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Led by The Spirit: The History of the American Assemblies of God Missionaries in the Philippines, Preface and Introduction

The birth of the Assemblies of God and its missions program should be understood within its historical context. The nineteenth century had seen great growth in the spread of the gospel as missionaries, primarily from the Western nations, had circled the globe. This was aided, at least in part, by the expansion of the Western colonial powers. There were benefits and abuses with colonialism, and the United States experience in the Philippines was no exception. The underlying colonial mentality was that Western culture was superior to all others, an attitude to which some missionaries, being products of their times, were not immune. This superiority began to be unmasked when, in 1914, the year in which the Assemblies of God was founded, the Western world was plunged into the horrors of World War I.

There were benefits and abuses with colonialism, and the United States experience in the Philippines was no exception.

The war not only resulted in social upheaval, but also in considerable turmoil in the theology of missions. The previous century, probably one of the most successful periods of missions in the history of the Church as a whole, was marked by the eschatology of postmillennialism, the belief that the world would get better and better in anticipation of the eventual return of Christ. This theology was largely discredited by the reality of World War I, the most brutal and barbaric war in human history until that time. The Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal groups, by contrast, were convinced that Christ would come prior to the Millennium, and that He could come at any moment. The prospect of the imminent return of Christ, coupled with the conviction that men and women who were unprepared for His coming would be eternally lost, became a driving force in Assemblies of God preaching, both at home and abroad.

As early as the General Council meeting in 1915, the Assemblies of God went on record as calling for the establishment of indigenous churches after the New Testament pattern.2 These churches would be self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating. By 1915, the Movement was also establishing the pattern of appointing missionaries. Its earliest application form was simple and straightforward, asking questions about the prospective missionary’s experience with salvation and the  baptism in the Holy Spirit, as well as inquiring if the belief in divine healing allowed for visiting the doctor. Candidates were required to state that they were willing to encourage local churches to support them, and that they would also be willing to ultimately trust God for His provision.

God was moving, and doors for the Pentecostal witness were opening.

While the need for increased administrative oversight had come about in part because of problems and abuses, it had also come about because of the growth of the Movement, both in terms of personnel and resources. God was moving, and doors for the Pentecostal witness were opening. J. Philip Hogan, executive director of the Assemblies of God Division of Foreign Missions (now Assemblies of God World Missions) from 1959–1989, reflected on the impact that early pioneer missionaries had made on the Movement as a whole:

The present missionary movement of the Division of Foreign Missions is the outgrowth of precise missionary concepts undoubtedly authored by the Holy Spirit and implanted in the hearts of early pioneers who knew the New Testament but were in no sense missiologists. However, the things they said, the papers they wrote, the concepts they adopted, the dreams they dreamed, are still being carried out today. The present worldwide movement and fraternal fellowship numbering in the millions are the product of a few principles announced by these pioneers and incorporated in the bylaws of the General Council of the Assemblies of God.3

The identity of those who followed those dreams to the Philippines, their actions, and their results will unfold in the chapters that follow.



This chapter is an excerpt from Dave Johnson, Led By The Spirit: The History of the American Assemblies of God Missionaries in the Philippines (Pasig City, Philippines: ICI Ministries, 2009). Used with permission.



[Editor’s note: At the time of online publication, an error was discovered with the end notes for the Introduction. Please see the original hardcopy edition or contact David Johnson for clarification.]


Further Reading:

Read Malcolm Brubaker’s review of Led by the Spirit in the Summer 2010 issue of The Pneuma Review:

Download the full book (in PDF) at:

Find more excellent books from APTS Press, home of the Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies.

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Category: Church History, Summer 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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