COVID-19 & Mahima

Mahima – a Hindi word that means greatness, glorious; a person who loves you till the end, who will never hurt or do any wrong to you, who will forgive you for anything.

– John Hugh

In 2013, I was privileged to meet Smita Singh in Kolkata, India.  She was serving with JKPS Ministries, a Christian ministry working across Kolkata and the state of Bengal, training pastors, planting churches, caring for girls rescued from sex-trafficking and their children.  Smita gave leadership to the ministry for rescued girls.  She administered and shepherded after-care shelters for girls.  These shelters are homes, homes from the scourge of sex trafficking.  The girls were tender and vulnerable in age and heart.  Smita became a surrogate mother for so many.

Smita passed away last month from Covid-19.   Her passing has affected and devastated many.  I write this as a tribute for Smita, a testimony to her work, and to give perspective of what we all face in this time.

We are moving to Paris to serve churches already existing and to plant a new church.  The foundation of this move was built by ministry experiences abroad:  in France, Denmark, Italy, Honduras, United Arab Emirates, and in India.  I’ve been fortunate to travel to India four times.  My first trip was with a friend and mentor to the city of Hyderabad, where we helped establish a Christian school for children who lived in the slums.  Then to Kolkata, where I saw the ministry of JKPS, met Smita, and visited the after-care shelter homes she helped oversee.

Smita gave leadership to these homes for girls, girls who had been abandoned and sold, sometimes by their own families.  These girls were objects of possession and economic gain.  In Smita’s care, after being rescued and housed in safe harbors, these young women had a room, a bed, meals, and most importantly, a place to heal – physically, emotionally, and most of all spiritually.  Smita orchestrated this healing.  She consoled and tenderly cared for deep wounds.

By cultivating the girls’ God-given gifts, she helped them uncover new purpose.  Their artistic skills of sewing, knitting, dancing, and painting let the shapes & colors of their imaginations unfold into hand-crafted works of art.  By introducing many to the Bible, she showed them faith.  They had a place & a means to channel first their wounding, and subsequently their hopes, their dreams, and their desire for love.  They began to feel and experience love together in a safe community.

I witnessed the results of this love.  Young girls, slowly and steadily, becoming whole again, believing in new life, experiencing the wonder and promise of new, resurrected horizons.

These after-care shelters were called Mahima homes.  Mahima in Hindi means greatness, glorious.  The girls not only saw, but were respected and loved as glorious and great in God’s eyes and to others.  Mahima also means a person who loves you to the end, who will never hurt or wrong you, one who respects you and forgives you for anything.  As Smita let every girl know they were mahima (glorious, great), she too became mahima (loving to the end).  Her life and work was mahima – countless acts of love to those who had known little, if any unconditional love at all.  She loved until her work on earth was complete.  She fostered a community of mahima love that carries on.

We must remember this.  Across all tribes and tongues, God, in His great love, sent a Rescuer who loves us unconditionally, forgives us for anything, and sees us glorious in His eyes.  We can become powerful agents of mahima love.  Smita was and we can too.

And some, rightly, have lingering questions.  How can a great, glorious God let someone leave us when she was doing good for so many and has so much more time to give?  The truth is, we do not know fully in the here and now.  In the sureness and serenity of faith, mystery remains.  As Paul writes of unconditional love to the church in Corinth, he addresses this mystery:  “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.  Now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love – but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:12-13).  

There are things we can fully know now:  “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).  God is doing a work in individuals and in this world.  The goodness is unwavering.  He will bring it to completion in His time.  In the time we have, we can know He is doing a work in us, for our good and to His glory, that will have real consequences for tomorrow and for eternity.

Smita’s work on earth is complete.  God’s work through her continues in the here and now.  It carries on through others – those serving in Kolkata, the girls she helped to envision a new life, and others who witnessed this ministry from afar.  God’s work in her continues for eternity.   For believers living amidst any pandemic or persecution, we can know the love of Christ, personally, globally, eternally.  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.  Then the one seated on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new'” (Revelation 21:4-5).

God is always making everything new.  He is always giving new life.  As we sit with much uncertainty and death around us due to COVID-19 and ancillary effects, we cannot lose sight of our wide lens of purpose.   In her passing, Smita reminds us there is still new life for the girls in Kolkata.  There is new life for Smita as she departs this world for another.  There is new life for us as we look keenly around us for ways to live mahima.

Who can you treat as glorious and great?   Who doesn’t feel worthy or has been left behind, lost, or last to others?  Who can you love to the end?  Who will you never intentionally hurt nor wrong, and will forgive for anything?  If you don’t have mahima in your life, you are missing the greatest news in the world.  It’s not a Sunday school answer or televangelist soundbite.   Jesus is real.  We may not realize it, but our lives depend on Him totally.   We can find a way to love to the end – no matter the worldly outcome.



Yes, we are still planning to move to Paris this Fall 2020.  Thank you to our partners so far!  We are humbled by those who are supporting us.   We are committed to this mission, regardless of a pandemic or other deterrents.  If you are interested in partnering, join us in our journey today.


 Be sure to check out our social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) for more pictures.  Browse our Travel & Arts and Culture posts, share this post, or leave a comment below.


We are starting a weekly video devotion along with a written devotion.  As we grow this section of our blog, be on the lookout for a YouTube channel for The Tates in Paris.


Don’t forget to subscribe, so you won’t miss our next post.

Previous Post

Where Do We Go From Here?

Next Post

Crossing Cultures

Leave a comment!