Sometimes people who work in children’s ministries can get discouraged due to the seeming lack of fruit or the fact that they have some children just a few times and then never see them again. Mimosa by Amy Carmichael tells the story of a little girl who was marvelously changed by just a short encounter with the gospel.
When Amy Carmichael was a missionary in India she learned that some little girls were sold to the temples for immoral purposes. Whenever she could, she tried to rescue these girls, to talk their parents into letting them stay with her instead. One such little girl was named Star. She had been with Amy for a while when her father came, bringing her sister, Mimosa, with him, to try to take Star back. He met and talked with Amy and Mr. Walker, the director, and at one point even stretched out his arm to take Star — yet he felt he could not move, that some strange power was preventing him.
Mimosa saw this. Some of the workers had a short time to talk with her, not even time enough to present the gospel completely. Mimosa asked her father to let her stay: he would not hear of it.
Those who had met with Mimosa longed for her: she seemed intelligent and interested. They lamented that they had not had time to tell her more. “How could she possibly remember what we had told her? It was impossible to expect her to remember……Impossible? Is there such a word where the things of the Lord are concerned?”
Something of what she heard about a God who loved her stayed with her. She knew instinctively she could no longer rub the ashes of her family’s god on her forehead, as was their custom. The women in the house thought her naughty or “bewitched” and beat her with a stick. She was bewildered, but she knew God loved her, in spite of all she could not understand of her circumstances.
After she was married at age seventeen, she found she had been deceived by her husband’s family: He was “landless [and] neck-deep in debt.” It was no shame to be in debt: in that culture: “”If you have no debt, does it not follow that no one trusts you enough to lend you anything, and from that is it not obvious that you are a person of small consequence?” But Mimosa’s character could not endure it, though she had never been taught against it. She encouraged him to sell the land in her name, the only piece of land he had that he had given as a dowry, to pay off the debt, and then suggested they would work. He was amazed at such a thing, but agreed. His unscrupulous elder brother suggested they start a salt market and that Mimosa sell her jewels to get them set up: he would take care of it. He instead somehow misused the money. She gave some money to her mother to keep for her, but then her mother would not give it to her when she asked for it: her mother was angry with her over the loss of the jewels that had been passed to her. “Let thy God help thee!” she told her daughter.
Mimosa went out to pray: “O God, my husband has deceived me, his brother has deceived me, even my mother has deceived me, but You will not deceive me…Yes, they have all deceived me, but I am not offended with you. Whatever You do is good. What should I do without you? You are the Giver of health and strength and will to work. Are not these things better than riches or people’s help?….I am an emptiness for You to fill.”
Thus her life went. She was a derision because she would not worship the false gods or engage in idolatrous practices. She worked hard because her husband would not. There were times when she was weak and could not work that God worked in unusual ways to provide for her. She had three sons; then a snake bite left her husband blind and crazy. In a couple of instances she received a bit more information about the God she loved, and she clung to it and to Him.
Meanwhile, Star was concerned for her sister. She felt led to write to her and prayed someone would read the letter to Mimosa. A cousin did read it to her, as often as Mimosa asked him, but neither of them thought to write back to Star, so she and the ladies of Dohnavur were left to wonder and pray.
A mysterious illness which took the life of one of her sons caused the neighbors to torment her further with their words. They felt it was all her fault since she would do nothing to appease the gods. Mimosa replied, “ My child God gave; my child has God taken. It is well.” Though weak, ill, grieving, and alone, she still told God, “I am not offended with you.”
The years followed in much the same way. She had two more sons. The oldest one was taken by the father (who had regained something of his right mind) to another town to work but, to Mimosa’s grief, required him to rub the god’s ashes on his forehead.
She began to long that her children should have “what she had never had, the chance to learn fully of the true and living and holy God and themselves choose His worship.” It would take too much space here to tell how God wondrously worked out the all the details to go to Dohnavur, even, miraculously, her husband’s approval. Her sister, Star, was strongly burdened to pray for Mimosa and discovered later that was just the time when all of this was coming to pass. Twenty-two years after she first visited Dohnavur, she returned. It can only be imagined what she felt as she soaked up Christian fellowship, learned to read, studied the Bible, was baptized. After a time she went back to her husband, determined to win him. He was in a less tolerant caste, yet amazingly he did not put her away. Her life was not easy. “But then, she has not asked for ease; she has asked for the shield of patience that she may overcome.”
“Is not the courage of the love of God amazing?” Amy Carmichael wrote. “Could human love have asked it of a soul? Fortitude based on knowledge so slender; deathless, dauntless faith — who could have dared to ask it but the Lord God Himself? And what could have held her but Love Omnipotent?”