Lillian Trasher was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on September 27, 1887. Being born to a catholic family, Lillian was not saved until her teens when she got her hands on a Bible and read it for herself. Trasher attended Bible school while she worked at an orphanage in Marion, California.
Little did she know that orphanage work would be her life’s calling. How did she become the “Mother of Thousands”? When Trasher was 23 years old, she attended a church service where she heard a female missionary speak. Trasher would later say that this was the night she was called to be a missionary.
She immediately began to make plans to travel to Egypt. The first thing she did was break off her engagement. The sudden change of plans was shocking to her friends and family. Her parents refused to assist her financially. Trasher knew that it was God’s will for her to move to Egypt, so she prayed and prayed, until little by little she raised enough make the trip. On October 8, 1910, Trasher began her voyage on the S. S. Berlin. The day she left, Lillian was asked to read a verse appropriate to the trip, so she opened her Bible to Acts 7:34.
The verse read,” I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt. ” This verse confirmed God’s will in Trasher’s life. She had no doubt that she was meant to go to Egypt. Lillian arrived in Assiout on October 26, 1910. She would immediately begin missionary work with Reverend Perlsford, a missionary too Egypt. At this point Trasher still didn’t know why God had called her to Egypt, but it would not take long before she found out.
On February 10, 1911, Trasher took in her first Orphan after finding the baby girl alone with her dead mother. This began a domino effect. Every time Trasher heard of a child in need she would take them in with out any hesitation. Trasher had no way of providing for the children and she knew that no one from America would be able to support these children either, so she decided to raise funds locally. Lillian rode astride a donkey all over surrounding areas soliciting funds for the orphanage. With lots and lots of prayer, Trasher succeeded in raising enough funds to keep her new orphanage running.
By 1916 Trasher was known by the people of the Nile Valley as “The Nile Mile. ” At this point she had 50 orphans living in her home. She new she had to move in order to expand. She purchased a half-acre of land and moved the children into a building there. Gradually more and more land was purchased because of growth. The orphanage would grow to be 19 acres in size. In 1919, the Assemblies of God granted Trasher missionary appointment. When this happened Assiout Orphanage became an overseas ministry of the Assemblies. The orphanage began to grow immensely.
The orphanage is no longer just an institution but, but more of a small town with more than a dozen major buildings including a church, five schools, three nurseries, dormitories, hospitals, dairy barns, a water plant, an electric power plant, and Lillian’s home. Today, the orphanage maintains over a thousand orphans, widows, and disabled peoples. The children are educated and taught trades at the orphanage. Each one is given the opportunity to be successful in life after they leave the orphanage. Because the girls are so well educated they are often sought after to boys from the city to be their wives.
The boys leave with the ability to support themselves and their future families. Trasher never considered what she did as working but as living. She knew it was her purpose in life, and she loved every second of it. She believed she was living life to the fullest. Lillian Trasher cared for more than eight thousand boys and girls during her life. Each one called her “Mamma”. She loved every one of them the same and prayed for them every day. These children would grow up to have families of their own and their children would call Trasher “Mamma” too. It is clear that Lillian Trasher truly was a “Mother of Thousands. ”