Tag Archives: Missions

Melvin and Lois Hodges: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionaries to Latin America

This Week in AG History — September 13, 1941

By Glenn W. Gohr

Originally published on AG News, 16 September 2021

Melvin Lyle Hodges (1909-1988) and his wife, Lois (Crews) Hodges (1908-2011), were pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to Latin America. Their experience on the mission field taught them the importance of training local believers to lead the church, and Melvin went on to become a leading missiologist among Pentecostals and evangelicals.

Melvin and Lois were married in December 1928 and pastored churches in Colorado and Wyoming for seven years before gaining approval to go on the mission field. They were appointed by the Assemblies of God Foreign Missions Department and served Latin America, primarily in El Salvador and Nicaragua (1935-1953).

They returned to the U.S. in 1945 and Hodges served as editor of the Missionary Challenge publication for two years. He spent the next four years traveling between the United States and Central America, overseeing the work there. He returned to Central America fulltime in 1950 and served another three years in Nicaragua as a missionary. Lois became proficient in Spanish and actively participated in a teaching and training role alongside her husband. Her sister, Esther Crews, also assisted them in missionary work in Nicaragua.

Melvin Hodges was then appointed as field director for Latin America and the West Indies (1953-1973) and again spent time traveling and overseeing the work in Central America, although he maintained an office in Springfield, Missouri.

Melvin and Lois Hodges teamed with veteran missionary Ralph Williams, who practiced English missionary Roland Allen’s philosophy of indigenous principles. While ministering in Nicaragua, Hodges was given an opportunity to put into practice these principles, which Allen called “the missionary methods of St. Paul.” He established a Bible school in Matagalpa and ministered to native Nicaraguans.

In his retirement (1973-1985), Hodges served as professor of missions at the Assemblies of God Graduate School (now Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) in Springfield, Missouri, which allowed him to share his vast knowledge of missions with students and also to do more writing.

As an Assemblies of God missions leader, Hodges wrote prolifically about the value of developing indigenous (self-supporting, self-propagating, and self-governing) churches around the world. He was the author of 15 books and more than 300 articles and tracts. His books have been revised and reprinted and translated into numerous languages and used as textbooks in colleges and seminaries around the world. His two best-known books, The Indigenous Church (1953) and Build My Church (1957), shaped missionary policy not only for the Assemblies of God but for other evangelical missions groups as well.

Hodges authored at least 115 articles in the Pentecostal Evangel. In a 1941 article, Hodges recounted how he and Lois returned from furlough to Matagalpa, Nicaragua, where they were greeted by Esther Crews and a group of native workers. Upon returning, they witnessed testimonies of answered prayer, healings, and souls saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Melvin and Lois Hodges left a lasting legacy, not only in Latin America, but on the development of Christian missions around the world.

Read the article, “In Nicaragua Again!” on page 11 of the Sept. 13, 1941, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Four Days Ago I Was Fasting,” by Zelma Argue

• “Choosing God’s Best,” by Wesley R. Steelberg

• “How Shall I Curse, Whom God Hath Not Cursed?” by Lilian B. Yeomans

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

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Hermano Pablo: Assemblies of God Missionary and Media Pioneer in Latin America

This Week in AG History —June 16, 1963

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 17 June 2021

Growing up as an Assemblies of God missionary kid in Puerto Rico in the 1920s and 1930s, Paul Finkenbinder (1921-2012) dreamed of reaching not just one country but all of Latin America with the gospel of Christ. He returned to the United States to attend Zion Bible Institute (Providence, Rhode Island) and Central Bible Institute (Springfield, Missouri). In 1943, he and his wife, Linda, packed up and moved to El Salvador where Paul began to work his dream into reality.

As Assemblies of God missionaries, Paul and Linda spent the next 12 years teaching in Bible schools, ministering in churches, and making themselves available for whatever needs arose in ministry. In 1955, God gave Paul a vision for expanding the message he was preaching through the larger avenue of short-wave radio broadcasts. At the time, radio was still a novelty for many living in Latin America.

Beginning with a Webcor recorder mounted on a missionary barrel in his garage, Paul began recording a short radio program called “La Iglesia del Aire” (The Church of the Air). By 1963, this 15-minute broadcast was the only gospel network program heard daily in all Latin America. Hermano Pablo (Brother Paul) began receiving testimonies from across the region of what God was doing through the radio messages. Of the six daily broadcasts, two were devoted to evangelistic sermons, one to issues of morality, and another addressed Bible questions. The remaining two were given to Scripture readings, Christian poetry, and gospel music.

In 1960, the ministry, then known as LARE (Latin American Radio Evangelism), pioneered the use of Christian drama to present parables and Bible stories on television. The response was overwhelming. This led to the production of six Bible drama films that are still in use today throughout Latin America. The realization of Brother Paul’s dream required utilizing every tool available — radio, television, the printed page, crusades, and special events — to present the Gospel of Christ to all of Latin America.

In 1964, Hermano Pablo and his family returned to the United States and established their headquarters in Costa Mesa, California. After four years in a makeshift recording studio in their garage, God provided a building for their studios and offices. Today Hermano Pablo Ministries’ four-minute “Un Mensaje a la Conciencia” (A Message to the Conscience) is broadcast more than 6,000 times per day and is published in over 80 periodicals. The Spanish language radio and television programs, along with the newspaper and magazine columns, are shipped to more than 33 countries of the world.

Hermano Pablo was honored by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) with the award for the “Hispanic Program of the Year.” Other awards include “Best Film of the Year” given by the National Evangelical Film Foundation (NEFF), and the “Best Spanish Broadcast” Angel Award given by Religion in Media (RIM). In 1993, the NRB awarded Hermano Pablo the “Milestone Award” for 50 years of service in religious broadcasting, and in 2003 he received the prestigious NRB Chairman’s Award.

On Jan. 25, 2012, Paul and Linda celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Later that evening he complained of a severe headache and was taken to the hospital where he slipped into a coma. Paul Finkenbinder died in the morning hours of Jan. 27, 2012, but the ministry of Hermano Pablo continues to live and thrive across an entire continent.

Hermano Pablo and his ministry were featured in an article, “La Iglesia del Aire,” published on pages 12-13 of the June 16, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Should A Christian Have A Breakdown,” by Anne Sandberg

• “A Former Gambler Testifies,” by Arthur Condrey

• “Another Minister Led Into Pentecostal Blessing,” by Ansley Orfila

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

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Alice Wood: The Orphan Who Became the First Pentecostal Missionary to Argentina

This Week in AG History —May 29, 1920

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 28 May 2021

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

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

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Stanley Frodsham: Assemblies of God Founders United Around Mission; Refused to be “Sectarians or Insectarians”

This Week in AG History —April 15, 1944

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 15 April 2021

On the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Assemblies of God, Stanley H. Frodsham recounted the first General Council and its legacy. According to Frodsham, the longtime editor of the Pentecostal Evangel, Assemblies of God founders in 1914 were opposed to “sectarianism and denominationalism.” However, they also recognized that they had much in common and desired to “unite together on a voluntary cooperative basis” for “the furtherance of the gospel ministry in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Frodsham recalled that J. W. Welch, an early chairman, described missions as the reason-for-being of the Assemblies of God: “We simply recognized ourselves as a missionary society, and we saw the whole world as the field in which to labor.”

This vision for cooperation in order to achieve the evangelization of the world, Frodsham noted, still remained strong in 1944. To illustrate this continuing vision for cooperation, he pointed to the unanimous decision at the 1943 General Council for the Assemblies of God to become a member of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Frodsham explained that the Assemblies of God desired a sweet spirit of fellowship, rather than a harsh spirit of condemnation of other faithful Christians who may not see eye to eye on everything. He quoted evangelist Gipsy Smith: “I refuse to be sectarian or insectarian.” Frodsham humorously explained, “Many insects have stings. So have many sectarians. We as a people refuse to be sectarians or insectarians.”

Today, 107 years after its founding, the Assemblies of God continues to be a fellowship that is united around a vision of cooperation in world evangelism.

Read the entire article by Stanley H. Frodsham, “These Thirty Years,” on page 4 of the April 15, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “My Soul Desireth First-Ripe Fruit,” by Zelma Argue

• “Thirty Years Ago,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “How God Saved a Communist Chieftain,” by Lester Sumrall

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

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Anne Eberhardt: Assemblies of God Missionary Educator in India

This Week in AG History — November 29, 1930

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 03 December 2020

Anne Eberhardt (1904-1995), Assemblies of God missionary to North India for 43 years, has a rich testimony of coming from a Catholic background, receiving salvation and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, attending Bible school, and serving on the mission field.

Born in a small village in Austria-Hungary called Obesenyo, Anne Eberhardt and her family were Catholics. The town only had one church and one school, and both were Catholic. When Anne was about six, her parents, her aunt and uncle, and another couple decided to travel to the United States in search of a better life. Anne’s mother became so seasick on the journey that she decided that she would never go back to her homeland.

The family settled in Cleveland where Anne was raised Catholic, attended a Catholic school, and was confirmed in that faith. She had a love for the things of God, and one of the nuns said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if you would become a nun when you grow up.” But God had another plan.

When the influenza epidemic was raging around 1918, Anne’s aunt got sick with the flu and was given up to die. She remembered meeting some Nazarene people who had a strong faith in God, and she had seen a real change in their lives. This kindled faith inside her. Lying on her deathbed, the aunt prayed, “Lord, if You will heal my body, and let me live for one year, I will live that year for You.”

God answered her prayer. She felt the power of God come upon her, and she was instantly saved and healed. Then she prayed again, “Now, Lord, lead me to the people that live closest to the Bible.” Soon after this the aunt saw an advertisement for a Pentecostal church on East 57th and White Avenue called First Assembly of God, and she began attending.

Through her aunt’s testimony of healing and reports of the Pentecostal church meetings, Anne, at age 15 also began attending First Assembly of God. She was inspired by the ministry of J. Narver Gortner, who pastored First Assembly during the early 1920s.

Anne visited her aunt’s church and was saved during a campaign the visiting Argue family of Canada held in Cleveland in 1921 where she answered the altar call. That was almost 100 years ago. At a service the next day, Anne was baptized in the Holy Spirit and immediately began sharing her faith, although her parents did not approve of her newfound religion. She was not allowed to go back to the church.

However, Anne made friends with Elizabeth Weidman (later Elizabeth Weidman Wood), who became a missionary to China. Elizabeth worked in an office across the street from Anne, and met her for lunch each day as they talked about the Lord. Finally, after about six months, Anne decided to go back to the church, against her parents’ wishes. Her father said she would have to leave if she was going to attend the Pentecostal church, but before she headed out the door, he changed his mind, allowing her to stay at home and allowing her to attend the church of her choice.

About a year later, Marie Juergensen, missionary to Japan, spoke to the young people of First Assembly, urging them to consecrate their lives to God. After this, Anne earnestly prayed, saying she was “willing to be made willing to do His will.”

For a few years, Anne worked as a stenographer, secretary, and bookkeeper. Then she had an opportunity to attend Central Bible Institute (CBI) in Springfield, Missouri, and began to feel a call to missionary work. One Friday afternoon, A.G. Ward spoke to all the missionary prayer groups on campus about the leper work in North India. After that meeting, Anne thought, It would take a lot of consecration to go and work among the lepers. She never imagined that God would ask her to do just that.

Missionary Blanche Appleby spoke at the Bible school that evening and encouraged the students to offer themselves as a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” Anne felt the Lord asking her if she would be willing to go anywhere with the gospel. She replied, “Yes, Lord, anywhere.” However, when the Lord asked to her to go to North India a struggle followed.

After earnestly praying all that evening and the next day, Anne felt a strong calling and peace that she was to go as a missionary to India. She joyfully completed the rest of her Bible school studies, keeping in mind that God had a plan for her life.

After graduating from CBI, Anne worked for one year in the editorial department of the Gospel Publishing House in Springfield, Missouri, and then pastored a church at Breckenridge, Missouri, for six months. She was approved for missionary service and sailed for India in February 1931.

Her first term of missionary service was spent assisting the Harry Waggoner family with a leper colony and orphanage in Uska Bazar. Next came a time of evangelistic work in the Kheri District, where she also edited the North India Field News, a periodical published by Assemblies of God missionaries. This was followed by 13 years of teaching at the Hardoi Bible Training School in United Province where Marguerite Flint was the principal. Next she was asked to start a night Bible school in Jabalpur and was there for nine years.

After years of missionary work in India, Anne said, “I have never been sorry I said ‘Yes’ to the Lord. That was my greatest decision up to that time; an experience as real as the day I was saved and the day I was baptized in the Holy Spirit.”

After retiring from missions work, Anne moved back to Cleveland and again attended her home church of First Assembly of God in Lyndhurst. She continued to be a wonderful encourager to many and guided some to also enter the mission field. She recorded much of her life story in a booklet called For the Glory of God, published in 1985. She passed away in 1995.

Anne Eberhardt obeyed God and dedicated her life to His service. Read more about her story in “From Catholicism to Pentecost” on pages 2-3 of the Nov. 29, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Three Phases of Sanctification,” by Donald Gee

• “Seven ‘Conventions,’” by Arthur H. Graves

• “Is It Possible to Be Happy?” 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 archives and research center 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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The Second General Council and the Story Behind the Assemblies of God’s Commitment to Missions

Stone Church, Chicago, Illinois

This Week in AG History — November 14, 1914

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 12 November 2020

One hundred and six years ago, hundreds of Assemblies of God pastors, evangelists, and missionaries traveled to Chicago to attend the second General Council. Held Nov. 15-29, 1914, at the Stone Church, this meeting’s stated purpose was “to lay a firm foundation upon which to build the Assemblies of God.”

The Assemblies of God had been organized just seven months earlier in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The young Fellowship grew quickly as existing independent ministers joined its ranks. They appreciated the vision for fellowship, accountability, and structure, while maintaining the autonomy of the local congregation. This growth caused founding chairman E. N. Bell to call for a second meeting, in order to make urgent decisions about the future of the new organization.

The Stone Church, one of the largest Pentecostal congregations in America, could easily accommodate the expected 1,000 participants. Delegates to the meeting made several important structural changes. They decided to move the headquarters from Findlay, Ohio, to St. Louis, Missouri, which would provide a more central location in a larger city. Delegates voted to expand the number of executive presbyters from 12 to 16, making the leadership more representative of the constituency. New leadership was also elected and Gospel Publishing House was authorized to expand its operations.

But the most far-reaching decision at the second General Council was one that was not on the original agenda. Assemblies of God leaders planned to take a missionary offering at the conclusion of the General Council. They had written articles encouraging people to bring money to give to missions. But the pastor of the Stone Church decided that the final offering should instead go to his own church, to help defray expenses related to hosting the council. Assemblies of God leaders, although frustrated with this turn of events, did not oppose the pastor’s request. Instead, they decided to issue a strongly-worded resolution in which they committed the Assemblies of God, from that point forward, to the cause of world evangelization. L. C. Hall drafted the resolution, which read:

“As a Council, we hereby express our gratitude to God for His great blessing upon the Movement in the past. We are grateful to Him for the results attending this forward Movement and we commit ourselves and the Movement to Him for the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen. We pledge our hearty cooperation, prayers, and help to this end.”

This iconic resolution, unanimously adopted by the delegates, has been widely quoted as illustrating how support for missions is part of the DNA of the Assemblies of God.

There is more to the story. In the spring of 1915, something shocking was discovered about the Stone Church pastor, R. L. Erickson, who had refused to let the offering go to missions. The May 29, 1915, issue of the Weekly Evangel alerted readers that Erickson had been removed from the ministerial list due to moral failure. In a lengthy article, E. N. Bell detailed how Erickson’s “greed” was evidence of poor moral character, which also manifested itself in other harmful ways in his life and ministry. In Bell’s estimation, Erickson’s greed led him to take the offering meant for missions, which led to the adoption of the strong statement in support of missions. What Satan meant for harm, Bell wrote, God could turn into good. And 106 years later, the Assemblies of God remains committed to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.”

Read the Nov. 14, 1914, issue of the Christian Evangel, which published the minutes from the first General Council and encouraged readers to attend the second General Council.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Work in Africa and Egypt,” by Frank M. Moll

• “The Unanswered Prayer,” by Harry Morse

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Also read E. N. Bell’s article, “The Great Outlook,” in which he details the events surrounding the adoption of the resolution regarding missions, on pages 3 and 4 of the May 29, 1915, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

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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Esther Harvey: Pioneer Assemblies of God Missionary to India

This Week in AG History — September 17, 1938

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 17 September 2020

Esther Bragg Harvey (1891-1986) served Jesus Christ and the people of India for 48 years before retiring as an Assemblies of God missionary in 1961. During her first nine years on the field she buried three children and her young husband. Yet when she passed away at age 95, hundreds of Indian children called her “Mama.”

Esther Bragg was not raised in a Christian home; yet at the age of 12 she witnessed the peace her grandfather experienced, singing a hymn as he passed from the earth. The young girl determined to find the God of her grandfather. When she asked about going to church her father forbade her to “get religion.” Bragg would sneak out of the house to attend church, often finding herself locked out of the house on her return. Her father finally told her she must choose between leaving the church or leaving her home. Heartbroken at the thought of leaving her mother, Bragg turned to God in prayer. The Lord gave her a vision of himself carrying His cross. She saw that her cross was much smaller than His and asked the Lord to forgive her and help her to carry whatever cross He laid on her back. Her father soon relented.

In her senior year of high school, Bragg became very ill. Pentecostal believers from a local mission prayed for her and she was healed. She began to attend Pentecostal services and in 1911 enrolled in a short-term Bible school in Norwalk, Ohio, where she met J. Roswell and Alice Flower. The couple led her into an experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and Harvey soon felt that God was leading her to mission work in India.

In obedience, Bragg set sail for India arriving in December 1913. Just a few months after her arrival, word came from a mission in Nawabganj that some American missionaries had to leave suddenly and left a 27-year-old former British soldier, James Harvey, alone to carry on the work. He had no money and no supplies and was in desperate need, traveling from village to village without even a pair of shoes. Bragg felt that she could be helpful and responded in answer to the call for help.

Unbeknownst to the other, both Esther Bragg and James Harvey wrote in their journals that they felt the Lord had brought them together. Soon “together” became the word that defined them, as they were married later that year (1914). Together they received some of the first credentials with the newly formed Assemblies of God, and together they traveled — holding meetings, helping others, encouraging workers, discipling new Christians, and building a school for boys. With joy they discovered that “together” would soon include another little life.

But their dreams were crushed and together they buried their first baby. Another new life promised hope, but a second small grave was dug next to the first. When a third pregnancy brought promise, Esther found herself also gripped with fear. However, God blessed them with a strong and healthy baby girl. A baby boy followed soon after but was soon very sickly and weak. Esther prayed, “Lord, I cannot and I will not give him up. I must keep him.” In her prayer, she was reminded of the commitment she made before she left for India: “I put it all on the altar — the things I know and the things I don’t know.” She realized losing children was one of the things she “didn’t know” and she had already laid them on the altar before they had even been born. Soon the heartbroken parents had three little graves near their mission house. Together James and Esther continued their work.

After bearing four babies in eight years, and burying three of them, the Harvey’s felt they had born well what had been laid on them. Then, in 1922, James became gravely ill. Esther nursed him for a month, while carrying on the school and mission work and caring for their 3-year-old daughter. In her exhaustion, she prayed for God to heal James quickly so she could get some rest. She felt the work was too great for her to carry alone and she could not go on waiting for James to get better. After two days and nights without sleep caring for her husband, Esther physically collapsed when she realized James had slipped away from the bonds of earth.

In her grief and weakness, Harvey fell into a deep depression. She could not pray and despaired that she had failed God in her short 29 years of life. But when she found herself too weak to do any praying on her own, others stepped in to pray for her. Soon she felt her strength return. A friend brought the young widow and her child into her home for rest. The presence of the Lord drew near and she felt resurrection life bring her back from the brink. Previously, she had leaned on her husband for strength, but now the single mother learned to trust the Lord’s strength to be sufficient to help her lead the school her husband had begun in Sharannagar.

Over the next 27 years, Esther established a church and oversaw the James Harvey Memorial School, building a missionary bungalow, sleeping quarters for workers, school buildings, and a dormitory for the orphan boys. In the Sept. 17, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, the editors published an SOS letter from Harvey detailing the destruction of the mission from flooding. They were in a critical place due to collapsing buildings, deadly cobras being washed up into their sleeping areas, and no money to buy food or help with rebuilding. Harvey wrote to the American Assemblies of God church members that, “we are in a desperate situation with not one cent of money to help ourselves or anyone else.” The editors encouraged the Evangel readers to give to “one of our largest mission stations in North India.”

God and the Assemblies of God responded to the need and the James Harvey Secondary School continues to this day in 2020.

After her retirement, Harvey traveled to American churches to share the needs of India. In her book, The Faithfulness of God, she looked back on her life and wrote, “I have had to go through many things, one sorrow after another, but I always found He giveth grace. When we are called to pass through the waters, He is there to hold us up.” She died at age 95, trusting in the God she began seeking at age 12. Even though she buried so many of her own children, her tombstone at Greenlawn Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri, calls her “Mama ji” – the name she was given by the children of northern India.

Read Esther Harvey’s request for help, “Calamity Strikes Sharannagar Mission,” on page 6 of the Sept. 17, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “For Jonathan’s Sake” by Carrie Judd Montgomery

• “Not By…But By” by F.M. Bellsmith

• “Are We Blind Also” by John L. Franklin

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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Andrew Urshan and the Persecution of Early Pentecostals in Iran

This Week in AG History — August 19, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 20 August 2020

Andrew D. Urshan (1884-1967), the son of a Presbyterian pastor in Persia (now Iran), immigrated to the United States in 1901. He was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1908 in Chicago, where he started a Persian Pentecostal mission. He returned to his homeland in 1914 as an Assemblies of God missionary and, amidst much persecution, helped to establish an enduring Pentecostal church.

Urshan shared his testimony in a series of three articles published in 1916 in the Pentecostal Evangel. Persia was a melting pot of numerous people groups, including Arabs, Jews, and Armenians. But Urshan felt a call to minister to his own people, the Assyrians. The Assyrians, who mostly belonged to various Christian churches, had a long history of suffering as a persecuted religious and ethnic minority.

Interestingly, most of the persecution experienced by Urshan and other Pentecostals came from other Christians. Urshan recounted that Muslim leaders treated him with respect, because the Pentecostals and the Muslims shared similar moral values. When Urshan was placed in jail for preaching the gospel, Muslim leaders stated, “He says people shouldn’t get drunk, and that is why they have imprisoned him.”

Pentecostal revival spread in the Assyrian community. Urshan related the stories of the birth of Pentecostal churches in five towns. In each new church, miracles and changed lives were accompanied by suffering. In the town of Urmia, a mob of Eastern Orthodox Christians attacked a group of Pentecostal girls who were headed to church. The mob shot their rifles at the young converts, hitting three and killing one of the girls. The grief and violence did not deter the Pentecostals from meeting. Ultimately, about 50 people accepted Christ and were baptized in the Holy Spirit in Urmia. Similar stories happened in each town touched by Pentecostal revival.

Urshan pleaded for readers in America to learn from the deep spirituality of Persian believers. He wrote, “I have seen young girls like some of you interceding and agonizing for the salvation of souls in the whole world.” These young Persians, he explained, “walked carefully, with their eyes and hearts filled with God, singing praises unto Jesus, and pleading tearfully with souls, before their persecutors.”

When Urshan returned to America, he was troubled by the lack of consecration he found in some churches. Many Christians he met seemed to live “careless” lives and seemed most interested in “fashions of dress” and “the pleasures of this world.” Urshan wrote that he “suffered in the spirit” for American Christians. People who are “in danger of death,” he surmised, may actually be better off spiritually. Americans, he believed, should seek to cultivate spiritual depth by learning from the suffering church.

Read the series of three articles by Andrew D. Urshan, “Pentecost in Persia,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Click here for the Aug. 19, 1916, issue.

Click here for the Aug. 26, 1916, issue.

Click here for the Sept. 2, 1916, issue.

Also featured in the Aug. 19, 1916, issue:

• “The Unity of the Spirit,” by W. Jethro Walthall

• “Daily Portion from the King’s Bounty,” by Alice Reynolds Flower

And many more!

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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The Ambassador Airplanes: How the Assemblies of God Became Involved in Missionary Aviation

ambassador plane 1400c

Ambassador II, circa 1950

This Week in AG History — May 13, 1950

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 14 May 2020

Did you know that the Assemblies of God owned two passenger planes just after World War II that carried Assemblies of God missionaries overseas?

Following World War II, commercial flights were not readily available, so World Missions Director Noel Perkin located two surplus army planes and converted them to missionary planes. With help from young people and Speed the Light, the Assemblies of God first bought a C-46 cargo plane for only $5,000. Another $15,000 went into the conversion for civilian passenger service. It was called the Ambassador.

It was an exciting day in August 1948 when the big twin-engine Ambassador, loaded with missionaries and with WWII veterans at the controls, lifted off from the Springfield, Missouri, airport and headed toward the East Coast and eventually to Africa. It took 10 days for the Ambassador to reach Africa on its first flight. This was still much faster than traveling by boat.

After a little over a year of missionary flights, and some domestic flights, World Missions sold the Ambassador, and replaced it with a four-engine B-17 bomber, which was also converted to passenger service. Named Ambassador II, it carried fewer passengers, but the four engines — as opposed to only two on the C-46 — made it a safer plane for crossing oceans and mountains.

For two more years the converted bomber Ambassador II transported missionaries to faraway exotic places. By that time, commercial airlines were able to provide satisfactory overseas service, and the plane was sold.

Seventy years ago, the Pentecostal Evangel gave an account of the Ambassador II airplane on a return trip from Africa back to the United States.

Missionary Irene Crane reported that she left her mission station in Nigeria on Dec. 29, 1949, and traveled to the eastern side of the Niger River to join missionaries May Garner and Elsie Weber who also were traveling back to the U.S. from Nigeria.

These lady missionaries took a local flight from Port Harcourt to Lagos, and then after obtaining visas, they flew to Accra, Gold Coast (now Ghana), to meet up with the flight crew of the Ambassador II, including flight director Robert T. McGlasson. After some delays, the group left Accra on Jan. 23, but had to return back after a report of heavy evening ground fog in Ouagadougou, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), which was their intended destination. After spending the night in a hotel at the airport, the plane left early the next morning for the three-hour flight to Ouagadougou.

Upon their arrival, the local missionaries happily greeted them. A number of them had traveled quite a distance to welcome them. They soon found out that five ducks had been prepared the night before for a feast, so everyone had been disappointed when the plane did not arrive on schedule and was delayed another day. Two more missionaries, Mabel M. Schaefer and Henry I. Dahlberg, boarded the plane in Ouagadougou, and the next stop was Roberts Field, Liberia. “It took us around four hours to reach the airport there,” said Crane. “The going was rough all the way because of the hot air currents.”

The group stayed in army barracks at Roberts Field on a Tuesday night, and on Wednesday morning they had a nice visit with Henry B. Garlock, the AG field secretary for Africa. Later that day, the Liberian missionaries took them to visit the Firestone Plantations, which everyone enjoyed.

Leaving Roberts Field in the afternoon, they added seven more passengers to the plane. After leaving the airport, they traveled through a storm. “The ship was tossed about and for a moment fear came to my heart,” said Crane. But then she remembered the many safety devices on the plane and remembered that “hundreds of people all over the world were praying for our safety.” It took 10 hours and 40 minutes to cross the Atlantic from Roberts Field to Natal, Brazil.

Crane reported that the longest stretch of the journey went from Natal to Trinidad, which took 12 hours and 40 minutes. They stayed there only long enough to eat and refuel before taking off again for St. Petersburg, Florida. They flew all night — 10 hours. Then it was a thrill to reach American soil again. The missionaries were able to stay about 24 hours at the Pinellas Park Home where they had food and sleeping quarters.

The final leg of the journey went from St. Petersburg to Springfield, Missouri, in 5 hours and 20 minutes. A large crowd was at the Springfield airport to welcome the missionaries and the staff on board the plane. Crane shared that it was a wonderful feeling to be home at last.

This was one of the first trips made by the new Ambassador II airplane, and it gives an indication of the dangers and setbacks that had to be overcome with each flight. It took planning to map out each of these destinations in order to pick up AG missionaries needing to return home, and to make adjustments when the schedule had to be changed. It was a blessing to the missionaries that they had food and sleeping accommodations already arranged for them at each destination. The plane kept a busy schedule. In the first year of operation, the Ambassador II visited 38 countries.

The transoceanic flights of the two Ambassador airplanes lasted about three years. In July 1951, the Executive Presbytery approved the sale of Ambassador II because commercial flights were becoming more common.

Read “Trip Home on Ambassador,” on page 6 of the May 13, 1950, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Entire Conformity to Christ,” by Wesley R. Steelberg

• “Jesus and His Mother,” by Alice E. Luce

• “David Anointed King,” by Ernest A. 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: iFPHC.org

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During WWII, Assemblies of God Gave Spanish New Testaments to Military Personnel in Central and South America

Spanish NT_1400

This illustration accompanied the May 1, 1943 Pentecostal Evangel article about Spanish new testaments. The caption read, “Our Good Neighbor Policy.”

This Week in AG History — May 1, 1943

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 30 April 2020

World War II conjures up theaters of battle in Europe, Africa, and Asia, but Latin America also served a strategic role. Following the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, most of Latin America either severed relations with the Axis powers or declared war on them. The Panama Canal, which provided a link between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, was vital to both commerce and defense and Spanish-speaking soldiers found themselves fighting alongside English- and French-speaking comrades.

The Assemblies of God sought to reach out to servicemen through the distribution of literature. The May 1, 1943, Pentecostal Evangel, reported that the Home Missions Department, under direction of Fred Vogler, had printed 3,245,000 copies of Reveille, a paper specifically designed for servicemen, at a cost of approximately $24,000.

The article also makes reference to the response of the Assemblies of God young people, known as Christ’s Ambassadors, to a request in the Oct. 17, 1942, Evangel for $7,500 to provide copies of the New Testament to Merchant Mariners, United States civilian mariners who served to deliver military personnel and materials. The Merchant Mariners died at a rate of 1 in 26, the highest rate of casualty of any service in World War II. The response of the Christ’s Ambassadors exceeded the request by $2,500, which was used to place New Testaments in waterproof containers as part of standard equipment in lifeboats and rafts of naval vessels and military airplanes.

Much of this effort was led by Harry Jaeger, a 1937 graduate of Glad Tidings Bible Institute (later Bethany University) and Assemblies of God evangelist who had a burden to reach servicemen. Through his affiliation with the American Bible Society, he began a campaign to provide Scriptures to military personnel.

As pleased as Jaeger was with the response of the Assemblies of God to provide military Bibles in English, the Florida-based evangelist saw another need — Spanish Bibles were not available for soldiers serving from Central and South America. In response, the May 1, 1943, Evangel laid out the proposition before the Assemblies of God constituency to provide 250,000 Spanish New Testaments to South and Central American military personnel with an additional 50,000 testaments to be delivered to Guatemalan missionary John L. Franklin, at the cost of $45,000.

The request for financial donations ended with a plea for prayer: “Let us definitely ask the Lord that He will open hearts to receive His Word, and that as a result of this distribution there will be many souls in heaven who otherwise might not be there. And in addition to praying, ‘whatsoever He saith to you, do it.’” Funds were to be sent to the Home Missions Department designated as “Spanish Service Testament Fund.”

As a result of his work and creative vision in distributing literature to servicemen, Jaeger was invited to move his operation from Tampa, Florida, to Springfield just a few months after this article was published. In early 1944, the Servicemen’s Department, under Jaeger’s direction, was established within the Home Missions Division. This was the beginning of what is now a part of the Chaplaincy Department of U.S. Missions of the Assemblies of God. The Assemblies of God continues to be one of the largest evangelical distributors of discipleship literature printed in the Spanish language.

Read the article, “A Great Opportunity,” on page 1 of the May 1, 1943, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God’s Need of Spiritual Mothers” by Alice Luce

• “Because of Covetousness” by Stanley Frodsham

• “Recollections of a Pioneer Pentecostal Preacher” by Walter J. Higgins

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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