This Week in AG History — December 4, 1977
By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG-News, 08 December 2022
Monroe David Grams (1927-2021) and Betty Jane Grams (1926-2000) devoted their lives to sharing the gospel in Latin America, where they served as Assemblies of God missionaries and educators.
Born in Rosendale, Wisconsin, Monroe was the youngest of 12 children born of German immigrants. Growing up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, he developed a strong work ethic. He graduated with a three-year diploma from North Central Bible Institute (now North Central University [NCU]) in Minneapolis in 1948, and there he met Betty Jane Haas. They were married May 1, 1949, when he was pastoring a church at Cataract, Wisconsin. Betty was born in Lead, South Dakota, and had a Hispanic and German background.
Both Monroe and Betty were ordained by the Wisconsin-Northern Michigan District. Feeling called to missions work, they were both appointed as AG missionaries to Bolivia in May 1951, where they attended six months of language school at Cochabamba and then moved to the capital city of La Paz, where they ministered until July 1969. During this time, Monroe Grams was pastor, director, and founder of La Paz Evangelistic Center and national superintendent (1960-65). He also started a night Bible school in La Paz (1960) and Altiplano Bible Institute at General Pando, Bolivia (1955). The school in Bolivia trained pastors for Aymara Indian churches and later relocated to La Paz in 1969. Monroe and Betty Grams each later earned a B.A. degree from NCU in 1963. Monroe also earned an M.A. degree in communication and anthropology from the University of Minnesota.
During the 1960s, the Gramses helped develop PACE (Program of Applied Christian Education), a traveling on-site leadership training program throughout 25 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Monroe became the founder and dean of Latin America Advanced School of Theology (LAAST) in 1968. The Gramses served as missionaries to Argentina from July 1969 to March 1977. Monroe and Betty Grams served with Christian Training Network (formerly PACE) in Latin America from 1977 to December 2003.
Over the course of their missionary career, the Gramses taught and mentored pastors and their spouses in every Spanish-speaking country in Latin America. Betty wrote articles for Women’s Touch, Mountain Movers, the Pentecostal Evangel, and other publications. She also authored a Spanish music teaching manual and wrote Women of Grace, a popular Bible study book. Monroe and Betty coauthored the Spanish family book, Familia, Fe y Felicidad (1984).
After 51 years of marriage, Betty Jane passed away in 2000. The next year, Monroe married Clemencia Hackley, who had a long career as a missionary working with Hispanics and Spanish language literature. They retired to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where they lived for close to 20 years when Monroe passed away on July 31, 2021.
The Grams family has had four generations of AG ministers. Monroe’s father, Gottlieb Grams, received his ministerial license when he was in his 60s, and seven of the nine Grams boys were ordained. Two of Monroe’s three sisters were married to AG ministers. Monroe and Betty Jane Grams’ three children followed in the ministry. Son Rocky Grams is an AG missionary in Argentina, and both daughters, Mona Re and Rachel Jo, married AG ministers.
For over 40 years, Monroe and Betty Grams made a significant contribution to the training and development of church leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Forty-five years ago in the Pentecostal Evangel, Betty Jane Grams shared a powerful testimony of an Argentine woman named Pilar whom she had befriended. The woman was diagnosed with cancer and began going through treatments. She was scared and needed a friend, so Betty Jane began to meet with her to pray with her, encourage her, and enlighten her about the gospel of Christ. She shared some books on miracles and shared about the love of God. One part of their conversation centered around a wood carving given to Pilar’s father many years earlier. It depicted a man standing at a door, and she did not know who this was. She always had wondered. Betty Jane shared that Jesus is standing at our heart’s door knocking and wants us to let Him in.
Pila was excited to know the meaning of the wood carving and soon accepted the reality of the gospel. She prayed the sinner’s prayer and asked Jesus to come into her heart. She was saved at Christmastime, and soon her countenance glowed as she realized the joy of salvation. Her husband also noticed the difference.
Betty Jane Grams invited Pilar and her husband to attend the Christmas cantata that their church was presenting. Pilar and her husband, Walter, came, and they both had tears of joy as they realized the precious meaning of Christmas. It was Pilar’s first Christmas since she had given her heart to God. Not long after this, Pilar’s cancer worsened, and she passed away. The Gramses had left to come back to the United States, and Walter wrote about her death: “When she left us, she wore a resplendent smile. Her face simply glowed with a beautiful life. Now I must believe in eternal life.”
The Gramses had busy schedules, but they did not let their leadership, educational, and writing responsibilities prevent them from ministering to hurting people.
Monroe and Betty Grams started life in small towns on the northern tier of the United States, but they ended life as prominent Assemblies of God missionaries in Latin America. Ministry became a way of life for the Grams family, and countless family members have devoted their lives to sharing the gospel at home and abroad.
Read “You Have Led Me to the Light” by Betty Jane Grams on page 8 of the Dec. 4, 1977, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Disappointed Angels,” by C.M. Ward
• “What Happened That Night?” by Russell R. Wisehart
• “Through Heaven’s Gate,” by Edith Manchester
And many more!
Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.
Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
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