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This Week in AG History — March 17, 1957

Photographer to the stars Hal Herman found a more lasting calling as an evangelist.

Harold C. “Hal” Herman (1902-99) was a successful Hollywood photographer and press agent in the 1920s and 1930s. However, harrowing experiences as a U.S. Army photographer during World War II led him to accept Christ, and he ultimately became a noted Assemblies of God missionary evangelist who ministered in 48 nations.

Herman became well-known in Hollywood through his 1928 book, How I Broke into the Movies, a compilation of stories from 60 motion picture stars, including Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, and Greta Garbo. During World War II, Herman was inducted into the Army and served in New Guinea on a special news and camera team. Later he went to the Philippines as the official photographer for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s field headquarters staff.

Herman found himself dodging artillery while carrying his camera in war zones. After experiencing kamikaze attacks and other dangers of war, he promised God that he would lead a better life. During World War II, Herman narrowly escaped death five times.

After the war, he returned to Columbia Pictures, where God used a friend to point him to Jesus Christ. Herman repented of his sin, gave his heart to God, and said, “For the first time in my life I felt the love of God touch me. I knew every evil had been broken. I was spiritually alive.” Herman soon began sharing his faith with movie stars, directors, producers, makeup men, and other staff members where he worked. Their questions gave Herman opportunities to witness about his salvation for the next nine months that he remained at Columbia Pictures.

From this turning point in his life, he felt called into full-time evangelism. He first gave his testimony in churches, and then he began holding evangelistic and tent crusades, first in Germany and then in other parts of the globe, eventually traveling five times around the world.

Sixty years ago, the Pentecostal Evangel published a report by Assemblies of God missionary Harland A. Park about Herman’s evangelistic crusade in Hong Kong. During this campaign, Herman preached continuously in various churches and outdoor meetings from October 1956 through January 1957, sometimes holding two and three meetings a day. He presented “a clear-cut message of faith in Jesus Christ as the One who is abundantly able to give victory over sin, sickness, and death to all who will truly believe and follow Him as Lord.” Huge crowds attended the meetings. People came from Hong Kong, Kowloon, and even farther to seek more of God and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

While in Hong Kong, Herman ministered at the chapel of a refugee settlement where more than 400 decisions were made for Christ and many were healed. He also ministered at Ecclesia Bible Institute for three days of special meetings for the students. Twenty students testified of receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Others were stirred to fast and pray, and many were refreshed by the Holy Spirit.

Decision cards were registered for 2,260 persons who professed Christ as Savior in the open-air crusade. Hundreds more prayed for salvation at Assemblies of God, Foursquare, and Pentecostal Mission churches where he preached. Many of these new converts enrolled in a special follow-up Bible correspondence course to learn the truths of God’s Word.

One joyful conversion was a woman who abandoned thoughts of suicide and followed Christ. Herman also prayed for a man deaf in one ear, and the man testified to being healed. Others were prayed for and received healing from cancer, tuberculosis, and other diseases. He also prayed for a number of children to be healed. “May these days count for eternity” was the prayer of Herman and the missionaries who assisted at these meetings.

Herman rubbed shoulders with numerous Christian leaders throughout his ministry. Yonggi Cho, a young minster who would later pastor the world’s largest church, served as his interpreter at meetings he held in Seoul, South Korea, in 1957. Herman also ministered in a 21-day revival campaign in Cairo, which helped him later to produce a documentary on Lillian Trasher called, The Nile Mother. Herman’s ministry intersected with Howard Rusthoi, Francesco Toppi, Reinhard Bonnke, Mark and Huldah Buntain, and Colton Wickramaratne. C. M. Ward wrote about Herman’s conversion and ministry in a 1959 booklet, Goodbye Make-Believe! The Hal Herman Story.

Herman spent his early years promoting Hollywood stars, but a radical conversion led him to spend the rest of his life promoting Jesus Christ. He became a faithful AG missionary evangelist who lived to age 96, and thousands were saved through his nearly 50 years of worldwide ministry.

Read “Hong Kong Crusade,” on pages 14-15 of the March 17, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “God, Make Us Your Burning Ones,” by T. J. Jones

• “Bringing Christ to Alaska,” by David Hogan

Click here to read this issue now.

IMAGE - Hal Herman (right) prays with attendees at his Hong Kong evangelistic outreach.

Glenn W. Gohr

Glenn W. Gohr is the reference archivist at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in Springfield, Missouri.