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This Week in AG History -- March 29, 1959

Incredibly, a single issue of the Pentecostal Evangel is credited in part for the creation of the Nigerian Assemblies of God.
A great revival in Nigeria that led to the formation of the Assemblies of God in that nation can be traced back to a single issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, which somehow found its way from America to Africa in the early 1930s. Histories of the Assemblies of God of Nigeria credit the periodical for sparking a hunger for the baptism in the Holy Spirit among Nigerians.

The March 29, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel recounted this story of the origins of the Nigerian Assemblies of God. “It is not known how the magazine came into their possession,” according to the article, “but it is known that they were deeply stirred by the accounts of healing and of believers being baptized in the Holy Spirit.”

The Nigerians who first read this “missionary” issue of the Pentecostal Evangel were members of a small Holiness denomination, Faith Tabernacle, which had headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Faith Tabernacle leaders in America told the Nigerians to stay away from the Pentecostals. But as the Nigerians searched scriptures, they saw that the Pentecostal message was biblical. They started praying, and many were healed and filled with the Holy Spirit. “Overjoyed, these newly baptized believers went from place to place testifying and preaching to all who would hear,” the article reported, “with the result that converts were won and small church groups were formed in various places.”

Augustus Ehurie Wogu, a prominent civil servant with the Nigerian Marine Department, was one of the early converts. Wogu, along with Augustus Asonye, G. M. Alioha and others, helped to lay the foundation for the young Pentecostal movement in Nigeria.

Nigerian Pentecostals made contact with the American Assemblies of God, which published the Pentecostal Evangel. American church leaders put them in contact a missionary laboring in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), W. Lloyd Shirer. Shirer helped to organize the Assemblies of God in Nigeria in 1939.

The Assemblies of God in Nigeria has experienced phenomenal growth. In 1959, the fellowship had 293 churches with 14,794 adherents. By 2019, this tally increased to 16,300 churches and outstations with 3,600,000 members and adherents. And all of this happened because someone whose name is now forgotten sent an issue of the Pentecostal Evangel to a place which had no Assemblies of God missionaries.

Read “Pentecostal Progress in Nigeria,” on pages 22 and 23 of the March 29, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Resurrection and Missions,” by Robert L. Brandt

• “Ministry on the Danish Islands,” by Victor G. Greisen

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Darrin J. Rodgers

Darrin J. Rodgers has served as director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC) since 2005. He earned a master's degree in theological studies from Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and a juris doctorate from the University of North Dakota School of Law. He previously served at the David du Plessis Archive and the McAlister Library at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author of Northern Harvest , a history of Pentecostalism in North Dakota. His FPHC portfolio includes acquisitions, editing Assemblies of God Heritage magazine, and conducting oral history interviews. His wife, Desiree, is an ordained AG minister.