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GOD & TEXAS: Mother of Pentecost

Born a slave in 1847, Lucy would one day impact the world to a greater extent than her renowned uncle Frederick Douglass. Having already escaped slavery in 1838, Douglass became a respected abolitionist and civil rights leader. But Lucy followed another path.

When Congress abolished slavery with the 13th Amendment in 1865, Lucy was emancipated, but unprepared to survive in a world of racial prejudice. Her hometown of Norfolk, Virginia, was experiencing insurrections led by liberated slaves that were demanding enforcement of the 15th Amendment and expansion of voting rights laws.

Escaping the turmoil, Lucy had married and was living in Mississippi by 1871. When she moved to Houston, Texas, in 1890, she was a widow with only two surviving children. The call of God was on her life, so she started a Holiness church in what is now Houston’s historic Sixth Ward.

It is in Olivewood Cemetery, which is partially in the Sixth Ward, where you find the grave of Lucy F. Farrow. Visitors immediately notice her beautiful marker which reads “MOTHER OF PENTECOST: Catalyst for Pentecostal Revival in Houston, Los Angeles, and the World.” How did a former slave impact the world?

A young man named William J. Seymour started attending her Houston church. Lucy strongly influenced William’s faith and when she moved to Kansas for three months, she asked William to lead her church. Lucy spent her time in Kansas helping the ministry of Charles F. Parham. When she returned to Houston, she had experienced her own personal Pentecost. It changed her ministry completely.

Seymour became the pastor of a church in Los Angeles, and he asked Lucy to minister to his congregation. And that’s when revival fell on the flock. People experienced healings, miracles, and many received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Within months, those small beginnings grew into what is now known as the Azusa Street Revival, an inter-racial catalyst that sparked a global Pentecostal movement.

Lucy was invited to minister through-out the United States, England, and Africa. Hoping to heal the racially-torn community of Norfolk, Lucy held a multi-week revival where over 200 souls made commitments to Christ. Remembering her family in Africa, Lucy spent many months in ministry in Liberia. Wherever Lucy went, she preached the Pentecostal message and sparked life-changing revivals.

By 1911, Lucy had emptied herself out for the glory of God. When she contracted tuberculosis, she died in her Houston home as an internationally-revered warrior for Christ. Known as “Auntie” to loved ones, she was laid to rest in her beloved Sixth Ward.

Lucy overcame the horrors of slavery and racial injustice, to bring the soul transforming Gospel of Christ to all people, regardless of ethnicity. Her only request was stated on her tombstone: “Remember me to all the saints.” (Philippians 4:21)

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7 ESV).

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