Her Labour Was Not In
Edward H. Joy
This is a selection from the unpublished manuscript,
'Our Fathers Have Told Us',
some early-day stories from The
The Officer of whom I now write was a woman who had said
good-bye to a charming home in one of England’s prettiest
villages, and had left behind all the ‘nice’ things of life
when she went forth to face the terrible actualities of
Salvation Army service among the heathen peoples of India.
She was not strong and quite young.
I recall her sweet pale face as I write; those patient
eyes, that smile what was always hopeful.
How I wondered at her courage in giving up so much for
her Lord; not even the enthusiasm of those early days could
quite explain it.
The last sight she had of her home town was when her train for
the coast whirled through it, and from the high-flung viaduct
she saw the street lights twinkling, and caught a glimpse of
Army comrades standing on the platform waving her through.
She was sent to be stationed in a difficult corner of the
Indian battlefield – a village where the preponderance of a
certain caste made hard soil for any missionary.
Apparently no good has been accomplished for some
months previous to her taking charge of the little mud hut, -
her quarters on the outskirts of the place.
Her dark-skinned Lieutenant would open her large eyes wide
with astonishment when her fair Captain used to blame herself
for not having the joy of seeing more converts.
Maybe she understood better the strength of the caste
The Captain had a habit of going out every morning into the
jungle to pray before the sun had risen.
Alone, with her Bible in her hand, she would wander
through the sleeping village, and every morning, in the same
solitary spot, she would kneel and cry to God – the God of
India, to come and teach her how to bring Salvation to the
people for whom she had given her life.
Her prayer was answered, but not in the manner she had
work was soon finished.
God has His own way of putting the ‘finishing touch’ to
work that, apparently, has only just begun.
Why do you ask? I
never knew; I never should understand; I never tried to
so it was. He
short, sweet life was claimed; those patient eyes were closed
by strange though tender hands, and the frail body was laid in
an Indian grave.
Her prayers, her tears, her sacrifice of home and friends and
self seemed to have been unavailing, - no fruit at all for her
reward! Don’t you
A long time afterwards, a tall young Hindoo paid a visit to
the same mud hut.
Another Officer came to the door, drawing back the straw
curtain that hung across the entrance.
She was not a little surprised when, observing the
caste mark on his forehead, that he quietly seated himself on
the offered mat, and nervously fingered the golden-fringed
ends of the chuddah he wore around his neck.
A few moments of silence, and then he spoke, and as he did so,
he wept. He
talked of her who was no longer there; of himself, who had
been one of her bitterest foes – the hidden meaning of those
patient eyes; the explanation of that smile of hope.
One morning in the uncertain light of the creeping dawn, he
had followed her, unseen; and then again, and again, and
again. He had
stood at a safe distance, hidden by the thick jungle, and had
seen her on her knees as if in despair.
He had heard her cry out to God – the God of India –
his country – she had said; and he gazed upon her tears, at
first with amazement, and then with love.
They had fallen so fast, and had been shed for the
people of the village – her village, she had called it in her
prayer. And he
was one for whom she had prayed.
“And then,” lifting his large dark eyes to meet those of the
listening Officer, “then I believe that the God of that woman
was a real God, and I have made up my mind to follow Him and
worship Him. Will
you show me the way?
Please, show me the way!”
Did she know, she who gave her life for the Salvation of the
village? I have
often wondered whether God has told her.
Perhaps He has, perhaps He has not.
She may be waiting until the Hindoo himself will take
her by the hand in Heaven, and make it known that the seed we
so often think is never sown at all, is the deepest sown of
all, and the reaping is most sure, for our ‘labour in not in
vain in the Lord’.