Tag Archives: Pentecostalism

Donald Gee: Christ is the Perfect Interpreter between God and Man

This Week in AG History —December 24, 1949

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 24 December 2020

In the 1949 Christmas Eve issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, noted British theologian and church leader Donald Gee gifted readers with a word picture of the mystery of the Incarnation. Sharing his vast experience of speaking through an interpreter, Gee illustrated the value of Jesus Christ, the God-Man, speaking the native language of both divinity and humanity.

Any speaker addressing an audience in a language unfamiliar to them will need a qualified interpreter to make sure that his message is accurately and adequately communicated to his hearers. After sharing some embarrassing and humorous incidents with interpreters in his own speaking career, Gee says that the best two interpreters with whom he worked shared the same distinction: a French father and an English mother. Both languages were spoken natively throughout their upbringing and, thus, they were equally at ease with either tongue.

Gee masterfully weaves this experience into an illustration of Jesus Christ in his article “An Interpreter is Born.” As the Son of God, Jesus spoke the language of heaven with the ease of a native son. Yet as the Son of Man, Jesus also spoke the language of earth with the same native ease. Jesus, therefore, was “the perfect Interpreter between God and man, for He — and He alone — speaks both languages perfectly.” With equal authority He could say “My Father in heaven” and my “mother and brethren” from Nazareth. He interpreted Heaven’s message of love to mankind and, in turn, can interpret the “feelings of our infirmities” at the right hand of God. In this sense, the Interpreter becomes the “one mediator between God and Man” — being born of both in Bethlehem. As the soul of man craves an explanation of the things of God, God has, in His redemptive plan, provided an Interpreter.

Gee takes the illustration one step further. Not only has Christ come to reveal the language of heaven to earth; He has equipped His followers to continue this task of interpretation. After providing for mankind to be “born from above” through salvation and, consequently, filled with the Holy Spirit, they become interpreters to others of the language of heaven. “Men wholly of this world cannot readily understand the things of God; they need interpreters — literally, ‘those who explain.’” Such interpretation “needs familiarity with the languages of heaven and of earth.” The interpreter cannot have a worldly mindedness that is unable to grasp the depth of meaning of the deep things of God nor yet can he or she have a “mistaken monasticism” that has lost touch with the language and experience of humanity.

The author then takes the illustration even one step further. While the task of interpretation is the duty of every Christian, it is especially relevant to the Pentecostal believer. “The Pentecostal gift of ‘interpretation of tongues’ in its own supernatural realm invites the same longing for the divine ability to bring the unknown into the realm of understanding … the language of ecstasy has its heavenly place, but happy is he who can translate it for our good into our more mundane speech.” We still need supernatural interpreters who, like Daniel, can explain the handwriting of God when He has a message for mankind.

Without the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus, there would be no satisfying revelation — or interpretation — of God to man and no adequate representative of man to God. Unto us an Interpreter is born; Emmanuel, “God with us,” who was born to bring understanding where confusion had reigned.

Gee invites us to accompany the shepherds to “even now go unto Bethlehem” and give thanks that an Interpreter has come — who will begin to unravel the mysteries of God and then “ever live to make intercession for us.”

Read “An Interpreter is Born” by Donald Gee on pages 2 and 13 of the Dec. 24, 1949, edition of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Our Immanuel – Christ Jesus” by P. C. Nelson

• “The Incarnation – Why Was it Necessary” by F. J. Lindquist

• “Christmas at Rupaidiha” by Hattie Hammond

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

Filed under Uncategorized

Dr. Alexander Vazakas: Early Greek-American Pentecostal, Philosopher, Linguist

This Week in AG History — September 2, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 03 September 2020

Alexander Vazakas (1873-1965) began life in the Ottoman Empire, where his family suffered persecution on account of their evangelical faith. In 1902 he immigrated to America, where he became a linguist and philosopher. During the last years of his life, he served as a professor at Evangel College (now Evangel University) in Springfield, Missouri, and became well-known for melding his sharp mind with a passion for working with young people.

Vazakas played many roles during his life — persecuted religious minority, immigrant, academic, husband. But the common thread that connected these seemingly disparate roles was his deep Christian faith. His remarkable story was published in the Sept. 2, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Born into privilege, Vazakas was raised in a suburb of Thessalonica, in what is now Greece. His father was a practicing physician and rubbed shoulders with important people from around the world.

Everything changed when his father began to read a New Testament given to him by the British Consul. At the time, it was illegal to own a Bible. However, Vazakas’ father read the New Testament voraciously and ended up accepting Christ as his Savior. He wanted to share the good news of the gospel with others, so he invited his patients to his home, where he would read Scripture to them.

Greek Orthodox Church leaders heard about the elder Vazakas’ home Bible studies and were incensed. They viewed Vazakas’ activities as a threat to their religious authority. The Greek Orthodox leaders, who had a close relationship with the government, had Vazakas arrested. After several years of persecution, which included time in and out of prison, he was attacked by bandits and killed.

Alexander Vazakas was only 8 years old when his father died. He consoled himself by reading the book for which his father was willing to die. At first, reading the Bible only seemed to make things worse. “Tortured by feelings of wretchedness and unworthiness,” the Pentecostal Evangel article recounted, Vazakas “began to beat his head against the stones of a wall.” He wished to die. Then the extent to which Christ loved him began to dawn on the teenager. He surrendered his life to Christ, and he would never be the same.

The young convert shared his Christian faith wherever he went. Vazakas’ testimony was so powerful that even merchants and the occasional Orthodox priest or monk would gather and listen to him. In the 1890s, while sharing his testimony, “he found himself unable to speak except as the Holy Spirit gave utterance.” He began speaking in a language that he did not learn — an experience that he reckoned to be similar to what he read about in the Bible.

Vazakas was a brilliant young man. By age 12 he could speak six languages — Greek, Russian, German, French, Spanish, and Bulgarian. As a teenager, he worked as a language tutor. When he immigrated to the United States in 1902, he immediately enrolled at New York University, where he earned his B.A. (1904). He went on to earn additional degrees at Union Theological Seminary (B.D., 1906), Columbia University (M.A., 1911), and the University of Chicago (Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Humanities, 1927). His doctoral dissertation explored Greek language usage in the first 15 chapters of the Book of Acts. Between earning degrees, he also served as international secretary for the Y.M.C.A. for France and Greece.

The Greek academic taught for 27 years at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, where he served as head of the department of modern languages. After retiring, he taught for short periods at three Christian colleges — Bethany College (a Lutheran school in Lindsborg, Kansas), Kansas City College and Bible School (affiliated with the Church of God [Holiness]), and the Holiness Bible Institute (Florida). The degree to which he emphasized his Pentecostal testimony while at these non-Pentecostal schools is unknown.

Finally, in 1958, Vazakas moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he taught Philosophy and Greek at Evangel College. The 1962 Pentecostal Evangel article noted that “the flame ignited in his heart by the Holy Spirit in the 1890s is still burning brightly.” Vazakas continued teaching at Evangel until his death in 1965 at the age of 91.

What can we learn from the life of Alexander Vazakas? Early American Pentecostals came from remarkably diverse backgrounds. Many were immigrants, and some had their own Pentecostal experiences prior to the revivals at Topeka (1901) and Azusa Street (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, which are frequently viewed as the beginning of the Pentecostal movement. Although Vazakas was not a credentialed minister, he nevertheless spent his life in active ministry and impacted countless people with his gospel witness. Furthermore, Vazakas’ impressive academic achievements run counter to the common assumption that early Pentecostals were anti-intellectual. And Vazakas’ stamina — the fact that he taught until his death at age 91 — shows that elderly Spirit-empowered believers still have much to offer to younger generations.

One of Vazakas’ students at Evangel was a young man named George O. Wood. Wood, former general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, still recalls Vazakas’ classes and quotes him in sermons from time to time. Never underestimate the long-ranging impact of a substantive and anointed witness.

Read the article, “The Pentecostal Professor from Thessalonica,” on pages 6-7 of the Sept. 2, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Chapel at the Devil’s Pit,” by Don Argue

• “From Thorns to Diadems,” by Anna Berg

• “Blessed Brokenness,” by D. H. McDowell

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions 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

1 Comment

Filed under Biography, Education, History

What can Pentecostals learn from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism?

Wesley_1400This Week in AG History — June 3, 1944

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 04 June 2020

What can Pentecostals learn from John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism?

Wesley, an Anglican priest in England, helped to lay the foundation for large segments of the evangelical and Pentecostal movements. Despite living in a nation that identified as Christian, he recognized that most people did not have saving faith. He pioneered new evangelism and discipleship methods, which upset some of the religious leaders of his day. He appointed itinerant, unordained evangelists who traveled and preached the gospel. He also encouraged the formation of small groups of Christians for the purpose of discipleship, accountability, and Bible study.

Wesley encouraged each person to experience God’s love. However, he insisted that if a person was truly saved, an experience with God must yield a transformed life. True Christians, he taught, would live holy lives. When the Holy Spirit transformed a person’s desires, this inner holiness would naturally be manifested in outward holiness.

In many ways, early Pentecostals identified themselves in the tradition of Wesley. The June 6, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel published an article that shared the “secret” of “Wesley’s power.” Three reasons existed, according to the article, which caused Wesley’s ministry to be so powerful.

First, Wesley believed that the Bible was “the very Word of God.” The Bible was the standard for everything, and he prayerfully consulted it for guidance.

Second, Wesley “preached with a living sense of divine authority.” He believed his sermons were given “by direct communication of the Spirit,” based on the Bible, and “applied logically, earnestly, passionately to the hearts of men.”

Third, Wesley “lived and preached in the presence and power of the Holy Ghost.” His deep spirituality was formed by living daily in the presence of God and by developing daily habits of “prayer and song, fellowship and meditation, study and preaching.”

Wesley taught that changed hearts should ultimately change society. He and his followers (known as Methodists) became leaders in social issues of his day, including the abolition of slavery and prison reform.

In the present era of social and family disintegration, Wesley’s admonitions point Christians back toward holiness and deep spirituality. He understood that humanity’s woes flow from the human heart, and he encouraged people to change society one heart at a time.

Read the entire article by Samuel Chadwick, “Wesley’s Secret of Power,” on page 4 of the June 3, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Direct Answers to Prayer,” by Frederick M. Bellsmith

• “Following Jesus,” by H. A. Baker

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

2 Comments

Filed under History, Spirituality

Stephen and Joy Strang Deposit Charisma Media Archives at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

Strangs2

By Darrin J. Rodgers

Stephen and Joy Strang have deposited the archives of Charisma Media at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The Strangs founded Charisma in 1975, which has become the magazine of record of the charismatic movement in the United States. In 1981, they formed Strang Communications (now Charisma Media), which has published over 3,000 book titles (including many under their Spanish imprint Casa Creación), Christian education materials, and several notable periodicals. Charisma Media is one of the leading Christian publishers in the United States.  Fifteen of their titles have been New York Times bestsellers including The Harbinger, which was on the list more than a year.

The Charisma Media Collection consists of approximately 75 boxes (94 linear feet), including: an extensive collection of Charisma Media publications under its various imprints in the English and Spanish languages; correspondence with Pentecostal and charismatic leaders; notes and audio recordings from interviews; an important photograph archive; and an extensive collection of audio/visual recordings, including the weekly Charisma Now! television program produced in partnership with Trinity Broadcasting Network.

The Charisma Media Collection, which provides valuable insight into broad segments of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, will be a boon to researchers.

Stephen Strang has a longstanding passion for history, he often visits museums during his travels, and he has even written a book about his family’s heritage, How We Fit In (2018). Over the years, he has shown particular interest in the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC), which is located in the Assemblies of God national office in Springfield, Missouri. Strang developed friendships with the two men who led the FPHC over the past forty years: Wayne Warner (1980-2005) and Darrin Rodgers (2005- ). When the Strangs decided that the sizable Charisma Media archives should be placed in a research facility, they naturally thought of the FPHC, which had grown to become the world’s largest archives within the Pentecostal and charismatic tradition.

The Charisma Media Collection takes its place alongside other significant collections deposited at the FPHC. The list of collections reads like a Who’s Who of the Pentecostal and charismatic world and includes Assemblies of God church leaders Thomas F. Zimmerman and G. Raymond Carlson; International Church of the Foursquare Gospel leader Jack Hayford; Church of God in Christ Presiding Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr.; charismatic leader Gerald Derstine; Pentecostal Assemblies of the World historian James L. Tyson; educators Grant Wacker, William W. Menzies, Gary McGee, and J. Robert Ashcroft; and many others.

Broad Influence

Stephen and Joy Strang are well connected in Pentecostal and charismatic circles. They count many leaders as personal friends, and their publications provide a level of influence within Pentecostalism often only achieved by top tier evangelists and pastors. Stephen has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including World Relief (2001-2004) and as chairman of Christian Life Missions (1988 to present), the Florida Magazine Association (as president in 1979-1980) and Kings University (affiliated with Jack Hayford) from 1998 to 2016. He also served on many advisory boards including Christians United for Israel, International Charismatic Bible Ministries, and Empowered21.

Strang Communications has built bridges across the denominational and racial divides. The Strangs were prominent supporters of the “Memphis Miracle,” the 1994 watershed event for racial reconciliation within Pentecostalism. They also provided support to the Promise Keepers men’s movement and published its New Man magazine. Joy Strang founded SpiritLed Woman magazine, a counterpart to New Man.

Assemblies of God Roots

The Strangs have deep roots in the Assemblies of God. Stephen was born in 1951 in Springfield, Missouri, where his father, A. Edward Strang, served as pastor of Lighthouse Assembly of God. Stephen Strang’s maternal grandmother (Alice Kersey Farley) and grandfather (Amos Roy Farley) were ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1914 and 1919, respectively.

Joy is also the daughter of Assemblies of God pastors—Harvey and Rose Ferrell (ordained in 1938 and 1952 respectively), who ministered in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and the Philippines. Stephen and Joy married in 1972. Stephen graduated from the University of Florida College of Journalism in 1973 and won the prestigious William Randolph Hearst Foundation Journalism Award. The Strangs had two sons, Cameron and Chandler. Cameron went on to found Relevant magazine in 2003.

After college, Stephen Strang landed a position as a reporter for the Sentinel Star (now the Orlando Sentinel). While working as a reporter, he envisioned starting a magazine that would provide a forum for sharing the Christian faith with those outside the church. He shared the idea with leaders at Calvary Assembly of God (Winter Park, FL), where the Strangs were members. The church agreed to underwrite the first six issues for $15,000, and Charisma magazine was born.

Charisma Media

Charisma gained 50,000 subscribers in the first five years. The relationship with Calvary Assembly of God ended on June 1, 1981, when the Strangs formed a corporation and purchased the magazine from the church. The newly formed Strang Communications Company, with Stephen as CEO and Joy as CFO, would become a powerhouse in the Pentecostal and charismatic world.

In 1983, Strang Communications began publishing Ministries Today, a magazine for ministers. In 1986, Strang Communications acquired two magazines, Christian Life and Christian Bookseller (renamed Christian Retailing in 1986), and Creation House Books from Robert Walker. Walker was a longtime evangelical publisher in Wheaton, Illinois, who was sympathetic to Pentecostals. Christian Life, which began publication in 1939, merged with Charisma in the spring of 1987. The merged publication had a paid circulation at one time of over 225,000, making it one of America’s most widely read Christian magazines.  The Charisma Media collection includes every issue of Walker’s Christian Life and several other publications, every issue of Charisma and the other publications as well as every book published by Charisma Media and many books published by Walker before the merger.

Other periodicals published by Strang Communications include: Buckingham Report (1985-1986); New Man (1994-2007); SpiritLed Woman (1998-2007); Worship Today (1992-1994); and the Spanish language Vida Cristiana (Christian Life) from 1992 to 2011.

In 1987 Stephen Strang took over responsibility for Robert Walker’s non-profit Christian Life Missions (CLM), which Walker founded in 1956. Stephen Strang has served as chairman of the CLM board of directors since Walker retired in the late 1990s.

In 2011, as part of a company-wide rebranding, Strang Communications changed its name to Charisma Media, and the book imprint, Creation House, became Charisma House. Other Strang books imprints have included: Casa Creación, Passio, Frontline, and Siloam Press.

Of the more than 3,000 books Charisma House has published through its various imprints, more than 2,000 were still in print in 2020.  The company has sold an estimated 50 million books. Charisma House has had five books sell more than 1 million copies.

In 2014 the company released the Modern English Version of the Bible, a new translation that is an update of the King James Version.

In 2015 Charisma Media started the Charisma Podcast Network which had 25 million downloads as of early 2020.  Of the 41 podcasts on CPN in 2020, Stephen Strang hosted two–the Strang Report with more than three million downloads and a new podcast called “God, Trump and the 2020 Election,” based on his book by the same title.  This was the third book he authored on the 45th President, written, he said, from a “spiritual perspective.”

_________________

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

2 Comments

Filed under Biography, History

Opal Reddin Collection Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

Reddin

Dr. Opal Reddin

Jewel van der Merwe Grewe, president of Discernment Ministries, has deposited the Opal Reddin Collection at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. Opal Reddin (1921-2005) was an Assemblies of God minister and longtime educator at Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri.

The Opal Reddin Collection includes both Reddin’s personal research collection and research materials collected by Discernment Ministries. The collection consists of about 30 boxes of books, booklets, periodical runs, research materials, audio and video recordings, and correspondence. Materials chiefly relate to the Assemblies of God, revival movements within Pentecostalism (including the New Order of the Latter Rain, the charismatic movement, the Toronto Blessing, and the Brownsville Revival), and various contemporary movements and issues (including the New Age movement, the prosperity gospel, the signs and wonders movement, modern day apostles and prophets, and the ecumenical movement).

Opal Reddin accepted Christ and was baptized in 1933, was called into full time ministry in 1942, and married Thomas Reddin in 1943. They were ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1946 and pastored several churches in Arkansas. She graduated from University of Arkansas at Little Rock (B.A. in Education, 1965), Southwest Missouri State University (M.A. in English, 1969), Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (M.A. in Biblical Studies, 1977), and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977; D.Min., 1980).

Reddin was known for her engaging personality, fiery preaching, and strong defense of Pentecostal faith and doctrine. From 1968 to 1996, she taught over 15,000 students at Central Bible College. In the classroom, she frequently shared stories of Pentecostal people (lay and clergy) and the powerful moves of God they experienced.

In 2005, towards the end of her life, the Opal Reddin Biblical Research Library was created by Discernment Ministries and was located at Pinebrook Assembly of God in Naugatuck, Connecticut. The library was moved in 2010 to Michiana Christian Embassy in Niles, Michigan. Finally, it was deposited in 2019 at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in Springfield, Missouri. A large number of theological books in the library did not fit the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center’s collection parameters and were given to Africa’s Hope for placement in Assemblies of God Bible college libraries in Africa.

The Opal Reddin Collection at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center includes research materials collected by Discernment Ministries, which was founded in 1989 by Travers and Jewel van der Merwe. Longtime Assemblies of God pastors in South Africa and the United States, they were concerned with what they perceived to be a shift away from the authority of scripture within certain segments of Pentecostalism and evangelicalism. They began assembling a library of publications and newsletters from various ministries. Using this library as source material, in 1990 they began publication of Discernment Newsletter, which documented what they viewed as harmful, unbiblical trends in Pentecostal and evangelical churches. Discernment Ministries also published several books and pamphlets. Discernment Ministries publications extensively cite rare ministry newsletters and recordings, which have been placed in the Opal Reddin Collection. Many of these source materials are not found in other archives or libraries.

_________________

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

1 Comment

Filed under History

A Pentecostal Pioneer Responds to the Perennial Question: “Should Pentecostals Organize?”

Flower J Roswell

J. Roswell Flower, 1924

This Week in AG History — August 12, 1951

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 15 August 2019

“Why a General Council? Is there any real need for some form of organization in a movement inspired by the Holy Ghost?” J. Roswell Flower posed this question in the Aug. 12, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Flower, himself an early Pentecostal pioneer and one of the founders of the Assemblies of God, was well-qualified to address this question. He noted that many early Pentecostals rejected “organization of any kind.” Flower recalled one pioneer who, when arguing against the creation of church structures, asserted: “All we need to do is walk in the Spirit.”

Flower noted that, during this early phase of Pentecostal history from 1907 to 1914, “men and women sold out for God, left their occupations, and devoted themselves to the propagation of the Full Gospel message.” However, disagreements over doctrine and a lack of accountability on morals and finances created challenges within the young Movement.

The Assemblies of God was formed in 1914 by ministers who desired accountability on doctrine and ethics and who also recognized the value of cooperation in areas such as publishing, ministerial education, and missions.

According to Flower, whether Pentecostals should organize is an “old question” that has arisen numerous times. However, he believed that history had vindicated the value of organization and pointed to the success of Assemblies of God missions efforts around the world.

Flower wrote: “Through the cooperation of united churches, the message of the latter rain has been spread to the ends of the earth. The missionary cause has been promoted until now there are literally hundreds of thousands of saved and Holy Ghost-baptized believers with some in almost every country on earth. It is too late to accept the adage that organization is of the devil when we have a concrete example of what a simple, cooperative organization can do and has done.”

Read the entire article by J. Roswell Flower, “Why a General Council?” on pages 6, 7, and 14 of the Aug. 12, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “You Have One Problem – Solve It!” by U. S. Grant

• “Wait, Examine the Facts,” by Stanley M. Horton

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

Filed under History

William Fetler, the Welsh Revival, and Early Russian Pentecostalism

This Week in AG History — July 22, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 25 July 2019

St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire, was in the midst of social turmoil in the 1910s. A decade of civil unrest and strikes, followed by the communist revolution, toppled the ruling czar. Political assassinations and mass uprisings became commonplace. Compounding these problems, the First World War led to high prices and a scarcity of food and other consumer goods. It was into this chaotic situation that William Fetler, a Latvian Baptist pastor, became a Pentecostal pioneer in the Russian capital city.

William Fetler (1883-1957), born in Latvia, was the son of a Baptist pastor. As a young man he worked as an interpreter and bookkeeper in the Latvian capital of Riga. He was quite sharp and had mastered seven languages, four of which he could speak fluently. He felt a call to the ministry and enrolled at Spurgeon’s College, the ministerial training school in London founded by noted Baptist Calvinist Charles H. Spurgeon.

Fetler was profoundly touched by the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) during his time at Spurgeon’s College. The Welsh Revival, which lasted only for about a year, resulted in over 100,000 converts to Christ. The revival, which included enthusiastic worship and miracles, left a lasting imprint on the religious landscape of Wales. Evan Roberts, the primary leader in the Welsh Revival, was asked by the Spurgeon’s College principal if he had a message for the students. Roberts replied, “Tell them to live near to God. That is the best life — near to God.”

William Fetler took that message to heart and was never the same. He felt a great burden to see revival in Russia and Latvia. He would spend the rest of his life working to see Latvians and Russians come to Christ. After graduating with honors in 1907, he moved to St. Petersburg. He found a ready audience with nobility who were already believers, including Princess Lieven, Baron Nicolay, Madam Tchertkoff, and others. His impassioned preaching in multiple languages attracted large audiences. He raised money for the construction of a large “Gospel House” in St. Petersburg.

The Welsh Revival fed into the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), which was a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement. Fetler rejoiced at the news of this latest spiritual outpouring. What had been somewhat localized in the Welsh Revival became a worldwide movement in Pentecostalism. Fetler maintained his Baptist identity and also worked within the Pentecostal movement and became a regular speaker at Pentecostal conferences across Europe.

Events in Russia overtook Fetler’s St. Petersburg ministry. Government officials viewed him with suspicion and kicked him out of Russia in 1912. Fetler recounted persecution in Russia, as well as healings, visions, and miracles he witnessed in an article published in 1916 in the Weekly Evangel. He moved back to his native Latvia, where he led a thriving congregation. Fetler, possibly the best-known Latvian pastor in the West, wrote a book about his life experiences under the pen name Basil Malof. Fetler, along with his wife and their 13 musically-gifted children, became legendary figures in Latvian church history. Sensing that war was imminent, Fetler gathered his family and moved to America in 1939. He founded the Russian Bible Society in 1944 and spent the rest of his life advocating on behalf of Eastern European Christians, raising money for Bibles, missions, and relief.

The testimony of William Fetler is a reminder that Pentecostalism has deep roots in Europe. Fetler melded his training at Spurgeon’s College in London with the Welsh Revival and became a noted advocate of the emerging Pentecostal movement, all while retaining his Baptist identity. He set the stage for the development of evangelical and Pentecostal churches in St. Petersburg, Russia, and in Latvia, and became a prominent voice in the West on behalf of Eastern Europeans.

Fetler experienced many disappointments and much persecution over his decades of ministry. But when one door would shut, it always seemed that God would open another. Fetler lived out his belief that the best life was to live close to God, and as a result he changed the course of history for countless thousands of Christians in Russia and Latvia.

Read Fetler’s article, “Pentecostal Power in Russia,” on pages 4 and 5 of the July 22, 1916, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tithing,” by E. L. Banta

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

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Weekly 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

Filed under Church, Missions

Dutch Pentecostal Pioneer G. R. Polman: Spiritual Unity Should Accompany Revival

ThisWeek_May29_2019_1400x490This Week in AG History — May 29, 1926

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 30 May 2019

Gerrit R. Polman (1868-1932) is regarded as the founder of the Pentecostal movement in the Netherlands. Polman was originally a member of the Reformed Church and joined the Salvation Army in 1890. Influenced by reports of revivals in Wales and at Azusa Street in Los Angeles, Polman and his small congregation in Amsterdam identified with the Pentecostal movement in 1907.

Polman wrote a historical account of Dutch Pentecostalism, which was published in the May 29, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Polman recounted testimonies of how lives were transformed. He recalled that in one city, “The sick were healed, demons cast out, souls saved, and other manifestations of the power of God were given.” This pattern was repeated, with some variations, in cities and villages throughout the nation.

According to Polman, people who experienced God’s power did not stay the same. He wrote, “What a wonderful change it brings in our lives when the Holy Spirit comes in, in Pentecostal power; how it changed our conduct, our hearts, and lives; what a fellowship in the Spirit with our risen Lord!”

Polman used his article about Pentecostalism in his corner of the world to encourage unity among Pentecostals everywhere. He gave praise to God for “the unity in the Spirit” that existed among Dutch Pentecostals. He believed that this unity would be “a testimony in the midst of the spiritual deadness.” One’s Christian citizenship, he argued, should outweigh all earthly allegiances: “by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether we be American or Dutch, English or German.” He continued, “The body of Christ is a new race of people, born from heaven, and as such, they are a heavenly people, seeking the things which are above.”

Polman was a Pentecostal leader in his nation, but he grasped a vision of the body of Christ that was much bigger than the churches he oversaw. A similar vision for Pentecostal unity, grounded in God’s Word and for the purpose of worldwide evangelization, also energized the founders of the Assemblies of God in 1914. Early Pentecostals recognized the tensions between heavenly and earthly allegiances, and they regularly encouraged believers to seek unity by forming their identity around biblical ideals.

Read the entire article by G.R. Polman, “The Pentecostal Work in Holland,” on pages 2-3 of the May 29, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Newspapers Report Mrs. McPherson Drowned”

• “Pentecostal Power,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Brother Wigglesworth in Ceylon,” by Walter H. C. Clifford

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

Filed under Biography, History

What is the Secret to a Successful Pentecostal Church? Read this Pastor’s Answer from 1946!

PrayerRoomTW_728

This Week in AG History — May 18, 1946

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 16 May 2019

What is the distinctive feature in a Pentecostal worship service? The answer, according to a 1946 Pentecostal Evangel article by P. S. Jones, is “the prominence given to the prayer room.”

Early Pentecostal churches usually dedicated a room to prayer, where earnest believers would intercede during the preaching service and where prayer would continue long after the benediction had been pronounced. Jones asserted, “Pentecostal prayer rooms are truly the power-houses of the assemblies. Everything else can be counted of secondary importance in the church’s program.”

According to Jones, the success of a ministry is proportionate to the prayer life of those involved in the ministry. The “urgent necessity” of every pastor, he wrote, “is to see that the prayer life of his people is maintained at white heat.”

Jones described how an active private prayer life is essential if Christians are to effectively engage in spiritual warfare. The “treasures of heaven,” he wrote, are often only gained by spending hours in “hot, animated, boiling-over prayer.”

What happens when a church neglects prayer? Jones warned, “When the thrill and throb of the Holy Ghost are lost through prayerlessness, all kinds of substitutes will be tried,” including social functions, entertaining preaching, and other amusements. He described these as mere “camouflages” that attempt to hide “the fact that the real thing has been lost.”

According to Jones, “Pentecost can very well do without the carnal decorations and the tinsel of this pleasure-crazed world, but it can never do without its prayer room, its prayer-loving pastor, and its prayer warriors.”

Read Jones’ article, “A Unique Pentecostal Feature,” on pages 1 and 8 of the May 18, 1946, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Hidden Power Now Revealed: Lessons from the Discovery of the Atomic Bomb,” by Leslie Barrowcliff

• “The Pentecostal Movement,” by Howard Carter

• “A Russian Jew’s Testimony,” by Moses Prostchansky

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions 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

2 Comments

Filed under Church, History, Spirituality

Dr. Wang Yun Wu: Leading Chinese Scholar Abandoned Atheism after Witnessing a Miracle

Wang

Dr. Wang Yun-Wu, Vice Premier of the Republic of China (1958-1963)

This Week in AG History — May 2, 1931

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 2 May 2019

A prominent Chinese scholar, Dr. Wang Yun Wu (1888-1979), abandoned atheism in 1924 after he witnessed the miraculous healing of his sister’s eyesight. Dr. Wang later became Vice Premier of the Republic of China (Taiwan). His story was recounted by W. W. Simpson (1869-1961), pioneer Assemblies of God missionary to China, in the May 2, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Wang’s sister was healed in an unplanned revival. Simpson and fellow Assemblies of God missionary Florence Hanson were in Shanghai for the purpose of printing a Chinese-language hymnal. Their business trip quickly turned into a spiritual awakening. Hanson prayed for someone whose name is now lost to history, that person was healed, and residents clamored to find out what happened.

Local Christians organized services and invited Hanson to share the Pentecostal message. Numerous residents, including community leaders, flocked to the meetings. Many were healed or baptized in the Holy Spirit. One of the first people swept up in this move of God was Wang’s sister, Mrs. Ching. Not only was she baptized in the Holy Spirit, but God also corrected her eyesight! For 10 years she had been dependent upon her eyeglasses for daily life and for her writing duties at work. She was employed at the Commercial Press, a large publishing house where her brother, Dr. Wang, served as editor-in-chief.

Mrs. Ching’s healing astounded her family. Wang asked to speak to Simpson, who had prayed for his sister. Simpson gladly consented to this invitation. Simpson recalled how Wang ushered him into a rich library stocked with books in many languages and espousing many religions and philosophies.

Wang explained that he was reared “a strict Confucianist, believing in no God and worshipping his ancestors not as gods but simply to show his respect for them.” He had also studied western philosophies extensively and had accepted the modern theory of evolution. He had not discovered anything that “could not be explained by evolution” or which “required a God in order to exist.” But all that changed once he witnessed his sister’s healing.

Simpson wrote, “I shall never forget that afternoon in the library with one of China’s greatest scholars, and that moment when he said he was forced by the reception of the Spirit by his sister to admit there must be a living and a true God.”

Wang began the day a Confucian atheist and ended the day convinced of the deity of Christ. Wang went on to become a noted scholar of history and political science and also invented Shih Chiao Hao Ma, a form of Chinese lexicography. He opposed the communists during the Chinese revolution, entered politics, and served as Vice Premier of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 1958 to 1963.

According to Simpson, Wang’s story demonstrates how the “baptism in the Spirit is more effective in combating atheism than all the learned disquisitions of the Fundamentalists, for it is God giving a sign to this unbelieving modern world.”

Read W. W. Simpson’s entire article, “A Confucian Atheist Convinced of the Deity of Christ,” on pages 1 and 7 of the May 2, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“See and Hear,” by P. C. Nelson

“To Seekers after the Baptism in the Holy Ghost,” by Donald Gee

“My Pentecostal Experience,” by E. S. Williams

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions