The Reverend Margaret Gaines received the Spirit of Azusa Award October 18, 2011, as part of the sixth annual Azusa Lecture at the North Cleveland Church of God.
The award is given each year to honor a person whose life and ministry reflect the legacy of what is one of the best known revivals in Christian history. A reception in honor of Gaines followed the award presentation. Dr. David G. Roebuck , director of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center, and Mrs. Victoria Eachus, executive assistant of the International Center for Spiritual Renewal, made the award presentation.
A native of Alabama, Margaret Gaines dedicated her life to the Lord at the age of fourteen, was baptized in the Spirit, and enrolled in Bible Training School, now Lee University. Having heard veteran missionary Josephine Planter during a Bible Training School missions service, Gaines opened her heart to Arab people. Four years later the octogenarian Planter invited the eighteen-year-old Gaines to join her as a missionary in Tunisia. The Church of God World Missions Board declined to send a single young woman to North Africa at that time, however.
Despite what seemed to be a setback, Gaines continued to do all she could to prepare to serve as a missionary. God miraculously opened doors, and on April 16, 1952, she arrived in Tunisia to assist Planter. The following year Gaines began her own mission in Tunisia. The World Missions Board appointed her as a missionary in 1956 and organized her mission as a Church of God later that year. After ten years in Tunisia, political turmoil and health issues forced her to leave for France. In 1964 the Missions Board sent Gaines to Jerusalem. Among her many ministries was establishing a church and school in the village of Aboud. She served as pastor of the Aboud Church of God until 1992.
Although her health forced her to relocate to Pell City, Alabama, in 1996, she continued to bless the people of Aboud with building projects, fund raising, and advisory leadership. Along the way she had authored several books including the recently released Small Enough to Stop the Violence?: Muslims, Christians and Jews. The book is available in print or for the Kindle at Amazon.com. Today Gaines serves as pastor of the Church of God in Wattsville, Alabama.
According to Roebuck, the Spirit of Azusa Award is given each year to honor a person who represents the ongoing revival that began in Los Angeles in 1906. He noted, “Among the characteristics of the revival at the Azusa Street Mission was an emphasis on Pentecost, a hunger and expectation for revival in the last days, and a sense of global mission.
Participants fully expected God to repeat the Acts 2 Pentecostal outpouring in their day. But the revival was not just a feel-good meeting. Lives and destinies changed. Countless numbers of people looked upon the harvest field and responded ‘here am I Lord, send me.’ They went to countries they had only heard about. Believing the Lord would return soon, they often went without expecting to return to the United States. Historian Vinson Synan called them ‘missionaries of the one way ticket.’ Today many scholars believe that the Pentecostal movement has been the greatest missionary movement in the history of Christianity.” In making the presentation Roebuck commended Gaines for her “missionary zeal, dedication, and sacrificial obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission to ‘go into all the world.’”
The Azusa Lecture and Spirit of Azusa Award were established in 2006 on the occasion of the centennial of the Los Angeles revival. The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center and the International Center for Spiritual Renewal present the award each year. North Cleveland Church of God hosts the lecture, and the Pentecostal Theological Seminary supported this year’s event as part of their Ray H. Hughes Evangelism Week. Dr. Steven J. Land, Pentecostal Theological Seminary President, served as moderator of the evening, and Roebuck presented the annual Azusa Lecture. Recounting the story of the Pentecostal World-Wide Missionary Band’s travel to the Bahamas in 1911, the title of Roebuck’s lecture was “Hastening the Gospel to Every Land: Church of God Pioneers and the Great Commission.”