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Archive for June, 2011

Let me be like that Lord, flowering best when life seems most dry and dead.” Evie Brand

Some of the most beautiful flowers in the world are desert flowers. The Lord must have really enjoyed creating this contrast, placing incredibly gorgeous plants in brown and dusty backgrounds. These plants can only be enjoyed by those who search them out.

How many of us wouldn’t rather be a rose or a carnation grown in well-tended gardens and admired by everyone. But Evie Brand was willing to go where the Lord would send her, even to one of the hardest places in the world to be a missionary.

Evie Harris was born in 1879 in England to a well-to-do merchant. She received a good education and was treated to the finer things in life, including fancy hats and frilly dresses. She loved to sketch and paint.

When she was in her twenties, she began to feel an emptiness in her soul. She went to visit her sister in Australia, and on the voyage home she felt a calling to be a missionary. Evie’s father was a good man, but he was very protective of his daughters and she did not know how she was going to tell him about her divine call.

God helped her out with this. A young missionary from India named Jesse Brand had come to speak at a conference which she attended. Afterwards, she went to her father and told him. He was dismayed! He was not sure why his daughter should go so far away from home, but he could see her earnestness and agreed to let her go, and he even provided her total support.

Evie was assigned to Madras, in the plains of India. She soon found out that Jesse Brand had been assigned there also. After working with him daily for some time she fell in love with him. She was enraptured with his vision to take the Gospel to the Mountains of Death – a desolate place where few missionaries went. There were five ranges of mountains that Jesse wanted to win for Christ – the Kolli (where they were), the Pachais, Kalryan, Peria Malai, and the Chitteris.

Evie found out that Jesse was engaged to someone else and felt very embarrassed that her feelings for him had shown so plainly. She was transferred to the hill country to do language study. While there, Jesse wrote to her to tell her that his engagement had been called off. He asked Evie to marry him and work with him in the Mountains of Death.

Missionary work is hard in India. Jesse and Evie had only one convert for the first seven years of their ministry. There was strong opposition from the Hindu priests. Though the people appreciated the medicine of the man who followed the Swami Yesu (Jesus), they were too scared of the priests to adopt the new religion. This did not stop Jesse. He continued to treat the sick, teach better methods of farming, build houses, import seeds for better crops, and fight unjust taxes for the people.

Evie and Jesse traveled together from village to village preaching the gospel and tending the sick. Out of fear of the Hindu priests, the people always pulled back until one day a breakthrough finally came. A Hindu priest, dying of fever, entrusted his children to the Brands. Only Evie and Jesse had come to visit him in his sickness, and so he decided that the Christian God must be the true one. Of course the Brands adopted the children, much to the amazement of the Hindu people who could not understand why they would help the children of their enemy instead of abandoning them to die.  Evie would become the mother to many orphaned Indian children and so a small Christian community was formed.

During this time the Brands had two children. It was very sad for them to send them to England for their schooling. Evie said that it was the hardest good-bye that she ever said, but she willingly sacrificed her own feelings to continue God’s mission.

A few years later, God called Jesse Brand home. He had contracted blackwater fever and died. Many mourned for him, both Hindu and Christian. They loved this man who had shown them so much love for so many years.

Evie continued the work alone until a replacement was found for Jesse. She returned to England to visit her children and talk to the mission leaders. She wanted to return to the Kollis Mountains. The new missionaries did not approach the work as Jesse would have. There was some tension and she asked to be assigned to start a new work on a different mountain. The mission leaders refused. Mountain work did not show good returns, they said.  Evie was assigned to a work in the plains. She stayed with this work until she was supposed to retire.

When she was sixty-eight years old, she asked the board to assign her for another five-year term. They really did not think it wise to send an old, frail lady out for that long. She had spent years of her life sacrificing comforts and family for the sake of the mission. It was time for her to stay home.

But Evie and Jesse had had the dream of reaching the five mountains. They had only reached one. She wanted a chance to go to the others. She fully believed that God had called her to do this and that He would enable her to carry on the work. So she pleaded with the mission board to just let her go out for one more year. They agreed reluctantly. They assigned her to a mission in the plains again and she was back in India in 1947.

Then she began to work her plan that she had secretly devised before she left England. She spent her vacations camping in one of the other four ranges – the Kalryan range. Her son had designed a little house for her and she gathered all of the building materials that she would need. Workers carried them up the mountains and built her future home.

When it came time for her “retirement party” there were tearful good-byes. Evie’s fellow missionaries had bought her a nice lamp as a parting gift. She thanked them and then gleefully informed them that she was retiring all right. But that she was only going to move to her new home and start a new work in the mountains! She was determined to fulfill the dream that she and Jesse had for many years. They tried to dissuade her. But their protests fell on deaf ears; as far as Evie was concerned, life was just beginning.

By this time she was known as “Granny” but somehow she looked younger than before. And she felt young. She traveled around on pony, camping, teaching, distributing medicines, and rescuing abandoned children just as she had done so many years before. Everywhere she went, she proclaimed Christ.

As she aged, she became more frail. She suffered fevers, broken bones and other infirmities, but she labored on. She almost eradicated the parasitic Guinea worm from the Kalryan range.

Eventually she did realize her dream to take the Gospel to the five mountain ranges. She didn’t stop there. With God’s help she added two more mountain ranges to her accomplishments. She gave God the glory for all of this marvelous work.

In 1974, Evie tore some ligaments in her knee and had to go to the plains to get treatment. While there her health failed and she died on the same day as her birth, December18. She was ninety-five years young!

The next day, she was taken to the hills and her body was laid to rest next to Jesse’s. Many people wept. This courageous woman who was told she was too old to go back to India, stayed for twenty-four more years, carrying the Gospel through seven mountain ranges and praising the Lord until nearly the day of her death.

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Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”  (Proverbs 31:30).

 

It makes me weep when I think about how much our Founding Mothers sacrificed so that their children and grandchildren could live in a free country. It is sad to see how little courage or unselfishness exists now among most women in our country. Today’s woman feels cheated if she can’t get her latte on the way to work. Our predecessors often went without water or other basic necessities for days. As strong patriots, they were willing and happy to do this for the greater good of everyone. Made of tough moral fiber, they understood that some things were more important than their personal comfort.

I am so frightened for this current generation. Young women have no idea what it means to sacrifice let alone how to go about it. In this, “I want it now, and I’m not waiting” culture, it would be hard to even explain why deferring gratification might be important. Don’t save up for anything; just put it on your charge card. For the first time in history, there is a negative savings rate among the populace. In times past people always saved something, often as much as ten percent, or for really hard-working folks with foresight, twenty-five percent of their earnings.

Now there is no thought for the future. If times get tough, our new parent, the government, will take care of us. So, let’s just buy whatever makes us happy. Our girls are taught in the public schools to think of themselves first. All of psychology is bent on the autonomy and aggrandizement of the individual. As they grow older, girls learn that nothing must stand in their way of personal fulfillment. “Get married instead of living with that guy? What! And lose my tax advantage!”  “What do you mean I’m pregnant? I’m in the middle of the biggest rise in my career. I guess I’ll just have to get rid of this little inconvenience!” In a society where women believe that they are the center of the world, it is next to impossible to get them to see that they were created to serve others starting with God.

And so I know that I am asking for a lot when I ask women to consider that our society is going to ruin. Everything that our foremothers worked hard and sacrificed for is just being tossed away. I am asking too much that they consider that they must stop being so selfish and think about the future. Right now, they only need to give up things that were considered luxuries by past generations in order to begin to turn the tide around. Who couldn’t live without mocha latte’s and glue-on fingernails, really? It wouldn’t take much for most women to be able to save fifty or one hundred dollars a month.

Most live paycheck to paycheck. I am a little bit sympathetic since they have not been taught how to save by the previous generation. We are so far from even being able to take care of ourselves, let alone have enough left to give to others. We are called by God to help the poor. How can we do that with a negative savings rate?

Our Founding Mothers not only sacrificed for themselves and their families. Many went without buying new clothes for months in order to give aid to the poor. After the Declaration of Independence was signed, and our country was at war with Britain, much regular commerce and trade slowed down or stopped. Have only two dresses to your name? Well, there aren’t any more fine things coming from Europe, so you’ll have to learn how to make homespun material and make your own clothing. And while you’re at it, make enough for uniforms for your soldier husband and sons. And don’t forget your neighbor, who has tuberculosis and six children to care for.

The wives of the men who fought in the War for Independence were as much responsible for the successful outcome as their husbands. Without good women at home, taking care of the farm, the children, and anyone else that needed aid, the men would not have been able to be away for months at a time doing their duty. In order to have money for the war, and food, the women had to take care of the farm, growing the crops, harvesting them, and selling them. This they did without complaining. These were truly Proverbs 31 women, looking for wool and cotton perhaps. Working with their hands, they arose while it was still night and worked hard to provide for their families. They did not fear the snow for their households, because they had made coverings for everyone. They supplied jackets and socks for soldiers. They did not eat the bread of idleness. They knew not of government welfare.

Strength and dignity were their clothing, and they were able to smile at the future. Their husbands praised them. And we, their children also praise them and thank them for their noble work.

Is it any wonder that children today leave home and move far away so that they can live their own self-centered lives? How many children today “rise up and bless” their mothers? Why should they? This is the complete breakdown of our society. This is just the opposite of a society where women are not self-centered. Those women build up a society.

Our country has been one of the most prosperous in the history of the world. This is because of the Christian faith of the founders. That faith was common to most all of the wives of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. This is a faith that believes in God, in serving Christ, and in serving others. This is what makes a nation strong and promotes freedom. In a country where people can depend on each other for honesty, righteousness, and selflessness, there is much liberty. In a society where everyone is only out to get what they can for themselves, liberty slowly erodes away.

My prayer is that all of my friends will see what is happening to our country, and begin to think about how we can make changes before it is too late. There is still much goodness left in America; that is the only reason we are not under a dictatorship already. Please let it be said about the women of our generation that “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” May God bless our efforts.

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“Strength of my heart, I need not fail,
Not mine to fear but to obey,
With such a Leader, who could quail?
Thou art as Thou wert yesterday.
Strength of my heart, I rest in Thee,
Fulfill Thy purposes through me.”
                                       Amy Carmichael


One of the truly great, faithful missionaries of recent times was Amy Carmichael. Amy was born in the small village of Millisle in Northern Ireland, December 16, 1867, to devout Presbyterian parents, David and Catherine Carmichael. She was the oldest of seven children. In many ways she was an unlikely candidate for missionary work. She suffered neuralgia, a disease of the nerves that made her whole body weak and achy and often put her in bed for many weeks at a time. Her friends thought that she was foolish for wanting to go on the mission field. They didn’t think she would be able to take the strain for very long, but Amy was certain that God was calling her to go overseas.

Her own personality prepared her for the challenges that she would face. When she was a girl, she was a bit rebellious. Whenever the Carmichael children were up to something mischievous, you could be sure that Amy was probably behind it. She played pranks on a governess that did not seem to like the children. They wanted to make life unbearable for her so that she would quit, and so they put bugs in her tea and toads in her bed. She did quit, but seeing her mother’s sadness over this, Amy ran to her and begged for her forgiveness. She was a strong-headed girl, but really tender hearted. She loved the Lord even at an early age.

When she turned thirteen she attended a boarding school. But, after a few years her father died and the family was in poor circumstances. Her mother took a job in England. While there, Amy worked with the female mill workers, teaching them about Christ. At one time she had over 300 students. She lived in a cockroach-infested apartment near the mill. Unfortunately, her neuralgia began to really bother her and she grew very sick. She had to give up her work among the mill women.

At this point, Robert Wilson, the founder of the Keswick Convention, invited her to come and stay with him and his grown children. He became like a second father to her. During her stay there, the desire to be a foreign missionary grew so strong that she finally talked to Mr. Wilson about it. She prayed about it and wrote down reasons why God might not be calling her. At the top of the list of course, was her illness.

One night after praying with Robert Wilson, she went back to her room, and she clearly heard the Lord speaking to her as if He was in the room with her. He said, “Go ye.” Amy replied, “Surely, Lord, You don’t mean it.” The voice again said, “Go ye.” Amy decided to follow that voice. She told Mr. Wilson, and wrote to her mother. Her mother agreed that Amy must follow the Lord’s lead and go.

But where? Amy searched for a year, and finally took an opportunity to go to Japan where there were some missionaries who would welcome and train her. She became the first missionary sponsored by Keswick ministries.

Amy learned much in Japan. She found that she could depend on God for all of her needs. She learned how to humble herself, and dress and behave in such a way as to fit in with the Japanese people. This lesson would help her when she went to India. She loved the Japanese people very much, and won a few souls to Christ in the fifteen months that she was there. Soon, she became sick with the neuralgia again. She learned how to spend the time in her bed wisely, praying earnestly for those around her. But a doctor would tell her that she really needed to be in a different climate because of her disease and she would have to leave Japan.

She returned to England in 1894. Mr. Wilson suggested that she work in India, where the sunny weather would be better for her health. At first she rejected the idea, but soon was convinced that she could serve God better if she was in good health. She searched for a place to go, and finally sailed for warm, sunny Bangalore in October of 1895.

Amy went with the help of the Church of England, Zenana Missionary Society. When she arrived in India, she heard about the temple children. These children had been dedicated to the gods. They were forced into prostitution to make money for the temple priests. Amy desperately wanted to rescue these young girls. She tried to find a way to get into the temples. She put on a sari and stained her skin brown so that she could pass as a Hindu. This was a bold move, but definitely in line with her stubborn and adventurous personality. God had made her this way, and she was up to the task.

Amy knew that the Lord was in charge of her life. She nearly went to prison for the rescue, considered a “kidnapping” in India, of one young girl. Amazingly, the case was dismissed. God was protecting and working through this faithful woman.

After thirty years of work among her beloved adopted people, she went on to found a place of safety for the young children in India. The organization she founded was known as the Dohnavur Fellowship. Dohnavur is situated in Tamil Nadu, just thirty miles from the southern tip of India. She rescued more than one thousand children who would otherwise have faced an uncertain, but probably dismal future. She desired to build a hospital as well. The hospital she founded is still there today and works with the aged people in India. There is also a school for the mentally and physically disabled.

In 1931, Amy was badly injured in a fall, which left her bedridden much of the time until her death. Even when she became old and infirm, she would praise God for her circumstances, because it would give her a chance to pray and write books and poetry. Prayer was the center of her life, and she became a great spiritual witness for thousands of others.

Amy Carmichael died in India in 1951 at the age of 83, after twenty years of being bedridden. Many people in such trials might complain to God about their illnesses. But Amy had learned to trust God in whatever circumstance He put in her life. Though she longed to be working among her people, she allowed God to use her where He put her. She did not waste time feeling sorry for herself. Many people were inspired by her cheerfulness and kind words. She used the time to write over thirty books, and now many people can be blessed by her work, thanks to her faithfulness and love for Christ.

“He hath never failed thee yet.
Never will His love forget.
O fret not thyself nor let Thy heart be troubled,
Neither let it be afraid.”
                                        Amy Carmichael

 

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