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, but will also have to include shared experiences.

The Duncan family history is one of difficulties and trials. Reverend James Duncan was a Methodist pastor. His wife 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.

Nellie contracted scarlet fever at the age of seven. It left her weakened and she developed rheumatism and failing eyesight. She was converted when she was nine in a revival meeting in her father's church. She knew at that time that God would call her into service for Him, although she did not know what that would be. By adulthood she was forced to wear dark glasses and a veil because her eyes were so sensitive to the light. She was greatly impacted after her sister Elizabeth was healed of her throat condition. Elizabeth encouraged her to go to God for her healing. Nellie and Elizabeth went to the same pastor, C. W. Winchester, who had prayed for Elizabeth's healing. She was healed that day of eyesight, rheumatism, and throat problems.

Elizabeth traveled with her husband out of the area, but Susan, Hattie, Mary and Nellie opened the "Gospel Mission" in 1887. Nellie was the sister with strong administrative skills. In the 1880's she worked in the city doing bookkeeping. A few years after her healing God called her to leave her work. She fought God, because of the financial security it brought to the family, but finally in 1890 gave in and left the security she had known to work for God. In 1892 she met and married Elmer Fell, who was a strong Christian. They had a little girl named Marguerite.

Elizabeth, who was now separated from her husband, rejoined the family in 1894. The sisters felt called to open the Elim Faith Home in 1895. In 1901 they began publishing a journal called Trust. In 1906 they founded the Rochester Training School for missions where Nellie became a house mother. The sisters sought God when they heard about the Pentecostal outpouring. They had a Pentecostal experience in 1907 at one of their regular "Deeper Spiritual Life" conventions. People received visions, sang in the Spirit, fell under the power of God, and saw angels. Their newly established training center became a key training ground for new Pentecostal leaders.

Nellie regularly prayed for the sick. In January of 1912 she had a stroke and was partially paralyzed. She received prayer and recovered almost immediately. A short time later she discovered she had breast cancer. It was an agonizingly painful nine months. The sisters prayed continuously for her healing. In October she was close to death and the family continued to rally around her. Miraculously she was healed just when they thought she would die. The area which had been an open wound healed within the next three weeks. She testified before the Elim community about what God had done for her. Everyone was rejoicing. Then on November 10, 1912 Nellie quietly died in her sleep. Her family surrounded her praising God that He had brought relief and healing from the physical pain before she died. Her last words were "Victory" just before she slipped into eternity.


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