Thursday, September 24, 2009

In Honour of Evelyn

Yesterday was a very special day ! One of those days that will be recorded in my memory, on that page dedicated to special people.

But my story didn't start yesterday.

Earlier this summer, I was at House of James buying books to take on vacation with me. As I gazed over the many books in their used books section, one title stood out to me, "In the Wake of Martyrs".

It turned out to be one of those rare books that moves you deeply and doesn't leave when you put the book down.
The author, missionary Albert Brant, recorded his life among the Ethiopians whom he and his wife Evelyn served for 35 years. Reading the fascinating story, I also saw Albert's heart. He was truly a humble man abandoned to God, - a man of prayer who spent hours on his knees. Through his eyes, I fell in love with the Ethiopian people.
It was when I finished the book that I realized it was published posthumously by Albert Brant's widow, Evelyn. She wrote a Postlude, that she ended by quoting Rev 7:9 "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands"

and then she penned the words that melted my heart...... "You will find my beloved husband among the Ethiopians."

Reluctant to just close the book and put it on my book shelf, I noticed that the book had been published in Langley, not far from where I live. I googled Evelyn's name and a site came up connecting her with a church I was familiar with. I wanted to thank her for the years she and her husband had dedicated to bringing the gospel to their beloved people. Contacting the church, I was given Evelyn's e-mail address. I was so excited to learn that she lived in Abbotsford about 1/2 hour away from me. I sent her an e-mail and received a very sweet reply.
Today, I met her for lunch and then we sat in her lovely apartment and talked all afternoon! What a joy it was to spend those hours with her. Evelyn is a beautiful woman, 89 years young, with the most interesting stories to tell.

She told me about her introduction to the computer many years ago. When they had mastered the difficult language enough to translate the scriptures, they needed to have the New Testament printed.
It was Evelyn who drew the characters for the computer software and also designed the keys to facilitate the over 200 characters that comprise the alphabet. Then she typed out the New Testament into the computer so it could be sent to the printers. I held one of those bibles in my hand yesterday. I opened it at random and asked her to read me a portion. She smiled and read John 3:16.

A trained nurse, Evelyn cared for the people's medical needs. Her first 'clinic' was outside under a sycamore tree. The people quickly learned to trust her and came from far and wide for her attention. Later a building was constructed that became their hospital. She learned to do eye surgery and delivered difficult births.

But always their focus was on the reason they were there .. to preach the good news of Jesus. The believers grew in number and maturity. At the time of Albert's death there were 50,000 believers who called him their father in the faith.

Albert and Evelyn had only one child, a son, Howie. The greatest pain of Evelyn's life is that she was so often separated from Howie. Even today, she is separated from him . He is still in Africa.. his three grown children also serving the Lord, one in Jordon, one in Germany and one in the United States.

When I first entered Evelyn's apartment yesterday afternoon , my attention was immediately drawn to a large framed picture hanging on her wall. I asked her about it, and she told me the story.
(here is a photo of the picture)

The little child in the foreground, wearing the hat, is three year old Howie. The Brants had been in Ethiopia about 6 months - the year 1946 - and one day Albert and Evelyn saw little Howie talking to a group of people around him. He was 'preaching' , telling them the story of Jonah in their language. Albert got his camera and slipped around from behind and snapped the priceless photo. "A little child shall lead them" (Is.11:6)

I asked Evelyn yesterday what , other than the fact that she missed Howie so much when they were separated, was the most difficult thing she had to deal with in Ethiopia. She thought for a long minute, and then answered that there really wasn't anything difficult. She loved the people and loved the privilege of living among them. Ethiopia was her home.

I admire Evelyn, and I am humbled by the self-less love with which she and Albert walked alongside the Ethiopian people. True love does not notice sacrifices and that is what marks Evelyn apart from the crowd. She is not aware of her life being a sacrifice, only a privilege.

I am so thankful that she was faithful to the call of God. She has served Him well and I know that her reward awaits her.

I am so pleased to call her my friend.



Karin said...

Thank you for sharing that story! I was deeply moved by it - thanking the Lord especially for folks who sacrifice their lives in obedience to the Lord's calling. What a blessing!

Lovella ♥ said...

My parents knew the Brandts well. They were in the same SS class and had the privilege to hear them speak many times.

I smiled as you told the story .. .it is one I already knew but to hear you tell it. . .I was touched again. I need to read that book too.. I never have.

I love that you took the picture too.

Charlotte said...

wow, what footprints this woman and her family have left behind is just inspiring....and then for you to meet her and spend time with her.
somehow i think that you blessed her as you were blessed to meet her and hear her story. what a privilege indeed.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Wow. Thank you for the glimpse into a life that I would have otherwise missed until I got to heaven.

So many Godly books are published in the Abbotsford area. It is good to see such a small place publishing the greatest news ever.

Anneliese said...

Julie, Albert Brandt was one of my husband's favorite speakers when he used to come back from the mission field to speak at our church. His wife is a very sweet lady and I'm so glad you could meet her. As someone already said, I'm sure she was very blessed with your visit too. I will need to pick up a copy of that book as well.

Elsie said...

This is fascinating, Julie! What a wonderful visit that must have been. We have an elderly gentleman in our church (age 95) who is like Evelyn, full of rich stories from 60 years of missionary work in Africa. Howard B. and his late wife Ruth spent much of that time in Ethiopia, and I wouldn't be surprised if Evelyn knew them. There is something really special about missionaries from that era - they truly gave up everything to go to far lands, unable to communicate or travel back home easily. I love the picture of little Howie preaching! What a legacy.

Marg said...

Thank-you Thank-you Julie for your uplifting post. How wonderful for you to have the experience and opportunity to meet with Evelyn.
That photo of little priceless.
No wonder one gets so excited to share such inspirational moments.
What a tribute. We have so much to learn from that generation.
Once again I miss my MOM!

Betty said...

What a beautiful review and a special tribute to an inspiring woman! Amazing what this family has done and how many sacrifices they have made. Without noticing!
I will have to see if I can find that book somewhere. Sounds fascinating!

Anonymous said...

What a blessing you both had today as you shared your lives. Evelyn is a friend of my parents and of my parents in law. My husbands relatives and the Brandt's served in Ethiopia for years and years together. They and Howie are always spoken of very highly. What a legacy of servanthood they have left. I'm delighted that you had this occasion to visit together. Kathy

Vicki said...

Oh, Julie...what a beautifully moving story! It gave me what a dear friend calls "Holy Ghost bumps" (rather than goosebumps). I'm sure your visit blessed her as much as it did you. I'm always overwhelmed when I hear of someone who allows God to use them and work through them to this extent. Thank you for sharing this!

Bev said...

Thanks for sharing this very inspiring story. I am totally impressed that Mrs. Brandt is a servant of God who used the best of tools - computer technology - when others were still resistant to changes.