Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 17, 2020

A Tribute to a Champion


Smita Singh was a champion for justice — and she was my friend. Soon after I led our missions ministry to engage in the fight against human trafficking I met Biju Mathew in India. Biju introduced me to a young lady named Smita who was engaged in both rescues and the aftercare of young girls who had suffered unimaginable abuse at the hands of evil people. That was the start of a wonderful friendship and partnership in the gospel with Biju and Smita.

Earlier this week, my friend Biju called me from India to tell me the unbelievably sad news that our dear friend Smita had died. The tears came immediately. I could not stop crying. How could Smita be dead? Her value to the work of the kingdom is inestimable. Of all people, Smita understood and embraced God’s passion for justice like few others. I have found myself wiping away tears many times since that phone call.

In these days of absolute chaos in our own country we need to know about people like Smita. When so many are trying to make a point with destructive and ugly and hateful behavior, Smita actually made a difference by embodying what it means to compassionately move in the direction of people in need, just like Jesus. I am grateful to have known Smita and to call her my friend. She will forever be one of my heroes in the faith.

With his permission, I am posting Biju’s tribute to Smita from a letter he sent to his team and co-workers at International Justice Mission. Please take a moment to read Biju’s heartfelt words that show the beauty of a life well-lived for the kingdom.

—————— • ——————

Dear Friends,

I write to you with a heavy heart. I woke up this morning hoping that yesterday was a bad dream. That I could pick up the phone and call Smita. And we could catch up on life and she could share about the joys and frustrations with the children in her homes.

Smita was a bold visionary. She pioneered IJM’s aftercare work in Kolkata in 2006. Then she launched out with an ambitious dream to start Mahima shelter homes, because she believed that the children deserved better than the current care that was being offered. Smita was unafraid to see hope in the darkness and put herself in harm’s way in order for that light to break through. She imparted this hope into every child she encountered, whether it was on a rescue operation or at her shelter homes. On recues, Smita’s calmness diffused through the team; it disarmed the angriest child; and emboldened police officers with courage to press on with the rescue. When taking the stand to testify in court, Smita’s calmness and reassurance would frustrate the fiercest defence attorneys.

Smita was the embodiment of courage and compassion. It exuded out of her. Her stubbornness was also unequally matched. She was a sister to me and we fought, loved and respected each other like siblings do. Smita could hold the complex. She was someone who didn’t over-simplify life, emotions or thinking.  She understood that life was rich with pain, sorrow, joy and love. She understood that to know pain is to know love.

I mourn with you IJM Kolkata. The city has lost a daughter, a sister, and a mother to so many. I will pray for her mother especially. Smita’s mother’s words at the funeral this morning continue to echo in my thoughts: “tui iswarer meye. Iswar tor jonno opekha korche. Papai ache okhane”  (You are the daughter of the Lord and the Lord is waiting for you. Your Papa is there…).

Smita selflessly fought for the freedom of so many and it’s hard to imagine this life without her. We mourn a loss that cannot be quantified, ache deeply as we try to imagine this fight without her and yet, we celebrate her life. Smita’s life profoundly impacted each of us; the city; and this country.

Let me leave you with this quote from Frederick Buechner that brings me solace today:

When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.

Much love to each of you,

Biju C Mathew
Vice President, Strategy & Operations | Africa & Europe
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE MISSION®


Responses

  1. Omar, so sorry for the loss of Smita in India. I pray that IJM will continue and that God will raise other “Smitas”. I also pray Biju and the team, for comfort during this time of mourning.

    • Thanks, Selim. Prayers appreciated as many decisions must now be made by our friends in India.

  2. Inspiration for the living. thank you Omar.

  3. What a beautiful tribute! I am so sorry for her loss. I know there was great work going on in India with the girls.I will be praying for her family, her coworkers and her ministry.

  4. What a beautiful and fitting memory of dear sweet Smita. I have so many fond memories of the wonderful moments and conversations I had with her. I’m still in disbelief that she is gone. Her beloved girls…. some of which we remotely tutor are shining examples of her love and devotion that she had for them. She was a gem and I will never ever forget her. Godspeed to you friend. Until we meet again.

  5. I am so sorry for losing the best women who had done so much. I don’t know her personally but when I saw the post of my friends about her dimish I was interested to know about the passion and work she did. And now I can say Yes She was hero for many and she is very best example for me. I’m inspired by everything I heard and read from this. Thank you. May God comfort her Mom.🙏

  6. I am so sorry for losing the best women who had done so much. I don’t know her personally but when I saw the post of my friends about her demise I was interested to know about the passion and work she did. And now I can say Yes She was hero for many and she is very best example for me. I’m inspired by everything I heard and read from this. Thank you. May God comfort her Mom.🙏

    • Thanks for reading about Smita. Although she has died, her story will continue to inspire others to love and serve God.

  7. My life got brighter after having met Smita and becoming friends with her. Her radiance and fierceness to love and stand up for Justice is and was inspiring. We did not get to see each other often, but we kept up through social media accounts. I am so deeply saddened by her passing but am in the next breath rejoicing with her in her homecoming- I can only imagine the embrace and words of
    Our Lord- she was a good and faithful servant. You will be missed Smita but I know I will see you again one day.

    • Thanks for sharing these good words, Vicki. You are right — it must have been the best homecoming ever as Smita felt the embrace of Jesus and heard the words “well done good and faithful servant.”

  8. Praying for you Omar. As we mourn with those who mourn, let us not forget that one day soon we will rejoice with those who rejoice!

  9. Dear Omar: what a beautiful tribute to a life so well lived; fearlessly and completely devoted to the Kingdom of God. I look forward to meeting her one day. Thank you for sharing Biju’s note. And such a powerful and comforting quote from Fredrick Buechner! Praying the Lord comforts your hurting heart, and all those who were blessed by Smita’s life and ministry.

    • Thanks, Pam. She was indeed fearless because of her devotion to Jesus. What a great reunion it will be in heaven 🙂

  10. Sorry to read about the passing of Smita. What I nice tribute to the impact she made while in the world.

  11. I was stunned one fine morning to get one phone call with the words ” sir sob shesh hoye gelo”(Everything has come to an end). My fine morning turns into tears. I remembered the bygone days when we have met and discussed the present scenario of India and her unending task to resolve it. Her appearance , her words , her zeal to fight against the odds with a smile made my heart to bleed.
    I went through her burial live remembering the benign soul , eart to earth , dust to dust to meet with the Almighty.
    May The Almighty bestow His best of blessings to the departed soul and patience to all attached with her!


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