Sunday, January 24, 2016

Her Story Silhouettes by Shari {#1 Evelyn Brand / Living in Eden}

Hey there, I'm Shari. One of my favorite things to do is read about or study the lives of those who have gone before us or who are walking beside us in this endeavor of being a missionary lady.* 

Their stories challenge me, encourage me, and teach me. My hope is that these "silhouettes" or glimpses of their lives will do the same for you.  

Each silhouette contains a small synopsis of a lady’s missionary service, a particular story from her everyday life that resonated with my own, and a short Bible study about a truth that I learned from it.  I hope that as you read these posts you might be challenged to find out more about these great ladies, that you might find something that speaks to your heart or helps you in your own ministry, and that ultimately you will be encouraged to remain faithful to your calling.

So grab a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy, and let me tell you about her story.

Silhouette:  Evie was born into a well-to-do merchant’s home as one of ten siblings.  Her family attended a Baptist Church and was actively involved in its ministries and outreaches. As a young woman she enjoyed the finer things in life like frilly dresses and plumed hats.  At the age of 30 she felt called to be a missionary.  Around that same time a young missionary from India, Jesse Brand, visited their church.  At the meeting he seemed to look directly at her as he described the filth and squalor on the mission field.  She heard an unspoken question in his words, “Could she, a fashionable girl, handle such things?”  Resolve rose within her. “Yes, with God’s help she could!”

She left for India in 1909 and was assigned to the Madras Plains.  At her farewell party, someone commented, “She looks more like an actress than a missionary.”  After many years of service in India’s hot sun, her skin became dark and leathery.  It was said that for the last 20 years of her life she refused to own a mirror. She gave up what the world would call “beautiful” for true, breathtaking beauty - a life well spent for the Lord.

After arriving at the Madras Plains, she found Jesse Brand had been transferred there too.  She fell in love with him and with his vision to reach the people on the five ranges of the Mountains of Death.  In 1912 they were married and began their work on the Kolli Range.  Besides the conversion of one dying man at the beginning of their ministry, it took many years for them to see any fruit from their labors.  Although the two went from village to village tending the sick, rearing orphans, establishing schools, digging wells, and preaching the Gospel, it took seven more years before they would see another convert.

In 1928, Jesse died of Blackwater Fever, but Evie carried on.  Twenty years later, the mission board wouldn’t let her return to the field because she was too old (68).  She begged them to send her back for just one more year. She had a plan. When the year was up she retired from the board and set out on her own.  Her son helped design a home for her that could be broken down into small loads that were light enough for helpers to tote up and down the hills of the mountains. Armed with what she could carry on her back she set off to finish the work God had called her and her husband to do.  For the next 24 years she worked tirelessly and reached the remaining four ranges and added two more.

“Granny” as she was know by everyone on the mountains, died in the plains on the 18th of December, 1974, at the age of 95.  The next day her body was taken back to the hills and laid beside Jesse’s as a multitude, whose lives were forever changed because of hers, wept.  She is a true example of a lady of whom it can be said, “She hath done what she could”!

Story & Study:  When Evie first met Jesse Brand, she did not consider him a candidate for marriage, but sometime after arriving in India she realized she had fallen in love with him.  Making her feelings known, she was devastated when she found out that he was already engaged.  Hot and shaking, she fled to her bathroom and poured cold water over herself. She couldn’t help but think of what a fool she had made of herself!  With a sense of despair and disappointment she felt her heart immediately grow dry.  It was then that she noticed some of India’s beautiful flowers that defied the hot, dry ground and bloomed brightly.  She whispered a prayer, “Let me be like that, Lord, flowering best when life seems most dry and dead.”

One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 51:3 which says, “For the LORD shall comfort Zion:  he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”

It was a pivotal day in my life when I realized that God never promised to make my life like a garden, or as the common phrase says, “a bed of roses.”  He did, however, promise that in my “wilderness” it could be like Eden - a place where needs are met, where the future seems bright, and where He would take my hand and daily walk with me. 

I remember one time during a particularly rough patch I was having with some missionaries I was working with, that I found myself saying out loud for the umpteenth time, “Why am I putting myself through this? I should just go home.” I definitely felt like my spirit was drying up and would crack if things didn’t change. I could see no end to the situation nor any solution. The Lord reminded me that my job was not to fix the problem. My job was to be faithful through it. I wish I could tell you that after my realization of this fact and subsequent refocusing, that the problem went away. It in fact did not go away, but actually intensified for several months before it was resolved. What did happen was that when I took my focus off fixing the problem and focused on just being faithful, I found I could not only endure the "wilderness" but thrive in it.  

When a person gets saved, their life goes from “wilderness” to “Eden,” and yet they may choose to stay in the wilderness state of mind instead of enjoying the Eden-like life that is now available to them.  God desires that each of us live our lives in a state of “Eden” no matter what trial we are going through.  As with Eve, nothing can send us to the wilderness faster than listening to the devil, trusting in our own wisdom, and acting on a feeling rather than a truth. 

So, what can we do to have that “Eden” feeling while enduring a “wilderness” time in our lives?  Isaiah 51:3 not only gives us the promise but also gives us the formula:

1.  Joy - True joy comes not from your circumstances but from the realization and
     acknowledgement that God loves us, that we are saved, and that He is with us at all
     times.  Ps. 5:11, 16:11, 35:9

2.  Gladness - As trite as it may sound, when we focus on the good things and don’t give 
     place to dwelling on the negative, we will soon find that we are not overwhelmed by the 
     “wilderness.” Ps. 16:9, 30:11, 51:8

3.  Thanksgiving - Taking time to thank the Lord for everything He is doing in our lives, 
     good and bad, helps us have a better perspective on the situation.  If I am being thankful
     for something, I cannot in the next breath be complaining about it.  Ps. 30:12, 106:1;
     I Thess. 5:18

4.  Voice of Melody - The best way to gain strength for a “wilderness” time in your life is to 
     read your Bible and spend time with the Lord in prayer. As women we have many things 
     in life - children, husband, work, housework, etc. that consume our time, and we are 
     blessed when we can have one hour...30 minutes...10 minutes a day set aside for quiet 
     time, let alone the entire day.  Singing then, I would say, is the second best way to gain 
     strength throughout the day and is an activity that can be done while cleaning, cooking, 
     working, playing with the kids, etc.  Ephesians 5:19 says, “Speaking to yourselves in 
     psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the 
     Lord;”  As a single person I often talk to myself.  I love that this verse gives me license to 
     do so and not be labeled “crazy.”

May we each endeavor to cultivate joy, gladness, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody in our lives and experience the joy of living in “Eden” on a daily basis.

About Shari:

I’m single. I’m 45. I’m tall. I like the color red, flying kites, and Peanut Butter M & M’s.  I love playing squash, scrapbooking, and playing games. I enjoy being a little “cheeky,” and I love a good Kakuro puzzle. This is starting to sound like a dating ad, and I am not looking.  No really, I’m not looking. 

I’m just a girl who dreams of doing something great for the Lord with her life.  I’ve had a few extraordinary days in my years of being a missionary, but mostly life is filled with ordinary days and mundane tasks and the desire to remain faithful where the Lord has placed me until He calls me home...heaven that is, not America...or maybe New Zealand if I happen to be in Thailand...or Thailand if I happen to be in America....real-life missionary struggles - where exactly is home?

I’ve been a missionary for the past 22 years.  I served in Nigeria, West Africa for 2+ years, New Zealand for 10+ years, and now in Thailand for almost 8 years.  And, yes, if you do add up those numbers they don’t add up to 22, but I always include my year and a half of deputation in my total number.  (Why on earth people don’t claim their deputation time as part of their missionary ministry is beyond me.  I surely wasn’t driving all over the country for my own health and pleasure.  I was doing mission work, promoting the work of missions, raising awareness, challenging others, etc., and so I count it!) 

Anyway, I love the Lord, and I love that He allows me to use my life for His service.  I count it a privilege and a challenge daily.  

If you’d like to know more about me or my ministry, please visit my website.

I'd love to hear about your story, too. Feel free to leave a comment, or friend me on Facebook, or visit me in Thailand.  I have a great guest room.  :)



I have chosen to highlight the life of these ladies because of what they have accomplished for the Lord not because I agree with their doctrinal beliefs.  As with all study of man, our focus should be on the character traits they bestowed in their lives that allowed the Lord to use them, how the Lord used them, the methods of ministry they incorporated that allowed them to be effective, etc.  We do not study man to get our doctrine.  Our doctrinal beliefs should only come from the Bible.  


“Brand, Evelyn.” Anderson, Gerald H. Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan, 1998.
Wilson, Dorothy Clarke. Granny Brand; her story. New York:  Christian Herald Books, 1976.
Wilson, Dorothy Clarke. Ten Fingers for God: The Life and Work of Dr. Paul Brand. New York: Paul Brand Publishing, 


Jen Bauer said...

This was wonderful. Thank you for sharing! I'm going to need to find those books!

Anne Williams said...

Loved this! What a great story to share. Looking forward to reading more!

Dee Helinski said...

Shari, I have known you for 27 years and I can proudly attest to your Godly desire and character! You are a great encouragement to all who know you and a faithful example of our Heavenly Father. As much as I miss not having you near here in the states, I am awed by your "grit". You are a true lady and a sweet friend. Looking forward to Heaven where we can sit and chat about all that the Lord has accomplished through you. Love you my friend!

Brenda Fricke said...

Dear Shari, this was such and encouragement and blessing to me! Thank you so much. I will keep you and your ministry in my prayers.

Brenda Fricke said...

Dear Shari, this was such and encouragement and blessing to me! Thank you so much. I will keep you and your ministry in my prayers.

Shari House said...

Thank you, Jen, for the opportunity.

Shari House said...

Aww, thank you, Dee, for your ever encouraging words. Wouldn't that be lovely to sit and have a long chat. I believe I've been to your house more times then you've been to mine. So, I believe it is your turn to come to me. Haha

Shari House said...

Thanks for that. I surely appreciate your prayers!

Chris and Carole said...

Thank you! Loved this post!

Shari House said...

My pleasure. Glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, challenging post, Shari! Mothers are to teach their daughters, but I have also learned much from you. My prayer is that God will bless and use this latest avenue of ministry to encourage all who read it. Love, Mum

Shari House said...

Thanks, Mum, for always being my cheerleader. Love you

Lynette Piper said...

I appreciate your wise words:) Being faithful, though not always exciting, is such an important part of the Christian life. Even serving on the mission field is not always filled with 'thrills' or lots of visible results but staying faithful is what God requires. Only God can give the increase. Thanks for staying faithful, Shari, even through the hard times. I know there are so many in my life that have encouraged me by their faithfulness and prayers. It means so much!! Lynette Piper, BWM missionary in New Zealand

Shari House said...

Where's a thumbs up when you need it. :)