The Witness of the Christian Hospital
Great Missionary Meeting, Keswick Conference, 1938
The story told by Dame Edith Brown of the growth of Medical Mission work, particularly in India, was inspiring and soul-stirring. In vivid words she drew a picture of an Indian Mission Hospital; it was all so plain and simple, its long wards with whitewashed walls and cement floors; every bed occupied, and groups of women and children round the beds, or squatting in the courtyard. They would see Christian doctors and nurses, foreign and Indian, going from bed to bed doing surgical dressings, or speaking words of cheer; there would be little crowds of women gathered outside the door of the operating theatre, with hands clasped in prayer, waiting to know that all was well with some friend inside, and eager to see the tumour that had been removed! If they went to the out-patients’ department they would see large crowds of women and children listening to the Gospel message before passing in to see the doctors. The Hospital was a wonderful new world for the women who stayed there, and after their stay they could never be quite the same. They took back with them to their homes the never-to-be-forgotten memory of service given to all in need, and of the wonderful message, so new to them, of salvation, not by their own works, but through One Who loved and died for them. And that new experience was not kept to themselves. They loved to show their operation scars to their friends and neighbours, and to tell them of the wonderful things they had seen and heard. Dame Edith Brown went on to say that things were rapidly changing in India. Power was largely and increasingly passing into the hands of Indians. The main task for the missionary was to prepare and train the Indian Christians so that they might themselves carry on the work in the Hospitals. They sometimes heard the question asked: Why should we take advantage of sickness, or of need of help, “to cram religion down their throats?” But no one would ask such a question who had ever given the Gospel message him, or who had known the hopelessness and despair of the hearts of an Indian woman without Christ, or if they had seen the light come into their faces as they realised the wonder of the salvation of Christ. Through Medical Mission work many were coming to know something of the power and love of the Saviour. “Let us press forward while the door is still open, and let us prepare for the time when the door may be shut, by training the Indian Christians to carry on the work. A shut door which we should have entered while it was open is a very terrible thing,” said Dame Edith Brown in closing.