By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 3 March 2016
Sixty-five years ago, an Assemblies of God congregation of lepers in New Hope Town, Liberia, caught the vision of missions and desired to help those who were less fortunate than themselves. On Christmas Eve 1950, they took up an offering of $2.65, which they sent to the Leper Home of Uska Bazaar in North India.
Assemblies of God missionary Florence Steidel (1897-1962) wrote a letter recounting the sacrificial spirit of the congregation. The letter, published in the March 4, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, explained that the offering was quite generous, given the meager wages earned by the lepers (seven to ten cents per day).
Steidel had founded New Hope Town in 1947 with $100 and the help of lepers. Tribal chiefs gave her 350 acres of land upon which she could build a town for people with the skin-eating disease who were unwelcome in their own communities. Steidel, a nurse who came to the mission field in 1935, took a class in elementary building construction. She rallied those with leprosy to work alongside her in building roads and houses. From 1947 until 1962, she oversaw the construction of a well-laid out town, including 70 permanent buildings and six main streets.
While the lepers were diseased, they were not helpless. Steidel established a school to train them to become carpenters, weavers, brick makers, and clinic workers. They also planted 2,500 rubber trees, which helped the town to become economically self-sufficient.
Steidel realized that economic poverty has roots in poor spiritual and social conditions, which she worked to ameliorate. And only four years after establishing New Hope Town, its residents were already giving of their very limited resources to help others.
Steidel is remembered as one of the missionary heroes of the Assemblies of God. She melded compassion with proclamation of the gospel. Her work among the lepers helped to give credibility and strength to the Assemblies of God in Liberia.
Read the article by Florence Steidel, “I Still Have Strong,” in the March 4, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue
• “Pentecost’s Lost Coin,” by Paul Gaston
• “Our Greatest Need,” by Robert J. Wells
• “Words of Life,” by Wesley R. Steelberg
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.
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