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”!
Her Story/My Story:
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.
Bible Study: Living in "Eden"
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.
Serving the Master joyfully,
“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,