Mary Reed a Missionary Example for the lesson on Hardships: A Biblical Response to Difficulties in Life
Mary Reed, a hard-working and accomplished school teacher, responded to the call of God for missionary service and departed for India in 1884 at the age of 30. Mary had enjoyed excellent health all her life, but that changed almost as soon as she reached India, and she was shuttled off to a quiet location to rest and recover. Near her resting spot at a place called Chandag was the Mission to Lepers.
Mary had great pity for these lepers as she learned of their plight. Leprosy was a terrible degenerative disease which left its victims deformed and disfigured as their flesh atrophied and fell away. Known today as Hansen’s Disease, the disease is now treatable, but at that time no cure was known. No clear understanding of the spread of this disease was understood and lepers were almost always banished from society in isolation with other lepers for life.
Mary finished her first missionary term then left for furlough in the States 1890. While at home she had a recurrence of her health problems. While being treated for these she noticed a loss of feeling and a tingling in her hands. The final diagnosis: leprosy.
“Determined to spare her dear ones as far as possible, the heroic sufferer confided the nature of her illness to one sister only, and asked her mother and other members of the family to permit her to go forth without any special farewell, just as if she were coming home again the same evening. ‘We didn’t understand at that time her motive for not kissing any of us good-bye,’ said her mother, ‘and when the train pulled out of the station Mary was smiling and waved farewell, while the rest of us were in tears.’”
When a friend wept at the news of Mary’s incurable degenerative illness Mary replied: “I have not yet received my assurance of healing; perhaps I can serve my Father better thus. I shall have the joy of ministering to a class of people who, but for the preparation which has been mine for this special work, I would have been no helper at all; and while I am called apart among these needy creatures who hunger and thirst for salvation, for comfort and for cheer, He Who has called and prepared me, promises that He Himself will be to me as a little sanctuary where I am to abide, and abiding in Him, I shall have a supply of all my need. He has enabled me to say not with a sigh, but with a song, ‘Thy will be done.’”
Mary worked with the lepers until her death in 1943. The Lord allowed her 58 years of missionary service, 52 of them among the lepers. She accepted the hardship of an incurable illness and chose to faithfully minister to other lepers with the good news of God’s love and salvation. Mary Reed serves as an example to all believers of glorifying God in the midst of her hardships.
Heroines of Missionary Adventure by Canon Dawson
Eminent Missionary Women by Mrs. J. T. Gracey
Mary Reed: Missionary to the Lepers by John Jackson
Mary Reed of Chandag by E. Mackerchar
The Picket-Line of Missions by W. F. McDowell, et al