This Week in AG History — June 17, 1956
By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 14 June 2018
Hillcrest Children’s Home, an Assemblies of God ministry located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, was founded in 1944 in obedience to the scriptural mandate to care for orphans (James 1:27).
Edward Weaver, director of Hillcrest Children’s Home, posed the following question to readers of the Pentecostal Evangel on Father’s Day in 1956: “It’s nice to have children to remember you on Father’s Day – but how would you like to provide for 70 of them every day?” Weaver knew that men would resonate with the difficulty of providing for a family of any size and wanted to share the enormous need of managing the daily lives of 70 children plus 15 staff.
Hillcrest began as the vision of a woman who was disappointed that she was unable to serve on the foreign mission field. As a young lady, Gladys Hinson was inspired by the example of Assemblies of God missionary Lillian Trasher, who opened a home for orphaned and abandoned children in Egypt. Hinson felt a definite call to do the same in China and began making preparation for that assignment. The bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States involvement in World War II dashed her dreams as the window of opportunity to enter China was closed.
Struggling with the burden that she felt for the abandoned children of China, she turned to God for direction while waiting for the fulfillment of her dream. The scriptural command of “Occupy till I come” led Hinson to believe it was unacceptable to neglect the needs of children in her own country while waiting for doors in China to reopen.
With only a dime in her pocket, Hinson approached the leaders of the Assemblies of God with the idea of opening a nationally supported home to provide for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of America’s most vulnerable children. Approval was given and ideal property was soon found in Hot Springs, the birthplace of the Assemblies of God.
It took time to meet all the requirements of the Board of Child Welfare of the State of Arkansas, but the home was finally opened in 1944 for the first children: three brothers, Douglas, Milton, and Ronnie Davis. Over the next few years, many more children came to Hinson’s home: brothers who had witnessed their father shoot and kill their mother, five children abandoned in a cold midwestern town trying to survive by eating out of garbage cans and sleeping in vacated buildings, the child of a mother who died with no other family who could care for her, children whose new stepparent did not want them. The reasons they came were as varied as the children themselves.
Just like her inspiration, Lillian Trasher, Gladys Hinson cared for children who were neglected or forgotten by others. But unlike Trasher, who was able to work for 50 years with the children of Egypt, Hinson went to be with the Lord just a few years after founding the orphanage. She was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1949 at the age of 36, never knowing that just six years later, Trasher would pay a visit to the children of Hillcrest while on furlough from Egypt.
Every good missionary knows they must prepare others to carry on their work. Many followed in Hinson’s footsteps as directors and staff of the children’s home, including Edward Weaver, who made the plea for financial support on Father’s Day, June 17, 1956. Evangel readers responded to his plea and soon a remodeled cottage and new workers accommodations were both dedicated at the Hot Springs campus.
Hillcrest Children’s Home continues to operate today under CompACT Family Services of the Assemblies of God.
Read Edward Weaver’s Father’s Day request on page 16 of the June 17, 1956, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
* “The Church Militant” by C. W. H. Scott
* “Fathers, Provoke Not Your Children to Wrath” by C. M. Ward
* “First Freshman Class Completes Year’s Work at Evangel College”
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