Missionaries left enduring righteousness

Lunminthang Haokip *

MUCH ADO ABOUT LOSING A PURSE : The year was 2006. I went with a team of delegates to attend a spiritual conference in Bangkok On my way from a shopping spree, with many plastic bags to carry from the taxi, I left my purse on the taxi seat. Multi-tasking makes me miss remembering certain things. At such absent- minded moments, I was tempted to wonder whether I was keeping my head only to keep my earlobes apart.

In that sorry state of a hopeless situation, in a foreign soil where this pen-pusher happened to be a stranger sojourner, I prayed to God. The Spirit reminded me 4 things:

1. That I was careless, and ought to be more careful.

2. Losing money was no big deal. I could borrow my way back.

3. I should thank my Lord that I was not lost: and my soul was not lost; and

4. That in actuality, the money was not lost; it just changed hands to be used by someone who probably needed it more than I did.

But for all the philosophical bid to console myself, I never got the lost sum back. It was of no use to cry over spilt milk. Your existence is doubly hassled when you get swindled or lose things abroad.

OVERFLOWING MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS: In contrast, on the 3rd Jan, 2023, while dismounting from a cabride to Shillong's Police Bazar, my Iphone 14 handset slipped away. My heart sank. To buy the valued indispensable personal accessory again, 5 years after my retirement, I need to be `retyred,' I thought.

But when I rang up the lost handset, an excellent gentleman salesman of Reliance Digital, MarBa Hub, Police Bazar picked up, and told me to 'come and take' my phone. The amazing goodness of the man warmed up the chilly day. I thanked God that my phone disappeared in the capital city of a Christian township the collective characteristic sensibility of which citizenry was built up by prayerful missionaries, more than a century ago.

Thievery is a common natural instinct. Another Presbyterian bastion, Aizawl, also almost always return items left behind by a forgetful passenger inside a cab. This is like an 'overflowing milk of human kindness' wrought by decades of Biblical teaching.

Exodus 20:15 commands, "Thou shalt not steal." Yet, we know for sure that despite divine warning, in certain corners of our region, desperate thieves secretly cut off steel rods that stick out of under-construction building- pillars, just to gain a few bucks.

CAREY CARRIED MISSION WORK FORWARD: The early British rulers in India had their own priorities. Setting up missions was far from their scheme of things. So, the father of Missions, William Carey, a Baptist who hailed from Northamptonshire, established his base at Serampore in West Bengal which was under the protection of the king of Denmark, in 1799.

Carey made the first attempt to evangelise Khasi Hills in 1813 by sending Krishna Chandra Pal to Pandua. To arrive at Pandua, a trading hub at the foothill of Khasi Hills, below Cherrapunjee, one had to cross the plains of Sylhet in the then East Bengal. In his 8 month labour, Chandra Pal could win 7 souls; two of them were Khasis. Carey's bid to translate the Bible in Khasi could not hold much water.

His passionate burden for souls sent Alexander B Lish to Cherapunjee in 1832 as a missionary. Apart from Carey's contribution from his pension, a woman from England sent 500 to Lish. The young worker learnt Khasi in 6 years. The translation of the Bible in Khasi in Bengali script couldn't make a dent with prospective native conversion.

Carey had links with Liverpool in Wales too. He and his Treasurer of Serampore group, Samuel Hope, could have ignited the interest of the Secretary of Welsh Mission, John `Minimus' Roberts to launch out in the 'deep seas' of Khasi Hills (Source: Internet).

ENTRY OF MISSIONARY THOMAS JONES: One thing led to another. Info available in the Internet records that Thomas Jones and his young wife, Anne Jones, arrived at Cherrapunjee on 22nd June, 1841. He was the first man to record Khasi language in the Roman script. This wise act of his made him click with the locals in a big way. His interest in Khasi language earned him success where Carey's men failed.

Born as a carpenter's son in 1810 from Berriew, Wales. Jones' skill in carpentry was valued by the Khasi community. This flair in woodwork endeared Thomas to his subject group. He opened a missionary school and learned their language by living in their midst. In 1842, he produced a Khasi Reader, and translated a Welsh-language work, Rhodd Mam, into Khasi.

The missionary from Wales also compiled a Khasi alphabet and dictionary. Thomas travelled across Khasi Hills and preached in a language the local people could understand. He did to Meghalaya what Adoniram Judson did to Burma. These servants of God are referred with reverence even today in their respective past ports of call.

The respect bestowed upon Thomas can be measured from the inscription on his tombstone in the Scottish Cemetry, Calcutta: "The founding father of the Khasi alphabets and literature." In 2018, Jones was honoured for his worth. The State Government of Meghalaya announced that the day of Jones' arrival in Sohra, the 22nd June, will be celebrated as 'Thomas Jones Day' every year through out the State.

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT: Pu C. Dothanga, IPS Retd, at 80, looks 60. Born on 26th July, 1940, the IPS officer of 1975-AP Cadre, was the son of Late Pu Khumtira of Thangpui village near Lunglei in Mizoram.

His father, who passed Upper Primary in the school founded by the early missionaries, was the `khawchhiar,' the record keeper of Thangpui village. The Chongthu family began their foray into the life of light from darkness since Pu Dothanga's grand-dad, Pu Late Hluneka accepted Lord Jesus with other 9 villagers of Pukpui in the 1890s. The Gospel came to Pukpui village in 1890. The first missionaries came from Shillong.

Their names were William Williams and Sohan Roy Babu. The two pioneer evangelists met in Shillong and agreed to labour together in Mizoram. They had to walk long distances on foot to fmally reach Pukpui. There were no motors plying those days. No roads were laid then. "The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly (Prov. 20:27)."

The faithful labours of the earlier and later labourers in the Lord's vineyard in Mizoram brought about a sea change in the hill State. Chiefship was abolished, Aizawl became the music capital of India, Mizoram was declared the most peaceful State in India many times.

The hill State even got Peace award and peace bonus. In 2005, due to lack of criminals, the jail employees in Aizawl feared they might be sacked. So they hired some jail inmates from other States.

GREAT PEACE HAVE THEY WHICH LOVE THY LAW: After World War 2, the constituent Nations of UNO were grieved by the scale of devastation and loss of lives caused by war. So, on the wall of UN HQ in New York, the UN declared and inscribed Isaiah 2:4, "And He shall judge among the Nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

The building and the inscription were dedicated in 1948. Did Nations stop fighting against one another in war ? No. Serial large-scale wars were waged ever since till date. Scripture verse in Isaiah 2:4 was not meant for Nations of this world. It has futuristic implications. Perfect peace will only come in the millennial reign of Jesus.

The Lord said in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Having said that, the Almighty Jehovah gifts peace to those who honour Him more.

An unseen force had been working to protect and give special privileges to the States where the missionaries taught the Word of God and how to put them to practice. In Jesus and obeying Him we have peace. Psalm 119:165 declares, "Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them."

* Lunminthang Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an IAS (Retd)
This article was webcasted on January 19 2023 .

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