Lucy Leatherman was born near Greencastle, Indiana. She was dramatically touched by the Lord at the Azusa Street Revival. She tells of her experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit: … I praised and praised God and saw my Savior in the heavens. And as I praised, I came closer and closer, and I was so small. By and by I swept into the wound in His side, and He was not only in me but I in Him, and there I found that rest that passeth all understanding, and He said to me, you are in the bosom of the Father. He said I was clothed upon and in the secret place of the Most High. But I said, Father, I want the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the heavens opened and I was overshadowed, and such power came upon me and went through me. He said, Praise Me, and when I did, angels came and ministered unto me. I was passive in His hands, and by the eye of faith I saw angel hands working on my vocal cords, and I realized they were loosing me. I began to praise Him in an unknown language.1
Leatherman did not stay at Azusa for very long. She headed out for the mission-field. Of all of the early Pentecostals, she traveled the farthest and the most frequently in missionary service. She ministered on four continents and in over ten countries. She endured much hardship, going as a single woman to remote locations. In the fall of 1906, she led a ministry team across the United States, holding meetings in California, Denver and Connecticut. In Connecticut she worked together with other leaders such as Ophelia Wiley and Adolpho de Rosa. The meetings sparked so much spiritual fervor that some neighbors complained and the police were brought in. Angry mobs attacked and set fire to the tent which she was using.
In 1907 Leatherman began her foreign ministry work by traveling to Egypt. Here she saw revival and reports:
Magnify the Lord with me for the great revival in Egypt. Multitudes have been saved, sanctified and baptized with the Holy Ghost, and fire. We have outgrown our mission rooms and must live out-doors. God willing, as soon as the missionaries arrive from America, I go to new fields of labor as He opens the way. I believe Arabia will be where my Father will send me next. Pray for me. 2
From Egypt she left for Palestine and did some ministry in Jerusalem. She continued on to Beirut, and other cities of the Sinai. She also went to China and Japan. By 1910 she was working in the Philippines. By August of 1912, she was in Syria. In 1914 she was busy in Egypt and Palestine. In 1916 she came back to the United States for a brief stay. Then she headed off to South America. Here she toured many countries and in various places held revival meetings.
Leatherman labored in missionary work until almost 1923. Unfortunately, only a few records of her work were either recorded or survived. Her life remains a great example of missionary fervor in early Azusa and Pentecostal history.
Alexander, Estrelda. The Women of Azusa Street. Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2005.
Leatherman, Lucy. “Apostolic Revival In Egypt” The Pentecost. January-February, 1909.
The Apostolic Faith Vol. 1, No. 3, November 1906. Los Angeles: The Pacific Apostolic Faith Movement.
1 Lucy Leatherman, quoted in “Pentecostal Experience” The Apostolic Faith Vol. 1, No. 3, November, 1906 (Los Angeles: The Pacific Apostolic Faith Movement), 4.
2 Lucy Leatherman “Apostolic Revival In Egypt” The Pentecost, January-February, 1909.