“Lady, you must take this baby,” ordered the old Egyptian woman.
“I don’t want it. She’s only a girl!”
Lillian, the missionary, stared at the old woman in dismay.
Answering an urgent cry for help, she had come tonight to this
poor hut just in time to watch a young Egyptian mother die,
leaving her tiny half-starved baby. The baby’s tiny body was not
much more than a skeleton already. If her mother was dead and
her relatives didn’t want her, Lillian was afraid that the baby
had no chance to live.
Lillian lived in a small mission house with several other
Christians, and there was not much room for a stray baby. But
what other choice did she have? The child could not be left to
“Lord, what shall I do?” the young missionary prayed as she
walked homeward down the dirt road, carrying the poor thin baby.
And all at once the answer came:
"This is why I have called you to Egypt. You must start a
Christian orphanage for children of Egypt who have no homes!"
Lillian obeyed the Lord’s direction. A few days later she rented
a house with some of the last money she had brought with her
from America. With Fareida, the tiny Egyptian baby, she moved
into the house. Soon the word spread about this Christian lady,
who was kind enough to take the children other people didn’t
want and more children came to the little orphanage.
Many times Lillian wondered where she would find money to buy
food for all her children. She was not allowed to get a job
because she was not an Egyptian. There was no mission board
giving support to her orphan’s home. But Lillian knew that the
Lord would provide, and somehow He always did! One morning when
there was no food left in the house, a young boy came to her
door to deliver a message.
“Is this the place where they take children with no homes?” he
asked curiously after he had handed the note to Lillian.
“Yes, it is,” the missionary answered.
“You will need a lot of money, won’t you?” the boy observed.
Lillian smiled. “I suppose we will,” she told the boy. “But God
knows all about it, and He will provide for all our needs.”
The boy stared at her with wonder in his dark face. Suddenly
reaching into his own pocket, he put something in Lillian’s
hand. Then he turned and ran down the street.
The missionary looked at the small pile of coins in her hand and
counted seven Egyptian piasters, which would make about
thirty-five cents. One piaster was enough to buy a loaf of
bread, and seven would feed her little family for a few days.
“Thank You, Lord!” Lillian whispered.
Soon the house became too small for Lillian’s growing family,
and the Lord provided money to buy a small piece of land beside
the Nile River.
“We will have to make our own bricks,” Lillian told the
children, and so they did. The Egyptian recipe for homemade
bricks was probably still the same as it had been when the
Israelites were slaves in Egypt!
All the children who were old
enough helped “Mamma Lillian” dig up piles of dirt, mix it with
chopped straw and add water from the river to make mud. After
stomping in the mud until it was mixed thoroughly, they would
pack it into wooden molds and carry them to be baked hard in a
brick kiln nearby.
After months of hard work, the new brick orphanage was finished!
How the children rejoiced as they thanked God for providing a
comfortable new home.
Day after day, “Mamma Lillian” would ride around the countryside
on her donkey, finding children in need. The Egyptians in the
villages knew her well and even though they were poor, they
usually had something to share with her to help feed and clothe
Even when Lillian was away, the work of the orphanage went on.
The big girls cooked and took care of the little children while
the boys made chairs to sell in town.
In those days the country of Egypt was trying to gain its
independence from England. One Spring, fighting broke out in the
town where Lillian lived with her children. Gunfire crackled all
around, and many houses were burning. “Kill the Englishmen!”
“Kill the Christians!” men shouted, and the sounds of battle
were dangerously near.
Mamma Lillian calmly gathered her older children together. “Each
one of you must carry two of the babies,” she told them, “and we
will go hide in the brick kiln!”
Under cover of darkness, the
nearly one hundred children slipped silently from their home and
hurried to the empty brick factory. Lillian, her own arms full
of babies, followed last. Inside the brick kiln, she counted her
“Oh, no!” she gasped. “Two are missing — two of the babies! I
must go back to the house and get them.”
“Don’t, Mamma Lillian,” whimpered the older girls. “Don’t go out
there! You will be killed!”
But the missionary was determined. “I must save the babies,” she
whispered. Pray for me that God will keep me safe!” And she was
off, sometimes running and sometimes crawling along the path to
“Stop!” came a sudden shout in the darkness. “Who’s that?” Shots
rang out! They are after me, Lillian thought fearfully. Dropping
to the ground, she rolled into a ditch and lay still. Running
feet pounded along the path as soldiers searched for the unknown
figure they had seen. Suddenly Lillian realized that she was not
alone in the ditch! Close beside her lay the crumpled form of a
Nearer and nearer came the footsteps of the searchers, and
Lillian prayed silently. All at once a heavy boot trampled her
shoulder as a soldier stepped right on her in the darkness!
Lillian held her breath. But the man seemed to think he had only
stepped on the dead soldier, for he kept right on going!
Lying perfectly still, Lillian waited until the sound of boots
and voices faded in the distance. Then, cautiously hugging the
ground, she continued on. Quickly finding the two whimpering
toddlers in their bedroom, she set out once more for the brick
“Oh, Mamma Lillian! You’re back — thank God!” her older children
cried out softly as the missionary sat down to rest on the
earthen floor of the kiln.
“Yes, God kept me safe as you prayed,” the tired Lillian
responded. “He is faithful.”
“Mamma Lillian” in this story was Lillian Trasher, an
American missionary to Egypt in the early part of the 20th
century. Her night-time escape to the brick kiln happened in
1919. Later that year Lillian had to leave Egypt, but she
soon returned when the fighting was over, and the work of
the orphanage went on.
more than eight thousand children found a home at
Lillian’s orphanage, where they were fed and clothed and
taught to read the Bible. It is reported that every one of
those 8,000 grew up to be good men and women.
To order this
Missionary Stories with the Millers,
Don L. Martin at Green Pastures Press.
Copyright 1993. All Rights Reserved. Published on this website by permission
of Green Pastures Press. No part of this chapter may reproduced in any
manner without written permission from the publisher.