Tag Archives: WWII

Lula Bell Hough, Missionary to China and Japanese P.O.W.

By Darrin Rodgers

This Week in AG History–April 21, 1934
Also published in AG-News, Mon, 21 Apr 2014 – 4:30 PM CST.

Lula Bell Hough (1906-2002) did not take the easy road in life. She never married and instead devoted her life to ministry. Hough was ordained as an Assemblies of God missionary on November 3, 1929, just five days after the Wall Street stock market crash that led to the Great Depression. She spent the next 45 years in China and Hong Kong.

Hough’s greatest challenge on the mission field came during World War II, when she spent seven and one-half months as a Japanese prisoner-of-war. She did not know whether she would survive the ordeal, which began in December 1941. She later recalled that soldiers kept placing their bayonets to her throat, threatening to kill her. Women around her were raped, and thousands died from starvation. Some resorted to eating human flesh to survive. For the first two weeks of her captivity, she lived on nothing but “wormy, mouldy whole wheat.” After that, she was given small food rations. The food was enough to keep her alive, but she lost 38 pounds in about six months.

Living in difficult circumstances for over a decade in China had prepared Hough for the hardship of the prisoner-of-war camp. Hough sent regular letters to her supporters back in the United States. One of these letters, published in the April 21, 1934, issue of the “Pentecostal Evangel,” described a trip to areas in south China where there were no Christians.

Hough humorously described having to share her accommodations with loud farm animals:

“When we reached the inn we were soaking wet and cold. After warming ourselves by an open fire in the center of the room we retired to our room. Cobwebs were hanging everywhere, and one corner was occupied by geese, which entertained us with special music at intervals during the night. Our room was really a hall where people had to pass through, and our bed was only a board. The next night we spent in Sha Hoh, and were thankful to find no geese in our room, but soon discovered there were pigs in the room just below us.”

New Christians often suffered for their faith. Hough described several instances of persecution in heart-wrenching detail. She wrote that one eighteen-year-old woman was beaten by her husband because of her newfound faith. Her mother-in-law scratched the young woman’s face until there were “deep sores and scars.” The villagers joined in the persecution, encouraging the family to sell the young wife into slavery if she didn’t recant her faith in Christ.

Why did Hough and other early missionaries leave their homes in the West and endure difficulties? They were motivated to be faithful to Christ in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Hough explained, “In some of these villages we were the first foreigners the villagers had ever seen, and in many, the first to preach the gospel. God has promised that His Word shall not return unto Him void, so we believe that if we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, He will be faithful in drawing souls unto Himself.”

Read the entire article by Lula Bell Hough, “Missionary Travels, S. China,” on pages 8-9 of the April 21, 1934, issue of the “Pentecostal Evangel.”

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Revelation of the Love of God,” by Kate Knight

* “Spiritual Awaking Follows Earthquake,” by Hilda Wagenknecht

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now:

A two-part oral history interview with Lula Bell Hough was recorded in 1987 by former Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center director Wayne Warner. To listen to Hough’s amazing testimony, click on the following links:

Tape 1: [audio http://ifphc.org/Uploads/Audio/907_T854-Bell-Hough-Tape-1-of-2.mp3]

Tape 2: [audio http://ifphc.org/Uploads/Audio/908_T855-Bell-Hough-Tape-2-of-2.mp3]

“Pentecostal Evangel” archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (http://ifphc.org). For current editions of the “Evangel,” see http://pe.ag.org.

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: Mission Possible


Mission Possible: Paul Williscroft’s Epic Christian Struggle Against Nazi & Communist Oppression, by Gladys L. Williscroft. Enterprise, OR: Biography Press, 2000.

Paul and Gladys Williscroft were newlyweds when they left the U.S. as missionaries to Eastern Europe in January 1938. In less than 2 years they were leaving Europe as World War II plunged the continent into total disorder, change, and unbelievable bloodshed.

As German troops massed on the Polish border, the couple caught the last trains out of two stations and were assigned the last cabin in a ship out of Oslo bound for the U.S. They returned almost as refugees to the United States, yet they lived for the time when they could return to Germany and pursue their mission.

During the 1940s they pastored in the Montana District. They returned to Europe after the war where they ministered for a total of 37 years, producing Sunday school materials, introducing Royal Rangers, and teaching in the German Bible School in Erzhausen. Paul died in 1987, and Gladys in 2002.

Excerpts from the book are included in “Fleeing an Explosive Europe as Adolph Hitler Begins World War II” in the Fall 2003 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage.

Paperback, 414 pages, illustrated. $15.95, plus $2.00 postage. Order from: R. G. Williscroft, P.O. Box 1087, Studio City, CA 91614-0087.

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Review: Sister Aimee biography

Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America

Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America, by Matthew Avery Sutton. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

One cannot help but wish to have been there, centrally seated in the first row of Angelus Temple’s lower balcony, to view the spectacle up close. Imagine the intensity of the moment, the palpable pangs of spiritual bliss, anguish, and surrender all around as Sister Aimee draws your seatmates into her fanciful world of biblical prophets and priests, heroes and villains. And what must it have been like to stand with thirty thousand others gathered at Los Angeles’ train station on that June day in 1926, cheering rapturously at the first sight of Sister Aimee after her return from a mysterious disappearance; or to sit nervously in the court room later that same year as she attempted to answer the mystery and defend herself against charges of conspiracy?

That such sentiments stir frequently when reading Matthew Sutton’s biography of Aimee Semple McPherson is tribute to his rare story-telling abilities. By pricking the emotions as much as intellectual curiosity, Sutton provides us with an opportunity to appreciate McPherson sympathetically as someone trying her best to negotiate the cultural opportunities, pitfalls, and blessings of her day. At the same time, he offers room to feel what it would have been like to be part of McPherson’s multitude of followers or cadre of critics. McPherson was, to say the least, a polarizing figure. All who encountered her during her lifetime thus seemed compelled to declare publicly their feelings of loyalty or loathing for the female evangelist.

Sutton asks us to suspend such judgment and instead carefully measure the intensity of these responses against the realities of the day–against the constantly expanding range of possibilities that seemed only to encourage Sister Aimee’s exploits, well meaning and successful, poorly conceived, or otherwise. Continue reading

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Rev. B. V. Robison to celebrate 100th birthday

On February 2, 2008, Rev. Bernice Vance (B. V.) Robison will achieve something that few Assemblies of God ministers can claim – he will celebrate his 100th birthday. Reared in the Waurika and Terral areas in Oklahoma, Robison later moved to Texas, which became his home state. In 1927, at the age of 19, he began traveling with Floyd Hawkins. Together, they held revivals in towns and communities across Texas, bringing the Pentecostal message to many people for the first time. Numerous Assemblies of God churches were organized as a result of their efforts.

In 1929 Robison married Lillie Mae Holdridge. Following a 1930 revival campaign held in Freeport, Texas, he remained to pioneer a church, which became First Assembly of God. In the early days of the Assemblies of God, most pastors were bi-vocational, and they were expected to be competent in multiple skills. Robison’s natural building abilities meant that, in each of his pastorates, he would erect a church building.

After a hurricane destroyed the first building he erected for the Freeport congregation, he built a second one. To date, five Assemblies of God congregations have been birthed from the Freeport church. In 1935 he moved to Sherman, Texas, to serve as one of the early Assemblies of God pastors in that city. In 1939 he returned to south Texas to pastor the assembly in Cuero. His first project there was to build a new church building. The congregation worshiped in that building until 1993.

In 1942, again feeling the call of God to a city without an Assemblies of God witness, Robison moved 28 miles to Victoria, Texas. World War II was raging, Continue reading


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Review: The Ambassadors

The Ambassadors

The Ambassadors : A History of Two Airplanes and the Men Who Flew Them – Christ’s Ambassadors, by Bill Taylor. Seminole, FL: Sirena Press, 2005.

Few ministries in the Assemblies of God created as much visibility as two converted World War II planes that the Division of Foreign Missions operated worldwide between 1948 and 1951. Now called Assemblies of God World Missions, the ministry converted a C-46 cargo plane and made several trips to Africa, South America, India, and domestic flights — including the 1949 General Council in Seattle.

Late in 1949, the DFM, headed by Noel Perkin, traded the C-46 for a converted 4-engine B-17 bomber and operated it for the next two years. The copilot, Bill Taylor, researched and pulled together the amazing stories of a courageous crew that flew into exotic airports around the world. If you want adventure, inspiration, close calls over the oceans, and great missionary stories, The Ambassadors is for you. Continue reading

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