Project Canterbury

Mary Bird in Persia

By Clara C. Rice

London: Church Missionary Society, 1916.

Chapter IX. Mary Bird as a "Teacher"

AS a "teacher" Mary Bird is seen at her best, but not as a trained educationist, nor as one who had made teaching a study; she was rather one who had something to tell, and who by the forceful appropriate adaptation of her message to her hearers attracted many. They were willing to listen, because they believed in her; able to understand, because of her comprehension of them and their needs. In this teaching she thought of their spiritual needs and grasped their mental limitations. At the same time she was well versed in controversy and knew how to meet objections. She was, more than anything else, missionary-hearted, and to tell the simple story of "Jesus and His love" was her highest joy. She reproved sin and its consequences, and deplored the darkness of the hearts of men, but more by holding forth the true Light than by seeking to make darkness visible. There was more in her teaching that was positive than negative. It was for building up, not for casting down. She had confidence in the prevailing power of her message, and people had confidence in her simple faith in an ever-present Saviour. She felt herself most at home in the pioneer work of talking to large audiences ignorant of the Gospel. She has been known to say that teaching individuals was not her forte, though she often did it and excelled in it.

Mary Bird was "a great sower," and what she sowed others will reap. She was always on the alert to speak of holy things, was most apt in introducing such, and was so wise and tactful, so simple, definite, and clear, so truly taught of God in the message she gave. She was an extraordinarily adaptable woman, and could talk to mullas and "great ladies" as easily as to a crowd of villagers. Though she inherited this adaptable nature, it owed much of its versatility to training. All through her years in Persia she used every opportunity of learning the ways and thoughts of the people. It was not so much that it came easily to her to do all this, as that she had the "genius for taking pains." She was remarkable for bringing round ordinary conversation to spiritual things; at times she would stay an hour, or even two, in a house until it was possible to do so naturally. It might be a flower some one had given her, or a green leaf which she first admired, drawing attention to the beauty of the flower, or the life of the vine; or, perhaps, falling snow would make an opening. But she rarely left a house without giving some message about her Lord.

A Moslem land has such special needs and difficulties that to many they seem insurmountable, and nowhere is the need of the teaching and guiding of the Spirit of God more felt by those who teach. Mary Bird's own pen best describes her aim and her work as a "teacher":--

"I have just returned from one of my prowls round Isfahan in the course of which I paid nine visits. Days are so short, one cannot do more, that is if one wants time for reading and teaching. A man said lately to Dr. J-----, 'You pay much shorter visits than the lady doctor. Is it true she spends most of the time teaching?' Another man lately come from Teheran, asked which Khánum it was that they talked about in Teheran because she was always teaching. I am so glad the people are realizing what is our real object and work. I have met large numbers of women, and found them ready to listen. They call me 'the woman with the book.' While Moslem women are willing to listen and assent, often they have no idea of any 'way' of salvation but by faith in Mohammed, and very often at the close of an earnest talk they will turn and beg me to embrace their faith. They say that one who thinks and knows so much about the things of God must be pretty near the Kingdom, as they express it, i.e. Mohammedanism."

"There were twenty-seven women at service to-day, three of them were closely veiled the whole time. I had a very nice talk with them afterwards, but had no idea they were the wife and daughters of the head mullá in town."

"I visited (by request) four new houses, and had reading and prayers in each. They were all mullá people but were very pleasant and willing to listen."

"At dispensary to-day I had a hundred and sixteen patients. They were particularly quiet and nice, several who had been at first prayers waited for the second, which was very encouraging."

"Just as I was finishing the dressings ten village women came. I told them that it was the men's day, and asked if they had come far or could come again on Wednesday. They said they were staying in town for some of the Muharram weeping services, and so could easily come on Wednesday. The only one of the party who had been before asked if I had had prayers with the sick people, and was disappointed to find they were over; so I invited them to my little burnt Sakineh's room, and for an hour they listened to the story of Love so new to them."

"All through the past year the work has been making steady progress, more houses being opened not merely for medical work or out of curiosity to see a foreigner, but for teaching; and in the dispensary much greater attention is paid by all. Often those who have been before will tell newcomers, 'It is prayer-time, do not talk.' These women have such sad, dreadful lives, and are so ignorant. Several have told me, 'Our husbands say we have no souls.' "

"I was pleased when the mirza told me he had met some townswomen he knows, who had said, 'It was a very good book the lady read, we could understand it, and it was all true.' Since Good Friday we have found so many of the women eager to know why we had special services, that it has given us splendid openings to tell of our Lord's Crucifixion and Resurrection. At first they usually whisper to one another, 'He did not die, He descended from the Cross,' but the marvellous account commands attention, and few after hearing it have attempted to refute it."

"A most interesting visit was to a new house, to very wealthy people related to the Shah. The old lady told every one to be quiet while I read, and when a young princess objected, insisted on silence, saying she had heard that in the dispensary I told the women it was dishonouring to God if any one talked during the Bible-reading. How news flies, and what an added responsibility it gives to one's teaching. Ask that the Holy Spirit may daily teach me the messages He wants me to repeat."

"A woman who is a reader of services interests me much. She is always ready for a reading, and though she often listens for her neighbours and fits their caps for them, still she follows, and seems surprised and entranced by the Gospel story. 'I never read anything better than that,' is high praise from one who is supposed to be a good Moslem!"

"The little girl with the drawn-up leg, who was washed for burial, has quite recovered, and came with her grandmother to present me with nine loaves of lump sugar! All the family are so friendly, every time I go they want a Bible lesson; to-day they said, 'Promise now we have no invalid you will still come and read for us.' "

Mary Bird's power of adaptation is shown in the following:--

"Monday was the Moslem feast of sacrifice, when camels, sheep, or fowls are slain. One poor old woman I went to see was weeping because she had no sacrifice, so could not go to heaven. I tried to tell of a finished sacrifice and salvation, and she said, 'If it be true it is good news for me, but I never heard the mullá say so.' I had a talk with another woman on whether telling our troubles to Jesus or smoking the kalyán (water pipe) would soonest bring us consolation. It was piteous to hear her describe the soothing effects of smoke as the best, but when I granted it had some power to soothe, she listened at first carelessly, then eagerly to the news of a living, sympathizing, ever present Friend, able and willing to help. Later I went to see a child bride. All present were very friendly, and full of curiosity about our Queen, and what she does for the poor, leading to a few feeble words about the King of kings Who gives His rain and sunshine to all."

"I had such an interesting time at the house of the married daughter of the Imam Jum'ah. She was much better, so ten of her relatives had come to be treated, and after we had arrived at the end of their thousand ailments and fancies, I showed them the 'wordless book.' All the waiting-maids as well as the ladies clustered round me, and you might have heard a pin drop, and not an objection was raised."

"A woman came from the mulla's house to say his sister had burnt her hand and wanted to see me. The burn was nothing, just an excuse to send for me. The woman was very friendly, though slightly patronizing. Her boy of ten asked if I had a gospel. 'Yes, but you must ask your mother's leave before I give it you.' 'I am a boy, not a girl.' 'I know it, but without her leave you have no business to have it; God did not say girls obey your parents, but children.' I do not know which looked most surprised, but the boy was allowed to read aloud St. Luke xv."

"A woman at the dispensary asked how a bad vine could become a good one. I think she wanted to raise a laugh at my expense, as it was not in the subject. I said, 'God can easily do that, and if you like I will explain how.' The answers came from all round, Moslems and Parsis, 'Do, we can wait.' They quickly grasped and were interested in the idea of grafting, largely done here."

"In one house a very intelligent lady, discussing the difference between the state of England and Persia, said, 'Would that your King would come and take our country; then all would be right.' I told her I wanted Persia to have its own monarch, but also all the blessings we enjoy. 'Impossible,' was the cry all round the room. Then I told of England and how marvellously God has prospered us since we became a Christian nation, adding, 'God grant that soon your Shah and all your people may become Christian, then your land will be blest.' An awful pause. Some ladies looked shocked, some half amused, and the lady, before whom none of the others dare say anything, said sadly, 'It can never be, we are in the dark.' I said, 'In Ps. cxix. 105, we are told of the lamp ready, will you not take it in your hand?' Again a look of eagerness and hope came into her face, and she listened while I told of the 'Light of the world, Jesus.' 'It is all good, good,' she said. This was the first time she had permitted a Gospel talk. I am so glad about it."

The Moslem is often struck by the differences between the teaching of Christianity and his own creed. For instance:--

"In several other houses this week the people have been extra willing to listen, contrasting the Gospel with their weeping services, and saying, 'Those (the latter) are a great meritorious work, but your Book tells of rest and joy.' "

"The dear village lady was reading St. Matt, vi., and was so struck by it. 'No other teacher ever gave such an order, to pray in secret; why, we choose the best-seen place.'"

"A leading Bahâi who has gone through much for the sake of his religion, and is evidently thoroughly in earnest, seemed so struck by the love of our religion, and entered fully into the parable of the Good Samaritan."

"In a town house the Áqá came in 'to welcome the new lady to Persia.' 'The grass withereth,' struck him, and he said, 'True, this world is fading; it is just like a caravanserai, only a resting-place for a night, not an abiding place. The traveller must go on--but where?'"

"Had a talk with a widow about the Trinity in Unity, and the divine Sonship. The former she seemed to grasp, and did not resent the latter. 'Your faith makes you happy when your mother is not here; and you are not afraid of infection, or you would not doctor again. Our faith does not do this.' "

Mohammedans are permitted by the Qur'an to read the Bible, but the common belief is that our Scriptures have been abrogated. However, many are ready and willing to read for themselves, and nowadays this is increasingly done throughout Persia. The following are a few out of many cases in Miss Bird's experience:--

"At one house the husband was present. When I knelt to pray with his wife he knelt too, saying, 'Yes, pray,' and afterwards told me he was reading the Gospel, and saw and had no doubt that Jesus Christ was the Way, the Truth, the Giver of life everlasting, not for the body only but for the soul--'I have no doubt of the existence of a soul. These last few nights what should I have done without that Book; I must read more, more.' It was getting late, but I returned so glad, that I hardly felt tired."

"Sunday. Twenty visitors appeared at 5.45 a.m., and stayed for an hour's lesson, then one came to take me to her house where she had invited her own friends to hear the Gospel! and in five other houses which I visited they expected me to read and teach them. One was a Khan's wife and wealthy, whose husband wanted a whole Bible, which I have sent to him. I have given by request on the journey from Julfa to Yezd, four testaments, twenty-four gospels, fifty tracts, twenty-four simple theological books, and my own Bible and Prayer Book!"

"Lately so many have asked for gospels and been willing to hear them read. Last Sunday the women from the Prince's anderun could not come to church as there were visitors, but they sent a boy to ask for another gospel, as the one I had given before had been carried off by the eldest son to the men's apartments, and they did not think it safe to be seen carrying it backwards and forwards."

"One villager who had begged for a gospel last week came back for medicine and 'a whole Gospel (New Testament)--we have read this.' Five others begged for single gospels to take for their sons or husbands to read. A note was brought in, carefully sealed in three places, saying that the two writers were longing for testaments, but were afraid to come for them--would I give them to the bearer of this note for the sake of Him Who said, 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you,' etc."

The following extracts show the simple Gospel teaching which Khánum Maryam gave to the women, and of the way in which it appealed to them:--

"Forty-six patients, our subject Blind Bartimaeus--blind eyes or blind hearts?"

"Zacchaeus was our subject. The idea of a rich man taking so much trouble struck them. 'The rich like things easy and comfortable, the poor must "run."' Wasn't it a good comment?"

"Fifty-eight patients, subject: Touched or thronged? Rest for time and eternity from sin and suffering if we touch Jesus by faith. 'Rest is what we want,' all exclaimed, and listened well."

"Eight women came to class. Nicodemus was our subject, and one that excited deep interest, his difficulties being so like theirs."

"Seventeen women came for class and we had a very nice hour. They were so struck by St. Matt. v. 12 to end. 'That was written for us.' 'Not to swear! Why, we swear even when we know it is not right, to gain a pul (i.e. 1/8 th of 1 d.).' 'Women only to be divorced for sin? not for childlessness or ugliness?'"

"Nineteen members of the Bible class came, and twenty other women. My little Persian room was crowded, and I had to stand to command my audience, who were most attentive. Our subject was, 'Who will, and who will not be heirs of heaven?' St. Matt. v. 1-12; Rev. xxi. 27. Many seemed to think the followers of the true prophet must be saved en masse."

"The other morning they almost made me smile. I was telling of Christ in the Temple with the doctors, yet, in obedience to His parents, returning home; the women vigorously poked their children. When I endeavoured to show we all were children in the great God's sight and must obey Him, the children returned the home thrust! "

"The lady of the house, who had a tremendous fight with her children to make them sit down at all, when she heard our Lord's command for the multitude to sit down, which was obeyed, exclaimed: 'See the power of the Prophet! He could make five thousand men, and women and children without number sit down at once.' The miracle of the feeding seemed nothing as compared with this!"

"One woman said in the dispensary, 'We want salvation but have no money to go on pilgrimage.' A free salvation was more than she could believe. 'Good, good, but is it true?' she asked. I think many of these ignorant ones who love and trust up to their light will be saved, even though now they do not enter into the full joy of believers. Our Father knows that their sins are so often 'of ignorance,' but oh, how they increase our responsibility! A sayyid from Isfahan is preaching vigorously against our work, or any intercourse with Europeans. At present his word seems to be having no effect, and the Yezdis seem rather annoyed at an Isfahani daring to scold them. May God use him to stir up a spirit of inquiry rather than opposition; and yet I think it is best for the inquirers to realize what confessing Christ is almost sure to mean. Our subject for the Bible class to-day was the death of John the Baptist. All were very solemn over it, some of them evidently understanding the similar risk for any faithful witness among themselves."

Although Miss Bird could scarcely be called a scholar, she had a most valuable and workable knowledge of the Mohammedan controversy. Village women seldom argue, but educated towns-women do, and she constantly talked with them, and with men who had a great regard for her. While knowing that her message must be God-given, she felt the duty of being able to answer them, a knowledge only gained by study and by understanding the native mind. About this she wrote:--

"At their own request I answer questions on differences of creed, the Trinity, Christ the only Mediator, where we Christians rank Ali and Mohammed, etc. I was sent for to the biggest mulla's house. An old lady, extremely well-versed in Moslem arguments, attacked me on the Divinity of Our Lord and the Trinity. I tried to keep calm and declare the whole truth, but the fact that the mullá himself was sitting behind the curtain listening to every word, made me nervous. Would some indiscreet word of mine make him hinder or stop our work? Before leaving I suggested we should each pray that God would cast out all wrong from our hearts and reveal His truth to us. The mullá said, 'Yes, good, good.' "

"To-day the Dastgird women were here for three hours. They had brought a friend, who combated every statement, bringing up their favourite objections against Christ's divine Sonship, His death, and Resurrection. But when briefly I told the story of the Crucifixion and of our Lord praying for His murderers, she exclaimed, 'I have never heard of such a thing,' and became silent."

"This week every spare half-hour has been spent paying New Year visits; we have been most kindly received and often had a Gospel talk. At one house there were many visitors, all of high position. One, a Turkish lady, attacked me on our Lord's Sonship, and its impossibility in the face of our belief in the unity of God. All listened while I tried to explain its spiritual character. I had hardly finished when another Turkish lady broke in with the question: 'What do you think of our Prophet?' At once a chorus of 'Peace be upon him,' sounded round the room, and then dead silence. I sketched briefly amid murmurs of applause the period in which Mohammed lived, the Arabs and the evils of idolatry, and his life work in turning them from idols. And then said, 'While acknowledging him as a leader and teacher among his people, he was not the Saviour of the world,' adding that they needed to come to Christ for pardon, salvation, and blessing--were they coming? 'We know the truth, our Prophet has given us the Qur'an.' I answered, 'Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"; shall we not together pray that the one true God may cast out of our hearts all error and falsehood and give us His truth?' 'Amen, amen,' echoed round the room."

"The Haji's wife and daughter paid me a long visit. At first they said they were sayyids and had no need of a Saviour, but the story of His love riveted their attention and, later, they sent for me to their garden to tell them more. A Jewess rather took me aback the other day by saying, 'Khánum, instead of the lesson to-day I wish you would tell me about Christ's birth. Some of my relatives say the Virgin Mary had several sons, how then was it possible for Jesus to be the Son of God; if one of Mary's sons was so, why not say all were?' So without preparation I had to take St. Matt, i., but I am sure God gave me the words to say, for she seemed quite to understand, and said, 'I am glad that difficulty has gone, I could not see how it could be, or give any answer.' "

"A street dog flew at a poor woman, biting her leg badly; for several days she tried her own remedies, but now she comes to me every day to have the wounds dressed. The first day she asked me what proofs we have that our books, especially the Gospels, are true. Next day I tried to explain the Gospel plan. Yesterday she was keen on whether the sayyids would have a better chance than others of entrance into heaven. Romans iii. seemed quite to satisfy her, only she asked: 'What must any one do and believe in to be a Christian?' To-day her first greeting was: 'Before any one comes I want to tell you that I wish to be a Christian. Say nothing to any one now; when I am well I want to come and learn and believe, and then I will tell them all.'"

"The lady who gave me my kitten interests me greatly. She is much better read than most women. Her father was very wealthy and very pious, and at his death he willed nearly the whole of his property to the poor, as a meritorious deed to obtain a better place in heaven. She asked me if I thought this would benefit her too, and from that we went on to a long talk on the way of salvation, and to whom God would grant it."

"Another opening door is among the poor downtrodden Jews. The Áqá, who is high priest, not only for Yezd but for Persia, sent for me when his daughter was dying, and several times permitted me to pray with her to 'the God of Abraham.' Calling later, they told me they sorely needed more books for the poorer boys belonging to their school. When I took them the priest gave the Pentateuchs and Psalms to the boys, and put the Hebrew Testaments and Persian Bibles on one side. I said if they would not use them I would rather take them away as we reverenced them, knowing they were the everlasting Word of God. The priest dismissed the boys and then followed an eager talk, a Kerman priest and four Yezd ones begging the high priest's permission to have a Hebrew Testament and a Persian Bible, so that they might compare the Scriptures. Then the high priest asked me to read Gen. iii. and Psalm xxii. aloud in Persian, whilst they followed in their own books. I tried to point out that all the prophecies in both passages were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. This he vehemently denied, but permitted the others to take the books. Since then we have met several times, and I have no doubt by the way they refer to different passages that they are reading regularly. The last time I saw the Agha, about ten days ago, he permitted his grandchildren as well as several women to remain in the room. After the preliminary courtesies had been exchanged he said, 'We are ancient Jews and you are modern; we all belong to one stock. We are like two fingers of one hand, we have kept to the old, you have gone to something new.' I tried to show how much we have in common, our acceptance of the Books of Moses, the Prophets, and Psalms. Then very briefly I sketched our Lord's life, and he exclaimed, 'Do not say He was killed; if He were killed there is no hope for us.' I showed him St. John x. 18, and St. John xix. 30, and he seemed satisfied. I went again on Saturday afternoon as the women are free from work then; they are very ignorant, and so nervous, but some now welcome me as a friend. They were friendly and willing to listen, and again we united in prayer to the 'God of Abraham.' The fact of my having two Jewish names seems to be a bond of union. I hear them telling each other, 'She is Maryam and her sister-in-law is Hannah.' This week an unusual number of Jewesses have been to the dispensary and listened quietly to the prayers."

Another and most important means of evangelization in a country like Persia is in the villages, and Mary Bird was one of its strongest advocates. The value of itinerating is not only in the village crowds, but in the comparatively easy contact with all sorts and conditions of men (seldom women), on the long, slow caravan journeys along the roads that are the great arteries for communication. People of all kinds can be met with in a great city like Isfahan, but on the road there are no spies to report that such and such a one goes to the farangi; and in the villages the arrival of a European stranger glad to talk and read to the people, is generally welcomed as a relief to the tedious monotony of life. There are drawbacks where a brief visit only is paid, the first and last it may be for years. But marvellous are the results of the messages given, either by written or spoken words, and these are the more wonderful considering the difficulties which must present themselves to a reasoning mind. The contrast between Mohammedanism and Christianity is so great, the reconciliation so impossible. But God's Word can and does work without human aid; the seed must be sown by men but its germination and growth are divine. Most of Mary Bird's village work was done on journeys and during her so-called holidays; she would never take more than a fortnight of partial rest, and then worked in the villages, through the hottest weeks of the summer. Of some of this work she wrote:--

"I have been to some of the mountain villages where Mrs. White and I went last year. The teaching had not been forgotten, and the people were much more willing to listen. At one place a Haji's wife, whose children I had attended for small-pox when they were very bigoted, invited me to tea. To my surprise I found over thirty women there; they begged for a Bible lesson, and were perfectly attentive for an hour, while I tried to tell them of God's way of salvation. As I was leaving one of the women made my heart ache by saying, 'Now we shall not hear any more for a year."

"One day in a village we stopped to ask the way to a patient's house from some women, quite a little crowd of them gathering round us. One very intelligent woman asked if I worshipped both God and Jesus Christ. All listened so attentively while I tried to tell them of the love of the Father in giving His Son, and of the Son in coming to save sinners. Then the intelligent woman, who was a reader of religious services for women, offered to take me to the patient's house at the other side of the village. All the way she talked of religion,--how many Saviours are there? and so on. She was so keen for me to read at the cottage, and said she had a gospel of St. Luke, which some one had brought from Yezd, and she wanted St. John. She came back to the caravanserai to get it, saying, 'If you were staying a day or two I would come and sit beside you and learn the meaning.'"

"Last Sunday I had an invitation to read at a cottage near here, and found twenty women waiting and all so willing to listen, except one Yezd visitor, but she soon went to sleep, and we had such a good time. Again, later in the afternoon in a cornfield, the women were reaping, and they too invited me to their different homes, and I have been going to some each afternoon, always finding a welcome."

Before settling down to regular work in Kerman in January, 1914, Miss Bird paid a visit to Khabis, a city two and a half days' journey from Kerman. Here there is the ruin of an ancient Christian church. The Persians call it "the place of ringing of bells," and declare that it never belonged to them, for it faces Jerusalem, not Mecca. When will bells again call the people of Khabis to Christian worship?

Her own account of this visit is of great interest. She wrote:--

"I started on January 5, with a donkey load of medicine and one of bedding, clothing, etc., a servant, and a muleteer. The first day's march was across the plain, over a low spur of mountains into a much narrower one. . . . The mountains were all white with snow and glistened in the bright moonlight. I was the first to notice a fine wolf, of which there are many in these mountains. . . . Next day our journey for five hours was along the bed of a mountain torrent. Suddenly we left the stream, and for about ten miles followed a winding valley up the mountains, where oleander grows wild. . . . We halted for lunch and then began to climb the zigzag path up the mountain side. The view from the summit was magnificent, down three valleys with separate mountain ranges, all the high peaks dazzlingly bright with the sunshine on the snow . . . the sky cloudless blue and not a sound of human voice. I was never so struck before by the absolute stillness and peace of God's mighty works. What a contrast to the rush and noise of man's!

"We descended about a mile and rode to the next plain where we spent the night in a garden of fine date palms and orange trees. . . . We started at sunrise and reached Khabis at noon. There are over ten thousand inhabitants, but at first one only sees stately date palms, with a thick undergrowth of orange, lime, lemon, and citron trees. ... I hired a room and told the men to say I would see women and children. Thirty-five came the next morning, and the numbers steadily increased during the sixteen days I was there, as many as a hundred and fifty coming per day. . . . They were always most attentive during the short Gospel talk and prayers, and on Sunday, when there was no dispensary, they kept coming from 7.30 to 12.15; my room was never empty. No one brought up any Moslem argument but all listened attentively to the 'new news,' and the expression seemed such a terrible reproach. . . . I rarely finished dispensary before 2 p.m., and before I had finished my midday meal some one was waiting to take me to visit a patient or for a social visit, where again the people would listen to teaching.

"One old woman said she would like a reading at her house, but how much would I charge? When I replied, Nothing, only I should like her to invite one or two neighbours, she was amazed, saying, 'Our mullá would not come under five shillings, and then he must have tea, best lump sugar, fruit, and sweets.' We arranged for Sunday afternoon, and I found thirty-four women, and babies galore waiting for me under the shade of a great palm tree. They were so attentive. . . .

"Of course a first visit may cause much curiosity, but surely that is God-given to bring them within sound of the Gospel. I do hope some one may be able to go to Khabis next autumn or winter. . . The return journey was by the same road but under very different circumstances, one donkey fell and was lamed ... a bad dust storm came on and we had to take refuge in a place where there are a number of caves. . . . The last stage was on Saturday, the 24th. I arranged to ride on with my servant and let the muleteer bring the loads at his leisure. At 11.30 we had descended the mountain, crossed the mountain torrent twenty-six times, and reached the village where the road crosses the plain. I had only just bought barley when a woman invited me into her house to see a sick baby, the women from the neighbouring houses following me. I told them of Christ blessing little children, and explained how His blood can cleanse our hearts and make them pure as a baby's. The old grannie sobbed, 'My heart is not like the heart of a little child. I have been a very wicked woman; my burden of sin is very, very heavy.' I taught her St. Matt. xi. 28, and she had not quite perfected it when a man's voice repeated it correctly! Looking round I found the village men were sitting behind a big mulberry tree, and with them a wealthy Kermanwi. After many polite expressions inquiring after each other's honourable health, hoping each other's noses were fat, and that our shadows might never grow less, the gentleman told me I had been teaching for three-quarters of an hour by his watch! that he was glad to listen, for he was afraid to be seen listening to Christians in town. It was he who had said the text. The donkeys had finished their barley, so we mounted at once as we had twenty-one miles to ride. I enjoyed my lunch of bread and hard-boiled eggs as we trotted along. We arrived at Kerman safely at 8.30 p.m., tired, but very thankful for all the mercies of the past three weeks.

"The day before we left Khabis the Persian officer's wife invited me to tea, and showed me two rooms, with a large veranda between, and said that if I came again she would let me have them free of charge at a week's notice. If I cannot go I hope some of the mission ladies will, for when the people are so willing for teaching it does not seem right to leave them for years unvisited."

Dr. Emmeline Stuart, who was spending part of her furlough in Kerman, wrote, in May, 1915, about a visit she had just paid to Khabis and other villages: "This was a place Miss Bird had intended to visit last autumn, and in fact she was on her way there when stricken with her last illness, and I felt it a special privilege to be able to visit it in her stead. I was much touched, on entering the village late one night, to get a warm welcome from the people 'for Maryam Khánum's sake.' As I read to them out of the sixth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel and came to the words, 'Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . ,' they said, 'That was just the way with Maryam Khánum--she was always thinking about heavenly things and turning her own and other people's thoughts thither.'"

Behold! he lent me as we went the vision of the Seer;
Behold! I saw the life of men, the life of God shine clear.
I saw the hidden spirit's thrust; I saw the race fulfil
The spiral of its step ascent, predestined of the Will.
Yet not unled, but shepherded by One they may not see,
The One Who walked with starry feet the Western road by me!


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