A Tribute of Love

John 20:21

In November 1910, we were ushered into the Founder’s study, as he had expressed his wish of having a last word with us before we were sent forth to the Army’s distant battlefield of India. Slowly feeling his way to where we were standing—his eyesight having become impaired—he sat down saying: “Come right near to me, my children.”

Then, sitting quite close to him, his hands holding ours, he began, “You are going to India, and we are sending you to a very hard part of it, too, and I feel that it will mean to you hardship and sacrifice. I want you to be brave like unto that noble, heroic woman, Colonel Yuddha Bai, who has fought so brave a fight in that very part of India, and who has now laid down the sword.”

And on went our grand old leader, speaking words of counsel and warning, comfort and encouragement, in accents of a father’s concern and compassion concerning his two officers about to depart. Then he knelt in prayer, his hands still clasping ours, when he poured out his soul in yearning, passionate appeal for India, for “these girls, who were now going out to hardship and loneliness.” One more long look at our grand old General standing before us as the prophet of God, yet so tender in the task entrusted to us, so buoyant in his faith for us, could we ever disappoint such trust? Out we went, our eyes blinded with tears, but in our hearts the fixed determination to go and carry out the sacred charge to our fullest ability.

It was far inland in India, in the land of Marashtra, a year or so later. We had left the great high road and were trudging miles and miles over the wild, barren countryside, leaving civilization and comfort far behind. How long the way seemed, how merciless the sun’s rays over our heads.

At last we reached our longed-for destination of our weary journey. The question arose in my mind, whether it had been really worthwhile, wise too, to undertake such a hazardous, fatiguing journey to reach this village. I learned to look at the matter in a different light the following morning.

Great excitement of interest and joy was manifest on all sides among the villages, and a demonstrative welcome given us. What was the meaning of all this? Ah, we understood when we learned the story. Many years ago an English lady, the first that ever was looked upon by these people, had come to be one of them, teaching them of Jesus, caring for them in their sicknesses. And this lady was Yuddha Bai, and her memory was still fragrant and revered in spite of the lapse of time between.

Catherine Bannister, The Practice of Sanctification

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