hen you read the book of Acts, it’s clear that history is God’s: He is the mover and shaker, and He chooses the humblest and often the most unlikely humans. As a result, the precision and power of His acts in history are even more evident.
It’s clearer than ever that any glory is His alone.
Our history extends over more than a century, encompassing mistakes as well as joys. Yet we take joy in what God has done and is doing in all of history, as well as ours. We are simply a group of imperfect people learning to follow a perfect God, who does all things well.
God is at work in history, in actual lives and personality conflicts, through prayers, practical expressions of truth and love, and travels on foot and by sea. And that work– in a sense so ordinary and yet so beyond our explanation—reflects the steady hand and love of the One creating it.
That work is meant for God’s glory. It’s meant for love. It’s meant for me, and for you.
This is the spirit in which we approach our own history:
God is real.
He is still at work.
He uses ordinary human beings.
The Bible is not only history.
It’s living and active.
We’re invited to jump into the story too.
The Kingdom Christian Ministries was born more than a hundred years ago in the backwoods of Maine. At a time and place when Christianity was largely cultural, it grew out of a longing for more.
And that brings us to a teenager named Frank Weston Sandford. This story isn’t his, but it begins with him. Despite the fact that he was a natural leader, a teenaged schoolteacher, a Bates College class president, a talented baseball player, and later a very young pastor, his early life was characterized by his sense of need:
Did you know?
Facts about the early ministry:
- Students carried out a continuous 24-hour prayer vigil between 1898 and 1920.
- Seventy evangelists were sent to Canada and the US in 1900.
- Over three months in 1901, 140 evangelists were sent out to contact every person in the state of Maine with the gospel. Nearly 1,000 were saved, and the same number healed.
- They began observing a seventh-day Sabbath in 1901 and the biblical feasts in 1907.
- Forty evangelists were sent to England in 1903.
- Other students manned a small mission outpost in Alexandria, Egypt from 1902-1909.
- About 50 people were involved in carrying out seven years of intercession in Jerusalem and Jaffa. During the same time, a total of about 150 people visited the Holy Land. Two former students traveled the biblical borders of the Promised Land, which touch modern Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt (1902-1909).
- A group of 30 sailed around the world, interceding for all nations. The voyage was an act of obedience, of taking possession by faith (like circling Jericho), and of prayer (1907-1909).
NEED FOR SALVATION
In 1880, he was saved at 17 years old. “I may not be great, but I can be good. Enoch walked with God and so can I.”
NEED FOR A DEEPER WALK WITH GOD
In 1882, he was disappointed that his college professors weren’t aware of basic biblical truths. With tears of disappointment, he asked, “Oh God, is this the best thing you’ve got for a Christian?” God’s reply: “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
NEED FOR VICTORY
In 1883, he read The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. “The tears ran down my face as I found one book that told me I could be supremely victorious, and told me how to do it.”
NEED FOR SURRENDER
In 1887 and 1888, he wrestled with God over His call to missions, finally writing in his Bible:
Oh God, help me to do my part in keeping a poor lost world from the terrible rapids of sin, and that terrible fall which breaks over the edge of time and plunges the sinner into eternity. To this end I solemnly consecrate my every voluntary thought, word and deed. This one thing will I do, subject everything to one all-absorbing purpose – this world for Christ during my lifetime.
NEED FOR GOD'S STRATEGY
As a young pastor, he was offered a trip around the world, which he took in 1891. He was especially hit by the fact that even after 100 years of missionary work in India (following William Carey), two out of three people had never even heard that there was such a person as Jesus Christ.
That trip demolished all my sermons on the world’s speedy evangelization. I saw the utter foolishness of attempting such a vast undertaking by any of the methods then in existence.
NEED FOR GODLY INFLUENCE
At that time, few American pastors corroborated every point with a specific Bible passage like D.L. Moody did. Moody influenced Sandford with his loyalty to the Bible, his conversational style of preaching, the fact that he preached equally from the Old and New Testaments, his willingness to give up money-making, and his search for the Holy Spirit.
A.B. Simpson influenced Sandford in his focus on Bible study, refusal to go into debt, and desire to evangelize abroad and at home. And while in China, he decided to emulate Hudson Taylor’s refusal to publish needs in favor of asking God to meet them.
Each of these men’s examples affected him as he faced difficulties.
NEED FOR FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE
In 1891 and 1892, he experienced increasing pressure from those who paid his salary as a pastor. He was not allowed to preach against adultery, and he was not allowed to reach out to surrounding communities, though many were unchurched. Although he was enjoying regular prayer with the pastors of three other churches in town:
…the great hand of God seemed to be pressing me to something broader than denominational limits would permit…
I saw that the difficulties in effecting the evangelization of this world were simply insuperable. It was God, and God alone, with mighty signs and wonders as in the days of the apostles, that must arise, lay bare His arm and cause the ends of the earth to see His salvation. How dare I continue in methods which had already proved a failure to effect the desired result? How dare I, with my own written promise, God’s revelation concerning my lifework and the fact that one hundred thousand souls were going every day unprepared to meet God – how dare I, as a man of God, with these things staring me in the face, longer continue methods radically different from those which had once proved a success, methods which had enabled the apostle Paul to write of his day and generation that “the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven”?
The pressure grew more intense until one day, to my unspeakable delight, God whispered a word that changed my entire life, the gladdest I had ever heard Him utter. He made me understand by this message that I was never to take another pastorate, never to take another collection, never again to be bound by any existing organization, but that, like the Master, I was to step out in absolute abandonment to His will, His word, and His providences. That little word was the word, ‘Go.’”
NEED FOR PATIENCE
After leaving his pulpit and giving away his savings in obedience to Jesus’ command to forsake all, sell and give to the poor, he began to realize that it would take apostles (Greek for “sent ones”) to evangelize the world. When he asked God to make him one of those apostles, though, God reminded him that this would come through patience (2 Cor. 12:12).
In 1893 and 1894, that patience began to come through the loss of his first child, through the humbling nature of living in others’ homes, and wearing shabby clothing, and through preaching in his hometown of Bowdoinham, Maine without visible results. He was disliked by the town, had the disapproval of his denomination, and was aware how silly it seemed to go from a large church to no church.
NEED FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT
In September 1893, Sandford and eleven friends formally organized their work as the World’s Evangelization Crusade on Apostolic Principles. Its constitution and by-laws would be the Bible. They appointed no other officers than the Holy Spirit. Mindful of the example of Finney, Moody, A.B. Simpson, and Stephen Merritt, he longed to receive that Spirit for himself. Finally, in 1894, he received the Holy Spirit by a prayer of simple faith.
NEED FOR CO-LABORERS
He was prompted to focus on the needs of Maine’s 300,000+ unreached people with the words “Give ye them to eat.” And in May 1895, he found a kindred spirit and coworker in Charles Holland. He also met Willard Gleason, who wanted to receive the Holy Spirit and find out the “some better thing” he had heard about from God.
NEED FOR FOOD FROM GOD'S WORD
In October 1895, with Gleason as the only student, he opened a Bible school in his sister’s attic. By December 1, that number had grown to seven students, all of whom lived by faith while they continued with evangelism. He wrote:
Personally, I can say God has taught me more of His deep hidden truths within these twenty-two days than during the nearly ten years of my ministry or the sixteen years of my Christian experience.
And he was soon joined by others with the same hunger. In 1896, they began to build, taking the name of the new school from Acts 15: The Holy Ghost and Us Bible School. Their agenda:
The Third Person was President while the church members, elders, and apostles were simply school boys and girls agreeing with the Great Teacher in theology as He made known to them His will.
By 1909, these students included men and women from 13 American states and five other nations. They worked on the railway and sea, in news and farming, shoemaking, watchmaking, blacksmithing, mining, baking, dressmaking and millinery, and sales. They included teachers, clergymen, secretaries, sea captains, a banker, a dentist, a naturalist, an engineer, and an evangelist.
They saw Old and New Testaments as a seamless whole (Ps. 119:160), and all of it was alive to them. In this context, the “strange” aspects of their faith seemed perfectly normal. If God is still in the business of keeping His word, then why not (for example) live a life of faith, expect healing, and look for how He is fulfilling His promises to Israel?
Why not participate in fulfilling biblical prophecy?
When did God not use extremely ordinary people to do that?
Many surprises lay in store as God made His agenda and His will known to them, step by step. But it all started with need, with weakness, and with hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Timeline of Events
1888-1900 — HOW WE BEGAN: “THIS WORLD FOR CHRIST”
1888 — God gives the vision: “this world for Christ during my lifetime.”
1893 — Organization is first established, called “The World’s Evangelization Crusade on Apostolic Principles.”
1895 — Bible School is first organized, named “The Holy Ghost and Us Bible School.”
1897 — Bible School builds its first building, called “Shiloh,” in Durham, Maine.
1897 — Church hymnal is printed, titled Warrior Songs for the White Cavalry; more editions are printed in 1933, 1951, and 1972.
1898 — Organization name is changed: “The Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth.”
1898 — The movement is commissioned to remove “the covering,” or unreality of God, from the earth (Isa. 25:7).
1898 — Property is purchased in Boston, MA, identified as the “International Headquarters of The Kingdom” and part of a church plant.
1898-1920 — Students carry out a continuous 24-hour prayer vigil at Shiloh.
1900 — Seventy evangelists are sent to Canada and the US.
1901-1910 — WORLD-WIDE RESTORATION MINISTRY BEGINS
1901 — Over three months, 140 evangelists are sent out to contact every person in the state of Maine with the gospel. Nearly 1,000 are saved and the same number healed.
1901 — Shiloh begins observing a seventh-day Sabbath and later (1907) the biblical feasts.
1901 — Frank Sandford gets the message “Elijah is here,” and thus begins a ministry of restoration (Malachi 4:6; Acts 3:21; Matthew 17:11).
1901-1910 — About 50 people are involved in carrying out regular intercession in Jerusalem and Jaffa. During the same time, a total of about 150 students visit the Holy Land.
1902 — Twelve people renew the Kingdom by faith in Jerusalem, believing God for a renewed spiritual interest in Christ’s Kingdom and kingdom living world-wide.
1902-1909 — Students run a small mission outpost in Alexandria, Egypt.
1903 — Forty evangelists are sent to England.
1904 — The organization is incorporated in the State of Maine as “The Kingdom.”
1905 — The Kingdom purchases the Yacht Coronet.
1906 — The Kingdom purchases the barkentine Kingdom.
1906 — Frank Sandford, while in prayer with eleven others, declares in faith that God has restored the land of Israel to His favor after the centuries of desolation it had been under because of Israel’s sin and banishment from the land (Ezekiel 33:28-29; Ezekiel 36:33-36; Isaiah 62:4).
1908-1909 — Two former students travel the biblical borders of the Promised Land, which touch modern Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.
1907-1909 — A group of 30 sail around the world on Coronet, interceding for all nations.
1910 — Coronet and Kingdom set sail for Gambia, western Africa, to establish a mission station. They are unable to land missionaries, due to a plague in the city of Bathurst.
1910 — Kingdom is wrecked off the coast of Gambia; the crew and passengers are transferred to Coronet.
1911-1920 — TRIALS
1911 — Coronet embarks on a prayer voyage to north Atlantic latitudes. Six men die of scurvy before reaching home in Portland, Maine.
1911 — Frank Sandford is tried in Federal Court for the deaths of the six men on Coronet. He refuses legal defense and is sentenced to Federal Penitentiary for 10 years.
1918 — Frank Sandford is released early on good behavior.
1919 — At Shiloh, Frank Sandford recommences the Bible School.
1920 — “The Scattering”: threat of further litigation results in the disbanding of community life at Shiloh.
1920 — Frank Sandford begins secluded retirement in the Catskills of NY at a private farm.
1921-1930 — “THE SCATTERING”: FAITH CONTINUES IN FARMS AND HOUSE CHURCHES
1920s — House church is planted in Oakland, CA, later called “Golden Gate Church.”
1923 — Farm property is purchased in Hobart, NY, later called “The Hills.” A house church is planted here, later called “Good Shepherd Chapel.”
1924 — The Kingdom resumes regular observance of the three main biblical Feasts down to the present.
1925 — House church is planted in Amherst, Nova Scotia.
1925 — Annual spring Fast Day is observed and instituted movement-wide after the State of Maine discontinues it.
1926-1928 — Property is purchased and farmed in New Boston, NH, called “Chestnut Hill.” Property is also purchased and farmed in Drumore, PA, called “Goshen.” A house church is planted here, later called “Harvest View Chapel.”
1928 — House church is planted in Wauchula, FL, later called “Quail Hollow Chapel.”
1931-1940 — QUIET BEGINNINGS
1933 — New monthly periodical is launched: The College World.
1936 — Bible School recommences, located at Chestnut Hill, NH.
1930s — House church in CA is relocated to Castro Valley, CA in late 1930s.
1941-1950 — TRANSITIONS
1946-1947 — Coronet is refitted and restored to seaworthy condition.
1947 — First Annual Youth Convention is held at Chestnut Hill.
1948 — Frank Sandford dies; Victor Abram picks up overall leadership responsibility.
1949 — The College World is replaced by new monthly periodical called The Standard.
1951-1960 — MOVES
1950s — House church in Wauchula, FL moves to Tampa, FL.
1950s — House church in Castro Valley, CA moves to Concord, FL.
1950-1951 — Boston property is sold. Property called “Fairwoods Farm” is purchased in Dublin, NH, later called “Fairwood.”
1954 — House church is planted in Johnston, RI, later called “Woodhaven Chapel.”
1958 — Rhode Island church moves to North Scituate, RI.
1959 — Ravenswood Chapel begins public services in Gloucester, MA.
1959 — Bible School moves from Chestnut Hill to Fairwood, later called “Fairwood Bible Institute.”
1961-1970 — EXPANSION
1963 — Church is planted in Decatur, GA, later called “Open Door Chapel.”
1963 — Church meeting room is built for regular public services at Goshen.
1965 — New 700-seat Church building is dedicated at Fairwood.
1966 — New parsonage/chapel is constructed in Alamo, CA for relocated CA house church.
1966 — New chapel is dedicated in the Catskills, NY for the future “Good Shepherd Chapel.”
1967 — New parsonage/chapel is constructed in Mayville, MI, called “Restoration Chapel.”
1968 — Property is purchased in Israel, a building lot on Mt. Carmel known as “Lot 22.”
1969 — “Gospel Van” is purchased and dedicated for outreach ministry.
1969 — Wood Haven Chapel is dedicated in Rhode Island.
1970 — Parsonage and chapel are constructed in Essex, MA, called “Fair Haven Chapel.”
1971-1980 — ISRAEL TOURS & ESTABLISHMENTS
1973 — Victor Abram leads his first large tour to Israel, the first of seven tours.
1975-1976 — Quail Hollow Chapel, parsonage, and guest house are constructed in FL. Church services move from Tampa to Zephyrhills, FL (now Wesley Chapel).
1977 — Fair Haven Christian School is incorporated in Essex, MA.
1977 — Victor Abram dies.
1978-1988 — Leaders are informed that Victor Abram had had serious moral failure, repented of before his death. Leaders take steps to set up accountability among themselves. Group leadership is more prominent moving forward.
1978 — Parsonage for Open Door Chapel is constructed in McDonough, GA.
1979 — First Summer Bible School is held in Essex, MA.
1980 — Chapel is opened and dedicated in Nova Scotia, Canada, called “Living Waters Chapel.”
1980 — Parsonage for Harvest View Chapel is built in Drumore, PA.
1981-1990 — REVIVAL & CONTINUED GROWTH
1981 — Chestnut Hill Chapel is constructed in New Boston, NH.
1983 — Times of Restoration, a new periodical, replaces The Standard.
1984 — Chestnut Hill Chapel is dedicated.
1985 — Fairview Sheltered Care facility is dedicated, a care facility for the elderly at Fairwood.
1988 — Revival begins at Fair Haven Chapel.
1989 — Twelve men pray on Coronet for Jews to come to Jesus and to fulfill God’s plan as the Tribe of Judah.
1990 — New church building is dedicated at Golden Gate Church in Dublin, CA.
1991-2000 — PARTING & RESTRUCTURING
1991 — New church building is dedicated at Harvest View Chapel.
1993 — First Annual Women’s Retreat is held at Fairwood.
1994 — Coronet cruises to Newport, RI, her final voyage under Kingdom ownership.
1995 — New church building is dedicated at Open Door Chapel.
1995 — Coronet is donated to the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, RI.
1996 — House church is planted in Plains, VA, called “Light House Chapel.”
1997 — House church begins in Maine, called “Elim Ministry.”
1998 — Two philosophies about Kingdom ministry emerge in conflict during the March Convention. The Kingdom fellowship is restructured and issues local autonomy to all church congregations.
1998 — “The Kingdom Christian Ministries” (KCM) is established late in the year.
Churches that choose to join KCM:
Fairwood Bible Chapel
Good Shepherd Chapel
Harvest View Chapel
Open Door Chapel
Quail Hollow Chapel
1999 — First Annual Family Convention is held at Fairwood.
2000-PRESENT — KEEPING VISION: STILL “THIS WORLD FOR CHRIST.”
2003 — House is leased for 12 months in Jerusalem. Fairwood Bible Institute students spend three months of praying, volunteering, and studying in Jerusalem, “marching on the ground” in faith. Many other KCM people travel to Jerusalem during the next 12 months.
2005 — WFBC FM 103.5 goes on the air, the first radio station owned and operated by KCM. WFBC later transitions into WVKJ FM 89.9 in 2011.
2005 — KCM prays movement-wide for God to prepare, save, and seal 12,000 from every tribe of Israel
2007-2016 — Small prayer team ministers in Jerusalem, praying for Israel, its people, and all nations, as well as encouraging other Christians in the land and hosting small tour groups.
2010 — Apartment is purchased in Jerusalem.
2018 — Cornerstone gap year program is launched at Fairwood Bible Institute.
2018-2019 — KCM prays movement-wide for the fulfillment of key Scriptures.
What God has done in our history is only a small part of who we are! Go here to find out Who We Are Today.
Note: Dates have been collected with every effort to achieve accuracy from a variety of sources, particularly The Sublimity of Faith by Frank S. Murray and many personal testimonies. However, not everyone is still alive today and human error is possible. If a reader has firsthand knowledge and/or evidence that suggests that a date is incorrect or could be more specific, we welcome your feedback! Contact us here and type “History” on the subject line.