Herbert Edward Randall (1865-1938), an early Canadian Holiness missionary to Egypt, identified with the Pentecostal movement in 1907. He became an important Pentecostal pioneer in Canada and in Egypt, where he served as an Assemblies of God missionary. Randall prepared the way for larger-than-life figures like Aimee Semple McPherson and Lillian Trasher, but his own significant legacy has been neglected in many quarters.
Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, Randall’s family was Methodist. As a young man living in Ottawa, he attended revival meetings with Ralph Horner, where he accepted Christ and soon began pastoring a Methodist Church in Canada. In 1895 he was dismissed from ministry in the Methodist Church for refusing to take a pastoral change — he instead believed God led him to evangelistic ministry. This prompted him to join The Holiness Movement Church (HMC), a newly formed Canadian group started by Horner. Randall became the first missionary of that new movement, with his assignment being Egypt. He arrived in April 1899.
Randall ministered in Assiout, Egypt, and the surrounding region from 1899 to 1906. One description says, “A tall, rather slender young Canadian, clothed in black apparel from head to foot, with a brown beard, walked the streets of Assiout with Bible and song book under his arm, holding meetings.” These early meetings were mostly attended by children who sat down on mats they brought from home, and some ladies observed from their balconies. A song went out in Arabic, “They who choose Christ as refuge shall in Him find rest.” This drew more people to his meetings, and then he would deliver a plain message of salvation.
When he was through with one meeting, he went on to the next street. He ended up having several street meetings a day, and often there was a night service in a building.
Randall was soon joined by other missionaries of the HMC, so there were enough workers to open up outstations. Randall had high hopes of reaching Muslims for Christ, but he also began ministering to Coptic Christians in need of a new experience of the spiritual life.
Randall returned to Canada in 1906 and received the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit at the Hebden Mission in Toronto in March 1907. About three weeks later he attempted to describe this experience: “I feel like I have really lived 24 days, or since the 6th of March, when I was baptized with the Holy Ghost. Before that time I enjoyed much of God’s grace, but now I am simply amazed, the difference is so great, and all I can do is exclaim with wonder and delight, ‘The Comforter has come.’”
Randall became a key figure in the early development of Pentecostalism in Canada from 1907 to 1911. Shortly after resigning from the HMC, Randall held meetings in Ingersoll, Ontario, where 17-year-old Aimee Kennedy received the baptism in the Holy Spirit at one of his meetings. She later married his associate, Robert Semple, went as a missionary to Hong Kong, and eventually founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Randall also became a close associate of James and Ellen Hebden, Charles Chawner, R.E. McAlister, George Chambers, Frank Bartleman, A.H. Argue, and others.
Returning again to Egypt in 1912, Randall joined with other missionaries in founding a Pentecostal church in central Cairo. He translated several Pentecostal papers into Arabic such as The Good Report and The Morning Star. Some of these publications were also distributed to Syria, Palestine, Transjordan, Iraq, India, and other Arabic-speaking countries. He also helped to establish mission centers in Alexandria, Tanta, Port Said, etc. He was ordained by Robert E. McAlister, George Chambers, and C.E. Baker in 1919. Randall and his wife, Faith, were appointed as missionaries with the Assemblies of God on Dec. 19, 1922. Eventually Randall was made the superintendent of the Assemblies of God of Egypt. He worked closely with Lillian Trasher, Charles Doney, Ansel Post, Hugh and Mary Cadwalder, Mabel Dean, and other early AG missionaries in Egypt.
During the spring of 1932, Randall wrote several reports of a mighty revival in Egypt. At Beni Ady, a large cluster of four villages with a total population numbering 40,000, he reported ongoing revival. “In the course of three days and nights 60 souls received the Holy Ghost baptism, some of them in the meeting place, and others in their homes,” said Randall. At a women’s meeting during the daytime, 25 were baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Randall also reported opposition to the work of God, but he reported, “Men buying and selling are sometimes not able to speak their own language, but in some foreign tongue. This is for a sign.” The services were being held in temporary quarters with the congregation nightly reaching 600 “or as many can be crowded into the present place of meeting.” “The whole village is stirred, and there is great joy,” he continued. Someone compared it to Los Angeles in 1906 in Egyptian form.
Near the end of his life, he suffered a lengthy illness. When the end was near, he declared, “My traveling days are about over.” He told his nurse, “Tomorrow you are going to bury me.” The next day he passed away on March 11, 1938, concluding over 40 years of ministry, most of which was spent in Egypt. Andrew Crouch succeeded him as superintendent.
Besides being the catalyst to bring thousands to a saving knowledge of Christ, Herbert Randall was also the means of leading great numbers into the deeper Christian life through word, pen, and his Spirit-filled example.
Read H.E. Randall’s article, “A Remarkable Revival in Egypt,” on page 8 of the March 19, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Are the Sign Gifts in Evidence Today?” by J. Narver Gortner
• “Scriptural Holiness,” by W.E. Moody
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.