IPHC World Missions Ministries Birthed in Prophecy
By Frank G. Tunstall
A. G. Garr, pastor of a holiness mission in Los Angeles, was the first white man to receive the Pentecostal baptism in the Azusa Street Pentecostal outpouring of 1906-1909. Garr took the message of Pentecost overseas, first to India. From there he went to Hong Kong where he served for a year as an independent missionary. Garr’s three-year-old daughter developed smallpox that year and it claimed her life. Garr and his wife had to bury her in Hong Kong and then leave their precious child on foreign soil when they returned to America.
The Holy Spirit spoke to Garr and gave him the assignment to give a prophetic message to Bishop J. H. King when he returned to America. King at the time was the bishop of the Fire Baptized Holiness Church. Garr had heard the name of J. H. King, but had never met him, nor did Garr know where Bishop King lived.
When Garr returned home, he accepted the invitation of A. E. Robinson to preach in Columbia, SC. While there he shared his burden to meet J. H. King and give him a word from the Lord. To Garr’s delight, Robinson knew Bishop King and made the connection by telegraph.
When they met for the first time in Columbia, South Carolina, Garr told King the Holy Spirit had sent him to say to Bishop King he was to travel to the emerging Pentecostal centers of the world. The Lord’s will for him, Garr said, was to help ground the foreign believers in the faith.
BISHOP KING’S TESTIMONY
Why He Became a Missionary
“In the spring of 1909, while residing at Falcon, NC, I received an invitation from A. E. Robinson to visit Columbia, SC. . . . He urged me to come, agreeing to pay my traveling expenses. Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Garr, Pentecostal missionaries from China, were visiting. . . and they desired very much to see me.
“I boarded N. 89 on the Atlantic Coast Line at Godwin. . . . The next morning I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Garr and enjoyed visiting with them a part of the day. They informed me as to their conviction concerning my visiting Pentecostal centers in foreign countries . . . I at once informed them that it was not possible for me to do it. . . . So the tour of the world was dismissed from my mind.
“As the year 1909 was coming to a close . . . the proposition . . . forced itself upon my mind and I was compelled to give it consideration. It became a burden so heavy that I could scarcely bear it. My sleep was disturbed and my waking hours distracted by the harassing proposition that would not be put aside. By the end of the year I was almost on the verge of nervous prostration. I could not rest by day or night. . . . I was tossed on a troubled sea and did not know which way to turn so as to find a haven. . . .
“December 31 came and a watch night service had been announced at the little round chapel [the Octagon Tabernacle in Falcon, NC]. I decided to attend with the purpose of having this distressing question settled forever…
“Nothing in the service seemed to be enjoyable . . . so I seized my hat to go to my room. But a voice said, ‘You had better stay!’”
“I remained for a while and became disgusted [again] with what was being done. I seized my hat to leave. The same voice said, ‘Do not go, as there is something for you in the service.’”
“As I sat there, I became so thoroughly disgusted with everything in the service I said again, ‘I will leave, as I can stand this no longer.’ But God gave me a most positive command to stay. . . . I remained as a matter of obedience to God’s will.
“The Lord then opened a door and called me into His presence and said, ‘I will do what you desire of me.’ I asked that He let me know my duty—whether to stay at Falcon or go on a tour of the world. He responded in a way that did not admit of question on my part—I was to go on this tour. . . .I felt that I could not doubt the call any further.
“I accepted it and was relieved of one of the most distressing burdens I ever bore in life. I felt as if I were given wings to soar heavenward. All was glorious to my soul. The service closed and I went to my room to sleep for six or eight hours, as I had not done in months on this fashion.”
(J. H. King, Yet Speaketh, pp. 142-145).
The 41-year-old bishop picked up the robe of what we think of today as a short-term missionary. King sailed out of Los Angeles on the steamship China on September 20, 1910 and arrived in Hong Kong four weeks later. The fact that the general overseer left the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church in the hands of his assistant general overseer and launched two years abroad, doing what we would think of today as a sort-term missionary was a unique signal: the future of the church would be characterized by a bold commitment to the Lord’s Great Commission. The Biblical roots showing how that happened reveals the principle of evangelism identified as the simultaneous principle.
THE SIMULTANEOUS PRINCIPLE
“Separate unto me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them,” the Holy Spirit said [to the leaders of the church in Antioch in Syria] (Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-4). Antioch was the first city-wide revival in a Gentile city of the apostolic era. The revival was blessed with a team of ministers who were committed to winning Antioch, including Barnabas, Saul of Tarsus (whom Barnabas recruited), and unnamed prophets and teachers. Barnabas and Saul had only a year to teach the Greek believers in Antioch.
So there would be no mistake, the Holy Spirit named the men He chose. They were taken from the leadership team and set apart by the Spirit as the first missionaries to the Gentile world. While the Antioch church was but an infant congregation, the Spirit called out Antioch’s best leadership to go to the nations. It all took place at a time when the church at Antioch had not come close to winning even Antioch.
This story reveals the apostolic principle for obeying the Lord’s Great Commission: from its beginning a new church must embrace a “sending ministry” (Matthew 28:16-20). The formula is both at the same time, or simultaneous ministry. Waiting until we have won our city for Christ is a big mistake because no city is ever completely won. A not now/later mindset will never fulfill the Lord’s mandate to go to the nations.
The Lord used this same simultaneous principle to launch missionary evangelism when the Pentecostal Holiness Church was birthed. The Holy Spirit chose the leader of the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church—Bishop J. H. King—and sent him as a missionary on what became a two-year around-the-world journey. King received the prophecy of A. G. Garr in 1909. The prophecy was confirmed to him by the voice of the Spirit at a New Year’s Eve watch night service that same year. Bishop King obeyed in faith.
King’s doing this is the essence of the simultaneous principle in dynamic action. His trip set the sails for Pentecostal Holiness churches throughout the twentieth century, and still continues. World Missions Ministries has its roots in that prophecy. IPHC has always believed in growing at home and overseas, doing both at the same time.
YES, ANTIOCH THRIVED!
The church at Antioch in Syria, where believers in Christ were first called Christians, was not diminished by losing its two principle leaders. Instead, it advanced! Antioch developed in the years ahead into one of the great churches of the post-apostolic era. Numbered among its most renowned early leaders was Ignatius of Antioch (bishop of Syria, 70 A.D. – 105 A.D., and a contemporary of Polycarp). In an Early Church persecution of Christians, Ignatius refused to offer incense to Emperor Trajan because doing it meant recognizing Trajan as a god. Ignatius was sentenced to death in the Coliseum in Rome. About his pending martyrdom, Ignatius wrote:
“Let me be food to the wild beasts. I am God’s wheat, and I am being ground by the teeth of the wild beasts that I might prove to be pure bread.”
The church at Antioch in Syria has thrived through the centuries to this day. One of its darkest seasons was the rise of Islam in the early 600s AD. Damascus fell to the Muslim invasion in 636 and Antioch two years later. But the church survived the onslaught. In fact, the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch traces its roots to this apostolic revival, and has continued into the 21st century. Informed estimates include some 1.5 million members in the Middle East.
Like Ignatius in the Early Church, Christians in Syria today are facing what might be the darkest hour of their history: martyrdom and attempted extermination at the hands of radical Muslim ISIS terrorists. Thousands have already paid for their testimony with their blood, and many more thousands have fled their homes seeking safety. They need our faithful prayers.