Lucy Farrow was a niece of the famous abolitionist journalist Frederick Douglass and first came into the Pentecostal experience through her contact with Charles F. Parham.
We know little of her early history, except that she was born in slavery, as were thousands of others in her day. In 1905 she was the pastor of a small holiness church in Houston, Texas, when Parham arrived to set up a branch of his growing ‘Pentecostal’ ministry there. He held crusades in Bryn Hall in downtown Houston attracting great crowds and enjoying the respect of the people – and also the press. In the providence of God Miss Farrow was invited by Parham to work as governess for his family that summer when they returned to their main home in Kansas. A gentle and unassuming evangelist called William Seymour was invited to fill the pulpit during her two-month absence. By the time she returned to Houston, she had experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues and shared her spiritual encounters with Seymour.
When Parham opened a new Bible School in Houston, Farrow did not find it difficult to persuade Seymour to enrol as a student. Seymour’s story is told in more detail in our separate article on the history of Azusa Street Mission. But the place of Miss Farrow should be noted here. It was when Seymour was struggling for a breakthrough in the Spirit, as yet not having ‘received’ himself, that he collected money and sent for Lucy Farrow and of a man named J. A. Warren, whom were known for their ability to impart the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Lucy Farrow was described as an “anointed handmaid” who not only brought the full gospel to Los Angeles but whose ministry included the laying on of hands through which “many received the Pentecost and the gift of tongues.”
In the early days of Azusa many received their personal Pentecost when she laid hands upon them.
In Aug. 1906 Farrow made a trip to Norfolk, VA, via Houston and New Orleans. At Houston she preached at Parham’s Apostolic Faith Movement camp meeting where many received the power of the Spirit, spoke in tongues and received healing. In Virginia, Farrow held a series of meetings in Portsmouth for several weeks, where 150 received “the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” About 200 converts were also reported.
By Dec. 1906 Farrow determined that she had a call to go as a missionary to Monrovia, Liberia, so she sent word to Azusa, asking for a replacement to continue the work in Portsmouth. She travelled to New York where she was joined by the other mission-minded folk who felt called various parts of Africa.
Farrow settled in Johnsonville, Liberia, about 25 miles from Monrovia, where she preached and ministered until Aug. 1907, supported largely by the saints at Azusa. During that time she reportedly brought many into the faith. Many were sanctified and healed, and 20 received their Pentecost.
She returned to Azusa in the latter half of 1907, again by way of Virginia and the South. She held meetings in Littleton, NC, in November for an Apostolic mission there.
Upon her return to Azusa in the latter half of 1907, Miss Farrow continued to minister from a small “faith cottage back of the mission.” Those who came to her there were reported to have been healed, to have been baptized in the Spirit, or to have received “a greater filling.”
Bibliography: The Apostolic Faith vol.1 Nos 1-2, 4-6, 12-13, 1906-1908; C. M. Robeck Jr, art. “Lucy F. Farrow,” The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Ed. Stanley M. Burgess, 2002.
Tony Cauchi 2004