Friday, April 18, 2014

Assemblies of God India

Traditions connect the beginning of Christianity in India with Apostle Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus. The General Council of the Assemblies of God was organized in 1914 in Hots Springs, Arkansas. In August 1918 a meeting of Pentecostal missionaries was convened in Landour and they decided to hold a missionary convention in Saharanpur in November 1918. They chose the name “Indian Assemblies of God” for the fellowship in affiliation with the General Council of the Assemblies of God, USA. Missionary C.H. Schoonmaker was the Chairman of the Fellowship. The name was changed to the Assemblies of God of North India in 1950. The A/G expanded its ministry to the North East of India when Rev. Solomon Wasker from the Maharashtra District Council felt the call of God to go to Nagaland in the 1960’s.Today A/G has churches in Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam and West Bengal.

Pioneers of Pentecostal ministries in South India were George Berg and Robert Cook. Robert Cook came to India in 1913 and visited Travancore for the first time in 1914. The success of his meetings in Central Travancore during his trips between 1914 and 1921 encouraged him to settle down in Kottarakara with his family in 1922. With the growth of the ministry he felt the need to affiliate with a Pentecostal fellowship and he joined the General Council of the Assemblies of God in 1919. For the next ten years he worked with the Assemblies of God. During this period he had a group of committed charismatic national preachers as his coworkers. Among his coworkers were such men as A.K. Varghese, A.C. Mathew (Pandalam Valia Mathaichan), A.J. John, P.V. John, T.M. Varghese, K.E. Abraham and A.C. Samuel.

The first Assemblies of God missionary to come to South India was Mary Chapman, who had done missionary service in Africa. She came to Chennai (Madras) in 1914 and traveled to different parts of South India – Mumbai, Poona, Dhond, Bangalore etc.- using Doddaballapore, Mysore as her base. Later she moved to Chennai and made frequent trips to Travancore to conduct “Tarrying Meetings” beginning 1916. Chapman based her ministry in Trivandurm in 1921 and worked with Pastor Manasseh and laid the foundation for the Assemblies of God in Travancore. Miss Aldwinkle, an independent missionary joined the A/G influenced by Chapman and they worked together to plant several churches in South Travancore. In 1923 Spencer May, a British A/G missionary came to Travancore and labored with Chapman. They published the Pentecostal Trumpet the first Malayalam Pentecostal magazine that year. Missionary John Burgess came to Mavelikkara in 1926 where Mary Chapman was residing and in June 1927 they began the Bethel Bible School, the first Assemblies of God Bible School outside the United States and the first Pentecostal Bible School in India.

Some of the missionaries that God used in the development of the Assemblies of God in India are C.H. Schoonmaker, A.A. Blakeney, James Harvey, Mary Chapman, Robert Cummings, John H. Burgess, Anna Tomaseck, Constance Eady, Martha Kucera, Mary Lindberg, Mildred Ginn, Lydia Graner, Carl D. Holleman, Ted Vassar, Alfred Cawston, Oliver Foth, Doris Edwards, Ms. Esler and Ms. Hodge, Ovid A. Dillingham, Andrew McDearmid, Andrew McCabe, John Robert Shaver, Earnest and Phyllis Sorbo, Virginia Hamlin, Kenneth Weigel, Mark and Huldah Buntain, Colleen Guinn, Vernon Davis,Ron Tuttle, John Higgins, Earl Stubbs, David Stewart Sr and David Stewart Jr. The Lord raised many capable national leaders to lead the A/G ministries in India. Pastors C. Manassh, A.C. Samuel, K. M Panicker, C. Kunjummen, and P.D. Johnson were effective leaders of A/G in Kerala. Rev. Deviprasad Roychowdhury, Dr. P.C. Samuel, Rev. Kishan Singh, Rev. Hanok Ghose, Rev. Kachahapp, are some of the outstanding leaders of the A/G in North India. Rev. Thupu-O Nyekha, Rev. J. Khuma, Rev. D. Haokholun Haokip, T.R. Angami, T.N.Lotha, and Thikhuyo Phesao are some of the leaders of the A/G in North East India.

Today the organization of the Assemblies of God work according to three regions: South India, North India, and North East India. These three regions are combined to form the Assemblies of God of India. Rev. D. Mohan, Pastor of New Life Assembly of God in Chennai with 35000 members is the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God of India. From humble beginnings in the early part of the twentieth century the Assemblies of God has over 7000 churches, numerous Bible Colleges, educational institutions, health and social institutions, making the Assemblies of God one of the largest Pentecostal fellowship in India today.