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Led by The Spirit: The Early Years in the Philippines

This excerpt from Led by the Spirit: The History of the American Assemblies of God Missionaries in the Philippines is the first chapter. Missionary-scholar Dave Johnson has brought together a chronicle of over 300 Pentecostal missionaries serving in the Philippines from 1926 through the first decade of the new Millennium.


The Early Years in the Philippines

As the Assemblies of God in the United States grew, so did their vision to send missionaries to the far-flung corners of the globe, including the Philippines.


The First Missionaries Arrive

The first United States Assemblies of God (AG) missionaries to the Philippines were Benjamin and Cordelia Caudle, who, with their children, arrived in Manila in September 1926.1 The Caudles came from Kansas. Like many of the early missionaries, neither had any Bible school education, and it appears that they had little ministry experience. Caudle had only been a Christian for about six years before arriving in the Philippines. Yet they had heard the call of God, and for them and those who supported them, that call was sufficient. At the same time, their application for appointment indicates that they were well aware that sacrifice and privation awaited them.2 To what extent they were actually prepared for life in the tropics can only be conjectured.

They settled in Manila and quickly began to work. Manila, a city of at least three hundred thousand people at the time, was the logical choice because it was both the capital and hub of the nation. By the time the Caudles arrived, the Filipinos had been under American rule for twenty-eight years and many had learned English to the point that the Caudles felt it was becoming the lingua franca of the country.3

The Caudles were thoroughly convinced of the validity of the Pentecostal message and had a deep burden for the lost. In an article for the Pentecostal Evangel, the official voice of the Assemblies of God USA, Caudle’s passion for the lost and commitment to Pentecost is revealed:

Do you know that there are many millions of people here that need the Gospel preached to them with power and in demonstration of the Holy Ghost? The Pentecostal message is yet a stranger to the Philippine Islands, but by God’s grace it will not remain so long. For there shall be established in these Islands a lighthouse of the Pentecostal truth where men and women can be free.4

While the claim to be the first to proclaim the Pentecostal message in the Philippines cannot be verified with certainty, it may have been true since the Pentecostal Movement was young at the time. Caudle’s remarks that the Pentecostal message, with its emphasis on signs and wonders, would spread throughout the country, was prophetic, although it didn’t happen as quickly as he hoped.

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Category: Church History, Fall 2019

About the Author: Dave Johnson, M.Div., D.Miss. (Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines), is an Assemblies of God missionary to the Philippines. Dave and his wife Debbie have been involved in evangelism, church planting, and Bible school and mission leadership. Dave is the Managing Editor of Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, the director of APTS Press in Baguio City, Philippines and coordinator for the Asian Pentecostal Theological Seminary's Master of Theology Program. Facebook Twitter

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