Tag Archives: Women in Ministry

Mildred Whitney: The Housewife Who Started Assemblies of God Ministries for the Blind

WhitneyThis Week in AG History — December 8, 1957

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 07 December 2017

Mildred Whitney (1910-1994) almost single-handedly founded ministries for the blind in the Assemblies of God (AG). Her legacy is seen today in the AG Center for the Blind, under the leadership of Paul Weingartner.

Whitney’s life-long dream was to make Pentecostal literature available to the blind and visually impaired. The beginning of Whitney’s work goes back to a Sunday in October 1949 when she was praying in her morning devotions in East Jordan, Michigan, and felt God speaking to her to start up a braille ministry. That same Sunday she read an article in the Gospel Gleaners, the predecessor of the AG’s weekly Live magazine, which told about Gladys Carrington, a housewife, who had been transcribing Christian literature into braille. Whitney contacted Carrington who sent her a copy of the braille alphabet and other materials to get her started.

Whitney began learning the braille alphabet, and by 1951 she had mastered the art of writing braille and had started transcribing and producing Pentecostal literature for the blind in her home. The official start of her ministry to the blind began in 1952. On Nov. 16, the AG Center for the Blind, located in Springfield, Missouri, held an open house to celebrate 65 years of ministry.

In the beginning years, Mildred Whitney and her husband improvised to make their own type press, assembled their own drying racks, and used other equipment as needed. In 1954 she began using a braille typewriter to better carry out this vital ministry. This led to her taking select articles from the Pentecostal Evangel and other publications to produce the Pentecostal Digest in braille. Soon afterwards she began producing Sunday School quarterlies in braille.

Sixty years ago, in the Dec. 8, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Elva Hoover wrote an article called “Quarterlies for the Blind.” She described how Whitney worked for a number of years using “makeshift equipment with limited funds” in her own home to provide braille literature for the blind. “Although she does most of the work herself,” said Hoover, “various members of her family are pressed into service from time to time.” Because of the time-consuming process in producing braille literature (one page of quarterly materials requires almost five pages of braille), Whitney printed the Sunday School lessons on a monthly basis rather than quarterly.

The AG Center for the Blind still produces the Adult Student Guide in braille and digital audio files for other age levels of Sunday School materials, as well as God’s Word for Today, Live, PrimeLine, and selected books.

Read “Quarterlies for the Blind,” on pages 24 and 25 of the Dec. 8, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Sure Formula for Revival,” by E. R. Foster

• “Under the Blood,” by Donald Gee

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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December 7, 2017 · 3:08 pm

Yoido Full Gospel Church: How Women Ministers Fueled the Growth of the World’s Largest Church

Yoido

Deaconesses who helped pioneer Yoido Full Gospel Church, 1960s.

This Week in AG History — November 4, 1979

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 02 November 2017

Yoido Full Gospel Church (YFGC), with 830,000 members, is well-known for being the largest church in the world. The Assemblies of God congregation, located in Seoul, South Korea, was started by Yonggi Cho in 1958. However, some readers may be surprised to learn that the congregation’s growth is due in large part to the ministry of women. In a 1979 Pentecostal Evangel article, Yonggi Cho shared how the Holy Spirit prompted him to train and empower women ministers — despite the negative view of Korean culture toward women leaders. These women became the backbone of the church’s cell group structure.

Yonggi Cho’s ministry in Seoul began with dreams and visions. As a newly minted Bible college graduate, he had a dream that he was going to someday pastor the largest church in Korea. People scoffed at this dream, which he believed God had given to him. He worked very hard, and after six months he had used all of his sermons and wore himself out.

The young pastor became depressed and grew uncertain of his calling. Up to that point, Yonggi Cho had believed that he had already “graduated” from the “school of the Holy Spirit.” He believed that he could build the church through his own efforts. In desperation, Yonggi Cho cried out to God, seeking guidance for his life and ministry. He sensed God respond, “The Holy Spirit is the senior partner in your ministry. You are the junior partner. Every minute you must recognize Him, welcome Him, and the Holy Spirit will flow through you and bring sinners to your church.”

This realization of the importance of depending on the Holy Spirit was a turning point in Yonggi Cho’s ministry. As he drew close to God, he could sense God’s leading. Doors opened up, countless thousands of people came to faith in Christ, and the church grew.

However, Yonggi Cho began to grow prideful. He was in his 20s and already had 2,500 church members. But with this pride came a fall. He again wore himself out, unable to keep up with the demands of a large and growing congregation. He sensed the Lord direct him to delegate some of his pastoral duties to laypersons, who would establish cell groups that would meet in homes across Seoul.

At first, Yonggi Cho approached various men in the congregation to become leaders of cell groups. The men declined, responding that they lacked proper training and that they did not want to invade the privacy of their homes. They additionally noted, “We pay you to do that kind of work.”

Again discouraged, Yonggi Cho turned to the Lord in prayer. He sensed the Holy Spirit tell him, “Why don’t you try a woman?” He argued with the Lord, replying, “Try a woman! This is not America: this is Korea. In Korea women cannot have leadership.” God began to work in Yonggi Cho’s heart to overcome his cultural prejudice regarding women.

From that moment, Yonggi Cho began to take notice of the numerous examples of women ministers in Scripture. Previously he allowed his culture’s prohibition of women leaders to blind him to the biblical warrant for women in ministry.

Yonggi Cho shared his vision for cell group ministry with some women in the church, and they eagerly asked how they could assist. He began training women how to preach and lead, and women became the backbone of YFGC’s cell groups. The cell groups multiplied rapidly, fueling the congregation’s growth.

Outsiders who marvel at Yoido Full Gospel Church’s size often ask about the senior pastor or the church building, wondering what caused such growth. But Yonggi Cho, in his 1979 Pentecostal Evangel article, instead pointed to the cell groups, led largely by women, which he identified as vital to the church’s growth.

Read Yonggi Cho’s article, “God Gave Me a Dream,” on pages 8 to 11 of the Nov. 4, 1979, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “How to Tell False Prophets” by C. M. Ward

• “Standing True in Perilous Times” by Kenneth D. Barney

• “Sinning by Mistake,” by Stanley M. Horton

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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Zelma Argue: Pioneer Pentecostal Evangelist and Writer

Argue Zelma

A. H. Argue (right) standing with his son Watson (left) and daughter Zelma (center) in front of a car at the Ohio State Pentecostal Camp Meeting at Findlay, Ohio.

This Week in AG History — July 24, 1937

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 20 July 2017

Zelma Argue (1900-1980) was the daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, and cousin of great preachers. When her father, A. H. Argue, was asked on an evangelistic campaign, “Where is (your wife)?” his answer came quickly, “Oh! She’s at home raising the preachers.” As an evangelist with her family, Zelma ably filled the pulpit, but it seems she was even more productive with her pen.

Upon her ordination and embarkment on the evangelistic trail in 1920, her family gave her a writing set and a portable typewriter. Over the next 60 years she put them to good use, penning eight books and writing for at least seven periodicals, including nearly 200 articles for the Pentecostal Evangel. Her first article, “Buying Gold,” appeared in the March 5, 1921, edition and her final article, “Threefold Purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit” was published on March 23, 1980, just two months after her death.

Argue wrote with a passion, challenging readers that the Christian life must carry an ever-increasing surrender to God’s service. While her words were oftentimes hard, she wrote in such a way that the resulting effect did not convey condemnation but conviction. Her common topics were intimacy with God, revival, prayer, worship, and the importance of soul-winning.

In an article in the July 24, 1937, Pentecostal Evangel, “The Next Towns Also: A Plea for Fresh Efforts at Direct Evangelism,” Argue examines the practical application of the words of Jesus in Mark 1:38, “Let us go into the next towns also…” In this passage, Christ is at the beginning of his ministry and has reached a zenith of popularity in Capernaum; so much so that He found the need to search for a solitary place, prompting Peter to remind Him that “all men seek for thee!”

Argue makes the proposition that Jesus was at a crisis point in ministry — one that we often face, as well. If He chose to stay in Capernaum it seemed that all would be going His way. If He chose to move on, He had no idea the reception He would face in another town. In addition, if He focused on others, what would happen to those whom He left behind? Argue states, “but in solitude He had heard from above. His answer was ready: ‘Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, for therefore came I forth.’ These last words seem to suggest that He had been pondering deeply and had only reached His conclusion by recalling what He must never forget: the goal set before Him.”

Argue illustrates the importance of consistently reaching out into new fields by comparing the church to a lively home where there are little children for whom to care. She argues that the home with babies is a much happier spot than a home where all the inhabitants were adults who “had little to do but sit around and disagree” with each other. She plainly states that an assembly with a stream of new blood constantly pouring into it was God’s best for a contented home church: “Fresh kindling catches fire better than burnt over wood!”

The genius of Argue’s writing is that she not only points out the need for reaching beyond current borders but offers practical solutions that can be easily and quickly implemented. She says that in “railroad stations and other public places I never see a box of Christian Science literature that I do not feel that we should have a box of Evangels.” She encourages churches to consider moving evening services into a tent for the summer or renting out a building in another part of town when having a guest speaker so that new ears are exposed to the gospel message.

Fifty years before they were widely popular, she encourages “Branch Sunday Schools” conducted in neighborhoods outside the church building to reach children and their families. Argue also admonishes churches to consider having meetings at different times of the day and week to reach those whose schedules or lifestyle is not conducive to Sunday or evening services. She also suggests that church take advantage of technological advances, like radio programming, to expand to new fields.

She pleads with readers that “not only foreign fields, but our next towns, our neighborhoods, our next-door neighbors, may present fields of opportunity … if someone will leave the well-tilled and well-reaped field, and search out those not yet reached, as Jesus Himself sought so faithfully to do.” His vision includes “the next town,” and ours must, also.

The Argue family continues to bless the Pentecostal movement with great Pentecostal preachers, such as David Argue (former Assemblies of God Executive Presbyter) and Don Argue (the first Pentecostal to serve as president of the National Association of Evangelicals). However, few would contest that some of the best preaching in the Argue family came through the pen of the lifelong spinster aunt, Zelma Argue.

Read the full article, “The Next Towns Also,” on page 2 of the July 24, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“Spiritual Promotion,” by W.E. Moody

“Pioneering in Nicaragua, by Melvin Hodges

“Healed of Pneumonia and Tuberculosis,” by Eunice Bailey

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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Hattie Hammond: Calling Christians to a Deeper Walk with God

Hattie HammondThis Week in AG History — August 18, 1928

By Glenn Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 18 August 2016

Hattie Hammond (1907-1994) was one of the premier preachers of the early Pentecostal-holiness movement. How did she gain that reputation? It was by preaching a simple gospel message of wholeheartedly serving God.

Born and raised in Williamsport, Maryland, she was saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit in a tent meeting at age 15, conducted by John Ashcroft, the grandfather of former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Even at that young age, she boldly began witnessing to her teachers and classmates, which was the beginning of her lifelong calling as an evangelist.

She was ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1927, and soon had invitations to speak in large churches in Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Los Angeles and Oakland, California; Philadelphia; New York City; Washington, DC; and other places.

She also became a popular camp meeting speaker and Bible teacher. Her simple messages prompted abandonment of worldliness and inspired walking into a “deeper life” of consecration and holiness to God.

In a sermon called “Drawing Nigh to God,” published in the August 18, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, she encourages people to develop a strong, devotional life: “As we enter into the presence of the Lord we should realize we are in the presence of a great, almighty, eternal God.” She also promotes  waiting on the Lord: “We should not rush into His presence with haste, nor come as though we were coming into the presence of an earthly friend. We should take time to realize that He is God and beside Him there is none else.”

In this sermon she also talks about the need for God, salvation, spending time with God in prayer, and the importance of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

She says, “The first thing necessary is that we become still, and know that the great I AM is God. Be still and know that it is God for whom we are waiting, that we are sitting in the presence of God, and that it is His great name upon which we are calling.” She concludes by saying, “We need the Holy Spirit to keep us true to the Cross, and to Jesus our Lover Lord, to be real overcomers.”

By the 1930s, Hattie Hammond had become one of the most powerful speakers in the Pentecostal movement. There are reports of remarkable miracles and healings which took place in her ministry.

She ministered all over the U.S. in colleges, conventions, Bible schools, churches of all denominations, and in more than 30 countries of the world.

Read Hattie Hammond’s article, “Drawing Nigh to God,” on pages 6-7 of the August 18, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Elijah’s God Still Lives Today,” by Leonard G. Bolton

• “The Marks of Holy Ghost Converts,” by Stephen Jeffreys

• “Pentecost in Bulgaria,” by Martha Nikoloff

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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Mabel Dean: An Unexpected Pioneer of the Assemblies of God in Egypt

TWJuly14_MabelDean_1400
This Week in AG History — July 16, 1961

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 14 July 2016

When Mabel Dean (1884-1961) sensed God’s call to be a missionary to Africa, she was 40 years old. An unmarried, unassuming bank clerk in Chicago, she did not seem to be the ideal missionary candidate. But God opened unexpected doors, and she became a pioneer Assemblies of God missionary to Egypt.

When John W. Welch read Mabel Dean’s application for missionary appointment in 1924, he wrote across the top, “I would judge her to be a good helper for someone but not qualified to assume control.” Welch, who served as general chairman (now called “general superintendent”) of the Assemblies of God, apparently had good reason for this statement. The missions board felt that Dean lacked many of the skills that would be helpful on the mission field. Furthermore, at age 40, it might be difficult for her to learn a new language.

All of Dean’s life, people did not expect her to amount to much. Despite what others said, Dean believed that she had a mandate from God for missions work in Africa. She later stated, “I was the only homely one in my family. Yet I was the one that He chose for His work.”

Dean’s missionary story began with a vision from the Lord on her daily train commute. She saw Jesus standing with a small stone in his hand. He threw the stone across the ocean and said to her, “That small stone is you. I want you to go to Africa.” She pondered the vision but did not share it with anyone. It was at the very next church service that her pastor, Kelso R. Glover of Stone Church in Chicago, approached her and said, “Sister Dean, obey whatever God is telling you. Say ‘Yes’ from your heart.”

It was not long before Hattie Salyer, a missionary on furlough, visited Stone Church. After hearing Dean’s story, she exclaimed, “Why don’t you come with me to Egypt?” Taken aback, Dean replied, “But I feel that God has called me to Africa.” Smiling, the missionary replied, “But Egypt is in Africa!”

On October 1, 1924, Dean arrived with Salyer in Cairo, Egypt, where she assisted in a small school for children run by missionaries. Soon after their arrival, Salyer succumbed to illness, leaving her inexperienced assistant to continue on alone. Dean, who was used to contributing roles, was thrust into a position of leadership.

Two years later, Lillian Trasher, an Assemblies of God missionary who had begun an orphanage in Assiout, Egypt, encouraged Dean to open a work for children in the small village of Minia, located 70 miles north of Assiout. Bringing with her one small girl named Salma, Dean moved to Minia, where she started a Sunday school for street children.

After the move to Minia, Dean felt the urge to broaden her evangelistic work. She began praying for God’s guidance regarding how to begin. Meanwhile, a revival was taking place in Trasher’s work in Assiout. Six young girls from Trashers orphanage felt God leading them to go into surrounding villages and tell others about Christ. Trasher sent them north to work with Dean. These six girls, along with little Salma, became the first of Mabel’s evangelistic teams. She sent them out two by two into the villages around Minia. The girls were soon joined by several young men who began preaching under Dean’s guidance. Dean soon had 20 evangelistic teams engaged in church planting.

Dean proved to be an effective leader, despite the missions board’s initial concerns. However, the board’s apprehension about her linguistic abilities proved valid. Dean never did master Arabic. Her practice was to teach her workers enough English so that she could disciple them personally, then send them out to preach in their native language.

Dean believed in the power of prayer, and she would pray while her students preached. When the residents of one village, Izbet, responded to her workers with indifference, Dean told them, “Do not waste your time and strength there now. I will make this a matter of prayer.” Soon after she began praying, representatives from the village requested that a team return to Izbet and even offered to pay the costs for the establishment of a church.

Dean ran a faith mission. She always seemed to have more faith than money. But God always seemed to provide just enough money at just the right time. Dean kept the mission’s money in a tin can. When a need arose, members of her ministry team could go to the can and retrieve the needed funds. When the can was empty she took it to the Lord in prayer, trusting Him to refill it. In spite of this uncertain funding method, she was never afraid to spend money. She told her workers, “God’s money is like water in a faucet. You have to let it run to receive what’s coming next.”

Dean’s attitude about money and God’s provision was demonstrated when one of her gospel workers lost a five pound note on a trip into town to buy supplies. The young lady returned in distress, but Dean encouraged her to not cry. She told the girl that perhaps a very poor man had been praying for money, and God was using their loss to meet his need.

When Mabel Dean passed away at her mission house on June 4, 1961, at age 77, she had served 37 years in Egypt. She was one of a handful of early Assemblies of God missionaries who had never taken a furlough to return home to the United States.

Philip Crouch, fellow missionary to Egypt, lauded Dean for helping to develop “one of the strongest indigenous works in Egypt.” By the time of her death, Dean’s teams of young workers had established 15 churches that owned their own buildings and about 30 other active congregations meeting in rented facilities. The “little stone” that Jesus wanted to throw across the ocean had become a foundation stone for a ministry that continued long after her death.

Read Dean’s obituary, “Missionary Called Home,” on page 9 of the July 16, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tragedy on a Thailand Canal,” by F.A. Sturgeon

• “Going Up to Jerusalem,” by Don Mallough

• “A Day in the Life of a Missionary’s Wife,” by Mrs. O.B. Treece

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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Minna Seaholm: Pioneer Assemblies of God Military Chaplain

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This Week in AG History — February 13, 1943

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 11 February 2016

The United States government did not permit females to serve as military chaplains during World War II, but that did not deter Minna Seaholm (1894-1944), an Assemblies of God evangelist who felt a call to minister to young men in uniform.  A 1943 Pentecostal Evangel article titled “Our Lady Chaplain” reported on her activities, noting that she overcame significant odds to follow God’s call.

Seaholm served as a roving chaplain to military bases and Civil Conservation Corps camps. Assemblies of God literature regularly published reports of her meetings, and the Home Missions Department (now U.S. Missions) collected offerings to assist her.  She often held three or four speaking engagements each day. “Her absorbing passion,” the article explained, was to offer young men “a chance to find God before they go out into the dangers and uncertainties of war.”

Seaholm experienced difficulty in obtaining official government approval to meet with the troops and to hold meeting on the bases. However, the article reported that Seaholm was “never daunted” and made contact with President Franklin Roosevelt and other high-ranking officers in the army. She succeeded in gaining access to numerous camps and bases across the United States and also spoke at high school assemblies. Although Seaholm did not hold a commission as a chaplain from the United States government (the military restricted the chaplaincy to males until 1974), the article noted that “her commission has been granted from a heavenly source.”

Read the article, “Our Lady Chaplain,” on page 11 of the February 13, 1943, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Why Preach Divine Healing Today?” by Lee Krupnick

• “The Message of the Scars,” by Noel Perkin

• “Self-Test Questions for Christians,” by W. R. Munger

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

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

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

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

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This Week in AG History–July 4 and 11, 1931
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 02 July 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also featured in the July 4, 1931, issue:

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

• “Is Life Worth Living?” by Myer Pearlman

And many more!

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

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

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

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

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Elizabeth Sisson’s 1905 Vision of a Worldwide Revival


This Week in AG History–May 30, 1925
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 28 May 2015

Elizabeth Sisson (1843-1934), a prominent evangelist, church planter, and writer, recalled that she “wept for joy” after reading reports in both secular and religious newspapers about the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905.

Twenty years later, Sisson recounted her memories of the revival in Wales in a Pentecostal Evangel article. She was ministering in San Francisco in 1905 when she first learned about the revival. Friends from London mailed her daily newspaper headlines that carried news of a powerful move of God that filled churches across the small nation located adjacent to England. She wrote that “God had captured the English press” and had “taken possession of the church buildings irrespective of denomination.”

Sisson soon sensed that the Welsh Revival was part of a much larger movement. She recalled, “One day God spoke through my whole being, ‘This is not a Welsh revival; this is the beginning of a world-wide revival.'”

Before the Welsh Revival, Sisson had never before heard of a worldwide revival. In her estimation, previous revivals had been largely regional phenomena. She wrote, “The phrase ‘world-wide revival’ staggered me.”

Sisson opened up an atlas and ran her finger over every country on the maps. She prayed over each nation and felt impressed that she needed to be prepared to take part in the great harvest of souls. She wrote that she sobbed with joy when she realized that she would be privileged to participate in “the immensity of God’s harvest plan of Pentecost.” She anticipated that millions of people would accept Christ in the coming revival.

This prediction came true; the Welsh Revival was one of a series of overlapping revival movements that rapidly spread across the national divides. The revival in Wales helped to spark the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, which became one of the focal points of the global Pentecostal movement.

Sisson recognized that missions was an essential aspect of this coming revival. How would this great harvest of souls occur? She wrote that “the provision of the fullness of His Spirit” was meant “for all believers,” so that each Christian “might disciple other disciples.”

Sisson went on to become a respected leader in the Pentecostal movement and transferred her ordination to the Assemblies of God in 1917. Her admonition to the readers of the Pentecostal Evangel in 1925 still rings true today: “every blood-washed soul that hears these words” is called to be a part of this “world-wide revival.”

Read Sisson’s entire article, “Reminiscences,” on pages 4-5 of the May 30, 1925, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Also featured in this issue:

• “Rising into the Heavenlies,” by Smith Wigglesworth

• “Love Triumphant,” by Violet Schoonmaker

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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Methodist and United Brethren Churches Embrace 1919 Pentecostal Revival in Baltimore


This Week in AG History–March 19, 1921
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 19 March 2015

Methodist and United Brethren congregations in Baltimore, Maryland, embraced a revival sparked by Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson in 1919. McPherson, the most widely-known Pentecostal evangelist of her era in the United States, was a gifted orator who built bridges between Pentecostals and evangelicals. Her messages, focusing primarily on salvation, healing, and the spiritual life, garnered the cooperation of churches of various denominations. She was a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God for several years (1919-1922) prior to forming the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

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McPherson’s evangelistic efforts in Baltimore began with three weeks of daily services in the Lyric Theatre, December 4-21, 1919. Numerous healings attracted the attention of the secular press. She was invited to hold services in two Methodist and one United Brethren churches, where large audiences gathered to hear the female evangelist who preached that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”

McPherson returned to Baltimore in January 1920, where she held meetings for several weeks at the Franklin Street Memorial United Brethren Church (pastored by Edward Leech). After she left, Leech and another staff pastor at the church continued to hold special prayer meetings and revival services. The Pentecostal Evangel reprinted a 1921 report of the ongoing revival, authored by Leech and originally published in the United Brethren Church’s denominational periodical.

According to Leech, hundreds of people had accepted Christ and “a large number were instantaneously healed” in his church. In an era of religious skepticism, the healings provided proof of God’s power. “Surely no one will be so skeptical,” wrote Leech, “as to doubt the power of God to touch the sick with healing now as in that first century.”

Leech was initially cautious about telling others in his denomination that he had embraced the Pentecostal revival. He remained quiet about it for about a year, he wrote, “to test out my own church and people.” But in his 1921 article he proclaimed, “today I am fully persuaded as to the genuineness of the full gospel program.” He spoke favorably of McPherson’s ministry: “She preaches the whole truth, attracts the crowds, fills the altar with sinners and backsliders, prays down healing for the sick, and seeks to deepen the spiritual life of believers.”

McPherson, like many other early Pentecostals, aimed to build the kingdom of God and not merely a denomination. Leech warmly embraced this aim, writing that he had never before seen such levels of “cooperation” and “Christian love and fellowship.”

Read the article, “Big Revival in Baltimore,” on page 6 of the March 19, 1921, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel .

Also featured in this issue:

• “Is the Holy Spirit in All Believers?” by J. T. Boddy

• “The Modern Church in Effigy,” by W. V. Kneisley

• “The Coming Chinese Church”

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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English Nurse Survives Gunfire and Dynamite to Become Pentecostal Pioneer in Kentucky Mountains in 1930s

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This Week in AG History–February 20, 1932
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 19 February 2015

Marion Eason Wakeman, an English nurse, did not intend to become a Pentecostal missionary to the Kentucky mountains. However, she followed her heart and God’s call and ultimately helped to pioneer Assemblies of God churches in the 1930s among some of the most impoverished people in America. Wakeman’s compelling story, which has now largely been forgotten, was published in the February 20, 1932, issue of the “Pentecostal Evangel.”

Wakeman expected to live in England, where she was born, for the rest of her life. In England, she was a nurse and administrator with the “District Nursing Work,” a healthcare system that worked primarily with poor and immigrant patients.

At the turn of the twentieth century, New England was experimenting with this healthcare model, in an attempt to meet the needs of the many recent immigrants. Wakeman was asked to move temporarily to Bristol, Rhode Island, to establish a new “District Nursing Work,” patterned after the English model.

After living in Bristol for three years, Wakeman read a book about the extreme poverty in the mountains of Kentucky. She was particularly disturbed by the unhealthy conditions endured by mothers at childbirth. She wrote, “God laid that work right on my heart, I could not get away from it.” She struggled with whether to stay in her well-funded position in Bristol, or to follow God’s call to work with neglected mothers and children in Kentucky. In the end, she headed for the mountains and cast her lot with those whose future was bleakest.

She began her missionary work in Guerrant, Kentucky. Conditions were worse than she had imagined. Ten to 12 people lived in windowless one-room huts. Children were dressed in rags, and chickens wandered freely through the huts. The men, women, and children were addicted to alcohol and tobacco. Violence was common and education was uncommon.

Wakeman provided health services to people in the community. She also began teaching young people how to read. When she arrived, she was shocked that the children could not read and that their spoken English was very poor. She gathered children for regular English lessons, which she would give by reading from the Bible. She recounted that many adults had never heard about Jesus, never prayed, and had never attended church.

The physical, social, and spiritual needs in the Kentucky mountains were overwhelming to Wakeman. On one occasion she admitted, “My throat ached and I felt like breaking down and crying.” But she endured. She saved money and built a house in the mountains near Oakdale, Kentucky, which became her living quarters and ministry outpost. She later moved to another house near Holly Creek, Kentucky. From those houses, she nursed people to health, she taught Sunday School classes for children, and she led to people to Jesus.

Wakeman understood that spiritual poverty was the root of destructive cultural patterns. She preached against the consumption of drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, because they contributed to disease, addiction, and violence in the community. She encouraged people to turn from sin and to find new life in Christ.

Certain local residents regarded Wakeman’s presence as a threat. She was awakened night after night by hostile neighbors who tried to frighten her away. Guns were fired at her house, and one time dynamite was even exploded near her house. She recalled, “my nerves began to frail,” and that she was afraid to walk across the room when she entered her house, for fear of violence.

One night, Wakeman got on her knees and cried out to God. If He wanted her to stay in Kentucky, she prayed, He would have to remove her fear. God took away her fear that night. The fear “fell from me like an old garment,” she recalled. “I went through the little house singing at the top of my voice,” she wrote. “I haven’t felt any fear from that day to this.”

Wakeman’s early missions work was supported by the Presbyterian Mission Board and the Free Methodist Missionary Board. Wakeman’s study of the Bible ultimately led her to identify with the Pentecostal movement. She came to believe that God still heals, and prayer for healing became a prominent aspect of her ministry. As a Pentecostal, Wakeman worked in conjunction with the Kentucky mountain missions work supported by Christian Assembly (Cincinnati, Ohio), which was pastored by O. E. Nash. Wakeman wrote that the Cincinnati church had five outstations (small missions churches) located in her part of the Kentucky mountains.

Wakeman’s testimony illustrates the consecration of early Pentecostals. She spent her life working with the impoverished, at great personal cost, and helped to lay the foundation for the Assemblies of God in the mountains of Kentucky. Her story also demonstrates that early Pentecostalism did not emerge in a vacuum; it benefited from veteran ministers from mainline Protestant denominations who brought their wisdom, experiences, and connections into their new churches.

“Our hearts are burning with the zeal of the work,” Wakeman wrote in the conclusion of her article, “and we see great possibilities and responsibilities.” Early Pentecostal pioneers, such as Wakeman, were passionate, committed and visionary. Together, these often unheralded men and women helped to form the identity of the Assemblies of God.

Read the article, “Pentecostal Work in the Kentucky Mountains,” on pages 1, 8 and 9 of the February 20, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Godhead,” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Pentecost Today,” by R. E. McAlister

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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Filed under Church, Education, History, Missions