July 16, 2008

Anne Marie Javouhey

I just got home from a meeting with some of our church's artists. My new friend Amy asked if I've got a calendar person to share about. I had said I didn't think I have anyone I remember until next week. I was wrong. There's a woman on the church calendar for July 15, yesterday - Anne Marie Javouhey. She's known as a "woman with a mission". She lived in the early 1800s.

Her family hid priests during the French Revolution when they were trying to destroy the Church and Christianity. During the revolutionary years "Nanette", as she was called, taught local children, and always dreamed of helping black people, though she'd never seen any.

She was asked to serve in French colonial Africa, and successfully established schools, hospitals, and leper colonies. France then asked her to its dominions in French Guiana, South America, in an effort to bring it some measure of civilization.

It was an inhospitable colony. She was known as Mother Javouhey, "Mother of the blacks", and when asked how she managed to subdue the tough characters she dealt with, she'd reply, "I just acted like a mother among her children", "I was placed as a mother in the middle of a large family". She bought them their freedom, giving them land, and teaching them how to farm; educating by means of gentleness and patience. She based her civilizing work on the family.

Altogether, starting many missions, she traveled 75,000-plus miles - amazing considering the times and modes of travel available! What interests me, is that she was called upon to help in so many very tough places, even to Tahiti and India. Where men were brought in to establish governments failed, she had many successes and was often called upon, even by other countries. The gospel always met with success and prevailed.

"Let us take care," she said, "not to go faster than Providence, which wishes to be followed and not led ... Experience has taught me that the work of God is done slowly."
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