experience through which he had not yet passed. The next morning, Hall requested prayer from the students that God would fill him with the Spirit.

Hall spent much of the remainder of his time at the school in the prayer room, feeling keenly that he could not go on without the fulness of the power of God. One night they asked him to speak in the service but he was so hungry for the fulness of the Spirit that he asked to tarry in the prayer room rather than be a speaker. Finally, on the last night of their visit, Hall found himself flat on his back in the prayer room, exhausted from prolonged intercession, yet determined to seek God. That evening the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in a way he had never experienced. He later recounted, “There was such a restful feeling from head to foot. How wonderful to be wholly filled with the Lord’s Spirit and have him praise our Lord Jesus Christ in another language … then came a burden for souls and the tears rolled down my cheeks, behind my ears, and dropped on the floor … then came singing in the Spirit … after this I arose with the joy of the Lord flooding my being. Bro Harriss looked so good to me that I picked him up, kissed him with joy, and praised the Lord. We began singing ‘This is Like Heaven to Me’ and IT WAS!”

Eighty-three years ago this week, the Aug. 22, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel announced the AG missionary appointment of John F. Hall, joining his wife, Cuba, as “an experienced missionary” who “just a few months ago” was “graciously filled” with the Spirit in California.

Together, John and Cuba Hall served God faithfully in Africa for five decades. They spearheaded the translation of the entire Bible into the Mossi language, helping to create the written text of the language itself, reproducing book after book on mimeograph machine. During this work, he personally typed the Bible six times.

God blessed the Halls with five children. Their son, Billie, died of dysentery in Upper Volta at just 6 months of age. They carried on in spirit of their grief, trusting God for the health and well-being of their other children. Cuba later said, “The Africans lose so many children to death that our experience allowed us to identify with them as in no other manner.” The other four children, Evelyn, David, James, and Betty grew up in Africa and served God as adults in world and home missions.

Read more about the Hall’s missionary appointment on page 9 of the Aug. 22, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Home Atmosphere,” by Alice Reynold Flower

• “God Works,” by Zelma Argue

• “Can We Learn Anything from a Wasp,” by J. Narver Gortner

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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52 Years Ago: Thousands in Liberia Accept Christ in Good News Crusade with Paul Olson

Paul Olson preaches at the Monrovia crusade.

This Week in AG History — August 6, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 8 August 2019

Fifty-two years ago this week, the Pentecostal Evangel featured a report of a massive evangelistic campaign in Monrovia, Liberia, conducted by missionary evangelist Paul Olson. The article, “Somebody Loves You … Monrovia,” described Olson’s six-week Good News Crusade in the capital of Liberia.

Good News Crusades, launched in 1959, is an organized evangelism effort for the Assemblies of God to sponsor and organize large city-wide crusades in mission areas across the globe, with follow-up and church planting afterwards. Through these efforts, Assemblies of God missionaries and national ministers work together to help fulfill the Great Commission.

For the Monrovia crusade, Paul Olson worked closely with missionary Joseph Judah, evangelist Herris Heidenreich, and C. T. Sampson, the host pastor. Preparation started with printing 100,000 pamphlets announcing the outreach. These tracts, made possible through Light for the Lost and BGMC, were titled, Somebody Loves You. The day before the crusade started, a Speed the Light plane flew over the city and scattered 25,000 tracts over all the main streets of the city. Tracts were also distributed from house to house and in the city markets. Workers hung street banners across the main thoroughfares and put up posters on walls and telephone poles. The outreach was announced on television and radio and in all three of the city newspapers.

The president of Liberia, Dr. William V. S. Tubman, personally gave the missionaries use of the newly remodeled Antoinette Tubman Sports Stadium, which was named after his wife. During the following weeks, thousands of people crowded into the stadium to hear the gospel preaching of evangelist Paul Olson. Hundreds of Africans accepted Christ as Savior, and many were miraculously healed.

One night there was a special healing service and it was reported that over 2,000 children received healing. One outstanding miracle was the healing of an old man who had been a cripple for nine years. After his healing he was able to walk unassisted. This man walked back to the crusade every night for the next five weeks — a living testimony of God’s healing power. A special highlight of the crusade was the Kru choir which sang gospel songs in tribal dialect.

According to the article, “An uncompromising call was given to sinners, ‘Are you ashamed of your sins? Are you truly sorry for them? … Do you really want Christ to change your life?’” During the first three weeks, well over 10,000 came forward and prayed for salvation. Total attendance for all three weeks of the outdoor part of this crusade reached 110,000. On the closing night, 15,000 filled the stadium.

After closing the open-air crusade, the services were moved to a local Assemblies of God church and for three more weeks the revival services continued with several hundred people receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. At the close of the meeting, over 6,000 new converts received follow-up discipleship training.

Olson also held Good News Crusades in Cape Palmas, Liberia; Georgetown, Guyana; Freetown, Sierra Leone; and other places in Africa. Hal Herman, Morris Plotts, and other missionary evangelists held similar crusades in other parts of the globe during this same time frame, and missionary crusades like this still continue to be held.

Read “Somebody Loves You … Monrovia,” on pages 8 and 9 of the Aug. 6, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Days of Heaven Upon the Earth,” by Aaron A. Wilson

• “Samson’s Strength and Weakness,” by Howard Carter

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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Ministering to Military Families Since 1957: Assemblies of God Retreats in Germany

Military retreat

Assemblies of God servicemen’s retreat,  Berchtesgaden, Germany, 1968

This Week in AG History — April 27, 1969

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 25 April 2019

An annual retreat for AG servicemen (and now servicewomen) in Europe has been held in Germany for the last 62 years. This yearly event has done much to encourage military personnel and their families stationed in Europe.

The first AG servicemen’s retreat in Europe was held at the Chiemsee Retreat Center in Berchtesgaden in March 1957, and these retreats in the Bavarian Alps have continued to be held every year. Since 2004 the retreats have been held at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, also in the mountains of Southern Bavaria.

The retreat was started so that Assemblies of God military personnel serving in Europe would have an annual retreat of their own, since they would not be able to attend a retreat in the U.S. while serving overseas. Organized by the Commission on Chaplains, the Berean Missionary Fellowship (BMF), and the Chaplain Liaison Officers, the retreat was set up to offer spiritual support to servicemen and channel funds into missions projects in Europe.

The speakers and the planning for the annual event for many years were organized by the BMF, with the assistance of chaplains who were assigned to teach classes, lead in worship, do special music, offer prayers, and participate in Communion.

At the 12th annual retreat held in 1968, as reported in an article in the Pentecostal Evangel, over 450 Assemblies of God servicemen and their families were in attendance, coming from various places across Europe. Missionaries and other denominational personnel currently on assignment in Europe also attended the spiritual emphasis retreat. The week was packed with recreation, inspiration, worship, challenge, and Christian fellowship.

The retreat theme, “Christ Is Lord,” became the “personal testimony of many who gave their hearts to Christ before the week ended,” it was reported. “Others made new consecrations, and several were filled with the Holy Spirit,” the article continued.

Howard S. Bush, assistant general superintendent and chairman of the Assemblies of God Commission on Chaplains, was the speaker for each of the morning services. James E. Hamill, pastor of First Assembly in Memphis, Tennessee, spoke at the evening services. Morning devotions were conducted by Joseph Mazzu, missionary to France. Eddie and Ruth Washington were in charge of music for the retreat, and the Singing Kolenda Family also added to the spiritual tone of the retreat.

Read more in “Spiritual Tone Prevails at Servicemen’s Retreat” on page 30 of the April 27, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Hallmarks of Genuine Revival,” by John W. Everett

• “He Is Keeping Me,” by Louie Stokes

• “A Man Greatly Beloved” [Howard S. Bush, assistant general superintendent]

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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Mary Weems Chapman: Called to the Prostitutes and Untouchables of South India

Chapman Mary

Mary Weems Chapman, from her 1921 passport application

This Week in AG History — April 18, 1925

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 18 April 2019

When veteran missionary Mary Weems Chapman (1857-1927) felt God’s call to return to India, her family told her she was too old. But she persevered and became the first Assemblies of God missionary to South India. A veteran Free Methodist missionary before identifying with the Pentecostal movement, Mary was well-known in Holiness circles for her preaching, teaching, and writing. But she was perhaps best known for her advocacy of ministry to girl prostitutes and the “untouchables” — members of India’s lowest social caste.

Mary and her husband, George, were pioneer leaders in the Pentecost Bands, a Free Methodist missions organization known for promoting both holiness and social ministry. They founded the Free Methodist work in Monrovia, Liberia, in 1889. They returned to America in 1893.

Mary was a prolific author. She edited a volume of writings by Holiness advocate Eunice Parsons Cobb, Mother Cobb, or Sixty Years with God (1896). She also served a one-year stint (1898) as founding editor of Missionary Tidings, published by the General Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Free Methodist Church.

George seemingly disappeared from Mary’s writings in the 1890s. Whether he died or something else happened is unknown. But she continued in ministry as a single woman. She moved to India in about 1900, where she worked at a Pentecostal Rescue Home that plucked young girls out of prostitution and provided education and spiritual help.

Single and aging, in about 1909 she returned to America. But she could not shake the sense that God wanted her to help the suffering girls of India. By 1911 she surfaced in Pentecostal periodicals, writing gut-wrenching articles about the great need to rescue girls in India who had been sold into sexual slavery.

Feeling a holy restlessness, Mary decided to return to India. She was approaching 60 years old. Her family tried to dissuade her, telling her she was too old to endure the rigors of missionary work. But her mind was made up. She told her family, “If young people are not able to go, old people must go.”

Mary arrived in India in 1915 and established her first missionary base in Doddaballapur, near Bangalore. She conducted evangelistic meeting in numerous parts of South India. In 1917, she affiliated with the Assemblies of God and became the Fellowship’s first missionary in South India.

Mary’s extensive writing and editing skills proved useful in her missions work. She was concerned by the poor discipleship of new converts and by the vast amount of anti-Christian and anti-Pentecostal literature that was causing confusion. To help remedy these problems, in 1925 she co-founded a magazine called Penthecosthu Kahalam (Pentecostal Trumpet) in the Malayalam language. She also wrote over 50 articles and letters published in the Pentecostal Evangel from 1913 to 1927.

In one of those letters, published in the April 18, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Mary described the plight of the Dalits, also called the “untouchables” because of their low social position. She described the joy of the Dalits who accepted Christ and were “adopted in the family of heaven.” She noted that her missionary colleagues started a school to educate young converts, because Dalits were not permitted to attend school with people from other classes in Indian society.

After 10 years of ministry under the Assemblies of God banner, Mary Weems Chapman died on Nov. 27, 1927. She was 70 years old.

Samuel Jabarethnan, Chapman’s interpreter for the last eight years of her life, wrote the following tribute: “I found Sister Chapman to be a most devoted and spiritual missionary. She stood not just for the Pentecostal experience, but emphasized the need for a deep spiritual, sanctified life . . . Sister Chapman was never satisfied with shallow, superficial things, either in a worker, a Christian, or an assembly. She demanded reality and set the example in her own life . . . Sister Chapman loved to spend much of her time in prayer. She never allowed the duties or responsibilities of her work to interfere with her prayer life. She labored and groaned in deep intercessory prayer for the souls of men to be saved, and as a result the Lord richly blessed her ministry.”

Read Mary Chapman’s article, “Ministering to the Untouchables,” on page 11 of the April 18, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Faith in the Invisible,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Gleanings from the Book of Ruth,” by A. G. Ward

• “Denying Self,” by Alice Rowlands Frodsham

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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Giving out of their Poverty: Florence Steidel and the Lepers of Liberia

TW_Steidel_1400

This Week in AG History — March 4, 1951

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 07 March 2019

In 1950, an Assemblies of God congregation of lepers in New Hope Town, Liberia, caught the vision of missions and desired to help those who were less fortunate than themselves. On Christmas Eve, they took up an offering of $2.65, which they sent to the Leper Home of Uska Bazaar in North India.

Assemblies of God missionary Florence Steidel (1897-1962) wrote a letter recounting the sacrificial spirit of the congregation. The letter, published in the March 4, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, explained that the offering was quite generous, given the meager wages earned by the lepers (7 to 10 cents per day).

Steidel had founded New Hope Town in 1947 with $100 and the help of lepers. Tribal chiefs gave her 350 acres of land upon which she could build a town for people with the skin-eating disease who were unwelcome in their own communities. Steidel, a nurse who came to the mission field in 1935, took a class in elementary building construction. She rallied those with leprosy to work alongside her in building roads and houses. From 1947 until 1962, she oversaw the construction of a well-laid-out town, including 70 permanent buildings and six main streets.

While the lepers were diseased, they were not helpless. Steidel established a school to train them to become carpenters, weavers, brick makers, and clinic workers. They also planted 2,500 rubber trees, which helped the town to become economically self-sufficient.

Steidel realized that economic poverty has roots in poor spiritual and social conditions, which she worked to ameliorate. And only four years after establishing New Hope Town, its residents were already giving of their very limited resources to help others.

Steidel is remembered as one of the missionary heroes of the Assemblies of God. She melded compassion with proclamation of the gospel. Her work among the lepers helped to give credibility and strength to the Assemblies of God in Liberia.

Read the article by Florence Steidel, “I Still Have Strong,” on page 9 of the March 4, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue

• “Pentecost’s Lost Coin,” by Paul Gaston

• “Our Greatest Need,” by Robert J. Wells

• “Words of Life,” by Wesley R. Steelberg

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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Assemblies of God Missionaries Mark and Gladys Bliss: Remembering the Deaths of Their Three Children in Iran

Mark BlissThis Week in AG History — March 1, 1970

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 28 February 2019

This year marks 50 years since the deaths of four young children who were killed in a traffic accident in Iran. Three of these belonged to AG missionaries Mark and Gladys Bliss who arrived in Tehran in 1965. The other was the son of Iranian national, Haik Hovsepian-Mehr.

In 1969, the missionary work of the Blisses was prospering. Assemblies of God churches had been established and were growing. New fellowships were being planted. Mark was helping to establish a Bible school in Tehran. On Oct. 24, 1969, Mark and Gladys attended a pastor’s conference.

The next day they made arrangements to travel with Haik Hovsepian-Mehr and his family to Gorgan, where a new church was being established. They started the six-hour drive on winding, narrow two-lane roads. They hoped to arrive before nightfall.

On the way they traveled through a village of about 10,000 people where Mark and Haik had been arrested a few months earlier for evangelizing. The men decided to stop for a few moments to pray for the salvation of the village. Their time of prayer lasted longer than they expected, and this meant that the last part of their journey would be after dark.

Unknown to the families, that prayer meeting would change their lives forever. Mark got back into the driving seat with his daughters Karen (13) and Debbie (11) in the front seat. Gladys Bliss and 3-year-old Mark Jr. were in the back along with the Hovsepians and their 3-month-old son.

Energized by the prayer time and fully alert, Mark drove on toward the new church building in Gorgan. All of a sudden, he was blinded momentarily when an oncoming vehicle did not dim its lights. Mark’s vehicle came upon a tractor-trailer loaded with grain that was going very slow and had no lights. With no time to react, the impact was devastating. Mark Jr., Karen, and Debbie Bliss, and the Hovsepians’ young son, Joseph, all died in the accident. The four adults were taken to a local hospital. Mark had minor injuries compared to the others who spent a couple months recovering.

When Haik Hovsepian heard the news that his baby son had died, he raised his hands from his hospital bed and said, “Praise the Lord.” When Mark was discharged he found a piano and began to worship and sing, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Despite their terrible loss and grief, Mark and Gladys Bliss never wavered in their faith in God.

But grief was not the only suffering they endured. As the driver of a car involved in a fatal accident, Mark faced charges of manslaughter, a large fine, and possibly a prison sentence. It took three years until the case was heard. An acquittal did not look possible. Mark was tried in front of three Islamic judges, men who likely would not be sympathetic toward an American Christian. Mark needed a translator who was fluent in Farsi. He was able to enlist his friend Sam, who was an Iranian national who had been working with him to establish the Bible school in Tehran.

When the court date arrived, Mark testified, “I do not consider myself guilty. But if you do consider me guilty, please consider in your verdict that I have already suffered the loss of my three children.” He continued testifying, “But my children are not dead. They are alive.” He shared Jesus’s words that He is “the resurrection and the life and he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall live.” Mark left the court a free man. A 10-month prison sentence was reduced to two years’ probation.

Mark and Gladys Bliss continued to minister to the Iranian church until they transferred to another field in 1980. Years later Mark reflected on the remarkable growth of the Church in Iran. He shared, “After the tragedy, we prayed saying, ‘We have planted three seeds for the sake of the harvest in Iran.’ Today, we are seeing that harvest.”

Charles Greenaway reported on the accident and the Bliss’ faith in, “I Have Planted Three Seeds,” on pages 8-9 of the March 1, 1970, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Good Shepherd,” by J. Bashford Bishop

• “Guyana Revisited”

• “Your Questions Answered,” by Ernest S. Williams

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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