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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

A Lifeline for Missions

Oct. 20, 2013

Approaching 70 years of ministry, Speed the Light is stronger than ever

It’s a simple concept: participants in the Assemblies of God Speed the Light program give so others can speed the light of the gospel to a world in darkness. This is accomplished by providing the “essential transportation and creative communication” equipment for missionary evangelism. Through modern transportation, radio, television, the printed word, and equipment for mass evangelism, AG missionaries can better fulfill the Great Commission.

Speed the Light is a student-initiated, volunteer, charitable program that provides much-needed equipment to missionaries across the United States and in more than 180 countries around the world. Since its beginning, STL has raised over a quarter of a billion dollars for missionary resources.

Speed the Light began in 1944 after Ralph Harris, then head of the National Youth Ministries department, prayed for a way to give AG students the opportunity to help missionaries in their work. By continuing to provide ministry equipment to AG missionaries, STL is training a new generation of young people across the U.S. to join in fulfilling the Great Commission as they help spread the gospel message to the lost.

STL operates with one guiding principle: All assistance must go to purchase equipment directly related to evangelism (“evangelism” is defined as propagating the gospel and instructing converts). STL equipment is not presently nor has ever been given for promotion, solicitation or normal administrative functions.

Every missionary in the Assemblies of God will at some point fly, drive or float to their destination in transportation that has been provided to them by churches and students through Speed the Light. Airplanes, cars, vans, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, buses, boats, horses, camels, donkeys, wheelbarrows — if it has wheels or hooves and can carry a missionary to a country, city, town or village to someone waiting to hear about Jesus, Speed the Light has provided it.

Today is Speed the Light Sunday in the Assemblies of God. Following are excerpts from the Pentecostal Evangel archives charting Speed the Light’s growing ministry through the years.

Oct. 14, 1962
Assemblies of God World Missions field secretaries (now regional directors) spoke with the Evangel about how missionaries around the world use Speed the Light equipment.

Melvin Hodges
(Latin America)

A boat in Guatemala is used for evangelizing the Indians around Lake Atitlan. It enables the missionary to reach the villages around the lake.

In Colombia one of our missionaries has a plane that helps us reach the plains on the other side of the mountain where there were almost no roads. The missionaries had to be left for a week or two at a time and often were caught back there with no transportation. Now the plane is helping us to open up this whole new area.

Our missionaries use a Speed the Light station wagon to take the Bible school students out every weekend to open up new stations, which develop into churches. This is very common, especially in El Salvador and Guatemala. They load 15 students in a station wagon and drop them off — one or two at each place — within 150 miles from the Bible school. The students come back on their own on Monday, telling of the souls that have been saved.

Maynard Ketcham
(Far East)

We have a radio broadcast produced in Japan in our own studio, which is considered one of the best-equipped evangelical studios in the country. We release a half-hour program once a week over JOQR, the most powerful station in Japan. We also broadcast over a network of 20 other stations throughout Japan, with an estimated audience of 30 million.

In South Korea we have a small broadcasting operation in Pusan. We are planning to produce other programs which will be released over larger stations in the Seoul area.

Our missionaries in Formosa, with the assistance of nationals, are producing two 15-minute programs a week. One is in Taiwanese, the other in Mandarin. We started releasing these programs, produced on Speed the Light recording equipment, over a small network.

In the Philippines we produce several programs, all of which are currently released over Far East Broadcasting Company transmitters.

We now are taking steps to produce programs in the Indonesian language and to beam them from Manila to Indonesia. These are all interesting developments, and Speed the Light is providing the recording equipment for these programs.

Everett Phillips

One of the greatest barriers to gospel work in Africa is language. There are approximately 800 languages in Africa — three or four times that many if you consider all the various dialects. With Speed the Light equipment we are printing in about 150 distinct African languages. This literature ranges from small pieces of paper with a gospel text on them to eight- or 10-page booklets. At times we print regular books, textbooks for Bible schools, and other larger productions.

You can go to practically any interior area in Africa today and have almost a mob scene simply by handing out tracts.

Victor Greisen
(Southern Asia, Europe, Near East)

In Europe, we have printing plants in Rome and in Ershausen, Germany, as well as vehicles. To me, both printed literature and vehicles are very important.

At the Bible school in Ershausen there are three buses. Each weekend they fill these with students and go out into the various towns and cities of Germany where we have no churches. The students take the literature that is printed by Speed the Light presses and distribute it after they preach the Word. This has brought many souls to Jesus Christ.

We have also furnished literature to our servicemen in Europe. Many of them have been converted and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Oct. 20, 1963
Because of Speed the Light
Vernon Hagar, missionary to Liberia

While building almost 60 leper houses, a clinic chapel, a maternity unit, a new school for Newaka, a missionary residence, and many other small buildings, it has been necessary for us to haul about 20,200 pounds of cement, 4,000 sheets of roofing, and many smaller items of building material.

In connection with the work among the lepers we also have a large commodity program. We have hauled 328,000 pounds of food for the lepers at New Hope.

In addition, we have 18 miles of jungle road to maintain.

If it had not been for several Speed the Light vehicles provided for the two mission stations — New Hope and Newaka — we would not have been able to accomplish this work. Because of Speed the Light equipment we have done in three years what would have taken many years to accomplish — or might never have been done at all.

Because of Speed the Light, 1,000 lepers have the privilege of hearing the gospel four mornings a week in the clinic chapel, and at services five times a week in the church.

The Land Rover which has been assigned to us personally is particularly good for ambulance service. When we are unable to treat a patient who comes to us, we roll the back seat of the Land Rover forward and place a small canvas cot in it. We can then take the patient to the Firestone Hospital or to the government hospital at Cape Palmas. We believe some lives have been saved this way.


Oct. 19, 1975
Speed the Light to the Rescue
Ken Helton

From Sept. 1, 1974, to Aug. 31, 1975, home missionaries received 48 land vehicles, one airplane, and a printing press, costing a total of $242,000.

Endel Siitam, appointed home missionary to the Estonian people, is publisher of the Estonian newspaper, Keskoo Huud (The Midnight Cry). He needed a printing press to continue publication of this Christian newspaper. He asked for and received the press from the Division of Home Missions through Speed the Light.

Roy and Mary Lou Nelson received a GMC Rally Van from Speed the Light to be used in the Nelsons’ work with the Navajo Indians at the Indian Assembly in Gallup, N.M. The Nelsons’ latest project involving Speed the Light vehicles is an American Indian youth camp. Several church groups are participating in the venture. Indian children are often too poor to attend the regular district camps. Speed the Light vehicles will be used to transport the children to camp.

When Teen Challenge opened a new center in San Jose, Calif., in 1972, Speed the Light supplied a van. This women’s center is still enjoying the use of that vehicle.

Still other Home Missions programs benefit from Speed the Light. Joanne Lambert and Dorothy Scott, appointed home missionaries to the deaf, received a new Ford from Louisiana youth through Speed the Light.

Oct. 17, 1982
Speed the Light Makes the Difference

Barry Eisenhart, missionary to Germany, shares the following testimonies:

“A coffeehouse in Worms equipped with a STL movie projector and screen features an evangelistic film each month. About a year and a half ago Hugo Sabloski, a man to whom I had witnessed for six years, visited the coffeehouse. He viewed the film being shown there and, along with his wife, Gudrun, and 12 other people, was gloriously saved. Since coming to the States on furlough I received a phone call from Germany telling me that Hugo was recently baptized in the Holy Spirit.

“Speed the Light also rose to the occasion this past summer when 50 Ambassadors in Mission team members came to Germany for a witnessing outreach. With the aid of battery-operated STL public address systems, we were able to conduct street meetings alongside the noisy, busily traveled thoroughfares of Walsrode. These effective evangelistic efforts would not have been possible without our Speed the Light equipment.

May 21, 2000
Speed the Light Has Another Record Year

Speed the Light continues to provide vehicles and communications equipment to missionaries at home and abroad. The official total for offerings given in 1999 exceeded $12 million — an increase of more than $1 million from 1998. The average amount churches gave in 1999 was $1,025.50, marking the first time per church giving has gone over $1,000. Since its inception 55 years ago, students have given more than $136 million for missionary equipment.

“The opportunities to fulfill the Great Commission have never been greater, and Speed the Light is in a position to provide what is necessary to do it,” says Tom Greene, Speed the Light director.

Oct. 16, 2005
Giving Tops $196 Million

Speed the Light is still helping spread the gospel by providing transportation and communications equipment to missionaries in more than 180 countries.

Since its founding in 1944, the Assemblies of God student-initiated ministry has raised more than $196 million for missionary equipment. In 2004, students and churches gave more than $11.2 million to STL.

“Students are giving of themselves to make sure people have a chance to hear — and even feel — the gospel,” says David Raley, STL director. Raley notes that STL purchased Convoy of Hope trucks that delivered supplies in Indonesia and Sri Lanka after last year’s tsunami. STL vehicles also have assisted in the recent relief efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“The continued faithful giving to Speed the Light by students, pastors, families and churches is making the difference for our missionaries and the people they are reaching,” says Jay Mooney, director of the AG National Youth Department.

Oct. 17, 2010
Connections: Chet Caudill
(Speed the Light/Student Missions director)

“The heart of Speed the Light is not a program. The heart is seeing souls be saved, and I think it’s important to say that as much as possible. Our efforts to lead the charge for this ministry should come from that perspective.”


Early History of Speed the Light

1944 —    Speed the Light launched as the missionary program of Assemblies of God youth. Amphibian plane purchased as first project.

1945 —    Goal of $100,000 set and met as program gathered momentum.

1946 —    Printing and radio equipment added to the transportation phase of STL.

1947 —    Lagging interest renewed as Mission-aires (quartet) went on the road for STL.

The following items were recognized as qualifying for STL assistance: vehicles for missionary transportation, radio broadcasting and receiving sets, and printing presses. A major initiative was launched in partnership with the Far East Broadcasting Company.

1948 —    STL purchased two Army surplus C-46 planes and inaugurated “missionary flights” ferrying missionaries to and from the field. These were modified World War II planes, operated between 1948 and 1951.

STL purchased an $8,500 radio transcription unit for the national broadcast Sermons in Song, the forerunner of Revivaltime. An entire broadcast was used to dedicate the equipment for evangelism.

1949 —    Converted B-17 becomes flagship of missionary flights.

1950 —    Navy surplus “search and rescue” boat purchased by STL to operate in Indonesian waters. Total vehicles purchased hits 500.

1951 —    STL investment in radio equipment climbs to over $50,000.

1953 —    STL Evangelistic Center dedicated in Tokyo. Hundreds saved in first campaign.

1954 —    Sixty-seven countries now entered with STL equipment.

1955 —    One thousandth vehicle purchased by STL goes to Africa.

1962 —    Number of churches participating went from 4,600 in 1962 to 5,300 in 1963. The number in 1963 was 270 more than the number of churches with an  organized Christ’s Ambassadors (youth) group.

1969 —    Twenty-fifth anniversary for STL. STL had purchased 3,317 vehicles by this time.

1978 —    STL invested in Chi Alpha to assist in the formation and development of this ministry.

1979 —    Speed the Light began to make available a New Church Grant for churches that were being planted in the United States. From a Speed the Light policy  paper (adopted June 7, 1979): “Its (STL’s) purpose is to keep Assemblies of God missionaries and ministers in New Church Evangelism supplied with equipment which is essential to their reaching the unevangelized.”



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