This Week in AG History — July 18, 1931
By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 18 July 2019
Otto J. Klink (1888-1955) was a German-born American Pentecostal evangelist who traveled the United States in the 1930s and 1940s, preaching salvation through Jesus Christ and warning his listeners about the dangers of socialism, atheism, and modernism.
Born in Hersfeld, Germany, he was educated in Berlin, where he learned French, Latin, and Greek, alongside his native German. His family were members of the Lutheran church; however, in 1905, 17-year-old Otto attended a Holiness tent meeting. Kneeling in the sawdust, he claimed God’s promise of salvation and felt a distinct call to enter the ministry.
Klink was willing to serve God but did not want to be associated with the Holiness people. He decided to study for the Lutheran ministry and entered the University of Berlin, where he studied the works of Marx, Engels, and La Salle. He came to believe that salvation was achieved by good character and social action — particularly through elevating the lot of the poor and underprivileged.
One night while attending a Socialist political gathering, he made a speech that was interpreted as encouraging rebellion against the German Crown Prince for his mistreatment of the working class. He was arrested and sentenced to two months in prison. Upon completion of his prison term, he found that his name had been removed from the University of Berlin attendance list. Klink interpreted these events as evidence that his belief in God had failed him. He made the intentional decision to embrace an atheistic worldview.
Finding jobs difficult to get in Germany due to his prison record, he asked his father for money to sail to America. Arriving in 1909, he began writing for a German language newspaper in New York City. He later recounted how he became involved with an anarchist society in New York City called The Red Mask, and that he was part of a plot to assassinate President William Taft at Bronx Park. His failure to carry out the plot led to his dismissal from the society. He returned to Germany, where through the assistance of influential friends he was able to secure a position in the office of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Due to political unrest in Germany, Klink sought to return to the United States. He did so just three months before World War I broke out in Europe in 1914. In 1917 he married a young Pentecostal girl named Ida Ball. Ida prayed earnestly for her new husband to receive Christ and to be healed of the anger and bitterness within him toward God. On the last night of a 10-day revival meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, with evangelist Paul Barth, Klink felt God say to him that this was his last chance. He prayed through to salvation that night and, in 1921, he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He received ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God in 1923.
In the 1930s, Klink began to speak out strongly against the policies of the Nazi Party in Germany. Klink ministered alongside Myer Pearlman, the Jewish Assemblies of God Bible teacher and author, at the 1937 Wisconsin District camp meeting. Klink spoke of a great persecution of the Jewish people in Germany and prophesied disaster for Adolph Hitler if he continued his course of action.
Klink wrote several booklets, including, Why I Am Not An Atheist, and Why I Am Not A Modernist, along with a monthly column in the C.A. (Christ’s Ambassadors) Herald called “Otto-graphs” — a collection of world news and events of interest to young readers. He also authored several featured articles in the Pentecostal Evangel. His article in the July 18, 1931, issue, “The Language of the Blood of Christ,” is a prime example of his use of historical illustrations and world events to provide a deeper understanding of the gospel message of salvation.
For more than 30 years, Otto and Ida Klink traveled the country in evangelistic meetings, making their home in the Miami, Florida, area where Mrs. Klink also began a children’s home that provided care for up to 40 children. The Klinks moved to California in 1951 and opened a gospel supply house which they operated until his death in 1955.
At the height of his preaching ministry, an article published in the Enid (Oklahoma) Gospel Tabernacle newspaper described the former employee of the German Kaiser as having “one of the most powerful, soul-gripping messages ever delivered from an American pulpit — a combination of fire and level headedness — whirlwind oratory and calm common sense that has made him an outstanding figure in American evangelism.”
Read Otto Klink’s article, “The Language of the Blood of Christ,” on page 1 of the July 18, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Freedom From the Dominion of Sin,” by E.S. Williams
• “How I Received the Baptism,” by H.C. Ball
• “Proving God as Healer,” by Mattie Kerr
And many more!
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