I was blown away today as I read chapter 23 of John Piper’s book ‘Future Grace’. He wrote of an incredible missionary in India named Granny Evelyn Harris Brand:
“[She] grew up in a well-to-do English family … and dressed in the finest silk. She went with her husband to minister as missionaries in … India. After about ten years, her husband died at age forty-four and she came home a broken woman … But after a year’s recuperation, and against all advice, she returned to India. Her soul was restored and she poured her life into the hill people nursing the sick … rearing orphans, clearing jungle land … preaching the gospel.
At age 67 she fell and broke her hip. Her son, Paul … encouraged her to retire. She already had suffered a broken arm, several cracked vertebrae, and recurrent malaria … Paul mounted as many arguments as he could think of to persuade her that 67 was a good investment in ministry, and now it was time to retire. Her response? ‘If I leave, who will help the village people? Who will treat their wounds and pull their teeth and teach them about Jesus? When someone comes to take my place, then and only then will I retire. In any case, why preserve this old body if it’s not going to be used where God needs me?” [and] … she worked on.
At the age of 95, she died. Following her instructions, villagers buried her in a simple cotton sheet so her body would return to the soil and nourish new life … Her son commented that ‘with wrinkles as deep … as I have ever seen on a human face … she was a beautiful woman’ … [and yet] for the last 20 years of her life she refused to have a mirror in her house. She was consumed with ministry, not mirrors … Granny Brand was more alive than any person he had ever met. ‘By giving away life, she found it’.
This is incredible service and what it means to gain one’s life by losing it. This is what I want in my own life, to grow so strong in the Lord Jesus Christ that I am like a big, strong tree that gives sustenance and protection to others. May it be done!