REVIVAL IN OLD UMUAHIA
In September 1934, some zealous brethren in Old Umuahia, in present-day Abia State, who had separated from the Faith Tabernacle congregation on account of differences on the matter of the Holy Spirit and speaking with tongues, got baptized in the Spirit, sparking off a revival in the East.
One of them, Augustus Ehurie Wogu, had accepted the Lord under the Faith Tabernacle in the second half of 1930 while working in the Nigerian Ports Authority in Port Harcourt. After his conversion, daily he engaged himself in house-to-house evangelism. The news circulated among his kinsmen in Old Umuahia that he was mad. By January 1931, he paid a visit to his hometown in Old Umuahia. While at home, people watched him closely, instead of seeing an insane man as was rumoured, they were surprised when they saw a very sound and articulate young man. His first convert during this visit was George M. Alioha. Gradually, through effective witness by Alioha, many more converts were made in Old Umuahia.
The hunger in the hearts of these young converts, made them read widely to increase their knowledge about God. About this time, they came in contact with a magazine, the Pentecostal Evangel that taught about the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Armed with this knowledge they questioned their pastor in the Faith Tabernacle congregation about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and its attendant blessing of speaking in tongues. After avoiding their questions on several occasions, the pastor eventually declared what the official position of the church was concerning the matter. When matters got to a head in a heated discussion with their pastor, they were asked to leave the church if they disagreed with the church’s official position on the matter of baptism of the Holy Spirit. Thus in August 1934, the young men separated from the Faith Tabernacle congregation. They went home and established a prayer house where they met frequently to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit with Augustus O. Asonye as the first pastor.
Meanwhile, they all continued to pray and fast, believing God for the outpouring of His Spirit. Then in September 1934, some of them including Marcus Asonye were gloriously baptized in the Spirit. As news of this experience filtered into Old Umuahia, their curiosity was heightened. Shortly after, the Old Umuahia brethren were also baptized in the Spirit. “That night before any sermon could be preached the Holy Spirit was poured out and many were baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire, with the evidence of speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance. A revival had begun.”
In the days following the outpouring, they engaged in intensive evangelism from house to house. As this happened, the converts that were won were baptized in water and the Holy Spirit. Severe persecution arose from their parents and villagers alike. Married women were opposed by their husbands, and in some cases, they had their property confiscated. Many others were excommunicated from their homes.
Within five years of the revival, fifteen churches had been planted. After 1935, the brethren began to pray for open doors to a foreign organization that shared similar beliefs they could affiliate with. They began to write to several Christian organizations in Britain and the United States. In June 1939, the American Assemblies of God sent a missionary and his wife, Rev. W.L. Shirer, who met with the local revivalists. Thereafter, in September 1939, they adopted the name, Assemblies of God Church Nigeria.