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Summer 2012, Vol. 9

“Whom Shall I Send and Who Will Go for Us?” The Empowerment of the Holy Spirit for Early Pentecostal Female Missionaries

Rosemarie Daher Kowalski,
Ph.D. Intercultural Studies (AGTS, 2012)
Writer, Adjunct Faculty at Northwest University, Kirkland, WA, Adjunct Faculty at Asia Theological Center for
Evangelism and Missions, Singapore

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Abstract

The first generation of female Pentecostal missionaries (approximately 1906-1925) considered their empowerment through the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a significant factor in their missionary calling, commissioning, and conduct. These women seized opportunities to evangelize, disciple converts, and provide humanitarian care. They persevered on the foreign field to overcome spiritual opposition, physical dangers, emotional hardships, and cultures resistant to women’s ministry at home and abroad.

“What made them think they could?” This question directed my recent dissertation’s quest to find how the common experience of Spirit baptism empowered women with diverse backgrounds. Through theological and historical research, I examined the culture, theology, and praxis of late nineteenth-century Evangelicalism and early twentieth-century American Pentecostalism, especially the Assemblies of God (AG), to study these early Pentecostal women and their missionary service. The following information is excerpted from my dissertation with the same title.

Precedent Evangelicalism as a Venue for Pentecostalism

Nineteenth-century societal values defined parameters for women’s interactions within the home and culture. The nineteenth century introduced a “culture of domesticity,” which encouraged separate spheres for men and women. Men worked in public and politics while women managed the home and family.1 Those who objected to women in the workplace often vehemently opposed ministry for women.2 A “virtuous woman” remained at home without stepping into the public sphere, said anti-feminists. Female Evangelicals turned the ideals of a “virtuous woman” into permission to engage female workers in “women’s work” among the needy and disadvantaged at home and to send female missionaries to “heathen” women. Beginning in the 1860s, Protestant women’s societies sent married and single female career missionaries with “the great motive … [of] the command to give the gospel to every creature.”3 Women became aware of their power of influence in molding policy in diverse domains of society and creating women’s organizations. These voluntary mission societies fueled the Christianization of the globe during the latter half of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries.

According to AG historian Charlie Self, Pentecostalism resembles the facets of a diamond rather than a linear history.4 The Second Great Awakening, approximately 1800-1830, produced a sense of personal accountability and morality while enlarging and fragmenting Protestant denominations. The subsequent webs of Evangelical revivals in the late nineteenth century created a continual cross-pollination between traditional Protestantism, holiness groups, and Evangelical ministries. Such revivals created willingness among women, including Pentecostals empowered by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, to leave behind family, friends, and culture.5 By the time the AG was created, women from other denominations as well as newly saved Pentecostals were serving as Spirit-filled evangelists, missionaries, and pastors.6

The initial wave of Pentecostal female missionaries had neither the organizational support nor the financial resources of Protestant women’s mission boards. They inherited the ideals of faith missions and recruited their own supporters among home churches, friends, and family. The early lack of organization and institutionalization allowed them to engage in opportunities and create missions structures abroad beyond the customary realm of acceptable women’s ministry in the United States.

Both Evangelical and Pentecostal missionaries, not immune to their own culture of socialization and Western civilization as ideals for Christians, took their cultural norms and religious traditions into the foreign field.7 They also expressed shock at the modern fashions they encountered on furloughs.8 Most resisted secular feminism, along with any appearance of trying to dominate men, and looked for their place of ministry within acceptable boundaries.

The Backgrounds and Preparation of Female Pentecostal Missionaries

In general, Evangelical faith missionaries did not come from among the well-educated upper-middle-class people who were attracted to Presbyterian and Methodist mission boards or the interdenominational Student Volunteer Movement.9 Instead, conservative middle and lower middle class Evangelicals often followed their call into missions without securing missionary appointments or financing through the established Protestant mission boards.10

The first Bible College for faith missionaries, apart from traditional theological seminaries, was the New York Missionary Training College founded by A. B. Simpson in 1882.11 Thereafter, new schools sprang up, sometimes affiliated with strong congregations like the Bethel Pentecostal Assembly in Newark, New Jersey, which founded and hosted Bethel Bible Training School.12 Education provided one of the early venues for the American Pentecostal movement. A mixed-gender group of students led by Parham in Topeka, Kansas, experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit with evidential tongues.

However, most Pentecostal pastors, evangelists, and missionaries initially resisted formal training and believed the Holy Spirit would overcome natural and spiritual obstacles through supernatural tongues, spiritual gifting, or other divine impartations of knowledge. Within a decade of the Pentecostal revival, consequences of deficiencies in missions training became clearer.13 In 1920, Mid-West Bible School of the Assemblies of God opened in Auburn, Kansas. In 1922, the General Council established its own AG school, Central Bible Institute (CBI) in Springfield, Missouri.14 All three founders of CBI had strong missionary interests.15

Exceptional individuals achieved great results regardless of their lack of training. For instance, Margaret Peoples received an enthusiastic endorsement from the first AG General Superintendent, E. N. Bell (1866-1923), on her application—even though she indicated a “grammar school” education and had previously won few people to Christ.16 Her eager self-education and openness to new situations assisted her in learning quickly and in teaching on the mission field. She became an outstanding translator, evangelist, and church planter.

Such exceptions did not preclude education for other women like Emily DeGroat, who trained as a teacher before receiving a call to missions.17 Some missionaries had Bible training, as did Elsie Blattner and Martha Nikoloff, who attended the Rochester Bible Training School, a college friendly to Pentecostalism.18 Others studied at Moody Bible Institute, Zion Bible School, or Simpson’s Missionary Training Institute.19 Such training did not always equip a woman for practicalities in missions. The lack of men on the field caused women to tackle work they would never have dreamed of doing in the homeland, forcing them into tasks like construction, which would have been condemned as “unfeminine” at home.20

Calling: The Obligation of Spirit Empowerment

Since the early Pentecostal revivals, Scripture and Pentecostal theology has confirmed the soundness and the scope of Pentecostal women’s call to and work in missions. The first generation of Pentecostals gave permission for evangelism to the majority of their adherents (women), loosing an international wave of empowered female missionaries. Many international Pentecostal organizations owe their beginnings to such women. The women understood that they had personally encountered the power of God through Spirit baptism, and they ministered in the power of the Spirit. They overcame difficulties because they believed the gospel of the Atonement, the urgency of proclamation before Christ’s imminent return, and God’s confirmation of His Word “with signs following” (Mark 16:20, KJV).

At least three types of men and women felt called into Pentecostal missions. First, veteran missionaries voluntarily affiliated with Pentecostal denominations. Churches in traditional denominations and holiness movements, which had invited missionaries for meetings while on furlough, rescinded their invitations and shut their doors against the Pentecostal experience. Second, veteran missionaries who experienced Spirit baptism were forced out by their non-Pentecostal mission boards. Those from holiness groups––Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists––usually lost their funding and credentials after they experienced Spirit baptism.21 Third, novice missionaries felt called and empowered for missions because of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Women who heard God’s call as singles frequently married before heading to the field. Some veterans married after years as single missionaries, as did Sarah Kugler,22 Many Pentecostal missionary couples embraced the three primary tasks of an Evangelical missionary wife: supporting her husband and his call, establishing and managing the household, and, as time permitted, ministering to women and their children.23 Other women, including those who began their terms as singles, viewed themselves as Spirit-baptized and empowered missionaries first and wives second, chafing under the restrictions of time and energy required to supervise their homes or mission stations. These women often evangelized, preached, and taught in full partnership with their husbands.

Married women enjoyed a secure status different from that of singles. Those who were confident in their marriage and ministry and felt unthreatened by other women worked well with other female missionaries.24 Where couples worked as partners, the wife’s or husband’s praxis might determine the couple’s ministry.25 When a husband endorsed his wife’s calling, gifted women like Rhodema Mendenhall Bowley and Nellie Bettex continued the evangelistic ministry they had begun as single missionaries, in addition to supporting their husbands.26 During furloughs, outstanding evangelists like Violet Schoonmaker preached alongside their husbands at missionary meetings.27 During their travels, many men also entrusted their work to their wives.28

When their husbands died, widows had to decide whether to go home or to continue the work to which they had been called.29 Widows who returned home sometimes continued to need help from those who had underwritten the couple on the field.30

Commissioning: The Permission and Sending of Spirit Empowerment

Their encounter with the powerful God of the universe through the experience of Spirit baptism pervaded the identity of early Pentecostals. Female missionaries believed the Holy Spirit who empowered their call to missions would also provide permission, direction, and resources on the field. They operated as though it was less important to reflect on proper theology and procedures than to follow their calling. They trusted that God would accomplish His purposes through their willing obedience. The theologies were expected to work themselves out in the process. Uncelebrated, yet persistent, the women began with the work at hand and launched from any available base to share the gospel and the Pentecostal outpouring.

The perception of empowered ministry regardless of gender and race at the Azusa Street revival provided only a brief respite for early Pentecostalism from the Evangelical status quo.31 William Seymour himself restricted women’s ministries, while confirming specific roles for men and women.32 Beyond the Azusa Street revival, white male leadership asserted itself in much of Pentecostalism through leaders like William Durham (1873-1912), Fred Francis Bosworth (1877-1958), and Gaston Barnabas Cashwell (1860-1916). Women’s equal participation, anticipated during the first Pentecostal revivals because of the egalitarian Spirit baptism, inevitably began to disappear as Pentecostals organized into denominations.

Several factors contributed to defining and limiting woman's roles in missions. First, Pentecostals leaned toward conservative Protestant fundamentalism rather than liberal theology and social values. Both men and women supported the norms of their conservative religious culture, so the gender status quo of American Evangelical culture superimposed itself easily on the Pentecostal perception of Pauline exhortations regarding women’s roles and keeping order in the church.33

Second, during the initial years of refining the Assemblies of God organizational processes, patriarchal, but well-intentioned, AG leaders with conservative Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian backgrounds transferred their religious and American culture into Pentecostal ecclesiology and missiological praxis. They were progressive for their time in many ways.34 They promoted women in missions and ministry beyond many established Evangelical denominations and concurrent American culture. Early AG rhetoric regarding women’s missionary and evangelistic calling and empowerment by the baptism of the Holy Spirit remained inclusive, but the credentials that AG leadership encouraged for all its ministers and missionaries defined women’s ministry as evangelism and missions, giving men more privileges for similar roles, and sometimes, for similar titles.35

Primary functions of the newly-formed AG included the sending, support, and accountability of faith missionaries, beginning with missionary applications in 1915. The first AG missionary convention was held in St. Louis, Missouri in September 1917.36 Delegates resolved that “single women, new on the mission field, be discouraged from opening up new fields, but that they should become associated with senior missionaries, and only make new moves with their co-operation and counsel.”37 However, many gifted women took their talents out of the control of male counterparts, establishing frontier churches or going into foreign missions.38

Third, Pentecostals could not appeal to female networks like traditional women’s mission societies. Many novices of both genders went out without dedicated supporters in place. Even some veterans were ill-prepared for faith missions.39 A large number of faith missionaries suffered when supporters at home neglected or forgot them.40 Missionaries shared their desperation in their communications, seeing the fields ripe for harvest without enough coworkers or resources for the unfinished task of evangelism.41 They reported their relief when God would impress those at home to pray for or financially support specific needs on the mission field.42

Women proved to be very pragmatic about raising support. They reported famines and natural disasters that required personal and institutional finances greater than what they received.43 When funds ran low and women could find work, they taught, nursed, and otherwise raised money from locals, doing whatever it took to carry out their calling. Women who survived on the field viewed themselves as dependents of God’s wellspring of blessings, with mission supporters as the conduit rather than the source of God’s supply.

Within Pentecostal circles and at Pentecostal gatherings, female missionaries recruited others, as Evangelicals had done before them.44 Though many Pentecostals were independent by nature, they proved their adaptability in networking with missionaries from other affiliations, before and on the field.45

Conduct: The Optimism of Spirit Empowerment

The baptism of the Holy Spirit provided a defining event, a personal encounter with God participated in and proven by glossolalia. Pentecostals could reference when and how they had experienced the power of God as they shared their testimonies and preached.

A passion for the gospel and the profound conviction that they were empowered by Spirit baptism called the first generation of Pentecostal women into missions. Having personally encountered the presence and power of God, they ignored or tolerated policies that attempted to restrict their missionary service to become effective ministers. Alice Luce reflected on the implications of missionary theology and praxis in early Pentecostalism when she wrote, “The Holy Spirit comes in this blessed Baptism to be a power for service and to write on us that letter for God to those who do not know Him, so the letter is not for us primarily, but for others, although we do enjoy the blessing of it ourselves.”46 Describing the zeal, lack of preparation, and many deaths in the sometimes chaotic and “apparently rash beginning of Pentecostal missions,” Elizabeth Sisson wrote that in spreading Pentecostalism, missionaries had not died in vain:

The foolishness of God has been again vindicated and wiser than the wisdom of men in that the quickening reflex influence of the suffering, devoted, Holy Spirit-filled lives of some of these pioneers have made many of the missionaries of various boards hungry for Acts 2:4. So again the blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the church. 47

Most of the time, living conditions did not compare to those at home. The women lived in half-finished homes and among unfinished projects while the men were busy with other missionary projects.48 For tidy North Americans, daily life in the villages and towns required a great adjustment.49 Gertrude Morrison wrote from Liberia, “There is filth and disease on every hand, but God is abundantly able to keep what we commit into His hands.”50 Female missionaries went into dangerous areas where other Westerners feared to venture.51 Caught by wars and political intrigue, women endured unexpected difficulties. Limited transportation during World War I held up supplies, drove up inflation, and stranded missionaries on the field.52

Pentecostals promoted their missionary endeavors in assorted ways. Missionaries wrote letters, personally connected with supporters at missionary services and conventions, and contributed to publications. Beginning with its first issue in September of 1906, the monthly Apostolic Faith from Azusa Street spread the news that “Pentecost Has Come.”53 The Stone Church of Chicago, a Pentecostal hub for missionary sending, published the Latter Rain Evangel.54 J. Roswell Flower and his wife, Alice, edited several periodicals over two decades, including the Christian Evangel. The Confidence, published in England and widely read by Pentecostals worldwide, affirmed revivals happening across Europe and reported on Pentecostal missions in Europe, Africa, and Asia.55

Missions reports occupied a significant portion of Pentecostal periodicals and provided a front row seat from which to observe the drama of the spiritual battle for souls, being fought on a worldwide scale. Readers learned about exotic lands and customs, eavesdropped on the opportunities and challenges of the mission field, and decided where to offer their prayers and financial support.56 Reoccurring editorial themes of the Full Gospel, Spirit baptism, imminent eschatology, and astonishing reports of worldwide Pentecostal revivals fueled the anticipation that Pentecostals lived in the time of a spiritual latter rain, when God was pouring out His Spirit to empower a final witness before His return.57 Missionaries and leaders at home, many of them zealous writers and communicators, articulated their experiences of supernatural manifestations, divine guidance and healing, godly power to overcome demonic forces, and other miracles. For female missionaries, such periodicals were also a lifeline connecting them to developments in American Pentecostalism.58

Updates contrasted the regions where missionaries won many converts and other regions where laborers had virtually nothing to show for their efforts, sometimes for years. Some fields were more resistant than others, especially in areas with well-entrenched world religions. Missionaries who saw few results for their hard work experienced discouragement and disappointment.59 Regardless of what they faced on the field, female missionary updates remain astonishing testimonials to faithful women sharing the gospel and serving people in Jesus’ name, empowered by the Spirit.

Ordinary women set off with hopefulness and optimism for extraordinary outcomes. They believed Christ was coming soon, so both their opportunities and hardships would not last long. God would bring in His spiritual harvest and richly reward His faithful workers. Expectations of Christ’s presence and power after Spirit baptism and the hope of His imminent return guaranteed success in their Pentecostal missionary careers.60 Female missionaries planted the gospel in chaotic and hostile settings, endured unimaginable hardships, and overcame obstacles to minister to the disempowered and the needy in unreached regions. Along with evangelism, they provided education, health care, homes for orphans and widows, and changed customs that disrespected the value of people created in God’s image. They incarnated the presence of Jesus, doing distasteful and challenging work to demonstrate His love for all people.

A Hypothesis of Missiological Empowerment through Spirit Baptism

The research and findings demonstrate that it was possible for a disempowered, under-supported group to become an effective and dynamic force in missions. Pentecostal women, called to missions from within Evangelical and Pentecostal revivals and culture, had encountered the person and power of God in Spirit baptism. Regardless of what they faced thereafter––legalism, gender bias, or suffering––these Pentecostals could point back to a time and place where they spoke in tongues as proof of an encounter with the living God. God, who had personally invested Himself in them, was greater than anyone or anything they would meet or endure. He remained the enduring source of permission, power, and authority that sustained these women’s effective service beyond human permission and resources.61

The leading of the Spirit also provided the primary validation for both the location and strategies of their missionary labors. As a culturally and religiously disempowered group, they crossed cultural and religious barriers, bringing to life the prophecy of Acts 2:17 that God intended to use women as well as men. Their faith inspired supporters and churches in the United States, while their adaptable and willing service opened ministry doors among unreached or disempowered nationals. They offered the gospel and essential humanitarian services, transforming indigenous behaviors, cultures, and societal expectations along the way.

A hypothesis of missiologial empowerment with significant implications for twentieth-century missions emerges as follows: a missionary calling empowered by the Spirit asserts itself in creative, adaptive missionary efforts. It will produce converts, plant churches, and transform individuals and cultures. A Spirit-empowered missionary will seek out the disempowered and disrespected, proclaiming that God values each person enough to seek a relationship with us. Thus, an encounter with God in Spirit baptism and the awareness of the resulting empowerment by the Spirit are vital and significant divine provisions for the calling, commissioning, and conduct of current missionaries. By the Spirit’s power––irrespective of human perceptions of empowerment or permissions and regardless of obstacles or challenges––men and women can continue to evangelize the unreached, empower the disempowered, and bring hope to the hopeless to prove the Scripture: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:28)

In a nascent way, these early Pentecostals describe how current Pentecostal pioneers continue to venture into new fields to present the gospel. As Bernice Lee said in 1921, “Today, it is too easy to shrug off these stories of women as coming from a period when sacrifice was a simpler matter. We can persuade ourselves that we are not called to such extremes. … Today, we need more women who will step out … willing to pay any price to see the gospel advanced.”62 Her call to action serves as an ongoing encouragement for those who may consider themselves disempowered or unequipped for present-day missions.

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Endnotes

1Barbara Hargrove, Jean Miller Schmidt, and Sheila Greeve Davaney, “Religion and the Changing Role of Women,” in Women and Women’s Issues, vol. 12, ed. Martin Marty Modern American Protestantism and Its World (New York, NY: K. G. Saur, 1993), 5. In 1860, only 15 percent of adult women listed in the U.S. census were employed outside the home, possibly due to the doctrine of the separate sphere of men and women. “[There] was widespread agreement in American culture on a new standard of womanhood, the segregated woman’s sphere prescribed by the culture of domesticity. According to this view of gender complementarity [sic]: men were to be active in the public sphere of work and politics, while women’s peculiarly religious and moral nature suited them to reign in the private sphere of the home. From this base, it was assumed that women would influence the character not only of their husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers, but of society itself.”

2R. L. Dabney, “The Public Preaching of Women,” Southern Presbyterian Review 30 (October 1879, repr. 1). http://www.bible-researcher.com/dabney1.html (accessed May 20, 2011). Dabney, Finck, and others, who opposed women’s work outside the home at the turn of the century, insisted that women were the “weaker sex” so teaching, leading, and preaching were not decent female behavior. He aimed to show “woman’s proper place in Christian Society.

3 Rosemary Skinner Keller and Rosemary Radford Ruether, Women and Religion in America: The Nineteenth Century, vol.3 (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1981), 276; Gifford, 188.

4 Charlie Self, phone conversation with author, December 27, 2011.

5 Olga Aston, “God Working in the Darkened Hearts of India: ‘Ready to Preach, to Do, to Die,’” Latter Rain Evangel, December 1919, 8-10.

6 The dissertation’s exemplars, Phoebe Palmer, Carrie Judd Montgomery, and others demonstrate this. See James K. Bridges, “Women in Ministry,” Enrichment Journal (Spring 1997). http://ag.org/wim/resources/articles/ministry/min0306_wim_bridges.cfm (accessed May 27, 2011).

7 Margaret Shirer, “How We Flew Home from Africa,” Pentecostal Evangel, December 5, 1942, 8. Writing about the moral struggles of American engineers and builders working in Africa, Shirer wrote, “May God bless every boy that is far from his mother’s home, as he labors in these far-off places. They need prayer. They have no spiritual help. The temptations are almost too great to bear. … They are far from the influences of Christian civilization that protect and help.”

8 Max Wood Moorehead, “Modern Dress Menace,” Pentecostal Evangel, September 16, 1922, 4.

9 Carl Brumback, “What Meaneth This?” A Pentecostal Answer to a Pentecostal Question (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House 1947), 100-101. Responding to a comment by a denominational leader who “complimented us on our ability to reach a ‘certain [lower] class’ which other religious groups are failing to reach,” Pentecostal historian and theologian Carl Brumback (1917-1987) retorted, “On the whole, the Pentecostal Movement of today is composed of the same class of people as those found in the church of the First Century.”

10 Susan Hill Lindley, “You Have Stept out of Your Place”: A History of Women and Religion in America (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 70.

11 Gerald H. Anderson, Mission Legacies: Biographical Studies of Leaders of the Modern Missionary Movement, American Society of Missiology Series (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1994), 45. Anderson estimates that 75 percent of American Evangelical missionaries in 1994 had been educated in similar Bible schools, which were designed to provide practical as well as theological training in a condensed format for those entering ministry.

12 The principal was W. W. Simpson, a former missionary to Tibet and China with the Christian Missionary Alliance. Later principals included Frank Boyd (1917-1923), a 1910 alumnus of A. B. Simpson’s Missionary Training Institute, and William Evans (1923-1929), a 1911 alumnus there.

13 E. N. Bell, “General Convention of Pentecostal Saints and Churches of God in Christ: Hot Springs, Arkansas, April 2-12, 1914,” Word and Witness, December 20, 1913, 1; Combined Minutes of the General Council of the Assemblies of God 1914-1920 (Springfield, MO: Assemblies of God, 1920), 42.

14 E. N. Bell, “The Mid-West Bible School of the Assemblies of God,” Pentecostal Evangel, January 10, 1920, 8; Irwin Winehouse, The Assemblies of God: A Popular Survey (New York, NY: Vantage Press, 1959), 171. Some of the early training institutes became enduring AG universities. Bethany University (1919-2011) began as Glad Tidings Bible Institute in San Francisco. Vanguard University was founded in 1920 as Southern California Bible School in Los Angeles. Zion Bible College began in 1924 at East Providence, Rhode Island as “The School of the Prophets.”

15 Charles Nienkirchen, A. B. Simpson and the Pentecostal Movement: A Study in Continuity, Crisis, and Change (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1992), 43-44. “[CBI] was the fruit of an initiative on the part of the General Council [of the AG] to legitimize education in an immature movement that feared formalism and lacked appreciation for the strengths of an institutionally trained leadership. At a point in the history of the Assemblies of God when the value of personal, suprarational religious experience was extolled over that of higher education, the triumvirate of Kerr, Boyd, and eventually Evans labored relentlessly on behalf of the cause of Christian education.”

16 Margaret Peoples, “Application for Endorsement as a Missionary: Foreign Missions Committee of the General Council of the Assemblies of God” (Springfield, MO: November 11, 1919), 3.

17 Pearl Hewitt, “Pentecost in the Hawaiian Islands,” Pentecostal Evangel, March 18, 1922, 19; see also John Perkins, “Bound for Liberia,” Full Gospel Missionary Herald (July 1922): 19.

18 Carl Brumback, Suddenly … From Heaven: A History of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1961), 229.

19 Barbara Cavaness, “Factors Influencing the Decrease in the Number of Single Women in Assemblies of God World Missions” (Dissertation, Fuller Theological Seminary, 2002), Appendix F, 388-392.

20 Julia McRichardson, “God’s Deliverance in the Heart of Africa,” Latter Rain Evangel, June 1, 1926): 10-11.

21 Margaret and George Kelley worked in China with Free Will Baptists, but after two years their “doctrinal differences” caused their expulsion from the Baptists and adherence to Pentecostals; see also Miss M. A. Gerber, “Word from Armenia,” Latter Rain Evangel, August 1911, 18. “Some of our largest sources of income have been cut off because we are in fellowship with the Pentecostal movement:” see also Edith Blumhofer, “Woman to Woman: Susan Easton’s Missionary Vision,” AG Heritage (Winter 1992-1993): 4-8, 26. “Reaffiliation was sometimes costly. For [Susan] Easton it meant relinquishing the security of an assured salary … and other benefits for the uncertain life of a faith missionary under a denomination that could not guarantee even minimal support.”

22 Bro. and Sister Ralph D. Bullock, “Reinforcements from America,” Oriental Pentecost 2 (September 1934): 3.

23 Catherine B. Allen, A Century to Celebrate: The History of the Woman’s Missionary Union (Birmingham, AL: Woman’s Missionary Union, 1987), 72.

24 The Eighteenth Annual Report (Nyack, NY: Christian and Missionary Alliance, May 25-29, 1915). Wives were understandably cautious as their husbands worked closely with single women. Both Lloyd Shirer and William Taylor were unfaithful to their wives. William Taylor, a well-known cousin to Hudson Taylor and useful missionary in Liberia, returned to the States, divorced his wife, Mary, and married Bernice Painter, a single woman appointed to West Africa in 1923-1924 before she was “dropped” from missionary service, according to her missionary file (AG World Missions Archives, Springfield, MO).

25 The Schoeneichs ministered together in Central America as well as at home. B. A. and Mrs. Schoeneich, “Matagaipa, Nicaragua, Central America,” Weekly Evangel, August 18, 1917, 13; see also Mrs. Harvey McAlister, “Brother Urshan Married,” Weekly Evangel, August 25, 1917, 13; see also Joseph K. Blakeney, “Off to the Congo,” Weekly Evangel, May 19, 1917, 13.

26 Harry E. Bowley, “Cape Palmas, Liberia,” Weekly Evangel, May 19, 1917, 12. Announcing his marriage at the Perkins mission station, Bowley wrote, “Miss Rhodema Mendenhall [and I] … are happy together in Him, and only pray and desire that our united lives will be a great blessing to many precious souls.” See also Blanche Appleby, “Untitled Personal Recollections,” Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Springfield, MO, 1907-1925, 4. “Mrs. Bettex was formerly Miss Nellie Clark of the London Missionary Society, who received the baptism of the Spirit in China, and became associated with the Pentecostal work; having a splendid command of the Chinese language, the heart and vision of an evangelist.” See also Mrs. W. J. Taylor, “Gleaning in the Harvest Fields of Japan,” Weekly Evangel, May 26, 1917, 2.

27 Mrs. C. H. Schoonmaker, “How Prayer Changes Things on the Mission Field,” Weekly Evangel, July 28, 1917): 2-3. (Reprint of message given at a meeting in Toronto.)

28 W. J. Taylor, “Brother W. J. Taylor Writes,” Weekly Evangel, December 1, 1917, 12.

29 Noel Perkin, “The Needs of Nicaragua,” Pentecostal Evangel,June 2, 1927, 10. Missionary deaths were commonplace in Pentecostal historical updates. For example, the Schoeneichs wrote from a dangerous political situation in Nicaragua that fellow missionaries, the Radleys, were ill, but had recovered. When Schoeneichs went to visit, they found the husband had died of blood poisoning, leaving his wife behind. She returned to the States after his death; see also Lucile Booth-Clibborn, “A Letter from Sister Lucile Booth-Clibborn,” Pentecostal Evangel,September 13, 1924, 10.

30 J. Roswell Flower, “Sister Daniel Awrey in Need,” Weekly Evangel, July 21, 1917, 12. “Her husband, Bro. Daniel Awrey, laid down his life for Jesus in the jungles of West Africa a few years ago. … Now we have word that she is in need again.”

31 William Seymour, Untitled, Apostolic Faith (September 1907): 3. “Before Jesus ascended to heaven, holy anointing oil had never been poured on a woman’s head: but before He organized His church, He called them all into the upper room, both men and women, and anointed them with the oil of the Holy Ghost, thus qualifying them all to minister in this Gospel.” James R. Goff, Fields White unto Harvest: Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism (Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1988), 10. Seymour soon restricted the board to African-Americans and no Hispanics served on it.

32 William Seymour, The Doctrines and Discipline of the Azusa Street Apostolic Faith Mission of Los Angeles, California. vol. 7, ed. Larry Martin (1915: reprint, Joplin, MO: Christian Life Books, 2000), 110. By 1915, Seymour specified, “All ordination must be done by men not women. Women may be ministers but not to baptize and ordain in this work.” Ibid., 116. “A woman ought not to marry without the consent of her parents [with the exception of believing it was] “her duty. … Even then a minister ought not to be married to her.” Also see Estrelda Alexander, “The Women of Azusa Street” (paper presented at the 33rd annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, March 11-13, 2004), 6. “In developing a doctrinal statement for the mission, Seymour made a clear distinction in the roles that men and women were to play in vital areas of worship and ministry leadership. … The increasingly tighter structure that was put into place during latter years excluded women in positions of authority.”

33 Women and Women’s Issues, Martin Marty, ed., Modern American Protestantism and Its World, vol. 12 (New York, NY: K. G. Saur, 1993), xi. A fuller treatment of culture and Pentecostalism is found in Grant Wacker, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001). Also, Alexander, Limited Liberty, 154. Alexander purports one of the reasons female leaders did not spend much effort promoting egalitarian leadership within Pentecostalism was that they expected Christ’s imminent return. Even women who became Pentecostal leaders in the United States, such as Aimee Semple McPherson and Florence Crawford, did not promote a theology of women’s leadership. Rather, they overrode cultural norms to follow their call to minister, leading by the permission and power of the Spirit.

34 Richard A. Lewis, “E. N. Bell: An Early Pentecostal Spokesman” (paper, 16th annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Costa Mesa, CA, November 14, 1986), 4. Lewis admits that E. N. Bell, a Southern Baptist (SBC) pastor for seventeen years, “must be criticized for his tendency to place experience over the Bible in importance and for using experience to validate or prove certain doctrines and practices. In this respect, however, it should be remembered, he was no different than any of the other Pentecostal leaders of that people.”

35 Howard Goss, “Notice to Women Missionaries,” Pentecostal Evangel, May 29, 1915, 2.

36 J. Roswell Flower, “General Council Meeting and Missionary Conference,” Weekly Evangel, August 25, 1917,  8; see also J. Roswell Flower, “The Last Great Meeting,” Weekly Evangel, November 17, 1917, 2. The Editor of the Weekly Evangel, reflecting ideals of early Pentecostal culture, noted that “about half the attendance was made up of splendid looking, sturdy, sober, determined, godly and sweet spirited men and women who had caught a glimpse during the past year of the great things for which the General Council stands.”

37 Minutes of the General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States of America and Foreign Lands. Springfield, MO: General Council of the Assemblies of God, 1917; Missionary Conference, St. Louis, September 13-17, 1917, Resolution VIII, reported in J. Roswell Flower, “The Missionary Conference,” Weekly Evangel, October 6, 1917, 10.

38 When Pentecostal women planted churches, they assumed leadership but lost it as soon as a man could assume the post. See Stanley Frodsham, “General Council Report (1931),” Pentecostal Evangel, October 3, 1931, 14-15, and Stanley Frodsham, “Editor’s General Council Notes,” Pentecostal Evangel, October 10, 1931, 4. At the General Council of the AG in 1931, debate on the issue of women in ministry resulted in the removal of a previous clause permitting women to perform the church ordinances. Women held sanction to baptize, marry, and bury only when men were not available. In contrast, the case studies of the dissertation provide exemplars of ten early Pentecostal female missionaries and the scope of their administrative, evangelistic, apostolic, and humanitarian ministries.

39 Minnie Abrams, “The Battles of a Faith Missionary: Some of the Inner Conflicts at Mukti,” Latter Rain Evangel, March 1910, 13. Abrams acknowledged the challenges and failures of pre-Pentecostal faith missionaries, about 1890: “In the first two or three years of my labors in the foreign field I saw quite a number of missionaries fail in faith, and it was my privilege to help some of them back to the home land. We had to take up collections for them and send them back; they had encountered such hardships and had met with so many disappointments and difficulties as independent missionaries that they failed in health and failed in courage and had to be sent home. We were constantly hearing missionaries of the various boards speak against the faith missionaries. The faith missions also failed to a large extent, and they were one by one turned over to the regular mission boards. That was not a very encouraging outlook for me to become a faith missionary, but God has wonderful schools in which to discipline us.” See also Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience: Studies of Traditions and Movements (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1988), s.v. “The Missionary Enterprise.” “Dispensational premillennialistsand holiness adherents had … since the 1860s, been attracted to the concept of faith missions—missions not attached to and dependent on support from any denominational structure, but reliant on intercessory prayer and a God who met all needs through providentially inspired gifts from the faithful. But these independent faith missions came to recognize the advantages to be gained from the mutual support and cooperation that the mainline Protestant agencies achieved. … Many of the growing number of conservative evangelical churches, holiness denominations like the Christian and Missionary Alliance and the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, established mission boards and sent out missionaries under denominational auspices.”

40 Abrams, 13. “It is no light thing for a missionary to go out to the foreign field without some means of assistance. There have been a great many faith missionaries who have gone in later years, and I am glad to say that things have changed; God’s people are growing stronger. Many people are trusting the Lord Jesus Christ for their support and are establishing independent missions. They are neither turning for help to a Mission Board, nor are they begging people to give them contributions to send them back to the homeland, but they are standing these trials under which some went down in the early days when I was a young missionary. Those first attempts at the faith life have made the church of God stronger, even though there was some failure, and today we find a very large proportion of God’s people going out and succeeding in this battle of faith for their support. … The work over there depends largely upon the work here.”

41 Lillian Garr, “Hearts Burdened for China,” Latter Rain Evangel, April 1911, 8.

42 William Hamner Piper, “Some of India’s Needs,” Latter Rain Evangel, May 1910, 13; see also W. H. Cossum, “A Glorious Convention,” Latter Rain Evangel, June 1910, 5.

43 Abrams, 17-18. “When [God] puts His people out in the forefront … like He has put many who have gone out alone depending upon God, He means you shall stand by them and back them up in every way. … [Missionaries] are everywhere, and some who have gone out under this Pentecostal Movement with such joy and gladness in the midst of shouts and hallelujahs, as they have been seen off on the ships, have literally been starved in foreign lands. Some of them, I have been told, have had to live on roots or anything they could get, because those hallelujahs did not sink down into the heart. … They need prayers just as much as they need money, and I believe when the money is not forthcoming, it is either because some one [sic]is not praying, or some one [sic]fails to obey God when he is impressed to give.”

44 Homer and Alice Fritsch, Letters from Cora (Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Springfield, MO, 1987), 7, 9-10. Fritsch wrote, “God Bless Miss May Law for she is the one who showed me the way to Jesus.” Fritsch went to China with Law two years after her conversion.

45 Minnie F. Abrams, “Again Telling the Story in India,” Latter Rain Evangel, February 1911, 12; Anna Reiff, Untitled, Latter Rain Evangel, December 1923, 13-14 reported that Bernice Lee and a Methodist peer prayed together en route to India and recorded the Methodist’s subsequent Spirit baptism.

46 Alice E. Luce, “Living Epistles,” Triumphs of Faith (May 1921): 227.

47 Elizabeth Sisson, “A Plea for Our Missionaries,” Weekly Evangel, October 6, 1917, 2.

48 Mrs. Vernon Morrison, “Twenty-Seven Natives Baptized,” Latter Rain Evangel,May 1927, 14.

49 George Kelley, “A Visit to an Outstation, May 1929,” Pentecostal Evangel,August 17, 1929, 10.

50 Mrs. Vernon Morrison, “Twenty-Seven Natives Baptized,” Latter Rain Evangel, May 1927, 15-16; see also John Perkins, “New Chapel Dedicated, Liberia,” Pentecostal Evangel, April 27, 1935, 11. During a time of ministry reverses, when Liberians were turning back to idolatry and questioning the efficacy of the Christian faith, Perkins felt the fatigue of long missionary service after being in Africa for thirty-three years, at this point.

51 William Johnson, “And You Have Just Told Us About Him!,” Latter Rain Evangel, September 1910, 17-18; see also Ada R. Buchwalter, untitled article, Pentecostal Evangel, April 12, 1924, 11.

52 John and Jessie Perkins, “Report of the Base Station,” Garraway, Cape Palmas, 1916, Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Springfield, MO.

53 William J. Seymour, “Pentecost Has Come: Los Angeles Being Visited by a Revival of Bible Salvation and Pentecost as Recorded in the Book of Acts,” Apostolic Faith (September 1906): 1.

54 William Hamner Piper, “Missionaries En Route to India,” Latter Rain Evangel, November 1910, 12. The article encouraged the partnership of people at home and on the field: “The going forth [into missions] is only a little part. We must not lose sight of them after they are on the field. We must hold them up with our prayers and means. Our enthusiasm rises high as we get people ready for the foreign field, and we send them off with joy and trust and strong hope, but we must stand with them daily in faith and prayer as they battle against the awful powers of ignorance and superstition, and darkness of heathenism.”

55 A. A. Boddy, “Brother Urshan, of Persia and Chicago,” Confidence (August 1916): 137; see also William Hamner Piper, “Notes: Pentecost in Great Britain,” Latter Rain Evangel, September 1910, 10.

56 William Hamner Piper, “A Rescue-Worker’s Need,” Latter Rain Evangel, February 1911, 15. Piper asked for help on behalf of a widow with three children, needing a furlough but stranded due to lack of funds in India.

57 For example, B. F. Lawrence, wrote a thirteen-part series, “Apostolic Faith Restored,” Weekly Evangel, beginning January 1, 1916, 4-5, that concluded in the Weekly Evangel on April 15, 1916. Lawrence published a book in May, 1916, with the same title.

58 Cora E. Hammond, “Lo Pau, South China,” Weekly Evangel, June 30, 1917, 13. “We enjoy the weekly Evangel. Your piece ‘Look from the Top’ was a great uplift to me; it came just when I needed to ‘look from the top.’”

59 Cora Fritsch, 39. In a letter to her mother October 8, 1908, Cora Fritsch wrote: “Japan is one of the hardest fields. So discouraging, many of the missionaries are returning to their homes, the Japanese are so proud and big-headed since the Japanese and Russian War. They will hardly take anything from foreigners. They say the missionaries might as well return to their native homes as they can get along without them. … How I would like to see the Holy Spirit poured out in great measures on their rebellious hearts.”

60 Bernice Lee, “One Long Thanksgiving Day,” Latter Rain Evangel, November 1937, 3. Carolyn Tennant, “Rediscovering the Pioneer Spirit,” Enrichment Journal 6, no. 2 (Spring 2001). http://womeninministry.ag.org/history/rediscovering.cfm (accessed December 22, 2008). Tennant notes the impact of female missionaries who believed Jesus could return at any moment: “Though often misunderstood, many women indeed have been pioneers. They set out into unmarked territory, stretching beyond their comfort level to follow the call of God. They let the anointing of the Lord flow.”

61 Mrs. H. L. Lawler, “The Pentecostal Work in Shanghai,” Weekly Evangel, October 6, 1917, 8.

62 Bernice Lee, “The Need of Divine Love,” Latter Rain Evangel, October 1921, 21.

 

Updated: Friday, June 16, 2006 10:22 AM