AMES HENRY INGRAM (1893-1981) had a vision for evangelism that served as a catalyst for the early missions program of the Church of God. Following his Spirit baptism, he passionately preached the message of Christ throughout the world.
Kentucky-native J.H. Ingram settled with his new bride, Nettie, in Middletown, Ohio, in 1917. The following year Nettie became ill with smallpox. Arriving home from work one afternoon, Ingram found a note informing him that his house was quarantined. He was forced to temporarily relocate and rented a room from a neighboring family.
Ingram was impressed with the neighbors’ Christian example and commitment to prayer, and he felt convicted for his lack of attention to spiritual matters. He decided to attend a Pentecostal meeting that was drawing much attention in the community, where he was converted in January 1919.
Although Nettie was initially apprehensive, she soon received a vision about the Pentecostal church during a dream. After recovering from smallpox, she decided to attend the revival. She surrendered her life to Christ during her first visit.
The Church of God Evangel was circulated throughout Middletown the following year. Upon receiving a copy, Ingram learned that the Church of God enjoyed the same blessings as his Pentecostal church. Subscribing to the magazine, he began to pray for a Church of God preacher to visit Middletown. His prayer was answered when Evangelist Clarence Beagle began a revival a few weeks later.
J.H. Ingram earnestly sought the Lord for baptism in the Holy Spirit. During a service at the Church of God revival in April 1920, he began speaking in other tongues. He also accepted God’s call to preach. At the close of the revival, Ingram joined the newly organized congregation, began serving the local church as a teacher and clerk, and enrolled in a correspondence course from the Church of God Bible Training School (now Lee University).
Soon Ingram met a visiting missionary from India and became consumed with a desire for missions work. After seeking God for direction, he went to Bermuda in 1921 as a missionary, even selling his car to pay his travel fare. His initial missionary work was shortened, however, when his visa was not renewed.
Yet Ingram’s missionary zeal could not be quenched, and his desire soon led him from Middletown to other nations throughout the world. Appointed as a missions representative from 1935 to 1947, he helped increase Church of God membership by almost 20,000 members in over 20 countries and paved the way for its future missionary endeavors.
The desire that was birthed around a simple altar of prayer in Middletown, Ohio, compelled J.H. Ingram to take the gospel throughout the world-and he helped others find the Christ he so faithfully served.
To learn more about Ingram’s ministry, read J.H. Ingram: Missionary Dean (Pathway Press, 1966) by Peggy Humphrey [Scarborough].
Louis F. Morgan serves as librarian of instructional services for Lee University and the Church of God Theological Seminary.