This Week in AG History -- June 9, 1968
Arthur F. Berg (1896-1983), a pioneer Assemblies of God missionary and pastor, recognized the importance of taking seriously the spiritual lives of children. He learned this from his own experience. At age 14, Arthur surrendered his life to Christ and was baptized in the Holy Spirit during a revival sparked by visiting Pentecostal leader William Durham. Interestingly, it was primarily young people who responded to the gospel — countless children were saved, 25 were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and 30 followed the Lord in water baptism.
For the rest of his life, Berg would share his testimony about this 1911 revival, which spiritually shaped him. The Pentecostal Evangel published his story in 1968.
Berg was born in an era when children were expected to be seen and not heard, and many traditional church services offered little to inspire or attract young people. However, early Pentecostal services — featuring testimonies, lively sermons, and peppy gospel songs — were often very accessible to young people. Countless people — both young and old — surrendered their lives to Christ in early Pentecostal services, which were known for their clear presentation of the gospel, coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
So it was with Berg. He was raised in a Christian home, but it was not until he experienced the Holy Spirit’s permeating presence during the Pentecostal revival that Berg finally committed his life to Christ. He described the revival as “glorious,” and that “hearts were melted together in the love of God.” The presence of God was so strong in those meetings that young people who normally did not want to attend church did not want to leave the revival services.
“The convicting power and pull of the Holy Spirit was so strong, so irresistible,” Berg recalled, “that I found myself at the altar weeping and praying my way through to a definite experience of old-fashioned salvation.” He went on to experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit and, he wrote, “exuberant glory flooded my soul.”
The revival led Berg to consecrate his life to Christian ministry. He married his childhood sweetheart, Anna, who shared a similar calling. He was ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1919, they served as missionaries in Belgian Congo from 1922 to 1926, and for the next 33 years they pastored congregations in Sisseton and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was also instrumental in starting the World Missions Plan, a program that encouraged Assemblies of God churches to systematically give money to home and world missions.
When William Durham went to Minneapolis in 1911, he was on a mission to talk with Pentecostal pastors regarding disagreements over the doctrine of sanctification. While the impact Durham made on adults on that trip is unknown, the revival services he led left a lasting mark on several dozen young people. One of them, Arthur Berg, became a noted pioneer Assemblies of God pastor and missionary.
Read the article, “How a Boy Received the Baptism,” on pages 24-25 of the June 9, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Who is My Neighbor?” by Everett Stenhouse
• “Children Need to be Nurtured,” by Jerry Stroup
And many more!
Click here to read this issue now.
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.