The Mexican Revolution, a decade-long civil war beginning in 1910, changed the North American social landscape. Thousands of displaced people fled the armed conflict and social disruption in Mexico and sought refuge along the borderlands in the United States. It was among these refugees that Henry C. Ball, a young preacher in Ricardo, Texas, planted one of the first Hispanic Assemblies of God congregations.
H. C. Ball (1896-1989) accepted Christ at age 14 and joined the Methodist Church in Kingsville, Texas. Approximately 10 days after his conversion, Ball attended a service held by a missionary to Venezuela. At that service, he felt a tug in his heart to serve as a missionary to Mexican refugees in his area. Encouraged by his Methodist pastor, the very next Sunday Ball held his first evangelistic service.
Ball went from house to house, inviting Mexicans to the Spanish-language service he had planned in a schoolhouse in Ricardo. Bell was undeterred by the fact that he did not even know Spanish. He memorized a one-sentence Spanish-language invitation, and he brought a Spanish hymn and Bible to the service. Two visitors joined Ball in that first service in late 1910. Ball was only 14 years old, he did not know Spanish, he had only accepted Christ weeks earlier, and yet he followed God’s call and pioneered a church among the Mexican refugees in Texas. The young preacher persevered and, in 1912, the Methodist church gave him a license to preach at age 16.
In 1914, Ball was Spirit-baptized under the ministry of Felix Hale, a Pentecostal evangelist affiliated with the newly formed Assemblies of God. This put Ball at odds with his Methodist superiors, who dismissed him from the denomination. Ball’s ordination was recognized by the Assemblies of God in January 1915, and his congregation of Mexicans became the seed from which much of the Hispanic work in the Assemblies of God grew.
The Pentecostal Evangel published frequent reports from Ball. The May 27, 1916, issue featured a photograph of the Asamblea de Dios in Ricardo, Texas, on the cover, and included an article by Ball about the new Mexican believers. He encouraged readers pray for the immigrants. He wrote, “Here they are on our land, poor, homeless and without Jesus.”
Ball described the situation faced by the Mexicans: “The war in Mexico has driven many Mexicans from their homes in their native land to our side of the river. In the Rio Grande valley are many thousands of these refugees, besides the resident population. They have now been here some time, not able to return and fearful that their own nation may turn against them.” Ball asked Pentecostal Evangel readers to provide financial support and prayers for his efforts to reach the Mexican refugees with the gospel.
A strong Assemblies of God ministry developed among the Mexican refugees, initially led by H. C. Ball and others. This work not only helped to strengthen the Assemblies of God in Mexico when refugees returned home as Pentecostal believers, it also transformed the Assemblies of God in the United States. In 2014, 22.5 percent of Assemblies of God adherents in the United States were Hispanic.
Read the article by H. C. Ball, “The Mission to the Mexicans,” on page 12 of the May 27, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “The Pentecostal Work in Fort Worth, Texas,” by B. F. Lawrence
• “Answered Prayer: Healing When Evangel is Applied,” by Elmer Snyder
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
Pictured: H. C. Ball (front center) with ministers at the Latin American District Council meeting in Los Angeles, California, November 1-3, 1948.
Source: AG News