In their book Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement, Miller and Yamamori do an extensive job investigating and sharing their findings on how Pentecostalism is impacting its global neighbors. As their four year journey takes them from country to country, the authors discover that Pentecostal organizations are about both raising their voices and taking action. Action looks like creating a sustained presence through multiple social aspects such as building schools, tapping fresh water sources for the locals, teaching natives to cultivate their land for food, and building churches at the center of communities for soul nourishment. While the book was very informative and motivational about upcoming and emerging social movements in Pentecostalism, I would like to go back a bit further in time to highlight Pentecostal stories that trail blazed global social engagement pre WWII.
Marriage or Ministry
Faced with the decision to follow her call to Asyut, Egypt or become a newlywed, Lillian Trasher sets sail with her sister as a travel companion to Africa. Upon making a house call after hearing that a woman was near death, Trasher and a co-worker went to check on her but did not arrive in time. The woman left a behind a baby in the care of its grandmother. The grandmother spoke a few and the interpreter told Lillian that the baby would most likely be thrown into the Nile River. Compelled by compassion, Lillian takes the baby, which leads to taking in more children and thus the start of an orphanage. With little financial and prayer support, Lillian linked arms with the Assemblies of God in 1919, and it is said that she worked for 50 years while never taking a furlough. Near the end of Lillian‘s call, the orphanage had accumulated nearly 1300 orphans. Today, her legacy continues. The orphanage is running strong; many Pentecostal groups support its efforts.
Rich Shakes Hands with Poor
From a rich heritage of leaders such a Vice President of the US and two military generals, Cyrus Hamlin experienced royal-like treatment in life. With a passion for education, Hamlin graduated with two degrees from two different higher education institutions. Working as jeweler and later accepting the call into full time ministry, Hamlin felt the need to travel to Turkey where he helped to start a college as an outreach to Armenians. To help curve poverty in the area he held workshops to teach the youth marketable trades and valuable skillsets. From the workshops, a baking business became very successful and was the primary provider of bread to the British Army Hospital during the Crimean War. It was a great trade for many nationals. After decades in Turkey, a conflict arose that caused Hamlin’s return to the US where became both a college professor and president, pouring into the lives of future ministers.
Indeed, social engagement is the way to change our world. In this particular post, I felt the need to share only two of many Pentecostal stories making a global impact via social engagement before WWII, though Miller and Yamamori focus on more recent stories. It is good to know that our history is a projection of the direction that we move. Today, orphanages like Lillian Trasher’s and schools like Cyrus Hamlin’s are reaching out to children around the world and preparing the next generation of ministers to be world changers. Truly, the Church possesses the people and the resources to bring about revolutionary social change.