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Beginnings in India

By Eugene Stock, D.C.L.

London: Central Board of Missions and SPCK, 1917.

Chapter VIII. The First Work in Three Great Cities

WE now come to a great country which is in many ways the most important part of India, and which may be called in a pre-eminent sense Hindustan. This is the upper basin of the Ganges and the Jumna, from Bengal to the Punjab. It was formerly called the North-West Provinces, being, in fact, north-west from Bengal, and the name was not changed when the Punjab, still further north-west, was annexed. Since 1902 its official name has been the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. In this extensive territory, with a population of 47,000,000, most of the famous historic cities of India are to be found. Benares, Allahabad, Cawnpore, Lucknow, Agra, are all within its borders, and so was Delhi until the Mutiny.

We have already seen the first beginnings of missionary work in these Provinces, under the auspices of East India Company's chaplains, Martyn at Cawnpore, Corrie at Agra, Fisher at Meerut. But we will now fix our attention on three cities, Delhi, Cawnpore, Lucknow. All three have links with that interesting personality, Abdul Masih. From Delhi he originally came; at Lucknow he served his master the Sultan of Oudh; at Cawnpore he heard the Gospel from Martyn's lips.

Delhi was the capital of the Mogul Empire which dominated Hindustan for two centuries and a half. Under the British rule it has been subordinate in turn to Calcutta, to Agra, to Lahore, until King George's memorable visit in 1911 made it the capital of all India. It now seems destined to be one of the commanding cities of the world. Apparently the first voice lifted up for Christ at Delhi in the nineteenth century was that of an able Baptist missionary, J. T. Thompson. The first Anglican was Anund Masih, the converted Brahman and second Indian clergyman in North India. As a catechist he was stationed at Karnal, and from thence he from time to time visited and preached in Delhi. Naturally, he appealed to the Hindus. Dr. Karl Pfander, from Agra, appealed to the Mohammedans, with whose mullahs he disputed in the Jama Masjid (the celebrated mosque), bringing with him his famous book, The Balance of Truth, best known by its Hindustani name, Mizan-al-Haqq, which he had first written in German and Persian and then translated for the Moslems of India, afterwards also into Arabic, Turkish and English. Pfander was perhaps the greatest of missionaries to Mohammedans. Sent by the Basle Society to Persia, and turned out of that country, he went to India, joined the C.M.S., received Anglican orders from Bishop Wilson, and afterwards served at Constantinople. Such a pioneer at Delhi deserves commemoration.

Then appear three able Indian Christians there, before a regular Mission was established: Ram Chandar, mathematical teacher (afterwards Professor) in the Government College, who had been converted to Christ through noticing the reverent worship of the English congregation; Chaman Lai, Government assistant-surgeon, a convert from Duff's College; and Wilayat Ali, a catechist in charge of the Baptist Mission in the absence of any European. And these three did what they could, supported by the chaplain, M. J. Jennings, who had baptized the two former. But in 1854 the C.M.S., unable to add to its already occupied stations, "rejoiced to announce"--the words of its next Report--that the S.P.G. had undertaken a Mission in the great city.

The S.P.G. sent two Cambridge men, Jackson and Hubbard, worthy precursors of the great Cambridge Mission by-and-by to follow. They were to found a missionary college. But on May 11, 1857, the Mutiny broke out, and Jennings and Hubbard and two lay catechists (Jackson had left), and also Chaman Lai and Wilayat Ali, were murdered, with many others of the English community. Of the horrors and struggles of that year this is not the place to speak. But two facts must not escape notice in passing. First, it was the Punjab and its bold Christian rulers that had the largest share in beseiging and capturing Delhi, at the sacrifice of John Nicholson's life. Secondly, as a reward for this great service, the Delhi district was from that time included in the Punjab.

As soon as the city was restored to its normal life, Ram Chandar, who had escaped the massacre, actually started a good High School, at which English and Persian were taught as well as Urdu and Hindi, and Christian instruction given; and when the next S.P.G. missionary Skelton, another Cambridge man, arrived, in 1859, he found all in working order, with fifty-six pupils In the following year came R. R. Winter, an Oxford man, who for many years continued the head of a fine and growing Mission, much helped by his devoted wife, a daughter of T. Sandys, a veteran C.M.S. missionary at Calcutta, and also by the Rev. Tara Chand, who had been converted through the influence of Ram Chander. Of Mrs. Winter, Bishop French, who officiated at her funeral, said that an Apostle would have gladly testified, "I give thanks for her, and likewise all the churches of the Gentiles." Such were the beginnings of Delhi as a Mission centre. But another beginning, much later, brought it a great accession of vigorous life. In 1878 came the Cambridge Brotherhood, the first University Mission in India. With the reinforcement thus provided, and with the Community of Women that followed, the S.P.G. Delhi Mission developed and expanded in all directions. Other towns in the district were occupied, notably Karnal, Rewari, Rohtak; and churches and schools were built. St. Stephen's College grew into one of the finest institutions in India, and now has an Indian, Professor Rudra, as its Principal. St. Stephen's Hospital for Women was erected in memory of Mrs. Winter, the first stone being laid by the Duchess of Connaught, and the building opened by the Countess of Dufferin. The Bickersteth Hall, in the heart of the city, is an evangelistic centre, and in it open discussions have been held with the champions of Islam on Friday afternoons, the Moslem sacred day. The present writer recalls a certain Friday in January, 1893, when that hall was crowded with Mohammedans, and Mr. Lefroy, skilful, patient, unwearied, was the one defender of the Faith. It so happened that a blind mullah who had been a leading antagonist had yielded to Christ and boldly come out on the Lord's side, and the crowd had been yelling at him. For five hours the debate went on--a scene never to be forgotten!

Let us turn to Cawnpore, a name of horror in the memory of those who can recall that terrible year 1857, and the massacres of English ladies and children; yet a name of thankful interest for all who care for the extension of Christ's Kingdom, because there Henry Martyn preached to Hindus and Mohammedans, and from those preachings came, directly or indirectly, several of the earliest Indian evangelists. Of one, Abdul Masih, we have already told the story.

But after Martyn left, his influence remained. He had roused some of the English folk, civil and military, to a sense of their Christian responsibility, and they longed for a missionary who would learn the language and devote himself to the evangelization of the non-Christians. Many years elapsed, however, and it was not until 1833 that, at the request of Mr. White, the military chaplain, the S.P.G. sent J. J. Carshore; but he found a little work already being done by an Indian catechist, with five schools and twenty-two Christians. Under him and his successors the Mission was gradually developed. One of these, W. H. Perkins, has already been mentioned. Mr. Perkins's son became Commissioner of Amritsar, and after thirty years' Government service joined the Punjab Mission as an honorary missionary, and was ordained. In the Mutiny the Cawnpore Mission was wrecked, and among the victims were two S.P.G. missionaries, Haycock and Cockey, and the former's mother, and the chaplain, Moncrieff, with his wife and child.

Although the Mission was soon revived when the great storm had passed over, it was long undermanned, and made but slow progress, though two Indian clergymen did excellent work--Samuel Sita Ram, a Brahman convert from Lucknow, and Roger Dutt, a member of the well-known Dutt family at Calcutta. But in 1889 arrived two of the four sons whom Bishop Westcott gave to India, and under them the whole work expanded. The High School became a first grade college in connexion with Allahabad University; the industrial agencies developed into a famous model; the orphanages proved a great blessing; the work among women was much extended. The women's hospital broke down prejudice and opened many homes, and the self-sacrifice of its workers was manifested when the English woman doctor and .nurse, and two Indian helpers, fell victims to the plague while ministering to the plague-stricken people. The brothers Westcott are now the Bishops of Lucknow and Chota Nagpur respectively-Then, Lucknow. The Kingdom of Oudh had been annexed by Lord Dalhousie in 1856. Its misgovernment had been terrible, and Dalhousie declared that "the British Government would be guilty in the sight of God and man if it were any longer to aid in sustaining by its countenance an administration fraught with suffering to millions." Sir James Outram had been the Resident at the corrupt Mohammedan Court, and when he was sent to Persia in command of a British expedition, Lord Canning (who had succeeded Dalhousie) appointed Henry Lawrence Chief Commissioner. Lawrence reached Lucknow on March 20, 1857, only a few weeks before the outbreak of the Mutiny; but in that brief period, with heavy responsibilities on him, one of his first acts was to invite the C.M.S. to come and start an Oudh Mission in the city.

When the Mutiny broke out, Henry Lawrence found himself beseiged in Lucknow, and the heroic defence of the Residency is one of the thrilling episodes of British history. Lawrence himself was killed, and when Havelock and Outram fought their way into the beleagured enclosure, they could not get out again till Colin Campbell relieved them. Among the engineer defenders was George Hutchinson, afterwards General, and eventually a Secretary of the C.M.S.

When Oudh was reconquered, Lord Canning appointed to the Chief Commissionership one of the great Punjab men, Robert Montgomery. In March, 1858, Lucknow was reoccupied; in April Montgomery entered on his office; and actually on the 2oth of that same month he wrote to the C.M.S. renewing Henry Lawrence's invitation. In response, Leupolt of Benares was ordered to go up. He was just on the point of starting for England on furlough, his wife having already gone. Oudh was still full of rebels, and Colin Campbell's troops were still engaged in dispersing them; and the Benares Christians wept at the thought of their beloved Padre going into such danger. But to Leupolt such an order was simply to be obeyed, wife or no wife, furlough or no furlough, health or no health, peril or no peril. In the heat of August he drove all the way in his little open trap, David Mohun accompanying him. Montgomery warmly welcomed him, and put one of the many deserted palaces at his disposal, the "Zahur Eakhsh" (fully occupied to-day by mission quarters, schools, etc.). A public meeting was held, many officers attended, large contributions were given; the distant guns telling what the troops were still doing. When Leupolt officiated at the Sunday service, all the men present were armed, and as the communicants went up to the Holy Table, their swords or muskets were laid down till they came back.

Lucknow has been the centre of active evangelization ever since. In 1893 it gave its name to a new Anglican diocese, and two missionaries became Bishops in succession, A. Clifford of the C.M.S. and G. H. Westcott of the S.P.G. In 1911 an important Conference was held in the city on Missions to Mohammedans in all parts of the world, the Report of which is a mine of valuable information.

Several other cities in these great Provinces have interesting missionary histories: Eanda, Rurki, and Moradabad, S.P.G.; Benares, Gorakhpur, Azamgarh, Faizabad, Allahabad, Agra, Muttra, Aligarh, Meerut, C.M.S. The three we have visited are specimens.

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