Broken Bread

Broken Bread

Thirty years ago I read, Broken Bread, by John Wright Follette. The following poem has stayed with me all these years and I consider his book was worth reading for this poem alone. But there are other gems too.––R. Barry Tait


I am a flame born of celestial fire,
I bear a name, Insatiable Desire.
   I wear in heart an image all divine,
   Past human art, not traced by mortal line.
I hear God call to taste His heavenly power:
I give my all to burn life’s single hour.
   So let me burn through fetters that would bind;
   Thus will I learn and freedom will I find.
I shall return to Love’s eternal fire,
There shall I burn─a satisfied desire.
                                      ─John Wright Follette


The White Yogi

From the book, George Bowen of Bombay, “The White Yogi” by the Rev. J. Sumner Stone, M. D., Dec. 23, 1889:

Two young men just landed from America on “India’s coral strand” started out to see the curiosities and celebrities of a great city on the shore of the Indian Ocean. There were monuments, temples, and palaces by the score; there were princes and princelings, governors and generals and nabobs. But this morning we were hunting a prince, but not among palaces. So we picked our way through the crowded native district till we came to a broad street called Grant Road, and stopped in front of a low, one˗storied building divided into narrow apartments, two rooms deep. This was the office of the Bombay Guardian and the home of its editor and proprietor—one of the celebrities of India.

Americans and English called him George Bowen; natives called him the “White Yogi,” or white saint. To our timid knock the door opened and—I started. It was December, 1880, yet we seemed to be in the presence of a Huguenot, Geneva Calvinist, or Scotch Covenanter of the sixteenth century. The figure that greeted us might have been John Calvin or John Knox. Spare body, thin face, gray beard, narrow, high forehead, surmounted by rimless skull cap, thus the “White Yogi” stood framed in the door, bidding the strangers to enter.

How shall I picture to you that room? It was small, its furniture was of the plainest type and limited. The editorial table was a chaos of books, copy, manuscripts, and periodicals. Among the books, placed without order in the bookcases, I noticed a loaf of bread next to a dictionary, and a few bananas sharing a shelf with some works on theology and sociology. I realized that I was in the presence of a remarkable man, in the sanctum of one of the leading writers of the Indian empire, one of the most distinguished representatives of Christianity in the eastern world. At once there flashed into my mind the words of Jesus concerning John the Baptist: “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yes, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.”

George Bowen was a scholarly man; he was by birth and training a gentleman. He was widely read, widely traveled, a thoroughly trained man. When he wrote golden words flowed from his pen; gems of thought fell from his lips when he spoke. He had the brain of a philosopher, the soul of a poet, and the genius of a musician. I wish I could convey to you the impression produced by the strangely˗gifted man when he sat down at the organ to let his fingers “wander idly over the noisy keys.” He lived in poverty, yet he was rich—he had all that the millionaire possesses—sufficient. He lived among the poorest of the people, was a comrade of the coolie, yet he was sought by the cultured and the noble.

How we met George Bowen

The annals of the Church are replete with the names of missionary saints: Francis of Assisi, David Brainerd, David Livingstone, Mary Slessor, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, Mother Teresa—the list is virtually unending. With Edwin and Lillian Harvey as my parents, it is not surprising that I grew up, as it were, on these saints. They were my heroes and heroines—my standards of devotion, my blueprints of sacrifice.
But it was not until I was in my early teens that I heard about George Bowen of Bombay.

While browsing in a secondhand bookstore in Belfast, Northern Ireland, my father struck up a conversation with the owner who mentioned the author, George Bowen. “If you ever come across one of his books,” he told my dad, “grab it. It’s a prize.” Some years later, my father remembered this advice when he visited a skid row mission in Chacago. After preaching to the men, he was browsing in their library and stumbled across Love Revealed by Bowen—devotional meditations on the upper room chapters of St. John’s Gospel. Borrowing it from the mission, he took his treasure back home to England, read it to his family and fellow mission workers, digested it from cover to cover, reprinted it, and mailed several copies to the mission in Chicago.
This, then, is how George Bowen entered my life and our publishing. But it was not until after my dad’s death that my mother obtained the unabridged biography of George Bowen. I remember my husband reading it to her day by day as she sat in her recliner, by then well into her nineties and diagnosed with dementia. It was probably the last book we read to her, bar the Bible, of course.
As the years have passed and an increasing number of our readers have been blessed by Love Revealed, it has been our intention to make Bowen’s remarkable life-story accessible to them. At first, we attempted to abridge it but that attempt never materialized. And yet although this biography is very lengthy and written in Victorian English, it is a gripping and inspiring portrayal of the “White Saint” as Bowen came to be called. His intellect was mind-boggling in its scope and depth as anyone reading his books soon discovers, and his sacrificial life-style was virtually unparalleled in the history of missions. Christ and Christ alone was his passion, his consuming love, and his inseparable Friend.
While proofing the manuscript several times during the past months, I have become increasingly aware that George Bowen was entering the inner sanctums of my heart. In fact, I found it almost impossible to describe my emotions as I closed the book for the fourth time several days ago. What was there about this man, I ask myself, that has moved me so deeply? His rare combination of genius and spirituality? His faithfulness to his missionary call whatever the cost? His humility and sacrifice? All this, admittedly, has greatly influenced me, but it is something more that makes me, even now, want to fall down and worship my Redeemer. It is, in fact, nothing more or less than George Bowen’s obsession, and I use that word deliberately, with Jesus Christ! This humble and eccentric missionary has made me fall in love afresh with my Lord and Savior. And that is recommendation enough, is it not?
Trudy Harvey Tait
October, 2021

Writings of George Bowen available from Harvey Christian Publishers:
Love Revealed —
Daily Meditations — email for a digital file.
The Amens of Christ — email as above for a digital file.

George Bowen of Bombay by Robert E. Speer $24.95 — available by November 1st.