Helen Ewan – Fragrance of Christ

“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:5-7).

At the same time that I was saved during a mighty movement of God in my city of Glasgow, Scotland, a girl about the same age was also saved. Her name was Helen Ewan.

Helen Ewan was just a slip of a girl. Nevertheless, at the very threshold of her new life in Christ, she crowned Him as absolute Lord and was thus filled with the Holy Spirit. She had accepted the invitation of her Lord to “drink abundantly” (Song 5:1).

“…If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive…)” (John 7:37-39a).

The torrents of living water simply began to flow from Helen’s life.

Pleasing God

Helen Ewan was born around 1910 into an ordinary working-class family. She was the only child. Both of her parents loved Christ supremely. The blessed Son of God was the center around which the whole household revolved.

They lived for only one thing and that was to please God in every detail of their lives. Three well-marked Bibles were always conspicuous in their living room when I visited them.

God’s Radiant Glory

After her conversion at the age of fourteen, Helen’s whole personality was radiant with the glory of the Lord. As she studied the Word of God, under the illuminating guidance of the Holy Spirit, He took of the treasures of the Lord Jesus and revealed them unto her (John 16:13-15). This made her heart dance for joy.

Many times she would stop Christians on the street and, with radiant face. She would tell of some choice portion of Scripture where she had found some new picture of her blessed Redeemer.

These friends often left her presence weeping. They said, “We have seen Jesus; we have looked into His glorious face.” The awe of God remained upon their souls throughout the rest of the day.

It was at such times she stood out as a solitary figure, so far removed from the rest of us. She knew the Lord in such a deep, intimate way. Many testified that just her passing smile, or her cheery, “Good day, God bless you,” was an uplifting tonic to them.

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Communion with the Lord

Helen Ewan arose each morning around five o’clock to commune with her Lord. She would not put on the heat in her cold little room or seek to make herself comfortable in any way, feeling she could be more alert in the cold.

And besides, those for whom she would be praying in foreign lands were not sitting in comfort.

Helen would begin her communion with praise and worship. She then read the Word of God to warm her heart. She remembered the words of her fellow-Scot, R. Murray M’Cheyne, “It is the look that saves, but it is the gaze that sanctifies.” Helen gazed with rapture into the face of her Lord.

Then would follow her ministry of intercession. She prayed for her friends and family, for her assembly, for hundreds of missionaries on the foreign fields She would also remember her prayer ministry for the unsaved.

She had a list of unsaved persons to whom she had testified and for whom she prayed daily until they were born again.

Ernest Intercession for lost souls

Her yearnings after the salvation of the lost were awesome to behold. The reason God gave her so many souls among rich and poor, young and old, illiterate and intelligent, was that she agonized for them in earnest intercession inside the veil (Isa. 66:8). There was nothing vague or general about her pleas.

After her Home-going, her mother kindly allowed me to go over her diaries. There I saw that the petitions expressed in them were strong and definite. She gave the date when she began to pray for a person and then the date when the prayer was answered. These diaries revealed a prayer life that moved God and man.

All through the day Helen sought the Lord’s guidance in matters small and great. It was no small thing for her to shop for some personal piece of clothing. Also, she might be seen to pause in front of a store to seek His guidance before going in for a piece of ribbon.

She must please the Lord Jesus in all things and she would not be led by the traditions of men. That no doubt explains the remark of her friends that “Helen was always dressed right.”

Searching for lost souls

I have been out on the streets of Glasgow near midnight with my tracts on many occasions. There I would see Helen busy in her own method of personal soul winning. I have seen her on a cold Scottish winter’s evening with her arms around a poor prostitute, telling her of Jesus and His love. On other occasions she would be dealing with drunken men, seeking to lead them to her Savior.

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Moreover, in the evangelistic meetings she was always on the alert for lost souls. Sitting near the rear of the building, she would see a woman sitting alone, sorrow written on her face and weariness in her eyes. Under the guidance of the Spirit, Helen would slip over and sit beside her, praying inwardly during the whole of the service. When the lady arose to leave, Helen would leave with her, talking about the message and encouraging the lady to unburden her heart.

In this way, more than one soul who was burdened with the cares of this life and bowed down with the weight of sin and despair was led to know the Savior. Helen pointed them to the Lamb of God under the lamp post or while waiting at the streetcar stop.

When she entered the University of Glasgow, she used to walk several miles from her home to the campus each day so that she could distribute tracts along the way. At the same time, she could save streetcar fare and give it to the missionary cause. Needless to say, she had the joy of leading many students to Christ on the campus.

Fragrance of Christ

I was talking one day with two professors from the University of London who were believers. We were talking about dynamic Christianity when one of them suddenly said, “Brother Stewart, I want to tell you a story.” Then he went on to tell of a remarkable young lady on the campus of the Glasgow University when he was lecturing there. Wherever she went on the campus, he said, the fragrance of Christ followed her.

For example, a group of unconverted students would be jesting and telling dirty stories when someone would suddenly say, “Shhh! Here she comes! Quiet!” and this young lady would walk by, unconsciously leaving the power and the awe of the presence of God behind her.

He said that in the university prayer meetings they could always tell if this young student was present whether she prayed aloud or not…they sensed the presence of God in their midst.

I said, “Sir, that could be only one person; that was Helen Ewan!” “Yes,” he answered, “that was her name. She was a remarkable soul winner.”

Zeal for God’s Word

Another feature of Helen’s life was her deep appetite for the Word of God and a deep spiritual penetration into divine truth. She did not just leaf through her Bible for palatable portions which suited her fancy at the moment; she studied the whole Book from Genesis to Revelation. Thus she became a deeply intelligent child of God, even at the age of sixteen and seventeen.

Her feet were firmly placed on the solid rock of the Holy Scriptures. Even when she was a hard-working student in her secular studies in the university, seeking to make good grades for His glory, she still gave time to Bible study and meditation.

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This made her a well-balanced Christian. Though there was no time or place in her life for idle gossip or foolish talk, she bubbled over with clean humor and a zest for life. And yet because Christ filled the whole of her horizon, she sought to magnify Him through a holy life and sacrificial service….

The call to go “home”

At the university Helen was preparing herself for missionary service among the Russian people of Eastern Europe where I, myself, was later to labor. Already she was learning the Russian language in preparation for her life’s ministry. But God, in His wisdom and love, called her Home at the age of twenty-two.

She had been spending her vacation with an aunt in the county of Fife and while there was continually about her Master’s business. She was taken ill suddenly and as suddenly was called Home. It was so unexpected that it shocked us all.

I was laboring at the time in an evangelistic campaign in a city in northern England. When the news reached me of Helen’s Home-going, I was stunned. I could neither eat nor sleep. I was not alone in my sorrow. Thousands wept throughout Scotland and Great Britain. On far-off mission stations, British missionaries grieved at the news. Alas, who would bear them up so faithfully at the Throne of Grace now? Who would step into this gap and take her place?

O God, raise up others like Helen Ewan!

The secret of that radiant life

Now, dear reader, what is the explanation of such a life? How could a young lady, still pursuing her studies, never having preached a sermon or sung a solo, never having traveled more than two hundred miles away from her home – how could her life so affect people in all parts of the world that they felt a mighty general had fallen? The story of her life, translated into many different languages, has continued to bless many today. What, I say, is the explanation? There is only one explanation: She was filled with the Holy Spirit. Helen who was an ordinary young woman, became extraordinary simply because she surrendered all to Christ and appropriated for herself all that was hers in Him.

Culled from the booklet “She Was Only 22″ by James A. Stewart.