How God prepared me to lead The Foursquare Church

“Oh Lord, don’t let this all land on me,” Rolf K. McPherson once prayed as he thought about leading Foursquare someday following his mother’s renowned ministry. God prepared him for the coming responsibility.

Rolf K. McPherson, Aimee Semple McPherson
Rolf K. McPherson with his mother, Sister Aimee Semple McPherson

I had given my heart to Christ as a young boy and always wanted to live to honor the Lord. Something different happened when I turned 16. I gave my entire life to the Lord and told Him I would do whatever He called me to do.

During Mother’s disappearance in 1926, I began to worry about what would happen to her ministry if she never returned. Fortunately, she did return, and we began to talk more intentionally about my future as leader of the movement. I had not yet preached a sermon and knew little about the vast administration that was required to lead a ministry.

The Bible college Mother started—L.I.F.E. Bible College (now Life Pacific University)—prepared thousands of leaders to share their faith with others both at home and around the world. I had not even finished high school. I would hear the typewriter in Mother’s bedroom all night as she prepared articles for the Bridal Call magazine with more than 1,000 subscribers reading every issue.

I knew I wasn’t ready to lead but decided that I was ready to learn. When I told Mother about my encounter with the Lord at 16, and that I wanted to preach my first sermon, she was thrilled. The date was set for a Thursday evening service, and I began praying about the topic and text for my first message.

In high school, I ran the mile in track, and it seemed to me that 1 Corinthians 9:24 would be a good text for my message: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (NKJV). I planned to preach about running the race and reaching the goal. “Yes, that’s a good sermon,” I decided.

Some of my friends attended the service just to hear my first sermon, and some got saved! I felt joy that God had given me a message for the people that helped in some way.

Over the next few years, I became involved in every facet of the ministry, serving in the Commissary, the bookshop, the stock room and even on scaffolding as I painted the facilities. The Lord was preparing me, and I was happy to serve any way I was needed to learn firsthand about the ministry.

In 1931, when I was 18, I married Lorna De Smith in a ceremony at Angelus Temple officiated by Mother. Lorna De and I were Mother’s right-hand workers. Still, I prayed, “Oh Lord, don’t let this all land on me!” I felt I was still much too young to assume control of this vast ministry.

That same year, Mother got very sick, and doctors were not optimistic about her recovery. She had been at death’s door at least two other times in my lifetime, and each time God renewed her strength. To my relief, as the people rallied again in prayer, the Lord blessed, and Mother recovered.

During the Great Depression, financial difficulties struck everyone in Los Angeles, and it was as a difficult time for the ministry. Angelus Temple acquired debt and was pouring money into feeding the poor.

Rolf K. McPherson and his mother, Aimee Semple McPherson, distributing food in 1938

Mother needed more time to heal, and with every passing day, our ministry leaders expressed concern about the future of the ministry. Guest speakers filled the pulpit to give Mother a break while she recuperated, and we did everything possible to keep the ministry going.

The Lord gave me 10 more years to learn the ministry before He put the load of leadership on my shoulders. During that time, I attended L.I.F.E. and Southern California Radio Institute in preparation for overseeing KFSG Radio, the station Mother had started in 1924.

During the ensuing years, as God prepared me for leadership, I had some precious times with the Lord. “I built it, and I will keep it going,” He assured me on more than one occasion. My heart was really in it, but I knew I would need to rely fully on God in order to carry on at whatever time He decided to take Mother home.

(1913-2009) was the son of Foursquare’s founder, Aimee Semple McPherson, and served as president of The Foursquare Church for more than four decades.
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Comments

    1. Hello. What a wonderful but simple testimony. We have been Foursquare Pastors in Canada since 1960. Our service has not been outstanding in the eyes of the world but I think Jesus said something about being “faithful.” I have often commented to my husband that I would never be in ministry under any other organization. My mother – a single Mom, came to Jesus when I was three years old, through the ministry of the Foursquare church in North Battleford, Sask. I grew up in the Kingsway church in Vancouver B.C. and my husband and I attended L.I.F,E. Canada. We now serve at the Northside Foursquare with Barry Buzza and enjoy ministry to the Chinese and Iranian people. God is sooo faithful and He has never failed to accomplish His purposes.

    2. Hello again
      I forgot to mention something very important in my earlier reply. That’s what happens when one gets older:
      It was the LOVE of God’s people in both the church in North Battleford and in the old 450 Kingsway church in Vancouver, that drew my mother and I to stay with Foursquare/ I hope that ALL our Foursquare churches, no matter how big or how small will make the LOVE OF JESUS so prominent in everything they do that this one ingredient is what separate us from other organizations. If we lose the LOVE, we have lost everything,

  1. So enjoyed reading these wonderful stories & testimonies of these “giants” of faith & surrendered servants of God. Having had the privilege of meeting many of them & in some cases becoming friends they continue to challenge & inspire me to continually keep my hands on the plough & remain faithful to Gods call on my life. Without the fearless & courageous leadership of our founder sister Aimee & her heart to raise up & release young leaders that boldly followed in her footsteps throughout the world I never would have come to Christ & heard the call to give my life to him. Thankyou for publishing these insightful stories, they need to be heard especially in these days when personal sacrifice & hardship is rarely presented in the context of the Life of discipleship. Taking up our cross & following Him is vividly illustrated in these pioneers of the Foursquare movement. Noel Wilcox. PS: I came to Christ through the ministry of the Rev Jean Darnall when they ministered in Perth Western Australia in March 1964. Thx Jean for not forgetting the Aussies!!👍🤗

  2. Im very appreciative to have learned about this account of the first transition. It reminds me that God does indeed prepare those he is going to position for leadership and fosters a keen willingness and alacrity for the task! God is good.

  3. Amazing testimony. Rolf’s life of commitment to God like his mum’s, provides us a guide on how to raise our children for life and ministry. To God be all the glory for a life well lived to impact lives for God. More of this stuff please.

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