The idea for a hospital for women in Vellore came from Dr Louisa Hart, a Canadian missionary working in Ranipet alongside Dr. John Scudder. When Dr Ida Scudder heardthis news, she had just qualified as a doctor from Cornell University and was looking forward to joining her father in India. The hard task of raising the money needed for the hospital – 8000 US dollars – fell on her young shoulders. A gift of 10,000 dollars in memory of his loving wife was given by Mr. Taber Schell, and the hospital was ready to start.
There was a great deal of excitement, planning and shopping for medical suppliesbefore the trip back to India. DrIda wasat the centre of all these happy activities, butthere was a corner of her heart that throbbed with deep anguish that no one was aware of. During the period of her studies, she met a young man whohad fallen deeply in love with her, and she too felt her young heart stir. But knowing the harsh life she had committed herself to as a missionary doctor, Ida felt that it would not be right to reciprocate her feelings, and with much sadness turned down his proposal. She longed to love and be loved and have a happy marriage like her parents, and children who adored their mother like she did. Her calling,however, demanded this sacrifice from her.
This is a good time to remember that the CMC Hospital and College were built on the personal sacrifices of not only Dr. Scudder, but of many others. Some who donated funds from faraway places;others like Annie Hancock , Delia Houghton, and Drs Jessie and Elizabeth Findlay who joined Dr Scudder in the early days. As the college grew, staff and facultyat everylevel willingly gave up opportunities to earn ahigher salary in other places;to send their children to good schools; to be near family, to have luxuries – just to be able to work at CMC. The CMC way of life – as it became known- involved personal sacrifice of some kind.
Self – sacrifice is a very old fashioned virtue today. The self, seems to be the most important part of one’s life. “How will this affect me? What do I stand to gain? What do I stand to lose? Why should I do it just so that someone else can benefit? ” are questions that flip through our minds as we are faced with choices that sometimes call for personal sacrifice.
Self – sacrifice doesn’t ask that we give of our excesses, or that which we no longer want – it asks that we give what is most precious to us to someone who needs it more than we do. It asks that we give up something for the greater good of others. Time, our presence, our financial help, our knowledge and skills. What helps us make these choices? I believe that it is love. The kind of love that enabled Mary to pour the expensive jar of perfume over Jesus’ feet.
As we celebrate the glories of the past hundred years, canwe ask ourselves this question? Can a Christian community like CMC today,thrive without personal sacrifices from its members? Knowing the amazing sacrifices made by those in whose path you walk, what are you prepared to sacrifice so that CMC can look forward to another hundred years?
Usha Jesudasan is a writer who lives in Vellore and has had a close relationship with CMC for over 4 decades. For many years she wrote the weekly meditation Let’s Think Together for CMC. She is the author of several books. Her two bestselling books are I Will Lie Down In Peace ( the story of her young family’s confrontation with illness and death) and Two Journeys (the journeys two women have to take when cancer enters their lives). She is also the co – author of Living In Harmony, a graded series of Peace and Values Education books for children from Class 1-10.