Remembering our history

An Early EFCA Evangelist

C.O. Sahlstrom championed the gospel and mentored young ministers.

Carl Oscar Sahlstrom was born in Sweden and immigrated to the U.S. in 1879. After accepting Christ as his Savior, he became a prolific evangelist in Sweden. After arriving in the U.S., he was ordained in 1881 in Fremont, Nebraska, where he served at least seven churches interspersed with long stints as a field evangelist for the EFCA.

C.O. Sahlstrom

His sermons were known for his evangelistic fervor and he continued ministry into his 90s, before his death at home in Milaca, Minnesota. 

He had a special relationship with the young Reverend Gustaf Johnson, a renowned preacher. Together, they were known as the Elijah and Elisha of the Texas EFCA churches. Johnson’s ordination was even privately done by Sahlstrom, much like Elijah and Elisha.

Dozens of young men were called to the ministry through Sahlstrom and his life is a challenge to us today to be mentors for younger ministers of the gospel. 

You can check out his last transcribed message on pages 8-9 of the December 26, 1944, Evangelical Beacon, which set a precedent for the EFCA emphasis on the gospel today. 

Tom Cairns

Tom Cairns is the archivist for the EFCA. A physician who worked for 19 years in Congo, Tom later served as director of international ministries for the EFCA mission, now known as ReachGlobal. Since retirement, Tom enjoys sharing stories about the history of the EFCA, answering questions from our churches and helping the churches with their own stories. He also uploads our historical books, photos and documents to our archive website. Tom’s great desire is to bring glory to God as we celebrate the history we have in the EFCA.

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