Jebarbi Bai (ca. 1864-1932)

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Mystery and legend surround the colorful life of Jebarbi Bai, an early Bible woman (lay evangelist) of the American Mennonite (MC) Mission (AMM), Dhamtari, Madhya Pradesh, India. She was born into a Muslim home, received a minimal education, and married a Muslim imam (priest) who died a few years later in an accident.

Her first contact with Christianity came when she began domestic work in 1895 for Rev. and Mrs. F. E. Ward, American missionaries in Rajnandgaon under the Missionary Bands of the World Mission. She accepted Christianity in 1899 and continued with the Wards until they returned to the United States in 1910. She moved to Dhamtari in 1914 with her son, John (Haider), and began working for AMM. From then until her death she served as a lay evangelist in and about the villages of Dhamtari. She was a woman of rare spiritual stature, dressing simply, always in white and without ornamentation. Her eyes flashed authority and her voice was compelling. Old age was reflected in her face early, earning her the title "Ma" (Mother). She related well to all non-Christians, especially Muslims. Legend had it that she was 101 years old when she died; more probably she was in her middle or late sixties. She was an authentic witness to the redeeming and transforming love of Christ.


Information supplied by grandchildren.

American Mennonite Mission Annual Reports (1915-1932).

American Mennonite Mission Evangelism Committee file for 1922. Archives of Mennonite Church USA (Goshen, Indiana, USA): IV-5-4.

Author(s) John A Friesen
Date Published 1987

Cite This Article

MLA style

Friesen, John A. "Jebarbi Bai (ca. 1864-1932)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 14 Oct 2019.

APA style

Friesen, John A. (1987). Jebarbi Bai (ca. 1864-1932). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 14 October 2019, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 466. All rights reserved.

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