Tag Archives: Pentecostalism

Herbert Edward Randall: Pioneer Canadian Pentecostal Missionary to Egypt

This Week in AG History — March 19, 1932

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, 18 March 2022

Herbert Edward Randall (1865-1938), an early Canadian Holiness missionary to Egypt, identified with the Pentecostal movement in 1907. He became an important Pentecostal pioneer in Canada and in Egypt, where he served as an Assemblies of God missionary. Randall prepared the way for larger-than-life figures like Aimee Semple McPherson and Lillian Trasher, but his own significant legacy has been neglected in many quarters.

Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, Randall’s family was Methodist. As a young man living in Ottawa, he attended revival meetings with Ralph Horner, where he accepted Christ and soon began pastoring a Methodist Church in Canada. In 1895 he was dismissed from ministry in the Methodist Church for refusing to take a pastoral change — he instead believed God led him to evangelistic ministry. This prompted him to join The Holiness Movement Church (HMC), a newly formed Canadian group started by Horner. Randall became the first missionary of that new movement, with his assignment being Egypt. He arrived in April 1899.

Randall ministered in Assiout, Egypt, and the surrounding region from 1899 to 1906. One description says, “A tall, rather slender young Canadian, clothed in black apparel from head to foot, with a brown beard, walked the streets of Assiout with Bible and song book under his arm, holding meetings.” These early meetings were mostly attended by children who sat down on mats they brought from home, and some ladies observed from their balconies. A song went out in Arabic, “They who choose Christ as refuge shall in Him find rest.” This drew more people to his meetings, and then he would deliver a plain message of salvation.

When he was through with one meeting, he went on to the next street. He ended up having several street meetings a day, and often there was a night service in a building.

Randall was soon joined by other missionaries of the HMC, so there were enough workers to open up outstations. Randall had high hopes of reaching Muslims for Christ, but he also began ministering to Coptic Christians in need of a new experience of the spiritual life.

Randall returned to Canada in 1906 and received the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit at the Hebden Mission in Toronto in March 1907. About three weeks later he attempted to describe this experience: “I feel like I have really lived 24 days, or since the 6th of March, when I was baptized with the Holy Ghost. Before that time I enjoyed much of God’s grace, but now I am simply amazed, the difference is so great, and all I can do is exclaim with wonder and delight, ‘The Comforter has come.’”

Randall became a key figure in the early development of Pentecostalism in Canada from 1907 to 1911. Shortly after resigning from the HMC, Randall held meetings in Ingersoll, Ontario, where 17-year-old Aimee Kennedy received the baptism in the Holy Spirit at one of his meetings. She later married his associate, Robert Semple, went as a missionary to Hong Kong, and eventually founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Randall also became a close associate of James and Ellen Hebden, Charles Chawner, R.E. McAlister, George Chambers, Frank Bartleman, A.H. Argue, and others.

Returning again to Egypt in 1912, Randall joined with other missionaries in founding a Pentecostal church in central Cairo. He translated several Pentecostal papers into Arabic such as The Good Report and The Morning Star. Some of these publications were also distributed to Syria, Palestine, Transjordan, Iraq, India, and other Arabic-speaking countries. He also helped to establish mission centers in Alexandria, Tanta, Port Said, etc. He was ordained by Robert E. McAlister, George Chambers, and C.E. Baker in 1919. Randall and his wife, Faith, were appointed as missionaries with the Assemblies of God on Dec. 19, 1922. Eventually Randall was made the superintendent of the Assemblies of God of Egypt. He worked closely with Lillian Trasher, Charles Doney, Ansel Post, Hugh and Mary Cadwalder, Mabel Dean, and other early AG missionaries in Egypt.

During the spring of 1932, Randall wrote several reports of a mighty revival in Egypt. At Beni Ady, a large cluster of four villages with a total population numbering 40,000, he reported ongoing revival. “In the course of three days and nights 60 souls received the Holy Ghost baptism, some of them in the meeting place, and others in their homes,” said Randall. At a women’s meeting during the daytime, 25 were baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Randall also reported opposition to the work of God, but he reported, “Men buying and selling are sometimes not able to speak their own language, but in some foreign tongue. This is for a sign.” The services were being held in temporary quarters with the congregation nightly reaching 600 “or as many can be crowded into the present place of meeting.” “The whole village is stirred, and there is great joy,” he continued. Someone compared it to Los Angeles in 1906 in Egyptian form.

Near the end of his life, he suffered a lengthy illness. When the end was near, he declared, “My traveling days are about over.” He told his nurse, “Tomorrow you are going to bury me.” The next day he passed away on March 11, 1938, concluding over 40 years of ministry, most of which was spent in Egypt. Andrew Crouch succeeded him as superintendent.

Besides being the catalyst to bring thousands to a saving knowledge of Christ, Herbert Randall was also the means of leading great numbers into the deeper Christian life through word, pen, and his Spirit-filled example.

Read H.E. Randall’s article, “A Remarkable Revival in Egypt,” on page 8 of the March 19, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

See also Dan Sheffield’s article, “Herbert E. Randall: A Canadian Holiness Missionary in Egypt and his Quest for More of the Holy Spirit,” published in the Canadian Journal of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity, which was an important source in the writing of this article.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Are the Sign Gifts in Evidence Today?” by J. Narver Gortner

• “Scriptural Holiness,” by W.E. Moody

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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Briggs Dingman: How an Evangelical Minister Overcame Prejudice Against Pentecostals

This Week in AG History — January 24, 1948

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 27 January 2022

Briggs P. Dingman (1900-1968) was a renaissance man — he served as a minister, musician, author, linguist, and educator. He spent the first half of his ministry in Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches and as an officer in the Salvation Army. Much to his own surprise, however, he spent the latter half of his ministry in Pentecostal churches and schools.

Dingman, who shared his testimony in the Jan. 24, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, had a broadly informed worldview. He attended Dickinson College, Moody Bible Institute, and Xenia Theological Seminary (a Presbyterian school). He was studious, had a working knowledge of at least five languages, and authored a novel, By Ways Appointed (Moody Press, 1935). Dingman considered himself to be “open-minded” on theological matters. Yet early in his ministry he reflexively rejected Pentecostal claims without first examining them.

It is easy to dismiss people and beliefs, Dingman came to realize, based on a caricature. He had little actual experience with Pentecostals. He had encountered some Pentecostals whom he deemed to be “ultrademonstrative,” and he had read that others handled snakes. He assumed Pentecostals to be deluded or even demon-possessed.

Dingman’s views of Pentecostals began to change when he came into contact with a young Assemblies of God minister. They became friends, and Dingman grew to admire his spiritual life. He felt “forced to admit” that the Assemblies of God preacher and his wife had a closer walk with the Lord than he did.

When Dingman took a different pastorate, he became friends with another Pentecostal minister who was overflowing with joy and spiritual depth. Dingman began developing an internal conflict when it came to Pentecostals — he admired their spirituality but pitied them for believing a “delusion.”

An Assemblies of God pastor who befriended Dingman wisely appealed to Dingman’s desire to be open-minded. He encouraged Dingman to read Assemblies of God literature and to judge for himself whether Pentecostal beliefs were biblical. One of the first books he read was by Robert Chandler Dalton – a Baptist chaplain who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and who transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God. Dingman was stunned. Dingman had been a longtime friend of Dalton. 

Dingman voraciously read book after book about Pentecostal beliefs. He came to two conclusions: 1) anti-Pentecostal books were written by people who apparently had very limited knowledge of actual Pentecostal teachings; and 2) Scripture teaches that the baptism of the Holy Spirit often follows conversion. His preconceived anti-Pentecostal prejudices shattered, Dingman determined that he would seek a deeper relationship with God, even if it meant identifying with the Pentecostals.

Shortly afterward, Dingman was baptized in the Holy Spirit. He recounted, “there was no hysterical outburst or extreme manifestation” — his soul was simply flooded by a “real visitation of the Holy Spirit.”

How would Dingman’s former ministry colleagues react? Dingman anticipated criticism: “Doubtless many of my former pastor and laymen friends feel that now I am deluded, but I feel that I may be permitted to exclaim, “Oh, sweet delusion!” 

Dingman explained how the baptism in the Holy Spirit brought him into a deeper relationship with God, wondering how spiritual depth could be called a “delusion.”

He wrote: “If having a continuous spirit of praise to my heavenly Father is delusion, then may it continue! If having a walk with God that was never before so rich, is delusion, then may I grovel in this ignorance until He comes! If having His daily blessings poured out upon my life in measure never before so copious is delusion, then this experience is an anomaly if there ever was one. No, far from suffering from a delusion, I have found the light, and what a light it is!”

Dingman cast his lot with the Pentecostals and never looked back. He transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God in 1945. He went on to serve as a professor at two Assemblies of God schools: Northeastern Bible Institute (Framingham, Massachusetts) and Southwestern Bible Institute (now Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Waxahachie, Texas). He also taught at Elim Bible Institute (Lima, New York).

Briggs Dingman’s testimony illustrates the prejudice that often existed against early Pentecostals. Despite this prejudice, however, the Pentecostal movement became one of the largest revival and renewal movements in Christian history. Countless people, including seasoned ministers like Dingman, found spiritual depth and renewal within Pentecostalism.

Read Dingman’s article, “Is Pentecost a Delusion?” on pages 3 and 7 of the Jan. 24, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Precious Friend, or an Offence – Which is Christ to You?” by Lee Krupnick

• “The Revival in Ireland in 1859” 

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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The Prosperity Gospel and Worldliness: A Warning from Early Pentecostal Leader W.T. Gaston

This Week in AG History —August 16, 1953

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 19 August 2021

Will the Pentecostal movement follow “the path of gradual surrender to carnal forces” like most Christian renewal movements before it? This question, posed by former General Superintendent W. T. Gaston (1925-1929) in the Aug. 16, 1953, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, remains strikingly relevant. 

Gaston wrote that history’s “tragic lesson” is that a church’s solid foundation does not prevent corruption from “fleshly elements within.” He offered this warning at a time when certain media-savvy Pentecostal healing evangelists had been exposed for their ungodly lifestyles, but who continued to promote themselves and their unbiblical message that God guarantees financial prosperity to believers.

Gaston suggested, “If we are to have a future that is better or even comparable and worthy of our past, we will need to learn over again some of the lessons of yesterday.” One of the important lessons to rediscover, he wrote, was the importance of promoting “pure, undefiled” religion.

He recalled that many early 20th-century Pentecostal pioneers were bivocational ministers, that often met in homes or rented buildings, and that most were not very impressive by the standards of the surrounding culture. However, they did not need worldly goods and accolades in order for the Holy Spirit to accomplish great things through their lives and ministries.

Gaston wrote that he witnessed an “utter disregard for poverty or wealth or station in life” in the early Pentecostal movement. Yet “those rugged pioneers,” he noted, “had something that made them attractive and convincing.” The contrast between the attitudes of the world and the early Pentecostals was striking. According to Gaston, early believers were “completely satisfied without the world’s glittering tinsel, and content to be the objects of its scornful hatred.” 

Believers must carefully guard their hearts, Gaston warned, or face a dissipation of this consecration and sacrificial spirit. He noted, as an example, that some ministers in the 1950s seemed to “project themselves and their projects instead of promoting the common cause and sharing equally in the honors and sufferings of the common brotherhood.”

Gaston identified a love of money as a danger to the Pentecostal movement and an impediment to the gospel. We “must draw the line against all comers with a money complex,” he asserted, in order “to retain its good sense and religious balance.” He lamented that certain high-profile evangelists promised God’s blessings to those who would give money to their ministries. He wrote, “Ministers of the gospel who lay up treasure on earth while they preach that people should lay theirs up in heaven are neither consistent nor worthy.” Gaston suspected that the “selfless, lowly Jesus” would “refuse to go along” with such ministers.

Furthermore, Gaston was troubled by sensationalism promoted by some of the big-name preachers in his day. “Full-orbed religion throbs with sensation,” he wrote. However, he warned against “unbridled sensationalism,” which could easily bring “disillusionment and disintegration” to those who have not developed a strong faith. Gaston concluded with “a simple appeal for consistency and reality in our religious approach,” praying that the Pentecostal movement would “purge itself of practices or propaganda patterns which are not compatible with the spirit and letter of the New Testament.”

Gaston’s article offers several important lessons to 21st-century Pentecostals. First, Pentecostals should carefully guard their hearts. History demonstrates that selfishness and worldliness tend to creep into the church, and that even Christian renewal movements can drift from their founding ideals. Second, early Pentecostalism grew amidst widespread scorn and persecution as believers joyfully embodied consecrated, holy living. Third, Pentecostals can avoid the dangers of extremism and sensationalism by being solidly grounded in Scripture and biblical values.

Read W. T. Gaston’s article, “Guarding our Priceless Heritage,” in the Aug. 16, 1953, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue: 

• “Eternity-Proof,” by Arne Vick

• “Sunday Schools around the World” 

And many more! 

Click here to read this issue now:

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

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

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

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Edith Mae Pennington: The Beauty Queen Who Left Hollywood for a Pentecostal Pulpit

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This Week in AG History —July 4, 1931

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 08 July 2021

Edith Mae Pennington (1902-1970) traded the glamour and fame of Hollywood for a Pentecostal pulpit. Her testimony, published in 1931 in the Pentecostal Evangel, shared her journey from small town America to Hollywood and back again.

Reared in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Edith accepted Christ at a young age in her family’s evangelical church. By high school, she had become a ravishing young woman and lost interest in spiritual things. She enjoyed popularity and, she wrote, “the love of the world gripped my heart.” She spent her time going to dances and engaging in the frivolities of the world. She did not intentionally reject God, but nonetheless drifted away from her faith.

After high school, Edith attended college. She intended to become a teacher but soon found herself on another path. She entered a beauty pageant in 1921 and beat out 7,000 other young women to capture the title, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the United States.”

Edith’s life would never be the same. Gifts and money were showered upon her, and she received numerous invitations to speak at luncheons and christen buildings and public works projects. “I was dined and feted, flattered, and honored,” she recalled. She wore expensive clothing, had a car and chauffeur, and regularly made guest appearances at theaters.

Even though Edith seemed to have everything, she felt empty on the inside. “It was very exciting, alluring, inviting — yet it did not satisfy,” she wrote. During her travels across America, she decided to try the screen rather than the stage. She settled in Hollywood, hoping for a change.

Edith’s mother was her constant companion, helping to protect her and line up events. But her mother’s most important work, perhaps, was accomplished in the prayer closet. Edith noted, “Mother would be behind the curtain praying for me at my request and her desire — for God to help me and not let me make any mistakes.”

These prayers were soon answered, but not before witnessing the depravity of Hollywood. Edith appeared in several motion pictures, but became increasingly “shocked” at the “wicked world” surrounding her. “I was horrified at the immorality and the things I witnessed,” she wrote, noting that she had “several narrow escapes which frightened me.” She realized that her hopes for fame and fortune had been misplaced. “My air castles shattered at my feet,” she cried.

In her despair, Edith turned to God. She began attending church and heard the gospel preached by the power of the Holy Spirit. She felt conviction for her sins and “awakened to the startling realization that I was a sinner, lost and undone.” She began to read the Bible, which seemed to make everything “brighter” and her “soul lighter.” However, she hesitated to make the decision to become a true follower of Christ.

Edith knew that she would have to leave her lifestyle behind if she recommitted herself to Christ. She understood that there would need to be a parting of ways: “One way led to a career, fame, and fortune, but there was sin, the world, and a lost soul at the end. The other way revealed the Cross, and Jesus the Savior who had died for me that peace, joy, and forgiveness might be mine.”

Initially, Edith tried to have both God and the world. She went to church and also went to theaters and parties where sin abounded and where God was dishonored. She was miserable and ultimately recognized that she needed “deliverance from the bondage of the world.”

She visited churches that she described as “nominal,” and they were unable to help her find victory from her bondage to sin. She knew she wanted to live for the Lord, but she could not seem to separate herself from the destructive paths of the world. She experienced painful cognitive dissonance. She liked dressing like a Hollywood starlet, but deep inside she knew that she could not serve both God and flesh.

Finally, Edith decided to visit a Pentecostal church. She had heard that Pentecostal churches believed in the power of God. And Edith knew that she needed God’s power. She attended several Sunday evening services at a Pentecostal church in Los Angeles in October 1925. One evening, after a message in tongues seemed to be a direct rebuke from God, she ran to the altar and fully surrendered her life to God. She began to weep uncontrollably and then experienced unexplainable peace and quietness. She recalled, “I was happy, and felt so free, so light, so clean.”

The next night Edith returned to church. This time, she decided not to wear her characteristically gaudy jewelry. She received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and felt God call her to preach the gospel. Edith returned to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where, in 1930, she became the pastor of the Assemblies of God congregation.

Edith Mae Pennington spent the rest of her life in ministry as a pastor and noted evangelist. Throngs of people would come to hear “The Most Beautiful Girl in the United States” share how she left the lights of Hollywood for the light of the Cross. Edith’s decision to forsake the world and to follow Christ changed the course of not only her life, but thousands of others.

Read the article by Edith Mae Pennington, “From the Footlights to the Light of the Cross,” published serially in the July 4, 1931, and July 11, 1931, issues of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in the July 4, 1931, issue:

• “The Overflowing Stream,” by P. C. Nelson

• “Is Life Worth Living?” by Myer Pearlman

And many more!

Click these links to read the July 4th and July 11th issues now.

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

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

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

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50 Years after the Azusa Street Revival, Donald Gee Gave this Warning about Miracles

This Week in AG History —April 28, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 29 April 2021

Miracles have played an important role in the histories of both the Early Church and the Pentecostal movement. However, just as the Apostle Paul had to correct excesses in the first-century church at Corinth, 20th-century Pentecostal leaders were faced in some quarters with an overemphasis on miracles. British Assemblies of God leader Donald Gee (1891-1966) wrote an article, published in the April 28, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, in which he affirmed the miraculous but also called for balance.

“The unvarnished story of the New Testament reads like a refreshing gust of fresh air,” Gee wrote. The New Testament “not only blows away the stuffiness of our unbelief, but also cools the fever of our fanaticism.” Gee taught that miracles should be part of “any truly Pentecostal revival,” but he also warned against extremism.

Miracles naturally attract a crowd. But Gee observed that the existence of miracles did not necessarily signify repentance or a change of heart. He urged readers to pay greater attention to the “less spectacular ministries” that are necessary to disciple believers.

Writing only 50 years after the Azusa Street Revival, Gee wrote that he had witnessed “a constant swing of the pendulum” regarding the emphasis on miracles in the Pentecostal movement. When revival breaks out and miracles occur, it is almost predictable that some people will go to extremes in chasing after miracles. Then, predictably, others will react to the extremists by being more orderly and conservative.

Pentecostals should be neither unbalanced fanatics nor overly cautious regarding miracles, according to Gee. Instead, he identified “a strong central body of believers, constituting the very heart of the Pentecostal churches, who do not want extremes either way.” These balanced believers desire “leadership based on the Word of God,” Gee wrote, rather than based on personality or preference.

Gee’s repeated admonitions to avoid unbiblical extremes earned him the moniker, “The Apostle of Balance.” Gee was nurtured in the fires of the early Pentecostal revivals, and he was one of the Pentecostal movement’s foremost advocates. So when he spoke about the need for balance, Pentecostals of all stripes listened.

Read the entire article by Donald Gee, “After That — Miracles,” on pages 8-9 of the April 28, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Great Faith,” by Louis M. Hauff

• “Power in the Word,” by Mrs. C. Nuzum

• “Missions in Northern Alaska,” by B. P. Wilson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.”

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

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

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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

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