Tag Archives: Pentecostalism

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

The Lost Message of Full Consecration: Rediscovering the Early Pentecostal Worldview

P2351 prayer

Prayer service, 1953 annual convention of the Japan Assemblies of God

By Darrin J. Rodgers

I sometimes wonder whether God is much interested in big movements. I know He is intensely interested in individual souls who are wholly consecrated to Him, and wholly devoted to His cause. [1]
— Stanley Frodsham, editor of the Pentecostal Evangel

Early Pentecostal literature is overflowing with calls to full consecration — the insistence that Christians fully devote themselves to Christ and His mission. This call to full consecration — an essential part of the worldview of early Pentecostals — is now a faint echo in some quarters of the movement. Early Pentecostals offered profound insights concerning the need for a deeper spiritual life. A rediscovery of these insights — which focus on discipleship and mission — could reinvigorate the church by challenging believers to question the Western church’s accommodation of the materialism and selfishness of the surrounding culture.

Full Consecration

What is “full consecration?” The term may be unfamiliar to many readers. Stanley Horton noted, in a 1980 Pentecostal Evangel article, “In the early days of this Pentecostal movement we heard a great deal about consecration.” Horton went on to explain that the Hebrew word, kadash, which means consecration, was later replaced in popular piety by similar words, such as dedication and commitment. He noted that kadash signified a “separation to the service of God,” calling for not merely a partial dedication, but for “a total consecration and a life-style different from the [surrounding] world.”[2]

Pentecostalism emerged about 100 years ago among radical Holiness and evangelical Christians who aimed for full consecration. They were very uncomfortable with the gap between Scripture and what they saw in their own lives; between ought-ness and is-ness. They wanted to practice an authentic spirituality; a genuine Christianity, not just in confession, but in practice. Yearning for a deeper life in Christ, they were spiritually hungry and desired to be more committed Christ-followers. These ardent seekers saw in Scripture that Spirit baptism provided empowerment to live above normal human existence; this experience with God brought believers in closer communion with God and empowered them for witness.

According to Pentecostal theologian Jackie Johns, early Pentecostals embraced a worldview that, at its heart, is a “transforming experience with God.”[3] According to this understanding, the experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit enables believers to consecrate themselves to God.

Results of the Consecrated Life

Various themes arose from this worldview that emphasized full consecration:

  • Mission — Pentecostals have demonstrated a gritty determination to share Christ, in word and deed, no matter the cost. They had a vision to turn the world upside down, one person at a time. Delegates to the second general council of the Assemblies of God, held in November 1914, committed themselves to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.”[4]
  • Priesthood of all believers — Pentecostals have put into practice a radical application of this Protestant ideal, affirming that God can call anybody into the ministry — regardless of race, gender, educational or social status, age, handicap, and so on.
  • Spiritual disciplines — Believers prayed, read their Bibles, fasted, avoided worldly entanglements that would dilute their testimony, and called for a lifestyle of self-denial for the sake of lifting Christ up to the world.
  • Expectation of the miraculous — Believers practiced biblical spiritual gifts, experienced miracles, and viewed life’s struggles as spiritual warfare.
  • Racial reconciliation — Early Pentecostals at Azusa Street and elsewhere, realizing that full devotion to Christ precluded racial favoritism, committed themselves to overcoming the sin of racism.
  • A conviction that heavenly citizenship should far outweigh earthly citizenship — Most early Pentecostals critiqued extreme nationalism and war.

These themes (the above list is not exhaustive) all made sense within the worldview that called for full devotion to Jesus and no compromise with evil or distractions from the Christian’s highest calling. Pentecostals, subject to human frailty and the confusion of surrounding cultures, have not always lived up to these ideals. Still, Pentecostal identity should not be defined by the shortcomings of individual members, but by the vision for authentic Christianity that captures the imagination of its adherents.

The concept of full consecration is the underlying quality that gave birth within early Pentecostalism to the above themes, including speaking in tongues. Early Pentecostals viewed tongues-speech as the evidence, but not the purpose, of Spirit baptism. The purpose of this experience with God was full consecration — to draw believers closer to God and to empower them to be witnesses. The Pentecostal experience enabled believers to live with purity and power.

Early Pentecostals recognized that the consecrated life came at great cost, but yielded great spiritual riches. Daniel W. Kerr, the primary author of the AG’s Statement of Fundamental Truths, warned against “the fading glory” on some Christians’ faces, and instead called for a “deeper conversion” that is marked by desire for holiness.[5] Quoting Hebrews 12:14, Kerr stated that holiness, “without which no man shall see the Lord,” is both a “product of grace” and “a life of self-denying and suffering.”[6] Early Pentecostals insisted that the consecrated life is not inward-focused. Kerr averred that holiness “is a life of love for others, manifested in words and work.”[7]

Early Pentecostals were ahead of their time. It should be noted that they were not buying into modern political or social ideologies; their commitments arose from their devotional life. Some of their commitments — such as women in ministry, racial reconciliation, or pacifism — brought persecution 100 years ago, but the culture has shifted so that these stands are now considered respectable by many. This newfound respectability presents a challenge — it is possible to look like a Pentecostal by embracing historic Pentecostal themes that are now considered “cool,” without also seeking to be fully consecrated.

Pentecostalism without Consecration?

Living out and conveying authentic Christian spirituality from one generation to the next has often proven a difficult task. Carl Brumback, in his 1961 history of the Assemblies of God, expressed concern over the decline of the spiritual life within the Pentecostal movement. He wrote:

It must be admitted that there is a general lessening of fervor and discipline in the Assemblies of God in America. This frank admission is not a wholly new sentiment, for down through the years in the pages of the Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals correspondents have asked, “Is Pentecost the revival it was in the beginning?” As early as five years after Azusa, they were longing for “the good old days”! Nevertheless, it is vital to any revival movement to reassess not too infrequently the state of its spiritual life.[8]

Likewise, Charisma magazine editor Lee Grady recently lamented “the lost message” of consecration. He wrote, “Today’s shallow, ‘evangelical lite’ culture focuses on self, self and more self. Christian books today are mostly about self-improvement, not self-sacrifice. We teach people to claim their ‘best life now’ — and to claim it on their terms.”[9]

Is it possible to be Pentecostal without full consecration?  D. W. Kerr, in answering this question, propounded that “when we cease to [esteem others better than ourselves] we cease to live the Christ-life. We may still have the outward form, but the power is gone.”[10] Those who identify with the Pentecostal tradition but who practice sinful or unwise activities are being inconsistent with the early Pentecostal worldview.

Need for Renewal

Self-centered spirituality seems to be the default setting for humanity. Pentecostalism arose as a renewal and reform movement within Christianity — and now the movement may itself be in need of renewal and reform.

How can Pentecostals rekindle a wholehearted passion for Christ and His mission? Stanley Frodsham suggested that Christians need to form a daily habit of reconsecration.[11] Rediscovering classic Pentecostal and Holiness devotional writings and hymns would be a good place to start. The popular Australian Assemblies of God worship band Hillsong United has done just that with its recent release, “Arms Open Wide,” which no doubt is patterned after the Holiness hymn, “Take My Life and Let it Be.”

“Take My Life and Let It Be” (lyrics below) is a prayer for full consecration. Read it, sing it, meditate upon it, and let God transform you. In doing so, you will rediscover Pentecostalism’s reason for being.

                                                Take My Life and Let It Be

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Make my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

_________________________

Quotes on Full Consecration

Paul Bettex, a Pentecostal missionary who was martyred in China in 1916, proclaimed:

Full consecration is my battle-axe and watchword. You will find it in the tenth chapter of Matthew, and indeed from beginning to end of the New Testament… We have been forgetting that the Lord Himself, even before Paul taught that great doctrine of faith, heralded and proclaimed with no uncertain voice the conditions of true discipleship. These conditions are: a full, absolute, unlimited consecration.[12]

Early Pentecostal John G. Lake pointed to Christ as the Christian’s example for “absolute consecration,” even to the point of death.  He wrote:

The real purpose of becoming a Christian is not to save yourself from hell, or be saved to go to heaven. It is to become a child of God, with the character of Jesus Christ….[13]

D.W. Kerr, principal author of the AG’s Statement of Fundamental Truths, warned:

A desire to “win our friends” to the movement exposes one to the attack of the devil from the outside, and makes some fall an easy prey to the spirit of compromise, instead of enduring the reproaches of the cross … The Pentecostal movement is no exception to the rule that has characterized all the spiritual movements of the past. The desire to escape the reproach of the cross, lies at the bottom of all decline in spirituality and power, in the past history of the church.[14]

Stanley Frodsham, in a 1915 article, called upon Christians to be true to their heavenly citizenship:

When one comes into that higher kingdom and becomes a citizen of that ‘holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9), the things that pertain to earth should forever lose their hold, even that natural love for the nation where one happened to be born, and loyalty to the new King should swallow up all other loyalties…. National pride [extreme nationalism], like every other form of pride, is abomination in the sight of God. And pride of race [racism] must be one of the all things that pass away when one becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus….[15]

________________________________

Darrin J. Rodgers, M.A., J.D., is director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center and editor of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine. This article was originally published as: “A Call to Full Consecration,” 30 Assemblies of God Heritage (2010): 3-5.

Endnotes:

1. Stanley Frodsham, Wholly for God: A Call to Complete Consecration, Illustrated by the Story of Paul Bettex, a Truly Consecrated Soul (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, [1934]), 20.

2. Stanley Horton, “Consecration, Commitment, Submission,” Pentecostal Evangel, February 10, 1980, 20.

3. Jackie David Johns, “Yielding to the Spirit: The Dynamics of a Pentecostal Model of Praxis,” in The Globalization of Pentecostalism: A Religion Made to Travel (Carlisle, CA: Regnum Books, 1999), 74.

4. General Council Minutes, April-November 1914 [combined], 12.

5. D. W. Kerr, Waters in the Desert (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, [1925]), 77.

6. Ibid., 34.

7. Ibid., 33.

8. Carl Brumback, Suddenly from Heaven: A History of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1961), 349-350.

9. J. Lee Grady, “The Lost Message of Consecration,” Fire in My Bones, September 8, 2009. Online newsletter archived at: http://www.charismamag.com

10. Kerr, 130.

11. Frodsham, 61.

12. Ibid., 27.

13. John G. Lake, “The Power of Consecration to Principle,” unpublished manuscript edited by Wilford H. Reidt. FPHC.

14. Kerr, 37.

15. Stanley H. Frodsham, “Our Heavenly Citizenship,” Weekly Evangel, September 11, 1915, 3.


 

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 Ethics, History, Spirituality, Theology

Pandita Ramabai: Prominent Female Social Reformer and Pentecostal Pioneer in India

TWApril1_2016_1400This Week in AG History — April 1, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 4 April 2019

Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922), widely regarded as one of India’s most prominent female social reformers and educators, played a significant role in pioneering the Pentecostal movement in India. Ramabai came from a privileged family, and she used her education and resources to help the underprivileged of her society.

Despite a cultural proscription on educating girls, Ramabai’s father, an educator and social reformer, taught her to read and write Sanskrit. By the age of 12, she memorized 18,000 verses of the Puranas, which were important Hindu religious texts. She became a noted Hindu scholar and was fluent in seven languages.

At a young age, Ramabai devoted her life to helping widows and orphans, who were often despised and mistreated in her society. Ramabai attended college in England, where she joined the Church of England. While traveling in the slums of London, she learned to distinguish between the institutional church and what she termed the “religion of Jesus Christ.” She returned to India and established homes for dispossessed widows and children. She also fought for social reform, including provision for quality healthcare and education.

Despite being marginalized by other social reformers who argued that her agenda was too radical, Ramabai continued to promote her social vision for India, which was consistent with her Christian testimony. She weathered criticism and even became bolder in her efforts, founding additional orphanages and a home for prostitutes. Importantly, Ramabai’s social ministries cared for both the body and the soul. They sheltered, educated, and fed women and children, and they also taught Christian doctrine and nurtured a generation of new Christians.

Ramabai realized that some things only change through prayer, and she used her significant influence to encourage women to pray for spiritual and social change in India. In January 1905, she issued a call to prayer, and 550 women began meeting twice daily for intercessory prayer. That summer, Ramabai sent 30 young women out into the villages to preach the gospel. These young female preachers were successful, and they reported an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on June 29, 1905, which included several being “slain in the Spirit” and experiencing a burning sensation. This Indian revival continued for several years. By 1906, participants also began receiving the gift of speaking in tongues.

According to Ramabai, the girls at the orphanage in Mukti prayed each day for more than 29,000 individuals by name. They prayed, among other things, for them to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and to become true and faithful Christian witnesses.

Pandita Ramabai and the revival at the Mukti mission played an important role in the story of the Pentecostal movement’s origin in India. Alfred G. Garr, the first missionary sent by the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, recounted his interactions with Ramabai in a serialized history of the Pentecostal movement published in the April 1, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Read the article, “The Work Spreads to India,” by A. G. Garr on pages 4 and 5 of the April 1, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Face to Face,” by D. W. Kerr

• “Letter from a Brother Minister,” by W. Jethro Walthall

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, Ethics, History, Missions