Thought for the Day by Hayley Matthews (All Hallows)
Mary Ramabai, or Mistress of Learning as she was nicknamed, had an unusual grasp of Sanksrit for a young girl, which was how she immersed herself after losing both of her parents on a pilgrimage to a sacred Hindu Shrine. Mary grew up challenging traditional Indian culture, fighting for female emancipation through political activisim. Widowed very early in her marriage, and with a young child, Mary began to study the Bible and Christianity while continuing to fight for widows and women in general opening education and welfare centres. Anglican Nuns invited Mary to England for further education where she and her daughter were baptised.
On her return to India Mary’s work expanded to include unmarried mothers and young girls. She faced a great deal of criticism – from Hindus for denying her roots and from Christians from not trying being overtly religious in her work. In 1891 she experienced an evangelical conversion, adding evangelism to her social work. Mary founded the Mukti Institution at Kedagon near Poona. This small school quickly developed into a much larger institution where lower-caste women, widows and orphans found care and support. This demonstration of practical Christianity resulted in many of these women came to faith.
Mary remained a ‘Mistress of Learning’ until her death in 1922, translating the Bible into Marathi, the language of educated Hindus and lecturing widely on social issues. This extraordinary women overcame the loss of her parents, being ostracised over her lower-caste marriage; being widowed as a young woman, finding herself an almost destitute single parent, to become the founder of an educational and welfare establishment that transformed the lives of many women and girls who might otherwise have floundered against the rocks of tradition. Remember, whatever you have – or are – facing, God’s got you, and you’ve got this; with God, anything is possible.
- Let’s sit quietly and remember to Whom we belong; now let us bring our own losses before God and release them. How might what we’ve been through be of benefit to others?
- Let’s think about that one thing we’d love to do for God/others if only…
- Listen to God and hear what the Spirit says to you about what you are being called to do and what the next step might be. Perhaps start a skeleton plan on a piece of paper?
- Let’s pray for ourselves as we set about our first tentative step towards whatever we are being called to, and let us pray for those whom we are being called to serve, that they would know God’s loving gaze and unending delight as we minister to them. Amen.