These true stories from India are written by Lillian Dirksen who served at Mukti Mission for many years. She wrote these stories for boys and girls everywhere in the world. Her hope was that these stories would help children to pray for children in India who are in need. Dirksen wrote, “Maybe some of you will be as brave as Ramabai in this story. When she saw the monkey steal the little girl-wife’s cotton, she made up her mind that she would help those who suffered, when she grew up. She was able to help thousands and thousands of destitute, sad, suffering, starving girls and women to have a happy home and to learn of Jesus’ love and salvation.” If you have children or know of a friend with children, share this story with them so their children can be encouraged to have strong faith!
A little girl peeked through the screen door of my office. “When are you going home?” she asked me with a twinkle in her eyes.
I looked up from the typewriter for a moment and smiled. “Soon,” I called out. She stood longingly.
“Come to my verandah tomorrow morning and I’ll be there to tell you a story,” I continued.
Praneeta had become my shadow, following me on the sidewalks, dropping in at the office on the way home from school and always full of questions, sometimes chatter, but always hoping I’d have a story for her.
The next morning Praneeta was on my verandah, her hair combed back into shiny, black braids. Dressed in a pretty pink dress, she was ready for school. But today, she first wanted to hear “Auntie’s” story. She picked up a doll and hugged it, sat down cross-legged in front of me patiently, longing for me to begin. I sat down in front of her and began…
“This is a true story that happened a long time ago. It is about a little girl who became a very important and special lady.”
“What was her name?” asked Praneeta quickly.
“She was called ‘Rama’ and when she was only nine years old, something happened that she would never forget.”
“Tell me quickly.”
Then I told her this story :
“Rama lived in a big house with her mother and father. Another family shared that same house with them. There were three people in that family – a man about thirty years old, his mother and his wife who was only sixteen years old.”
“As old as Charu?” interrupted Praneeta, “and she was married?”
“Maybe not even as old as Charu. But in those days little girls in India were often married to older men and were unhappy. Like many other girls, who had been married very young, she was not treated kindly.
“One day while Rama was playing outside in the yard in front of their house, she heard a short scream and then a shout. She peeked around the corner. The young wife was sitting by her spinning wheel on the verandah. Suddenly a monkey had jumped off the roof onto the verandah. It grabbed the cotton she had carefully spun, right out of her hand. Frightened, the little wife screamed.
“Her husband’s mother, known as mother-in-law, stood there watching and shouting at the young girl. She scolded her harshly for losing the cotton.”
“But it wasn’t her fault,” Praneeta said with a worried look. “Didn’t they catch the monkey and get the cotton back?”
“No. The monkey ran off into a tree, and then began hopping and swinging from branch to branch, and then from one tree to another. For him, it seemed like fun to unravel and play with the cotton.”
“I feel sorry for the girl,” said Praneeta. “She couldn’t help it.”
“To make matters worse, the mother-in-law called her son and told him his little wife had been careless. Then he began scolding the young girl.
“There were no schools for girls in India at that time, and so Rama studied at home. Her own mother had only been nine years old when she was married, but her father was a kind man and taught his little wife to read and write. Both Rama’s mother and father were smart. Rama’s father taught rajas who were kings in the areas where they lived. One Raja gave him an elephant as a reward for teaching him.
“Rama’s father was a scholar and people from many different parts of India wanted to hear him. He used to read to them from the books of the Hindu religion and teach them about it. He would take Rama and his wife along with the other three children and travel all over India teaching and reading to those eager to know more about their gods of stone and clay who had eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear. Since these gods could not speak, everyone who gathered at the temples to worship them, gladly listened to Rama’s father teach about these idols they called gods.
“On these journeys, Rama saw many other young girls who were being treated cruelly. They had been married to older men who had died. These young wives became child-widows, with no one to care for them. Sometimes people even cursed these little girls, saying it was their fault that their husbands died. Rama knew this was not true and ached to help them.
“Then a terrible thing happened. Famine spread all over the country. Many people died because there was not enough food to eat. Rama’s mother, father and sister died because they had no food, and later her brother also died, and Rama was left alone.
“When Rama was twenty-two years old, she was married to a kind man who was a lawyer. They were very happy and had a baby girl, but Rama still tried to help unhappy little widows.
“Then one day she found out just how those widows feel, for her husband died and she was left alone with her little girl.
“Some people blamed Rama that her husband died, saying she must have done something very bad which killed her husband. Now Rama realized more than ever what it was like to be a widow in India.”
Tears came to Praneeta’s eyes. “What did Rama and her little girl do then?”
“Rama decided to spend the rest of her life teaching and caring for girls who needed help, especially those whose husbands were no longer living.
“Taking her little girl with her, Rama went on a long trip on a ship sailing across the seas to England. Because the gods of clay and stone in India did not hear her prayers or do anything to help, she wanted to know more about Jesus Christ. Someone told her that He was the living God who heard and answered prayers. She also hoped to find ways to teach the little widows of India and bring happiness into their lives.
“In England Rama studied hard and learned many new things. She prayed to the Lord Jesus, making Him the God of her life. He filled Rama with love, joy, comfort, and strength. She knew He would help care for the unhappy widows.”
“Did she care only about widows?” asked Praneeta. “What about little girls like me? I was unhappy because my mother died and no one wanted to take care of me.”
“The Lord Jesus did not forget you, Praneeta. He put it into Rama’s heart to start a school and home not just for widows, but also for girls who were hurt, sad, and lonely.
“It was a challenge. Feeding and caring for many girls, hundreds and maybe even thousands of them. It would require a lot of money to buy food, build a large home, and pay workers to help take care of the girls. She wondered how she would get all that money.”
“How did she get all the money?” asked Praneeta, her eyes widening in wonder.
“The Lord reminded Rama of a verse in the Bible, ‘Is there anything too hard for the Lord?’ You will find it in your Bible in Genesis 18:14.
“The first thing Rama did was start a school in Bombay to teach young widows. As more and more girls needed help, she built a large home and school out in the country. There was plenty of room to grow food on the farmland. The girls could run and play and be happy. She dug wells for water and used the gray stones to build a large church.
“Another famine swept over the land just like when her own mother and father starved to death. She brought hundreds of starving girls and women to her home. God kept His promise to help her feed them.”
A puzzled look came over Praneeta’s face. “But how could God send enough food for all those girls?”
“He did it in many different ways.”
“Will you tell me how?” asked Praneeta.
“One day there was no flour to make bread, no grain to grind into flour. In fact, there was nothing to cook for food. Rama had everyone gather in the church to ask God to send them something so they could eat. While everyone was praying in the church, the watchwoman at the door of the big home called Rama out of church.
“Rama went with her to the front gate and saw a worried farmer standing there.
“A wheel has fallen off my bullock cart on the road right in front of your place, and the sacks of grain are all sliding off the cart onto the road. Can you have someone watch my grain while I go to the village and get someone to fix my cart?’ he asked.
“Rama told him some of the girls would watch his grain so no one would steal it. He went out to get help and did not worry about his grain.
“When the man came back with someone to help him fix his cart he saw the girls guarding the grain carefully and none of it had been taken away. He was surprised and pleased.
“Who are these girls?” he asked, “and what kind of a place is this?”
“We call it Mukti,” Rama replied, “because it means salvation. This is a home for hundreds of girls who have known much suffering. Saved from a life of cruelty, they are being cared for, educated, and are learning to know the living God who can save them for all eternity.”
“The man was astonished and asked her how she fed all those girls.
“We pray to the living God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and He answers our prayers. Even people in other countries are moved to send money for the care of these child-widows and other children who have no home of their own.
“This Hindu man had never heard of the Lord Jesus or a story like that and his heart was touched.
” ‘Tell sour girls to take the grain off the cart and carry it to your kitchen. If you are doing such a loving work for them, I can help a little to feed them.’
“Then Rama told him how God had sent him in answer to their prayers for food that very day because they had nothing to eat. Tears came to the man’s eyes, and Rama’s as she thanked him for being so kind.
“Then Rama went to back to the church and told the women to stop praying for grain and come to prepare it for their dinner! The women paused long enough to thank the Lord and then hurried to the kitchens to prepare the grain for cooking.”
Praneeta’s eyes were shining. “Now I understand who Rama was — our own Ramabai! I am living in the big home she built and going to the school she started! I wish she were here today so I could thank her. When did they change her name from Rama to Ramabai?”
“The mother and father named her Rama. In India when a girl grows up and becomes an adult, then `bai is added to her name because it means ‘woman’. When you are grown up, your name will be Praneetabai.”
The little girl laughed. “That is a long name.” Then she became serious. “When my mother died and there was no one to care for me, what would have happened to me if Ramabai had not started this home?”
“You, like hundreds, maybe thousands of other little girls would not have lived. We cannot thank Ramabai because she is in heaven, but we can thank the Lord Jesus and all those people all over the world who through many years have prayed for all the children here and send money for their food and education.”
“Do you think I could ever do anything wonderful like Ramabai did?” Praneeta asked.
“God has a great plan for your life, but it won’t be just like Ramabai’s. Let’s pray now that your life will be just what God wants it to be and that will be the very best for you.”