To The Secretary, Christian Missionaries Activities Enquiry Committee, Secretariat, Nagpur, Madhya Pradesh.
SUBJECT.-Replies to the Questionnaire.
The following are replies to the questionnaire you sent I am sorry I am not in a position to answer all the questions.
5. Conversion is always individual in nature. As far as I know when even more than one person become Christian, they all individually make profession of their faith. It is not our practice to baptise people as a group on the confession of one person. Even in on, family, husband and wife make profession of their faith individually. The children of such a family may be baptized according to the practice of some church if the parents so desire. The same is true in case of parents who are Christians by birth.
6. Besides the Christians there are the Arya Samajists, the Hindu Mahasabhaists, the Muslims and the Sikhs who are engaged in the work of conversion.
7. I cannot speak for non-Christian organisations but in the Christian Church the practice has been and is that any person who desires to be a full time religious worker he has to be first sure that he is called by God to be a full time religious worker. After he is convinced of his call then he approaches church leaders, who recommend him for seminary training. After the. completion of his training in a seminary he comes and works as a full time religious worker in any of the church or mission organisation.
The scale of pay depends upon the worker’s education. As a rule it is similar to the educational workers. No monetary reward is offered to any successful worker. When a person undertakes religious work as a calling the reward is the satisfaction of his own conscience.
8. As far as I know most of the alternatives in this question are not used as methods of conversion by the Christians. Christian medical hospitals and dispensaries are not means of entraping people but demonstrations of christian charity which even goes out of its way to help those who are suffering. The true motive is the motive of love. The Christians start schools and college to meet a certain need in the country. The same is true of Christian Leper Asylums, T. B. Asylums and Social Service Centres. A Christian who does not feel the need of doing same kind of humanitarian or helpful task for others is not indeed a genuine Christian and has not understood the genius of the Christian Faith. In the Words of our Lord he professes himself to he a Christian but he does not act according to the will of his heavenly Father. Math; 7 (21). Our Lord enjoins upon his disciples to be helpful to those who are needy whether they be of any faith or fold. The criterion is need and not faith or fold. Christ taught us this lesson in the parable of the good Samaritan Luke 10 (30-37). A Samaritan goes out of his way, puts his life in danger and helps a person lying wounded and unconscious by the way side. This man was a stranger to him totally. When the Christians following this injunction of their Lord that they are to help people in need irrespective of caste creed and nationality like the good Samaritan start schools where there are no schools, hospitals, leper homes when others despise the lepers and similarly open widow homes and orphanages and thereby provide homes to the homeless, they should not be suspected. Rather the whole mission programme ought to be understood in the above context.
The Christian missionaries or the Indian Christian do not extol foreign culture. Infact it is not possible. Because the Christian missionaries have come from all the countries in the West and the culture of any one country varies from the others. The Indian Christians have been always good nationalists and proud of their Indian heritage. If some educated ones wear western clothes it is not an indication of change of culture. Many Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs do the same.
The Christians present Jesus Christ before the non-Christians. They present His wonderful life, teachings and the message of salvation. They consider it their privilege to do so. They do not decry other deities and they have no business to do it. However, occasionally debates are held between followers and representatives of different faiths. At such occasions hot words are exchanged. Then it is mutual and no speciality of the Christians. May I also add that the period of apologetics has come to an end.
10. My personal conviction is that a person cannot remain a Christian if he is not sincere in his convictions. It is not easy to become and remain a Christian. There is so much of persecution and social boycott from the farmer group that only a man of conviction can take such a step and can stand firm in it. I have known many such cases of conversion who are firm in their Christian faith even to this day and have sacrificed much for the sake of their conviction.
11. No. In fact the Christians become more loyal to their country. The Christian Scriptures enjoins upon them to be loyal to the Government.
12. The Christians preach in bazars, market places and in churches and hold personal talks in homes as well, Prayers may be held in schools and hospitals but they are all in the form of workshop and not preaching.
13. Not until some interested people instigate. I have not known any such experience.
14. Neither pracharaks nor foreign missionaries use foul or objectionable language. In fact the foreign missionaries are so well known fir cautious behaviour.
15. Pracharaks are generally respected in the locality where they live. Some of these Pracharaks may be from the same area others may be from outside.
They present Christ through preaching and through personal confession. They also heap people in literacy, public health and give instructions regarding agriculture.
16. Educational qualifications of Pracharaks vary and their salary according to their qualifications. They are not offered any monetary rewards. As Pracharaks they are supposed to be fully devoted to their task.
17. They get 2-3 years seminary training. Pracharaks are not sent to foreign countries for training but Pastors, doctors, nurses and other educational workers are sent to foreign countries for post-graduate work, so that they may qualify themselves better for their work.
18. The Pracharak may work in one or more than one village. His Supervisor may be an Indian or foreign missionary.
19. We present the Bible or portions, of the Bible or tracts written on the basis of the Bible. These tracts are sold but at times, a person may give a tract free, in that case he himself has to pay for it.
21. No. This is not conceivable.
22. In this area a Christian fair is held in Madkughat. That fair is different from Hindu or Muslim fairs, because it is a sort of spiritual retreat, even though it is called the Madkughat fair. There is a committee of Christians which prepares its programme and the Christians from all over Chhattisgarh participate in the fair. Non-Christians are welcome if they so desire.
23. Christian missionaries pray for the State and Central Government. Such prayers are held on special national days as well as during the Sunday Services. Some pray for the well being of the Government and officers when they have their daily personal or family demotions. I have not known any foreign missionary or Christian Pracharak making any stigmatic remarks against our Government.
24. The Arya Samajist, the Hindu Mahasabhaits, the Muslim and the Sikhs. The Arya Samajists sell literature. I have some of their books. In these books they specially despise the Christians and ridicule their faith.
26. The Christians have been boycotted by their non-Christian relatives or by their former caste fellows but not the non-Christians by the Christian. This is impossible.
34. No. The Christian missionary will not stoop to such meanness.
36. Good and co-operative. The Christian missionaries have always spoken very highly of our national reconstruction efforts such as Five-Year Plan, Community projects, N. E. S. blocks, irrigation projects, educational advances and many other such things which are bringing about a tremendous improvement in the country.
37. Yes. In flood relief and on other occasions.
39. Even though the missionaries do not give up their nationality they do their best to identify themselves with the Indian people. They learn our language. They become members of the Indian Church. They participate in programmes which are for the good of our country. They even learn to eat our food. I know many missionary homes where noon meal is purely Indian. Some of them even marry the Indians. Most of them spend all their lives in India in the service of our people. After their retirement, when they go back to their own country they remember India and her people with much affection and regard.
40. No. In fact, all the converts I have known they are respectable Indians and boast of their Indian heritage.
41. They give up such ancestral, religions or social practices which go against the Christian principles.
42. No. In fact, I think that they have been, and still are, for the good of our country.
43. The Roman Catholics, the General Mennonite Conference, the American Evangelical Mission and the Mennonite Church in India, the Disciples of Christ, the Methodists and the Missionary Bands in India.
These groups work in Chhattisgarh.
44. No increase since 1947. In fact, the number has decreased.
46. The word “missionary” is normally used for a foreign missionary. The Indian workers in the mission are not called missionaries. The missionaries of the above missions conic from America except the Roman Catholics who may have come from the continent.
47. Foreign missionaries are specially well-qualified persons and are University graduates. Some of them are highly qualified for their task. Such missionaries may be doctors or educationalists or social workers.
Their income in America is much higher than what they get here in India.
48. In the American Evangelical Mission set-up, I had been sent to America for post-graduate training in Theology and Social Work. The Mission Board in America paid my expenses.
49. Those Indians who are appointed heads of institutions or in other important capacity enjoy the same authority and status as the foreign missionaries.
50. Every sending Church, whether it is in America, England or Continent, has a committee which is responsible to the Church. It appoints missionaries in its own country as well as send them to other countries. So, the supreme authority may be called the Church through its Board which send out missionaries. For example, the United Church of North India which is an Indian Church has a committee called a Committee of Missions. This Committee is sending an Indian missionary to East Africa.
In every Mission set-up, when the Church becomes a large group it becomes an independent organisation and does not retain any organic relation with the mission which is parent body. This is true in India today. Our Church in this district, which is called Chhattisgarh Orissa Church Council, is absolutely independent of the American Evangelical Mission which is its parent body. The Indian Church has become a part of the United Church of North India which is scattered all over North India from Bombay to Assam and from Nagpur, Raipur to Amritsar.
51. The Church which sends its men supports them.
52. The missions always maintain the good system of accounts which are audited by Chartered Accountants generally.
54. Non-Christians who are associated with mission organisations receive as many benefits of mission money as any Christian receives who is associated with the organisation. If such non-Christians are working in the organisation they get their salary and, if they are needy people, then they get benefits from our institutions like any other person. Christian charity is not confined to the Christian group.
57. (i) Religious, (ii) Medical, (iii) Educational, and (iv) Social.
58. I have never heard of any mission courts in this district.
59. The Mission's work is carried on both in city and in rural areas. We have our important institutions built in cities. Raipur has a high school, girls’ middle school, primary schools, book depot and the Gas Memorial Centre.
Dhamtari has a mission high school, a normal school and a hospital. Bhatapara and Mahasamund used to have middle schools which were later taken over by the Municipality and the Government, respectively. The same is the case of other cities and towns. The missions have also work in rural areas. They meet medical, educational and other needs of the people in rural areas who have been neglected otherwise. The missions sincerely endeavour to meet a need.
62. Meetings of mission workers are held as necessary and the proceedings of such meetings are made known to the members.
63. Different mission work in different places. As a rule, they do lot interfere with each other’s work.
64 and 65. No.
67. No. Foreign missionaries are not supposed to take any part in politics and they do not take any. They remain true to their pledge given to the Government.
69. There are general hospitals in Tilda, Dhamtari and Jadgeeshpur, Bilaspur, Champa, etc.
70. Admission is open to all, irrespective of caste, creed, religion and economic status. Any person who likes to make use of a pay ward has to pay according to the prescribed rates.
71. The missions have never used their humanitarian activities as the means of conversion.
72. No. The patients are not under obligation to participate in a religious service nor any favour is done to those who do participate.
73. Patients are free to read any books they like whether they be on religion or atheism. No books are distributed free.
75. I can give you names of the Members of the Governing Body of the Gass Memorial Centre. They ate as follows:-
(1) Dr. T. C. Seybold (American), Chairman.76. No.
87. I am sure on every school staff there are quite a number of non-Christians.
93. I do not consider the Christian mission’s activities objectionable in any way. In fact, Christian missions have been pioneers in many areas of life in the country and, thus, have been of much help to the country in the field of education, medical work and social service, etc.
94. The change of religion does not imply change of culture. The adherents of the Christian religion are found in every country of the world, but all of them do not have the same culture. Their culture varies according to the country where they live. This shows that adherence to any religion does not imply change of culture. In India, people of same faith living in the north differ in their culture from those living in the south.
95. In State-owned schools, it is better that we should not have any religious teaching but it will not be harmful in any way to have a course of moral instructions. But in schools run by private bodies if such bodies with the permission of parents have either classes in religion or moral instruction they should be permitted to have them.
96. Consolation of religion is important for a patient. The medical authorities world over are appreciating the need of some kind of religious consolation as a necessary aid to the medical treatment, hence the psychosomatic conception of treatment in modern medicine. The choice of consolation should rest with the patient.
97. A secular State should not interfere with religious rules, practices and methods of propagation of any faith. The quarrels among different religious groups do not arise from any genuine zeal; they rather develop from jealousy and misunderstanding and false notions of religion. The State should carefully differentiate between genuine and false causes of quarrels.
98. In India, different religions including Christianity have lived peacefully for over a period of many centuries. The rare instances of persecution are largely due to certain emperors or kings who began to consider themselves as over zealous followers and defendants of their faith and persecuted the others.
Faith is a personal matter. Faith is man’s response to God. Every man should be free to choose and follow his faith, because every man is individually responsible to God. Troubles arise when some interested persons create misunderstandings and instigate people one against the other. If such elements are checked in time the different faiths can live amicably in India as well as in any other part of the world.
Date: 25th January 1956,
Superintendent, Gass Memorial Centre,
Raipur, Madhya Pradesh.