The development of female Pentecostal missiology in the Middle East : the careers of Josephine Planter, Lillian Trasher, and Margaret Gaines.


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This dissertation is an investigation into the missionary careers of three Pentecostal female missionaries who served in the Middle East. First, Josephine Slezak Planter (1867-1954) immigrated to the United States from Austria during the birth of the Azusa Street Revivals. She later started the first Pentecostal mission in Tunis, Tunisia, where she remained until her death. Second, Lillian Trasher (1887–1961) of the Assemblies of God denomination founded the Assiout Orphanage in Egypt. Beginning with five children in 1911, her orphanage grew to become vibrant Pentecostal community, taking in over six thousand orphans by her death in 1961. Third, Margaret Gaines (1931-2017) of the Church of God labored as a single female missionary during the middle of the century, when denominational restrictions for women in ministry were the most heightened. Gaines, a mentee of Josephine Planter, began her missionary career in Tunisia, but spent over thirty years teaching and pastoring congregations along the Israeli-Jordanian border. In this dissertation, I will make three main arguments related to the fields of Pentecostalism, gender, and missions. First, I argue that changes in Pentecostal values related to gender on the mission field did not neatly fit into ‘prophetic to priestly’ paradigms than dominated North American Pentecostal denominations over a period of two generations. Rather, the prophetic emphasis overtook both first and second generations Pentecostal female women Planter and Gaines, but it also eclipsed the equally Pentecostal, yet more practically minded Trasher. Furthermore, against the interpretation of Barfoot and Shepperd, for women on the mission field, there was no sign of a ‘golden era’ because female Pentecostal missionaries flourished after World War II. Second, I argue that these three missionaries were simultaneously hindered and promoted by the combination of their gender and adherence to Pentecostal theology and praxis in accomplishing their ministerial goals. For these women, Pentecostal identity was more formative in shaping their missiology, goals, and self-understanding than their female identity. Third, I argue that Pentecostal women were driven to create their own missiology to navigate ministry successfully in the Arab dominated patriarchal setting of the Middle East.



Missionary. Missiology. Pentecostal women. Arab. Middle East. Twentieth century. Lillian Trasher. Margaret Gaines. Josephine Planter. Assemblies of God. Church of God. Egypt. Tunisia. West Bank.