Tag Archives: Orphanage

Hillcrest Children’s Home (Hot Springs, Arkansas), Social Concern, and the Assemblies of God

This Week in AG History — May 7, 1961

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 07 May 2021

Hillcrest Children’s Home in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is a 52-acre campus owned and operated by the Assemblies of God. When Miss Gladys Hinson founded Hillcrest (originally called the National Children’s Home of the Assemblies of God) in 1944, she said, “God has given us a vision of hundreds and thousands of neglected children, of those from broken homes, of the orphans and those who will yet be orphaned by the war.” Today Hillcrest continues to serve children and adolescents who need transitional living as well as those with developmental disabilities or those needing qualified residential treatment.

Sixty years ago, J. Roswell Flower, former general secretary of the Assemblies of God, spoke at the dedication of the Garrison Memorial Cottage at Hillcrest. This was the first of several cottages on the campus devoted to housing children and youth.

The story behind this cottage began when “Aunt” Hallie Garrison, a widow, who was a member of the Assembly of God church in Childress, Texas, contacted Hillcrest. She was a wealthy landowner who ended up giving thousands of dollars to Hillcrest and to various youth homes and churches in Texas.

In a letter of June 6, 1960, she expressed her desire to “do something for the children” at Hillcrest. The children’s home contacted her, and she ended up donating money and approved preliminary plans for a cottage for teen boys. She wrote a check for $41,195 to pay for the construction, and she was eager to see construction begin. She hoped the cottage might be completed by the end of the year.

Shortly after receiving her check, ground was broken for the building. It was named the Garrison Memorial Cottage in honor of the donor and in memory of her son who had recently passed away. She also had lost a daughter.

By mid-December, the cottage was ready for the teen boys to occupy. It was a large, comfortable single-story brick cottage (51 by 76 feet) that could house 18 boys plus the house parents. The house included a kitchen, shower room, living room, and 11 bedrooms. The addition of this cottage increased the capacity of Hillcrest at that time to one hundred children.

At the dedication service on Dec. 15, 1960, which Mrs. Garrison attended, Flower said, “We are not here to dedicate a church, nor to dedicate a school, ….” Instead, he emphasized, “We are here to dedicate a home — a place of refuge for boys where they can be cared for under home conditions as nearly normal as it is possible to provide in institutional life.”

Flower mentioned that “Help sometimes comes from unexpected quarters.” He felt that God must have put the concern for children at Hillcrest in Garrison’s heart, for she had not been approached by any of the administrators to make this gift. She was the one who had contacted Hillcrest and then made a generous donation for this boys’ cottage.

Today there are eight cottage homes of this type at Hillcrest. Garrison was the first. In order of completion date, they are — Garrison, Hardcastle, Anderson I, Anderson II, Netzel, Anthony, Wilmoth, and Gilliam. Each cottage is currently licensed to house five to eight residents, depending on the program of need. The original Garrison Cottage was built in 1960 as a home for teen boys. It was later leveled, and a new Garrison Cottage was built in 1998, which currently serves girls.

Hillcrest Children’s Home in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is part of COMPACT Family Services, a nationally accredited child welfare and family services agency, operated by the Assemblies of God. In 2019 Hillcrest celebrated 75 years, and it is still serving the church and the community. Over the years its ministries have broadened, thanks to generous donations like Garrison’s and many answered prayers. The campus now has a total of 23 buildings and includes a chapel, a dining hall, and facilities for indoor and outdoor activities.

Read more in “Dedicated to Our Boys” on page 8 of the May 7, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Evangelistic Campaigns in the Local Church,” by Lloyd Christiansen

• “Music in Evangelism,” by Edwin P. Anderson

• “Revival in Uruguay,” by Leroy Atwood

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Maria Gerber: The Pentecostal “Angel of Mercy” During the Armenian Genocide

Gerber MariaThis Week in AG History —December 4, 1915

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 06 December 2018

An estimated 800,000 to 1,500,000 ethnic Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire (present day Turkey) were systematically rounded up and killed by Ottoman authorities between the years 1915 and 1918. The Armenian Genocide, as it came to be known, is the second-most studied case of genocide, following the Jewish Holocaust.

Newspapers around the world reported on the suffering endured by the mostly Christian Armenians. Right in the midst of the conflict was Maria A. Gerber (1858-1917), an early Pentecostal missionary who had established an orphanage in Turkey for Armenian victims.

Gerber was born in Switzerland, where she was raised with 11 siblings by Mennonite parents. As a child, she did not have an interest in spiritual things, because she saw her mother weep when she read her Bible. She thought that Scripture must be the cause of sadness.

Gerber was a carefree child and loved to sing and dance. But, at age 12, she was stricken with multiple ailments, including rheumatic fever, heart trouble, tuberculosis, and dropsy. The doctor’s prognosis was not good — Gerber only had a short time to live.

Fear gripped Gerber’s heart. She had never committed her life to the Lord. She knew that if she died, she would not go to heaven. Gerber cried out, “Jesus, I want you to save me from my sins.” Immediately, she felt peace deep inside her soul. She was ready to die.

But God had other plans for the young girl. Gerber quickly recovered from her incurable illness, much to everyone’s surprise. Gerber’s mother had been so confident that her daughter was on death’s doorstep that she had already given away all of her clothing. Her mother scrounged around and found clothes for Gerber.

Gerber shared her testimony of salvation and healing at school and in surrounding villages. She found her calling. She read Matthew 28:18 and sensed that verse was meant for her: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Jesus]. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

Gerber’s faith deepened as she blossomed into a young woman. She received training as a nurse, but in her heart she wanted to become a missionary. In 1889 a remarkable revival featuring healing and speaking in tongues came to her town in Switzerland. In her 1917 autobiography, Passed Experiences, Present Conditions, Hope for the Future, Gerber recounted the rapturous praise and numerous miracles that occurred in that early Swiss revival.

The young nurse wanted training for missions work and, in 1891, she headed for Chicago, where she attended Moody Bible Institute. By the mid-1890s, she heard about massacres of Armenian Christians that were occurring in the Ottoman Empire. Gerber and a friend, Rose Lambert, felt God calling them to minister to the Armenian widows and orphans.

Gerber and Lambert arrived in Turkey in 1898 and began working with the besieged Armenians. They began caring for orphans and purchased camel loads of cotton for widows to make garments for the orphans and for sale. Donors from America and Europe began supporting these two audacious women who had ventured into very dangerous territory to do the Lord’s work.

Gerber, in particular, found support among wealthy German Mennonites who lived in Russia. In 1904, they funded the construction of a series of large buildings to house hundreds of orphans and widows. Zion Orphans’ Home, located near Caesarea, became a hub of relief work and ministry in central Turkey. When persecution of Armenians intensified in 1915, resulting in the extermination of most Christian Armenians from Turkey, Zion Orphans’ Home was ready to help those in distress.

Gerber identified with the emerging Pentecostal movement as early as 1910. This should not be surprising, as she had experienced her own Pentecost 21 years earlier. The Assemblies of God supported her missions efforts, and numerous letters by Gerber were published in the Pentecostal Evangel. Assemblies of God leader D. W. Kerr, in the foreword to Gerber’s 1917 autobiography, wrote that he had known Gerber for 26 years and that her story will encourage readers “to greater self-denial and a deeper surrender.”

Gerber suffered a stroke and passed away on Dec. 6, 1917. Gerber’s obituary, published in the Pentecostal Evangel, stated that she was known as “the angel of mercy to the downtrodden Armenians.”

It would have been easy for Gerber to ignore the persecution of Armenians. The massacres were on the other side of the world. She could have stayed safe in America or in Europe. But Gerber followed God’s call and spent almost 20 years ministering to refugees who faced persecution and death. Few people today remember her name. But according to early Assemblies of God leaders, Maria Gerber personified what it meant to be Pentecostal.

Read one of Gerber’s articles, “Great Results Seen in Answer to Prayer,” on page 4 of the Dec. 4, 1915, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Divine Love: The Supreme Test,” by Arch P. Collins

• “What Think Ye of Christ?” by M. M. Pinson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Read Maria A. Gerber’s obituary in the Jan. 5, 1918, edition of the Pentecostal Evangel (p. 13).

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.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Lillian Trasher: Serving the Widows and Orphans of Egypt

Trasher-P6934
This Week in AG History — December 21, 1934

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 24 December 2015

Assemblies of God missionary Lillian Trasher, in a 1935 Pentecostal Evangel article, celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of her arrival in Egypt. She testified of God’s provision for the Assiout Orphanage, which she founded in 1911: “He has never failed me all these years and we are being fed like the sparrows, who have no barns or storerooms. Seven hundred little ones. We are still looking to the Lord for our hourly needs. O! He is such a wonderful Saviour!”

Lillian Hunt Trasher (1887-1961) was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and grew up in Brunswick, Georgia. She accepted the Lord at a young age, and as a nine-year-old she prayed, “Lord, if ever I can do anything for you, just let me know and I will do it.” Little did she know at the time where that initial commitment would lead.

A few years later her family moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where she was invited by evangelist Mattie Perry to work in a nearby orphanage which cared for about a hundred children. Trasher’s love for children soon led her to accept this invitation. During her apprenticeship at the orphanage, she learned how to make clothes, care for infants, and teach children—all on a shoestring budget. This experience would prepare her for her life’s calling in Egypt.

She left the orphanage to study for one year at a Bible school in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then traveled for a time as an evangelist. In her travels, she met George S. Brelsford, a missionary working in Assiout, Egypt, and the door opened for her to sail to Egypt as a missionary in 1910. At that time she had no mission board to support her, but she received gifts from friends and offerings from churches.

Residing with other missionaries at Brelsford’s mission, she began to study the Arabic language and pondered the course of her ministry. A few months later, she was called to the bed of a dying woman who had a small baby that was left an orphan.  Lillian took care of this baby, and this led to the establishment of what today is known as the Lillian Trasher Orphanage in Assiout, Egypt.

During the 50 years that Lillian operated the orphanage, thousands of Egyptian children and families received food, clothing, housing, spiritual nurture, and education. This won her the respect of the Eygptian government, as well as the international community. Since 1911, the Lillian Trasher Orphanage has provided hope and a loving home to more than 25,000 children. In 1919, Lillian Trasher affiliated with the Assemblies of God. She previously held credentials as an evangelist with the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). Because of her tireless work with orphans in Egypt, she is fondly remembered as “Mama Lillian” or “Mother of the Nile.”

Read the entire article, “Assiout Orphanage: A Testimony of God’s Faithfulness,” in the December 21, 1935, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

  • “The Coming of Immanuel,” by Ernest S. Williams
  • “The Revival That Was Born in a Christmas Convention,” by Mary Martin
  • “The Christmas Message,” by D. H. McDowell
  • “Marvelous Miracles in France,” by Douglas R. Scott

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of 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.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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