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The following statistics by now will have been superseded: “Together [the Buntains] established a holistic inner-city outreach consisting of more than 100 schools, over 700 churches, a daily feeding program for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!
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.