This Week in AG History -- Aug. 22, 1936
John F. Hall (1906 - 1984), Assemblies of God missionary, Bible translator, and teacher, was born in New Jersey on April 15, 1906, the same day William Seymour opened his mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The Pentecostal revival sparked in that mission would introduce Hall to a power that would carry him through more than 50 years of ministry in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Togo.
At the age of 13, Hall responded to his Baptist pastor’s appeal to accept Christ at the close of a Sunday School lesson. The next year, Emil Sywulka of the African Inland Mission came to speak at their church. The young teen responded to a call from God to African missions. After graduating high school, he attended Wheaton College, where he associated with the children of missionaries. From them he learned the side of missionary life which he had not heard from church platforms. He became more aware of the hardships that accompany missions work but was even more determined to face difficulties to fulfill the call on his life.
At Wheaton, Hall majored in French and took extra courses in medicine. He graduated and set sail for Paris to study practical French before proceeding to Africa. In June 1931, he arrived in Minna, Nigeria, as a missionary with the Sudan Interior Mission.
While stationed in Niger Colony, French West Africa, he met Assemblies of God missionaries at Ouagadougou and Tenkodogo, Upper Volta. From this friendship, Hall became convinced that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a scriptural experience. He developed a desire to experience the fullness of the power of God. He also enjoyed the company of one of the Pentecostal missionaries, Miss Cuba Hill. Hill, a graduate of Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University), had pioneered and pastored two churches in California before receiving appointment in Upper Volta. They married in November 1935 and returned to the United States for furlough.
While traveling to share their vision for Africa, John and Cuba visited Berean Bible Institute, an AG school in San Diego. While ministering there, John prayed with a boy who wanted to receive Christ and experience the baptism in the Spirit. John felt deep in his heart that he was unable to lead the boy into an experience through which he had not yet passed. The next morning, Hall requested prayer from the students that God would fill him with the Spirit.
Hall spent much of the remainder of his time at the school in the prayer room, feeling keenly that he could not go on without the fulness of the power of God. One night they asked him to speak in the service but he was so hungry for the fulness of the Spirit that he asked to tarry in the prayer room rather than be a speaker. Finally, on the last night of their visit, Hall found himself flat on his back in the prayer room, exhausted from prolonged intercession, yet determined to seek God. That evening the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in a way he had never experienced. He later recounted, “There was such a restful feeling from head to foot. How wonderful to be wholly filled with the Lord’s Spirit and have him praise our Lord Jesus Christ in another language … then came a burden for souls and the tears rolled down my cheeks, behind my ears, and dropped on the floor … then came singing in the Spirit … after this I arose with the joy of the Lord flooding my being. Bro Harriss looked so good to me that I picked him up, kissed him with joy, and praised the Lord. We began singing ‘This is Like Heaven to Me’ and IT WAS!”
Eighty-three years ago this week, the Aug. 22, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel announced the AG missionary appointment of John F. Hall, joining his wife, Cuba, as “an experienced missionary” who “just a few months ago” was “graciously filled” with the Spirit in California.
Together, John and Cuba Hall served God faithfully in Africa for five decades. They spearheaded the translation of the entire Bible into the Mossi language, helping to create the written text of the language itself, reproducing book after book on mimeograph machine. During this work, he personally typed the Bible six times.
God blessed the Halls with five children. Their son, Billie, died of dysentery in Upper Volta at just 6 months of age. They carried on in spite of their grief, trusting God for the health and well-being of their other children. Cuba later said, “The Africans lose so many children to death that our experience allowed us to identify with them as in no other manner.” The other four children, Evelyn, David, James, and Betty grew up in Africa and served God as adults in world and home missions.
Read more about the Hall’s missionary appointment on page 9 of the Aug. 22, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “The Home Atmosphere,” by Alice Reynold Flower
• “God Works,” by Zelma Argue
• “Can We Learn Anything from a Wasp,” by J. Narver Gortner
And many more!
Click here to read this issue now.
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.