Catharine Brown: The Heathen Who Became one of Heaven's Heroes
Could a little Indian girl who could not read, could not speak English, was ignorant of the world, vain in her dress, whose mind, like the wilderness in which she had her home, was uncultivated, had little contact with civilized people, without any clear views of morality, and who had never heard of Jesus Christ, and would die at the age of 23, become a great hero in heaven? One did.
Catherine Brown was born a heathen, but died a spectacular saint.
She was born in Alabama, between Lookout mountain and Raccoon mountain, just south-east of the Tennessee River about the year 1800.
A year after her birth, a Moravian, Christian school opened in Brainerd, Tennessee. It was the first thing done by the civilized Christian world for the Cherokee Indians.
"I suppose that Catherine was a great example to the northeastern missionary crowd by the fact that an Indian person of 'savage birth'could be successfully 'tamed,'" said Cherokee chieftain Jim Skelton.
Her amazing life ended "the exact time when James F. Cooper's sensational and nostalgic novel 'Last of the Mohicans' described.
The initial school, was called Chick-a-mau-gah; but it later changed its name to 'Brainerd,' in memory of David Brainerd, the loyal friend and benefactor of the American Indians, who stands among the pre-eminent modern missionaries.
As soon as Catherine heard of the school she persuaded her parents to allow her to leave home and travel the 100 miles to the school. On the 9th of July, 1817, at seventeen years of age, she entered the missionary school at Brainerd.
After her conversion her trinkets and vain dress gradually disappeared Catherine exclaimed, "O happy day, when God himself shall be my joy!" No heathen ever used such words as these.
She acquired a deep knowledge of spiritual things through her appetite for reading scripture and prayer. Catherine frequently spent whole days in fasting and prayer. Before a missionary took charge of the girls, Catharine had, of her own accord, started evening prayer with them.
Her letters were like New Testament epistles; bring such blessings that they were published.
Catherine had a consuming passion to see her Indian tribe come to know Christ. Especially did she long to have her own people savingly acquainted with the Lord Jesus. For this object chiefly she wished to live. "My heart bleeds for my poor people," she said; "I am determined to pray for them while God lends me breath."
Her prayers were abundantly answered. Her brother John, her aged and venerable parents, and many others came to know Christ. Even through her death more than fifty Cherokees were added to the church the first year after the decease of Catharine, the majority of which lived a life resembling Catherine.
"Through faith in the Lord Jesus," says her first teacher, the Rev. Mr. Kingsbury, "she was enabled to bring forth the fruits of righteousness, has left a bright example of the power of divine grace over one who was born in the darkness of heathenism, and is now rejoicing with her Saviour."
Catharine's forgiveness was shown by her affection for the white man. The white men stole her family's cattle, horses and hogs. They were forced to cross the Mississippi and go to live in Arkansas.
Catherine was a great example to the northeastern missionary crowd by the fact that an Indian person of 'savage birth' could be successfully 'tamed' by the Gospel. Catherine's life ended just about the exact time when James F. Cooper's sensational novel "Last of the Mohicans" wrote about.
Catherine showed the world what Christ can do through the life of one little Indian girl.
Her passionate prayer was, "O let sloth be driven away; let the grasp of avarice be loosed; let benevolence assume the dominion; let a spirit of enterprise be kindled; let the messengers of salvation be quickly sent to every tribe that roams the western wilds."