Essay VIII. The Mission of Help, by the Most Rev. Foss Westcott, D.D., Bishop of Calcutta
It was the mind of Bishop Montgomery, so fertile in big ideas, that first conceived the thought of a Mission of Help to India on the lines of the Mission to South Africa which had been so wonderfully blessed. He was in touch with many workers in India who were conscious of the need of the Church, and were looking round for some means whereby it could be met.
It was in 1913 that Dr. G. A. Lefroy was translated from the Diocese of Lahore to that of Calcutta. To him the idea appealed strongly, and the near approach of the Centenary of the foundation of the Bishopric of Calcutta (the first in India) suggested that it might be fittingly celebrated by the sending from the Mother Church in England of such a Mission of Help. Dr. Lefroy was in England during the summer of 1914, and took an early opportunity of discussing with the Archbishop of Canterbury the possibility of carrying out the proposal. He found the Archbishop fully prepared to forward the scheme by all means in his power, and he helped the Bishop to secure a strong Committee to organise the Mission in England. The [148/149] Bishop of Winchester accepted the Chairmanship of this Committee, and the Rev. Canon J. O. Johnston, of Cuddesdon College, Oxford, undertook the Secretaryship. The time was too short to arrange for pioneers to visit India during the following cold weather, but it was hoped that in the autumn of 1915 they would be ready to start and India to receive them, but meanwhile the Great War had broken out, and though the scheme was not abandoned at once, as the months passed by it became evident that it must be postponed indefinitely.
Meanwhile a Committee had been appointed in India to gather necessary information and prepare the way for the pioneers. It was not till 1920, when the first meeting of the Provincial Assembly was being held in Calcutta, that the time seemed ripe for carrying out the project which had perforce remained in abeyance for nearly six years. A unanimous resolution was passed by the Assembly asking the Metropolitan to arrange for the coming of the Mission at the earliest moment. The Archbishop showed that his keenness for the scheme had in no way abated, and as before he rendered the Metropolitan the utmost assistance in the formation of a Committee. The Bishop of Winchester did not feel himself able to undertake the heavy work of Chairman, and the Bishop of Stepney took his place. Canon Johnston's health did not permit of his acting as Secretary, but Canon F. C. N. Hicks, who had just resigned the Principalship of Cheshunt College, agreed to undertake this work if the Rev. Cyril Mayne would assist him. Most of the Indian Bishops were at home for the Lambeth Conference, and they had the opportunity of meeting the members of the Committee and [149/150] discussing with them the various points connected with the sending of the Mission.
I have referred to the desire in many hearts that some way should be found of helping the Church in India. They were conscious of the magnificent opportunity awaiting it to reveal in the midst of a non-Christian world the true meaning and attractiveness, not only of the individual Christian life, but of the Christian spirit and power permeating the society in all its varied activities. The reality was far different. There were many faithful members of the Church finding in fellowship with God the source and spring of their own life, but there were many living quite apart from the life of the Church, taking no part in its services and making no open avowal of its faith. The Church itself lacked the true spirit of fellowship, and a clear conception of the work to which it was called and the glorious opportunity which awaited it. A Mission of Help, such as that which went to South Africa, comprising some of the greatest of the Church's Mission preachers, men of vision and spiritual power, could surely bring a clearer view of the Church's work and message to the eyes of Christians in India, and knit them together in a closer bond of fellowship. Their message would come with all the freshness of those straight from the centre of Church life in England, and the special power which always attaches to a new voice and a fresh method of presentation of the old truths. They would be in touch with the current difficulties of faith, and know the best way to meet them. They would probably attract those to whom the Church was not appealing, and many of them might be led to repentance and newness of life. They would bring [150/151] encouragement to lonely workers who seldom had the opportunity of hearing a brother priest preach, or of taking counsel with him on matters affecting their work, or of discussing with one of wide experience its problems. The Mission would come to assure the Church that the Church at home had not forgotten it. How often it has seemed to chaplains and all those working among European and Anglo-Indian congregations that the Church in England thinks but little of their work. The missionaries are sent out by societies who keep in closest touch with them, and support them in every way by prayers and alms in the work to which they have given their lives; but who are behind the chaplains who are ministering to Europeans and Anglo-Indians in the slums of an Eastern city, no whit less depressing than those of an English town? The Mission would prove to them that their work was not forgotten by the Church at home, and the missioners themselves, brought face to face with the conditions of the Church's work in the varied conditions of Indian life, would return home with a new understanding of its problems, and a quickened desire to explain its needs to the Church at home.
During 1921 plans were prepared for the visit of the pioneers in the autumn. For some while there was doubt as to whether the men suited for this work would be available, but our suspense was ended in September by the arrival of a welcome cable telling us that the Rev. Father David Jenks, S.S.M., the Rev. G. C. Lunt, M.C., and the Rev. E. C. West were definitely sailing for India. Their tour had been planned with the object of enabling them to gain as clear an impression as possible of the ground to be [151/152] covered, the character of the congregations to whom the Mission was to be sent, and the conditions under which the work would have to be done. No attempt was made for them to visit every station where it was planned to hold a Mission later, or to hold preliminary Missions, but typical places were visited--railway headquarters, military cantonments, planting and mining districts, and centres of government, commerce, and industry.
It had been early decided that if the Mission was to secure success, it must be definitely limited as to its scope. It was to be a Mission to the English-speaking members of the Church of England in India, and no attempt was to be made to reach vernacular-speaking congregations or non-Christians. It was hoped that Indian clergy and missionaries attending the Missions would hear the message, and later pass it on to the people in their own vernaculars. [It may be useful to give the figures of the European and Anglo-Indian population in India and Burmah. The Europeans, according to the census of 1911, which is the latest for which I have the figures, number just under 200,000, of which some 125,400 are Anglicans. The Anglo-Indians number just over 101,000, of whom 34,550 are Anglicans. The total Anglicans to whom the Mission was sent in India and Burmah was therefore some 160,000. In Ceylon the proportion of Europeans, Burghers, and Anglo-Indians to the total population is much larger than in India, being 1 in 117 of the population, whereas in India it is less than one-tenth of this. The total of these communities in the island is 34,255, but the Census Report does not give the denominational figures.]
The pioneers had a strenuous time and travelled great distances; while generally warmly welcomed, there were some both among the clergy and the laity who were not yet convinced of the use of the Mission. It [152/153] was a time when the spirit of mistrust was abroad in the political world. Non-co-operation was at its height, and racial antipathies were strong. Perhaps something of this spirit had infected certain of our countrymen in India, and they viewed the coming of the Mission of Help with distrust. They could never have shared the feelings of those already described. They had little vision, and no consciousness of the Church's failure rightly to accomplish its work. The Englishman in India is always somewhat suspicious of the cold-weather visitor from home. He is ready to suspect him of being anxious after a few days' sojourn to instruct the old resident on every subject connected with Indian life, and to show him how to behave towards the Indian and to solve political problems. To some chaplains the coming of the Mission seemed to be a slight upon their work and upon the Church in the country at large. Were there not among the clergy in India priests experienced in conducting Missions, and if so, what need to send to England and bring others out at great expense? It was not easy to persuade these objectors that at home such Missions formed a regular part of the Church's work, and that experience had shown that simultaneous Missions throughout large areas were more effective than isolated efforts; it was pointed out that only lately such a Mission had been held throughout the length and breadth of England. It was true that we had some few men who were experienced missioners, but in India there is no reserve of clergy to take the place of those who go on special duty; there are few churches to which more than one priest is attached, and if he is a Government chaplain he [153/154] must obtain leave to be absent from his parish, and such leave is limited by stringent rules, and is intended to recruit him when sick or tired. Thus, though we could and do arrange individual parochial Missions from time to time, it was out of the question for us with our limited resources to think of planning a Mission which was to embrace the whole Province and to last over four months. South Africa with her far larger resources had turned to the Mother Church for help, and we were taking the only possible course to carry out what the Provincial Assembly had unanimously desired.
It was part of the pioneers' task to meet such arguments and allay suspicion, and in their retreats for clergy and conferences with laymen much was done to create a spirit of expectancy, and to indicate the way in which the Mission might be rightly prepared for. Special attention had to be given to the work among British troops, and from the first the Army authorities, from the Commander-in-Chief down, rendered the pioneers every possible assistance, and gave them all the available information as to probable movements of troops and the times for camps of exercise, which it would be necessary to take into consideration when fixing the dates of Missions. But information of this kind, given a year in advance, has not really much practical value, for military plans are always subject to revision at short notice, and in the present instance there was no exception to this rule.
Before their journey was half accomplished, the pioneers were convinced that the number of missioners suggested by the bishops of the Province was [154/155] inadequate for the task which was required of them. They were clear that, if the Mission was really to accomplish its purpose, the meshes of its net must be smaller than had been planned. Not only must Missions be held in the larger centres of population, but smaller groups in up-country stations and the scattered dwellers in planting districts must also be visited. They were convinced that not less than thirty men and women, instead of the fifteen previously suggested, must be asked for. On the basis of a Mission of this number, they drew up plans, and it was with something of consternation that during the meeting of the Provincial Assembly, at the end of January, 1922, a cable was received stating that it was impossible for the Committee at home to undertake to send out more than the number originally contemplated. Plans were at once discussed by which this number could be augmented. Could the Church in India undertake the additional financial responsibility of bringing out five men at its own charges? Would it not be possible to supplement those who came from home by men recruited on the spot? There were several weeks of anxious thought and earnest prayer before we learnt that the Committee at home had determined to send the full complement of twenty-four priests and six women. No greater service was rendered by the pioneers to the cause of the Mission of Help to India than their insistence on the necessity of increasing the number of the missioners, and the way in which they were able to convince the Committee at home of the wisdom of their proposal. The draft programme which they carried home with them still needed to be approved by the several bishops of the [155/156] Province, and could not be finally determined till the dates of the Army reliefs and moves which take place in the autumn had been settled. This was not quite realised at home, and a detailed plan giving the dates of the Missions to be held in the several stations, and the names of the missioners who were to conduct them, reached us in July, just after we had received a list of the regiments to be transferred. The dates of these transfers only reached me, and that through the courtesy of the Commander-in-Chief, who sent me an advance copy, on August 6, 1922, three days before I was due to start for a visitation of the Diocese of Colombo. The movements of troops in fifteen cases clashed with the dates of the Mission, and anybody who knows the difficulty of drawing up an intricate scheme into which not only factors of time and distance, but also the personality of the missioner have to be taken into account, will realise the amount of work entailed in adjusting the pioneers' programme with the least possible disturbance of the several missioners' work. Thanks to some very hard work by my chaplain, the Rev. Philip Higham, this task was finished, and the information sent out to the Committee at home and to every diocese in India by the time we were due to leave.
The pioneers had brought with them a selection of Mission literature, much of it valuable, but local conditions seemed to call for the production of something more closely related to life and work in India, which could only be written by those with long experience of the country; for this purpose a Literature Committee was appointed, with Canon W. H. G. Holmes, of the Oxford Mission, as chairman. It was decided to issue [156/157] two series of papers with a view to a six months' direct preparation.
Men working among different classes of people, who for the most part had previous experience of conducting Missions, were chosen to write the papers. It proved to be a very difficult matter to treat the subjects in a way which would suit the congregations of all parts of the Province. For instance, we very soon had complaints from Ceylon that the literature sent them presupposed conditions which did not obtain in the island. India was constantly referred to, but they had no part or parcel in it, but were a British Colony. Reference was made to the Mission coming during the "cold weather," but they knew no such season, and to describe the month of November as such was ludicrous.
The papers of the two series were at first marked A and B respectively, but this gave rise to trouble, because it was rumoured that the B series was meant for people of a lower standard of intelligence or culture, and those who received them resented the imputation and demanded to be given the A tracts. We learnt by experience and discarded the discriminating marks.
But this did not save us entirely from trouble, for sometimes a particular paper got into quite the wrong hands. For instance, at one station, the headquarters of a provincial government, a tract specially written for soldiers by an experienced chaplain was handed round, with the result that I received an indignant letter from an Indian civilian protesting against such literature (no, he would not dignify it by that name!) being issued in the name of the Mission of Help. I [157/158] was able to reply that it was not intended for him, but that we were dealing with men of different mentalities and standards of culture to whom the appeal had to be couched in different language, and that as a matter of fact the same post that brought his letter of complaint had brought me another from a chaplain working among soldiers, who said that it was the best pamphlet that had been issued, and asking for a further supply of 2,000. Another chaplain also wrote of it that it was the first that really seemed to have made the men think.
We tried to make it plain to all the chaplains that we were endeavouring to help them in the preparation of their people, and if the literature we produced failed to meet the type of person they had in view, they were under no obligation to use it. That on the whole it was widely appreciated is shown by the very large amount which was purchased and distributed.
In addition to the Intercession Papers, which were widely used, a special Study Circle Book was prepared by the Rev. R. Pelly. An edition of 2,600 copies was printed and quickly sold out.
In many cases the estimate of six months proved to be an over-sanguine one, for, except in the case of the Missions held later in the spring, there were few congregations of which the majority were resident in their stations for so long a period before the Mission. The only congregations which were an exception to this rule were the Ceylonese (Burgher and Sinhalese) congregations in Ceylon, and those of the domiciled community in India. As far as the troops are concerned, during the hot weather most of them are moved in turns up to the hill stations, and during October [158/159] the reliefs and moves begin. Of the European congregations, during the summer many are away in England or at the hills, returning in October or later. An attempt was made to commence the preparation at the hill stations, but that involved its being begun by clergy who would not be able to carry it on to the end, or to be with the people during the Mission itself.
This difficulty of lack of continuity in the preparation, and in some cases of a change of chaplain directly before the Mission, was a very serious handicap to the missioners. Naturally the bishops did all in their power to avoid such changes, but the transfers of chaplains are, in most cases, due to men going on or returning from furlough, and the majority of them take place in the autumn or the beginning of the hot weather. These are difficulties which do not beset those responsible for the preparation for a Mission at home, and proved a serious drawback to us in India. Nowhere was the work of preparation more difficult than in the planting districts, where a single chaplain has to cover a very large tract of country. He can meet his people in any particular place but seldom, and there are few places where services are regularly held in his absence, for the number who can gather at any one centre is small, and private houses or clubs take the place of churches.
To this mainly must be attributed the fact that in certain districts of Assam there was an atmosphere of non-co-operation, which was only dispelled by the personalities of the missioners, who "made good" the moment they got a real chance of making contact with the people.
 As the time for the Mission drew nearer, a welcome sign of growing interest in the Mission was the appearance of letters in some of the papers protesting against it. The cost to the Church of bringing out so large a body of men was heavy, and it was urged that the money could be used to far greater advantage in helping the unemployed or increasing the salaries of the poorer clergy at home. An unfortunate error in a Reuter's telegram added fuel to this flame by announcing that an appeal for £25,000 had been issued to meet the cost of sending the Mission out. These objectors received little support from other correspondents, while newspapers throughout India were exceedingly helpful in publishing information and backing the enterprise in their editorial columns. When the time for the Mission approached in the great cities, they granted special rates for advertisements or published them free, as in the case of the Statesman of Calcutta, which published a striking whole-page advertisement without charge.
Suspicion was hard to kill. Some of the clergy feared that the missioners were coming "to teach them their job," while the laity were afraid that they would dwell upon the relations of European and Indian, or some aspect of the political question. During the year before the Mission the non-co-operation movement was at its height, and racial feeling was very strong and bitter; indeed, during April I received a letter from England suggesting that it might be better on this account to postpone the Mission. It was, however, clear that the worst was over and that the situation was improving, and that there was every prospect that the Mission would be in no way hindered. [160/161] Such proved to be the case, and it was interesting to notice that in the Indian-edited Press there was generally a friendly attitude adopted towards the Mission, though occasionally it was hinted that the English could not be worse, and it was hoped that the Mission might do them some good!
It was decided that as regards the finance of the Mission, the Province should be treated as a whole, and each diocese was assessed according to its capacity. It was estimated that the expenses of the missioners in India would be about £2,700. Every diocese paid its assessed quota in full, and thanks to liberal concessions granted by the railways, in some cases even free passes being given over their lines to each missioner using them, the estimate was not exceeded; indeed, what would have been a heavy debit was converted into a small credit balance.
The Mission of Help to the Church in India consisted of the Bishop of Peterborough, the Dean of Manchester, and twenty-three priests and six ladies recruited in England, assisted for part of the time by two bishops and three priests from the Church in India.
The main body of the missioners left England in two parties, three deferring their departure till later in the year in order that they might stay in India later to visit the Hill Schools and Sanatoria, in which it was useless to hold Missions before April. The larger body, under the leadership of the Dean of Manchester, comprising, besides the Dean, fifteen priests and four [161/162] ladies, landed at Bombay at the end of October, and were welcomed by Archdeacon Hatchell, the Bishop's Commissary. The Bishop of Bombay had been obliged to leave India earlier to undergo an operation in England, and his absence at the time of the Mission was not only a serious loss to his own diocese, but to the whole Province. The service of welcome and commission was held in the Cathedral on the eve of All Saints' Day. The Festal Evensong was followed by a special service, during which I addressed the missioners and gave my blessing to each one individually. To myself the service was deeply moving, and I believe this experience was shared by the missioners and the large congregation which had gathered to join in this act of worship which marked the commencement of the Mission in the diocese. Before the missioners dispersed, the opportunity was taken to explain details of the plans and to give such advice to those new to the country as experience suggested.
The smaller party, led by the Bishop of Peterborough, landed at Colombo. He was accompanied by five priests and two ladies. Unfortunately the steamer was delayed four days beyond her time, and the missioners landed on Sunday afternoon in pouring rain, barely in time for the evening service on the first Sunday of the Mission in Colombo, and too late for the special preliminary meetings which had been carefully planned to lead up to the Mission itself.
It is not my purpose to give details of the Missions in the various places or even dioceses, but rather, looking back on the work of the Mission in the Province as a whole, to attempt in some measure to gauge the effect [162/163] which it produced. But first I would emphasise the warmth of the welcome which was extended with but few exceptions to the missioners wherever they went. These exceptions were in stations or districts where the work of preparation had been beset by more than ordinary difficulties, and even there, when once the object of the Mission was clearly recognised and the personality of the missioners had time to make itself felt, all barriers were broken down, and the response was marked by genuine enthusiasm.
The headquarters of the provincial Governments and of the dioceses visited are in the same cities, and in nearly every case the Governors took a leading part in welcoming the missioners and forwarding their work; indeed, throughout the Mission the authorities, both civil and military, rendered every assistance in their power, postponing engagements which clashed with the services, and themselves setting an example by their attendance at them.
Some few of the missioners had no previous experience of conducting a Mission, and this undoubtedly was a handicap to them, for the ten days of a Mission are all too short a period in which to set out the fundamental truths of the Faith, and to get down deep into the lives of men and lead them to repentance and definite decision. To preach a Mission requires a real gift of prophecy, and where this was possessed the congregations steadily grew, and many sought out the missioner for private counsel and advice. In one or two of the military stations the regiment had just arrived from the hills and the chaplain was a stranger to the men, but even under such adverse conditions, where the missioner had a real power of preaching, [163/164] British reserve was broken down, and the men gladly came to hear him. The missioners did not in many cases follow the lines of the "old-fashioned" Mission, and the message was more calculated to deepen the spiritual life of those who were faithfully striving to serve our Lord than to convert the careless and indifferent. In the smaller stations, as perhaps was natural, the response was more general than in the larger towns, for though in these the congregations were large, and remarkably so in the city of Colombo, yet it could hardly be said, as was said of some of those up-country stations, that "with the exception of a few individuals who attended none of the services or meetings, the whole place was stirred, and conversation centred on the Mission and on the Christian religion." While the interest aroused in the large towns was widespread and Sunday congregations were in every case much beyond the ordinary, generally speaking, during the week it was the members of the regular Sunday congregations who attended. Many of these gained a clearer knowledge of the character of God, and were drawn into closer fellowship with Him and one another. Herein the definite aim of the Mission, in so far as it can be said that the work of the whole body of missioners was dominated by one special thought, was realised. A card of remembrance had been approved at a meeting of the missioners at home, at which, however, all were not present, and sent out to me. It ran as follows: "In response to the call of the Mission, I resolve that, by the help of God, I will faithfully endeavour by prayer and work and personal example to bear loyal witness to the claims of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to set forward the Kingdom of God [164/165] in the service and fellowship of His Church." I sent this to every diocese, expressing the hope that it would be generally adopted; I found, however, that in my own diocese, as well as in other dioceses, some of the clergy, and those priests who were most familiar with such Missions, felt it was hardly definite enough, and there was a reluctance to make it the sole "resolution" card of the Mission. I discussed the matter with the missioners in Bombay, and found, whilst there was not complete unanimity, that there was generally a strong desire that it should be used. I wrote again to all the dioceses urging that a supply of these cards should be available for every missioner. They were fairly widely used, and some of those who at first were opposed to them later changed their minds. One of our priests, who himself took part in the Mission, thus explained his change of view: "A wealth of prayer was being offered at home and all over the world, concentrating on the need of fellowship, which the missioners from home desired to be the central note. I had felt that the memorial cards of fellowship were too vague, and desired to have purpose cards of a much more definite nature. In the end I changed my opinion. Religion is caught, not taught, and if men will only come into the fellowship they will catch the inspiration of deeper faith." When these cards were used, and those who took them were brought together into organised fellowship, the results of the Mission have been conserved and men and women led to take a definite part in one or more of the varied branches of Christian service.
I would mention here the spirit of co-operation shown by members of the Free Churches; in many places they [165/166] took an active part in the work of intercession during the months of preparation for the Mission; many of them attended the services, in some of the smaller stations closing their own churches that they might do so.
The conditions obtaining in the planting districts made it impossible to follow the ordinary method of a Mission. In Assam, writes one speaking of the Mission, "the work naturally gathers round the clubs. On one day, when there is polo, people gather there from a radius of over twenty miles, and the method we have followed has been to hold quite informal meetings after polo and tea are over. We have kept those meetings entirely informal in character, allowing the men to smoke, and the missioner has just talked to a room in most cases quite full, the great majority being men. The talk being over, all have stood and said the ' Lord's Prayer' together, and the meeting ended with the blessing. This method of conducting the ' services' was justified abundantly by results, the attention being maintained at that high pitch of intensity which is an inspiration to the speaker, and the response being obvious."
While the European in India is not less religious than his countrymen at home, it is certainly true that the majority do not attend church regularly. It is not for me to attempt here to lay bare the causes of this neglect, but we looked forward to the Mission in the hope that the careless would be drawn in, and those who were kept away by doubts would find in the teaching of the missioners the solution of their difficulties. Some of the missioners were brilliant preachers, and where they went large and enthusiastic [166/167] congregations gathered to listen to them, but even in the case of these men the missioners failed to draw in the indifferent and the careless; the people who attended were mostly those who do come at least occasionally to church, and those outside seemed untouched.
Nothing at the time of the Mission caused more grateful surprise than the attendance at the evidential addresses given at special midday services and evening meetings. In Colombo the church in which the midday addresses were given was packed till there was not even standing room, and it was thought well to continue them beyond the period fixed for the Mission. In Calcutta we were assured by leading business men, who were genuinely sympathetic, that it would be useless to attempt them, there was no regular luncheon interval as in London, and men did not leave their offices. We determined to attempt the impossible, and a steady attendance of 100 to 150 men, who greatly appreciated the addresses, was the result.
Throughout the Mission, the Y.M.C.A. secretaries rendered most valuable help, and organised many evening meetings which were largely attended. The subjects dealt with at these generally had relation to present-day difficulties, and to some extent they reached a class of person who did not attend the services. That many individuals were helped by them there is abundant evidence.
So far I have spoken only of the work of the ordained missioners, but I must turn now to that of the ladies who accompanied them. In their case each had made some special branch of work among women their special study, and while old-established Church organizations [167/168] like the Mothers' Union and the Girls' Friendly Society, which had already spread to India, were strengthened and workers encouraged, we were introduced to fresh organisations, such as the "Young Wives' Fellowship," designed to reach and help classes of people hitherto largely untouched. There is no doubt that the work of these ladies has given a tremendous stimulus to social work, and in all the big cities, I believe, guilds or leagues of social service for women have been organised. These are not in several cases limited to members of the Church of England, and in one at least some non-Christian women have been drawn in, but this does but show that the influence of the Mission has extended beyond our own particular circle to the greater glory of God. Another Society to which we were introduced was "The Time and Talents" Society, which has undoubtedly brought fresh interest into the lives of many young society women in India.
In the course of this article I have studiously avoided the mention of names, but I find it impossible to do so at this point, for Miss Higson came to us highly trained for dealing with the social evil, and throughout her stay in India devoted herself almost entirely to the work of social purity. I cannot refrain from quoting the report of one of her meetings for soldiers, which was characteristic of very many such held in Indian cantonments. "The most impressive meeting undoubtedly was a crowded gathering of soldiers in the R.A. Theatre. Miss Higson spoke on the moral question. We all rather feared this meeting. Would the soldiers walk out or cry her down? But we need have had no qualms. She spoke with great power and delicacy. There was no appeal [168/169] to fear, but the subject was lifted into a new atmosphere. The men were so impressed that we had to arrange another meeting in the same theatre, when she spoke on Love, the greatest thing in the world. If the Mission had accomplished nothing else these two meetings would have been worth while." Her work was not limited to soldiers, but she got into touch with Vigilance Associations and kindred organisations in the great cities she visited, and everywhere by her winning personality and wise counsel inspired workers with a fresh enthusiasm and hopefulness.
In some cases one or more of the ladies preceded the Mission priest, and by systematic visiting and work among the women and girls, admirably prepared them to welcome his message. We cannot be too grateful that the band of missioners included these six ladies, and their work did much to give permanence to the desire to grow in the knowledge of God and in fellowship with their Christian brethren, and to render service to God by serving their neighbours.
The position of chaplains outside of the large towns is frequently one of extreme isolation. In many cases the nearest brother priest is many miles away, and they cannot leave their stations save on business without taking casual leave. There is much to discourage them in their work. They seldom hear any voice but their own, and constant transfers both of themselves and their people hinder the growth of that intimate mutual knowledge which is essential to the true pastoral relationship. To such the missioner came as a very welcome visitor, and many a priest brought into close personal intercourse with him through the period of the Mission and in seeing the [169/170] response which his message awoke in his congregation, was inspired with fresh courage to face his difficult task. They feel that they may look for a readiness of response and support which was there, but lying dormant before the Mission. They feel now that there is a body of men and women at home who sympathise with them and understand their difficulties, and whose word will carry weight as that of impartial and competent observers, and not to be lightly set aside like the pleadings of those who may be supposed to be biassed by long residence in the country.
Great as the blessing has been which the Mission has brought to a very large number of individuals throughout India, I strongly believe that the service it can render us is not yet complete. The spiritual needs of the European and domiciled communities in India have never been truly appreciated in England; the call to minister to those communities has never appealed with the same force as the call to carry the Gospel of Christ to non-Christian peoples. It has never been realised that it is the Church infused with the Spirit of Christ, active in loving ministry among the people in the midst of whom it dwells, that will be the real attractive power to draw men to Him. The duty of supplying those spiritual ministrations is being laid in larger measure upon the Church itself, and unless the Church at home adopts a more generous attitude towards their kinsfolk in India, it may well be that scattered groups, and impoverished communities will wander astray in the wilderness for lack of shepherds to lead them amid green pastures. The missioners will not forget those who extended so warm a welcome [170/171] to them when they came over to help them at the Church's call. They will encourage their younger friends to offer at least a short period of their lives to the service of those who sorely need them, and they will see to it that those who have returned from foreign service shall not be neglected by the Church at home.