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Lillian Hunt Trasher was born in 1887 in Brunswick, Georgia. As a young woman she worked at an orphanage in North Carolina, not knowing at the time that her life’s work would be devoted to caring for abandoned children.
In 1909, while engaged to a man she loved deeply, she heard the testimony of a missionary from India, and she was aware at that moment that she could not be married. God had called her to service as a missionary. Not knowing where she would go, she opened her Bible and read Acts 7:34: “I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee to Egypt.”
In 1910, she arrived in Alexandria, Egypt, with her sister Jenny, and they found their way to the village of Asyut near the Nile. Shortly after arriving, Lillian was called to the bedside of a dying mother whose malnourished daughter was also near death. Though ordered by the mission directors to return the child to the village, Lillian refused to abandon her to poverty and certain death. In 1911 she rented a small house and some furniture and nursed the child back to health.
As she took in additional children, she had to rely on charity, though she eventually received aid from the newly formed Assemblies of God in the United States. In 1916 she was able to purchase additional land, the buildings for which were built from bricks which Lillian and the older children made themselves. In 1919 she was ordered out of the country by the British government in the midst of political turmoil, and when she returned, she took in widows and the blind in addition to children. Despite the Nazi invasion of Egypt and the subsequent violence during World War II, she kept her orphanage running. When she died in 1961, she had become known as the “Mother of the Nile”and had cared for nearly 25,000 Egyptian children. Her orphanage remains open today.
I God, whose everlasting arms support the universe: We offer thanks for moving the heart of Lillian Trasher to heroic hospitality on behalf of orphaned children in great need, and we pray that we also may find our hearts awakened and our compassion stirred to care for thy little ones, through the example of our Savior Jesus Christ and by the energy of thy Holy Spirit, who broodeth over the world as a mother over her children; for they live and reign with thee, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
II God, whose everlasting arms support the universe: We thank you for moving the heart of Lillian Trasher to heroic hospitality on behalf of orphaned children in great need, and we pray that we also may find our hearts awakened and our compassion stirred to care for your little ones, through the example of our Savior Jesus Christ and by the energy of your Holy Spirit, who broods over the world like a mother over her children; for they live and reign with you, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Corinthians 1:3–7
Preface of a Saint (1)
Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
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