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This Week in AG History -- June 9, 1917

William and Mary Taylor were some of the first AG missionaries, ministering to and helping free women caught in the sex trafficking trade in Japan.

The June 9, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel featured a shocking photograph on its front cover — a picture of 10 female prostitutes in Japan, locked behind a window with bars. The caption read, “Sold! Carest thou not that we perish?” This image of sexual slavery was intended to provoke readers to pray for and support the ministry of William and Mary Taylor, early Assemblies of God missionaries who helped to free women involved in prostitution in Japan.

The caption beneath the photograph further described the plight of the women: “Sold to work evil, the conditions of thousands of these poor girls is indeed pitiful. These hopeless slaves are dolled up, painted and powdered, and then exposed to the gaze of every passerby, whose trade they are expected to solicit.”

The Taylors and their ministry colleagues, through the Door of Hope Mission in Kobe, Japan, worked tirelessly to free woman who found themselves caught in a life of sex trafficking. Prostitution had been first legalized in Japan 300 years earlier, in 1617. In an article in The Weekly Evangel, William Taylor described the disastrous consequences of the sex trade. He pled for readers to pray for the women — whom he called “somebody’s daughter, somebody’s sister.”

Christians must not be silent about the evil of sex trafficking, Taylor warned. He cited Scripture, “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).

William and Mary Taylor, citizens of Great Britain, first arrived as missionaries in Japan in 1905 and were sent by the Japan Evangelistic Band, an evangelical missions organization. William Taylor was the second cousin of Hudson Taylor of the China Inland Mission. They returned to Britain on furlough in 1910 and were baptized in the Holy Spirit. They transferred their credentials to the Pentecostal Missionary Union of Great Britain and returned to Japan in 1913, and then to the American Assemblies of God in 1917. They were among the earliest Pentecostal missionaries to Japan, and they continued their work with victims of Japanese sex trafficking into the 1920s.

The story of the William and Mary Taylor illustrates that veteran evangelical missionaries became some of the first Pentecostal missionaries, and that the Assemblies of God, since its earliest years, has supported ministry to meet the deepest spiritual and social needs of people around the world.

Read the article by William J. Taylor, “So I Opened My Mouth,” on pages 1 and 3 of the June 9, 1917, issue of The Weekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Pictures of Pentecost in the Old Testament,” by Alice E. Luce

• “Sweet Smelling Roses on Thorny Bushes, or God’s Encouragement Along the Way,” by Max Freimark

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel and The Weekly 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.