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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. ...

Young Witnesses

Christ’s Ambassadors were intent on taking the gospel to the world

Mar. 30, 2014

From Anointed to Serve: The Story of the Assemblies of God (GPH: 1971)

C.A. History

By William W. Menzies

Editor’s note: For decades, the youth ministry of the Assemblies of God was known as Christ’s Ambassadors. Young people meeting in most AG churches became known as “C.A.’s.” William W. Menzies, longtime AG educator, reviewed the early history of national youth ministry in 1971.

The National C.A. Department was given formal authorization at the General Council of 1943, but organized youth ministry in the Assemblies of God dates from 1925. On May 30, 1925, about 300 young people from 13 churches in the northern and central parts of California gathered at Glad Tidings Assembly of Oakland for fellowship and inspiration. A second rally was planned for October, in Stockton, at which the “Pentecostal Ambassadors for Christ” was organized, with Wesley R. Steelberg elected as president. Meanwhile, Pastor A.G. Osterberg of Fresno Full Gospel Tabernacle was organizing a similar group, which he called “Christian Crusaders.” This southern group in California spread rapidly through the San Joaquin Valley. At Bethel Temple, Los Angeles, Youth Director Carl Hatch suggested the name “Christ’s Ambassadors” for the youth group developing in his church. Across the country, David Burris, later to be district superintendent, was elected the first state youth leader in Arkansas.

Carl Hatch began the publication of a young people’s paper, The Christ’s Ambassadors Herald, as a district periodical, but after 1931 it took on national scope. At the Memphis (Tenn.) General Council in 1937, the youth committee recommended that the denomination assume responsibility for Hatch’s paper. Consequently, beginning in January 1938, the C.A. Herald, with Robert Cunningham as editor, became a denominational enterprise. It was only 10 years prior, in 1927, that the General Council had first recognized the importance of youth work by appointing a committee to study its role in the Fellowship.

The next major step toward the creation of a national office was the calling of a series of National Christ’s Ambassadors Conferences. The first such national gathering met on the campus of Central Bible Institute in June 1940, with 342 participants registered. Bert Webb, pastor of Central Assembly in Springfield (Mo.), was the conference director. Each year thereafter, similar conferences met in Springfield,  with a peak registration of 650 being reached at the fourth and last conference in June 1944. Considerable credit for the calling of these conferences goes to Dorothy Morris and Zella Lindsey, who caught a vision of the value of organized youth activity from their visit to the Southern Baptist youth conference at Ridgecrest, North Carolina.

At the first conference, representatives of youth leaders met informally several times with Assemblies of God executives, and following these meetings an appeal was made for the establishment of a national office. As a result of this appeal, William Pickthorn, then a pastor in Memphis, was called to Springfield to lay the groundwork for such an office. In 1942, Ralph Harris, pastor in Clio, Michigan, and director of the Christ’s Ambassadors for that district, offered to prepare a chronicle for the conference, much as he had done at the summer conventions in Michigan. This editorial work brought Harris to the attention of the executives in Springfield, who were looking for the right man to head the proposed youth department. Ralph Harris arrived in Springfield in February 1943 to open the office. It was in September of that year that the General Council formally approved the new enterprise. And so the C.A. Department was born.

Originally published in the April 8, 1962, Pentecostal Evangel

C.A.’s Around the World

Editor’s note:  Christ’s Ambassadors was not limited to youth groups in the United States. Around the world, young people determined to be ambassadors for their Savior, even in communities where Christianity was challenged. The April 8, 1962, Pentecostal Evangel included C.A. reports from Asia and Africa, and news of an Alaskan group (excerpted below). That issue’s cover pictured a young man who in later years would serve Christ in public offices of increasing responsibility.

C.A. Revival in Ceylon

The strains of “We Are Christ’s Ambassadors” wafted through the balmy night air as we approached the already-crowded church building. In progress (with evangelist Bob Hoskins) was the first Christ’s Ambassadors revival ever held in Colombo, Ceylon [now Sri Lanka] — a land of waving palms, picturesque fishing boats, and tropical fruits.

The island has often been referred to as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean.” About two-thirds of the Ceylonese are Buddhists. Yellow-robed priests and Buddhist temples are everywhere.

People of all ages attended this C.A. rally, and the meetings were characterized by a special move of the Holy Spirit among the young people.

The C.A.’s had been busy before the evangelists arrived. They had conducted special prayer meetings. Laden with handbills advertising the meetings, the C.A.’s had gone from house to house and preached on street corners. Their efforts were rewarded. In spite of heavy rains the building was packed every night.

— Cecil Good
Missionary to Ceylon

Nigeria C.A.’s Are Busy!

Nigeria C.A.’s are active! At the 1961 annual C.A. rally at Old Umuahia, more than 2,000 young people from all over Nigeria gathered for the outdoor service.

At this rally two young Nigerians competed for a trophy to be given to the C.A. who knew the most about the Gospel of John. The contestants were winners of sectional and divisional rallies. Ndukwe, a C.A. from Aba, won the trophy at the annual all-Nigeria rally.

There are more than 100 C.A.’s at Aba. During the past three years they have opened four new churches.

A group of about 20 Aba C.A.’s took leave of absence from their jobs or left the market where they did their selling to go to Mbieri, a village about 50 miles from Aba. The C.A.’s spent a week at Mbieri, canvassing the entire village. They held an evangelistic service each night and the response was amazing. A church was established and is already averaging almost 500 in Sunday School.

— Rex Jackson

C.A.’s of the North

Christian young people in Alaska are no different from C.A.’s of the other states. They are enthusiastic and want to do something for the Lord with their hands. In addition to the C.A. group, a Missionette group was organized in Nome, Alaska, where I am missionary-pastor.

The Duane Carrikers had charge of the young people’s group until they left in November 1961. When Brother Carriker left Nome, a 15-year-old boy became president of the young people’s group. He has a great burden for souls, is Spirit-filled, and is making an excellent leader. Prayer is being answered for this young people’s group, for a number who at first were coming to the meetings mainly for the handcrafts have responded to the gospel and have been saved. Five were 12-year-olds.

The young people usually make something practical and useful each meeting night. At Christmas time they made decorative cards with Bible verses on them for the hospital trays and for shut-ins. Since then, they have sorted out Sunday School literature and Evangels to send to different villages and individuals and are presently collecting stamps to be sold for financing missionary work among other villages.

— Harriet Brown


Originally published in the April 20, 1969, Pentecostal Evangel

Training Our Youth for Spiritual Leadership

By Norman Correll

Editor’s note: In an issue of the Pentecostal Evangel highlighting National Youth Week, Norman Correll, who directed Christ’s Ambassadors from 1968-74 (including the years Christ’s Ambassadors transitioned to the Youth Department) gave a lengthy interview. The following excerpt outlines evangelism projects involving Assemblies of God youth.

In order for our young people to get maximum benefit from the ministries of the National C.A. Department, they need to be apprised of what is being done. One of the uppermost commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ was, “Ye shall be witnesses.” This brings us to the missionary ministry of our youth, Speed-the-Light. In the almost 25 years this program has been in existence more than $8 million has been given. Last year our youth gave a total of $902,779.38. At the D-CAP Conference in February the goals were set for 1969; they exceeded a million dollars!

The ministry to servicemen is also very prominent. Many thousands of young men from our churches are away from home in strange and dangerous places. They need our support. Our mailing list to servicemen totals more than 15,000. Here is a vital ministry we must keep alive.

Bob Way, the servicemen’s representative, receives letters frequently from our boys in the service expressing appreciation for the ministry of the Servicemen’s Division. One young man stationed with the Army in Vietnam wrote recently, “Receiving Reveille [a CA-sponsored publication for servicemen] from you over here is real nice. I’m closer to the Lord now than ever before.” This testimony is repeated many times over as a result of our ministry to servicemen.

Also there are an estimated 20,000 Assemblies of God young people living on secular college campuses across America. The campus is one of the most needy mission fields in the world today. Many collegians are in a mental and philosophical vacuum, and we must take full advantage of our opportunity to reach them.

The Assemblies of God campus program is call Chi Alpha, the Greek letters for CA. We have 70 active Chi Alpha chapters on college campuses all over the country.

The other day a letter came from Buddy Hicks, an Assemblies of God student at the University of Texas majoring in political science. He wrote, “I am enjoying my studies very much. But I am not enjoying the spiritual dryness. ... I feel a great need here for a Chi Alpha chapter. ... Please give me advice on how to proceed.” It’s youth like this we seek to help through our College Youth Division.

Campus Ambassador Magazine, our collegiate publication, is sent free six times during the school year to some 13,700 Assemblies of God college youth whose names and addresses have been sent to us. Through this magazine we help them live for Christ on the secular college campus. ...

The Bible Quiz and Teen Talent competitions involve hundreds of our young people across America every year. Youth study the Scriptures and dedicate their musical talents to God.

A Bible quizzer from Indianapolis, Larry Meadows, best expresses the value of this program: “It was through reading God’s Word that I realized there was something lacking in my life. ... The entire quiz team began to pray for me, and in a short time I received the Holy Spirit. Bible quizzing really made me realize what loving Jesus meant.”

Another comparatively new missionary arm of the C.A. Department is called Ambassadors in Mission (AIM). Last year, 112 Christ’s Ambassadors witnessed for Him in a house-to-house quest for souls in seven different areas — Alaska, Bahamas, British Honduras, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Jamaica, and Nicaragua. The number of decisions in the homes and evangelistic services totaled 3,122. At least 3,000 follow-up visits were made.

Spiritual growth is evidenced in our youth after a summer of witnessing. Don Triplett, an AIM-er to British Honduras last summer, gives a perfect example of what I mean. He reported how his experience resulted in “an altogether new approach to daily devotions and taking advantage of witnessing opportunities.”

NORMAN CORRELL’s many years of ministry include missions service in Tanzania, with International Correspondence Institute in Belgium, and as an Assemblies of God World Missions administrator. He lives in Springfield, Mo., and attends Central Assembly of God.




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