Missionary Stories

     "Mamma Lillian" (China)

    From Missionary Stories with the Millers, Chapter 9

     By Mildred A. Martin

“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 die!

“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 the orphans.

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 children.

“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 the orphanage.

“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 dead soldier.

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 oven.

“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.”

Historical Note: “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.

In all, 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 wonderful book, Missionary Stories with the Millers, please contact Don L. Martin at Green Pastures Press.

Email: greenpastures@emypeople.net

Phone 717-436-9119


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.

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