Edna Vawser – Missionary to India

Edna vawser

Edna Dorothy Vawser

I never met my Great Aunt Edna, in fact when I visited India, she was visiting Perth! But I now work for the organisation that supported her for many of the years she served God in India, OMB, now GMP.

What I am compiling is simply a long page of the memories that remain of the service Edna gave to God and the people of her beloved India. I have managed to get some old ABC Four Corners video so have a watch and read through some of these old clippings, sourced mainly from my Grand Father, Edna’s cousin, Harold Bentley Vawser and enjoy the history.

Affirmed by Churches of Christ Australia
Affirmed by Churches of Christ Australia
Profile of an Amazing lady
Profile of an Amazing lady
The press anounce OAM
The press anounce OAM
Edna visits Western Australia
Edna visits Western Australia
Harold vawser's notes on Edna's life for his bible study group.
Harold vawser’s notes on Edna’s life for his bible study group.
A report about the OAM's given to Hazel and Edna
A report about the OAM’s given to Hazel and Edna
Word on awards given to these amazing ladies.
Word on awards given to these amazing ladies.
Edna and Hazel recieve OAM in India
Edna and Hazel recieve OAM in India
Hazel Skuse writes about Edna's health issues
Hazel Skuse writes about Edna’s health issues
Joan Vawser tells of Edna's death to Harold and Phylis in Perth
Joan Vawser tells of Edna’s death to Harold and Phylis in Perth
Write up in Australian Christian tells all of Edna's amzing life
Write up in Australian Christian tells all of Edna’s amzing life
Australian Christian Write up page 2
Australian Christian Write up page 2
Epitaph Reads: This little life will pass, only that done for Christ will last.
Epitaph Reads: This little life will soon pass, only that done for Christ will last.

And in her own humble words…An article written for the OMB Partners book celebrating 100 years of missions work 1891-1991 from Australian Churches of Christ.

I Just Do Things
By Edna Vawser

You want a précis of sixty-four years of my life in mission service!

It takes more than coming to a foreign land to make a missionary.

In my case, it involved dedication before I was born and living as a child in the care of most loving Christian parents. It included sitting by the fire on a cold afternoon after Sunday School, listening to mother read the lives of missionaries like Hudson Taylor and Mary Slessor.

At an early age I was determined to be a missionary and I studied towards that end. When I was seventeen, mother took four small motherless children into our home. That meant upheaval to my stud¬ies and plans. But one day, when I could not leave the sick children so that I could play tennis with my friends, I knew that God had accepted me and that brought joy.

I first sailed for India, with Nell Morris and Andy Hughes, in 1926. I was a trained secondary school teacher and expected to use this skill, but I was sent to the Shrigonda Girls’ and Babies’ Home. Babies, bottles and nappies! I had been prepared for this under mother’s wise guidance. Accepted for what? God knew beforehand and prepared me thoroughly. Miss Cameron and I loved those unwanted children and the love has not abated now that they have become parents and grandparents.

In 1940 I was transferred to the Boys’ Home at Baramati, where I was told I would be happier. This was laughable. I went to the coast north of Bombay and walked the beach until I was ready to accept this new appointment with serenity.  How I prayed! Now I can look back and feel that 1940 52 were the happiest years of my life, spent caring for and loving the boys. Here God opened my eyes to the need for caring for TB patients.

After the war years a new group of missionaries arrived. I felt that my work was over and I had better go home and get a job and save for my old age. In 1952 I left India, as I felt, for good.

After fifteen days at home, I started my deputation work so that I could get a job quickly. I was unhappy, but each morning I would wake with this verse in my mind: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart. Lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” Each morning it was like receiving orders. I asked the Lord to do four things to convince me that he wanted me to return to India. That my mother would not need me. That I would have work not taken from or being done by another. That I could have a room to myself for private devotions. That there be an invitation from the Indian people, not merely be sent back by the Board.

I thought that these things would be almost impossible. When I arrived in Brisbane after visiting churches in North Queensland, there were four letters waiting for me. Together they met all four needs. Sent back to India by God! He does direct our paths.

I was soon booked on a ship to be in India by 15 October so that I could take charge of the Language School for missionaries run by the Bombay Christian Council at Pune. After that I was involved again in children’s work in the Homes and schools.

When I was 65 years old and about to retire, in 1967 a Hindu man said to me: “We have no drinking water in our village”. God gave me a caring heart and I went to Bombay to CASA (Church Auxiliary for Social Action). I was told to get plans and estimates and they would help with a Food for Work project to do water conservation in that village.

The first work started on 26 January 1968 and Miss Skuce and I are still building percolation dams for water conservation. More than 250 have been completed. Some big ones hold 15 million cubic feet of water when full. The Baramati Agricultural Development Trust was born from this work and has made a tremendous contribution for the poor and needy of this State. God is more than wonderful and he knows best.
He gives the health and strength to do his work and we can never. praise Him enough.

This is not worth publishing. I just things, hoping that people may be saved for Christ’s kingdom. The latest is rehabilitation for alcoholics, sending men to Miraj Christian Hospital for this. God bless you.


21 thoughts on “Edna Vawser – Missionary to India

  1. Hi Scott,

    My grandfather was Aunty Edna’s older brother. I grew up being inspired by her and met her at least three times. I married the grandson of one of Aunty Edna’s closest friends from College of the Bible. She and her husband were also famous Churches of Christ missionaries.
    I grew up in a family that was not Christian but came to know the Lord as my Saviour in my late teens and have walked with Him ever since. I then really appreciated the wonderful Christian heritage that I had through the Vawser family.
    I live in Melbourne. My grandparents and their family moved to Victoria from Adelaide in the mid 1950’s and stayed in Victoria.
    Our friend is Perth found this website when looking for a home church to attend in his area.
    Great work you have done assembling all the Edna Vawser information. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for your encouragement. I too have counted my heritage a gift.
    Wow Aunty Edna’s older brother, I am doing a family tree at the moment, what was his name? Was their father’s name Percy?
    Thanks again for commenting.

    1. I am also a relation. My grandfather was William Hayden Vawser, brother to Uncle Hal. My husband and I have also done missionary work in India. My husband 4 times and I only twice. We were at a Bible School in Vijayawada last year. There is so much work to be done in that country.
      I am of the belief that our ancestors came from Lille in France at the time of the St Bartholomews Day Massacre in the 1500’s. Does your information agree? I would love to correspond with you as I can really only go back to 1800 in March, Cambridgeshire with any certainty.

      1. my name is jane jeffries ne woodall,my great great grand father was micheal john athey vawser born in march cambridgeshire,in 1799 is son michael athey vawser had a daughter mary anne she married charles thomas sherratt my grand father.

    1. Dear Alexandra in Christ,

      I am Rajesh Bonthu, Preacher in India. I would praise God for giving you such a good heart to be a missionary in India. Me and our congregation are praying for you daily. Please contact me to my mail ID rajeshbonthu83@yahoo.co.in

      I can send you our quarterly report of our ministries in India.

      Thank you,
      In Him,
      Rajesh Bonthu


  3. Scott,

    My Grandfather was Leeson William Vawser and his father was William Edward.

    Alexandra, Yes it is inspiring. I was always impressed that Aunty Edna went to India and made it her home. She loved the country and the people.
    Thanks again Scott for honouring her.

  4. When I googled Aunty Hazel and Aunty Edna, I never expected to find all of this. This is an amazing website – especially the ABC video. It’s taken me straight back to all my childhoods in Baramati at Edna and Hazel’s house. They had it split down the middle. Hazel’s half was hot and bright and maybe a bit tacky. Edna’s was cool and dark and austere and a bit scary for a kid! Both of them were wonderful women, and being around them on school holidays included the most fantastic experiences because they were always doing something different. It’s hard to quantify the difference that those two women made in Baramati, or the difference they made to my life. I miss them both terribly.

  5. Wow Liz – lovely to hear that you knew both these wonderful women so well. I would love to hear your story.

  6. Thanks for all your feedback! In fact I never met this wonderful lady. But remain to this day very proud that she was my great aunt.
    I have shared everything I know about her, maybe others could add some memories on the comments here. Thanks for the comments folks!

  7. Dear Scott,
    Edna Vawser was one of my distant cousins. I live in the United States. We share common ancesters, who are John Vawser and Elizabeth Ann Southwell. Most of their children went to Australia, but their son John William Vawser came to America. My line is with him.
    I’m glad you put Edna’s photos and information on this website. I’m proud of her too and plan to add a copy of her photo to my family tree. I would love to hear from you. Carol Peterson

  8. Hi Scott im scott vawser as well i live in adelaide and am related to Edna and william Hayden vawser ,the vawsers were Huguenots The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France (or French Calvinists) from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Since the eighteenth century, Huguenots have been commonly designated “French Protestants”, the title being suggested by their German co-religionists or “Calvinists”. Protestants in France were inspired by the writings of John Calvin in the 1530s and the name Huguenots was already in use by the 1560s. By the end of the 17th century, roughly 200,000 Huguenots had been driven from France during a series of religious persecutions. They relocated primarily in England, Switzerland, Holland, the German Palatinate, and elsewhere in Northern Europe. A few thousand went further and settled in British overseas colonies, primarily in New York and South Carolina. The last active Huguenot congregation in North America worships in Charleston, South Carolina, at a church that dates from 1844 vawser’s have always feared and loved god.

  9. whenever I read this my hears filled with great gratitude for Edna Vawser madam what she contributed to india specially to baramati Hostel.My Father was brought in baramati hostel and never give up ti tell about the life she lived in baramati hostel with all student specially orphan boys.

  10. People often ask me if I have any family who were missionaries, all I knew was that a great-great-grandmother from what I understand was a Baptist preacher in America. Now I know there was a missionary in the far distance in Australia with whom I share a missionary heart. At age 13 I went on my first mission trip to Ghana, Africa where God showed me the gift and love He gave me for working with children and people from other countries. Since then I went on other 2-4 week mission trips to Trinidad, Dominican Republic, South Africa in high school and college and led a teen trip to Ecuador as a young professional. I attended Cedarville University as it was a Christian school that allowed me to do my student/practice teaching abroad–which I did at International Community School in Bangkok, Thailand. At this school that reaches the middle/upper class international residents of Bangkok from over 40 nations I taught first grade for three years. I was able to teach Bible daily and disciple my students for a year at a time and saw many of my students come to belief in Jesus as God their Savior–which I was told was nearly impossible. “Nothing is impossible with God.” Following this time I went to Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon and graduated with a Master’s in Ministry: Pastoral Care to Women along with Life Coach training. After a year of private Christian tutoring in my home town, I married a wonderful Christian man. Now I am living in Aspen, Colorado with the hopes of using Life Coaching and my ministry education and experience to reach the people here.

    I am honored to know of the lineage in the Vawser family and am excited to see that I have a bit of Edna’s heart and passion in me. Now, I know I have a missionary relative who displayed courage, perseverance, submission, and relying on God for guidance. I love those stories. I trust God is rewarding and honoring her for her years of humble work. Thank you for sharing.

  11. It is so wonderful to sit and read these comments as a result of my research and work around Great Aunty Edna. It is a blessing to me to be connecting to so many other Vawser’s of Faith!
    Thanks for sharing your hearts and lives in this little way…and people…if you are ever in Perth Western Australia, there is a place for you around my camp fire….actually I have a house, you can stay here 🙂

  12. Scott,

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. I am Amber’s uncle. Her father, my brother, Loren Vawser, has been in touch with a Stewart Vawser in Austrailia. We are desendents of John Vawser. Stewart has shared much about the family history with us, but we were not aware of Edna. I live in Gresham, Oregon and my father’s family live in Scappoose, OR.

    Again, thank you for posting this.

  13. I am the distant relative who sang the “Holy City” at Edna’s Memorial Service in Adelaide. My mother, Lorna (nee Rushworth) was a cousin and may grandmother, Alice, her aunt. I had the pleasure of meeting with her in the eighties when she visited Adelaide. I was amazed at her knowledge of Australian current affairs. I am proud to be related to such a wonderful servant of God

    Bob Angove AM

  14. Dear. brethren in Christ

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    Thanks and God bless you.

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    +234 8183334868

  15. I know this is very late. I was commenting on a blog about books in India and answering a comment. My mum met Hazel Skuce in Melbourne during WW2 and they remained friends til she past away. As a child when she visited my town when she was in Australia to talk about the mission she often stayed at our place and they would chat for hours. At JCE we were raising money for the Boys home and for other projects in India. I remember the Water schemes which was why I was doing a google search. Thanks for this post as It was great to read again about these special ladies.

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