Thursday, April 02, 2015

What a Weasel! (by Peter A. Black)

That derogatory phrase, “What a weasel!” has sounded in my ears numerous times. I don’t recall it ever being addressed to me directly, but probably someone has either done so or wanted to. Confession time: I likely haven’t called someone a weasel, but I’m sure it’s crossed my mind.

Negative name-calling isn’t an admirable trait, but imagine a Canadian couple naming their baby daughter Weasel! Ninety years ago a Canadian couple did just that – well, sort of. They gave her the biblical name Huldah, from the Old Testament. Perhaps they didn’t check out the Hebrew root meaning and association of the name, but admired the faithful prophetess Huldah, who helped guide her people and the young king, Josiah.

Let me share a little about this Canadian Huldah (sometimes spelled Hulda). Almost forty years ago I first heard about her and her late husband, Dr. Mark Buntain, and their work in India. They sailed there with their infant daughter in 1954, with a love burning in their hearts for India’s poverty-stricken, sick and suffering people. In time they launched Calcutta Mission of Mercy, and became well-acquainted with Mother Teresa.

Their mission provided food and education, medical aid and hope to the poor. Mark died in 1989, yet with her daughter Bonnie, Huldah – now at the age of ninety – continues to head up this tremendous work, involving hundreds of workers at a variety of levels.*

The following statistics by now will have been superseded: “Together [the Buntains] established a holistic inner-city outreach consisting of more than 100 schools, over 700 churches, a daily feeding program for 25,000, and a full general hospital that has treated 2.2 million people and provided free care to 880,000.”* And there’s much more.

Huldah Buntain. Courtesy: Impact Asia:

I learned from my colleague, Rev. Tim Gibb, lead pastor of Bethel Church, Sarnia, Ontario, that the intrepid Huldah was recently a guest speaker there, and inspired the congregation with her life and message. 

A paragraph he shared from her presentation resonated in my heart. First though, I should say that the lyrics of the hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,** became a constant companion and theme, playing over again and again in my heart and mind during my Lenten journey this year – especially the last verse.

Tim tells of when Mrs. Buntain’s husband’s body was being lowered into the grave in Calcutta, in 1989, she thought . . . I have given thirty-five years in service to the Lord in this place. Perhaps my time here is done.

A choir was singing and began that final verse: Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small . . . And as they sang the final lines, the words reached down into the depths of her spirit: Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Tim remarks that she’s still going strong, helping the people in that city.

Truly a gaze-raiser!
In our culture, calling someone a weasel denotes the idea of a sneaky individual who can’t be trusted. Yet, the related Hebrew word from which Huldah’s name is derived bears the ideas of sleek and swift; weasels certainly are. They're typically fearless, tenacious fighters, considering their small size. This is true of this woman.

Huldah Buntain responded swiftly to the call of God in her youth. And then as a senior, standing by her husband’s open grave, she responded without hesitation to the renewed call that came to her heart.

My being reminded of her at the conclusion of Lent, prior to Good Friday and Easter (Resurrection Sunday), brought me – also in my senior years – a resonating, confirming sense of divine call. The words that gripped her heart have gripped mine, too.

*Impact Asia website. Accessed March 30, 2015. Compiled also from several sources and information I recalled from many years ago.
** Isaac Watts P.D.
The above post was adapted from a draft prepared for Peter's weekly column, P-Pep! to be published in The Guide-Advocate, April 9, 2015. 
Peter's second book is a compilation of inspirational articles from his weekly column—on a variety of themes. These are interspersed with brief expressions intended to encourage.  Ebook edition is now available on Amazon.
ISBN: 978-0-9920074-2-3 (Angel Hope Publishing)


Susan Harris said...

This is so enlightening, Peter, considering that in Bible days the meaning of a name often described the character of a person. Makes me think the world's reconstruction of the term "weasel" focuses only a bad experience the one who coined it, had. I've never seen a weasel except in a photo that some seniors took of one standing on the bonnet of their car in winter. It was all white, camouflaged for the snow. So beautiful. This is truly an informational and inspiring post.

Kudos to Hulda and her work in India. We can indeed be re-inspired and revived in the older years, and though not there yet, my vision has been refreshed. Happy Easter.

fudge4ever said...

Oh I have always found that hymn so meaningful, and especially the lines you quoted which we sang this Easter Sunday morning. Thank you so much for sharing this story. It is challenging and so very powerful!
Pam Mytroen

Peter Black said...

Thank you, Susan and Pam.
Our reverent surveying - envisioning and contemplating the historic scenes of Calvary and the present and eternal significance of - the Cross doesn't leave us unchallenged or unchanged, does it? ~~+~~

Donna Mann said...

A woman's story of faithfulness and steadfastness. Thanks for sharing, Peter. I enjoyed reading the post.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

I read your post the day it appeared in my inbox but didn't have a lot of time that day to post a message. Thanks for sharing that with us,Peter. Its' true, we usually think of a weasel in a derogatory way.

Janis said...

A most amazing story and life. I love the connection between her name and her work for Christ. Thanks.

David Kitz said...

What an inspirational post, Peter.
To God be the glory.

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