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Issue 3

Lillian Trasher Lady on a Donkey

Lillian learned to trust God as a young girl, and when he sent her to Egypt, she learned to ask him for everything her orphans needed—and he always honored her faith.


illian Trasher walked through the woods but her mind was not on the trees or the path. In her eleven years, God had never felt so real to her as he did today. In front of her was a log. She fell to her knees and cried aloud, “Lord, I want to be your little girl.” Peace filled her heart as she prayed. Then something inside her made her say, “Lord, if ever I can do anything for you, just let me know—and I’ll do it!” Would the Lord take her up on her promise? Being Poor Was More Fun Lillian’s earliest years had been spent in Boston, Massachusetts. Money was plentiful and she lived in a grand home. But her family became poor and moved to a little cottage by a canal in Georgia. As far as Lillian was concerned, being poor was more fun. She could roam the woods, swim in the nearby river, or ride a horse with her best friend, Jerdy.

Jerdy’s parents were Wesleyans who often talked about their faith. Hearing Jerdy’s father, Ed, read his Bible, sing hymns, and tell how Jesus had changed his life, Lillian wanted to know Jesus, too. Ed asked her to pray aloud at their next meeting. Excitedly she wrote a prayer full of long words. But when the time came to pray, she could only blurt out, “O, Lord...” It was after that fiasco she knelt at the log and prayed for real.

chers read One of the tea y in the the Easter stor ld the Bible. Then I to ount of the children the acc rrection of su re d n a th a e d Christ. r Lillian Trashe (1887-1961)

and tending babies. There was always The Job She Didn’t Get another child to tend, and never quite As Lillian grew up, she became a enough to eat. One winter day, weak and good artist. She applied for a job with the tired, she decided she must spend her last Atlanta Georgian. Newspapers used many drawings back then. “Leave your drawings 20¢ (about $3 today) to buy a little food with me and check back in a couple days,” to regain her strength. Just then, Miss Marker knocked on her door and asked said Mr. Howard, the editor. When Lillian went back to learn if she for the 20¢ to pay a delivery boy. Without a word of protest, Lillian gave it. was hired, a different man sat behind the Already slender, she grew thin. Not desk. Mr. Howard was sick, he said. Anyway, he had hired someone else. She could until spring did her strength return. Her thinness did not keep a young pick up her drawings when Mr. Howard preacher named Tom Jordan from noticgot back. Lillian went ing her. Soon they to her room and were engaged. Ten sobbed. She had so days before the wedwanted that job! ding date, Lillian After a while attended a mission she brightened up. If conference. She came God is in control, he home certain that must want her someGod wanted her to be where else. When a missionary. She had she went back for her to tell Tom that the drawings, she learned wedding was off. She there had been a knew it would break mistake. “Why didn’t his heart. “But I have you come back, girl? to obey the Lord,” she I had to hire somesaid. She believed the one whose work Young Lillian. Lord wanted her to go was not as good as to Africa. yours!” Mr. Howard was upset. God Will Provide Lillian should have been upset, too. Instead she rejoiced as she hurried back to Lillian soon learned that she would have to trust God to provide for her. By the house where she was staying. She was mistake, Miss Marker’s sister paid a bill excited at what the Lord had for her next. with money that was supposed to take Lillian to a missionary conference in PennCaring for Orphans sylvania. She had only enough to get to On her way to her newspaper interWashington, D.C. She started out anyway. view in Atlanta, Lillian had spent some In Washington, she stayed with a friend of time with Miss Marker, who operated an Miss Marker. The Dunnings, missionaries orphanage. Miss Marker had invited Lilto Egypt were there. Shocked that Lillian lian to come help her. Now she would. Soon Lillian was cutting cloth, sewing would consider becoming a missionary without a church or family to support her, clothes, changing diapers, cooking gruel,

they told her to go home to her mother. Lillian said no, God would provide. That night the Lord changed the Dunnings’ hearts. In the morning, they asked Lillian to join them in Assiout, Egypt. They promised her room and board, but said she would have to find her ship’s fare. God had arranged half the answer! Step by step, God provided Lillian’s fares to the conference, the fare to Egypt, and $70 more, which she set aside for an emergency. He even provided a stamp to mail a letter to her older sister Jennie. Jennie left her snug little home in California to accompany Lillian to Egypt until she was settled in. She said Lillian needed love and looking after. Orphanage in Egypt Three months after Lillian arrived in Egypt, a young man begged her to help a dying woman. In the hut was a baby. It was almost a skeleton and stank. Somehow Lillian found the ability to kiss the smelly, screetching child. With her last breath, the mother begged Lillian to take the little girl, whose grandmother was ready to drown her in the Nile. Unable to find an Egyptian to care for the baby, Lillian took her back to the Dunnings and named her Fareida. Lillian and Jennie fed her with an eye-dropper, stroking her throat so she would swallow. Fareida cried for two weeks straight. No one could sleep. Finally Mr. Dunning ordered Lillian to take the girl back. “Back to where?” asked Lillian. In that hour, she made up her mind. She would move out and rent an apartment with her emergency money. Mr. Dunning warned her if she left, she could never come back to live at the mission. Trusting that God was leading them, Lillian and Jennie left. Once again Lillian

was keeping her promise, “Lord, if ever I can do anything for you, just let me know” Now she understood why God had sent her to work with Miss Marker. He had been training her for this hour. Fareida was the first of thousands of orphans Lillian cared for. The odd thing was, Fareida learned to drink as soon as they left the Dunnings, and slept normally. Lady on a Donkey To provide for her orphans, Lillian had to ride long miles on a donkey in blazing heat, gathering donations. Riding donkeys was considered lower class. Lillian didn’t care. If Jesus could ride one, so could she. On longer trips, she slept in jails just to have somewhere safe to lay her head. Assiout had many Coptic Christians. Although very poor, they gave what little they could to feed the orphans. Muslims helped, too. When Lillian outgrew her apartment, she agreed to buy some land. Next day God sent the money to pay for it. The older children made sun-baked bricks to build homes. After that, whenever a new building was needed, Lillian would start construction, even if she had only 50¢. Every building was paid for by the time it was complete. Through her example, the children learned to trust God, too. In 1927 a revival swept the orphanage with hundreds of children asked the Lord and each other for forgiveness. The Day Lillian’s Faith Wavered Lillian’s life was stressful. She lived Copyright © 2012 by Dan Graves. More resources at

through a revolution, personal illness, and much more. Jennie went home to America. When Fareida was four, her brother took her away. It broke Lillian’s heart. Fareida soon died. Later Muslims came and took away all Lillian’s Islamic children. Mostly Lillian’s stress was because money and food were scarce. During the Great Depression, days would pass without the donation of a single cent. One day, Lillian gave up. She called the children to her. “I must send you all away,” she told them. The children began to sob and pray. Lillian promised she would try to keep them. That night they ate their last bit of rice and bread. Next day there was a letter in the mail. A farmer in Kansas had addressed it to Miss Lillian Trasher Assiout, India. Although he wrote to the wrong country, the letter had come to them! Inside was a check for $1,000. How Lillian and the children praised the Lord.

Night of Prayer Another time, during World War II, Lillian closed school and aksed all the children to pray for food. Although desperately tired, she prayed until 2:30 in the morning. Next day a telegram arrived from the American ambassador in Cairo. Lillian could not imagine what he wanted her for but hoped it had something to do with the night of prayer. She took the train to Cairo. The ambassador told her a Red Cross ship had been forced to land in Egypt. On the wharf were thousands of crates of food, clothes, and medical supplies. Could she use any of it? Lillian wept. Once again God had showed his power. The ambassador even paid to ship the crates to Assiout. Late in the 1950s Jennie returned to Egypt to look after Lillian who was ill. In October 1961, Lillian’s weak heart gave out and she went to be with Jesus. |

Unscramble these words from the story. Then take the letter indicated by red and fill the blank at the right to spell a new word. PHARON _ _ _ _ _ _ (3rd letter) RRASTEH _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (2nd letter) TUSSIOA _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (1st letter) YONDEK _ _ _ _ _ _ (6th letter) PYGET _ _ _ _ _ (1st letter) SKRIBC _ _ _ _ _ _ (2nd letter)

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Lillian and Jenny, 1910 solution at

Ask Yourself 1. Do you agree with Lillian that being poor could be more fun? 2. Have you ever taken a risk because you trusted a promise from God? 3. Can you tell about an answer to prayer you received? 4. What do you know about the Coptic Christians?


How Lillian Trasher trusted God, sailed as a missionary to Egypt, and built an orphanage on faith.


How Lillian Trasher trusted God, sailed as a missionary to Egypt, and built an orphanage on faith.