Tuesday, April 1, 2008

India's Christian Heritage

Many people are not aware that Christianity came to India long before it ever came to the shores of Great Britain! India has such a rich Christian Heritage, beginning with one of Jesus' 12 disciples, whom our LORD sent to India.

Apostle Thomas came first to Kodungallur on the Malabar Coast of Kerala in A.D. 50. Soon he had established seven (7) Churches in the surrounding areas, and the Churches begun from those early days are known today as Mar Thoma Churches.
Then the LORD led Apostle Thomas to cross the Eastern Ghats, and he came to the area now known as Madras or Chennai, as it is called today. There he was martyred, being run through with a spear by the Raja's or King's men in A. D. 51, at the instigation of the jealous Hindu priests, at the little mount near the present day airport.

Over the intervening centuries so much could be recounted of India's rich Christian Heritage - of the exploits of so many great men and women of faith of India, as well as that of foreigners whom God has sent to this land! There were people like Gundert, Ziegenbalg, Henry Plautshane, Benjamin Bailey, Henry Martyn, Sadhu Sunder Singh, Pandita Ramabai, Praying John Hyde and others.

And there were people like Dr. Ida Scudder, Amy Carmichael, E. Stanley Jones, Mark Buntain, and so many others, even to the present day;

Including Doris Edwards (1937 - 1943) and Arlene Stubbs' Parents, Earnest & Phyllis Sorbo (1950-1981):

We remember the martyrdom on January 22nd, 1999 of Australian Missionary, Graham Staines and his two sons, Philip, 11, and Timothy, 7, who were burnt alive by a mob at Manoharpur Village in Orissa State. They were sleeping in their station wagon while attending the annual Bible Camp, when the mob heaped straw and poured petrol on the station wagon and set it on fire. We remember with awe the Christ-like response and spirit of Mrs. Gladys Staines and their daughter, Esther, throughout this ordeal. Gladys said, "I have forgiven the killers and have no bitterness because forgiveness brings healing and our land needs healing from hatred and violence. Forgiveness and the consequences of the crime should not be mixed up."

Another great missionary who stands out in Indian history - is William Carey, often called the Father of Modern Missions. William Carey was a cobbler-turned missionary, who came to Calcutta, now called Kolkata, in November 1793. He said, "Yonder is India, A rich gold mine. I will descend and dig, but you must hold the ropes. "
Over the next 41 years of continuous stay in India, this unusual man was used by God to bring tremendous blessing and progress, initiating the process of reform. His life-long ministry revolutionized the religious scene of this great country in the nineteenth century, and is considered the key person in the story of India’s modernization.
In those days, the East India Company did not allow missionaries to come and propagate the Gospel in British India. Their policy was not to interfere in the social or religious practices of their subjects, however evil they were. So initially, Carey had to live and work in the Danish territory of Serampore. Later, when the Company could not find a professor in Bengali for the Fort William College in Calcutta, Carey was given a professorship, which continued for thirty years, teaching Bengali, Sanskrit, and Marathi. The influence of Carey's Christ-like spirit is often thought to have had a greater impact on British civil servants and administration than the work of the Governor-Generals of India.
Some of the things William Carey accomplished are as follows:
In the Field of Education - he started Serampore College, now a University. He also pioneered the education of girls, establishing 100 schools for girls, which grew to over 900 schools!
In the Field of Literature - Carey wrote text books in a number of languages, and compiled dictionaries, such as the first Sanskrit dictionary for scholars, including Greek and Hebrew synonyms, and wrote grammars in Sanskrit, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, which are still accepted as authorities, even today! Most importantly, Carey translated the entire Holy Bible into 6 languages, and portions of the Bible into 33 more languages! And he also wrote Gospel ballads in Bengali.
In the Field of Botany - Carey was the first person to specialize in the Indian flowers of the Amaryllidaceai family, one of which is named after him. He brought the English daisy to India, and introduced the Linnaean system of gardening. He published the three-volume Flora Indica, as well as other books on science and natural history. Carey discovered a new species of Sal-tree in Bhutan, which was named Careya after him.
In the Field of Agriculture - Carey was the founder of the Agri-Horticultural Society in the 1820s, thirty years before the Royal Agricultural Society in England. He made a systematic survey of agriculture in India, and wrote for the agricultural reform in the journal Asiatic Researches. He was the first to write essays on forestry and the cultivation of timber in his journal "Friend of India."
In the Field of Astronomy - he introduced the scientific study of astronomy, counteracting the pseudo-science of astrology. He began the concept of lending libraries, to make literature and information available to the common man.
In the Field of Journalism - Carey's efforts brought the modern printing press to India. He developed modern technologies of printing and publishing. Most other printers had to buy their fonts from his Mission Press at Serampore. He then, started the first Indian newspaper, actually the first in Asia. He started the oldest English periodical "Friend of India," now called "The Statesman. "
In the Field of Social Reforms - Carey was the first man to stand against the crushing practices in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of child marriage, temple prostitution, female infanticide, polygamy, and other evils in society. He took up the crusade against widow-burning, called "Sati." He was joined by Dr. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, culminating 30 years of effort in the banning of "Sati" in 1829. He led the campaign for humane treatment of leprosy patients, which in those days, sometimes were buried or burned alive.
In the Field of Industry - Carey gave India the first steam engine, and encouraged the making of indigenous steam-engines. He also pioneered the indigenous paper industry. Then he introduced the concept of the Savings Bank to counteract very high lending rates, which made economic development nearly impossible. In January 1993, the Government of India honored William Carey by the issuing of a 6-Rupee Bicentenary Stamp.

In conclusion, many people do not realize that India is mentioned twice in the Bible in Esther 1:1 and 8:9 - " ... 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush." Also, some believe that Ophir was an ancient name for India, which is mentioned in Job 22:24; 28:16;
Is1 Kings 10:11; 22:48; and Psalm 45:9.


Sam Reddy said...

Thanks for this great blog.
We miss pastor Stubbs .
I am greatly blessed by his ministry in India.I thank God for the life of pastor.We are with you - Sis Stubbs and family.
Glory to Lord Jesus Christ.

ikshu.....god rocks my world said...

i really miss Pastor but i know that i will be meeting him soon and then i will tell him how much i love him .....
Ikshudaa Masih

Justin (Jatin) said...

This is so informative , thanks for sharing , i love to know the history , I am so much blessed to be born in this land, where our lord Jesus sent his disciple to preach.

Anders said...

Since you and many of your readers are Christians I think the website www.netzarim.co.il will be of interest to you. It contains research, previously unknown to most Christians, about Ribi Yehoshua (the Messiah) from Nazareth and what he and his followers taught.
This includes research about Ribi Yehoshuas followers Netzarim and what they taught.

Have a nice day!
Anders Branderud

Siddhapuram said...

Great Job ..............

Siddhapuram said...

Great Job ..............