Reclaiming Your Ministry: Lucy Farrow, Pentecostal Pioneer
At least once a month I receive a phone call or an email from an individual who’s single and feels a call to ministry. They begin to express how they feel like a liability because they aren’t married and their ministry may never be what it could have been. This mindset is nothing more than a lie from the enemy with the intention of undermining your ministry. If God called you, then you are called.
While this article is not intended to excuse those who fell into sin and have been removed from their positions by their pastors, I do hope to encourage the pastor, former pastor’s wife, Sunday School teacher, youth leader, ladies’ ministry leader, music minister, etc. There is value in your ministry, and you are still anointed and capable of being used by God. The enemy is out to destroy ministries on every level in the church, and he especially loves to attack the morale of the singles in ministry. His kingdom is going down and God’s is going up. If he is fighting you hard, it’s because he believed it when God gave you promises. Have you ever noticed how the devil never needs anything confirmed? It’s because he believes everything God says; the devil is afraid of the things God is going to give you and how He is going to use you.
Hope in the Midst of Heartache
Let’s talk about singles being used in spite of their backgrounds, circumstances, and marital status. I would like to tell you the story of Lucy.
Lucy was born into slavery 1851 in Norfolk, Virginia. Besides being a slave at birth she was the niece of Fredrick Douglass the abolitionist. She grew up during the U.S. Civil War and moved to Mississippi after getting married where she raised seven children. Life was still hard for African-American families during this time because of the Jim Crow laws. Her husband died in 1871 and she continued to raise her children while working as a cook to support them. Five of her children died due to illness so she decided to move to Houston Texas in 1890 with the remaining two and begin a new life.
Lucy felt the call of the Lord and started a church in Houston in 1905. A young man named William who was also single began attending her church. They experienced a great deal of spiritual growth and they were hungry for everything God had for them. The evangelist Charles Parham came to Houston and held a crusade downtown. Lucy and William went and heard about the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Lucy decided to follow the Parham family back to Kansas where he had a Bible college and so she turned the church over to William who was one of her first converts. She became the Parhams’ governess and cook in order to support herself and her children. Lucy received the Holy Ghost while she lived in Kansas and returned to Virginia to preach a meeting in Portsmouth where 150 received the Holy Ghost. She returned to her church in Houston to join the Parhams’ ministry as they began another crusade due to the enormous response of their first crusade there.
This wasn’t just a lady who was widowed and single; this was a former slave in the south who, along with William, had to sit in a segregated section at Bryan Hall in downtown Houston during the crusade. If God could use her to start a church, preach a 150-soul revival, do you really think your obstacles are bigger than Lucy’s? God has not forgotten you and He will bless your efforts. Your greatest days of ministry are not behind you but rather in front of you. It gets better!
Revival in Los Angeles
Lucy felt a burden to go to Los Angeles to share this revival with the West Coast. Charles Parham took up an offering to pay her way and to support her meeting. The meeting had a slow start but Lucy knew she had heard from God so she kept trusting the Lord for a harvest. She sent word that she needed help, and Charles Parham decided William would be the right one to send. According to most of my sources, William was the first to go, and Lucy joined him a couple of months later. Howard and Ethel Goss, attendees of that Houston meeting, say that Lucy went first and William joined her. They are the only sources who witnessed the situation firsthand; the other sources were compiled to determine the account.
By the time William and Lucy were reunited, she had met the Edward Lee family, who opened their home to them. They had such a hunger for the Holy Ghost that Edward told Lucy he believed if she would just lay hands on him and pray that he would receive it. Lucy explained that she could not do that unless the Holy Ghost told her to. Within the hour, while eating dinner, Lucy stood up and said the Lord had told her to lay hands on Edward right then. She set down her fork, walked around the table to Edward, and laid hands on him. The Holy Ghost came on Edward and he fell out of his chair speaking in tongues.
They had a prayer meeting that night at the Asberry family’s home after dinner. Edward walked in with his hands raised and reported that he had received the Holy Ghost and then began speaking in tongues. The power of God fell on many of them, several falling out of their chairs into the floor speaking in tongues. Going back to Edward Lee’s home on Bonnie Brae Street that night, the prayer meeting continued when word spread that Pentecost had fallen. By morning, so many were in the house that the prayer meeting spilled out into the porch and yard.
Lucy told William they needed to find a building to move the prayer meeting to so William went out to search and eventually found an abandoned building in downtown Los Angeles at 312 Azusa Street. By the time they chose to move the prayer meeting to the new location on Azusa Street, the little gathering on Bonnie Brae Street had become an around-the-clock event. For the next three years, the prayer meeting continued around the clock as people were consistently filled with the Holy Ghost. The state of California marks the spot on Azusa Street as the birth place of the modern Pentecostal and Charismatic movement to this day.
Take up the Mantle
Lucy Farrow’s story is a testament on how to look beyond what we may have lost and instead focus on what God has left us. Souls are depending on our sensitivity to the Lord to fulfill the ministry He has given us a burden to fulfill. Both Lucy Farrow and William Seymour were single and neither one saw it as a liability or let it limit them. Our generation has been commissioned to carry out the greatest revival the church has ever seen as we march into the sunset of the last days. Your ministry matters and others may be depending on it!
No matter how small and insignificant you feel your ministry is it is still important to God. You might not be called to preach but there is still so much you can do for God. I can’t say my grandfather ever addressed the congregation, but he was always the first one to arrive. He unlocked the doors, turned the lights on, and was the last to leave after locking the doors and turning the lights off again. That was his ministry; he was the keeper of the door in the house of the Lord.
Be careful not to belittle yourself or the ministry God has given you. Your pastor is depending on everyone to do their job in order to see the revival God is ready to pour out. God does know where you are; He knows what you’re feeling and is aware of all of the things you’re going through. Just because someone left or is no longer in your life doesn’t mean your ministry has disappeared with them. Let’s take up the mantle of the Lucy Farrows and William Seymours out there. Like Lucy and William, let’s look beyond the obstacles that try to hinder us and start looking into the skills and abilities we possess that God can use. Let’s do something for the Lord!