Women taught and preached widely in the early days of Pentecost, and many church leaders testify of finding Christ under the ministry of a woman. Working with William Seymour at the Azusa Street revival of Los Angeles in 1906 were his wife, Jenny Evans Moore Seymour; Anna Hall, who preached among Armenians and Russians in Los Angeles; and revival leader Lucy Farrow. Early women evangelists and preachers spread the Pentecostal message in towns and cities of any size.
The history of missions is replete with women missionaries who worked with their own call next to their husbands. The long list includes women of great internal stamina such as Ann Hasseltine-Judson in Burma, wife of the first American missionary. Judson regularly visited her husband, Adoniram, while he was jailed in a vermin-infested prison. She also protected his precious biblical translations during raids on their home in his absence. Betty Jane Grams, Assemblies of God missionary and educator, is an example of a modern pioneer who for years worked next to her husband, Monroe, to train workers and establish churches in Bolivia and throughout South America. Women such as these worked and ministered in significant ways in administration, translating Scriptures, writing about their experiences, and teaching.
Numerous single missionaries have also made a significant impact. Assemblies of God missionary Lillian Trasher began her ministry in Egypt as a single missionary in 1910. In over 50 years of ministry, she saw 15,000 to 20,000 unwanted children touched for the Kingdom. Between 1915 to 1940, the percentage of single women among the appointed Assemblies of God foreign missionaries ranged from thirty to forty percent. When that is combined with married women on the mission fields, far more women than men were missionaries prior to World War II.
Many women ministered to other women both overseas and in the United States. Some women have established missionary societies, providing the resources to place thousands of missionaries in various countries. Women have also advocated for societal change, morality, temperance, abolition, and other issues of sin and injustice. Through such work, Christianity ultimately influenced families and future leaders. Indeed, these various women had something in common; their call from God overpowered everything else.
Read Joel 2:28,29.
How is this verse being fulfilled through women in the Pentecostal movement?
How can the stories of previous women leaders inspire you in your present ministry?
Adapted from “Rediscovering the Pioneer Spirit,” by Carolyn Tenant, Enrichment Journal, Spring 2001.
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“Heritage of Ministry to and by Women” is published by the National Women’s Department at www.women.ag.org, 2020. Permission to reproduce is limited to personal use or within a teaching setting. All other forms of use are prohibited.