Tag Archives: South Africa

David du Plessis and the Early Pentecostal Movement in South Africa

This Week in AG History —July 30, 1938

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 29 July 2021

David Johannes du Plessis (1905-1987), known as “Mr. Pentecost,” was an effective leader in three of the most influential movements in 20th century Christianity – the Pentecostal movement, the charismatic movement, and the ecumenical movement. When Time magazine surveyed a group of Catholic and Protestant editors in 1974 to list 11 “movers and shakers” of the Christian faith, du Plessis was listed alongside Rosemary Ruether, Don Helder Camara, Billy Graham, Hans Küng, Bernard Lonergan, and Jürgen Moltman. His early experience with the Apostolic Faith Mission revival in South Africa shaped his understanding that the work of the Holy Spirit was for all time and for all people, regardless of their faith tradition within Christianity.

The July 30, 1938, issue of The Pentecostal Evangel printed a report given by du Plessis to the students of Central Bible Institute (CBI, later Central Bible College) in Springfield, Missouri, entitled “Pentecost in South Africa.” Tracing the development of the Pentecostal movement in his home country of South Africa, the 33-year-old general secretary of the Apostolic Faith Movement shared with the CBI student body that reports came to South Africa in 1904 of a great revival taking place in Wales and many began crying out to God to “send us an outpouring of Your Holy Spirit” in our nation.

In 1906, an American evangelist, Daniel Bryant, arrived in South Africa bringing with him a message of divine healing. Du Plessis reported that “God healed so many that literally hundreds accepted that truth, and were baptized by him. The cream of the church, the elders and deacons of the Dutch Reformed Church, local preachers of the Methodist church, were glad to receive this wonderful message.”

In 1908, John G. Lake and Thomas Hezmalhalch came from the United States bringing with them the message of the Pentecostal outpouring. Du Plessis reports that “these two men started out in a native church in Johannesburg and out of curiosity white folk went but they stayed and received the baptism … then a tabernacle was offered in Johannesburg in the center of the city. That place became a revival center … a thousand people crowded in and around it every night of the week … demons were cast out. The sick were raised up in the name of Jesus without a hand being laid upon them. Healings occurred just from a command from the platform.”

This revival greatly influenced the churches around them. “From the Dutch Reformed and the Methodist and every Church in South Africa have been drawn their saintliest men, those people who had been crying to God for a revival, and when the Holy Ghost was poured out in Johannesburg they said, ‘This is what we seek.’ Naturally when the churches saw their best elders and their most deeply spiritual men and women moving into this ‘new sect’ they thought it was time to raise their voices against this awful thing.”

Despite persecution, the movement grew until, in 1913, it organized into the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa. Many classes of people, from the humblest farmer to the wife of the prime minister were among those in the growing church. Du Plessis ended his 1938 message with an invitation to “come and see these things for yourselves . . . As general secretary and editor of the paper (of the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa) I suppose I have had my hand on the pulse of the work more than anybody else. I have traveled more and have visited all the assemblies and I know almost half the members of the mission, if not more, so I am not telling you stories I have heard, but telling you facts I know.”

David du Plessis returned to South Africa after his trip to America and continued in his work with the Apostolic Faith Mission until 1947 when he was asked to assume leadership of the new Pentecostal World Conference, an organization that sought to bring unity, fellowship, and encouragement to global Pentecostalism. After moving to the United States in 1948, he became friends with John Mackay, the president of Princeton Seminary. This friendship opened doors for du Plessis to share the message of the Pentecostal outpouring with many global ecclesiastical representatives. These church leaders began referring to him as “Mr. Pentecost.”

When the charismatic movement began in the 1960s with many leaders in mainstream denominations experiencing the baptism in the Spirit and demonstrating spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues, du Plessis was already in a place to provide leadership and instruction to ministers in the Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic churches. He was invited to participate in the World Council of Churches Assembly meetings and served as a Pentecostal representative at the Second Vatican Council. Although these relationships were controversial within the Pentecostal movement, du Plessis continued to extend a hand of fellowship to any who were willing to open their minds and hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit.

In his early days in South Africa he preached against the “dead, dry” religion of the mainline churches. In his later years, God used him to bring new life of the Spirit into those same mainline churches and to speak for unity among the Pentecostal global movement. When he died in 1987, at the age of 81, he was serving Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, as resident consultant for Ecumenical Affairs and was an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God.

Read David du Plessis article, “Pentecost in South Africa,” on pages 2-4 of the July 30, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The End of Human Government” by Harry Steil

• “Praise” by Bernice Lee

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

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Harold and Margaret Jones: Assemblies of God Missionary Educators and Publishers in Africa

This Week in AG History — April 23, 1961

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 22 April 2021

Harold S. (1906-1970) and Margaret (Bishopp) Jones (1907-2003) were pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and South Africa. Harold, Margaret, and their three children endured hardships, but ultimately left a legacy that included a network of schools, a publishing ministry, and countless lives impacted by their service.

Margaret attended Bethel Temple in Los Angeles. At 14 years of age, after hearing a missionary tell about the Mossi people in West Africa, she felt God calling her to be a missionary to the Mossi people.

After graduating from high school, she attended Southern California Bible Institute (now Vanguard University) where she became active in the Africa missions prayer group. There she met Harold Jones, who also had a call to be a missionary in Africa. They developed a friendship, and after graduation, Harold because the district Christ’s Ambassadors president (D-CAP) for Kansas, his home state. Later, through correspondence, he and Margaret rekindled their friendship, which grew into love. Harold took the train to California, and they were married in March 1930.

As newlyweds, the Joneses borrowed $100, bought a car, and drove back to Kansas to raise support to go to Africa as missionaries. Their first child was born in October 1931, and in January 1932 they sailed for West Africa on a freighter, along with the A. E. Wilsons, who were veteran missionaries. After 21 days, they were glad to arrive in Ivory Coast, and then five more days of travel took them over unpaved bush roads to Mossiland, which was their destination. The rest of 1932 was spent in language study, and Margaret also was expecting her second child who arrived in January 1933. He was born with the assistance of an African midwife and a French doctor at the mission station in Ouagadougou, Upper Volta.

Harold Jones’ first assignment was to Yako in April 1933. Without a car, he covered an 80-mile circuit on bicycle, often in 100-degree heat, in order to reach the main preaching centers and outstations. Times were hard. Their oldest daughter was stricken with blackwater fever but was healed after much prayer. Margaret Jones also became ill during her third pregnancy and was told that she needed to return to the United States for the birth. A Mossi woman accompanied her and the two children on a trip to the coast. Then it took a month by boat to reach New York. From there they boarded a train to Los Angeles to stay with Margaret’s parents. The third child was born in Los Angeles in September 1936, and Harold did not get to see the new baby until nine months later.

After a year of deputation to raise more funds, the Joneses and their three children left for France to study the French language. By 1938 they were back in Upper Volta, opening a new work in Koudougou. The Joneses held Bible readings and prayers and began work on a church building and a Bible school. They taught new believers to read and write in their own language, using lessons that were mimeographed in the Mooré language. After World War II, the Joneses started an Assemblies of God (Protestant) elementary school. That school was later expanded to include a high school as well as an orphanage for babies. It eventually became the center for a network of 32 schools throughout the country.

Although he was a farmer’s son, Harold had also worked as a printer in Kansas. He established a small print shop in Koudougou and trained workers how to operate the presses and other printing equipment. Later this small print shop was transferred to the capital city of Ouagadougou and became the catalyst for Assemblies of God literature ministry in all of West Africa.

The last six years of Harold Jones’ life was spent in ministry in South Africa, where he and Margaret worked with International Correspondence Institute. Harold passed away in 1970, at the age of 63. Afterwards, Margaret ministered in South Africa for six more years before retiring from missionary work.

An article in the Pentecostal Evangel featured the print shop of Harold and Margaret Jones and literature for French-speaking Africa. Funds had been provided in 1956 to build the first building in French West Africa to be used solely as a publishing house and bookstore. This came to fruition under the ministry of Harold and Margaret Jones.

In 1961, it was estimated that the Assemblies of God Publishing House and Book Store in Ouagadougou would soon “reach some 20 million people.” Scripture portions, songbooks, tracts and study books were being printed in five of the 22 French West Africa languages. Speed the Light provided the funds for the press, folding machine, stitcher, and other equipment.

Harold Jones reported: “The Mossi Old Testament has been translated and all books soon will be printed.” He was pleased to be able to say that these books and pamphlets were being printed in Africa, rather than saying “Printed in the U.S.A.” The Joneses also established the French Gospel Publishing House which was set up to print Sunday School materials, Bible studies, and youth papers and tracts in the French language all over the globe, and not just in West Africa.

Read more in “Literature for French-Speaking Africa” on page 8 of the April 23, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Every-Day Evangelism,” by James A. Stewart

• “Witnessing Through Gospel Tracts,” by Alma Ware Crosby

• “Something Better Than Psychiatry,” by James La Valley

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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When Locusts are a Blessing in Disguise

Locusts

This Week in AG History–August 11, 1923
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Wed, 13 Aug 2014 – 4:22 PM CST

Many missionaries tell stories about seemingly bad circumstances that God turned into a blessing. Hannah A. James, a single female who served as an Assemblies of God missionary to South Africa from 1917 to 1933, recounted such a story in a letter published in the August 11, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Hannah wrote that a swarm of locusts had descended upon their South African mission station. The locusts devoured a small wheat crop that she and her missionary colleagues had planted. Most readers probably would have seen the destruction of the missionaries’ food supply as a bad thing. However, Hannah related that the native South Africans “shouted for joy” when they heard the locust swarm approaching.

The locusts, it turned out, were a delicacy to the local palate. Local residents spent all night scooping the locusts into large sacks. They then scalded the locusts and dried them in the sun, a process which allowed them to be stored for months. Preparation of the dried locusts into edible food merely required them to be fried in fat or butter.

The missionaries made careful plans to provide for their dietary needs. But they discovered that God could upset those plans, and what they viewed as a calamity was viewed by others as a blessing. The missionaries probably would have preferred eating wheat rather than locusts, but the life of faith often stretches people beyond their cultural preferences.

Read the article by Hannah A. James, “A Plague of Locusts,” published on page 13 of the August 11, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Bible Evidence of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost,” by D. W. Kerr

* “From Prize Ring to Pulpit,” by Eddie Young

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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Review: Pentecostalism in South Africa

The History of Apostolic Faith Mission and other Pentecostal Missions in South Africa

The History of the Apostolic Faith Mission and Other Pentecostal Missions in South Africa, by Lyton Chandamba. Keynes, United Kingdom: AuthorHouse, 2007.

Lyton Chandomba, an evangelist and pastor in the Apostolic Faith Mission Ministries, United Kingdom, has written a helpful introduction to the Pentecostal movement in South Africa and Zimbabwe. With 92 pages and 192 footnotes, the book provides concise historical overviews of some of the largest historic Pentecostal organizations in those nations.

Denominations and networks of churches included in this volume include: Apostolic Faith Mission, Zion Christian Church (Black Zionists), Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe, Full Gospel Church of God, Latter Rain churches, Assemblies of God, and African Initiated Churches.

Paperback, 90 pages. $9.40 retail. Order from: AuthorHouse.

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Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research

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The January 2007 issue of the Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research contains the following interesting articles:

  • “The Chinese Expression of Pentecostalism” by Rev. Dr. Timothy Yeung
  • “Post-1960s Pentecostalism and the Promise of a Future For Pentecostal Holiness Women Preachers” by Kristen Welch
  • “Contemporary Pentecostal Leadership: The Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa as Case Study” by Dr. Mathew Clark
  • “The Spirit and Theological Interpretation: A Pentecostal Strategy” by Dr. Kenneth J. Archer
  • “The Prosperity Gospel in Nigeria: A Re-Examination of the Concept, Its Impact, and an Evaluation” by Dr. George O. Folarin

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