Tag Archives: Missions

Pioneer Pentecostal Missionary Alice Wood: The Orphan Who Found a New Home in Argentina

Wood Alice

Argentine Christians bid farewell to veteran missionary Alice Wood, July 12, 1960. (L-r): Pastor Ernest Diaz, Mrs. Diaz (seated), Miss Alice Wood, and Evangelist Ruben Ortiz

This Week in AG History — May 25, 1920

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 25 May 2017

The first Pentecostal missionary to Argentina, Alice Wood (1870-1961), holds another great distinction: she served more than 60 years on the mission field, the last 50 without a furlough. When she finally retired at age 90, she left behind a thriving church pastored by Argentinians whom she raised up for the purpose of impacting a country for Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

When the call came in the December 1913 issue of Word and Witness for a gathering of Pentecostal believers in Hot Springs, Arkansas, E.N. Bell published the five reasons for this first General Council of what would become the Assemblies of God. The third reason stated: “We come together for another reason, that we may get a better understanding of the needs of each foreign field, and may know how to place our money … that we may discourage wasting money on those who are running here and there accomplishing nothing, and may concentrate our support on those who mean business for our King.”

Alice Wood received the call but was unable to attend. She was a single, 44-year-old Canadian Pentecostal missionary in Gualeguaychú, Argentina, with no visible means of support. Encouraged by the vision to support missions, Wood sent in an application to be included among the first official missionaries of the fledgling Assemblies of God. She was accepted onto the roster on November 2, 1914.

Wood was an adventurous woman who looked on fearful obstacles as challenges to be overcome. When she was 7 years old, one of the older school girls told her, “Conquer a snake and you will conquer everything you undertake.” The next time she saw a snake, she ran to put her foot on its head while encouraging her sister to pelt it with rocks until it was dead. From childhood, she was a woman who ran toward things from which others ran away.

Orphaned at age 16, Wood lived with a foster family. While she was raised in the Friends (Quaker) church, she also attended Methodist and Holiness conventions and sought the presence of God in her life. At age 25, she enrolled in the Friends’ Training School in Cleveland, Ohio. Upon graduation she began pastoring a church in Beloit, Ohio.

When a young missionary visited her church, she “longed to go where Christ had never been preached.” She resigned her church and became involved with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, which sent her to Venezuela in 1898 and to Puerto Rico in 1902. While there, overwork took its toll on her health and she returned to the United States for rest. During this time she heard of a great revival in Wales and began to pray, “Lord, send a revival and begin it in me.” While in Philadelphia she heard of another outbreak of revival at a small mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, only increasing her hunger. Seeking after God, she received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues at a camp meeting in Ohio, along with a re-commissioning from the Lord to return to South America. Upon receiving the news of her Pentecostal experience, the Christian and Missionary Alliance broke ties with her.

In 1910, with no commitment of support, Wood sailed for Argentina as the first Pentecostal missionary to that nation, trusting that God would provide. After a few years working on the field, some health problems returned but, knowing of the power of the Holy Spirit, she turned to God rather than doctors for healing. She later wrote, “Then I learned to take Christ as my life. Jesus healed me of cancer, nervousness, and many other ailments. Let His name be praised.”

When she joined the newly formed Assemblies of God, the 16-year veteran missionary’s experience lent credibility and stability to the organization. However, she never attended a district or general council meeting, nor did she travel to raise support and share her needs. From the time she arrived in Argentina in 1910 until her retirement in 1960 at age 90, she never took a furlough. When asked why she never returned to America to visit and itinerate, she responded that God had called her to Argentina and she understood the call to be for life.

When Wood was 88, a national worker became concerned about her overwork and made known to Field Secretary Melvin Hodges that a clothes washer would ease her load. Wood had been washing all the clothes at the mission on a washboard. Since she had been a missionary before the founding of the district councils, Wood had no home district that watched out for her needs, so her lack was sometimes overlooked. Wood, at age 89, became the proud recipient of a brand new 1958 washer paid for by the newly formed Etta Calhoun Fund of the Women’s Missionary Council. She wrote back expressing her gratitude: “You have greatly lightened the work … I have never seen anything like it. It is ornamental as well as useful.”

When Wood finally returned to the United States in 1960, a year before her death at age 91, her travel companion, Lillian Stokes, wrote, “As I saw her few little ragged belongings I thought, ‘the earthly treasures of a missionary,’ but the word of God says, ‘great is her reward in heaven.’”

This veteran single female missionary laid the foundation work for the revival that continues today in Argentina. In 1912, she wrote, “Ours is largely foundation work … but we believe our Father is preparing to do a mighty work and pour out the ‘latter rain’ upon the Argentine in copious showers before Jesus comes.” The sweeping Argentine revival of the 1980s and 1990s under evangelists Carlos Annacondia and Claudio Freidzon saw their beginning in Alice Wood, the fearless little missionary lady from Canada.

Read one of Alice Wood’s many reports from the field on page 12 of the May 29, 1920, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“Fire From Heaven and Abundance of Rain,” by Alice Luce

“The Great Revival in Dayton, Ohio,” by Harry Long

“Questions and Answers,” by E.N. Bell

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Note: Quotations in this article come from Alice Wood’s missionary file at the AGWM archives.

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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50 Years Ago: Students at Filipino Bible College View America as a Foreign Mission Field, Commit to Pray

Filipino BBI

U.S.A. Prayer Band at Bethel Bible Institute, Manila, Philippines, 1966

This Week in AG History — May 14, 1967

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 11 May 2017

Missionary prayer bands (groups of believers who gather regularly to pray for missions) have long been an integral part of Assemblies of God churches and Bible schools. Countless church members in America have dedicated themselves to pray for specific missionaries or countries. However, it may surprise readers that some believers outside the United States have viewed America as a mission field, forming missionary prayer bands for the specific purpose of praying for America.

In an early example of this reverse-missionary work, students from Bethel Bible Institute (BBI), an AG school in Manila, the Philippines, decided to band together in the 1960s to pray for the United States.

BBI was founded in 1941, and the school had organized missionary prayer bands since its earliest days. But the establishment of a group dedicated to praying for the United States was something new. The new group attracted the attention of American Pentecostals and was featured in the May 14, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

In 1967, the group of Filipino students who had dedicated themselves to pray for America consisted of six people. Harold Kohl, the American missionary who served as BBI’s president, asked the students, “What is the main reason for forming the USA prayer band when some of the other fields seem to be more needy?”

While the students’ responses varied, two themes were predominant: a deep appreciation for the positive influence of American Christians on the world, and a deep concern for the future of Christianity in America.

Eliza Navalta responded, “I chose the USA band because I was saved by the help of missionaries from the United States. Also without the leadership of the USA in spreading the gospel, maybe the other Christians would fall from their faith.”

Pacencia de Ocampo added, “I have a burden for the USA because I know they need our prayers at this time. I believe God will answer prayer and somehow bring Christ to unsaved Americans. I also pray that God will pour out His blessings upon the Christians because they are faithful givers to missions.”

Kohl continued his interview, and several students expressed concern that the modern American way of life had a negative effect on Christians.

Elisa Tibung observed, “Americans seem to be so busy in their daily lives that they aren’t concerned about the gospel of Christ. Americans are so busy!”

Pacencia de Ocampo agreed, noting “They are busy for their material needs but not for their spiritual needs.”

Fifty years ago, these Filipino students identified harmful trends that, today, have become much more manifest in American culture. The answer to these problems, they believed, could be found in prayer. According to Pacencia de Ocampo, “there is no distance in prayer.” They prayed that the American church would experience revival, develop a continual sense of God’s presence, and train dedicated gospel workers.

Read the article by Harold Kohl, “Filipinos Pray for the USA,” on pages 22-23 of the May 14, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Revival Center to Open in Harlem,” by Paul R. Buchwalter

• “Receive Ye the Holy Spirit,” by Marie E. Brown

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Archived editions of the Pentecostal Evangel are provided by 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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Clement Le Cossec: The French Pastor Who Became an Apostle to the Gypsies

LeCossec

Clement Le Cossec (far left), with a Gypsy family

This Week in AG History — March 30, 1969

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 30 March 2017

When Clement Le Cossec (1921-2001) was growing up in Brittany, a province in northwest France, his mother warned him, “Be careful! If you are not good, the Gypsies will come and steal you away!” Frightened, Le Cossec promised his mother he would be good, so that he would never have to live with the Gypsies. Yet, God had a plan for him, and when this French pastor died in 2001, more than 2,000 Gypsies from across Europe attended his funeral, mourning the loss of the man who came to be known as “The Apostle to the Gypsies.”

The March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared the fascinating story of Le Cossec and his ministry to the Gypsies.

In 1952, while pastoring a church in Rennes, France, Le Cossec held a preaching campaign in Brest, near Normandy. At the end of one of the meetings a strongly built, dark man approached him and asked if the pastor would visit “us” at an encampment in the hedges alongside the road leading into town. When Le Cossec arrived, he found a caravan of trailers and a group of people with a story to tell.

Two years earlier, one of the young men, Zino, had been given a terminal diagnosis. A traveling Pentecostal preacher prayed for him and he experienced healing. Upon hearing what had happened to Zino, his brother, Mandz, determined to tell the story of how God had power to heal in the name of Jesus. Since that time many of the Gypsies in this caravan had come to faith in Christ, but they had a serious problem. They heard that to be obedient to Christ they must be baptized. Mandz had gone from pastor to pastor asking for someone to come and baptize them but none were willing.

Le Cossec invited them to come to a prayer meeting in a church member’s home. He opened the meeting by saying, “We are going to change the form of the meeting. We are not tied to a routine. We want to be sensitive to the direction of the Spirit. We are going to pray with our Gypsy brothers and sisters to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” After a brief meditation, the Gypsies knelt on the earthen floor and began to praise the Lord with all their hearts. Mandz suddenly lay on the floor, with his face down, and started to speak tongues. Many others shared his same experience. Le Cossec announced to the group, “The baptisms will be next week!”

After the baptismal service, the police made the Gypsy caravan move from the area, and Le Cossec returned to his church in Rennes. One year later, in 1953, both Le Cossec and the Gypsies returned to Brest for a meeting. After the baptisms of the previous year, more than 100 Gypsies had come to know Christ, but Le Cossec could see that they were troubled. They shared with him, “Brother, on the road we have no one to lead meetings with us. Each evening when we stop, we light a fire and we gather around to sing and pray. If there is someone in the group, even a child, who knows how to read we ask him to read from the Bible. We need a servant of God.” Le Cossec replied, “That is impossible. There are no servants of God in Brittany who are free” to travel with you.

Le Cossec felt he must help the Gypsies in some way. When the caravans came close to his church he would hold reading and Bible classes. But by 1958 more than 3,000 Gypsies had been converted, and Le Cossec could no longer be indifferent to this flock of sheep without a shepherd. A decision had to be made. He had a house and an assured salary and eight children who depended on him. The church in Rennes was doing well. Wouldn’t it be folly to leave a secure position and join his family to a caravan of traveling Gypsies? “There was a battle in my heart … but putting all my trust in the Lord, and refusing to count the cost, I threw myself into an adventure of faith … how very meaningful Christ’s words: ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.’”

Eleven years later, in the 1969 Pentecostal Evangel articleLe Cossec shared with American readers how more than 20,000 Gypsies were serving the Lord. He told of their meetings in caravan conferences across Europe, including in Germany, where Hitler’s Nazi regime had exterminated tens of thousands of Gypsies in concentration camps.

Le Cossec and his family traveled with the Gypsies through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and India. By his death at age 80, the “Apostle to the Gypsies” had traveled in more than 40 countries sharing the message that Gypsies, who had been “a rejected community,” have instead become “an elect community” in the Lord. On his tombstone, his friends and family engraved the words of Luke 14:22: “The servant said, ‘Master, what you have commanded has been done.’”

Read more about Le Cossec’s Gypsy conference in Germany in “One People from Many Nations,” on page 16 of the March 30, 1969, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Gifts of Healing,” by Howard Carter

* “How Can I Know God’s Will,” by J.W. Jepson

* “The Balm of Gratitude,” by Mel De Vries

And many more!

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

albertnorton

This Week in AG History —February 22, 1919

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 23 February 2017

In the early twentieth 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 re-asserting 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 were often surrounded by great suffering and felt compelled to minister in both word and deed. One such missionary was Albert Norton, an early Assemblies of God missionary to India.

In a 1919 Pentecostal Evangel article, Norton wrote the following bold statement, which argues that Christian preaching must be accompanied by works of compassion:

“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: 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 PE-News, 12 January 2017

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: www.iFPHC.org

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Learning Gratitude on the Frozen Tundra: Paul and Marguerite Bills, Assemblies of God Missionaries to Alaska

billsThis Week in AG History — November 24, 1968

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 23 November 2016

Paul E. Bills (1921-1977) and his wife, Marguerite, learned true gratitude while serving as Assemblies of God missionaries in the harsh conditions of remote Alaska. In a 1968 Pentecostal Evangel article, Paul showed how the challenges of life on the frozen tundra taught them to be thankful.

In faith, Paul and Marguerite drove from New Jersey to North Pole, Alaska, in the fall of 1955, thinking they were under missionary appointment with the Assemblies of God. When they arrived, however, they were surprised to discover that their paperwork had not been received. Eventually things were straightened out, and they were granted appointment.  For the next 20 years Paul and Marguerite devoted their lives to evangelizing Eskimos in spite of difficult and primitive conditions.

Paul Bills made the bold statement: “It took the Alaskan mission field to create within us a thankful heart.” While pastoring a church in North Pole, Paul and Marguerite adopted two infant Alaskan Native girls named Marcis and Roxanne. Later the family added a son Paul.

One of their first mission stations was in the village of Beaver, located on the Yukon River just south of the Arctic Circle. They lived in a little two-room dirt-roof cabin.  One of the first questions Paul asked was “Where do we get our water?” He was told that the Yukon River had lots of water.  However, it was under several feet of ice, plus there was a very steep bank at the edge of the river. Bills declared, “You have no idea how we struggled and slipped and prayed as we filled our water barrel. Never had water seemed so precious.”

From North Pole and Beaver, Paul and Marguerite and their daughters went to Barrow and ministered for several years. There they found the water situation even worse. The source was a lake located five miles out on the tundra. Most of the year the water was in the form of ice. Sometimes they were able to buy ice from those who had dog teams. The price was not unreasonable, at about 10 to 20 cents a gallon, as it wasn’t easy work to chop the ice and then deliver it. But that was not all. Once received, the ice had to be scraped before being put into a tank next to the furnace. This procedure itself took several hours. Every ounce of water was precious, and none of it was wasted. The same water was often used for several needs—washing dishes, taking baths, washing clothes, scrubbing floors, etc.

Have you ever thanked God for a thermostat?  You might if you lived in Alaska.  Paul Bills’ first winter there was a rough one. For a six-week period the temperature never rose above 40 below zero. It stayed mostly 50 to 60 below and got very close to 70 below. In those conditions, hitching up a dog team and going out looking for wood is quite a chore which often could involve frozen toes, fingers, and faces. “Every piece of wood put into the Alaskan stove is like a gift from God,” said Bills.

How often do you thank God for the sun? When living in Alaska, one tends to appreciate the sun very much. Bills remembered coming to the Barrow station, and each day the sun would be lower and lower in the sky. He shared: “On November 18 we watched it sink beneath the horizon and there was a sense of sadness. It was almost like losing a friend, for we knew we would not see it again for over two months. You really don’t miss something until you lose it.” This is especially true with respect to the sun. Bills shared, “January 23rd is always an exciting day in Barrow. Everyone talks about it.” On that day each year, the sun appears again in the sky, and everyone is happy for daylight again.

Have you ever lived in a desert or treeless area for an extended period of time? In 1965, Paul Bills and family moved to Nome, Alaska, among a group of people who in all their lives had never seen a tree except maybe in a picture. In the fall of 1968, at a time when many people in the rest of the U.S. were enjoying the changing colors of the fall trees and looking forward to a Thanksgiving feast, Paul shared: “In our present station in Nome we are in a treeless area and when we are able to get out to the tree area we cannot help but notice the majesty of trees.”

Recounting all the things he was thankful for, he asked, “Are you really grateful for the food you eat? When you offer thanks is it a mere ritual? A Christian duty? Do you consider the variety of items before you? How about those fresh fruits and vegetables?” His response was, “If you live in a remote Alaskan village you would forget that some of these items exist. Then sometimes you would dream about corn on the cob, watermelon, peaches, oranges, and dozens of other foods which are just memories of former days. If perchance a plane brings in a delicacy on a rare occasion, you bow your head in deep gratitude for this special blessing from God.”

Bills concluded his article by remarking, “Yes, we are truly thankful for the privilege of living on the mission field, for it has awakened our soul to the virtue of gratitude; and it is such an enjoyable and edifying experience to be grateful for the everyday blessings of life.” Importantly, he observed that “Genuine thankfulness is a help to holiness.”

In 1976, Paul Bills was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He died the next year and was buried on his 56th birthday. At his request, he was buried in Barrow beside Ned Nusunginya, his close friend and interpreter, who was converted during Paul’s initial revival in Barrow.

Paul and Marguerite Bills devoted their lives to share the gospel in remotest Alaska, and the challenges they encountered taught them about the importance of gratitude. They developed an attitude of thanksgiving, and they encouraged others to likewise view difficulties as valuable, transformative experiences for growing in Christ.

Read Paul E. Bills’ article, “I Learned Gratitude on the Alaska Mission Field,” on pages 2-3 of the Nov. 24, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Five Grains of Corn,” by Mrs. Max (Hannah) Johnson

• “Maintaining the Balance,” by Alice Reynolds Flower

• “A Change in Government,” by C. M. Ward

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived edition courtesy of 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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She Listened to the Voice of God: Grace Agar, Linguist and Missionary to China

Agar

Grace Agar at Bethany Retirement Home, Lakeland, Florida, circa 1962

This Week in AG History — March 12, 1967

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 10 March 2016

Grace Agar (1877-1966) was in high school when she sensed God telling her to prepare for missions work. A native of San Francisco, California, she followed God’s call and ended up on the other side of the Pacific, where she became an Assemblies of God missionary to China and a noted linguist.

Before she left America, however, Agar spent seven years in college, preparing for her future overseas. She graduated from Mills College (Oakland, California), a Christian school for women, and also studied at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, Illinois) and at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Bible School (Nyack, New York).

Finally, in 1902, the time came for Agar to set sail for China. The attractive, 25-year-old single female missionary watched her family and friends fade from sight as her boat left the harbor. Her heart sank as she realized, “I am all alone.” God whispered to her heart, just like when He called her as a missionary, and He reassured her, “I am here. I will never leave you.”

Agar excelled in school, but learning to listen to the voice of God was one of the most valuable disciplines she ever learned. In China, she continued her studies, learning the Chinese language and writing a widely-distributed book, Mandarin Tones Made Easy (1933). She also continued to draw close to the Lord in prayer and Bible study.

Her prayers and Bible teaching were very fruitful. Agar’s biography, Dark is the Land (Gospel Publishing House, 1962), noted that numerous people along the Chinese-Tibetan border accepted Christ after hearing her compelling preaching and witnessing that God answered her prayers.

Agar initially served as a missionary with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. But after she was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1912, she identified with the Pentecostal movement and spent the next decade without any denominational backing. In 1922, she transferred to the Assemblies of God, which already supported numerous missionaries in China.

The communist takeover of China forced Agar in 1937 to flee the nation where she had devoted 35 years of her life. She returned to America to a hero’s welcome. After she passed away, the March 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel carried a tribute to Agar. “Certainly heaven has been enriched by the presence of this missionary heroine,” the obituary concluded, “who has now answered her Lord’s final call.”

Read the article, “Missionary Heroine with the Lord,” on page 28 of the March 12, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue

  • “Unfeigned Faith,” by C. M. Ward
  • “Little Feet, What Path?” by E. E. Krogstad
  • “Sowing and Reaping in Navaholand,” by Eugene and Marian Herd

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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Filed under History, Missions