Muriel Henderson - Testimony Concering Solai

(Solai was from India - she went in the work in December of 1971 and died in April of 1996)

Solai is a low caste servant girl. She and her mother were Hindus, and when she was about fourteen of age Raji, an Indian worker, and Jean Hart went to their village to have some gospel meetings. Solai was coming to those meetings, but the girls hadn't gotten acquainted with her, yet. In that country, a lot of different ones come in and are timid, and they go quickly after the meeting and we don't get acquainted very soon.

It was more so in Solai's case because as a servant, she was just there to do what everybody want her to do. They have to dress like a servant so that everybody knows they are, and they can't come and have free course in a home. They have no will of their own; they have no mind of their own. While I was watching the servants, I noticed that they would rarely ever go ahead of their master; always would just be following along behind, and when one job was finished, they would wait and stand at their place of service waiting for the next bit of work to be assigned to them. Their responsibility was to keep the fire burning, to work in the kitchen, and help with the preparation of the food. That servant could bring it to the table but never got any honor for what she did, and all she could do was bring the food to the table and her master or mistress would take it from her and serve the guests. There was a time when her work would be finished, but even then, she couldn't do what she was pleased. She would just stay there and wait, and sometimes if it meant she could have a rest, she would lie down in the place of service, and she would be there when the master would come and want her again.

Solai has been going to these meetings for some time. One day, she came to Raji and told her that her mother was arranging a marriage for her, and she wondered if it was all right. The wife of this man was coming to the meetings, and Raji knew that, so she said, “Solai, it is very wrong. He already has a wife, and you can't be married to him." Solai said, "Well, what is right then? I only want to do what is right." She was an intelligent girl, even though she hadn't much schooling, and she could take it in. After about three months, she told Raji that even though she didn't know very much about our God, she wanted our God, she didn't want to serve the Hindu gods.

There was only one friend in that village Josephine Fernandez. Solai began having little fellowship meetings with the sisters and Josephine. Her mother was going to insist on a marriage for her because she couldn't support her and she was too young to let go out on her own and work too much. She was afraid something would happen to her - she would go wrong. The workers felt it was best for her to leave the village and some of the friends in Salem took her in as a servant girl. Because she was intelligent, they educated her in reward for the work she did as a servant. Those friends told us that they never had anyone that was as faithful a servant as she was. She attended all the fellowship meetings and she got a good understanding of the teachers' training.

During that time, she was given the privilege to write to Raji and tell her if she really needed anything…when there was something she really wanted for herself - a true servant. The workers would go and sometimes take her out for a meal and visit. When they would go there, they saw she was poorly fed and run down, but she just did very best to appreciate what was being done for her. At the end of her teachers' training, she told Raji how much she had to be thankful for. She said, "If you hadn't left your mother and your people to come to us with the Gospel, what would I have today? And if Auntie Jean Hart hadn't left New Zealand and her people and come here with the Gospel, where would I be today? I would have nothing in this world." She was so grateful for what she had and she said, "Now, I would like to become like you and help my people. How can I become like you?" This was only June and convention wasn't until December when she could talk to Reg and tell him what was in her heart.

It's almost impossible for anyone to get work as soon as they are out of training, but she went and earnestly looked for what she could do. She found two children of a rich man, that she could teach and get 50 rupees a month for. Even then, she didn't get herself a new sari. She just saved her money and brought her mother to convention and got something for her mother to come with.

At the convention, she didn't know much English, so she took Raji with her and went to Reg and told him what was in her heart. Reg said that was very good and he appreciated it. He gave her the conditions of the discipleship and what it mean to sell all and to be a servant for Christ. He told her that, after the convention, she could go home and do anything she needed to do to settle things, and get rid of anything she didn't need, and when she was ready, she could write him and tell him and he would send her a companion. Solai said, "Oh, I am ready right now. You can give me a companion right away.”

So he felt perhaps he could, but then he said, "What about your mother?” It seemed that the old mother, two years before, had wanted an understanding of Christianity. She came to Josephine, and Josephine had taught her what she could from the Bible; so she came to the convention with a little understanding of the way of God and sent her in the work that He would look after her mother. When Reg asked her about her mother, she said, "God has answered my prayer for my mother.” That seemed quite in order with Reg. He suggested to her that she would take her mother to Raji's mother place and leave her, and that she would go to the village and close up the little rented house that she had - a house she only paid about a rupee (15 cents) a month for. It was only one room and it wasn't a very big room and a little kitchen attached. He said, “Go, and you bring everything that belongs to your mother's place and leave it with her, and you spend about three weeks and take a little time with her, and then after that I will sent you a companion.”

Solai left from the convention and took her mother there. She went to the village and brought back what belonged to her - a box of clothes, her hen, and two grinding stones - and it wasn't much more than a week, if it was that, when she sent a letter to Reg to say, "I have done what you asked me do. Now please send me a companion right away.” Reg said to us, "Well, I suppose we will have to send her a companion. What else can we do?" She was so eager.

Solai started the in work with Alma Johnson. A few months later when we were visiting Alma, she told us she had never had such a refreshing companion, a companion that did so much for her. She said there wasn't a thing that she wasn't willing to do and the qualities of a servant she had in a natural sense had made her a very useful servant of God. From the first thing in the morning until the last thing at night, she wanted to serve, she didn't want to go anywhere else. If Alma wasn't resting, she didn't want to rest, she felt she needed to be with her. She kept saying, "But I have to got so many things to learn." Alma would say, “Solai, you go and rest," and Solai would say, "Oh, but Akka (older sister), I have so much to learn and I want to learn.” Alma told us the only problem that she had with her was that she was afraid she might use up all her strength in her first year of the work, and she had to try and get her to just go a little slower and rest a little more.

At the beginning of that year, Alma asked her if, this year, she could learn to eat beef. She had been a Hindu, which worship the cow. They feel if they were to eat it, it might be a grandmother or their cousin they are eating (reincarnation). So, eating beef is very difficult for them - one of the most difficult things they could learn to do. Solai replied, "Oh, Akka, don't ask me." Alma felt, since she had so many things to learn and so much to adjust to, that she was rundown; so after six months, Alma said to her one day, "You have been willing for everything I have asked you to do all year. Won't you be willing for just one more thing? If I go to the market today and get some beef and make a real hot curry would you eat it?” Solai hesitated and said, "All right, but make it very hot." Alma said she made it hotter than she ever had before and as soon as Solai tasted it, she said. "Oh, but that just tastes like any other curry." She seemed so pleased to think that, since it didn't do her any harm, there was nothing wrong with it. She had won a great battle. Since then, she has been trying to help the friends and anyone that has a problem with beef - because if she can, surely anyone else can.

Things didn't go so well with her mother. While Solai had been able to adjust to the life of the work and accept everything as it came, it wasn't so with the poor little mother. She found it hard to learn to sit on chairs, sleep on a bed, and dress differently, when Raji's mother tried to upgrade her from the old servant appearance, and one day, she ran home to her village. Solai went to her sometime after that. Alma sent her alone because she didn't want the mother to feel that she was using any persuasion on her. Her mother wouldn't talk to Solai the first night, and Solai said, "All right, mother, if you don't want to talk to me, I will go. I love you because you are my mother, and I will always love you, but I love God more than you. God has called me for His work and nothing will take me out of it. If you love God and His people, they would love you and look after you, but otherwise, you will just stay here and die like a dog, and nobody will care for you.” Solai left mother that night.

The next day, she went back to see her again. This time, she was crying and wanted Solai to come back and settle down and have a family and look after her in her old age. Again, she told her mother she could never do that, and reminded her that God would care for her if she loved Him. That poor old mother stayed away two months, but one day, she came back to Josephine quite repentant. She asked Josephine if she would take her back and teach her all the things she needed to learn? So Josephine started little meetings like she had before - to sing to her and pray and speak to her and try to help her.

Solai and her mother were at the convention before I left and I don't think I will ever forget those two testimonies. Solai had learned enough English in her first year so spoke in English on the platform for our benefit. No one thought she would be able to do it, but she was determined to learn to be a true servant. She said something like this, "I was a Hindu servant in this world, and God sent two wonderful sisters, who loved me, and this year, He has given me a wonderful companion that has loved me. I was only a servant in this world, but now I want to be a true servant of God." The old mother had a part in a meeting later when she made her fresh vows known. She said something like this (it was in a form of a prayer as she is illiterate, and perhaps she may never be able for much more), that she had been a sinner and wanted everybody to forgive her, and she finished her prayer by saying, "And you know, God, I have only one child, and, if You want her for Your work, I am willing to give her as long as she lives." After the meeting she said to Solai, "Solai, I will do anything you ask me to do, but please don't ask me to leave my village until I can't look after myself anymore." Solai said she was at perfect liberty to stay there, and they would look after her as long as she wanted to do that.

Since then the battle has been won and she has had so much joy because of being resigned to the will of God. She lives in that village in a little house, and she goes to Josephine's for their meetings together. (Now Josephine has had two more added to her little meeting.) There are so few workers that they haven't been able to go, but Josephine has brought these souls in to have fellowship with her. She said to us one day, "If you workers can't come and have meetings here, I will have my own so I can have someone to have fellowship with." While she is not in the work in one sense, she is in it one hundred per cent.

Solai has been willing for so much, and she has had obstacles to surmount - obstacles of her caste, her class, and her situation in life, and feeling nobody had confidence in her. She could have been timid and fearful, and she could have had many wrong feelings. When I think of her just being willing to forget her self, give her best, and do everything to learn to be a servant of God, I just feel I would like to never forget it. If I forget a lot of lives, I would like to remember her life and example so it might help me to know how to become more of a servant of God in this world, and enable me to receive a little.