We’ve all heard of Abraham Lincoln and what he did to abolish slavery. Did you know, though, that he wasn’t the first president to hold that stance? After John Quincy Adams served as the 6th president of America, he became a member of the House of Representatives and spent his time fighting slavery. (Fox) However, Lincoln receives more attention because he was successful while Adams wasn’t. And this is a tendency I have; to determine someone’s importance by what they’re doing and whether or not they’re successful. Ironically, though, learning more about women who’ve accomplished remarkable things has actually changed my view.
I want to share some of that journey with you today by looking at two Christian women and how their stories have impacted me. First, we’ll explore the life of Lillian Trasher; then, a woman named Katie Davis; finally, we’ll see what we can learn from these Christians. Through it all, I hope to inspire you to trust God, love deeply, and faithfully obey God—no matter where you are.
Let’s begin with Lillian Trasher. In 1910, 23-year-old Lillian had a wild dream: to become a missionary in Africa. She was a young, single woman who owned only $5 and had no support from any church, organization, or even her own parents. This idea was insane—and people told Lillian so! However, they forgot to consider one thing: God had given her this calling, and Lillian knew He would help her.
God provided all the money Lillian needed, bringing her to Assiuot, Egypt within a year. Three months later, a dying mother gave Lillian her baby. Through this unexpected event, God began preparing Lillian for something even bigger: starting the first orphanage in Egypt—and running it entirely by faith. The orphanage began with that one baby but the number of children multiplied. In 1918, the orphanage housed fifty orphans. A year later there were 107 children; by 1933 the number had passed 600; and in 1935 Lillian wrote that she had “nearly a thousand” children (Benge). Lillian could not take care of them all on her own, so she had to trust God. And God provided. Sometimes he sent a little food and money; sometimes he sent plenty—like an entire ship full of supplies in the middle of World War II! Either way, though, the orphanage’s foundation was faith.
Once, Lillian told a visitor they didn’t have any food at the orphanage. The shocked man asked, “Will you be able to sleep tonight?” At that, one of the children laughed: “Why, [Lillian] never has any food for tomorrow, and she never loses sleep over it!” (Benge) Lillian knew God would provide, like he had done so many times before—so she didn’t need to worry. Lillian wasn’t perfect; there were times when she doubted. However, God never abandoned her.
I encourage you to find out more about Lillian’s life. The biography I read on her, and the source of this information, is "Lillian Trasher: The Greatest Wonder in Egypt", by Janet and Geoff Benge. Lillian lived an incredible life of walking by faith. I still remember first reading her story and being amazed. After all, faith doesn’t come naturally to me; I like to know the whole plan before I start. But Lillian didn’t need to. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” (BrainyQuotes). Lillian Trasher lived this way. And I want to live this way, too.
Another woman whose life displays faith and love is Katie Davis Majors. Katie Davis grew up as an average American girl, but as a high school senior she spent one week in Africa and was forever changed. She writes in her book "Kisses From Katie" that in 2007, she decided to take a year off before college and spend it in Uganda, Africa.
Katie began the year teaching 138 kindergarteners. In her spare time she cuddled orphaned babies, played with kids, and simply loved on those around her. As time passed, though, she wanted to do more to care for Ugandan children. In 2008, this 18-year-old woman founded Amazima Ministries. Since then, Amazima’s website shares how God has used them to feed hundreds of hungry children, begin Bible studies, and provide medical assistance. In addition, in 2016 Amazima’s sponsorship program reached 600 children. In 2017, Amazima even opened its own school. (Amazima Ministries)
God had more planned for Katie, though. While Amazima blossomed, God brought three orphaned sisters to Katie: Agnes, Mary, and Scovia. These girls landed in Katie’s life unexpectedly, and unexpectedly wound their way into her heart. Katie soon realized God was leading her to adopt the girls. But God wasn’t done yet. Over the rest of Katie’s first year in Africa, God sent her five more daughters and showed her she belonged in Africa permanently. This belief was reinforced as God gave her still more children, bringing her total number of adopted daughters to thirteen. Now, in 2020, Katie is married to Benji Majors and God has added two biological sons to their thirteen daughters. She has also written two books: "Kisses From Katie" and "Daring to Hope".
God has done amazing things through Katie, yet out of everything she’s done, Katie says it’s ultimately all about love. She writes in "Kisses From Katie", “I have one purpose, in Uganda and in life, and that is to love. I could ask for no greater assignment.” (Davis) Love motivates Katie; love for God and for the people around her. In Matthew 22, Jesus says the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others. Katie lives that out. Her lifestyle inspires me, because I want to love the way she does.
But, taking a step back to look at these women’s lives as a whole, there’s one crucial idea that stands out to me. Something that changed how these women lived, and something that changes how we live, too.
Near the end of her life, someone asked Lillian, “Miss Trasher, what is the secret of your missionary success?” Lillian replied, “There isn’t any secret. I just stayed! I did not quit. I stayed with the work God gave me to do.” (Benge) Lillian Trasher did incredible things—yet the key to it all is wrapped up in one word: faithfulness. Obediently doing what God told her to do.
Katie Davis also recognizes the importance of faithfulness. In her book "Daring to Hope", she shares how her focus slowly shifted from her ministry and serving large numbers of people to simply serving her family and a smaller number of people around her. During this time, God began to teach her that the number of people she was serving actually didn’t matter. What mattered most was that she faithfully did what God called her to do, whether that was starting a ministry to feed hundreds of children or preparing a meal for her family. She could glorify God in everything, when she did everything faithfully.
In an online class I’m taking this year, one of my classmates said something that struck me. She pointed out that in Matthew 25:21, Jesus says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (The Holy Bible). Not, “Well done, good and successful servant,” no; he said well done because you were faithful. You did what I told you to do. God has given all of us different things to do. He’s given some Christians hundreds of orphans to care for; others, a ministry to run; some, five children to raise; others, a church Sunday school class to lead; and still others, a pile of dishes to wash. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter. What matters is not what we are doing but how we are doing it.
When I look at the lives of these two women, I am quick to say they are incredible because they produced incredible results. However, I don’t think that’s what God values most. I think what God wants is a willing, obedient heart. He may use it to accomplish amazing things, like he did with Lillian and Katie, or He may not do anything we consider remarkable. Either way, though, when we meet our heavenly Father what will matter is not the “grandness” of what we did or what it produced but whether or not we did what God called us to do. So no matter what calling God has given you, I want to encourage you to rest in the knowledge that God considers your work important and your faithfulness priceless.
One day, someone asked John Quincy Adams why he kept fighting to abolish slavery when nothing was changing. Adams replied, “Duty is ours, results are God’s.” (Fox) Adams knew he had to faithfully do what was right, regardless of the results. And though John Quincy Adams never saw the impact he wanted, he did mentor and inspire someone—someone named Abraham Lincoln (Barry). I don’t know what God has called you to do, but I want to encourage you to do it faithfully. The lives of these two Christian women challenge me to walk by faith, like Lillian Trasher; to love God and those around me, like Katie Davis; and to faithfully obey God, no matter where I am, and leave the results in His hands.
Fox, J. M. (2014, October 20). Duty is ours, results are God's. Retrieved December 6, 2019, from https://jmarkfox.com/2014/10/20/duty-is-ours-results-are-gods/
Benge, Janet, and Geoff Benge. Lillian Trasher: the Greatest Wonder in Egypt. YWAM Pub., 2004.
BrainyQuote. (n.d.). Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes. Retrieved January 5, 2020, from https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/martin_luther_king_jr_105087
Amazima Ministries. (n.d.). Our Story. Retrieved December 6, 2019, from https://amazima.org/about-us/our-story/
Davis, K. J. (2011). Falling in Love—With a Country. In Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption (p. 11). Howard Books (a division of Simon & Schuster).
The Holy Bible (NIV 1984 Zondervan Publishers), Matthew 25:21. Accessed 6 December 2019.
Barry, S. (n.d.). "Duty is ours, results are God's". Retrieved December 6, 2019, from https://www.patriotacademy.com/duty-is-ours-results-are-gods/
This is a speech I gave this year in speech and debate :)