Agnes Nikola (Thelle) Beckdahl (1876-1968) was one of the first Pentecostal evangelists to Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and England, and for over 50 years she served as an Assemblies of God missionary in Northern India near the border of Nepal.
Beckdahl was born at Andoen, an island near Kristiansand off the coast of Norway. She made a commitment to serve God in her teen years and later renewed her dedication at age 20. At that time, she felt a strong conviction that she was called to the mission field.
In December 1906, soon after the aftershocks from the Azusa revival had reached the European continent, Beckdahl ventured to Christiania (now Oslo), the capital of Norway, to help in mission and jail service at the Christiania Bymission (City Mission), founded by T. B. Barratt. While attending Barratt’s mission and Bible school, she opened her heart to more of God. Soon she received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Beginning in May 1907, Agnes, and a Norwegian coworker, Dagmar Gregersen, traveled as missionary evangelists in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, and several other places. Many years later she reported on these travels: “We were the first to bring the Pentecostal testimony to Germany in spring time 1907. Went through seven countries in Europe including the Eastern United States from Boston, Massachusetts and Connecticut and New York State. I think more than 2,000 were saved and filled with the Spirit on that tour. It was a wonderful revival with an outpouring of the Holy Ghost in convicting power upon the whole world during that time!”
After traveling in evangelistic work in Europe and the United States, Beckdahl attended the Missionary Institute at Nyack, New York, in preparation to go as a missionary to India. Stopping in Norway and in England first, she arrived in India on May 10, 1910. She visited Pandita Ramabai’s Mukti Mission in Poona, India. While at Poona, she met a Salvation Army officer from Denmark named Christian Beckdahl. They kept in touch. Agnes ended up going to the Mission House at Fyzabad, India, and Christian began missionary work near the border of Nepal with the American Pentecostal Mission. Later Agnes and two coworkers were at a mission station in Nepalganj, also on the border of Nepal. Christian and Agnes decided to get married. The marriage took place in the Scandinavian Evangelical Mission in Brooklyn, New York, on Aug. 14, 1915. Two days later, they both were ordained as missionaries with the Assemblies of God at Wells Memorial Gospel Assembly in Tottenville, New York.
After some deputational work, the Beckdahls sailed for India in December 1915. They established a work in Nanpara on the border of Nepal, where Agnes had previously lived. The Beckdahls traveled throughout Northern India and in Nepal, evangelizing everywhere they went. They served as missionaries together in India for over 50 years until Christian’s death in November 1950. They raised one son, Samuel Beckdahl, who also served as an AG missionary in India and who married Ruth Merian, daughter of AG missionaries Fred and Lillian Merian.
After her husband’s death, Agnes Beckdahl returned to the United States where she lived in retirement in Pinellas Park Home and later in Bethany Retirement Home in Lakeland, Florida. She passed away on Jan. 17, 1968, at the age of 91.
During the 1960s, the Pentecostal Evangel published a series of profiles of early Assemblies of God ministers and missionaries. One of these profiles featured Agnes Beckdahl and her missionary work at Nanpara, India.
Read Agnes Beckdahl’s article, “Along the Nepal Border,” on page 22 of the April 9, 1967, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “The Old Farmer” by Bruce S. Williams
• “Tend Your Garden,” by Joyce Wells Booze
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.