Paul and Virginia Weidman, pioneer Assemblies of God missionaries to Africa, traveled in 1937 to Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), where they worked among the Mossi people. One of their sons, Paul Jr., learned the Mossi language quickly and was able to interpret for his missionary father. The Mossi loved this little boy, who played with their children and who became a bridge across the cultural and linguistic divides.
Little Paul’s budding missionary career was cut short when he contracted blackwater fever and died on Feb. 8, 1938. Paul Jr., who was just under 7 years of age, was buried in a dirt cemetery near the town of Tenkodogo.
Eighty-three years ago, the March 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel shared Virginia Weidman’s account of this tragedy:
“Saturday afternoon he lay in his bed and sang with all his heart (in the More language) “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus.” Then he preached, as he so often did, saying, “Do not follow Satan’s road but follow God’s road, for it alone leads to heaven through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In a short time extreme pain started. How we did call unto God for deliverance; yet He gave us grace to say, ‘Not my will but Thine be done.’ What a ray of sunshine he has been in our home! Only God can fill the vacancy. In times like this we are made to know that our Redeemer liveth.”
Paul Jr.’s death was the first of several tragedies to befall the Weidmans as they pioneered the Assemblies of God in Upper Volta. Was this suffering worth it? Forty years later the Weidmans, who had retired from mission work, returned to Burkina Faso for a visit. An elderly Mossi pastor, who decades earlier had witnessed the death of Paul Jr., assured them, “It was not in vain, missionary. There are now churches everywhere.”
Today, the Assemblies of God is the largest Protestant denomination in Burkina Faso, with more than 1,100,000 members and adherents and almost 5,000 churches and preaching points.
Read the article, “Little One Called Home,” by Virginia Weidman on page 7 of the March 26, 1938, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Former General Superintendent George O. Wood, the nephew of Paul and Virginia Weidman, recounted the story of their missionary work in Burkina Faso in the 2007 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage, which is accessible for free by clicking here.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Not Debarred from our Priestly Service,” by T. J. Jones
• “Setting the Oppressed Free,” by Arthur W. Frodsham
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.