An American Heroine

London Daily News

A story even more striking and more pathetic than that of Father Damien is told in a thin volume of one hundred and seventeen pages—"Mary Reed, Missionary to the Lepers, by John Jackson, with an Introductory Note by the Rev. F. B. Meyer, B.A." (Marshall Brothers). Mary Reed is an American lady who went to India in 1884 in connection with zenana mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church. She worked first at Cawnpore and then at Gonda, but her health broke down, and she returned home in 1890 to rest and recruit. It flashed on her that her disease was leprosy. The doctors, one of them a specialist who had studied the disease in the Sandwich Islands, confirmed her suspicion, and, as Mr. Jackson says, "this educated, refined Christian woman found herself face to face with the appalling and paralyzing fact that she had fallen a victim to leprosy—the most dreaded, loathsome, and hopeless disease known to mankind." Telling only her sister, and without saying farewell to her family, she at once returned to India as a missionary to the lepers. She took it as a divine call to a life of service, and was speedily appointed to the superintendence of the Asylum for Lepers at Chandag in the Himalayas. In this work she has now been occupied for eight years. "Single-handed, or at most with a limited supply of native assistants, she has developed the institution under her charge from a mere collection of huts and stables in which some thirty-seven lepers were housed to an establishment with an average of eighty-five or ninety inmates, sheltered in substantial houses specially erected for them." The Rev. F. B. Meyer, who met her at Lucknow during his late visit to India, and had "more than one delightful talk" with her, says that "from the first day until now she has borne her heavy cross in a spirit of consecration which makes the story of her life one of the most inspiring in missionary biography." But the most wonderful part of the story is that though Miss Reed makes use for her patients of all the ameliorations and remedies that medical science suggests, she trusts her own case entirely to the healing efficacy of prayer, and is now, and has been for many months past, in better health than she frequently enjoyed in former years. So remarkably and unusually has the disease been kept in check that some medical missionaries pronounced that in her case it was not leprosy at all. But the opinion of the most eminent authorities is that it is undoubtedly leprosy, though Dr. Condon said some time ago that she was "practically healed." But there she remains, isolated from the world, among the Himalayan snows, with her band of sufferers round her, sustained by an enthusiastic devotion and faith which, as we read of it, seems itself to be a miracle.—London Daily News.

The Infinite
January 4, 1900

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