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Global Pentecostal Renaissance? Reflections on Pentecostalism, Culture, and Higher Education, by Jeff Hittenberger

My son Ben, like Afi’s son Mensah, is a young man with Down Syndrome. Ben is also on the autistic spectrum, and for him participation in regular church settings is difficult. Ben has many gifts to share, but the conditions under which he is able to share them must be sensitively designed. When Ben became a teenager, my wife and I needed help from our local AG church in order to facilitate Ben’s participation in the church community. Ultimately, that help came from two graduates of an AG college, one in special education and another in nursing, who volunteered to create a special needs Sunday School class for teenagers who are not able to thrive in regular classes or services. By integrating their learning with their faith in their domains of study and service, these women creatively opened doors for Ben and other teens with special needs, so that they, too, could share their gifts with the people of God. Multiply this local expression of the Spirit’s empowerment for redemptive service a hundred thousand times over in churches and communities around the world, and one can imagine what Global Pentecostal Renaissance looks like in a very practical sense.

A passion for God can and should be integrated with a passion for learning and creative expression and a passion for redemptive service and mission.


Pentecostals have experienced the presence, love, and power of God in a life-transforming way. The natural response to that experience is to seek to follow God in all facets of one’s life. A passion for God can and should be integrated with a passion for learning and creative expression and a passion for redemptive service and mission.

While Pentecostals have sometimes been leery of higher education, this paper suggests that Pentecostalism, a truly global movement, has within its DNA the resources to be a learning movement. Pentecostalism, as exemplified by the Azusa Street revival, is exploratory, global, holistic, and Christ-centered. Pentecostal institutions of higher education play a vital role in encouraging these characteristics among Pentecostals and are contributing to a Global Pentecostal Renaissance, defined as a Spirit-empowered awakening among Christians worldwide that integrates a passion for God, a passion for learning and creative expression, and a passion for redemptive service and mission. Such an awakening will bless not only Pentecostals, but may also encourage and inspire Christians from other traditions with whom we partner to bless the world.

A Global Pentecostal Renaissance encourages all believers to express their gifts with confidence.

The future of global Pentecostalism will be bright if Pentecostal educators will partner with churches and families to bring that passion for God, passion for learning and creative expression, and passion for redemptive service and mission to bear on all human relationships across cultures and in all domains of life.


Footnotes appear in the full digital issue of Pneuma Review Spring 2013 and in the book from which this excerpt is derived.

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Category: Living the Faith, Pneuma Review, Spring 2013

About the Author: Jeff Hittenberger, Ph.D. (University of Southern California), serves as Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs at Vanguard University. He previously served as Director of Graduate Studies at Evangel University and as Dean of the School of Education at Vanguard University. He served as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at Mohamed V University in Rabat, Morocco, has served as a consultant and researcher in Cameroon, Mali, South Africa, Israel, and Haiti.

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