As I have said earlier in the process of my research for this book I have connected with distant cousins who I had never known before. One cousin in Germany shares with me th great-x4 grand parents, Nissen. Her ancestors went to Russia, but stayed in close contact with the Voss', Doris' family. I am a direct descendant of Doris and Ferdinand and knew nothing of them. But Leyla's grandmother use to tell her stories of the missionary couple that went to India. As she explored more about the stories she was told of her family's global connections she came across my blog. In March of 2017 it just so happened that Leyla would be in Delhi at the same time that I was in Delhi. We met for the first time. Oddly enough there was some kind of familial connection that we both felt. She gave me a book that she salvaged from her University Library in Germany. It was Ludwig's history of Gossner's Mission to India. Written in Old German I've carried it around and managed to translate a chapter or two from sections that seemed pertinent to my story. Most of the book is about the years before Ferdinand and Doris arrived in India. My father has taught himself how to translate the old German and has nearly translated half of the 400 page volume. [Yes, he is amazing!]
When I was in India I asked around about the history of the Gossner Evangelical Church that is over 80,000 people (80% are Adivasi, or tribal/indigenous peoples of India) strong today, scattered throughout India but concentrated in Jharkhand. Everyone started with the story of the first four missionaries who came from Germany to Chotanagpur. And most people ended with their first five-ten years. There was little understanding of how many missionaries came from Germany and what how Christianity spread so among the Adivasi starting at the later half of the 19th century. The book will shed more light on this fascinating history.
I am sharing a long portion of the book that tells the story of the first twenty years of the formation of the church and the contribution of the original missionaries. Ludwig Nottrott is actually my great great grandfather. His Brother and later his son were missionaries in India. It is not clear that he ever went to India himself. This book is based entirely on letters from the missionaries. So there are clearly some prejudices and inaccuracies included in the story. I've left the language as a rough translation, so you get the sense of the German antiquity.
The Gossner Mission
Among the Kolhs.
Pictures from Missionary Life
by Ludwig Nottrott
Pastor in Spickendorf
Translated by Dr. Theodore C. Feierabend (Ludwig’s greatgrandson)-May/June2017
The Journey to the Kolhs.
Our journey begins in Berlin, Potsdamerstrasse, no. 31, in the mission house of the Gossner Mission Association separated by a small garden from the noise of the road. Thousands wander every day on it but rarely can one be in this bustling humanity who thinks of the graces which have already been part of the world from that house, and which are this day still part of it.
Today, the quiet house attracts more attention. Unusual life prevails in its rooms, and the faithful door-keeper has unceasingly opened its door. We too enter, listening in the spirit to the peaceful greetings of Father Gossner, whose kindly bosom flows over all incomers and out-goers in the hallway. New missionaries are to be appointed. This is a high holiday for all, an open house. The great importance of the day is an all too solemn celebration, which gives the approaching departure all that is done and spoken a particular character of heartfelt love. By understanding and working, by asking and applying, the celebrity hour of worship nears. Then the young messengers to the heathen went to the nearby Matthew Church; with them parents, sisters, and friends, who had come from their homes to this last community worship together. What may happen in the heart? How much delight (p.2) and melancholy, joyous thanksgiving, that the longed-for hour has come, and the burden of the heavy task is replaced by a humble fear in the breast! We do not dare describe the mood of a young messenger to the heathen on the day of his ordination. We refrain from giving the impression that the overcrowded house of God, the words of the sermon, the urgent past reminders and consolations of the consecrated clergyman, which the peace-greetings of the songs bring to mind. These are the sanctuaries of the heart, which would openly reveal to us a desecration, even if we could present them from our own experience. God the Lord, however, tests hearts and kidneys (minds). Alas, that all those who have ever stood before the altar of the church of St. Matthew, or who are still standing to receive the great work among the heathen, will be found in the face of God as pure, faithful, humble, and believing souls. We want to tell you from our hearts: God bless you, God care for you, God help you in all the suffering of the soul, God strengthen you, that you may gain much fruit in the Lord's vineyard! ! -
The evening of the day is devoted to a last time in the mission house. Over a cup of tea there is still a very grave and friendly word spoken. The spirit of love for the Lord and his mission is to all, high and low, the dignitaries of the Church, and simple missionary friends, men and women, teachers, and students, a firm and yet solid bond of intimate communion. We know one thing in the faith which binds heaven and earth, bridges the seas, and moves mountains. Joyful courage, as only this faith can give it, blows from the eyes of the young heroes, to take up the struggle with the magnificence of paganism, and how the heart of many a father and friend may be filled with human melancholy, no word or any tears betray the inner feeling; in faith also the sacrifice is made to the Lord, whose will has been recognized, and whose love is worth every sacrifice.
(p.3) The next morning we find ourselves at the train station. Helping hands have quickly taken up the worry of billet and luggage. The place is chosen. There, a shrill whistle, a last squeeze of the hand, a last "God be with you" - and the train goes forth, the journey to distant India. The friends, however, were leading the ever-swelling train with the sounds of the farewell hymn:
Prepare the way of Peace!
The glorious grace of God be with you
And may His holy Angels watch over yöu!!
When Jesus' hands shine over you,
Go forth thru sunshine and thru storm
By day or night, confident and cheerful.
Farewell, live well in the Lord!
He is never far from you,
Late or early!
Forget us not
Go in his light,
And as you seek his face. --
First of all, the journey goes through the home country. But how different the travelers are looking at the local mountains, forests and fields. They will see it for the last time in many years, perhaps forever. "There, behind these heights, is the corridor where we played as a boy, where that city brought us the first food of human knowledge: there is the place where the light of faith first penetrated the soul: how friendly this is, how heavy it feels!" Thus, with the towns and villages, one's own life passes by the inner eye. How wonderfully they are led by God the Father´s faithful hand, how strangely everything was arranged that they could now obey the inner call for glorious missionary work! The Lord has done this. The honor is to him! He will also continue to lead. --
Two ways open up for the missionary who wants to go to India. The one, 4 months long, leads around Africa. The other by the Mediterranean Sea and the isthmus of Suez (p.4) requires only four weeks. The latter is now usually preferred. As one wishes he can embark either in Trieste or Brindisi, or he takes the tour via Frankfurt a.M. and Basel to Marseille in France. Let us accompany the spirit of our travelers on this latter route. Should they not be right, the good-natured friends, who could shake their heads and not understand. As fast as the steam pulls the heavy wagons over the rails, many a flickering glance is made by the traveler. The German Rhine is accompanied in her vast expanse by Strassburg cathedral, directing them upwards like a mighty pointing finger, the Alps greeting them from afar, and their snowy peaks always seem to get closer and closer on the way from Berne to Geneva, one after the other, and now only Geneva itself with its blue lake and greening lawns still in November!! The first real stop is Marseille. Here the mainland is to be deserted, here the swaying ship is to be boarded. For the first time, the wide sea offers itself to the eye. It is also so to our travelers, like most: the impression of the sea is not so overwhelming for them as they thought. And yet who would be able to confide in the deceptive wave, without having to surrender a secret anxiety to the sight of the wind and the waves? --
With faithful help of German Christians, the embarkation has gone smoothly, and a cabin has been obtained on the stately vessel of the Imperial Messenger, that great French steamship company, the signal is given for departure, the steamer raises its anchors, and out they go into the wide, sweeping sea. The eyes are, of course, turned towards the land. As long as they can, at least their eyes still hold the mainland, which has left them forth. Surrounded by delicious mountains, Marseille spreads out, with its houses, widely scattered country homes, a magnificent sight. But the city continues to recede, as the last bit of Europe still fades, the church Notre Dame de la Garde, which stands on a high mountain, to greet the traveler, then it also sinks behind the blue back of the mirror-glare sea.
(p.5) Ah Europe! - Yes, it is with much, much greatness and love that one leaves homeland, kinship, fatherland, orderly ecclesiastical conditions, a quiet still life, all the treasures with which art and science adorn German life, talking to like-minded people, dealing with educated people, and what else is not left out. Why did you bury yourself in such a homeland with the wild stranger? Is it not folly beyond folly to bring such sacrifices to savage heathen nations, who do not even recognize or be thankful for the greatness of forgiveness? And do you know whether you are at all privileged to work something? Will you find open hearts? Will the murderous climate, or perhaps the insidious sea, devour you -- O be silent, silent, you tempting thoughts, silence their delicate friends! Money and good are driving thousands across the land and sea into the greatest dangers away from father and mother -- and what money and good can not the Savior be able to give even more? And the satisfaction of giving earthly gain to the heart should not be much more precious and richly donated by the gain of immortal human souls for the kingdom of heaven? No, the word that sounded from the venerable mouth when it was sent was the guiding star of the missionary journey: "Behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world." Christ the Lord is with us, He has commanded, He will guide and protect, He will be worthy and bless. Whoever leaves, He says, houses or brother or sisters or father or mother or wife or children, or fields for my name's sake will receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life. Happiness under this helmsman leads one on the joyous journey! The grace that blows the sails, the port to which we are sure to go, is the heavens. Go with joy!
The captivating novelty of the sea cruise is bitterly interrupted by the terrible seasickness of most travelers. Our friends are happily spared. Thus they can give themselves to the (p. 6) sight of the sea and the studies of the English language undisturbed. On the morning of the second day, the desolate trees and creeks of Corsica, which was the home of the man whose heart was as cold and stiff as these stones, Napoleon the First. The coast of the island of Cardinia is not more pleasant. And Capri, which now appears and is greeted by the passengers with special jubilation, Capri, where the most stubborn republican of the present lives -- is also nothing but a large stone. On the other hand, Messina, the harbor town of Sicily, ws passed a day later. Already from afar, it proclaimed its proximity by splendid dusts. Even more pleasantly is the view of the travelers refreshed through the green gardens and the south-facing landscape.
But the ride does not allow you to rest and enjoy. Continuing on to Candia, the ancient Crete, we go directly over the spine of the sea to Egypt. Four days long of sky and water, water and sky. Then appears the first point of the great, hot, dark Africa, the lighthouse of Alexandria. What a new, often already described, but always interesting life unfolds! As soon as the ship is in the port, it is encircled by 100 gondolas and quickly stormed by their burgeoning, thrusting and bloody fighting. They all want to carry the luggage: brown Arabs, dark Nubians, fat-shining Moors. Finally, the transit traveler brings a small steam boat from the land, an omnibus to the hotel. The Prussian Consulate, showing its black-and-white flagstaff, the wonderful Prussian heart, with the German Protestant pastor of Alexandria, go to our missionaries with advice and help. The heat of Africa, and especially that of the Red Sea, compels the purchase of a red fezz and a white turban. So equipped against the burning rays of the sun, Alexandria is visited. O what has become, under the mists of the crescent, the old Christian city with its famous theological school! It is true that there are Christian churches, also a German-Protestant one, a splendid building, worth 145,000 Thir. (p.7) to which the Vice-King gave 200 pounds sterling for the building site. But the natives are no longer Christians. How else could that god-field be lying there so desolate and sad, no grave planted with a tree that is raised to the sky, none embellished with flowers, the senses of joyous thoughts, each burdened only by a giant, forgotten, white stone! How else could those 50 mourners who return from a funeral expel such a terrible howl! How could a so disgusting haggling take place in the market, the salesman suggesting a double price, the buyers humble themselves so far that they kiss the dirty feet of the merchant to get only a few cubits of cotton! And yet the changing image of African life, which is in the markets and streets of Alexandria, captures the interest of our travelers over and over again. Camel-drivers and donkey-boys who treat their poor animals with constant shouting and beating through the streets, money-changers with small tables full of silver and gold coins, rich Europeans with their equipages, a distinguished Arabian woman in white on an ass, a rich Arab, colorfully dressed in a chaise, in front a runner in white robes, with a curved staff to clear a place on the street, Dirty dudes playing French cards on the street, watercarriers with their sea-like waterfalls from the skin of goats, vast numbers of doves over the housetops, wild unhealthy dogs, vendors of dead songbirds, whose bins were full of swallows, wagtails, robins, siskins as leatherbeaten offerings, terrible shrieks and everywhere disgusting dirt and annoying intrusion by the insolent, with every service needing extra backschies (tip) for each guide and pack carrier, -- All this gives a stamp to the public life, which is often quite unpleasant for the European, but which nevertheless has the charm of roughness and peculiarity. In particular, the missionary, who for the first time entered non-Christian ground, came upon this only with the doubly interested eye of Christ's love. (p.8) What were God's thoughts when he laid the broad belt of Mohammedanism between the Christian and the heathen countries? Will the cross once again shine here again? And if, at the gate of the East, everything seems so foreign to the German heart, how will we be there at the end of the voyage, where the Orient is unmixed by ways and customs of the West?
From Alexandria to Suez by rail, the way the children of Israel once made in great caravan trains! Now also the waterway of the Suez canal runs through the lands end, and can also be chosen for a person’s way. The mosque, built entirely from the most beautiful marble, and one of the many palaces of the Viceroy, are admired. The pyramids of the pharaohs are clearly visible in the thin air. For the first time, it is now through the desert. What is it like? Just as we usually think of it, but hilly, wavy: a sand-cliff, then a rock, then a height, covered with little stones, then a few barren pieces, where thistles are made -- that is desert. A caravan of twelve camels, slowly drawing into the distance, another smaller one resting to the side of the train, a low-pitched railway station, in front of it an Arab with the flag and a chicken screeching in the sand, a wretched village, against whose houses the nursery is still elegant, and whose neighbors gather together early in the morning, half smugly and playfully - that is the decoration of the sad, treeless image.
Suez is reached after 12 hours. The troublesome scene with the Arabs, who demand backshiesh, of course, is also repeated here. Everything is justifiable here (a bottle of beer 20 Sgr.). Also (p.9) in Suez is a small German church, formerly associated with that in Alexandria, now with its own pastor.
The passengers are separated at Suez. The overbearing French go to Mauritius. Our missionaries, with the more serious Englishmen, mount the steamer, which leads to Calcutta. Every comfort is provided on the well-equipped big ships. Every day, one of the oxen (stewards) standing on the deck has to offer the deceptive brow to the veil. In the drawing-room, large objects (pankahs) are hung from the ceiling, drawn by a kind-hearted Japanese man, which gives the traveler a faint feeling of moving air. In the region where once the Israelites were close to languishing and crying for water, Christian missionaries can now cool their tongues with ice. But the heat is also terrible, and without Tarpoosh (a Fez wound with a white cloth) one would not get rid of headaches. The 18-20 children of Africa who are concerned with the machines feel quite well in the heat. Likewise, the Chinese, Hindus, and Arabs, who serve as sailors. It truly brings a vision of the young messengers of peace already proclaiming the word of life. There would be an opportunity, and the confidence with which the Mohammedan and Hindus took their prayers untroubled by the prying eyes of the Christians is, as it were, a loud invitation, but he does not know the language and must be silent. In the most favorable case, he is fluent in the English language, and then he is greeted with joy when they hold a worship service for the traveling companions. If not, at most a chorale, which he plays on the piano in the salon, can collect the passengers for quiet devotion, and lead them to a common stock of the one God and Lord, who is recognized as the only helper and protector on the sea more than anywhere else. It goes without saying that those who want to bring the bread of life to others will strengthen themselves on their own, daily and alone. The closer they come to the purpose of their destiny, the more they must feel their own weakness, and seek the strengthening in him who can be powerful in their weakness alone.
(p.10) So on the Red Sea! It is called red, and yet its waters are already blue -- why, then? Probably from the red sandstone rocks that surround it. The journey is almost seven days, which offers little of interest, except for a glimpse of the serenity of the Sinai and a two day stays in the port of Aden, the Gibraltar of the East. Fortunately that gate of danger passes, the Bab El Mandeb, and in the vast Indian Ocean the ship is controlled. The unrelenting heat has subsided a little, the air no longer dried by the bare sands of Arabia, but dampened by the waves of the sea over which it blows. But the journey will take the traveler even longer. Nine days they look in vain for land on the Indian Ocean. Finally, land fowl circumnavigate the ship, swimming plants proclaim the proximity of the longed for coast, spicy dust blows up from the southeast. Ceylon becomes visible with its long, green-lined coast, with its beautiful blue mountains, Ceylon, this "pearl dripped from the brow of the Indian mainland." It is a surprisingly great sight: these dark cliffs, where the white-foaming waves break over the green of the palm trees, in the background wooded mountains rising in various forms to their summit. The traveler, who has recently left the dry, treeless deserts of Africa and Arabia believes that a paradise can be seen. And Ceylon is a paradise, the most beautiful, most fertile island in the world. Unfortunately, the french transport does not allow its passengers half a day to enter this fabulous soil. But the time is bought as much as possible. The bachsheesh cry, which the Sinhalese can do just as well as the Arabs, can not be made as unintelligible as by the different offerings of the porters, launderers, and fruit traders. After a short rest in a hotel, a hurried trip through the streets of the city to discover as much as possible the peculiarity of the island and its inhabitants.
(P.11) We are reluctant to deny the impressions of the traveler in Ceylon. The women beautifully dressed, with their braids and round combs, the dirt-covered females carrying their children on the right hip, all, men and women, with umbrellas of palm leaves, and the lips and teeth already reddened by constant betel chewing, the produce of the country, the richness of the craftsmen who work with the simplest tools on the streets, the splendor of the woods and fields, the social and religious life of the inhabitants who profess themselves to be Buddhist, the reader would certainly like to be assembled into a picture, -- but this brief description of the journey has the sole purpose of not saying in very impoverished terms where the people of the Kolhs dwell, and the way which leads to them -- therefore, further, further! It is sufficient for our travelers to get a taste of Indian life here, and to wish for the moment, the more desirously and expectantly, that they enter the Indian mainland for the first time.
It is still necessary, however, to let the fluctuating element rock for eight days. Once again the steamer stops in Pondicherry, the French colony, once more stops at Madras, and then enters the Hooghly, the mighty broad arm of the Ganges, where Calcutta lies, the destination of the voyage, the capital of the great India.
There stands the missionary at the gate of the great country for which he is destined. Giant as the land is the work that lies just before him. India has 120 million inhabitants, among them only 300,000 Protestant Christians. -- The paganism of India resembles a colossal fortress. -- the accomplishments with which the evil enemy has surrounded the immortal souls of the Indians, idolatry, pride, lies, caste, are insuperable.
But before the attack of the heavenly king and his spiritual weapons, that fortress must be besieged from all sides. 150 years ago (p. 12) the Evangelical Church had begun to take part in the siege, and in the first place it has continued with many interruptions, but since the beginning of this century it has continued with all its might to this day. 450 Protestant missionaries of various denominations are now in the country, there are already about 400 Protestant churches and more than 1500 evangelical schools. It is a hot battle, which is fought in hot India, and many of the chivalrous Christians must have left their lives in this field of heavenly honor, but many a glorious victory has already been won. Not only have many external works been conquered, but also in the interior of paganism, the fireballs of Christian preaching and civilization have already multiplied. And what is best, the people in the sieged fortress feel that they can not have much longer. Some may be more convinced that the days of the divine service are counted for India, and that the fighters of the Evangel will once plant the flag of the cross on the ruins of Brahman and Buddhist paganism. But when? -- Who wants to say that! In any case, there are still many hard battles, and many a Christian messenger must go up the Hooghly and enter the ranks of the sacred fighters.
Our friends, who are called against one of the external works of Indian paganism, come to the consciousness of the greatness of their task in the face of the Indian earth, which they now wish to enter. What a missionary once wrote from Marseilles, they can all sign it: "The heart beats in us like a warrior before the battle, -- anxious for our own self, but joyful, courageous, and persistent in our eyes, and trusting in our Lord of the field, who keeps the field, and who has given his own ever-true, numberless promises. He's ahead! His Word and His Spirit is with us and in us, we shall not be wanting. He is with us." --
The banks of the hooghly offer a lovely sight. Magnificent country houses of the rich English and low huts of the (p.13) natives, both surrounded by green and flowering gardens, are reflected in the majestic river. On the right, the palace building of the ex-king of Oudh appears, on the left the palace-like building of Bishops College.
Calcutta, the city of millions and palaces, has been reached. For a good half an hour our travelers will have to go to the inn, which is prepared by the dearest of Indian mission friends. It is therefore necessary to make many visits and establish important relations with mission friends and missionaries of other societies. Purchases are sought about artful housekeeping and some complaints about the unfamiliar, time-consuming trade with the native merchants, whose demands are shameless. In addition to the exhausting restlessness of business, there are also hours of heart-warming fellowship. What kind of good fortune, especially after a long time, to be able to celebrate a worshipful Sunday, even in an English church?
India is a well-cultured country. The British do all they can to raise their prosperity. Railways lead in different directions, and where they end, at least chauffeur service and telegraph lines connect the larger cities. Likewise, postal traffic is well-ordered. Thus, missionaries who want to contact the Kolhs can enjoy the benefits of rapid transmission. You climb the railway train, which leads from Calcutta to cross he entire Indian peninsula to Bombay on the west coast of the country.
However, about 30 German miles north - west (p.14) of Calcutta, at Barrackpur station, they have to leave the train again, and now they are carried on a garri - Indian mail cart - in a southerly direction to the country of the Kolhs. The way is good, very good, but the weak little horse often fails the service. Although they get another one every two hours -- so they have to climb up and down the hill. After a one-and-half day tour, from Barrakpur, you will finally reach Hazaribagh, the first mission station among the Kolhs. Thus they are in the land of their destination, fifteen hundred miles distant from the fatherland.
History of the Kolh Mission.
Chapter 1. The Foundation of the Kolh Mission.
When the Apostle Paul went on a missionary trip, he probably made a travel plan and set out on a journey, but as soon as the Lord God gave him other instructions on the way, he also willingly followed his thoughts and followed the paths which the Lord showed. By such observance of the divine wisdom, the conviction of the Lord himself was used by him for every individual situation, and his joy was increased even in difficult labors. This is particularly evident in his first trip to Europe. There he had found closed doors in the north-west of Asia Minor; he was, as it were, pointed to Troas by the finger of God; he heard the call of the Macedonian: "Come over and help us" and was thus compelled by the Spirit to bring the gospel to Europe, where he had not intended to travel at all.
It is significant and exceptionally comforting that the mission of the Kolh was founded by the blessed Pastor Gossner and his disciples, similar to the Greek mission by the Apostle Paul. The work of God, which brought the first missionaries to Chutia Nagpur, pressed the stamp of the Divine will on the missionary, and gave assurance to the faith that the Lord had not directed his servants in vain. From the banner, with which one drew in the war of holy faith, stood clearly for everyone to read: "The Lord wills it," every victory had to be greeted with the words: "Not of men, but of God."
(p.168) This undoubted guidance of God was so completely after the heart of Gossner. He has never wanted to make something for himself, but only let the Lord make it. He did not know any human support. For this reason he did not use any human structures, which otherwise so industriously and diligently are acquired by the Mission Societies, but lacked committee work, auxiliary associations, or regular club memberships. Everything, the sending of the more than 100 missionaries, the support of so many families, the guidance of the manifold work that lay in his hand, or better, was put into God's hand by Gossner and was his work of faith. His word was, "I will rather use the prayer-bell than the begging-bell." And as he thought, so it happened to him. Abundantly flowed his works from England, Russia, Southern Germany and so on.
However, as Gossner himself was a man of faith through and through, he also wanted his missionaries to be founded in faith, and to go in faith. He often sent them almost literally according to the order of Matt. 10, 9-10 without money, or silver, bag, etc. The Lord will guide you and keep you, see, trust only in him -- that was his consolation. As he received the gifts of love, and how much he received, he sent them into the distance to his laborers, and often from his own means. But if they lacked what they needed according to human primordial nature, now he would turn them to faith and to prayer. Ask, and it will be given to you, knock, and you shall be set free.
As long as Gossner was alive, he could also ask his missionaries with the words of the Lord: "Have you ever had a shortage?" They had to answer, "Never."
Twice a mission has been established among the Kolhs, but only the second foundation carries the character of which we have just spoken, only the second was blessed with prosperity and success.
As early as 1836 and 1837, English officials, who had loved God's word, sought to find missionaries for the Kolhs and Gonds, but without success. The other missionary societies (p.169) considered the field unsuitable for their regularly trained and learned missionaries. Nobody wanted to find himself among the rude barbarian peoples. The rumor spread of Gossner's peculiar missionary activity in India. Circulars had also been spread out from Europe about the Gossner missionaries in India, and the pious British were even more attentive to Gossner's missionary activity.
The best means of giving those raw developments the true culture which springs from Christianity seemed to be to give a mission colony among them. Gossner went very willingly to the proposals of the noble man who took the matter into his own hands, and in the year 1841 sent six brothers, who in February of the following year settled in Karandschia.
Rarely has a mission like this so promising, with so much appeal, love and applause been found, and rarely has one so suddenly disappeared again. With the greatest loyalty and devotion, the brethren worked at a settlement to build the necessary houses: they worked diligently, the house was not finished before the hot season. The rainy season also came, and the house which was to protect against it was still without a roof. Then four brothers were suddenly taken away by cholera: only two remained, much weakened and miserable. They rejoiced, however, under the care of Christian friends, and continued to work for many years in great blessings, and with much appreciation with Gossner's complete consent, in the mission of the Free Church of Scotland in Nagpur, and have then entered into their Lord's joy. This was in 1847. The English judge, who had founded this mission, was transferred soon after, and so it was that it was not started again in this place. The unfinished house in Karandschia is still a testimony of the work begun, and a sermon to the English in the whole region, as well as to the natives, among whom, up to the present day, these faithful workers stand in memory.
(p.170) The second missionary experiment, which was made with the Kolhs and which was so extraordinarily blessed, took hold of this raw material on another, quite opposite side as we now tell you about it.
It was in 1844 that Father Gossner was offered by the widow of a German physician murdered in Hinter-India to offer her possession, situated in Burmah, as a suitable station for a mission station. The great openness of the local inhabitants (Karens) for the gospel may well have been a lure, so that Gossner accepted the offer. In Calcutta, however, the missionaries being sent first hear the advice of tried and experienced friends, whether it would also be advisable to settle in the hinterland. If they were not to go there, they were instructed to go to Gossner's missionary Dr. Prochnow, who was in Kotgar in the Himalayas, and had repeatedly asked for the establishment of a station in Tibet among the Chinese Tartars.
On July 8, 1844, the four brothers, Candidate of Theology Emil Schatz, two young teachers August Brandt, and Friedrich Batsch, and the Deacon, Theodor Janke, were ordained in the Bethlehem Church in Berlin. The word which was said to them in the consecration, and which was so marvelously fulfilled in their work, was that those who sow with tears, will reap with joy, etc.
Their journey to India was not that described in the introduction, but led a long, but glorious voyage, from the port of Portsmouth, around Africa., and ending in Calcutta on 14 Dec. 1844.
In Calcutta, the missionaries immediately interceded with the English missionary Dr. Häberlin, to whom they had been recommended, and who provided the most friendly consultation to them.
But behold, both the paths that Gossner had envisaged for them were misplaced. Against Burmah with the Karen, the consideration that the offered property was not suitable for the establishment of a mission station, but then, and above all, the offer (p.171) was taken up by the American missionary society which had already worked with the blessing of the Karen. From Kotgar, however, missionary Prochnov wrote that a war had broken out between British and Seihts (Sikkim) which for a long time jeopardized the border line and questioned the existence of the Kotgar mission itself. This is how the missionaries in Calcutta felt and had to wait for a command from the Lord, who evidently had other thoughts for them than their fatherly friend in Berlin and themselves. One of them wrote, "We wait on the Lord, what He would do, and are quiet and confident." --
The wait was not long. Although they had a reputation for settling down in Calcutta's surroundings, they had to reject that for internal reasons, but Schatz could already report on 7 February 1845: "It is decided where we are to go -- to the Kolhs, the poor neglected inhabitants, 40 to 50 German miles from Calcutta."
The wandering Kolhs had already met the brothers in Calcutta. In this cosmopolitan city, the black children of the mountains performed the lowest services as road traders, load carriers, etc., and they had to turn their eyes to people who had been dispossessed, the poor to whom to preach the kingdom of heaven. The first impression made by the people was by no means pleasant, they looked terribly wild and desolate yet the more they aroused Christian compassion. Their misery, their poverty, the treatment which they had suffered from the proud Hindus, passed through the heart of the servants of Christ, and aroused their desire to speak precisely to them, which made the poor rich and the lowly great. "What are these people?" They asked, and were given the answer: "These are Kols," that is, according to the opinion at the time, "dirty pigs." --
It would be quite correct to assert that the first Kolh missionaries would have been settled in Chutia Nagpur only by the lamentable sight of these people, or the voice of God in their hearts. Even an explicit (p.172) call there soon passed on to them, and only by the intercourse of the humanly mediating leadership with the inner necessity did they make sure that God the Lord gave them to the Kolhs. Pious English officers in Ranchi, the capital of Chutia Nagpur, had heard that German missionaries were waiting for work in Calcutta, and turned to Dr. Häberlin with the urgent request to win them to the Kohls, and they also promised faithful help and support. The Governor of the province to which the Kolhs belong,gave the brothers a personal interview. Particularly fittingly, however, he recommended the Assistant Governor Msr. Hannington to take them to the poor Kolhs. He had long cherished the soul of the neglected people. All these requests could now be fulfilled by our missionaries, as their faithful guide Dr. Häberlin, took the idea of a Kolh mission enthusiastically and advocated it with warmth. Thus came the decision for them on their journey: We go to the Kolhs.
Still, it was necessary to defeat many doubts which had been raised against this plan by others. It was pointed out that it was far more expedient to work among the educated peoples of India than to waste work and effort on a completely raw and ignorant people of nature, which did not even have a literary language. The isolated position of Chutia Nagpur was cited. The nearest Christian mission stations were at least forty miles away, and so the necessary contact with like-minded workers was almost impossible. Then it was emphasized that not only one, but four different languages were to be learned in order to be able to work successfully among the Kolhs.
The first consideration has been brilliantly disproved by the history of the Kolh mission. The closed position has moreover proved to be more an aid than a disadvantage. The third difficulty, that of the languages, has, on the other hand, become more and more evident in the course of time.
(p.173) At the time, however, the brothers were concerned with these concerns only as test beds, on which their decision to go to the Kolhs proved to be a tried and tested God-loved one. On the 25th of February they began to hear the cry, "Come and help us." Well-equipped with bibles and tracts, which they purchased for 1000 rupees from Dr. Häberlin, but miserably furnished with all that belongs to the conveniences of life, they left Calcutta. Some looked at them horribly while others sincerely regretted them, but they themselves were filled with cheerful faith. First they went in a boat up the hooghly , then on wagons over a broad road through fertile fields. Slowly they progressed forward, for the journey was made with oxcart, and half the journey they had to go on foot. By two or three o'clock the camo was interrupted, they marched or were driven to about 9 o'clock, then the heat forced them to rest in the bungalows on the road, until the temperature allowed the journey to continue. Bungalows are inns, in which the traveler can lodge, but who must take care of the supplies he has brought with him. The next goal of our missionaries was the city of Bankurah, about 40 hours west of Calcutta. There they wanted to pass the hot and the rainy season before moving to Chutia Nagpur. A warm missionary friend, Dr. Chek, instructed them to build a beautiful large house in which they arranged themselves for property.
Dr. Häberlin, who had accompanied them, proceeded from here as a scout into the country of their destiny. He returned the message: "The land is a paradise, the people benign, thirsty for the gospel." With the English he had arranged everything concerning the needs of the missionaries. When he returned to Calcutta, he was able to accept the recognition that he had taken care of the brethren as a father, and had paved the way for the brothers and provided the best possible insight into their way.
The four missionaries stayed in Bankurah to learn the Hindi language, and tried to win the Hindus living there (p.174) for the Gospel. The work, as well as the great love of their friends among whom they were guests, shortened their time, but they were most glad when the oxcart was packed up again on the 15th of October, and the journey to the mountains of Chutia Nagpur was to be continued.
Already around Bankurah the country was quite hilly. From this time on, however, the road rose considerably. In the place of low shrubbery, here and there along the road there appeared beautiful forest. The area became ever more magnificent. High mountains and deep valleys offered themselves to the eye. At last they had ascended into Chutia Nagpur, like a wall of surrounding mountain chain, and before their delighted eyes lay their second home country, the land of the Kolhs. --
On 2 November 1845 they stopped in Ranchi, the capital of the area. After a lengthy consultation with other missionaries, the place was chosen for settlement. As the seat of the highest government officials, and because of its favorable position in the center of the country, it seemed to be an excellent destination for a mission station. From here, they could light the light of life radiantly into the pagan darkness. For this the concern of the Kolhs no longer turned to any place than to Ranchi. However, as a settlement in the city itself would have led to some inconveniences, a place in the immediate vicinity was chosen. An hour south of the city lies the Militairy station Duranda on an airy hill. In the middle between Ranchi and Duranda, close to the splendid mango grove connecting the two places, they laid the cornerstone of the station on December 1, 1845. In the joyous hope that God would make it a place of grace and mercy, in which many sick people would find the healing of their souls by the preaching of the Gospel, they called it Bethesda. --
Chapter 2. June 9, 1850.
This was the birthday of the Christian Church among the Kolhs, and it was all the greater since the foundation of the mission, the first day of the joy of the missionaries, followed by much work and effort, much tribulation, lamentation, and prayer which had entered into it. Five years, say five years, lay between the day of the foundation of Ranchi, and that day on which the first of the Kolhs was to be baptized: five years of sowing without a field, and faith without seeing results: five years, -- indeed not in vain, it was just the years of sowing for the abundant harvest which was to come, -- the five years in which, sometime, as in the case of the workmen out there, so also in the case of friends at home, -- except the old faith heroes of Gossner, -- doubts have arisen: for we thought we worked in vain.
It has been a cause for reproach to the friends of the Kolh mission to expect to see a multitude of converts and great progress of their mission, and to despise the fields of work at which other societies can derive only a scanty crop. This is an unfair reproach. This, of course, we do, we say: here among the Kolhs is an open door, there, dear Christianity, penetrate by force. here is a rustic harvest field, there use diligence that no noble fruit will be gathered for want of laborers. Here the hearts of a whole people are soft, help the gospel be planted before they become hard again. -- We are doing this, and are we not right? Were we not otherwise concerned with the grave guilt of all those who have no heart and no gift for (p.176) the Kolh mission? -- but should those who do not have such successes be despised? That is before God! How could we remember this at the beginning of our own mission? On the contrary, it is precisely the friends of the Kolh mission who will have hope upon hope for the times of sowing, as their own mission would have to live through them; they will have a cordial sympathy with those who are called to sow only, and the harvest perhaps a favourable generation following: it is precisely these who, in their own experience, are able to encourage the courageous and to be able to prove that God's Word is never preached in vain.
But what were the experiences of the Gossner missionaries in the five years, seemingly fruitless, and how did the firstlings of the Kolhs be baptized?
The manner in which the missionaries began to work after the completion of their house was that customary in India. They opened a school and tried to get adults and children to attend lessons, went to the bazaar (market) at Ranchi, read publicly the Bible, preached on what was read, and talked about it with those who listened to it, collected the people in the city and in the surrounding villages as living bells to their worship in their prayer room, made preaching trips to distant places, -- briefly sought to lure and teach, where they went and stood, on time and at no time.
The most hopeful was their schooling. It was true that they had much to complain about the irregular attendance of the children. The parents did not refuse a weekly gift of an anna (coin) as a reward for regular attendance, and even beat their children, covering the school in disgrace and the missionaries with shame. But the work continued unbroken, especially since the English government gave them orphan children to be educated. Soon the new life began to stir in the receptive children's hearts. It was noted that they prayed in secret, and also asked each other (p.177) to pray with intercession. For learning, especially singing, they showed a great deal of zeal, and were eager in the crafts they learned at the station for their earthly progress. However, besides some Hindu minority children, who were exchanged soon after their acception, none would receive the holy baptism. How could this happen, as long as their parents were still disbelieving, and a community of adults was missing? --
According to the principles which have so far been maintained, the preaching of the missionaries was directed to the Kolhs, and especially in the cities to the Hindus and Mohammedans. But it is known how precisely the hearts of these two righteous ones are quite unresponsive to the gospel. In singularity among the Hindus, all the feeling of sin seems to be mortified by their religion. "What is sin?" They cried out to the preachers: "Sin is when one kills lives, we have no sin." A missionary was once called to a blind, dying, Brahman. With astonishing calm, he said: "What am I to do with your medicine, my life has come to an end, - 82 years, I am in all holiness and righteousness behind me, so that I can lay down my head peacefully to rest." When the MIssionary said that we were all poor sinners, who could only be justified by Jesus Christ, all the bystanders broke loose: "Do not say that, he has kept his life untainted, has daily sacrificed to the gods, How can you talk thus? " -- To break the pride and self-righteousness of the Hindus, and to awaken their conscience, must therefore be the chief task of the preaching of our missionaries. It was terribly hard for them. It was easy to get the Hindus involved in a conversation about religious matters, for the Hindu loved and disported with it, but the invo!vement of the listeners usually led to the ridicule of the missionaries. They spoke of the meat-eaters, and when the missionary said that this was not a sin, they might have said so many times before (p.178): "Your words are true, they are great words," yet it is said,"Now your whole speech is a lie, and we do not believe you any more." They too took the medicine with which the brethren sought to alleviate the misery of often terrible diseases, and sought to open their hearts in a weak reaction of apostolic wonder -- but when a spark of heavenly truth had once fallen into the cold heart of one and had become so powerful that it had forced back pride and self -- he was again suppressed by the sad fear of losing caste and by kinsmen, and to be regarded as expelled from mankind.
The Sahebs (gentlemen, ordinary address of the missionaries in India) also mingled with the miserable Kolhs, separated themselves from the Hindus who practised a strict distinction from the Kolhs, and creatted with time an ever greater distinction between the Hindus and the gospel. How could the Sahebs bring anything good when they were walking with this man, who was hardly regarded as a human being, to whom the Hindu himself reacted with boundless contempt toward the lowest caste? When, in 1850, a fire broke out in Lohardaga, some idle spectators told the brothers that a woman must be in the fire, crying miserably, and calling in vain. No one raise a hand to save her - not even on the order of the judge. Hindus and Mohammedans said, "she is not of concern to us, she is only a Kolh woman," and the Kolhs did not want to defile her because she ate with the Hindus. Then the brothers saved her and took her out, but it was too late, she died after an hour. The missionaries presented their love to the inhuman spectators, but they did not convince them much. The divide between the Hindus and Kolhs was too great. --
The missionaries had used the most effort with the Kolhs from the outset, but it seemed ever more fruitless. Before they knew each other more precisely, they had to appear religious and appeared to them even more morally rotten than the Hindus. They considered Kolh children in this class much more severely than Hindu children,.(p.179) People seemed to have no interest in anything higher than eating and drinking while the missionaries interacted with the Hindus in the market and on the streets, and the Kolhs probably came, but they kept themselves in the background as dumb listeners. No word of a question or objection came out of their mouths, let alone the question of all questions: "What must I do that I shall be saved?" They seemed to be "dead coals," on which all preaching and prayers had been wasted, they remained dead and motionless.
Then the brothers felt the cause of their failure among the ranks of the Hindus and the Mohammedans in the area of Ranchi, and they thought of setting up a second station in the middle of the Kolh population. Pentecost of 1846 was marked by new colleagues, the (theology) candidate Ansorge, the teacher H. Batsch, and the carpenter Buchwald arrived. In a fertile valley, on the north side of a series of rocky hills, one of which is beautiful and reminiscent of Saxon Switzerland, lies the large populous village of Domba, nine miles north-west of Ranchi. There the new station was established, and Brandt and Heinrich Batsch were put in charge. The proximity of many localities, whose inhabitants came every week to the great bazaar at Domba, seemed to facilitate the work. The people also came much more confidently than in Ranchi, and medicine and plasters were soon very popular with them, after some patients had been healed, but to a deeper impression of the divine word, to a conversion which had given the prospect of one baptism, it did not come here either.
Again, new missionaries arrived in December 1847, the brothers Sieck, Börner, Behrens, and the bride of H. Batsch. All the men had become acquainted with various handicrafts and agricultural occupations. The guidance for living an active life should go hand in hand with the preaching of the gospel. In particular, the model of a Christian house and marriage was demonstrated. (p.180) And in fact, the hard hearts are now beginning to soften. The servants of the missionaries and the workers of the station had to attend school and worship at regular intervals. When one day missionary Schatz talked to his servants of the Savior, one said, "You say I must go to the fire when I die, is that certain?" "Yes," was the answer, "if you do not pray to Jesus, that His blood cleanse you from all sins, then the wrath of God remains over you, and you go into eternal fire and will not see God." -- "But how can I pray to Jesus, I know him not?" Suddenly among several other servants who had heard before, one said; "Jisu Massih, that is the name of the Son of God: - now I will pray: "Jisu Massih, You have created me, I did not know this, and have not worshiped you -- and I have done many sins, cleanse me with thy blood, and let me not enter into the fire of Satan." Schatz did not trust his ears, and was dumb with joy and thanks. -- Then came the one or the other, not merely to get something to be given, or to learn to read, but to hear with an open-hearted question and the expressed intention as to what the Padres said of God. It was noticed that reminders and punishment were making an impression, and that embarrassment was manifested. It was as a church-goer confessed: "We used to know nothing about God's Word, now we are a little hungry." The missionaries greeted this all as the first soft rattle of the wind which precedes spring, and strengthened their faith that spring itself might well come. But if they saw that the questions remained, their work seemed like a blow into the water: this would be moved, creating waves, but soon the surface will be smooth again, and it is as before.
But the workers were still not tiring. On the contrary, they decided to found a new station, strengthened by the medical brother Conrad, who had arrived in the autumn of 1848. This was all the more necessary when Domba had proved very unhealthy (p.181) and therefore had to be given up. Lohighagga, 18 hours to the west of Ranchi, a very busy and heavily populated town, was chosen. As this place is high and healthy, connected to Ranchi by a large road, and the sacrificial missionary friend Captain Hannington in Ranchi handed over his beautiful property there, the choice could be called a very fortunate one. It also contributed decisively to make the Gospel known in wider circles and to awaken the desire of the Kolhs for salvation increasingly.
Such a desire was already felt arising the year before. The number of respondents and visitors to Ranchi and Lohardaga increased. Even some Lalas and Thakurs, descendants of the royal family, found themselves interested, demanded books, and even disputed the honor of being able to sit on the chairs with the Sahebs. In April, 1849, Missionary Schatz wrote: "We go to Ranchi, Chutia, etc. in the morning and in the evening, and find many friends of the word. There is a lot of calm attentive listeners who follow the preaching of the word and think about it. It is not uncommon to pass a house, to hear them speak of the Savior. Often such gentle expressions are made that the mute heart is always raised at the right time."
These signs that still the sun will rise, and the day will dawn, multiplied in the course of the summer. The mission house was often full of seekers. The desire for books grew. Many wanted to learn to read when they saw others could. Some asked more seriously than before. The indifferent were no more to be seen. A Mundari would not return until he had found Jesus. However, the sun of salvation did not really want to rise in any heart. Strangely, with all kinds of sympathy, seeking, learning and praying the Kolhs -- to turn to the Lord (p.182) and to be sealed by the course of this covenant - no one wanted that. Again in November 1849 new missionaries arrived, four brothers and three sisters, Candidate Gerndt and wife, Matthias, Rud. Gerndt, Miiller, Marie Bussenius, and Anna Holzhausen, and they were hardly a quarter of a year in India, when two new messengers, Oscar Lohr and Adolph Bussenius, to follow the former into the great field of work. It was to be ordered with all force, whether the ground would not finally turn green. And indeed the movement among the Kolhs did not cease in 1850, but increased. In ever larger crowds came those seeking help from near and far. "As long as you speak," said one, "my heart is with your word; I wish it to come into my heart for ever, it is a joyful message." Another said, "It is not yet in me, but when I come again and again, should not it finally be brought into the heart?" Even those members of the royal family, who were already mentioned, especially Lala Bisnathshah and his brother, (compare the section: "still some natives") who were in Ranchi for a trial, expressed their admiration of the Gospel. And the ill have had very pleasant experiences, experiences which are similar to the healings in the Bible. The untiring love of the missionaries drew people to faith in the Saviour even more than their word, faith in the Savior, who calls the weary and the burdened. In the first half of 1850, Conrad, the "mission doctor," treated no less than 5,705 persons, and always added the spiritual to the bodily medicine. The poor took their alms daily at the mission home; They were never dismissed without also being given the bread of life. Thus, the mission stations often resembled lazarene and poor houses. Trips were not omitted either. In wide circuits around Ranchi and Lohardaga, the circle was widened. But why did they not step up? What was the reason why, despite the often agreeable approval of the Gospel, none of the Kolhs really wanted to be converted?
(p.183) When we now read the missionary reports of the first five years, we are confronted with a steady advance in the effectiveness of the preaching among the Kolhs, and we think that the joy of labor and hope of the Missionaries must have grown. But it was not like that. Perhaps, however, we now see the gradual rhythm and sprouting under the earth better understood from the great reaping time, the development with a different eye than that which at that time stood in the work itself. To them, who had to do heavy and strenuous work, to them, who longed so much for a very visible fruit, and yet did not perceive any real conversion, to them, it is not to be seen as too high for them to believe the faith which does not need to be seen, to be threatened by loss and finally even give up all hope of success. Truly, the supposed fruitlessness of their preaching, the heaviest of crosses for a messenger of God, had grown In the course of these five years, and many other crosses had been laid upon their shoulders. Gossner also wrote to support them and to send what he could send, and also sought the pious English, especially the faithful Hennington family, who often in astonishing ways relieved them of the anxiety of food, but they often had been pressed by sheer necessity, The word that Gossner once called the conscience of the first missionaries: "Will you be your own rulers?" They often had to be refreshed in their memories. Then sickness and death had held a rich harvest among them. By the year 1851 five brothers and one sister had died. The first, who had already succumbed to the fever in 1846 and was buried at Bethesda, was the dean Janke. All of the 14 missionaries sent to the Kolhs were faithful to the work. For a time, only so many were healthy as to be faithful nurses to the other sufferers. These had been all heavy blows that might have been fueled by the fresh enthusiasm with which they had begun. Who will judge those who saw, on the one hand, only work, sacrifice, drudgery, and affliction, (p.184) but did not perceive anything of the blessing on the other, which in the work of the mission was also promised martyrdom, and not be tired? God, the Lord, may have allowed this courageousness to justify the glorious awakening, which was to follow immediately, as his gracious promise, and to show the workers that when they see nothing but death, He however by His Spirit can create life beyond life.
Out of their piety, the brothers wrote to Gossner in 1850: "The Kolhs do not repent, all our work is in vain; we wish to seek a different field of work where we can work with greater hope." --
But this was not according to Gossner's point. He knew better the way of his God than his missionaries. His faithfulness was not broken. In gratitude to God, we read his answer, which demanded a vigorous continuation of the work, without which in fact all the work would have been in vain: "If the Kolhs turn, or do not repent, it is all the same to you: if they will not accept the word, they may listen to the judgment, but you pray and preach quietly, and we will pray more."
Gossner's instructions were followed. Quietly and patiently, the brothers continued their work, but prayed more. Every Monday evening they came together and begged the Lord to pour out the Holy Spirit.
Miraculously quick their prayer was heard.
Under the tribe of Uraons lived four wealthy landowners who had long sought for the peace of the soul which their Kolh faith could not give them. They had joined the Hindu sect of the Kabir-panthis, but the ascetical exercises, regular prayers, severe fasting, which their Guru prescribed them did not suit them either. There they told their Guru (read "some other natives") about the missionaries from whom they had once received a book. A court case in land affairs led them now to a long stay at Ranchi, and gave them opportunity to hear the sermons frequently (p.185). The experience of oppression may have made their hearts more receptive to the truth. But how difficult it is for a heathen to bow down under the humility of the Cross of Christ, should be made clear here. How often they had taken part in worship and talked with the missionaries -- that they were sinners who needed salvation -- they would not admit it. Finally, finally, soon after the beginning of the weekly and certainly daily prayers of the missionaries, the ice broke within them, they admitted that they were sinners, and they confessed their faith in Jesus. The missionaries froze, finally! finally! -- and yet their rejoicing was still too early.
Whoever can only conceive of how difficult a heathen, who hitherto has lived only in visible sensuous things, to elevate himself to the supernatural ideas of an invisible God and Savior, will understand the following, and not the proof of a want of sincerity or deeper yearning. "Yes," they said, "we believe in Jesus, but we also want to see him." They were asked to attend regularly the daily Bible study. They did it. The word appealed to them more and more, but they remained, "We want to see Jesus." For hours on end, the missionaries were talking with them about this point, the end was always: "Show us Jesus, then it is enough for us." Scolding and angry that their wish was not fulfilled, they finally departed from Ranchi. But it did not let them rest, they came again, tortured anew: "We wish to see Jesus." A brother took them into his room, kneeled with them, and prayed that the Lord would give them light and grace. The prayer made a deep impression upon them, more solemn and more thoughtful than ever before, and they could not be seen again on the following Sundays.
Then a happy hope seemed to have been destroyed. The people obviously did not want to stand out from their plans: -- or were they really incapable of believing without seeing? (p.186) It was true that three other Kolhs came, and they sought many things, and had a number of disputes with the gospel, but they also demanded that they should have Jesus come to them.
But when the first four came back, no more of their old wish was heard, they begged, after a long conversation with the brothers, to attend the English worship service. If this desire seemed wonderful, since the people did not understand a word of English, they were ready to go, and, behold, as they came out of the church joyfully: "Now we are satisfied and desire nothing more than to become Christians." Now their thoughts were revealed. They had said that the missionaries only treated them with the sight of Jesus, which they might well have shown to their bodily eyes. But when they saw that the English, whom Jesus had surely not withheld, did nothing but sing, pray, and listen in their worship, they were convinced that Jesus could be seen only with the eye of faith, not with the body. The result was that they now asked for instruction and baptism.
Now there was the fight for the caste. That lasted five weeks. At last their faith also won over this last enemy. Again on a Sunday they ate with the Christians for the first time. This was a step of the utmost importance. The attendant Kolhs, mostly servants, were so astonished at what was happening before their eyes that they hardly dared to breathe. It was as if a thunderstorm were gathering over the house, so anxious were all to show courage. The food was given, the brethren said the prayer of the table, and in God's name the men shared the meal with the Christians. But now all the doubts had been overcome. After the necessary instruction they were baptized. This was on 9 June 1850. The men were called Kafu, Bandhu, Gurha and Navin Porin (Neumann).
(p.187) The missionary Schatz wrote to Gossner: "You must sing a joyous song with us, indeed, near and far, praise the Lord, Hosanna to the Lord. The coals are kindled; -- the Kohls have turned around, the old has passed, the new has begun: so now they want a new song. Oh! As so often, as we have sung, as on this day, with the lofting of the congregation, Judges 6:17: Lord, I have found grace before thee, so make only a sign that thou art it." So comes that sign! --
Gossner had long ago written to his missionaries the word from Isaiah 43: "Do not remember the old and do not pay attention to the past, for, behold, I will make a new thing, now it shall grow up that ye shall know that I make a way in the desert, and streams of water in the wilderness. For I will give water in the wilderness, and streams in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen ones. This people I have taken to me, they shall tell My glory." Shortly before, however, before Gossner received the message of joy from India, he had said one morning to a close friend: "I have been praying the whole night for the brothers in Ranchi: we shall soon get good news."
Chapter 3: The Kolh Mission and the Rebellion of 1857.
If in the spring the crops grow luxuriantly, the trees burst into flower, and the new life is so full of excitement in the woods and forests, when the wild storms of April and the cold days of May come. The impatient man, who complains about it, would perhaps like to see the creation blow in with pastel jewelry. And it is true, many a flower, which ventures somewhat prematurely into the light of the spring sun, is thrown by the storms, many fresh-green shoots wakes under the frost again. Nevertheless, there is also wisdom and goodness. What would become of the harvest if the seed did not soar in the rough days? What unclean air would man, beast, and plant give up, if the storms did not expel those damaging vapors while the spring-sun elicits the young life from the parched earth?
We find precisely the same path of grace in the history of the kingdom of God, and the mission among the Kolhs is not the last to prove this clearly.
In front of us is a map of the mission of 1 November 1856. What has been blooming and growing up in the six years since the first conversions! Next to the mother station of Ranchi-Bethesda, five more have sprung up, which, like blossoming daughters, surround the mother. As early as 1850, the station Govindpur could be founded 12 hours southwest of Ranchi. To the west lies Lohardaga, to the east Purulia, to the north Hazaribagh, and between it and the Ranchi station, the Pithuria station belonging to the latter. But the most delightful sight is afforded by the numerous (p.189) villages, which are decorated with a cross, as a sign that Christians dwell in them. They count 56, mostly west of Ranchi from the tribe of the Uraon, and in the village of Cotta is located 16 Christian families, and one house of God, in which one of the first, Neumann, holds a daily Bible study.
But the influence of the gospel is by no means confined to the 56 villages. Here and there in the country live the Inquirers, the aroused, who seek baptism and are under baptismal instruction. The dead mass of Kolhs has come to full flow. The movement is in full swing and has already extended to the Mundas.
In recent years an average of 200 yearly have been baptized. In the cold season of 1856, 40, 50, 60 and more each Sunday were added by baptism to the congregation. In April of the same year, the community baptized 266 adults and 200 children, 800 are in contact with the mission. From afar, as much as 12 hours away the natives come to Ranchi to the church. As early as 1853 it was said of the converted Kolhs: "They are driving the work almost more than the missionaries," they were so eager to lead others to salvation. The first native catechist, Christopal by name, is employed; he receives quarterly 13 1/2 rupees as I am told, and a new church dress for Christmas. Fourteen elders arranged Christian celebrations in the villages.
At the station Ranchi a beautiful, big church can be built. It is called Christ Church and has cost 13,000 rupees. On 18 November 1851, when the community was still few, the foundation was laid. But as the longing for the gospel was a source of inspiration and there were 100 inquirers, including entire families, the old man Gossner also wanted a beautiful edifice that honored the Lord Jesus among the heathen temples, the church was thought to be set up to seat 800 persons. But, behold, after much laborious work -- the missionaries had to do the main work themselves in the (p.190) construction -- on Christmas in 1855 they called all to come to the new house of God, and it was already too small for the entire congregation.
The school in Ranchi is in full bloom. A Gossner missionary, who is staying on the river Ganges, calls it a model school. About 80 children, mostly of Christian parents, receive their teaching in catechism, biblical history, reading, writing, singing, arithmetic, etc. A selection had to be set up for the formation of native teachers and catechists. But the school is still too small. The whole church consists of four hundred school going children, and the missionaries advise how they can all go to school by making the parents willing to send their children only from the 8th or 9th year.
A report sent by the missionary superintendent Sternberg, stationed at the Ganges, to Father Gossner in a visit to the Kolhs in March of 1856, cannot praise enough the blessed progress of the Kolh mission. He says, among other things: “By the way, I can be very brief in the main office. The mission of the brothers in Ranchi is, in a word, a mission as every missionary could want. Here a nation, neither so refined as the Hindus and the Chinese, yet not so savage as the Australians, a people of good and natural dispositions, both in the body and in the spirit, but sunk in the power of the natural air of the fallen human race, but it was not strengthened and dominated by a devoted doctrine to the gods, or a philosophy which overcame all gods, nor bound by an interested priesthood or false holiness. -- and among this people the gospel has come with grace, and has been kindled in the hearts of men, so that from the day that the firstfruits were known of this people who have accepted the love of God, has fired this love from one to the other, from the nearer to the far, from village to village, until now the community gathered there is not counted by individuals, but by hundreds, and founded on the hope that in the course of not many (p.191) years the whole tribe of the Kolhs will be brought into the congregation. On the Sunday, when I was with them, there were 75 souls before the baptismal font - old men and young men, old mothers and mothers with nursing children in the lap, or even more on their backs. -- as one of us, who must be struggling for a year before he can get a single convert, becomes encouraged by such a sight, you can imagine. -- it should be noted that the baptismal candidates are not allowed to be baptized so quickly or hurriedly. They have usually to wait several years after their confession to give samples of their sincerity by disposing of certain pagan customs and vices. -- The brethren offer them only spirituality, and do not concern themselves with the earthly things. The latter point can be appreciated only by the one who has worked under Hindus and Mohammedans (or even Jews), and when he sees a man coming to be a Christian, they are at once to greet his bag, open it, and provide the man something to eat, or otherwise provide for his or her maintenance. -- I was with Brother Schatz in two villages where some of their next converts lived; when, at first sight, one sees in a moment their behavior, their faces, their houses, that a spiritual change for the better has occurred in them.” -- He writes of a visit to the church service in Christ-Church: "This was a joy indeed, although the term "joy" is almost too dull. For when I was sitting in the wide, bright, high-ceilinged room, and worshiped God with laudatory praises under the guidance of the organ-playing and choral-singing with several hundred Christian Kolhs and 75 baptismal candidates, I was entirely transferred from the dark heathland to a Christian country, and thought involuntarily several times of you, and wished if you could see this only once, that you would see with your eyes that your trouble, prayer, and supplication for the heathen had not been in vain." Gossner accompanies Sternberg's account in the Biene, saying, "Let us give the glory to the Lord," (p.192) he alone is worthy, and our brothers in Ranchi-Bethesda will know this, and will rather think, not of what they have done but what they could and should have done, so that the Lord will give them even more grace and give even greater blessings. We are also pleased that in their report on their effectiveness they were not saying too much, but rather too little, for we have never heard of them as others now say of their mission. This is out of fashion. -- Mission reports are usually very decorated, God knows what is true. "
A little later, he writes: "Since the fishermen are so in the stream, help them pull the net -- pray, we must get all the Kolhs, the devil shall not keep any bones, unless the Savior throws back some of them that are bad fish and not good."
...In the spring of 1857, which was to bring such grievous suffering to India, the community grew particularly powerful. In the first three months of the year, 185 were baptized. The Kolhs came by the village, and so great was the invitation to the baptism that the boys of the first class in school became preoccupied with learning the catechism. The hall, which formerly served as a church, was only suitable for ordinary morning and evening devotions. The large Christ Church had been as frequented during the rainy season as at festivals. There were more than 900 baptized in the community and well over 2000 candidates for baptism.
When the work was so successful, the disastrous revolution broke out.
It was not in the land of the Kolhs as it was in all of India that the distant rumbling of the approach of this thunder had been heard.
From the outset it may be remarked that the Christian Kolhs did not take part in the revolt; The rebels were the Mohammedans and Hindus, the enemies of the English, and also the enemies of the Kolhs. For centuries they had already experienced severe (p.193) oppression, but never had the Zemindars and Thikadars shown their rage in the most unmerciful manner, except now against the Christians.
Now, however, these persecutions took on a character and an extent that one had to realize, there was a plan behind it, and the intention was that the missionaries and all Christians should either be killed or hunted from the land. At first it seemed as if the intervention of the government would hold the main thing somewhat in check. Thus, a Thakur, who had raged against the Christians before others with murders and threats, and who had also been beating the missionary Herzog with a large band of armed men in 1855, and had beaten him so that he was unconscious and thought dead, but because of blackmail for a compensation of 300 rupees was condemned and convicted to be hung on the dry branch (gallows). This had helped. But these intimidations did not last long. Soon the Christian persecution came to a head with a double force. The Chriistians will soon be the field, on whose yield it reckons, from the Thikadar, and soon the cattle are stolen, house and courtyard set on fire, that the poor owner is beggared, a child is accused of being a witch and miserably beaten, others are attacked, and after they are plundered they are beaten and brought to prison, or they have been wrongfully accused by the Zamindar to have harvested his field, and so it goes on -- a sad scene of heavy persecution. In a book we find a list of such oppressions: within a month, there were about 20 cases which were heard by the missionaries. Then, in more than 30 villages, the Christians were attacked at once and haunted with mistreatments and oppressions of all kinds. The Zemindars, among themselves, held conferences to suppress the Christian movement: the slogan from mouth to mouth runs from them: "Hindus; with the Christians and with the missionaries, out!" To this end, the unified landowners sack the missionaries at the government (p.194) in Calcutta, as if they were guilty of all the noise, and by the preaching of the Gospel, they destroyed all order and existing rights. Even the English gentlemen in Ranchi, who were mostly only too innocent of the missionary work, were accused of serving the Christians, and were secretly united with the missionaries. -- these complaints were, of course, carried out in the two high courts, and they were not received by the Governor, to whom they ultimately turned. But it was not concealed from the keen eye, for they, in addition to all the actual oppressions which could not be punished at all, were only the prelude of an even more serious and dreadful drama, to which the curtain was soon to rise.
In the spring of 1857 the general insurrection broke, as was feared. It had its center in Bengal and the northern provinces. Its marked tendency was to eradicate all Europeans and Christians, and to restore the old Mohammedan rule in place of the overthrown English government. The worst was that most of the indigenous regiments joined the insurgents. Also in the neighborhood of Ranchi, in Duranda, were garrisoned regiments of the natives. Still, they remained quiet like the entire surrounding country. But what would tomorrow bring? There had been great concern in the hearts of the missionaries since the outbreak of the Rebellion. Every day they expect that it is going to be let loose near them too. The accounts of the abominations which the Mohammedans had committed to Christians made them fear for themselves the same. The Lord is petitioned by both great and small to avoid the danger in daily hours of prayer. In the event of a necessary flight, everything is ready. Most English families have already been brought to safety in Calcutta. The brothers want to last as long as possible. But they, too, sent the women and children (p.195) under the protection of some missionaries a long distance by oxcart, to wait in a protected place for the course of events, and to have a lead in the case of emergency.
There comes the news that Delhi has fallen, the old Mohammedan royal city, where the Mohammedan king was once again put on the throne, and the head of the dragon of revolution is now crushed. One "thank goodness" after another rises from the hearts of the afflicted. They hope to be able to stay. After four days, the refugees return from their refuge in the mountains. The important work remains undisturbed, the mission stations unharmed, they hope. Especially great is the joy that they now do not need to release the 100 school children to their parents. Three times they had been about to do so. But the children had so kindly asked to remain there. "Why would you send us away?" one had said to the others, "our place is here with you, and where you remain, we remain." How wonderful that the desire of the children could be fulfilled! --
But the joy was short-lived! It was a great mistake to think that with the fall of Delhi it had now come to an end. Chutia Nagpur was also to burn in the flames of the insurrection.
First they went to Hazaribagh. Rebellious Sepoy regiments came, and with them the two companies of the city made common cause. Fortunately, missionary H. Batsch received news of the approach of the rebels early, as the soldiers standing in Hazaribagh, and could flee with his own. Still in flight, it was hard for him to believe that by the next day all would be destroyed to rubble and ash. But after four days the sad word came that Hazaribagh had been ravaged and burnt down. They came to Calcutta on 3 August, after a very difficult journey, which they had to make partly (p.196) on elephant, partly on horseback, but luckily in good weather.
A few days later H. Batsch had to save the brothers in Ranchi also from the flood. The same revolting soldiers, who had looted Hazaribagh, now came to Ranchi to strengthen themselves through the regiments stationed there, and to commit the same shame.
On the 31st of July, the missionaries once again gathered all the Christians together in Ranchi, prayed with them, laid the state of affairs before them, and sent them into their villages, together with their children. After they had ordered the watchmen to guard the missionary property as long as possible, they took the wandering road, and as they had come twelve years ago, they now retreat, poor, each one with a bundle on the shoulder. Their flight fell in a very unfavorable time, in the heaviest month of the rainy season.
They were unable to describe what they had to go through on their flight. They had to go twenty-six miles before they came to the railroad, in a pathless region, over mountains, through ravines, swollen rivers, and dense forests, sometimes with violent downpours, sometimes with blazing sunshine always in the same clothes, wading through swollen rivers or after the heavy downpours and then soon to dry again. Often went into the rivers up to the arms, and at night. In the end it was barefoot to walk, because shoes and stockings went to pieces. And yet none of them became ill.
From Purulia, where they passed, they took the missionary Brandt family with them shortly before the outbreaks, and after some difficulties, which were particularly conducive to the survival of the women and children, they finally arrived at Ranneeganj station, Supported by much love, they came finally to Calcutta, where they met with the Sisters from Hazaribagh on the 7th of August.
(p.197) Then they sat, as they said, at the waters of Calcutta, and wept, that they had left Chutia Nagpur. They sat, and sighed, "Ah, that help may come out of Zion for Israel, and the Lord redeem his captive people."
And what was going on in Chutia Nagpur? --
After the town of Ranchi was plundered by the Sepoys, the prison was opened, 150,000 rupees of treasure was plundered from the court house, and the destruction moved on to the mission station. Above all, they wanted to destroy the church. Cannons were planted and fired against the beautiful building. But God the Lord protected his temple. Of the four cannon shots that were fired, only one hit and did little damage. Also the interior of the church was only plundered, but not destroyed. Benches were dragged away, the chandelier stolen, the organ was destroyed, but the damage was reduced to 2,000 rupees. All the windows, as far as they could reach, were smashed, no little nail or hook were left in the woodwork, but the building itself remained intact. The bombardment of the church was the signal for the mob to fall upon the other mission houses. The guardian servants could not prevent it. Soon the soldiers also joined the plunderers. And now, after a short interruption, they went all night on a complete clearing. All the not unimportant supplies, all the furniture and iron things were dragged away, so that not even the trace of utensils remained in the houses. Even the nails were pulled out of the walls, and the wood was split. Books were torn, windows and doors were lifted and carried away. Just once the garden fence was left whole. The empty rooms were initially used by the soldiers as lodgings, later on, for the oxen to stay.
Like in Ranchi, the rest of the stations were being abused.
Much worse than the buildings, however, came upon the poor, native Christians. Against them was let go a true hunt, (p.198) The community elders in particular had to suffer terribly. That the Christian villages and Christian houses, as far as the rebels could get to them, were plundered to the ground, the poor Kolhs were robbed of all their possessions, their clothes, their fruits, their harvests, their cattle, and they defended themselves and were not the worst off. Who could flee fled of course. But what an escape just in the heaviest days of the rainy season! The refugees had to spend six weeks in the forests, mountains and caves, without food except roots and the like. Along with the elders were more than 100 children. Many of the displaced died, and even more became ill and strayed there.
Those who were seized by the enemies suffered ill-treatment and mockery of the rudest kind. The well-known Neumann lost all his cattle, 200 rupees and all his stores. They seized the old mother, his wife and children, struck them with sticks and shoes, took them away for a few hours, and left them then in their misery. They should confess, where Neumann would have surrendered the money spent on his custody. The children got swollen body and fever in consequence of the many beatings. The hair fell out completely. -- In another place all the Christians had been bound and beaten. "Now, let us hear one of your songs," one shouted at them, "teach us something out of the word: where is your Jesus, what is your doctrine, where are your teachers now?" -- In Kharhe the Zemindar had put a Christian captive in fetters and dragged him to Palkot to sacrifice him there to the chief idol. He was thrown into the porch of the temple and tied around the hips with a line from the ceiling. In the night, however, he found an opportunity to get rid of the cords and escape, while his five guards slept. To get rid of the fetters, he would have had to wound himself. The Thakur of Hattia, a close relative of the king, was particularly terrible. As soon as the insurrection broke out, he sent to all the Zemindars, Thikadars, (p.199) and the like with written orders above all to kill the Christians. On Missionary Schatz and an English official, he would have preferably seen. On the native Christians Neumann, Teble and Nathanael was a special prize. Whoever brought them, a village and also 2000 rupees additional. He had determined that the skin of the men would make a tympanic membrane, and that was to be called a good drum, which he could use from such a skin. According to their tone, the daughters of the Christians, whom he was about to catch, should learn to dance well. -- Only the King of Palkot had had any reservations about the extermination of Christians. He wrote to the Thakur that he would have nothing to do with it, if it should come about one day. But since this would not be possible, it would be best to avoid entirely. For few will be left, and then seek their right from the English. "The English," they wrote to him again, "have all fled." "What is the matter," said the king, "as long as we have not all their heads, I will not believe that their dominion has ended." -- This warning may have contributed to the fact that one did not at least try to take the life of the Christians at once. The king was also sent from the land, among other things from the church, but he would not accept anything. Upon the warning of the king, the chief councilman decided to strike, but not to wound and not to kill. But with stick, fist and shoe blows it went all the more devilish. Some died as a result, many of them suffered their own life. Among the tribulations and deprivations -- only two villages of Christians were spared -- a good part of the Christians were asleep, and they were usually dragged down by fever, dysentery, and cholera.
At last the insurrection had been defeated and the missionaries were allowed to return. By God's grace, none of them had been killed, and they could all return to their labors. They tried to restore the destroyed. However, it was impossible to undertake all previous stations again. (p.200) The losses sustained by the estate were too high. Only Ranchi was occupied by the brothers. Here, however, they immediately went back to work. This is Christianity, that one can not be disturbed in the work of the Lord by any disturbances: one knows that God's thoughts must be carried out, and that God's ways lead to the goal, even if they appear to be ways of terror.
The missionaries were thus able to recognize the Christians, who were the ones who had the worst of the revolution. To them the uprising had been a heavy but healthy fire. They had proved themselves in this and proved that the temple of God in Chutia Nagpur was not made of wood, hay, and stubble, that it was made of gold, silver, and precious stone. The Christian Kolhs had served the blind fury of the enemy as a guide to apostasy, and to the fortification in faith. One of those who had lost all her savings and had been beaten bloodily, was asked if the scarlet on her back had not made her feel like a Christian: she said, "Should I not like to suffer a little for my dear Lord Jesus, who suffered so much for me?" One of the others had said, under heavy torture: "Jab tak swas rahega, main apne Isu ko na chorunga, while there is still breath in me, I will not forget my Jesus." Not one among them, said the missionaries, complained and muttered.
We shall be well aware of what this state of mind is, if we remember the dire situation in which they were. Their missionaries and the English had been driven out, the whole country in the hands of those who had been forging revenge plans for years. What would become of them if the English were not again masters of the country? What a fierce struggle they might have had! How hot their prayers would be! But the Lord whom they had called had heard their prayers, and stood by them. They had learned how true he was and (p.201) that he could free them from the violence of the persecutors. The bond of their fellowship was now stronger than before by their communion, their confidence in the Lord stronger than ever. With astonishment, their pagan tribesmen looked upon them and their faith. Far from the fact that by the insurrection the force of the heathen had suffered a weakening from the Gospel, it became even more powerful. The blood of the martyrs was also the seed of the church. Nor had the order been fully established in Chutia Nagpur, because the government, fearing a new insurrection, dared not chastise the Hindu, -- nor did they accuse the Zemindars with robbery and destroying harvests, yes, one maintained, they had nevery been so harsh and had never been so strong, -- nor did the Hindus seem to be in danger of threatening speeches, and the fire only seemed to glow under the ashes -- then, in the late autumn, 150 pagan Kolhs had once again been admitted to the congregation, ready to fill the resulting spaces.
Thus the Lord, after the raging and thundering storm, drew up the peace-bow of his grace again over the land of the Kolhs, and the very distorted dark weather-clouds had to serve to make this peace-bow more lovely and lure many to the triumph of peace.
Soon after Chutia Nagpur returned to peace, on March 30, 1852, the man went to eternal peace, who had sent the message of true peace across the sea -- the old Father Gossner. We are delighted that in the last few weeks of his life he has still received the joyous round of the victory which the faith of his Kolhs has carried over the world with their horrors and fears. His last word, which he wrote in the Biene and just about this victory of his work in India, may be unforgettable as his testament to all the friends of the kingdom of God: "For the beloved ones! The Lord has spoken, let us hear! (p.202) But let us not sit still, but be ready to do something - to rebuild and expand until the glorious temple of the Lord is also finished in India, and we can proclaim: behold it there, behold it there!" --
Chapter 4. Ten Years of Growth.
No preacher of the gospel, no missionary is allowed to attribute the successes of his activity as merit. For what does he do? He pours the seed of the divine word into his heart, and finally then gathers the sheaves -- that is all. The rhythm, growth, flowering, bringing forth of the fruit is "by itself." --
This truth is quite apparent in the mission among the Kolhs, and especially in the ten years from 1857 to 1867. Then the Spirit of God flowed through the people, and in many thousands of heathen hearts a longing for the kingdom of God was created, and the word of Isu Massih, the right helper in need, misery and death, came to life, and caused faith to move in the firm resolution to leave their idolatry, and caste, and to be baptized. One village after another, one region after another, was awakened. The heathen flocked to Ranchi for instruction, the baptismal candidates for baptism. The picture of growth does not seem to be sufficient to correctly describe what was the attraction to the gospel. It was too powerful, too sudden, too massive. It was a spectacle, as if the waters of a river had been rising up, and the dam was broken, and the rising surge rushed into the newly-dug bed with a great force. And what had the missionaries done? Little or nothing. They had preached the word faithfully up to the year 1857, but under many difficulties the word was preached, yet nothing could be seen of them since their activity had become a much more versatile and strained one. To the extent to which (p.204) the religious movement among the Kolhs increased, their work of sowing decreased. Several stations had been abandoned since the revolution year, a number of missionaries had passed on to the council of the older ones, or to other missions: only a handful of spiritual workers were still at Ranchi, some of whom were usually on holiday or ill. There is not much thought of preaching. It is preferable to remain firmly at the station, either simply avoiding travel or out of the ordinary denands that all the hands are needed for the work of harvesting: which was the preparation ff seekers for baptism, and performing the baptisms. In fact, while the earth itself yielded stalk, ears, and then the full seed in the ears, the sower slept.
In the uprising of 1857, the powerful in the country had tremendously raged against the poor Kolhs, especially the Christian ones. But they had not succeeded in dissuading them from their faith. On the contrary, the time of tribulation had been a time of inward probation, purification and strengthening for the Christians. They had been driven deeper and deeper into prayer, they had become more and more attached to the Lord, to a few helpers, and to one another. Then came the defeat of the rebellion. It was inevitable, and it was greeted with praise and gratitude by the poor martyred Christians, as an aid from above, and through their prayers. "Jesus is our Savior," that was their stand stronger than ever. "In Christianity there is salvation and help for us, but nowhere else." This conviction broke with power also among the heathen.
And there was another. The poor Christians, who had lost almost all their possessions, had been amply compensated for by the English reformation, and with the retirement, now rich private people were competing with the Christian Kolhs with good deeds. Only Christians were desired for ministers. The officials of the court and the police should possibly be occupied only by Christians. One would have liked to know that the native military could only consist of Christians. (p.205) England had seen where it had come with its false religionless policy, now it seemed to reflect on the roots of its power. Hitherto completely ignored by the English Government, the native Christians were now treated with special love.
It is not to be wondered at that under these circumstances the religious movement among the Kolhs was mixed with many unclear motives. In the earthly minds of the heathen, the word of salvation could not be reflected in all its majesty and purity, it was involuntarily drawn down into the sensuous, the worldly. What they had felt from the outset, that only Christianity could save them from a complete social decline, now became more and more certain to them. The various groups of people thought differently how this could be done,. There was, in any case, no reason for a spiritual exhortation in their eccentric minds. In the majority, and particularly among the heads of the villages and tribes, the following form of thought spread: "We will part with the devil, become Christians, let us be taught, free ourselves with the help of the missionaries from the unjust oppressions of the immigrant Hindus, and repossess the land unjustly stolen from us in recent years." Thus it happened that in November of 1858, a year after the country had been quiet, the 50 Christian villages of 1857 had become no less than 205 ! On the Christmas festival of the same year, around 1,500 had attended the church in Ranchi. The station was a large camp for four days, the whole church crowded, 250-300 people had to stay outside. Over 150 families reported during the festival for baptism and broke their caste. On New Year's Day and the Sunday afterwards again 60 families came forward, on 4 January another 12 families. On the whole already 270 villages showed alliegance to the Mission. It was feared that the whole tribe of the Mundas would suddenly turn to Christianity. A Christian from the southern region of Nagpur said, "We are very afraid (p.206) that the Zemindars will now also become Christians, but they will not give up their robbery; the worse for us." Another, who had been in touch with the mission for years, but who had been held back from baptism by his caste, said: "Now all the people are looking at you, and all these are together, and each one asks what iwill that bring about? One does also realize that it is good to be a Christian. They only do not know - from the high castes of the Hindus - how they are to overcome the difficulty of the caste. They all come and soon, but that will end in confusion."
With the latter view the Lala Bisnathshah was unfortunately right. It could not be denied that the foolish hopes which led many to the acceptance of Christianity had to lead to expulsions for evil.
First, the conflicts were in the districts of Sonepur and Govindpur, south of Ranchi. The movement had first reached the Mundas who lived there. It was the old quarrel with the Zemindars that caused the occasion, and besides, most of the blame lay with them. To them it was a thorn in the eye that so many were becoming Christians, for they feared rightly that the Kolhs leave their fire-fighting of spirits. Collected togetherr, they falsely made repeated accusations against Christians, and they utterly scrambled one village after another.
But Christians were not without guilt. Many may well have given themselves, by their Christianity, in obedience to the authorities, and to a certain extent also to the Zemindars. To others the hostility of the landlords will have been a welcome opportunity to rise up against them. In any case, they did not bear the cross in a Christian manner, but now set themselves in covenant with their pagan peoples, expelled the attacking Zemindars, and made great prey of horses, vessels, and captives. (p.207) The fact that they delivered the latter plaintively at court did little to help them to change the judgment of the English officials, which had already been given to the Zemindars. The government's enthusiasm for the Christians had been very short. In addition to this, since the Revelution the English magistrates had changed so often in Ranchi that none knew the conditions of the country exactly! In the eyes of the Commissioner´s Department, who had no heart for the Christians, they were regarded as rebels. And as rebels they were to be treated. The sad act of a Christian persecution under magisterial authority, under Christian authority, was performed. The robbing and looting on the part of the Zemindars was a horror. The women had their clothes torn off, so they had to lie down in the straw. The men were carried away captive, but placed on the floor at the place of their captivity. The loot was divided among the plundering gangs, or brought into the storehouses of the Zemindars. So it went for 14 days, night after night. robbing, plundering, burning houses and catching people was the order of the day. The Christians were full of fear and terror. They did not sleep in their villages during the night, but fled into the woods. 20 villages were plundered, over 100 Christians martyred, some slain. All the missionaries' testimony before the Commissioner did not help. He was angry with the Christians, and had reported to Calcutta that the Christians in Sonepur were unruly, when no one in the entire District knew anything of any unrest. As word of the plundering and persecution against the order and the proclamation of the rajahs spread, it was only with difficulty that the Christians were held back from an insurrection against the English authorities.
At last, after the persecution had extended to neighboring regions, the commissioner himself went to the place of unrest. As a result, it was possible gradually to find quiet. (p.208) The Thakur (king) of Govindpur, who had most profoundly attacked the Christians, was taken into custody, and a punishment was imposed on him, because he had secretly buried some of the slain. Several of them, both heathen and Christian, were sent to prison.
With deep pain, the missionaries looked at these and similar, often repetitive events. The sympathy for the sad lot of the Kolhs, and despite the certainty that the greater guilt was among the Zemindars, they could not and would not approve of this kind of peasant war. They had to separate themselves from such ways and acts.
But could not all these sad performances have been avoided? Why not make journeys to these areas? Why not set up two or three outstations? Why was it not to be sought, through personal intercourse, to save the Christians from folly, to assist them with counsel and deed, and to direct the whole movement into a real fairway? -- We know that the mission was often lacking support from the home base, and that the work on the station relied a great deal on the efforts of the missionaries. Nevertheless, we can not suppress the conviction that even at that time the missionaries were not free from guilt. It was the time when several of them began to procure private property with the compensation paid by the government. If they had time to do that, they would have had to have time for the pastoral care of the communities.
The effect of the outbreak, as was to be expected, was very imminent for the young Christian communities. A kind of unprisoned state had been stifled. They had almost completely disappeared from regular supervision and the preaching of the Word of God. Almost in all the villages they had started to drink brandy again. It was therefore not necessary to introduce the old church order, which was further developed in the conference of the missionaries, determining to handle it strictly. Rather for this purpose, more elders were elected, and each of the elders was still given aid, and it was also considered necessary (p.209) that chapels be built in the villages of the Elders, and young men were trained at the seminary class at Ranchi.
The influx of the Kolhs into the Kingdom of God had not diminished; it had become stronger, certainly a proof that the becoming Christian for the Kolhs was more to do with their belief than with the favor and help of the English, for otherwise they would have now surely left the desire for baptism as they had not received help from the English, but had been suppressed. But they still came. In May, 1859, there are about 600 villages where Christians reside, or with Christians that have broken with caste. At the end of that same year there are already 800 villages. The visit to the church is always a very large one. The English, too, come in part from true interest, partly to be entertained by the wonderful drama of the worship of the natives. The Kolhs walk up to 12 miles to attend church. No day passes that new baptismal candidates do not come forward. They ask for baptism in family groups, and always present the coming of others. Approximately 1600 baptized adults and just as many baptismal candidates belong to the congregation. It grows, it grows rapidly. One is aiding another; It is an overcoming of the opposition, under which it is rightly feared that the net will tear because the fishermen are so few. Six missionaries (Schatz, Brandt, Bohn, F. and H. Batsch, Herzog) or actually only four, since two were on vacation in Germany: - what was that among so many?!
On January 18, 1861, the missionaries F. Batsch and Brandt, who had come to Europe seven months before, were able to tell the many present at the consecration of new missionaries (Onash and Flex) that the Kolh mission ihas influenced more than 900 of the 4500 villages of Chutia Nagpur, and that 18-20,000 belong to the mission, and 1900-2000 baptized . It was only on the Sunday before his departure that Batsch had baptized 113 at one time, and that many more could be baptized, if they had not made it a duty to require all the baptismal candidates to undergo a strict examination. (p.210) New missionaries were needed, new stations needed, a seminary for the formation of native preachers and teachers to be built. "You must help us, for the sake of the Lord Jesus, or they will take another way."
New stations to be founded or to be picked up were Hazarigbagh among the Santals, Purulia among the Bengali, Chaybassa among the Larkas. In Itki a church was to be built. But it took time to execute these plans. As in the whole of India, there was a great famine also among the Kolhs. So great was the lack of foodstuffs that the young grass, which had arisen by the first rains was eaten. Richer people enjoyed cattle fodder and to make it tasty for people, a couple of grains of salt and a pepper. The increase in the continued persecution by the Zemindars led some of the baptised to emigrate. In addition, cholera and cattle infections came with the rainy season. This was a new opportunity for the Christians to prove themselves, to give the heathen a renewed wake-up call by the missionaries, a grave reminder to the missionaries of the scattering of Christians. It is to be noted that on the part of the Christians, during this time, beautiful proofs of godliness and god-trust were shown.
At the end of the year Hazaribagh, which had been abandoned since the insurrection, was resumed. In May 1862, missionary H. Batsch and Onash were already fully blessed. The populace there consists of Santals and Hindus. However, many of the Kolhs are also attracted by the tea plantations in the area, but they only form a changing population. Among them, in April 1863, a congregation of 116 members was gathered, 80 adults and 36 children, including 56 adults and 34 children baptized. The school counted 23 students. The station stood completely apart from Ranchi.
Ranchi still held the main mass of the Christian Kolhs. In 1862 there were 814 baptized, namely 437 adults, 257 children of the same and 120 children (p.211) from the congregation, confirmed 159, excluded 7. The number of the baptized amounted to 2,689. The missionaries mainly concerned themselves with the instruction of the baptismal seekers. Also the school demanded the labor force of at least one brother, taken over by missionary Flex. In three classes he counted 30 boys, in the first 10, the second 11, the third 11, 30 boys in the fourth class..
At the beginning of 1864 there were five missionaries in Ranchi with the subsidiary station Pithuria: Fr. Batsch, Brandt, Herzog, Bohn, Flex. In Hazaribagh with the out-station Suomi: H. Batsch and Onasch. In addition, in memory of the warm friend Gossner and the faithful promoter of the mission, King Frederick William IV, Purulia was founded among the Bengali, and occupied by brothers Didlaukies, Kruger, and Skrefsrud, who had been deputized from Berlin on 2 November 1863.
In 1863 the congregation at Ranchi had increased again by 1,296 baptized, total count of 3,907 baptized and 974 confirmed church members. In this year 625 families had renounced paganism. The numerous villages belonging to each station were divided into parishes, the district of Sonepur into 40 parishes, 30 of which had Elders, the county of Dösa into 12, Belkad into 8. The congretagion at Ranchi had 65 Elders, 6 village Chapels, 6 village schools. The school in Ranchi counted 67 boys.
Even these figures prove how insignificant the labor force was for the great harvest field. This was confirmed when 65 churches asked for their own teachers but could not receive them. Many children wanting to go to the school at Ranchi, had to be rejected. Tired at their work, missionaries wondered how can we take workers into the harvest, from where get the money we need?
This distress had probably caused the Bishop of Calcutta to visit Ranchi in April 1864, and to write a letter to the Curatorium in Berlin. He had seen how 143 Kohls were received by baptism into the (p.212) Church of Christ, 1,200 attended Sunday worship, 600 received the Holy Supper. What he saw made him recognise and also to confess that an interruption of this work would be a real misfortune which must fill every believer with pain and shame. The work should not be interrupted, it must be extended further. In the letter to the Curatorium he now asks either to let him take the Kolh-mission forward with all his might, or, as Pastor Gossner had expressed an intention to surrender it to the missionary society of the English Church.
Certainly, every friend of the Kolh mission thanked the Curatorium that it had resisted the bishop's request, and had preserved this "Pearl of the Missions," as it was then called by the English, to German Christianity and to the influence of German faith. which was no doubt in the sense of its founder.
In any case (p.213) it was like a General's Directrive. And even if Gossner had had the wish of secession at the end, no argument could be made against the decision of the Curatorium either at that time or later. The blessed Gossner, on the other hand, sent a letter to the Church Missionary Society in London, shortly before his death, and offered the Kolh mission to the English, but apparently under the pressure of his old age and the premonition of his near death, and in the fear that the order disturbed by the insurrection in 1857 would not be restored as soon as possible, and the continuation of the work for Germans would become almost an impossibility. He himself had probably given up this idea even during his lifetime, for when his death (he died on March 30, 1858) and his letter to England had not yet received an answer, he demanded the general superintendent, Büchsel to take over after his death.
The fact that the missionaries of the time expressed their joy at the rejection of the episcopal proposal in the year of 1864, with the words "The German Church will not let our mission go, may the Lord be blessed!" And that in the "Biene" of 1865 p.120, the Mission Inspector Prochnow had to express at the request of the Brothers in India that they had always desired that the mission remain a German one. - -
So humiliating was the offer of the English bishop to the German Evangelical Church, that it gave the mission many blessings. In Calcutta, among the English and Germans, an auxiliary was formed, at the head of which were Messrs Brandt and Schroeder. From this point onwards, not only were all incoming missionaries cordially received and hospitably welcomed, but also considerable money-contributions to Ranchi had been made by them. In a letter dated February 28, 1865, the new association presents its constitution to the Curatorium, and states that it is not at all its purpose to influence the missionaries from Calcutta, but the only purpose is to promote rhe work by providing greater means. For this they asked for the co-operation of the Curatorium, with whom they would, on their part, be active in cordial agreement and communion. It is also said in a reply from this association of 1 May 1865: "We will endeavor to deal in every way with the Berlin Curatorium, whose work we will support in all matters."
It is also unquestionable that in Germany the letter of the English Bishop's embarrassment and excitement, at least for a time (p.214) raised the revenues of the missionary fund somewhat according to the needs if not for a long time.
How had the state of the mission developed in 1864? Externally very shining. This year marked the climax of growth. The harvest field increased and surged to its widest extent. It is estimated that 2,100 were baptised, including 1,170 adults, 930 children, 195 Christian children, so that now the Mission numbered 5,923 baptized, who stood under 64 Elders, served by 14 Catechists and 270 children taught in 11 village schools. The church of Itki, the second of the Kolhs, the first in the countryside, had been finished and consecrated as Trinity Church. It had a schoolhouse costing 2,350 rupees. On 30 January, the foundation of the seminary could be laid. The school in Ranchi was attended by 70 boys and 36 girls. In the seminary class were 15 young people. The accounts of the moral and religious condition of the congregation do not conceal the fact that there are many who belong to the church, who are weeds among wheat, and who have revealed all sins, who have been warned by the apostolic letters, that they can not be improved merely by the ecclesiastical communion. Then there were again weak souls, half Christians, who were very much in need of education, and had to be carried with much wisdom, humility, love, patience, and strength. But the mission would have many, many of whom they hoped their names were written in the Book of Life. They were distinguished by their confession, even under the most severe persecutions, by their prayer and their hunger for God's word, which drove them many miles to worship at the station. The catechists, who were multiplied by four, were portrayed as zealous and modest men who, during the probationary period, received a salary of three rupees, and later a fixed salary of five rupees per month, whereas they could have earned 10 rupees elsewhere.
In Hazaribagh this year the first fruits of the spiritual harvest could be introduced among the Santals. [Refer the section "Some other natives" under c.] --
(p.215) Again, however, the Mission in 1864 had a critical loss of manpower. Missionary Brandt, the "mastermind of the mission," had been sick for a whole year, and died on 17 June. Missionary Flex retired and became an overseer in a tea plantation. In November, however, new brothers went out again: Pastor Struve from Schlesten, Börresen and Pohlenz. Missionary Bohn was ordained.
As a result, the Chaybassa station in Singhbhum was started and a house purchasxed for 1800 Rs. It was given the name Elisabethpur. If one wanted to prevent the Baptists from entering Nagpur, they had to settle there, although the location of the place was very hot and there were only a few Christians in the area. Chaybassa was occupied by the missionary Struve, who had first been in Purulia.
Thus, finally, the four stations were in progress, which had been directed to the missionaries since 1845: Ranchi, Purulia, Hazaribagh, and Chaybassa. In the year 1865 it was already noticeable that the floods of the great movement began to ebb away. Nevertheless, 782 adults, 700 children and 309 Christian children were baptized, totalling 1,791. The parish of Ranchi now numbered 7,828 baptized, but about 300 of them left the country as emigrants or belonged to the other stations. Inquirers reported 376 families. 230 persons were confirmed, the sum of the recipients of Communion was 1.457. The village schools taught about 300 children, the Seminary classes at Ranchi counted 19 young people, the 4 other school classes 79 children.
I began this journey with a trip in 2013 to reconnect with India after 30 plus some years. Most of the time was spent in Mussoorie in the foothills of the Himalayas, where I'd spent my formative years going to Woodstock School. It was extraordinary how intimately I connected to the place. Remembering all the familiar paths of my youth. Exploring streets I'd never dared to venture in those timid years. Recognizing the smells October brings as the unruly greenery that spread during the monsoons began to dry. The smell of drying oaks and pines, the majestic views of snow-capped mountains, and the gracious kindness of the pahari (mountain) people.
Everywhere I've lived since has always required consideral adjusting. It was refreshing to bathe instantly in the familiar. Still much had changed. Most of the people I had known were gone. Technology and development changed the tourist town known for its various boarding schools. Life is ever changing. In my mind, that's how it should be, as long as there remained a semblance of the familiar. I had changed in three decades, so I expected Mussoorie to have changed as well. Like old friends reuniting I cought up with life.
A newly discovered ancestral connection, previously unknown to me deepened my connection to Mussoorie. Ferdinand is buried in the Camels Back cemetery and two of his daughters attended my school (1910). In all the years I lived there, I had only a faint knowledge that some relative was buried somewhere there. This visit to Mussoorie reconnected me to my ancestors who I now devote all my time writing about. I went to the archives in the school and was thrilled to find old poems and articles about my great aunts. I went to the cemetery and sat on the bench at the gate and climbed down the four terraces to find the grave.
Now three and a half years later, writing the final chapters of Ferdinand's biography, I'm returning to that cemetery bench. Although i now am writing in America's heartland, I'm easily transported to the place I call home. Developing this mountain scene lulls me into depths of contemplation, much like those days long past. Often I sat in a cemetery, or on a rocky cliff and contemplating life and meaning, asking myself where I was going and where i had been.
As I write I am filled with ambivalence, longing for it to end, but feeling there is still so much to be done. The biography ends as it began, with Ferdinand surrounded by nature, deep in contemplation, assessing his life. As a teenager he longed for adventure. Now, sick and ailing, he longs to do so much more, as he prepares for the inevitable transition. I feel like I'm looking through a dim mirror. What he feels about finishing life, I feel about finishing this book.
The final chapter reads:
Ferdinand Hahn sat, eyes shut, beneath the grand pines at the gate of the cemetery. The scent of pine drifted up like incense as the gentle wind blew where it pleased. Ferdinand could not discern where it had come from or where it would go, but the pines whispered. It was the voice of God singing over him. He sat erect, his feet firmly planted on the ground, his hands gripping the handle of his walking, stuck in the ground like the third leg of a stool. His whole body ached, but he let the coolness of the breeze soothe his soul. He had come to the mountains to be revived.
Itappeared that this time there may be no escape from the dark valley. Death was not the issue, for he was certain that eternity followed. Most of his life had been lived on the threshold of death, out from which he stepped into the abundance of life. There was plenty to be done, always, and an urgency to do it well. But today he would try to let it go. He quieted himself in this lonely spot, away from town.
Birds chattered about their business as the great Indian crow policed the skies with its cawing. The diminuendo chorus of cicadas hushed as the afternoon cooled. He sat grounded as his soul soared among the deodars.
The bells of the Anglican Christ Church marked the evening song from on top the mountain. It sounded out across the mountains and echoed back across the valley. The low tonal sound aroused within him a longing tenderness. If only such sweet communion could resurrect his sixty-four-year-old body. He would rise from this stone bench and march down from the great Himalayas and brave the heat of the Ganges' plains and return to the jungle plateaus of his beloved Chotanagpur.
Six weeks earlier he had celebrated Easter morning with the Adivasi church in Ranchi. Thousands had gathered before dawn at the Church and paraded with torches and lanterns down the road to the cemetery, dancing and singing. They had come to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus along with those who had gone on before. Each family decorated the tombs of their ancestors with flowers and candles. The cemetery was all aglow before the sun had even lightened the skies. Easter service was celebrated together among the living and the dead, with full anticipation that one day there will be a resurrection.
He opened his eyes expecting to see the brightly colored tombstones. Instead the grey stones cascaded down the terraces below him and he remembered he was far from anything that he knew as home. Initially it was a startling discovery to open his eyes to a forest that looked more like Germany than like the sal forests of eastern India. As awareness warmed to the present his heart was filled with gratitude to be in the soothing climes of the grand Himalayas. It wasn't only a matter of comfort. It was that if he were down in Chotanagpur he would he would be completely useless. He was glad that his broken body was hidden away from those whom he had tirelessly served for forty-two years.
Soon it would be laid to rest, once and for all, and he was glad that no clamor of wailing would be heard over his spiritless frame. He never liked the attention in life, why would he want it in his death? In a matter of days, he would be bed ridden in the dark inner room of the Himalaya Hotel. His devoted wife by his side. Reading from the Bible, praying and singing over him, responding to every moan, cooling his heated brow, coercing him to take some sustenance, urging him to breath, pained to see him suffer so. Unaware of what he said or did, Ferdinands's soul passed through the narrow birthing channel out of the dark world and into the great unknown.
These musings include the journey of my writing on the history of my great great grandparents and the travels for research to India, Germany and other places of interest.