Healing and Revival
"Healing through Prayer"
The family history section is the same for all the Duncan sisters. Their individual stories are told after this section.
The Duncan family history is one of difficulties and trials. Reverend James Duncan was a Methodist pastor. He and his wife Mary came from Canada. Mary was a woman of great social ambition who never believed that her husband had a big enough parish or made enough money. Although there were seven children in the family, two boys and five girls, the children were treated as unwelcome burdens. Early on many of the family responsibilities were passed to the oldest girl Elizabeth who declared that she felt old from almost from the time of being a small child, because of the enormity of the responsibilities placed on her. The home was loveless and Mrs Duncan kept the family in constant contention and emotional turmoil. After Reverend Duncan retired the contention was so bad that he left the home to move in with his son. When he needed to return for financial reasons, his wife would not even allow him to be in the same room with her. After seven years of this behavior she abandoned the family altogether and told stories of her perceived mistreatment by her husband and children, so they were asked to leave their church and rejected by many of their former friends. The girls had started the Faith Home and their father was a constant support. These were his happiest years. When he died the family begged their mother to return, but she continued to be bitter and she died two years after her husband, without seeing any of her children again.
Elizabeth (Libbie) was the oldest daughter of Methodist Pastor James Duncan and his wife Mary. She was born in February 1849 and lived in Rochester, New York. She described her family life "We, as children, always felt that we were not wanted, and were in the way, so I, the eldest daughter, soon learned to care for and shelter the younger ones, that mother might go to her self-imposed duties. Thus cares and burdens far beyond my years were early thrust upon me. I never remember a happy childhood, and used to think I must have been an old woman when I was born." Wanting to escape her home she was married before she was 20, but divorced shortly after because her husband was abusive. Although she had been raised in a Christian home she did not accept Christ as her savior until after her divorce. She attended a temperance meeting and came under conviction about Christ as the living God.
She was married again this time to a to a physician. In about 1881 she became very ill with a throat condition. Her husband could not help her and he called in specialists. She continued to worsen. She called in a local pastor, C. W. Winchester, from the Asbury Methodist Episcopal church. He believed in healing and she was healed almost immediately. She took up the cause of Divine Healing and began to read books about faith and healing. She and Elizabeth Sisson held daily meetings in a small office where they taught the Bible and prayed for the sick. Baker described their friendship "like David and Jonathan". She was exposed to the works of George Muller on faith and A.J. Gordon on healing. She attended a Chatauqua Camp meeting in 1890 where A. B. Simpson and Carrie Judd (later Mnotgomery) were speakers. She herself was a worker at a meetings led by Simpson in 1891 and 1893. Unfortunately her husband did not agree with her and they eventually separated as she began ministry in the area of faith healing.
Elizabeth with her four sisters: Mary Work, Nellie Fell, Susan and Hattie Duncan, began a "faith work" in Rochester. In reference material they are often referred to as the Duncan sisters. They opened the Elim Faith Home in January of 1895. The home's mission was to provide a place for healing and refreshment. An announcement was placed in Carrie Judd's "Triumphs of Faith" magazine, in May, to kick it off. Over the years all the sisters were regular contributors to the magazine. In 1898 Elizabeth felt that God was calling her to India. She was impacted by the work of the Mukti mission and returned to New York, eventually raising $75,000 for their support.
In 1902 the sisters published a magazine called "The Trust". Their focus was on teachings about faith healing, the Holy Spirit, premillennialism, and world evangelization. When word reached the family of the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905 they began to cry out for a similar move in their area. In 1906 they heard of the Pentecostal move in Azusa and began to seek God in prayer and searching the Word. They decided that the promise was in the Word and in 1907 held a convention where a Pentecostal revival broke out.
They constructed a church, known as the Elim Tabernacle. They sought a male pastor for this new Pentecostal work, but when none stepped forward and they continued to lead the ministry. They trained missionaries who went all over the world. They also established a publishing arm called Elim Publishing House and established Rochester Bible Training School. Their ministry was an important center for the development of early Pentecostalism and training for divine healing and missions. Baker died on January 18, 1915. A book titled "Chronicles Of A Faith Life" was published in 1915 with Elizabeth V. Baker as the primary author. It was published shortly after her death by her sisters.
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