Lillian Hunt Trasher (27 September 1887–17 December 1961) was a Christian missionary to Assiout, Egypt, as well as the founder of the first orphanage in Egypt, famed as the “Nile Mother” of Egypt.
Trasher was born in Florida, and grew up in Georgia. She followed Roman Catholicism as a young girl. In her teens, through Bible reading and Bible studies at a friend’s house, she chose to make a personal commitment of her life to Jesus Christ.
While still in her late teens, Trasher attended Bible college for one term, and then worked at an orphanage in North Carolina. She received the infilling of the Holy Spirit at a second Bible school in South Carolina, and pastored a Pentecostal church. For a brief period, she traveled with an evangelist, but later returned to work again at the orphanage.
Trasher was only ten days away from her wedding date when she broke her engagement to Tom Jordan. She felt called to Africa, he didn’t, and in that same year of 1910 she defied her family’s wishes and sailed to Africa with less than 100 dollars in her pocket. Her sister Jennie accompanied her, and was a valuable companion through decades of work overseas.
Arriving in Egypt, Trasher had little idea what exactly she should do. That was decided for her when a dying Egyptian mother gave her baby to Trasher to care for. Trasher rented a home in the predominantly Christian city of Assiout (some 230 miles south of Cairo), and, after a period of a few months, a man came to her with his infant daughter whose mother was dying. The man asked her to take care of the girl for him, and this was the beginning of the Lillian Trasher Orphanage, accepting that her previous experience in that work was a sign of God’s leading.
In 1912, the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee ordained Trasher, and by 1916 her orphanage family had grown to fifty children. When she returned to the States in 1919 and saw the financial and prayer support to be found in the Assemblies of God, Trasher joined the very missions-minded new organization.
Lillian Trasher worked 25 years–from 1929 to 1954–without a furlough.
By the time of her death in 1961, the Lillian Trasher Orphanage had grown to some 1200 children. Today, the institution is entirely the responsibility of the Assemblies of God of Egypt, with some 85% of its daily needs being met by donations from the Presbyterian churches of Egypt, the Soul Salvation Society, and other Egyptian church bodies.
“Mama” Lillian lies buried in a simple Egyptian tomb several miles outside the city of Assiout.