Tag Archives: Revival

Pentecost Came to Madagascar in 1910 in a Revival of Signs and Wonders

Madagascar_728

Rev. Rasoamanana, president of the Assemblies of God of Madagascar, and his wife, 1978.

This Week in AG History — November 15, 1930

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 14 November 2019

The Pentecostal movement came to Madagascar, the island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, in 1910 in a great revival with signs and wonders. The revival began when a 60-year-old woman, Ravelonjanahary (known to English-speakers as Ravelo), who was believed to be dead, suddenly sat up during her own funeral. This caused quite a stir in her community, and she became known as “the resurrected one.”

Eighty-nine years ago, the Pentecostal Evangel published an account of Ravelo’s resurrection and the ensuing revival. After being raised from the dead, Ravelo was baptized in the Holy Spirit and felt God tugging at her heart to share her testimony and to preach the gospel. Ravelo initially rejected this call to the ministry. She reasoned, “I cannot speak, I am not clever.” But she heard God’s voice again, saying, “Go! Preach in My Name and heal the sick.”

Ravelo obeyed God’s voice and began ministering in a simple manner. She went from town to town, sharing God’s Word and her testimony. Before praying for a sick person, she would ask, “Have you repented? Have you given up your idols?” Ravelo’s ministry met with remarkable results. All across the countryside, people were healed and began to follow Christ.

At the time, Madagascar was a French Protectorate, and the French governors were hostile to Christianity. They introduced laws restricting the religious freedom of natives of Madagascar, showing particular opposition to Protestants. Ravelo persevered in spite of opposition from the government and society elites.

Local newspapers covered the revival, often defending Ravelo against attacks. One newspaper editorial noted that scoffers questioned whether Ravelo had really been raised from the dead. The editorial reasoned that proof of Ravelo’s resurrection was unnecessary, because the miraculous healings under her ministry were profound, frequent, and undeniable. Another newspaper defended her against charges of sectarianism, stating that she was not trying to build up one particular church.

People who were healed and who became Christians crowded into Lutheran, Reformed, Pentecostal, and other churches. Ravelo’s revival spilled into the broader Protestant church world, and to this day it is common for Madagascar Protestant churches of all stripes to encourage healing, exorcism, and biblical spiritual gifts.

The great revival sparked by Ravelo’s resurrection helped to lay the foundation for the Assemblies of God in Madagascar. In 2018, the Assemblies of God reported over 100,000 adherents in the island nation.

Read the entire article, “How Pentecost Came to Madagascar: A True Story of a Great Revival,” in the Nov. 15, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “War, the Bible, and the Christian,” by Donald Gee

• “Praying William: A Liberian Convert Testifies in His Own Words”

• “Healed of Bright’s Disease and Dropsy,” by Frank B. Anderson

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Missions

Hans Nielsen Hauge: The Persecuted Lay Preacher Who Revived Christianity in Norway

Hans Niesen Hauge

This Week in AG History — June 14, 1947

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, 13 June 2019

Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771-1824), a lay preacher who spent decades promoting revival in Norway, helped to transform the religious and social landscape of his homeland. Hauge’s story was featured in the June 14, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Hauge’s testimony demonstrated that Pentecostals’ emphasis on reform and spiritual renewal had firm roots in the broader Christian tradition.

In 1796, Hauge experienced a spiritual awakening (which he termed “spirit baptism”) while he was ploughing his father’s farm. This experience with God transformed Hauge’s life. He began studying the Bible and shared the gospel and his testimony wherever he found an audience. He preached with great power and insisted that each person should have “living faith.”

According to Hauge, church membership alone did not make a person a Christian. At the time, exceedingly few people attended State churches. In the capital city of Christiania, which had a population of about 10,000, evidence shows that only about 20 people attended regular services in the State church.

Hauge inspired a large movement which revived Christianity in Norway. It is estimated that half of Norwegians experienced salvation under the ministry of Hauge and his fellow evangelists. Hauge not only promoted lay ministry, he also encouraged women to share the gospel. The first female preacher in the Haugean movement, Sara Oust, began preaching in 1799. For the next 100 years, Norway became known as “a land of revivals.”

Hauge not only brought a spiritual rebirth to Norway, but also an economic revival. He established numerous factories and mills and is credited with bringing the industrial revolution to his nation.

The informal network of Christians developed by Hauge challenged the authority of the Lutheran State church. Norway did not have freedom of religious assembly, and it was illegal to hold a religious meeting without a licensed minister present. Although he never departed from Lutheran theology, Hauge was arrested at least 14 times and endured great suffering in jail. His health failed in prison, resulting in Hauge’s premature death.

Hauge’s legacy, in many ways, lives on in the Pentecostal movement. Just as the Haugean movement began to die down, Pentecostalism emerged at the turn of the 20th century. In Norway, early Pentecostals identified themselves in the revival tradition of Hauge.

Hauge’s influence also extended to America. Followers of Hauge who had settled in Minnesota and the Dakotas experienced a revival in the 1890s and early 1900s that included healings and speaking in tongues. When various revival movements coalesced in the early 1900s to form what is now known as the Pentecostal movement, many of these Scandinavian immigrants became leaders within the Pentecostal movement. G. Raymond Carlson (1918-1999), for instance, came from a Norwegian Haugean background in North Dakota and ultimately served as general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1986-1993).

The Pentecostal Evangel article lauded Hauge as “God’s firebrand” and a “martyr at the early age of 53.” But Hauge’s death did not signal the end to the revival movement he started. Rather, the article noted, “It was the beginning of a new day, a new church, and a new Christianity throughout the land.”

Read the entire article, “Beginnings in Norway,” by Armin Gesswein, on page 12 of the June 14, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “An Old-Time Methodist Sermon,” by J. Narver Gortner

• “Neglected Duty,” by Arvid Ohrnell

• “Delivering the Demon-Bound,” by Ernest S. Williams

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Spirituality

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

PrayerRoomTW_728

This Week in AG History — May 18, 1946

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also featured in this issue:

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

• “The Pentecostal Movement,” by Howard Carter

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

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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

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

2 Comments

Filed under Church, History, Spirituality

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

P2351 prayer

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

By Darrin J. Rodgers

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

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

Full Consecration

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

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

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

Results of the Consecrated Life

Various themes arose from this worldview that emphasized full consecration:

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

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

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

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

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

Pentecostalism without Consecration?

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

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

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

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

Need for Renewal

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

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

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

                                                Take My Life and Let It Be

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

_________________________

Quotes on Full Consecration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

________________________________

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

Endnotes:

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

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

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

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

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

6. Ibid., 34.

7. Ibid., 33.

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

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

10. Kerr, 130.

11. Frodsham, 61.

12. Ibid., 27.

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

14. Kerr, 37.

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


 

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Ethics, History, Spirituality, Theology

Danger Signals: How to Tell if a Revival Movement is in Decline

HodgesThis Week in AG History —September 29, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 27 September 2018

“Has the 20th century Pentecostal revival reached the zenith of its spirituality and usefulness, and is it now doomed to fade as a potent force from the modern spiritual scene; or do greater glories still lie ahead?”

This question was posed by Assemblies of God missions leader Melvin Hodges in a 1957 Pentecostal Evangel article. At the time, the modern Pentecostal movement was about 50 years old. Pioneers of the movement were passing from the scene, and memories of the early revivals were fading.

Hodges noted that previous Protestant revival movements originated in “deep spirituality, holiness, and a sense of destiny.” However, they each “lost their fervor and one by one settled down to take their places in the ecclesiastical world as yet another denomination.”

He looked further back into church history, drawing parallels between the early church and Pentecostalism. “The New Testament Church,” he wrote, “gradually lost the purity and power that characterized her apostolic beginnings, and became adulterated by worldliness, greed and paganism as she increased in numbers and influence.” Would the Pentecostal church likewise stray from its biblical ideals and become corrupted by the world?

“We dare not ignore the lessons of history,” Hodges warned. He identified three characteristics of a declining revival movement: 1) a diminishing hunger for God; 2) a lack of concern for holiness; and 3) the loss of the sense of mission and destiny.

While spiritual decline over time is likely, Hodges suggested that it is not inevitable. He admonished readers to rediscover the deep spirituality common among early Pentecostals: “Let hunger for God be reawakened in our hearts. May a walk in holiness, worthy of our vocation, be our goal, and let us consecrate ourselves anew to the fulfilling of our world destiny in the plan of God.”

If Pentecostals draw close to God and commit themselves to His mission, according to Hodges, they “can face the future with confident expectancy that the future holds still greater revelations of the glory of God.”

Read the entire article, “Danger Signals” by Melvin Hodges, on pages 4 and 5 of the Sept. 29, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Taking Christ to the People,” by R. J. Carlson

• “The Silence of the Trinity,” by P. T. Walker

• “The Living Dead,” by Oswald J. Smith

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

1 Comment

Filed under History, Spirituality

Hélène Biolley’s Dining Room, a Parrot, and the Origins of French Pentecostalism

LeCossec1

By the 1950s, Assemblies of God congregations were scattered across France. Here, French Assemblies of God pastor Clement Le Cossec is standing in front of the Assembly of God, Rennes, France, circa 1950.

This Week in AG History — June 30, 1974

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 29 June 2017

Hélène Biolley (1854-1947), a highly educated Swiss linguist, was a catalyst to the formation of the Pentecostal movement in France. In 1974, Assemblies of God missionary R. Kenneth Ware wrote a Pentecostal Evangel article about Biolley’s influence, noting that the French Pentecostal revival started in her dining room. Humorously, he also remembered her quipping that the first Pentecostal “martyr” in France was a parrot!

Biolley was part of the Coeurs purs (Pure Heart) movement — a revival in 19th century Switzerland that encouraged Christians to examine their motives and cleanse their hearts from all wickedness. Biolley coupled this motivation toward inner holiness with social action, becoming active in the Temperance movement, which sought to rescue people from the destructiveness of alcohol.

Biolley moved to France in 1880 to work with a Temperance organization called the French Blue Cross Society. She settled in the harbor city of Le Havre, located on the English Channel, where in 1896 she opened a small Christian hotel and restaurant, Ruban Bleu. The establishment became a center for Temperance meetings, prayer services, and gospel outreach. According to Ware, “She served good meals but without alcoholic drinks, rented clean rooms, and talked about Jesus.”

Many missionaries and evangelists, including those from England, stayed at Ruban Bleu. In 1909, an Anglican vicar, Alexander Boddy, visited and testified about his baptism in the Holy Spirit. She was curious and wanted to learn more. She began inviting other Pentecostals, including Smith Wigglesworth and Gerrit R. Polman, to preach at Ruban Bleu. The dining room of Ruban Bleu became an important early Pentecostal ministry center in France.

Biolley became well known among missionaries for her linguistic skills. She provided French lessons in addition to room and board. Many missionaries headed to French-speaking African colonies first took language lessons from Biolley.

The Pentecostal movement remained relatively small in France until the early 1930s. For years Biolley had prayed that God would send missionaries to France. Her prayers were answered when Douglas Scott, an Englishman who felt a call to minister in Congo, arrived at Ruban Bleu in 1927. Biolley invited Scott to minister at Ruban Bleu. He prayed and preached with power, and several people were miraculously healed.

Biolley asked Scott to devote six months at her mission before going to the Congo. He agreed and returned to Le Havre in 1930, ultimately devoting the rest of his life to spreading the gospel across France. Scott sparked a significant Pentecostal revival and helped bring cohesiveness to the movement through the organization of the Assemblies of God of France in 1932.

The Pentecostal movement in France grew significantly during Scott’s 37 years of ministry in the country. However, it was not without opposition. Biolley made light of these difficulties, recounting the story of the first French Pentecostal “martyr” – a parrot which had learned many Scripture verses and slogans opposing alcohol consumption. A drunken sailor at a neighboring hotel and restaurant – apparently feeling conviction – killed the parrot to rid himself of the bothersome bird. In Biolley’s estimation, it was a “feathered martyr”!

When Hélène Biolley followed God’s call in 1880 to move to a new country and to start a Christian ministry center, she was a single woman in her twenties. Few people imagined that her ministry would amount to much. But in God’s providence, she was in the right place at the right time. Her linguistic skills, coupled with her hotel and restaurant, proved to be an important crossroads for visiting missionaries and evangelists. She prayed faithfully for 20 years for God to send Pentecostal missionaries to France. In her seventies, her prayers were answered, and revival sprang forth from the spiritual foundation that she had helped to lay.

Read R. Kenneth Ware’s article about Hélène Biolley, “Revival Started in the Dining Room,” on page 9 of the June 30, 1974, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Churches in Eastern Europe,” by Thomas F. Zimmerman

* “On Target with Mission France,” by Bill Williams

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History

Five Lessons from the Great Cuban Revival of 1950-1951

Cuba photo

Hands raised in prayer by those seeking salvation, Holguin, Cuba, February 1951

This Week in AG History — May 17, 1959

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 18 May 2017

The Pentecostal church in Cuba exploded in growth during a series of evangelistic and healing services throughout the island nation in 1950 and 1951. Several church leaders in Cuba, including Luis Ortiz, Dennis Valdez, Hugh Jeter, and Ezequiel Alvarez, hosted Pentecostal evangelist T. L. Osborn, and about 50,000 people made professions of faith in Christ. Jeter, an Assemblies of God missionary, wrote about this remarkable revival in the May 17, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Jeter wrote, “One of the greatest moves of God’s Spirit in our generation took place in the island of Cuba in 1950 and 1951. It was a common occurrence in many Cuban cities for crowds of 10,000 to 15,000 people to fill a baseball stadium or city park night after night to hear the gospel and to be prayed for.”

The revival effected immediate and lasting change. Jeter noted, “Thriving congregations suddenly came into existence in places where previously we had had no work at all. The entire stock of the Bible society was quickly sold out. The miraculous was continually in evidence and people were convinced that of a truth God was in our midst.”

What can we learn from the remarkable Cuban revival? Jeter identified five practical lessons:

1.  A revival can be judged by its results over time. While some people initially questioned whether the Cuban revival was genuine, over the years it became obvious that people who were converted had become faithful Christians. Small churches were strengthened, and new churches were planted. The Assemblies of God Bible school in Cuba, which had temporarily closed due to lack of students, was overwhelmed in the years following the revival with students who had a burning passion to share the gospel.

2.   True revival will be grounded in the Bible and will give glory to God and not to man. Jeter wrote, “Our principal evangelist, Brother Osborn, did not claim to have any special gift or revelation that would set him a class apart from the rest of us. He simply let us know what God had promised and inspired us to believe that God would keep His Word.”

3.  Effective “follow-up” is essential in order to integrate converts into churches. The best “follow-up,” according to Jeter, is not merely a systematic visitation of converts, but the continuation of the revival spirit in local churches. The same spiritual vibrancy that brought people to faith in Christ will also inspire people to be faithful in church.

4.  Church leaders must be willing and able to relocate their congregation if current buildings become inadequate. Pastors who showed flexibility regarding location could more easily retain converts simply because they could fit into the church.

5.  Technology can help to reach the unchurched and to communicate with the faithful. In the Cuban revival, radio was an important tool by which news of the revival spread quickly.

“Can this revival be duplicated elsewhere?” Responding to this question, Jeter suggested that “God is no respecter of people, or of nations.” He noted that revival came to Cuba following a long period of time during which believers developed their faith and prepared for a move of God. While recognizing that God is sovereign in bringing revival, he stated, “I know of no reason why it cannot happen anywhere else in the world.”

Read Hugh Jeter’s article, “Lessons from the Cuban Revival,” on pages 6, 7, and 22 of the May 17, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Standing Together,” by Frank J. Lindquist

* “Led by the Holy Ghost,” by W. E. McAlister

* “Do the Deaf Speak in Tongues?” by Twila Brown Edwards

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

3 Comments

Filed under History, Missions