Phillip B Duncan
Pentecost in Australia
IN dedicating these memoirs to the ministers of the Australian Assemblies of God Fellowship, with whom I have been vouchsafed a period in office, I trust this record of our work and workers might prove interesting.
It has been my privilege to assist in the formation of our original Pentecostal organisation in Australia.
It has been my pleasure to have made the acquaintance of those who have been connected with the Australian Holy Ghost testimony throughout the years.
It has been my personal experience to visit every Assembly mentioned in the following discourse.
As I know of no one else in Australia who has covered all these three aspects of our A.O.G. interests, I have endeavoured to share everything with you.
May the Blood-bought Christians of all denominations who are standing on the Word of God, be made complete with the mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost, waiting for the coming of the Lord.
1.2 PART 1 THE SOUTHERN LAND
When all of the World was known and mapped, Australia was yet a lost land-a continent so far beyond the horizons of those days, that none had discovered or claimed this great Island of the Antipodes.
In 1605, a Spanish fleet set out to find if such a land existed in the vast unexplored emptiness of the Southern Hemisphere and, believing they reached its shores, they named it, as devout Papists, "Tierra Austrialia del Espiritu Santo," which simply implies, "The Southern Land of the Holy Spirit."
I would that this were prophetic, for much of my record has to do with the blessed Holy Spirit, as you will see.
The enterprising Dutch followed soon after the Spanish expedition, seeking new territory for trade, and touched the South land on the Western side near to the Indies, where they had many interests. Very aptly they named this country "New Holland," although they were not too impressed, for that coast is bleak and barren.
Finally, the adventurous British arrived on the scene, being: the first to discover and explore the Eastern coastline of the New Continent, which they called New South Wales, and ignoring all prior claims by Spanish and Dutch, took possession in true British fashion just before the French put in a belated appearance.
In mentioning these historical facts, I must say I am very glad! Australia didn't fall into the hands of the Spanish Papists, with their religious superstition and dread tradition of Inquisition horrors.
The Dutch for centuries have retained a fine record of tolerance and determined perseverance against natural odds, that have made them an honoured nation, but we away in Pacific isolation have much to thank God for that we belong to Wycliffe's England, Cromwell's England, Wesley's England.
Our tradition now is reckoned in the family tree of England's mighty line, but our richer inheritance is found in our kinship with a nation that gave birth to reformers, founders of Missionary enterprises, freers of slaves, and revivalists who have swayed every generation with the power of the Gospel.
It has also given us the same speech and mode of life as our American cousins, who, born of the best British Puritan stock, founded America as a place where God could be worshipped in freedom of conscience with the open Bible.
Yes, Fortune has smiled upon us. "Australia" may yet become what the early Spaniards meant it to be-the "Land of the Holy Spirit."
1.3 PENTECOSTAL BEGINNINGS
A little before the year 1920, a few Christians in Australia began to show a personal interest in the promise of Holy Ghost revival which was intimated by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2.17, which promise was first spoken by the prophet Joel in Chapter 2, verse 28 of his Book.
Tidings were coming to us from other lands of revivals attended by spiritual phenomena and manifestation of power and glory as the Spirit of God was outpoured, many being baptised in the Holy Spirit and speaking with other tongues as on the Day of Pentecost.
The Scottish revival is remembered where Jock Troup and the fisher folk were swept by the power "from on high," seeing visions of Christ and being prostrated under the hand of God.
In India at Pandita Ramabai's Mission in Mukti, after long waiting in prayer and intercession, by the devoted Indian teacher, the Holy Ghost fell until the people saw the fire of God as on the day of Pentecost, and a glorious revival broke out.
Marvellous outpourings of the Spirit such as these were happening simultaneously all over the World. In Britain, America, Scandinavia, South Africa-indeed everywhere, and so small groups of Christians hungry for revival began to form in certain places in Australia. As these unco-ordinated gatherings sought the Lord, they, too, experienced the same tokens of power, speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance, a new era taking place in their spiritual life and witness for Christ.
Sad to say, many of these groups cut off from sound leadership were soon infected with strange unscriptural doctrine and teaching, which in some cases led to fleshly demonstrations, attributed to God, but really the outcome of undisciplined minds.
1.4 GOOD NEWS HALL-
In these early Pentecostal days it is unfortunate that Good News Hall, the body which instituted the work of pioneering the message of the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the supernatural speaking in tongues, embraced false teachings and doctrine so detrimental to the truth of the Pentecostal experience. With headquarters in North Melbourne, this body published an interesting paper, called "The Good News," which was circulated near and far. Very attractively setting forth some of the finest expositions from reputable spiritual journals, their own views were hidden. The views so covered up were clearly Christadelphian in character.
Because of ardent zeal and ceaseless effort, Good News Hall had Commonwealth-wide notoriety among earnest Christians, for their workers operating in different States had founded small meetings and influenced others.
They also were instrumental in bringing Mr. Smith-Wigglesworth and Mrs. McPherson to Australia. However, these two preachers subsequently denounced Good News Hall for erroneous teaching.
Seekers for the deeper things of God were stumbled as they became hungry for the baptism of the Spirit, but demurred at being identified with doctrines, which they could not reconcile with the Word of God and the evangelical Gospel.
Though therefore their enterprise was commendable, it w as tragic the way the truth was hampered for many with genuine desire.
They captivated a number who believed they were honoured by the power of God, yet their influence waned when Mrs. McPherson renounced them and Evangelist A. C. Valdez by-passed them to begin on a new and sound foundation.
Endeavouring to retrieve former glory, they engaged Fred Van Eyke, an evangelist from South Africa. For a while their fading fire flickered, and then Good News Hall disappeared for all time from the scene.
1.5 LAYING THE FOUNDATION
In 1921, Mr. Smith-Wigglesworth, an English evangelist from Yorkshire, landed in Australia, and in the course of his campaigns visited Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and some country centres. God was with him in truly wondrous power and unction and his meetings were of Apostolic order, for the signs predicted by Christ in Mark 16 followed his ministry. Crowds confessed Christ and numbers were healed, for Mr. Wigglesworth was mightily filled with the Holy Ghost and with inspired faith.
He convinced many that God's methods had never altered for the supernatural was displayed continually and the gifts of the Spirit were in constant operation in his meetings.
We were a Baptist family in those days, but the Scripture confirmed with such glorious evidence of Christ's presence and His healing touch, so persuaded, so impelled us, that we needs must join the despised few, and "suffer without the camp, bearing His reproach," but sharing His glory and fellowship. So Mr. Smith-Wigglesworth, that unequalled man of faith, was really the one God used to create vision and make preparation for a clean and sane Holy Ghost work m Australia.
Aimee Semple McPherson campaigned in Melbourne in 1922 and took the city by storm, though at first the ministers stood aloof with prejudice.
Mrs. McPherson, with an irresistible charm, declared her orthodox belief in the fundamentals of the Word of God and Evangelical truth, disowning any false views that had become attached to the Pentecostal testimony. These tactics had a two-fold benefit. Firstly, it brought the co-operation of all the Evangelical Churches. and secondly, she set the standard for the establishment of unity of belief of all Pentecostal groups for the future.
Despite what may have happened in later years, Sister McPherson with simple but powerful exposition upheld Christ in all His fulness, and with such Divine attendance at the Auditorium in South Melbourne, that over 4000 at each meeting were brought into the very suburbs of eternity. Many hundreds confessed Christ and every critic was either convinced of Holy Ghost preaching or at least silenced. The ministers of the City of Melbourne drew up and presented Mrs. McPherson with the following testimonial:
"We, the undersigned Ministers of various denominations in Melbourne and suburbs, have great pleasure in testifying to the splendid work which has been done here by Mrs. Aimee Semple McPherson. Personally, we have received a great spiritual uplift and quickening. We had the joy of seeing hundreds profess decision for Christ, and it has been to our great satisfaction to find that Mrs. McPherson's preaching here has been strictly orthodox and that her methods were extremely wise and effective. She possesses great natural ability, but the outstanding feature is spiritual power and her intense love for souls.
The large Wirth's Olympia has been crowded out even on week nights, and our great regret is that she cannot remain in our city for a longer period. We would earnestly commend the Evangelist to the sympathy and co-operation of our Brethren in the other States of Australia, and urge them to use every endeavour to persuade their friends and congregation to attend her meetings."
Then followed the signatures of 22 of the leading city Churchmen.
In Sydney Mrs. McPherson's meetings were also endorsed by the well-known preachers. The late "Cairo" Bradley, a Gospel champion, convened the meetings, and the late Rev. William Lamb of Second Advent fame, led the service.
A good deal of spade work was now going on in Melbourne. A fiery young preacher, Mr. C. L. Greenwood, had joined with others and built a church for Pentecostal worship at Sunshine, an outer suburb. They continued in their unnoticed wav until 1925.
During the middle of that year a big forward move transpired, for Evangelist A. C. Valdez, prompted by God alone to come to Australia, entered Melbourne unannounced.
Shortly after his arrival he was led to go to the little Sunshine Mission as a guest of Mr. Greenwood, and immediately a spiritual movement began that awakened the Christians of the City, even as by the trumpet call of Gideon.
The showers of the Latter Rain began to fall and it was this outpouring of the Spirit that was to be the means of establishing the Pentecostal testimony, bringing to the birth an organisation, a scriptural order, a recognised Fellowship.
1.6 FORMING THE FELLOWSHIP
The Sunshine Revival ushered in the real beginning of things. The revelation of power seen at this outpouring of the Spirit was of such magnitude that it could not be confined to one place, and the news of God's working and wonders was noised abroad as hundreds were baptised in the Spirit as on the Day of Pentecost. Seekers came from Western and South Australia, from New South Wales and Queensland, and everyone that asked received and their joy was full. It was at Sunshine that my Dad and I both received the Pentecostal experience, before the revival swept into the city, where miracles were wrought as the Evangelist preached in the Prahran Town Hall.
As numbers wondered what their future would be when the meetings were finished, feeling they could not return to a dry Churchianity, a search was made for a suitable building that could be dedicated as a centre for Holy Ghost revival and where the glory could be retained and dispensed in blessing and liberty. I was present
at the home of A. C. Valdez when £6000 was raised to buy the property that became "Richmond Temple."
This Church has been a hive of activity for over twenty years and has never ceased to maintain the glory of revival. Unchanging through the years the tempo of fruitful blessing has continued, and Richmond Temple has been the greatest soul-saving Church in the Australian Pentecostal movement without a doubt.
Of course, the revival that gained us elbow-room had stirred up many who felt that the new standard of evangelism was dwarfing their own, so Dr. McColl, an authority among the Melbourne ministry, convened a meeting of protest, stating that the American Evangelist was undermining the Church's influence by his methods and ministry.
This Conference was attended by a large company of men of God in the Collins Street Assembly Hall, but it was a failure, for A. C. Valdez naively imposed his presence upon them, and turned the tables by finally addressing the assemblage with convincing power and dignity. A book could easily be written of the happenings of these momentous days. With Richmond Temple as Headquarters, a Constitution was drawn up and the Pentecostal Church of Australia was inaugurated, composed of self-governing Assemblies at Adelaide, Sydney, Parkes, Orange, and later Oakleigh, Ballarat, Bendigo and Perth.
To provide the enthusiastic little Assemblies with ministry was a problem, until the power fell upon the students of Canon Nash's Melbourne Bible Institute and some came into our ministry straight away and were ordained as Pastors. Sydney gained Mr. Len Jones in this way and from this source, as he was in our ministry in those days.
Brother Valdez had accomplished a tremendous task, but now was spent and weary, so relinquishing the authority to Pastor Kelso R. Glover, who arrived from America at the time of dire need, he sailed away with the satisfaction that God had used him to perform His holy purpose, and with the knowledge also that he would always be beloved by those who worked with him, in the days of power.
1.7 A FATHER IN ISRAEL
Surely God had His eye upon Australia to send along Pastor K. R. Glover, for we
were only novices, so it was his hand that steadied us, it was his counsel that guided us it was his grace that encouraged us.
So stern with the wrong-doer, so tender to the contrite, our newly formed society owed him everything. He carried an atmosphere of serenity with him, his words were choice, I esteemed it a favour to be in his company.
He stayed in Australia until we fledglings had our wings, and in 1927 ere he left he saw the mantle of anointed power fall upon Pastor C. L. Greenwood.
His magnificent ministry would be lost to us, but he had finished his task here and left his house in order. It was up to ourselves to continue the structure according to the pattern laid down.
1.8 MISSIONARY VENTURES
Mr. Smith-Wigglesworth paid us a second visit ere Pastor Glover left, stirring many hearts to dedicate their lives to the service of Christ. It was like a second missionary journey indeed, confirming many lives who were quickened by his earlier ministry.
It was under his hands Pastor Greenwood received unction. I, too, was commissioned for life-time service under the never-to-beforgotten influence of this veteran of Holy Ghost power.
We remember 1927 as a year of launching forth, of enlargement of vision. It was in this year we began our Missionary programme.
India lay upon many hearts, so it was to India we financed and sent forth six earnest young Australians, fresh from the altars of consecration to represent us and to labour for Christ in that heathen land.
There have been many changes, of course, through the years, but our work in India has been maintained unto this day by the grace of God and the faithful workers. One of the young missionaries, Miss Stella Wheaton, of Adelaide, after preliminary hardships, which included being stricken down with the dread smallpox, gave us a splendid and experienced Missionary Field Superintendent, when she married Pastor Tommy Evans, already in India with the British Assemblies of God. The Australian Fellowship took Brother Evans to its heart, even as Sister Wheaton, and after twenty-one years in India, the work has been extended and consolidated.
Our Mission property is in the Poona District, with headquarters at Kirkee. From there supervision of the work at Khed and Manchar is directed. We have assemblies also at Lonalya and Ghosasi.
The Evans have trained the Indian workers for the ministry, who have proved capable of the call of God and quite able to control and work effectually. During the recent post-war strife and famine,
feeling concerned about the safety of Pastor and Mrs. Evans with their four children, we sent an S.O.S. to our Assemblies for finance to evacuate them. Nearly £700 came in at once, so our beloved workers were brought home to safety, landing in Perth in August, 1946, emaciated and weary, but still praising God in happy Pentecostal style.
1.9 THE SALTERS OF THE CONGO
Our missionary zeal was further stimulated in those early days by the ministry of Mr. and Mrs. James Salter, of the Belgian Congo.
From New Zealand, they came across to Australia in 1929. Their amazing story of Missionary Pioneering in the Congo forests gripped our hearts, cementing the foundation stone of missionary interests solidly in the spiritual building that was destined to be part of the Holy Spirit's addition to the Church of Jesus Christ in Australia, although to this time our testimony was rejected and our people ostracised.
Really our missionary zeal was hardly according to knowledge, for in the ecstacy of first love, we desired to "turn the world upside down" before we had a firm foothold at our home base.
Every venture for Christ was subscribed to hilariously, yea, beyond our means at times; happy days. Our work was in its springtime-of bursting buds, the air laden with revival thrill.
1.10 CHINA TOO
Our support also extended to China.
The Wong Yen family came to know the Lord during the Sunshine Revival. Mr. Wong Yen soon after was called to be with the Lord, after seeing a wonderful vision of Heaven, and Mrs. Wong Yen decided to return to China with the Gospel, as she was a very good preacher.
Again the saints rallied, and soon a very substantial church was built at Sun Wai, and a spirit-filled Chinese pastor was able to take over Here the Gospel has been faithfully shared despite war's paralysing devastation. Mrs. Wong Yen, now Mrs. Yueng, risked life and worse at the hands of the Japanese before she escaped with her family to Australia.
For a time Mr. and Mrs. John Beruldsen represented us in Kalgan inland, China.
1.11 JAPAN AS WELL
In our narrative we have not yet reached the time when the Pentecostal Church of Australia amalgamated with the Queensland Assemblies of God, but from Queensland Mr. and Mrs. Smith, with their daughter Marie, had gone forth to Japan as Pentecostal Missionaries, where they laboured with much success.
It was in Japan that Mrs. Smith laid down her life, dying among the Japanese she had helped to win for Christ.
Saddened but undaunted, Brother Smith and Marie went on with the work, upholding Christ and interceding for the lost souls of 3apan.
When Japan became belligerent their position became untenable, though the Japanese Christians stood loyally by them.
When, by the Emperor's order, everyone (including the missionaries) had to take part in ancestral worship by bowing publicly at the Shrines, Brother Smith, like Mordecai of old, refused to do so. Those who know Brother Smith (now retired) would agree that this our Missionary would rather die than yield one iota on anything that he felt would lower the standard or dishonour his Master.
Marie Smith is a sincere, humble soul, beloved by all, whose ministry and life commands respect throughout the land.
My pen seems to want to gallop away from me as my mind turns wistfully to the Mission Stations of our own land-to those ministering to our winsome coloured peoples-the primitive Aboriginal and the precious Polynesian, whom we call Kanakas, but we will leave them for the time being as we will come across them in these pages later on.
 1.12 THE QUEENSLAND RECORD
A few minutes ago I called up Pastor George Burns, of the Rockdale Church of Christ, on the telephone.
As he was the first President of the Assemblies of God in Queensland, I knew this dear man of God would refresh my memory on many things that are forgotten in the course of time.
One can hardly realise the vastness and expanse of the territory within the borders of the State of Queensland. Although it covers nearly 700,000 square miles, the total population is only equal to that of the city of Sydney.
You will appreciate that distance is one of the biggest problems of our Fellowship. We are so cut off one from another that opportunities for fraternisation are limited. Pastors rarely see one another. We lack the luxury of sympathy in one another's problems, and miss the pleasure of entering into each other's joys and victories.
We may have time to discover some of the variety of this temperate and tropical wonderland, as we move from place to place in our tour of inspection, but for the present we are tracing the Lord's unfolding purpose in His Pentecostal plan for the North.
Credit should be given Miss Florrie Mortomore, of Melbourne, -who in the first place set out alone. A woman of intrepid faith, she was led by the Spirit along the coastal towns of Queensland. : Armed with tracts and a testimony of the power of God, she inoculated Christians here and there with a hunger for the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
- One so interested was a Mrs. Dennis who had a God-given love for the coloured people of the North. She received the coveted gift of the Holy Ghost in Mackay very early in the piece, and, moving into the far North, she contacted the Enticknap family, who were earnest Christians serving the Lord wholeheartedly.
Mrs. Dennis expounded unto these Godly Methodists "the way of God more perfectly," just like Aquilla and Priscilla instructed the eloquent Apollos, who only knew God's Way as far as the baptism of John. (Acts 18. 26).
This was in 1924, and as they faithfully sought the Lord for His fulness, He poured out His Spirit true to promise, and a revival ~broke out in their home and the surrounding district. The sons, ~Will and Charles, dropped the plough-share and, buckling on the ~spiritual sword, stepped out into the battle for the Lord. Tackling ~the city of Townsville, they were richly rewarded, and they had .the joy of seeing a Pentecostal Assembly formed.
In the meantime, things were beginning to move in Queensland, for a South African evangelist linked with an organisation known as the Apostolic Faith-of Melbourne origin (nothing to do with the African denomination) began to campaign through the State preaching with exceptional power, creating interest everywhere. Revival fires started to blaze up here and there. Pastor George Burns left ~a flourishing church in the city of Maryborough, as he received the ~~mighty Pentecostal experience to take part in what promised to be
the most spectacular and glorious awakening this country had ever witnessed.
The Evangelist was a man with exceptional gifts, and at times displayed feats of audacity in faith. Numbers were saved and miraculously healed as he preached the true full Gospel message. Assemblies sprang up after his campaigns.
I must draw a curtain over his sad history that finished even more sadly. As Samson he evidenced inspired courage and power, as Samson his end was dismal, but we are not his judge. His disillusioned colleagues requested him to leave Queensland, which he ultimately did and he returned to his native land, while those in charge had the burden and care of reorganising the testimony that had been brought into reproach by wrongful living, and to start a fresh organisation free from questionable doctrine.
From the Conference of the surviving ministers, among whom were Pastors Burns, Swenson, with Will and Charles Enticknap, the Queensland Assemblies of God was formed, affiliated with the world-wide Fellowship, and the Pentecostal Church of Australia, which was operating in the other States of the Commonwealth.
Pastor Burns became the first president of the Queensland body, and was succeeded by Pastor C. G. Enticknap a few years later.
1.13 ELIM FOURSQUARE MOVEMENT
After severing his connection with Good News Hall, the Melbourne headquarters of the Apostolic Faith, the South African evangelist, with his daring spirit, began an organisation of his own, styling himself Principal. This organisation, known as the Elim Foursquare, for a time flourished and a number of churches were founded in various centres, though many deplorable incidents marred its real establishment, for to-day barely half-a-dozen survive.
One Foursquare minister married couples at an anvil - Gretna Green fashion-to foster publicity. Finally, the Principal divorced his wife to marry again. Thus a trail of spiritual reproach brought degradation and ridicule upon the Pentecostal testimony, which claimed the Holy Ghost yet tolerated unholy living and unchristian conduct.
Many Foursquare Pentecostals to-day, by consistent Christian living, are removing the reproach of unfortunate happenings of the past.
Despite city campaigns that stirred souls and swept all before them, the work was very shallow, although many undoubtedly received the Gospel and found Christ, still, instability at the root of the Movement, combined with the death of the Principal, caused a gradual but marked decline in their activities. Mrs. McPherson, of the American Foursquare, and Principal George Jeffries, of the British Elim Foursquare, made it very clear that they were never at any time connected with the Australian Elim Foursquare.
Many former members of this Movement have through the years gravitated into the Assemblies of God, proving loyal, true Christians and willing workers; some, too, have qualified and been received into the ministry.
 1.14 THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH
Troubles are ceaseless as we press on for the Kingdom of God, and our little vessel was to suffer further buffeting, division and setbacks by the advent to Australia of the Apostolic Church, whose headquarters is in Wales.
They came preaching the same message as we, concerning the four-fold Gospel, but claiming more light and greater vision, they unsettled our people by promising so much more, yet in reality bringing those they proselytized into bondage by their peculiar government. They surely built their work on our foundation, yet felt no qualms about their ethics, as they were persuaded that God had raised them up to be advocates of the only scripturally designed Government for the Church.
The claim of the Apostolic Church, which we could not condone, concerned their prophet whom they assert was set in the Church by God, and was virtually His mouthpiece.
The Word of the prophet was the Word of the Lord, so this oracle was sought when seeking to know the mind of the Lord on matters pertaining to Church or Christian life.
Despite many glaring deficiencies, their claim persisted, although they appear to have modified the prophet's utterances latterly, but never publicly have they denied that the prophet is still the oracle for the church.
Wherever a Pentecostal centre had been established, as sure as the eagle came the prophet-sent courier to sow the seed of division and doubt. The nucleus of the Apostolic Churches were in almost every instance the members of some Pentecostal group, and in some places the slow, patient work of years was swallowed up in a moment.
A cry of anguish went up throughout the land as those in happy fellowship and sweet communion were rent and riven and brought into variance.
To-day, when things have settled down, bitterness has faded with time, wounds that have left scars have healed, yet the breach is still wide and the Apostolic Church is separate from all other Pentecostal bodies, fundamentally believing the same in doctrine, undoubtedly living for Christ, yet divergent in Government so foreign to all precedent.
1.15 DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
On the other hand, we have been favoured by those sent along in the will of God to encourage us in our work, apart from those already mentioned.
Mr. Donald Gee spent an edifying time of ministry in the Word of God. His delightful handling of the Bible made the Book more fascinating, more alluring than ever before. The deeper trend so necessary to retain balance, where extravagance could prevail, made another stratum in the subsoil of our spiritual evolution. With what relish we devoured this predigested food, and gathered up the crumbs of knowledge for future reference.
Miss Alice Luce and Dr. Murcott came in the will of God.
It was Miss Alice Luce who dedicated our youngest child Elizabeth to the Lord. We felt honoured because she was a God-endowed saint indeed. The way she glorified the first works was the tell-tale that, though advanced in years, she was still in her first love. Monuments in her honour have been raised while she is still in the land of the living, so she can see what others never see-the monuments generally placed upon the tombs of the worthy.
Miss Mary Ayres-the world-travelled Australian Evangelist -brought Miss Quitch to our shores. During their Sydney campaign the Pentecostal attendance reached the highest peak to date in that city. After their Melbourne meetings they returned to America far too soon.
Mr. Howard Carter and Lester Sumrall added their experience for our enrichment, while on world-tour together. Mr. Carter, as the leader of the British A.O.G., with typical English thoroughness exhibited skill in the grasp of the Word of God, the product of much exploration in the treasury of God's sacred page. Lester, devoted to Evangelism, friendly and unassuming, went down well with our people everywhere.
It was through Mr. Carter that Mr. and Mrs. Henry Wiggins found their way into the ranks of the Australian ministry. At Toowoomba, in Queensland's hill-country, they settled with a fine Assembly and ran their Bible School for some years, recently returning to the Old Country again.
Evangelist and Mrs. Philip Megna were profitable servants from America we were sorry to lose.
Stephen Jeffries-the Signs-following Pastor-managed only two or three meetings in Australia, as he passed through from New Zealand en route to South Africa. This was a disappointment to us.
William Booth-Clibborn agreed to come across from America, incurrmg great expense to us for passage and etceteras. In the Southern cities he had little result, but in Brisbane, banding together most of the Pentecostals, a very large tent was erected, called the
"Canvas Cathedral." Brisbane was stirred in Booth-Clibborn's campaign by the greatest Gospel-witness ever seen in its history. Each week thousands attended and the revival continued unabated for just on a couple of years, but it was an independent work outside the framework of the Assemblies of God. A considerable company rallied together in the "Canvas Cathedral," and from this gathering was created the Covenant Christian Church, so named by William Booth-Clibborn, who had a genius for alliteration. He left Australia with his family in 1932.
Finally, this Church became associated with the Assemblies of God under the name "Glad Tidings Tabernacle." It was under the new management that Pastor W. A. Buchanan, one of our men, did a great work through the years settling the many grievances, preserving peace and unity.
This Church has the largest seating capacity of any in our Australian Fellowship.
1.16 UNION OF THE P.C.A. AND THE A.O.G.
In 1937 another important step was taken at a conference convened in Sydney for the purpose of uniting all the Australian Assemblies in a common loyalty to an approved Constitution.
It was at Easter-time that we gave ourselves to this important task. Despite the many difficulties that seemed insurmountable, the hand of God was upon us to guide and direct, giving unlimited grace. It was His evident purpose to take us on further in the Holy Ghost conquest of the Southern Continent.
After days when nerves were frayed, the conference was brought to a successful conclusion. The delegates, tired and weary with endless debate, felt the accomplishment was worth-while, for the Word says "how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."
Pastor C. L. Greenwood was chosen as the first Chairman of the Commonwealth fusion, so the North and the South were linked under the name we have to this day, "The Assemblies of God in Australia."
Mrs. Leila Buchanan, who had been the secretary for the Queensland work, became the Commonwealth Secretary, and to
her was relegated the work of editing the official magazine, "The Australian Evangel and Glad Tidings Messenger."
1.17 WORTHY UNDERTAKINGS-Home Mission Work.
After Pastor H. Akehurst had become the State Chairman of the A.O.G. in Queensland, it was soon apparent that God had placed a burden upon him for the coloured work, and for those taking the Gospel to these neglected races of our land. It was while he was engaged exploring the prospects for opening a Mission in the far North along the beautiful Daintree River, which flows 70 miles beyond Cairns, that he fell and broke his arm away in the primitive bush.
After this gruelling experience he continued in this area, for he saw the unfortunate natives were uncared for. By his effort, interest was aroused and, money forthcoming, a great promising area was purchased, which included the native village.
Pastor Akehurst, a builder by trade, set to work, with available help, erected a comfortable bungalow, and then a mission church adjacent to the village. To-day the conditions of the missionaries of the Aboriginal and Island Home Missions have improved under the sympathy and guidance of Pastor and Mrs. H. Akehurst. The workers and missionaries are very keen, happy and contented among their coloured people.
We will have much to tell about these quaint, lovable folk on another page.
1.18 ON THE AIR
In New South Wales, Pastor A. T. Davidson ventured t 0 spread the Full-gospel by Radio. He was the first in Pentecost to make the attempt from the Station in the West, at Parkes, designated 2PK.
He was agreeably surprised at the response to his message, for his session met the need of hundreds of families living in the far'. West, in what we term the backblocks. ~-~
The management of the Station also found the interest of the listening public was reacting to the credit of their programme, and: this made them give to our Pastor Davidson every assistance and encouragement, until the "Christian Fellowship of the Air," as the session is called, became known and enjoyed for many hundreds of miles, the envy of the other denominations and an influence for untold good.
From this lead, other radio sessions have followed in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Gympie, sending out in Pentecostal power to saint and sinner the message of revival and the full Gospel of Christ the Saviour, Healer, Baptiser, and Coming King.
1.19 PENTECOSTAL LITERATURE
What, too, has proved most beneficial to the
cause we serve, has been the inauguration of a department to distribute literature and spiritual books, setting forth the teachings and truths embodying the whole counsel of God. Pastor W. A. Buchanan, our "Evangel" Editor, runs this department at present. It is located in Brisbane and is a boon to our ministry who are now able to procure fine text-books. It is also of interest to the Assemblies, some having begun libraries from these edifying importations for local lending and distribution.
1.20 UNDER WAR CONDITIONS
During the war years Australia, in keeping with the rest of the world, assumed the appearance of an armed camp. Our meetings everywhere were flecked with British and Foreign uniforms.
Many splendid lads from other lands, who knew and loved Christ, found fellowship and friendly hospitality with our members. In no case did I hear these privileges were ever abused by lads of the fighting forces, and I was moving about Australia in those days.
Like others of our ministers, our home was the rendezvous for many lonely soldiers, sailors and airmen-mostly American. A large map of U.S A. hanging in our living-room was initialled over many a home-town from a variety of States. These stalwarts added to the warmth of our services, and many a brave boy, fighting the battle of loneliness or homesickness, found relief and solace as he united with us in worship and praise.
Such occupation and expression certainly minimised the power of temptation that constantly beset them, steadying them amid the swirl of the evil environment attending life hl the war game.
It is incredible but true that our national life altered little under the threat of invasion that would have made us all slaves to an utterly inhuman conqueror. Even after Singapore fell the nation's conscience still lay dormant, though thousands of our best type of manhood were lost to the Japanese. The cruel victorious Japanese almost reached their objectives, being turned back as they
touched our very coasts. Their bombs fell upon our soil in the North, shells from enemy ships exploded in Newcastle and Sydney, torpedoes wrought death and havoc at sea and even inside Sydney Harbour, yet the carefree, casual Australian, with characteristic indifference, never repented before God. However, when the danger was most acute, our churches filled up with those who groped their way through the black-out, but as soon as the enemy was checked, held at bay and gradually repulsed, normal conditions returned, proving the ignorance and ingratitude of benighted souls.
Perhaps we were spared the fires of judgment until the gracious Lord enlightened the land with the fires of true revival.
1.21 1947 CONFERENCE AT NEWCASTLE
Many Conferences through the long years have left us with sweet memories. With pleasant unanimity it was freely confessed that the 1947 Newcastle Conference had a special favour because of the Holy Spirit's liberty giving presence.
Many vital issues were at stake, many strong personalities to merge as about 40 representatives faced each other across the tables.
Problems that baulked were solved by calling upon the Lord in prayer. Each session opened in melting worship and inspiring harmony, that made the atmosphere so spiritual, everyone mellowed into graciousness. This carried into the Convention a rich anointing which the preachers took advantage of, enjoying great freedom to minister with passion and power.
The pretty Newcastle Church was honoured to be the scene of such a Conference so endorsed by God. The main objectives decided upon concerned the formation of a Commonwealth Bible School and the endeavour to open an A.O.G. Mission in New Guinea, where countless thousands of the fuzzy-wuzzy race have not been evangelised.
As my record has shown, so far in the history of our Movement we have not produced an Australian with outstanding gifts, or with qualities of leadership sufficient to inspire enough confidence to rally the Brethren for achievement that would bring interest or recognition in our Pentecostal message from other Christian bodies, or from the world in general.
No Gideon has been brought to light in Australia-no mighty man of spiritual valour, to stir our spirit with the challenging blast of his trumpet-call. In fact, Australia has never had a nation rousing revival, although men of power from other places have had large city campaigns that have been appreciated, no doubt, but have left little lasting effect on the generation. Not given to great excesses, we have had no great visitations to lift up the standards of righteousness.
Serene in our isolation, basking in sunshine and nature's lavishness, the temperament has developed an indifference to the things of God, that only the promised outpouring of the Spirit of God can alter.
Yet this is our field, and we love it. These are our people and v-e will work and intercede for them, until "grace doth much more abound."
1.22 CHRIST'S AMBASSADORS
Finally, I will make mention of the Youth of the A.O.G. who, as Christ's Ambassadors, are a keen, united body, with Constitutional status.
In some parts, especially along the Central Coast of Queensland, they have had rousing camp-meetings that have fired their enthusiasm.
Every Assembly boasts its C.A. group, where all take part, and from their ranks some talented consecrated lives have found their way into the ministry. It gives sincere pleasure to bear witness that, with few exceptions, the youth of the A.O.G., Christ's Ambassadors, are free from worldliness, living their lives in service and separation to God.
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