Missions and Migration

The Context of Missionary Expansion

We have seen that pentecostal and revivalist Christianity is inherently expansionist or “missionary.” The missionary enthusiasm was founded on religious convictions and a sense of eschatological destiny. The Holy Spirit had been given in power in the revival of these last days to enable the preaching of the pentecostal message to the ends of the earth. In this chapter I trace some of the ways in which this enthusiasm played out on the world stage by looking at some central actors and prominent areas of activity in early Pentecostalism. Although the early pentecostal missionaries talked of the “heathen” in contrast to the “civilized” nations of the North, their focus on human depravity knew no geographical boundaries and only a “born-again” conversion experience and a radical break with the past could save individuals from inevitable doom. These missionaries were often regarded by colonial authorities as independent religious mavericks, and unlike most other foreign missionaries, their links to colonial powers were often tenuous as they had no official recognition for many years. Few of them set up mission compounds, but when they did, they were usually in close proximity to the communities among whom they worked. Some, in contrast to many of their Protestant counterparts, deliberately chose to live in “native” houses or were forced to do so because of lack of funding; some immediately began living and working with orphans in these houses and setting up rudimentary schools. Pentecostal single women missionaries in India lived with Indian women workers. All these things endeared them to those who were suffering under colonial racism and gave local Christians opportunities to break free from what were often regarded as colonial churches. The creation of independent churches in sub-Saharan Africa, China, and India (inter alia) was one of the consequences of these developments, and most of these churches were pentecostal. In short, Pentecostalism had a global orientation from its beginning. As one pentecostal newspaper remarked, God was “picking people up everywhere, out of all nations and out of all denominations.”1

Catholic missionary priests generally had much greater authority and higher qualifications than Protestant missionaries. The high entrance requirements and commitment expected of Catholic priests, including celibacy, tended to insulate them from rival authorities. By contrast, Protestant churches encouraged a local ministry requiring only a minimum of theological training, a feature that favored the emergence of indigenous and independent churches. In addition, the greater emphasis placed by Catholics on ritual made this form of Christianity attractive to many Africans whose customary religions abounded in many different kinds of rituals. Independent churches seceding from Protestant churches in Africa often became more like Catholics in their emphasis on ritual, as well as in episcopal ecclesiology. But even more important, Catholic missionaries were more accommodating toward traditional customs (including ancestor rituals), which often were assimilated into the church in modified forms, whereas Protestant missionaries tended to confront and reject what they considered “pagan” customs. Marthinus Daneel thinks the reason is theological; Catholic “natural theology” has greater flexibility than Protestantism, which emphasizes “the total corruption” of human nature and stresses the need to make a “radical break with paganism and hence with traditional values.”2

Hundreds of pentecostal missionaries set out from North America and Western Europe, especially Britain, Scandinavia, and the Netherlands. By 1914, only eight years after the Azusa Street revival, there were Western pentecostal missionaries in over forty countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and in some Pacific and Caribbean islands. The cultural and religious contexts of these missionaries must be given serious consideration in any discussion of the changing nature of Christianity during the twentieth century. Although they were not as closely associated with colonial governments as their more “respectable” and generally better-educated Protestant counterparts were, and although their attitudes and activities were probably not as greatly influenced by imperialism and colonialism, pentecostal missionaries who hailed from the same background did not escape these dangers. Their Christocentric message was very similar to that of their evangelical contemporaries, but like them, these missionaries living and working in the zenith of European colonial expansion and imperialism were beset by a host of problems, presuppositions, and prejudices on the mission field.3

Standardization of pentecostal missionary practices occurred gradually and the printed periodicals played a vital role, facilitating the early missionary migration and the rapid globalization of Pentecostalism. Often the only link with any form of organization was through these periodicals, which served a fourfold function. First, they provided missionaries with information on their home bases (such as they were) and the movement’s progress worldwide. Second, they were the means of disseminating information about the work of the missionaries to a much wider audience than the local church that produced them. This was aided by the promotion of conventions at which the missionary cause was highlighted and missionaries on furlough promoted their work and appealed for more workers and funds to support them. Third, the periodicals were a channel for raising funds for the support of the missionaries, and they published regular accounts of donations given for this purpose. Many of the early periodicals saw the promotion of pentecostal missions to be one of the chief reasons for their existence. Fourth, and perhaps most important, they were the means by which a pentecostal meta-culture was formed in these early years, a meta-culture that was laid down for posterity and would shape the next century of pentecostal expansion. As this developed it would include not only missionary methods, doctrines, and practices, but would extend to encompass almost everything in community life, including matters of appropriate dress, food and drink, rites of passage, marriage customs, burial practices, and attitudes to the state. A radical break with the past was demanded; and converts were shown how to make it.4

Missionaries in China and India.

Asia, and particularly China, was a favorite destination for early Pentecostal missionaries. Several missionaries went out to Asia from Azusa Street. Among the first were Alfred G. Garr (1874-1944) and Lillian Garr (1878-1916), former pastors of a congregation of the Burning Bush in Los Angeles, a holiness church that merged with Azusa Street for services early in the revival. Baptized in the Spirit at Azusa Street and reported to have received “the gift of tongues, especially the language of India and dialects,” the Garrs were both supposedly able to speak Bengali—and in Lillian’s case, also Tibetan and Chinese. They left Los Angeles in July 1906 and arrived in Calcutta that December with an African American assistant, Maria Gardner, and their young daughter Virginia. Although disillusioned with their lack of any divinely given language abilities, they were invited to hold nightly meetings in William Carey’s old Baptist church. A British military captain donated enough money to the impoverished Garrs to sustain them during their entire time in India. Lillian, in her first report to The Apostolic Faith in March 1907, wrote that thirteen or fourteen missionaries and other workers had received Spirit baptism. The Garrs continued to work on the Indian subcontinent amid controversy because of their dogmatic stance linking Spirit baptism with speaking in tongues. They moved to Bombay in March 1907 and visited Mukti Mission and the missionary retreat station in the hills at Coonoor. By September these restless itinerants were in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The focus of their ministry was on reaching missionaries with their message because these missionaries—unlike the Garrs—knew the customs and languages of India. “The only way the nations can be reached,” they declared, “is by getting the missionaries baptized with the Holy Ghost.” This became a strategy for many pentecostals in foreign countries who could not speak local languages and it resulted in a rapidly developing network of interconnected missionaries who spread the pentecostal message throughout the world with astonishing rapidity. Most of these came from evangelical faith missions like the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) and the China Inland Mission (CIM), but sometimes missionaries from older denominational missions were affected.5

China, with one third of the estimated world population at the time, was regarded as the most important place for Western missionaries. There were very few Christians there, despite a century of Protestant missions. Pentecostal periodicals made regular pleas for more missionaries to China, declaring that a million Chinese were passing into eternity every month. Although the Garrs were among the first to arrive in Hong Kong, they were preceded by two months by the first pentecostal missionaries to China, T. J. and Annie McIntosh, who had received Spirit baptism through the ministry of Gaston B. Cashwell after the latter’s return to the American South from Azusa Street. McIntosh believed that he had been given the Chinese language while speaking in tongues and after a revelation, set sail with his wife and daughter for the Portuguese colony of Macao, arriving there in August 1907. McIntosh’s letter to Cashwell the day after his arrival mentioned a welcome meeting in which twenty-five missionaries and “five or six Chinamen” were present; but two weeks later, there was resistance to McIntosh’s teaching from the missionaries and greater numbers of Chinese were attending pentecostal services. A report in September “from missionaries in Macao, China” mentioned that “some of the Chinese Christians have received the baptism with the Holy Ghost and are speaking in new tongues.” Four months later Cashwell reported that seventy people had received Spirit baptism thirty days after the Mclntoshes arrived in Macao. Like the Garrs, McIntosh also reached out to other missionaries, and reported that “Pentecost has come” to the South China CMA mission in Wuzhou (in Guangxi province) as a result of two missionaries who had attended meetings in Macao and numbers of Chinese who had also “received their Pentecost” there. Like the Garrs, the Mclntoshes had an itinerant ministry and traveled widely in the vicinities of Macao and Guangzhou (Canton). In Guangzhou they reported that within a month some seventy people in Macao, Guangzhou, and Wuzhou had received Spirit baptism, including fourteen missionaries. The Mclntoshes received increasing criticism, particularly because they were young and inexperienced and were not able to speak Chinese despite their original claims to do so.6

After nine months in China, the Mclntoshes met with severe opposition from a CMA missionary and left for Palestine and the United States in May 1908. But before they left, Annie Kirby, Mrs. McIntosh’s aunt, and Mabel Evans arrived to assist them in Macao. On the departure of the Mclntoshes, Kirby and Evans moved to Guangzhou with an experienced missionary, Fannie Winn (who spoke Chinese), where they worked with Chinese leaders. Once in Guangzhou, Kirby, Evans, and Winn established a work with a Chinese leader called “Brother Ho,” then moved two miles across the city to stay with a Chinese woman, Ho Si Tai, who fitted out a chapel for them in the house they rented from her. They spent most of their time in evangelistic work, holding two street meetings and two services in the chapel every day. Kirby and Evans would draw in crowds by singing with a portable organ and Winn would then preach in Chinese. This was a method used frequently by Western evangelical missionaries at this time. Within a year the three women returned to the United States, apparently never to return to China.7

The Azusa Street newspaper also reported other pentecostal activities among CMA missionaries in Macao and Wuzhou, where a number of Chinese Christians had been baptized in the Spirit. The CMA annual report for 1907 reflected on the need for a revival in China, “a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit” that would “awaken her out of this fearful sleep of death,” that would “mean the bestowal of the old Pentecostal power and gifts promised so long ago, but lost for all these centuries.” Then it described what had happened in Wuzhou in September 1907:

The Spirit fell in a quiet Saturday night meeting and, without there having been any special exhortation or request in prayer on this line, a number “began to speak with other tongues.” It was an entirely new experience, but a blessed one to many, both foreign and native brethren and sisters, old and young. The features and manifestations of these meetings were very similar to those of which we have read in various parts of the world. It seems as though the Holy Spirit is falling on the children of God simultaneously in all parts of the world, often without the intervention of a human leader.8

Carrie and George Montgomery’s tour of South China and India in 1909 was mainly to visit CMA missions, and they had relatively little contact with the independent pentecostal missionaries there. After arriving in Hong Kong, they proceeded up river to Guanzhou and Wuzhou, where among other places they visited two “Bible schools” (one for “boys” and one for “girls”), where the students were trained as Bible teachers. Once or twice on this brief journey, Carrie Montgomery refers to those “native workers” who had particularly impressed her. There were likely hundreds of these Christian workers assisting the foreign missionaries and making a great impact on the local people. In Wuzhou they met a remarkable but unnamed Chinese Christian woman who was one of the teachers in the girls’ school, who together with “many of the girls in the school had received their Pentecostal baptism.” According to the missionaries, through the “great spirituality” of this woman many girls in the school had become “so deeply spiritual.” The Montgomerys then visited Guangzhou, where they “found great prejudice against the Pentecostal movement,” because there had been “so much wildfire and fanaticism.” It is possible that this prejudice was occasioned by the visits of the Mclntoshes to that city, for at this stage the Montgomerys were still leaders in the CMA, which took a moderate line on spiritual gifts and did not teach “initial evidence” as did the missionaries emerging from Azusa Street. The Montgomerys then returned to Hong Kong and made a brief visit to Macao before leaving for India.9

The Garrs and Maria Gardiner arrived in Hong Kong in October 1907 at the same time as two women from Seattle, May Law and Rosa Pittman. They were directed to the American Board (Congregational) Mission where the first pentecostal services were held with the help of a Chinese schoolteacher, Mok Lai Chi (1868-1926). These four missionaries were augmented in October 1908 by two more American women, Cora Fritsch and Bertha Milligan, who had both spent a year in Japan. Fritsch, only eighteen when she arrived in Japan, was to spend four years in South China before she died of malaria, and she and Milligan later worked in Guangzhou, where Milligan was still working in 1920. The meetings in the American Board mission went on daily for a month and were interpreted by Mok Lai Chi, who soon became leader of this Pentecostal Mission, an independent church that exists to this day. The Apostolic Faith reported that “a glorious revival” broke out and later, that “a good many of the Chinese” had “received their Pentecost and are singing, praying, and praising in new tongues.” Law and Pittman contracted smallpox and were quarantined in an offshore boat but recovered. Opposition from the American Board missionaries mounted; they were ejected from the building and moved to the much smaller venue of Mok Lai Chi’s Morrison English School. A Shanghai missionary periodical said that Hong Kong had been disturbed by the “Pentecostal church,” a sect whose aim seemed “rather to pervert Christian Chinese than to convert the heathen.” Within six months, about a hundred people in South China had become pentecostal. In Hong Kong, some thirty people met regularly at Mok’s school.10

These were hard times. Lillian Garr gave birth to a stillborn child and in March 1908 their invaluable assistant Maria Gardner and three-year-old daughter Virginia died of smallpox within a day of each other. After these tragic events they spent two months in Japan and returned to America, where they itinerated for over a year on behalf of the Chinese church. They were back in Hong Kong in October 1909 to open a missionary home, but left three months later and spent almost a year in India. They returned to Hong Kong for another year during which time their son was born. The Garrs left permanently for the United States in December 1911 to engage in church planting and healing evangelism until Lillian’s premature death in 1916. Garr affiliated with the AG and sat on its executive board for a while but soon after resigned to work independently. The Garrs also influenced a young Canadian missionary couple, Robert and Aimee Semple (later McPherson), who arrived in Hong Kong in 1910. Robert Semple died of malaria after ten weeks, and Aimee and her new-born baby Roberta were left to return to North America.11

Because there were no organized pentecostal denominations during the first few years of pentecostal missions, some attempts were made to coordinate the activities of the various independent missionaries. One of the earliest attempts was that of the Pentecostal Missionary Union for Great Britain and Ireland (PMU), constituted by Cecil Polhill, Alexander Boddy, and others in Boddy’s vicarage in Sunderland in January 1909. Although this organization was relatively small, it represents Pentecostalism in its formative stage and the inner dynamics of pentecostal missions. Polhill was the driving force behind the PMU ideologically, administratively, and financially. He attempted to create a pentecostal mission society exactly after the model of the society he belonged to, the China Inland Mission. Polhill, aristocratic owner of Howbury Hall in Bedfordshire, was one of the famed “Cambridge Seven” young men who had gone to China as evangelical missionaries. In 1888 Polhill went to work with the СІМ in Sining in Gansu, thirty miles from the northern Tibetan border. Nineteen years later he returned to England after his father’s death to manage his estate and on his journey via Los Angeles, he received Spirit baptism in the Upper Room mission and became pentecostal. A considerable amount of his personal finances went into supporting the Missionary Training Schools he created and the PMU missionaries sent out from February 1909, most of whom went to Yunnan province in southwestern China. The early PMU cooperated with the СІМ, followed СІМ policies, and used Polhill’s СІМ contacts in China. Thirty-six of the sixty PMU missionaries went to China, twelve went to India, nine to Africa, and three to South America; thirty-six of the sixty were women. Most came from various scattered congregations in Britain associated with the emerging pentecostal movement, but some were from Anglican and other churches, and some from Ireland. Some hailed from the pentecostal church established by Gerrit and Wilhelmina Polman in Amsterdam, which continued to send financial contributions for the PMU missionaries, as did other pentecostal assemblies in Britain and Ireland, and (until the outbreak of war) a church in Breslau, Germany. The first meeting of the PMU Council published the resolution that its candidates would go to a house purchased by Polhill in London for a Bible School for “some months study.” No salaries were guaranteed and candidates were either to support themselves or get the help of their local “Pentecostal Centre.” By November 1909 the PMU Training Home in London with A. M. Niblock as principal had eleven men attending classes. Two months later a separate training center for women was opened in London under the capable leadership of Eleanor Crisp.12

Seven young missionaries, five men and two women, arrived in Hong Kong in October 1910 and traveled on to Shanghai. These were Percy Bristow, Frank Trevitt, Amos Williams, John McGillivray, John Beruldsen, and his two sisters Christina and Thyra Beruldsen. In Hong Kong the four men visited the Pentecostal Mission, where they described a prayer meeting of about thirty Chinese and eight American missionaries led by J. H. King, later presiding bishop of the Pentecostal Holiness Church. In Shanghai they were met by СІМ workers and visited a pentecostal mission where they found four Canadians and about a hundred Chinese. From Shanghai the party dispersed to a Scandinavian Alliance mission in Suan-hwa-fu, Hebei, in the north and to the independent mission of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Smith (another of the Cambridge Seven) in the west in Shanxi for language learning. In a short time the Smiths had received Spirit baptism. Two of the missionaries, Trevitt and Williams, went to the Tibetan borders farther west; others worked in North China and were eventually endorsed by the American AG; and one left the PMU after a theological controversy to work with Stanley Smith. The mission in Suan-Hwa-fu became independent of the Scandinavian Alliance in 1913 and operated a school for children and a street chapel. Most of the PMU missionaries operated in Yunnan province, and the PMU was amalgamated with the British Assemblies of God in 1925, a year after that denomination was formed.4

The caliber of these first and somewhat forgotten missionaries is seen in the story of Frank Trevitt (1881-1915). He was a mechanic from Birmingham who received Spirit baptism and healing from tuberculosis (the disease of which he would die seven years later) at Emmanuel Hall in Bournemouth, the first independent pentecostal congregation in Britain. Trevitt, his Welsh companion Amos Williams, and the two other men in the party disturbed the PMU Council with an announcement of their engagements to four Scottish young ladies without seeking the required permission. The Council took swift disciplinary action and forbade them to marry at least until 1915. The reasons given for this decision were that the PMU was in its infancy and that other mission organizations adopted a four-year restriction. Trevitt and Williams protested desperately against the decision, wondering “if there hasn’t been a mistake made as to the four years of waiting” and arguing that “a man has very little influence over the natives if un-married,” backed by pleas to Scriptures, circumstances, and culture. Their petitions fell on deaf ears; but their fiancées, Maggie and Lizzie Millie from Stirling, were allowed to enter the Women’s Training Home in London. Trevitt and Williams thoroughly imbibed the focused

Polhill vision for Tibetan people and worked in very difficult circumstances on the Tibetan border, often walking many miles in remote and mountainous terrain and taking many days to reach a village. A man with limited formal education, Trevitf s first task was to learn Tibetan, which he seems to have taken to with relish. He was a flamboyant but difficult character and was frequently involved in controversy, earning the ire of his organization not only on the issue of his marriage but also in his strained relationships with other missionaries. Trevitt and Williams itinerated around China against the wishes of the PMU Council, who on at least one occasion ordered them to return to their station. But because of their obstinacy the Council resolved to further delay the sending out of the Millie sisters to China. The women were sent to a separate station in Yunnan in April 1914 and told to wait twelve months. By this time Trevitf s tuberculosis had reappeared. He was hospitalized in Hong Kong and died after a year of intense suffering. Tragically, his death occurred within weeks of their long awaited double wedding in Hong Kong in 1915, and Williams died suddenly of smallpox as the newly married couple were on their journey to their mission station in the interior. The young widows Maggie Trevitt and Lizzie Williams continued to serve in southwest China for another ten years.14

The PMU (probably Polhill himself) gave their sometimes wayward son Frank Trevitt a moving tribute, summing up what he and many like him were all about:

Certainly, if to no one else, the Baptism into the Holy Ghost, with signs following, made all the difference in the world to Frank Trevitt. Seven years were added to the life of the worn, emaciated consumptive given less than six months to live; glorious, strenuous years; tested, difficult times, including the ups and downs of life on the Chinese border, with two languages to cope with for the young mechanic, and with the strain of revolution and the white wolf perils. Well done, Frank Trevitt—we believe he has earned the Master’s “Well done.” You did bravely, Friend. Enthusiastic to a point, sometimes beyond discretion, it is an undoubted fact that the Lord signally used this dear Brother, both in the Homeland, and during his stay in China. There was a fire, a life, an enthusiasm, a faith about him that carried things through, and secured victory. Many owe healings to him under God, many baptisms in the Holy Ghost. He was faithful, too; no looking back, thank God; even to the last, with him, it was “Tibetward.”15

Other missionaries were not as strictly managed as those in the PMU and seemed to go wherever opportunities opened. The CMA encouraged spiritual gifts in its early years, including speaking in tongues, and it was only when controversy erupted over tongues as “initial evidence” that the organization began to retreat from the pentecostal movement. Pentecostal manifestations had come to the south China CMA mission in Wuzhou through two missionaries who had attended meetings in Macao. Numbers of Chinese had also “received their Pentecost” there, and this was also reported in pentecostal papers and by the missionaries themselves in a CMA newsletter. At that stage, the CMA welcomed such manifestations of spiritual power.16

After pentecostal phenomena broke out in a CMA convention in Taozhou, Gansu, in 1912 during a visit by Trevitt and Williams, Otilia and William W. Simpson (1869-1961), missionaries in China from 1892- 1949 with the CMA, became pentecostal, although they had experienced speaking in tongues among the Chinese four years earlier, which they had denounced as demonic. They passed on their pentecostal experience to many CMA churches in southwestern Gansu, their testimony was published in the CMA’s Alliance Weekly, and Simpson also shared his experience at neighboring CIM missions. Soon after his Spirit baptism, Simpson prayed for Chinese workers to have the same experience and wrote that as a result, the spiritual life of the churches had improved, “pastors, teachers and evangelists are much more enthusiastic and fervent in their labors, and conversions are more frequent and thorough than formerly.”17

The CMA annual report at the end of 1912 (written by Simpson) was very positive about this pentecostal revival:

We praise the Lord that He is working with us and confirming His Word with these same mighty signs as of old. Many cases of instantaneous and remarkable healings have occurred... More than thirty have received the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues and prophesying.18

Because of his insistence on speaking in tongues as “initial evidence,” Simpson’s relations within the CMA soured; he resigned in 1914 and applied to join the PMU. His letter to them described the support he was getting from CMA Chinese churches, but his mission committee had “just plainly ordered us off the Field, but the Churches have petitioned the Board to retain us.” He wrote, “If they uphold me they will have to remove the opposers from the field and permit the work to be entirely Pentecostal, and if they go against me the great body of the Churches, all the really spiritual ones, will join me in an independent Pentecostal work.” He resigned from the CMA in 1914 “because they required us to subscribe to unscriptural teaching about the Baptism in Holy Spirit.” Simpson was probably typical of such controversial pentecostals, traveling among CMA and СІМ stations praying for missionaries and Chinese pastors to be baptized in the Spirit, claiming to have visited all the CMA mission stations and that “nearly all” the Chinese leaders had received Spirit baptism “according to Acts 2.” He was never accepted into the PMU, but the resulting tensions in China and India among CMA missionaries brought about a major secession from the CMA at this time, with many CMA ministers and missionaries joining the newly formed AG.19

In Shanghai, Simpson visited the Door of Hope rescue mission for prostitutes where Antoinette (Nettie) Moomau (1872-1937) had held meetings. Most of the leaders and workers at the Door of Hope had received the pentecostal experience through her ministry. Moomau, a Presbyterian missionary in China since 1900 who received her Spirit baptism at Azusa Street while on furlough in 1906, was the first pentecostal missionary in Shanghai and one of the first in China. She had established the Apostolic Faith Mission among influential Chinese people in the city, and she remained in the area until her death in 1937. Simpson was in Shanghai for a while and helped open a new mission in Nanjing where Chinese preacher Nathan C. S. Ma (Ma Zhaorui) and his wife were working; this couple ran a girls’ school and industrial orphanage that continued for many years. Ma was also an influential preacher in the Shandong Revival in the 1930s.20

Simpson reported that six out of nine Norwegian missionaries had been Spirit baptized, so that “the entire mission is practically Pentecostal,” and that several Chinese workers in Gansu (including three pastors) would leave the CMA. He asked Polhill if the PMU could take on the entire work, but the PMU realized the sensitivity of this and did not do so, and by 1915 Simpson was courting the new American AG. In a printed circular distributed to various missionaries, Simpson wrote that he hoped “to carry the Pentecostal Baptism and the faith once for all delivered to the saints all over Northern and Central China, to every part of Mandarin speaking China where Pentecost has not fallen before I get there.” In January 1915 CIM director D. E. Hoste (like Polhill a member of the famed “Cambridge Seven” and who went to China in 1885) wrote to Polhill to complain about Simpson’s “propaganda,” as Simpson had named Polhill and Boddy, among others, as character references. Polhill now had a serious dilemma, as he was a member of the CIM Board and several other missionaries in China had already left the CIM and the CM A to become pentecostals. Polhill published a formal statement in July 1915 “to let his position be known,” and would have “no sympathy with any propaganda” if pentecostal missionaries entered smaller towns in China occupied by the CIM unless invited by CIM missionaries. He believed that PMU missionaries, and particularly Simpson, had followed his policy. He would take responsibility for Simpson as long as he carried out these conditions and Polhill would deplore any pentecostal missionary who did not. However, Polhill also distanced himself from the recent anti-pentecostal stance of the CIM.21

The opposition by established evangelical missions was now firmly in place. Simpson returned to the United States in 1915 and for two years led the newly established Bethel Bible School in Newark, New Jersey. He returned to China in 1918 after the death of his wife, married another missionary, Martha Merrill, in 1925, and made his base in Minzhou, Gansu. He traveled throughout China and worked with Chinese leaders in establishing congregations and beginning Bible training schools for preachers. His writings brimmed over with confidence in the progress of his work. By January 1920 he reported that there were ten “Assemblies” with about 300 “Spirit-baptized saints spread over three counties,” and twenty-four students in his Bible school. There were several full-time Chinese preachers in Simpson’s mission, all of whom had already been Christians in other churches for several years. Simpson reported 400 baptized in the Spirit and a total of 1,000 people connected with the AG in the province of Gansu. He was committed to creating and encouraging Spirit-filled Chinese leaders, which became his life’s work. He later reported “some 50 odd students from five provinces, Mongolia and Manchuria.” He remained in China (with a break during the war from 1940 to 1945) until the Communist takeover in 1949, when he returned to the United States at the age of eighty. His itinerant preaching and teaching all over China was done on foot and by train, and he assisted in the training of Chinese ministers, both men and women, in Gansu, at the Truth Bible Institute in Beijing from 1935 to 1940, and after the war in remote, northwest China.22

Simpson’s aim was simple, as he wrote in 1941, after he had been unable to return to China because of the war:

The Lord enabled our national co-workers to keep His work going with His presence and blessing. His unerring guidance has led me to devote much time to training them in the Word and work during many years and in many places. China must be evangelized by Spirit-filled and led Chinese, not by American missionaries. The Chinese soon learned self-government, self-support, self-propagation and thus became indigenous Assemblies.23

It was this commitment to training national workers that was one of Pentecostalism’s strengths. Most of the training programs were easy to access and so the transition to leadership was relatively simple and rapid. Such was the remarkable determination of these early pentecostal missionaries and it is no wonder that today a significant proportion of China’s burgeoning Christianity is pentecostal in nature.

Robert F. Cook (1880-1958) and Anna Cook, former Baptists, first encountered Pentecostalism and joined the Upper Room Mission in Los Angeles in 1908. There they met A. G. Garr and the first pentecostal missionary to South India, George Berg, during his furlough in Los Angeles in 1912. The Cooks and their two young daughters left the following year for India with Berg, who was to leave India in 1914. After a month with Berg in the hills, the Cooks set up base first in Bangalore and then, after a disagreement with Berg, moved to Kovilpatti village in the Tirunelveli district in 1914, where they lived in a small room in a house shared with three Indian families under unsanitary conditions. They reported crowds of people coming to their meetings as well as remarkable healings and exorcisms. An Indian Christian gave them an acre of land on which they erected a chapel. They had eight Indian preachers assisting them— some of whom had previously worked with Berg. The Cooks and their teams preferred to travel third class rather than use coaches reserved for Europeans—probably as much out of necessity as conviction—and they used the opportunity to preach and sing to a captive audience. They used the limited funds they raised to recruit and support their Indian workers, but the Great War brought increasing financial pressures on them. They moved back to the safe garrison of Bangalore before taking furlough in 1915, when Charles Cumine, an Anglo-Indian, took charge of the mission. Cumine went on a tour of Kerala with Cook in 1916-17, and was still the main leader with Cook in 1920. Anna Cook died of typhoid in 1917 and the following year Cook married Bertha Fox, a missionary who had worked near Bangalore with a Mukti Mission worker, Mary Bai Aiman. For a while the Cooks were loosely affiliated with the AG and lived in Doddaballapur, Mysore, where they opened the Berachah Orphanage. They moved to Kottarakkara, Kerala, in 1922 and started a Bible school, opening a building for it in 1927 in Chengannur with the financial assistance of Essek W. Kenyon, the forerunner of the Word of Faith movement. This became Cook’s headquarters and was named “Mount Zion.”24

The Cooks were missionaries who engaged with Indian pentecostals on an equal basis but were also involved in various subsequent secessions. Pentecostalism in Kerala was already progressing in the 1920s with little expatriate supervision. More Indian evangelists and leaders, especially from Brethren or holiness backgrounds, became pentecostal. On his return from furlough in 1926, Cook sided with the Indian leaders in a dispute with the AG missionary Mary Chapman, who had insisted on the registration of church buildings with the AG before finances could be given. Cook formed the Malankara Pentecostal Church of God and left the AG in 1929, eventually affiliating with the Church of God and remaining in India until 1950. Several Indian preachers associated with Cook were instrumental in starting independent pentecostal churches, including K. E. Abraham, who joined Cook in 1923 and worked with him as a teacher in the Bible school.25

Cook refers obliquely to him and the schism he led:

In 1930, while the revival was still on, one of the leaders of the fellowship, a young man became vain and lifted up with pride because of his ability. 1 Tim.3:6. He thus became prey to the National spirit, which was prevalent in India at that time. Four other workers and a number of our fellowship followed him... we could well refute the accusation these workers flung in the teeth of the European missionaries and could affirm that we were NOT foreign paid servants.26

Apart from its negative reference to Indian nationalism, the last comment refers to the fact that by 1930 Cook was not affiliated to any denomination and only joined the Church of God (Cleveland) in 1935 after a visit by its missionary leader J. H. Ingram, who enthused about “the great mass movement to the Church of God here in India.” Ingram marveled that he had “actually captured fifty-eight Pentecostal churches, pastors, deacons, and all...the combined membership will run near four thousand.” Cook himself wrote to Ingram that the decision to join them had been made because he believed that this was “a body that would consider Indians co-equal in the carrying on of the work with us.” It is revealing that the very capable leader K. E. Abraham was never ordained by Cook but by Ramankutti Paul of the Ceylon Pentecostal Mission in 1930; but it could also be that Cook was disinterested in hierarchical leadership and did not practice ordination. Cook refers to the secession by Abraham and his associates “on the supposed grounds that the missionaries were lording over the native church and controlling it.” He declared that this was “a false accusation” because they had decided “to confer full liberty on assemblies, workers and members of the church” and “The missionary was to be only a co-advisor.” Cook estimated that the secession split his membership (about 7,000 at the time) in half. The secessionists founded the Indian Pentecostal Church in 1934, now with the AG the two largest pentecostal denominations in India, and from which further secessions have ensued.27

Missionaries in Africa

As in China and India, pentecostal missionaries went to certain countries in Africa early. Liberia was a favorite place for African American missionaries, who perhaps were encouraged by the contemporary “Back to Africa” movement advocating emigration to Africa by the children of slaves. But missionaries did not find Liberia an easy place to live in and several soon returned to the United States. First, there was considerable unrest among the native Liberians, especially in the Cape Palmas area where the Grebo people lived. An insurrection against the Liberian government took place in 1909 and escalated into full-scale war in 1910. For much of the twentieth century there was extensive exploitation of native Liberians by the settler Americo-Liberian minority. Slavery was outlawed there only in 1936, and indigenous Liberians were denied voting rights. The famous Liberian prophet William Wade Harris, before his call to the ministry while in prison, was jailed for planting a British flag in Monrovia because he believed that British protection was better than the Americo-Liberian oppression that his fellow Grebos were suffering.28

Pentecostal missionaries with connections to Azusa Street started arriving in Liberia in 1907. The Apostolic Faith reported that African American evangelist Lucy Farrow, who had first accompanied Seymour to Los Angeles from Houston, would be in the first party of Azusa Street missionaries who left for Africa, as would Julia Hutchins, the African American woman who had first invited Seymour to Los Angeles and then barred him from her church. Within a few weeks of their arrival in Liberia, seven Azusa Street missionaries, Mrs. Cook, Mrs. Lee, and the whole Batman family of five, died of tropical fever. The Apostolic Faith did not announce their tragic deaths, which soon became a source of great embarrassment and criticism for the new Apostolic Faith movement. Some holiness periodicals used the deaths as proof of the “delusion” taught at Azusa Street and charged Julia Hutchins with “kidnapping” a young Kru girl from Monrovia because she had returned to the United States with an African child. Farrow returned after seven months in Johnsonville, Liberia, where she worked among the native population, reporting that twenty had “received their Pentecost” and that she had been able to speak and preach two sermons in the Kru language. The paper concluded the report on Farrow by saying that some of “the heathen” had spoken “in English and some in other tongues.” The paper announced that the Lord had shown Farrow when she was to go, told her the time she was to return, and provided the fare in time. Farrow returned safely and was preaching in Virginia and the southern states. She continued to work at Azusa Street for a few months before returning to her home in Houston.29

Other early African American missionaries to Liberia were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Cummings, Church of God in Christ missionaries who went there in 1907, and Edward and Mollie McCauley, leaders of the racially mixed Apostolic Faith congregation in Long Beach, California. With an associate named Rosa Harmon, the McCauleys arrived in Monrovia in November 1907 and established a thriving work there among Kru people. Canadian John Reid visited Monrovia briefly on his way to Cape Palmas in December 1908 (where he soon afterward died) and reported how he stumbled upon the Apostolic Faith Mission hall, met McCauley, and learned that he had 145 members. Rosa Harmon reported 154 Kru members the following year. On an overnight stop in Monrovia in October 1913, global traveling American preacher Daniel Awrey reported a thriving, “large congregation in the Apostolic Faith Church” less than two months before his own death from malaria at the pentecostal mission near Cape Palmas. He was by no means the last pentecostal missionary to die in Liberia. Altogether, ten missionaries died of tropical diseases in the first eight years of the mission in Cape Palmas. Others returned home.30

Things were a little easier for missionaries in the temperate highlands of the South. Thomas Hezmalhalch (1847-1934), John G. Lake (1870-1935), Jacob Lehman, and others began the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa (AFM) in Johannesburg in 1908, the largest pentecostal denomination in the country today. Hezmalhalch was an itinerant holiness preacher in his sixties who received Spirit baptism at Azusa Street. He was involved in a pentecostal church in Indianapolis and a new outreach in Zion City, Illinois—where he became acquainted with Lake. Lake was a former elder in Zion City who had received Spirit baptism through the ministry of Parham there in 1906. The team was identified with the pentecostal work in Indianapolis and sent from there to South Africa. Because of his seniority, Hezmalhalch was regarded as leader of this group and became the first president of the AFM, although Lake was the more charismatic. Lily and Jacob Lehman were returning missionaries who had been six years in southern Africa (Lehman had gone to Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, in 1901); they were able to speak Zulu and had received Spirit baptism in Indianapolis. With hardly enough funds for the voyage, the pentecostal missionary party of seven adults and seven Lake children sailed third class for South Africa via Liverpool in April 1908.31

The Zionist connections of the American missionaries proved fortuitous. Pieter L. le Roux, an Afrikaner and Dutch Reformed missionary working in Wakkerstroom near the Natal border, had joined Dowie’s Zionist movement in 1902 or 1903 and become an elder, together with some 400 African fellow-workers and converts. They were baptized in 1904 by Daniel Bryant, Dowie’s appointed Overseer for South Africa, and the movement reached 5,000 in a year. Le Roux was to become the first South African president of the AFM, a position he held for over thirty years. Bryant, on his return to the United States in 1906, had become disaffected with Dowie’s successor Wilbur Voliva and left the movement. He had also encouraged his followers to seek a deeper baptism in the Spirit. It seems that his disaffection had spread to his South African followers, who welcomed the Zionists-turned-pentecostals with open arms. The Zionists in the Wakkerstroom area were the source out of which a whole series of African Zionist denominations emerged throughout southern Africa. Two of the Zulu leaders associated with le Roux were Daniel Nkonyane and Fred Lutuli, both of whom already had hundreds of followers of their own by 1905 and were to found significant independent Zionist churches after breaking with the AFM in 1910.32

Lake wrote effusively to his supporters of how God had “wonderfully blessed” their work so that “manifestations of the Spirit have been intense in their power and depth of character beyond anything I have known.” Daily meetings with packed audiences with instant healings, people falling to the ground “under the power,” and other manifestations of the Spirit were reported. Back in North America these events were regarded as the most remarkable of the reports from pentecostal missionaries anywhere. Lake wrote that “Johannesburg was never so religiously stirred before,” and that he was receiving so many enquirers that he had “hardly been able to eat, let alone sleep.” The services began in an American Congregational “native” church in Doornfontein, an area inhabited mainly by “Coloured” (Afrikaans-speaking, mixed race) and African people. This soon became too small, and the pentecostal team was given the unrestricted use of the 500-seat Zion Tabernacle. Lehman observed “the prejudice that exists with the white people against the natives” and that because of the whites coming to the meetings, “the natives became timid and were crowded out.” The Zion Tabernacle’s larger capacity had seemingly solved the problem temporarily, soon becoming the Central Tabernacle of the AFM. In May 1909 Lake was about to depart for the town of Volksrust for a conference with the “native preachers under our baptized brother, Elder le Roux,” who had joined the AFM with “thirty-live native preachers ministering to live thousand people.” Lake wrote that there were now “at least fifty thousand” people for whom the AFM was responsible. Lake opines that because the white South African missionaries working with them already spoke “Dutch” (Afrikaans) and “native languages,” and because they did not “live in the luxurious way that the Americans have been accustomed to,” they were “a better class of missionary than the average foreign missionary.” He asked for support for these workers, which would be “worth as much in the extension of the Kingdom of God as twenty American missionaries would be.” While these statements might not have endeared Lake to his American readers and fellow-missionaries, he seems to have won the hearts of many Afrikaners with his anti-British views (perhaps gleaned from Dowie in Zion City) and his sympathy with the Afrikaners’ plight since the recent Anglo-Boer War.33

South African Pentecostalism was very quickly segregated. Although the very first meetings in the Zion church in Johannesburg were integrated, within a few months segregation was practiced. This led to a whole series of secessions from 1910 onward. In a letter to his American supporters, Lehman commented on the “very unsatisfactory” arrangements in the Zion Tabernacle and the “terrible barrier of race distinction” that “could be our greatest difficulty.” This had caused the “native work” in Johannesburg to be independent of the “white work” from March 1909. Lehman thought that “no one else had the burden of the natives of Johannesburg on their hearts,” and he secured a separate hall rented by the Africans themselves. He worked for a time with the rival Pentecostal Mission and continued his work in the mine compounds and hospitals around Johannesburg for eleven years. Lake and Hezmalhalch returned to the United States briefly in September 1909 and visited Durham’s mission in Chicago as well as Azusa Street and the Upper Room in Los Angeles. During 1910 the two missionaries fell out, with Hezmalhalch being influenced by other missionaries who had charged Lake with financial irregularities. There were also rumors of exaggerated reports made by the missionaries. Lake, however, continued to get the support of all the Afrikaner and African AFM workers. The Upper Room, Lake’s largest financial supporter, published a full vindication of Lake in November 1910, stating that they were fully satisfied with Lake’s integrity. The AFM executive wrote a letter of support for Lake, stating that the accusations were “petty jealousies” that South Africans were ignoring. Hezmalhalch was dismissed from the presidency and returned to California, leaving Lake in charge. This event marked the first denominational schism in South African Pentecostalism, with Lake and most Afrikaner pentecostals in the AFM and most of the other foreign missionaries in the Pentecostal Mission. Lake returned permanently to the United States in 1913, when le Roux took over as president of the AFM, and the organization was dominated by Afrikaners thereafter.34

The history of the AFM and its relationship with apartheid is a painful one. The Pentecostal Mission under the American George Bowie and British immigrant Archibald Cooper in Middelburg included Henry and Anna Turney’s mission and Lehman’s work in Johannesburg. This group split again into the Full Gospel Church and the Assemblies of God, and eventually into further factions. The Full Gospel Church affiliated with the CG in 1951 to become the Full Gospel Church of God. The Assemblies of God in South Africa divided several times and exists in various independent groups today. In 2002, three of the major factions reached an accord, but a decade later this had not yet become organizational unity.35

Some Western pentecostal missionaries founded independent national churches. One of these was William F. P. Burton (1886-1971), who became a pentecostal in 1911 and trained under Thomas Myerscough in Preston and at the PMU training school in London. As David Maxwell observes, “The sense of certitude and absolutism that came from his dramatic conversion and profound experience of the Holy Spirit led to dogmatism and irascibility.” Controversy followed his unorthodox and independent ways and brought him into conflict with the PMU Council. After pastoring churches while waiting for doors to open, Burton sailed for Africa in 1914, spending a year in South Africa and Lesotho before being joined by his friend James Salter. They headed north to the Belgian Congo in 1915 together with two Pentecostal Mission workers, George Armstrong and Joseph Blakeney. Their mission came to be known as the Congo Evangelistic Mission (CEM) from 1919, although it was only officially organized in 1922, when Salter became Home Director in England. Arriving in Elizabethville (now Lubumbashi), they proceeded to their first mission station at Mwanza Kasingu among the Luba people, but Armstrong died of malaria before their arrival and Blakeney left to return to South Africa a month later. Burton and Salter together began the urgent task of language acquisition and after a month were trying to preach in Kiluba, but they recognized their great limitations. By the end of 1915 they were joined by two American women sent from Johannesburg, who established a new station south of Mwanza but left the mission in 1917 because of ill health. After a few months at Mwanza, Burton and Salter were joined by a group of fourteen emancipated Bekalebwe slaves who had become evangelical Christians in Angola, led by a former slave raider, Shalumbo Kisoka. They immediately joined up with the new mission and Shalumbo became its first African evangelist, working there for the next twenty years preaching and healing, resulting in much of its early success. Burton soon recorded that each of six “native evangelists” held two to six meetings a day in six to eight villages a week, with an average weekly attendance of 6,300 people.36

In 1917 Burton constructed a chapel and school building at Mwanza, partly in reaction to Catholic opposition. There was a possibility that villages won for Pentecostalism would be taken away from them—so it was necessary to teach the Christians in these villages “to read, put Testaments in their hands, and send them out.” This underlined the urgent need for the mission to train “native evangelists,” he wrote. The stage was set for the multiplication of mission stations after the model of the older missions. In 1918 Burton married a South African, Helen (Hetty) Trollip, and returned with her to Mwanza. By this time there were three new missionary “recruits” from South Africa (two women and one man) and two Americans, making a total of six, who immediately set out to learn the language. By 1920 Burton himself had written down a Kiluba vocabulary of 15,000 words. He would later institute a strict regime by which any missionary who could not preach in the local language after six months in the field would be sent home. By 1922 there were fifteen white missionaries and between thirty and forty African evangelists in the mission. By 1925 the number of missionaries had reached thirty and there were 100 African evangelists. A Bible school for the training of workers was started at Mwanza and the “most promising” of the young evangelists who had already proved themselves in the different stations (as Burton put it) were trained there for two years. Many of the African evangelists in the CEM were severely persecuted for their faith, being opposed by chiefs and witch doctors, and they were lashed and beaten, imprisoned, and poisoned. But the work of the CEM continued to grow. Burton operated on the principle of training African workers, always under white supervision. As he reported in 1925, “The great needs are Spirit-filled native evangelists, and a few white workers to superintend and help them.” But he was not unaware of the benefits of having African leaders, and his accounts of the work of such leaders in the Congo and South Africa provide uniquely fascinating stories of African initiatives in the early years of Pentecostalism. Nobody else from this era provided much information on African leaders, but Burton wrote books about some of them. As former PMU colleague Percy Corry put it in his foreword to one of these books, these accounts were “a revelation of what can be done by consecrated, Spirit-filled, native leaders.” They showed the “indigenous church” as “directed and encouraged by Spirit-filled leaders, and as such it must command attention.” This was an example of what God could do “if we allow Him to use us in a similar way in our own lands and to the people at our very doors.”37

Burton’s method was to select the best young men from the different stations who had shown the ability to evangelize and lead a church. Not more than forty at a time, “with their wives,” were selected for the central training school, run by Burton himself, in the first years of the CEM. The course lasted for about two years and its primary purpose was “to make them Bible-lovers and to encourage them in personal holiness and fellowship with God. Brilliance of preaching and leadership are secondary to this.” They accompanied the missionaries on their itinerating to learn on the job. A photograph of two of the CEM’s “native overseers,” Kangoi and Ngoloma, published in 1922, had the revealing caption, “These men now take practically the same place and responsibility with regard to the young native churches as the white missionaries.” It continued, “If anything occurred necessitating the withdrawal of white workers, the native church would still have steady godly men to whom to look for help and direction.” Unfortunately, Burton did not follow through on this remarkably enlightened vision. Almost forty years later, the CEM was still directed by an all-white Field Executive Council and had sixty-live European missionaries working in fourteen mission compounds. Two missionaries were killed in the Congolese civil war, and Burton and his missionaries were evacuated in 1960. The result of this seeming setback was that ten years later the churches left behind and now led by Africans had more than doubled in membership.38

There is no doubt that Burton was an unusual, even unique, pentecostal missionary. He had benefited from a public school education in England. By profession an engineer, he was an extremely talented person, an adept linguist, author of many books, and accomplished in building, art, poetry, photography, surveying, and cartography. He wrote books about the mission, about the southeastern Congo and its inhabitants, and about the things he had learned there. His ethnographic books on and photographs and paintings of Luba society and landscapes all received wide recognition. But his somewhat unorthodox methods seldom met with the approval of the Belgian colonial authorities, who saw African religious enthusiasm, with its tendencies toward independence, as dangerous, even subversive. They saw Burton’s emphasis on divine healing as detrimental to their own desire to further medical science, and his criticism of the migrant labor system increased the tensions. They much preferred the orderly Catholics, with whom Burton had several clashes. Nevertheless, the remarkable Burton remained at Mwanza for forty-five years in all, directing his mission until 1960 when the civil war that followed independence forced him into retirement in South Africa at age seventy-four. The church formed by his converts eventually became the Pentecostal Community of the Congo, now a vibrant denomination of half a million that has weathered the ravages of continued civil war in that troubled region. Burton, like those indomitable pentecostal missionaries in other parts of the world, was a rugged individualist and somewhat maverick, but he was totally committed to the task he felt called to do and the people to whom he had been sent. He represents a shift from the heady eschatological pressure of the pentecostal missionaries who went out before the First World War, a shift that was evident in the more settled missionary methods practiced by pentecostals for the next half century. The institutionalization of pentecostal denominations was taking place and would be accompanied by further schism and proliferation.39

Missionary Strategies

The most significant event for Protestant Christianity in the first half of the twentieth century, contemporaneous with the birth of Pentecostalism, was the birth of the ecumenical movement, a series of events beginning with the great World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in June 1910 and culminating in the formation of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam in 1948. It is not the purpose of this book to go into detail about these pivotal events, but there were remarkable similarities between the aspirations of the leaders of the Edinburgh Conference and those of the fledgling pentecostal movement, throwing into perspective the distance that later developed between these two global movements. In his opening address at Edinburgh, Archbishop of Canterbury Randall Davidson used eschatological language to prophesy that those at the Conference might well experience in their lifetime “the Kingdom of God come with power.” The chairman of the Conference, American evangelist John R. Mott, believed that Christianity stood at the dawning of a new age of global expansion where the opportunities presented by the political, economic, and religious contexts were unprecedented: “the day of God’s power,” he called it. None of these Edinburgh participants would have reckoned on an obscure revivalist movement on the fringes of Christianity at the time as being a major contributor to the realization of these prophecies. For their part, the new pentecostals and radical evangelicals hardly noticed the Edinburgh event; they were not invited to attend and their work was unrecognized, but these were still very early days. But then, neither were the Catholics nor the various Orthodox bodies invited. This great missionary conference was notoriously underrepresented by anyone outside the Western world—only nineteen out of 1,215 delegates, of which eighteen were from Asia, only one from Africa, and none at all from Latin America. Very few people at the Edinburgh conference would have heard of Pentecostalism, and those that had would have written it off at best as an eccentric and over-emotional sect, or at worst as a dangerous heretical movement. Certainly no one would have anticipated its enormous role in the future of world Christianity. There is no evidence that the 1910 Conference had any significant influence on pentecostal missions, despite its emphasis on evangelism (its motto was “the evangelization of the world in this generation”). Pentecostals were not yet organized into structures, and the Edinburgh conference did not foresee the massive transformation in the nature of the church that was to take place during the twentieth century in which Pentecostalism played a major role.40

The Conference made various inaccurate assumptions, such as that Christianity would not flourish without white missionary control. Providentially, Pentecostalism gave the lie to that assumption and contributed significantly to the reshaping of Christianity from a Western to a predominantly non-Western phenomenon. Things did not turn out in the way that the Edinburgh Conference anticipated.41 Brian Stanley observed:

The measure of missionary success enjoyed by Christianity in the century that followed arguably owed rather little to the priorities set and the objectives enunciated at Edinburgh. The Christian faith was indeed to be transfigured over the next century, but not in the way or through the mechanisms that they imagined. The most effective instrument of that transfiguration would not be western mission agencies or institutions of any kind, but rather a great and sometimes unorthodox miscellany of indigenous pastors, prophets, catechists, and evangelists, men and women who had little or no access to the metropolitan mission headquarters and the wealth of dollars and pounds which kept the missionary society machinery turning; they professed instead to the simple transforming power of the Spirit and the Word.42

The editor of the Atlanta pentecostal periodical The Bridegroom’s Messenger, Elisabeth Sexton, referred to the conference in a 1910 editorial as “undoubtedly the greatest missionary gathering the Christian world has ever known,” but doubted whether any activity “not representing the fullness of the Gospel, with full redemption in Christ Jesus for body, soul and spirit” would achieve the expected outcome. She felt that concessions made “regarding heathen religions in recognizing certain moral good in them” would “dishonor God and weaken the cause of Christ.” She reiterated her conviction that the only “equipment for effectual missionary service” was “Holy Ghost power” and “uncompromising faithfulness to the full Gospel truth.” Without this there was “little hope for great results for God as the outcome of this great missionary conference.” Her commentary illustrates some of the fundamental issues developing in pentecostal circles that were to make it highly suspicious of and largely uncooperative with the wider Christian world. In addition, some of the differences between the missionaries represented at Edinburgh and those of the emerging new movement are obvious. The former emphasized careful strategic planning; the latter stressed spontaneity and reliance on the leading of the Spirit with the confirmation of “signs and wonders.” The former were willing to recognize the good in other faiths; the pentecostals based their appeals for missionaries on the utter darkness they perceived to be in the “heathen” nations and their religions, and assumed that these nations desperately needed the Christian gospel. At an address to a Chicago pentecostal audience in 1910 intended to spur people to volunteer for missionary service, Minnie Abrams titled her talk “The Midnight Darkness of India’s Superstition” and spoke of her first impressions in Bombay of “these masses of people all in awful darkness and bowing down to idols.”43

Western pentecostal newspapers were filled with such descriptions of the darkness, depravity, and suffering of the “heathen” nations to which their missionaries had ventured. This was a fairly stereotypical view of most radical evangelicals at the time and was not peculiar to pentecostals, but seeing other religions as spiritual entities to be confronted placed pentecostal missionaries at some advantage over their more rational Protestant counterparts. Pentecostals believed in a spiritual universe that included good and evil forces, and although they tended to see these in dichotomous terms, unlike most of the Protestant missionaries pentecostals entered into the world of other religions addressing many central human aspirations, especially the need for spiritual power to overcome evil and suffering. There was one more positive commentary on the Edinburgh conference more than two years later by Cecil Polhill, leader of the PMU, who thought that the conference was “evidently ordered in the Plan of God” and its reports brought the church “face to face with the world’s needs in detail” while they concentrated on the “unparalleled opportunity” and the “Church’s responsibility.” He drew special attention to the “Report of the Commission for Carrying the Gospel to All the Non-Christian World” and highlighted its emphasis on the unprecedented opportunities for evangelization. But he said that the Church had not responded to these calls and that the pentecostal movement had arisen to rectify this grave omission.44

The tendency of Western pentecostal missionaries was to encourage local leadership and autonomy, even though this was not unqualified. But because of this, pentecostal churches became national churches rapidly and developed their own momentum without further help from foreign missionaries. This was particularly the case in the AG, where the influence of the concept of planting “three-self,” “indigenous” churches was considerable. On occasions in the early pentecostal literature there are glimpses into how rapidly indigenization took place. AG missionary George Kelley wrote from Sainam in South China in 1920 about one of their missions, which had “assumed the support of all the workers and the work as a whole, with the exception of the preacher.” Elders and deacons had been ordained and the work had “a desire to be wholly self-supporting” the following year. Although the pentecostal missionary newsletters focused on the activities of the Western missionaries, now and then we get glimpses in the early years of the multitude of “native helpers” who were doing most of the work in evangelism and church-planting. At the beginning of the twentieth century, these local workers outnumbered foreign Protestant missionaries by at least six to one. In Pentecostalism the ratio was probably much higher, but the national workers were often not recognized and many were driven to begin their own movements. But the growth in conversions and whatever success these missions had was largely due to the efforts of these local preachers. This emphasis on local leadership was the legacy of pentecostal missions, who ultimately raised up national leaders who were financially self-supporting and whose new churches were nationalized much sooner than older mission churches had been. In many countries, however, it was the denominations and independent churches founded by native people that became significant in the spread of pentecostal ideas. Some of these national churches were established after secessions from foreign-led pentecostal churches, and some were founded by the initiatives of native-born leaders who believed they had been empowered by the Spirit to establish new movements among their own people.45

It is widely acknowledged that the Anglo-Catholic missionary in China, Roland Allen (1868-1947) was a radical, provocative mission strategist far ahead of his time, who tirelessly advocated a post-Western Christianity and mission methods that focused on local talent. While he was undoubtedly influenced by his predecessors Henry Venn, Rufus Anderson, William Taylor, and John Nevius, Allen went much further than they did in advocating a truly “indigenous church” completely independent of foreign influences. What resonated so much with those pentecostals who, directly or indirectly, came in contact with his principles, was his focus on mission as being primarily the work of the Spirit. Allen constantly emphasized that the Holy Spirit who came at Pentecost was a Spirit who both empowered and motivated ordinary believers to propagate the gospel. He opposed the mission station model because it perpetuated the missionaries’ foreign culture and their permanence. He believed in the spontaneous expansion of “indigenous,” local churches as a result of a proper understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit and that of the missionary. His best-known work, Missionary Methods: St Paul’s or Ours? was first published in 1912 and a second edition appeared in 1927—but as he predicted, it was only years after his death that his critique came to be appreciated.46

How telling, for example, are these words that struck chords in pentecostal hearts:

[St. Paul] was always glad when his converts could progress without his aid. He welcomed their liberty. He withheld no gift from them which might enable them to dispense with his presence... He gave as a right to the Spirit-bearing body the powers which duly belong to a Spirit-bearing body. He gave freely, and then he retired from them that they might learn to exercise the powers which they possessed in Christ...

To do this required great faith; and this faith is the spiritual power in which St Paul won his victory. He believed in the Holy Ghost... as a Person indwelling his converts. He believed therefore in his converts. He could trust them.47

Allen’s books on indigenization were already circulating in pentecostal circles as early as 1921, when Alice Luce (1873-1955), an AG missionary to Hispanic Americans from 1916, wrote a series of three remarkable articles on Allen’s teachings entitled “Paul’s Missionary Method’s.” Luce was a CMS missionary in India when she was attracted to Pentecostalism through the ministry of the Indian woman Shorat Chuckerbutty, who laid hands on her for Spirit baptism in 1910. Although she acknowledged the important contribution to her thinking of Allen’s book Missionary Methods (which she read while in India), she could not remember the name of its author. Luce wrote that her initial pentecostal experience had taught her that “there is such a thing as doing an apostolic work along apostolic lines.” She was surprised at how very quickly the “heathen” were able to recognize “the difference between those who went to them with a hidden sense of their own superiority and those who really had the spirit of a servant.” She wrote how important it was to declare the equality of all nations before God and to train “native workers,” the only ones who would ever accomplish the evangelization of their own nations and who had “many advantages over the foreigner.” Paul’s aim was to found everywhere a “self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating church,” with trained leaders who were independent of the foreign missionary and became missionaries in their own right. Although it might be necessary for new churches to have “foreign supervision” for a long time (here she differed from Allen), this was only because of maturity and experience and had nothing to do with nationality or race. Once there were “spiritually qualified leaders” in the national church, the foreign missionary must “be subject to them, and to let them take the lead as the Spirit Himself shall guide them.”48

In the 1950s the AG mission strategist Melvin Hodges (1909-1988) through his widely influential book The Indigenous Church (1953) not only emphasized creating “indigenous churches,” but also stressed church-planting—a fundamental principle of pentecostal mission strategy. Hodges was undoubtedly indebted to both Allen’s and Luce’s ideas in framing his own missiology. But the influence of Hodges on AG missions in the mid-twentieth century contributed further toward their commitment to national leadership and establishing theological training institutes (often called “Bible schools”) and in-service training structures throughout the world. This in turn resulted in the much more rapid growth of national pentecostal churches. Hodges was a missionary in Central America who articulated what had always been at the heart of pentecostal growth in different cultural contexts. He said that the aim of all mission activity was to build an “indigenous New Testament church” that followed what he termed “New Testament methods.” He emphasized that the church itself (and not the evangelist) is “God’s agent for evangelism.” The role of the cross-cultural missionary was to ensure that a church became self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating—thus he enthusiastically embraced and enlarged a “three-self” policy of church planting, the main theme of his book.49

Significantly, he introduced an emphasis on “indigenization” that was lacking in the earlier works on the subject by nineteenth century mission strategists. The foundation for this was the Holy Spirit:

There is no place on earth where, if the gospel seed be properly planted, it will not produce an indigenous church. The Holy Spirit can work in one country as well as in another. To proceed on the assumption that the infant church in any land must always be cared for and provided for by the mother mission is an unconscious insult to the people that we endeavor to serve, and is evidence of a lack of faith in God and in the power of the gospel.50

Hodges’s views had a profound impact on the subsequent growth of the AG, which prescribed the reading of The Indigenous Church to future missionaries. But of course, attaining “three-selfhood” does not guarantee real contextualization unless the “three seifs” are no longer patterned on foreign forms and are grounded in the thought patterns and symbolism of the popular culture. Yet, Pentecostalism’s religious creativity and spontaneously contextual character were characteristics held as ideals by missionaries and mission strategists for over a century. “Indigenization” was automatically and, so it seemed, effortlessly achieved by pentecostal churches long before this goal was realized by older missions. For Hodges (and again, with echoes of Allen), the foundation for mission and the reason for the continued expansion of Pentecostalism is the “personal filling of the Holy Spirit” who gives gifts of ministry to untold thousands of common people, creating active, vibrantly expanding, and “indigenous churches” all over the world.51

Despite using “us” and “them” language, Hodges had remarkable insights:

We have not understood that the members of the Body of Christ are scattered in all lands, and that we, without them, are not made perfect. We have thought of the temple of the Lord as complete in us, of the Body of Christ as consisting of us, and we have thought of the conversion of the heathen as the extension of the body of which we are the members. Consequently we have preached the Gospel from the point of view of the wealthy man who casts a mite into the lap of a beggar....

We have done everything for them except acknowledge any equality. We have done everything for them, but very little with them. We have done everything for them except give place to them.

We have treated them as “dear children” but not as “brethren.”52

William Burton discussed the principle of indigenization in a 1933 publication, stating that the idea first found prominence among pentecostal missionaries at about the time of the Great War. He wrote that “white missionaries” were “a mere passing phase in the introduction of Christianity to a heathen people” and that native Christians were given “from the very commencement, the responsibility for the support and propagation of the young church” (significantly, Burton also mentions self-government, thus supporting the “three-self” principle). Burton’s own mission, however, was governed by white missionaries until they were forced to leave the Congo in the 1960 civil war, opening up the way for national leaders to take the denomination much further than the missionaries had been able to.53

Despite the exhortations that so greatly influenced the policies of Pentecostal missions, there are still areas of world Pentecostalism dominated physically, financially, and ideologically by foreign Western missionaries. Pentecostal missiological writing is sometimes limited by an ideology that sees the mission enterprise in terms of successful procedures and strategies. It appears that the ideal of a “three-self” independent church was slow in being realized in many of the expatriate mission efforts, with only occasional exceptions. By the middle of the century, among denominations planted by Western pentecostals, the great majority of converts in the majority world remained objects of mission and marginalized. Fortunately, these same converts are now beginning to produce scholars who challenge the presuppositions of the past and are not content to follow foreign mission ideologies and strategies blindly. These missionaries placed their emphasis on aggressive evangelism and church-planting, and the training of indigenous leaders was to further this emphasis. Social uplift was of secondary importance and only a few engaged in this sort of activity in the early years. But the stage was set for a profound change in the nature of world Christianity itself in the latter half of the twentieth century.

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