Gentle Spirit, Fierce Faith


She came from a small village in Kerala. So small that it didn’t even have a train station. That was where my great aunt grew up in the 1930’s, the youngest of six children, among paddy fields and coconut trees, in a modest house with a tiled roof and a well outside.

Today, Saramma is a powerhouse of influence over hundreds of women who have the privilege of knowing her.

I always knew “kunjumai,” as we call her, as a wonderful, godly woman. I loved going over to her house. When we went over to spend the day, she would make my favourite chicken fry. There would be homemade spice cake and crisp ginger cookies. There would be marmalade from the Chinese orange plant that somehow managed to survive the summer heat of Madras. There would be pillowy dinner rolls, warm from the oven. Most of all there would be a house full of warmth, where Jesus’ love was tangible.

We would never be bored as children when we went over. We shared guavas plucked from the tree in the backyard, sprinkled with chilli powder and washed down by lemonade. We pored over the old encyclopaedias and photo albums on the neatly arranged bookshelves. We shared stories on the shaded verandah about life and love and God. Kunjumai was full of wisdom, but she never made me feel stupid or small. God was a very natural part of her life, as He continues to be.

He is in her every conversation, without a single sermon. He is in her every gesture, without a whiff of self-righteousness.

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