Tag Archives: Persecution

Secret Police Dossier on Persecuted Bulgarian Pentecostal Leader Deposited at Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

StefanovStefan Stefanov (1948-1988), a deacon in the Assemblies of God church in Shumen, Bulgaria, was persecuted by the communist government in the 1970s and 1980s. Stefan’s father, Nikola, had started the Shumen congregation in the late 1940s and was imprisoned following the infamous Pastoral Trial of 1948-1949. The communist government, aiming to stamp out Christianity, labeled his son, Stefan, a “fanatic” because he refused to compromise his faith.  The secret police told Stefan that he must not allow children to attend church services, which were held in his house.  He refused to obey, was beaten numerous times, and was placed under house arrest and exiled to surrounding villages for three years (1975-1978). Shortly before he died in 1988, Stefan received a prophecy that he would not leave Bulgaria, but that his testimony would travel around the world through his sons, Borislav and Nikolai.

After the Bulgarian communist government fell, Borislav went to the archives of the secret police and was allowed to photocopy his father’s dossier. The dossier includes confiscated personal correspondence, transcripts of intercepted phone conversations, and reports from informants. Nikolai and his wife, Michelle, today deposited a copy of the dossier at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center is committed to preserving and sharing the testimonies of Pentecostals from the persecuted church!

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 Pentecostal, Philosopher, Linguist

Vazakas2

This Week in AG History — September 2, 1962

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 1 September 2016

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 September 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, now 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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Gustav Schmidt Describes the Horror of Soviet Persecution of Pentecostals in the 1930s

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Assemblies of God missionary Ivan Voronaev (center) meets with new leaders of the Union on Christians of Evangelical Faith in Odessa, Ukraine (September 1926). Voronaev and countless other Slavic Pentecostals would later be imprisoned and martyred for their faith.


This Week in AG History — August 4, 1934

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 4 August 2016

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the newly formed Soviet Union launched a campaign to eradicate Christianity within its borders. It relentlessly pursued a policy of militant atheism. Clergy were imprisoned or murdered, churches were demolished or converted to other uses, and an intensive propaganda campaign sought to convince people that Christianity was a harmful superstition. It was in this context of persecution that the Pentecostal movement among Slavs (peoples of the former Soviet Union) formed its identity.

The Pentecostal movement found fertile soil in Russia. Early evangelists, impacted by the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) and the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909), first brought the Pentecostal movement to Russia a decade before the 1917 revolution. Prior to the revolution, the Orthodox church occupied a favored place in society and cooperated with the czarist government to persecute both political insurgents and religious minorities, including Pentecostals.

Following the revolution, communist government officials began persecuting their former persecutors, seeking to stamp out the Orthodox church. The government soon targeted other churches, including Baptists, Mennonites, Seventh Day Adventists, and Pentecostals.

While the Soviet Union ostensibly guaranteed its citizens the “freedom of religion,” this freedom only allowed individuals the right to believe and not the right to practice their faith. If Christians practiced their faith, they became lawbreakers and were subject to fines, imprisonment, or exile to Siberia.

Laws forbade Christians to hold church services, to provide religious instruction to their children, or to share the gospel. The government further marginalized Christians by excluding them from professional and government positions.

Gustav H. Schmidt, a pioneer Assemblies of God missionary to Poland, wrote a series of three articles, published in the Pentecostal Evangel in 1934, which described the suffering endured by Pentecostals in the Soviet Union.

Slavic Pentecostals developed a deep faith burnished by persecution. Schmidt wrote, “In those prisons and places of exile matured that heroism for Christ which shrinks from no difficulties.” The communists mistakenly believed they could quash the Christian faith by destroying church buildings and imprisoning pastors.

Prisons became the proving grounds for Christian leaders. According to Schmidt, “there were many thousands of true believers who had been trained in the school of suffering and persecution.”

These Pentecostals, Schmidt wrote, became “a valiant army of gospel workers through whose testimony and preaching a mighty revival soon swept over the vast plains of Russia.” By 1930, approximately 500 Pentecostal churches had been organized in Russia and Ukraine. Each convert to Christ knew that their decision would cost them dearly.

One of the most insidious Soviet plans, according to Schmidt, was the insistence that the government, and not the parents, be in charge of the education of the youth. Government schools, hostile to Christianity, attempted to undermine the faith of the parents.

Schmidt wrote, “A mother who sends her children to school knows that they will be taught to hate God, and Christianity will be presented to them in such a way as to make it appear ridiculous to them and this in an endeavor to cause them to despise the very idea of religion.”

Laws prohibited parents from providing religious teaching to their own children. But many Christian parents obeyed a higher law. Schmidt suggested that “a mother in Russia who loves Jesus Christ will, in spite of such rules, teach her child to pray and to live a life of respect and godliness.”

Teachers would ask young students, who were likely to tell the truth, whether their parents taught them about religion. In this way, many students unwittingly let the government know that their parents were committing treason.

Another attempt to destroy families and the freedom of conscience, according to Schmidt, was the collectivization of agriculture. Eighty percent of Russians lived on farms, so when the government took over all farms, it made farmers into slaves of the state. This was an attempt to “destroy the (peasant’s) home and rob him of his privacy.” Agricultural workers were forced to live in communal buildings, their children were taken away, and it was difficult for people to practice their faith without being noticed.

“In Russia the follower of Christ is constantly beset with trouble and is always in danger,” Schmidt recounted. “He has to be ready to be torn away from his loved ones any time, Bolshevik police will break into a home during the night, after twelve o’clock maybe and bid the husband, father, or son to accompany them, and with a bleeding and broken heart they bid their loved ones a hurried last good-by.”

Prison sentences, consisting of hard labor, frequently lasted 10 or 20 years. Many died within several years due to malnutrition and disease.

Persecution separated consecrated believers from nominal Christians. Schmidt wrote, “Anyone who is zealous for Jesus in Russia is marked for arrest and this makes Christian activity hazardous. Therefore we find no half-hearted Christians in Russia . . . Such who are not fully consecrated will not be able to stand the strain for any length of time but will step over into the enemy’s camp.”

Despite great dangers confronting Christians, the Slavic church saw no shortage of leaders. Unpaid elders led the congregations, which met in homes. Elders took turns preaching and, when one was arrested, another took his place. Congregational leaders did not receive qualification from a Bible college (there were none), but from their willingness to suffer and die for Christ.

Soviet authorities predicted that every church would be destroyed by May 1, 1937. But Schmidt responded that the true church does not consist of buildings. There are “real Christians in Russia,” he wrote, and they “are dying for their faith . . . We know that the Bolshevists will never be able to destroy Christianity.”

Communist persecution not only failed to destroy Christianity; it helped to create a very strong and vibrant Pentecostal movement in the former Soviet Union. Today, there are over 1.2 million Pentecostals in the former Soviet Union in churches that are in a fraternal relationship with Assemblies of God World Missions.

Beginning in the late 1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev began to allow persecuted religious minorities to emigrate, many put down roots in America. An estimated 350,000 Slavic Pentecostals from this recent wave of immigration now live in the United States. While most are in congregations that are either independent or loosely affiliated with one of several Slavic Pentecostal unions, many are deciding to join the Assemblies of God.

In 2002, several Slavic Pentecostal churches in California joined the Assemblies of God and formed the Slavic Fellowship, which provided both a structure for Slavs to organize themselves within the Assemblies of God and also representation on the Fellowship’s General Presbytery. In September 2008, the leaders of the Slavic Fellowship, in addition to other Slavic Pentecostals interested in affiliating with the Assemblies of God, came together in Renton, Washington, and organized the National Slavic District. The district gives greater strength and visibility to Slavic Pentecostals, both within the Assemblies of God and within the broader society.

The Slavs, with deep faith burnished by decades of persecution, are poised to provide leadership within the broader church. And their leadership could not have come at a better time, as they have already proven their mettle in a culture that is hostile to biblical values.

Read the series of three articles by Gustav H. Schmidt, “Bolshevism Battling Against Christianity,” in the following issues of the Pentecostal Evangel:

Click here now for the July 21, 1934, issue.

Click here for the July 28, 1934, issue.

Click here for the Aug. 4, 1934, issue.

Also featured in the August 4, 1934, issue:

* “The Merry Heart,” by Donald Gee

*  “The Secret of an Abiding Pentecost,” by Leonard Gittings

*  “Spoiled Christians,” by E. F. M. Staudt

And many more!

Click here to read the August 4, 1934, 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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AG Missionary Katherine Voronaev Escaped USSR 65 Years Ago, Revealed Horrors of Persecution

Ekaterina Veronaev mugshot

Mugshot of Katherine Voronaev during her imprisonment in Soviet slave labor camps, circa 1930s

This Week in AG History — November 27, 1960

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 25 November 2015

Ivan and Katherine Voronaev, pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to the Soviet Union, were exiled to Siberian prison camps in the 1930s and believed to be dead. But 65 years ago, Katherine was released and made her way to New York City. She shared her story in 1960 with Pentecostal Evangel readers, offering a rare glimpse into the life of persecuted Christians under Soviet rule.

The Voronaevs spent most of their adult lives as fugitives or in prison. Ivan and Katherine fled Russia, the land of their birth, in 1908 after Ivan was court-martialed and threatened with a politicized trial and likely death. His crime? Ivan, a young officer in the Tsar’s army, had recently converted to Christ and felt conviction that he should no longer fight as a professional warrior. He laid down his arms and told his superiors that, from then on, his only weapon “would be the Word of God — the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The Voronaevs ended up in America in 1912 by way of Turkmenistan and Manchuria.

In the U.S., Ivan became a Baptist pastor and evangelist and ministered among Slavic immigrants in San Francisco and Seattle. In 1917, Voronaev moved to New York City to accept the pastorate of a small Russian Baptist congregation. Two years later, Voronaev’s daughter, Vera, was Spirit-baptized and spoke in tongues while attending Glad Tidings Tabernacle, an Assemblies of God church, with a friend. Voronaev began to study Scripture and became convinced that supernatural spiritual gifts did not cease, but continued to be available to Christians. Spiritually hungry, Voronaev prayed for and received a similar experience. In the summer of 1919, Voronaev and about 20 others formed a new Pentecostal congregation — the Russian Christian Apostolic Mission in New York.

Several months later at a home prayer meeting, Voronaev received a prophetic message, “Voronaev, Voronaev, go to Russia!” He ignored the message at first, but after he sensed the same message in his personal devotions, he made preparations to return to his homeland. This would not be an easy task. The Tsar recently had been overthrown, and political, religious, and social turmoil had produced much suffering in Russia. Voronaev joined the Assemblies of God and received official appointment as a missionary. With several Slavic families from his congregation, they made the arduous journey back to Eastern Europe.

Voronaev and his team of missionaries left the United States in 1920 and set up their headquarters in Odessa, Ukraine. They fanned out across the Soviet Union, preached the gospel, and established Pentecostal churches. In 1926, Voronaev organized the General-Ukrainian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith, which provided fellowship for the growing number of churches. By 1928, the Union consisted of about 400 congregations with approximately 20,000 members.

U.S. Assemblies of God churches provided financial and prayer support, including money for bicycles for Slavic ministers. Voronaev regularly wrote English-language reports of the Slavic revival, which American supporters read in the Pentecostal Evangel.

The Voronaevs and their ministerial cohorts enjoyed about 10 years of freedom to evangelize across the Soviet Union. Then, in January 1930, authorities arrested all of the officers and many other leaders of the Union, including Voronaev.

Katherine Voronaev, in the 1960 Pentecostal Evangel article, recalled in painful detail how “the communists herded the 800 pastors and Christian leaders into freight cars as though they were cattle and shipped them to Siberia.” She continued: “The horrors of that journey were indescribable. They had no food nor water, no sanitation, no provision for rest, and poor ventilation. The survivors were then forced into slave labor.”

The Soviet authorities thought that the churches would die if their leaders were taken away. But new leaders emerged. Katherine Voronaev was among those who began ministering secretly, but three years later police came and arrested her and sent her to a slave labor camp located 2,000 miles away from her husband.

Katherine later made an appeal to be placed in the same slave labor camp as Ivan. The request was granted, and for three years they were able to live together in prison. They spent long days doing hard labor — Ivan in a forest and quarry, and Katherine doing cooking and scrubbing. But they could be together at night when, under the cloak of darkness, they would take long walks through the snow in a forest. They prayed and praised God during those times, and “heaven seemed very near.” Life was hard, but Katherine recounted that they were not unhappy. They had each other.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Assemblies of God made great efforts to secure the release of the Voronaevs. The Soviet government told the Americans that they would free Voronaev upon payment of a large sum of money. U.S. Assemblies of God members raised the money, which they gave to the Soviet government. Voronaev was temporarily freed in 1936, but almost immediately he was rearrested and was never heard from again.

Katherine was released from prison in 1935 and had a measure of freedom. For years she went from camp to camp, trying without success to locate her husband. She was imprisoned a final time in 1949, after she tried to write to her children who lived in America. She was charged with being a counterrevolutionary and a spy.

The Pentecostal Evangel article recounted Katherine’s time in solitary confinement: “Her captors tried to hypnotize and brainwash her, but without success. She would close her eyes and silently pray. Her rat-infested cell had a concrete floor upon which she was forced to sleep without any bedding and she was clad only in a few worn-out garments. She was watched by the soldiers constantly through a peep hole.”

Soldiers waited for Katherine to have an emotional breakdown, but she instead felt the presence of God and kept remembering God’s promise: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Despite a year of brutal torture, the article recounted, “her spirit remained free and she kept a song in her heart.”

The 1953 death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin resulted in greater religious freedom, and Katherine was released from prison. But there was still great fear of reprisal, and she had to be very cautious. A son living in California discovered that Katherine was still alive and, through the intervention of the Eisenhower administration, Katherine was allowed to leave the Soviet Union in 1960 and come to the U.S. Upon her death in 1965, she still didn’t know whether her husband was alive or dead. After the fall of Soviet Union, documents were discovered that Ivan Voronaev had died in a slave labor camp in 1937.

The Voronaevs’ story wasn’t unique. Persecution separated consecrated believers from nominal Christians. Gustav H. Schmidt, Assemblies of God missionary to Slavic lands, wrote in 1934: “Anyone who is zealous for Jesus in Russia is marked for arrest and this makes Christian activity hazardous. Therefore we find no halfhearted Christians in Russia…Such who are not fully consecrated will not be able to stand the strain for any length of time but will step over into the enemy’s camp.”

Communist persecution not only failed to destroy Christianity; it helped to create a strong and vibrant Pentecostal movement in the former Soviet Union. In 2014, there were over 1,135,000 Pentecostals in the former Soviet Union in churches that are in a fraternal relationship with Assemblies of God World Missions.

Beginning in the late 1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev began to allow persecuted religious minorities to emigrate, many put down roots in the U.S. An estimated 300,000 Slavic Pentecostals from this recent wave of immigration now live in the United States. While most are in congregations that are either independent or loosely affiliated with one of several Slavic Pentecostal unions, many are deciding to join the Assemblies of God.

In 2002, several Slavic Pentecostal churches in California joined the Assemblies of God and formed the Slavic Fellowship, which provided both a structure for Slavs to organize themselves within the Assemblies of God and also representation on the Fellowship’s General Presbytery. In September 2008, leaders of the Slavic Fellowship, in addition to other Slavic Pentecostals interested in affiliating with the Assemblies of God, came together in Renton, Washington, and organized the National Slavic District.

The legacy of Ivan and Katherine Voronaev lives on in their spiritual descendants who now live in America. With deep faith burnished by decades of persecution, Slavic-American Pentecostals are poised to provide leadership in the broader church. And their leadership could not have come at a better time, as they have already proven their mettle in a culture that is hostile to biblical values.

Read the article by Ruth Demetrus, “Back from Siberia,” in the Nov. 27, 1960, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions are 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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Miracles, Growth, and Persecution: Bulgarian Pentecostalism in the 1930s

Bulgarian Pentecostal leader Nicholas Nikoloff, with wife Martha, son Paul, and daughter Ruth-Marie Nikoloff, 1937.

Bulgarian Pentecostal leader Nicholas Nikoloff, with wife Martha, son Paul, and daughter Ruth-Marie Nikoloff, 1937.

This Week in AG History — July 9, 1932

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 09 Jul 2015

Early Bulgarian Pentecostals witnessed great growth while enduring great persecution. Nicholas Nikoloff wrote an account of the Bulgarian believers’ deep faith and suffering in the July 9, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Nikoloff was intimately familiar with the subject of his article. He served as general superintendent of the Union of Evangelical Pentecostal Churches in Bulgaria from 1928 until 1931, when he moved to the United States.

“The striking thing in Bulgaria is the great spiritual hunger of the villagers,” Nikoloff wrote. Miracles were common, according to Nikoloff, and “some of the believers have a real gift of healing.”

Bulgarians fanned the Pentecostal flame by publishing two periodicals and numerous tracts, which they distributed widely. A number of Bulgarian young people received formal theological education at a Pentecostal Bible school in Danzig, and others took local evening Bible courses.

This Pentecostal progress attracted the attention of government officials and local religious leaders, who tried to quash the growing movement.

Nikoloff recounted, “The believers were severely persecuted. Some were imprisoned. Many of them were arrested, taken through the streets and people made fun of them. Others were forbidden to even pray in their own homes, and threatened severely by certain local authorities.”

Despite these difficulties, Nikoloff reported that “God gave victory and liberty was granted.” This acceptance was gained in several communities because of healings of young people who were demon possessed or lame. Pentecostals continued to grow and, by World War II, constituted the majority of Protestants in Bulgaria.

Read the entire article by Nicholas Nikoloff, “The Signs Follow in Bulgaria,” on page 6 of the July 9, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Two Types of Spirituality,” by A. G. Ward

• “An Interesting Trip in the Fiji Islands,” by Lawrence Borst

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

Leave a comment

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How Compassion Ministries and Miracles Fueled Growth in the Assemblies of God in India

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This Week in AG History–June 20, 1925
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 18 June 2015

The Assemblies of God, from its earliest years, has been ministering the gospel in word and deed around the world. The June 20, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel highlighted the work of an early Assemblies of God mission located in Nawabganj, a city in northern India near the border of Nepal, which operated ministries to help the poverty-stricken and disadvantaged of India.

A boys’ school at the Nawabganj mission rescued street children and nourished their souls, bodies, and minds. The school, equipped with modern living quarters for about seventy boys, provided a safe, healthy environment and “intellectual and practical training.” Technical training included weaving, carpentry and machine work in the school’s “industrial department.”

The mission also ministered to those affected by the contagious, skin-eating disease of leprosy. While the broader society often rejected lepers, the mission attempted to affirm their dignity as humans and provided them with physical comfort and the hope of eternal life with Christ.

The mission’s work among women was termed “zenana” — an Urdu word referring to women. Women missionaries ministered to women, often widows or those who had experienced extreme poverty or suffering. The mission, according to the article, provided a home for society’s “most unfortunate victims.” Many of these women became Christians, and prayer became an important part of their lives.

In addition to these works of compassion, the mission was home to a vibrant evangelistic ministry. Indian Christians went into the surrounding villages and preached the gospel. Persecution against those preachers, according to the article, was “beyond endurance and almost unbelievable.” However, the preaching of the word was not in vain. As these indigenous Christians ministered in the face of incredible opposition, the truth of the gospel was confirmed by acts of compassion and by miracles of deliverance and healing. One by one, people repented of their sins and accepted Christ.

The mission at Nawabganj demonstrates how the Assemblies of God, since its inception, has encouraged holistic ministry to spiritual, intellectual, and physical needs. The Nawabganj mission built its institutions to meet the needs of the community’s most impoverished — those who had been rejected by the broader society. These works of compassion, coupled with miracles and prayer, gave credibility to the gospel, which allowed Indian Christians to successfully plant churches across northern India despite stiff opposition.

Read the entire article, “More about the India Mission Stations,” by William M. Faux, on page 10 of the June 20, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
• “The Second Coming of Christ,” by Finis J. Dake
• “Mexican Border Work Prospers,” by H. C. Ball
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

Leave a comment

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United in and with Christ


This Week in AG History–December 15, 1917
By William Molenaar

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 15 Dec 2014 – 8:44 PM CST

Ninety-seven years ago, today, an article was published titled, “United in and with Christ,” by Andrew D. Urshan. It was originally a message given at the Pentecostal Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and released in the December 15, 1917, issue of the Weekly Evangel. Urshan opens his message by singing, “Jesus only, Jesus ever; Jesus all in all we sing; Saviour, Baptizer and Healer, Glorious Lord and coming King.”

Andrew D. Urshan (1884-1967), was an early Assemblies of God missionary to Iran. He founded a Persian Pentecostal mission in Chicago in 1908 and was ordained by William Durham in 1910. Urshan wrote several articles in the Weekly Evangel between 1914 and 1918.

In this 1917 article, Urshan points out that the “Baptism of the Holy Ghost make Jesus real.” He also observes that the power of the Holy Spirit brings God’s children together from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Urshan states, “Since we have received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, there is a spiritual magnetizing power that draws us toward each other. There is a strange holy unity between God’s people.” Urshan goes on to encourage readers to walk in the Spirit, live yielded to Him, and to set our affections upon Him.

Based on Psalm 91, Urshan taught that seven blessings are given to those who truly love God: “(1) I will deliver him; (2) I will set him on high; (3) he shall call upon me and I will answer him; (4) I will be with him in trouble; (5) and honor him; (6) with long life will I satisfy him, (7) and show him my salvation.”

Knowing persecution himself, Urshan pointed out that being in deep loving communion with God will give one the strength and courage to face persecution. According to Urshan, it will also preserve one from falling for the world’s temptations, and prepare one for the coming rapture of the Church.

Read the article, “United in and with Christ,” on pages 4-6 of the December 15, 1917, issue of the Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Hell and Who are Going There,” by William T. McArthur

* “Evangelizing the World,” by A. W. Orwig

* “Not Knowing,” by M. G. Brainard

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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

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

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