Christianization does not equal Westernization. The success of Pentecostals in world missions has been due, in large part, to their reliance on spiritual transformation, rather than on Western cultural education, in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Assemblies of God committed itself in 1921 to a missions strategy of establishing self-governing, self-supporting, and self-sustaining churches in missions lands. Alice E. Luce, a Spirit-baptized Anglican missionary to India who transferred to the Assemblies of God in 1915, influenced the Assemblies of God to adopt this indigenous church principle long before it was embraced by most mainline Protestant groups. The policy was not uniformly implemented, and some Assemblies of God missionaries continued to follow the paternalistic practices of other Western churches during the early decades of the 20th century.
Leslie M. and Ava Anglin, early Assemblies of God missionaries to China, were quick to grasp the importance of establishing indigenous churches. The Anglins arrived in China in 1910 under the banner of the Baptist Gospel Mission, a small missionary sending agency. Leslie Anglin learned the Chinese language, began preaching in various villages, and assembled a small flock. By 1915, the Anglins had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, which caused the Baptist missions agency to cease its support of their ministry. They transferred to the Assemblies of God and became prominent Pentecostal pioneers in China. Over the next 20 years, the Anglins wrote over 50 letters reporting on their missions work that were published in the Pentecostal Evangel.
In 1916, the Anglins established the Home of Onesiphorus — an outreach in the city of Taian, Shantung, China, for orphans who had been abandoned by their families. As it expanded, the Home of Onesiphorus added a school for poor boys and girls, many of whom were beggars. The school provided both academic and technical training. Children were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as trades such as weaving and making furniture.
In a Sept. 2, 1922, Pentecostal Evangel article, Anglin described his approach to implementing the indigenous church principle. His goal, he wrote, was not “to create an American out of [the Chinese man],” but “to take in the outcast, clothe him, house him, and feed him in Chinese fashion.” The Home of Onesiphorus trained hundreds of lay people and Chinese Pentecostal preachers who helped lay the foundation for a strong indigenous Pentecostal church in China.
Read the article by L. M. Anglin, “The Home of Onesiphorus,” on pages 12 and 13 of the Sept. 2, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “How Can We Know that We Have Received the Baptism?” by Bert Williams
• “The Basis for our Distinctive Testimony,” by D. W. Kerr
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.