Four main requirements of Christian missions in the midst of India’s hopes, appeals, and yearnings

In the back slums of Calcutta, a school dropout who was learning to work as a shoemaker for eighty-three cents a day showed me his library. Locked in a tin box that he eagerly opened for me were a portion of the Hindu scriptures, a school textbook story of India, and a large, attractively illustrated Soviet magazine in clear, simple Hindi. These items reflect the three worlds of the Indian masses with whom I lived in recent months. First, their roots are in the religious Hinduism of the past. Second, their lives are in the changing India of the present. Third, their hopes are in a better society for the future.

After I had been away from India for some years, I returned to try to discover at first hand what rapid social change has meant in the lives of the people. Christian compassion is based on understanding and on listening, with acceptance of those listened to. It is at heart a mission of love. To live among people and be one with them, to listen to them and love them, is essential to the Christian missionary effort. Part of my time I spent in old village India, and part in crowded new urban India.

Village India was for me mud-walled hamlets scattered round a bazaar town and separated by fields and orchards. I was in a thickly populated part of the state of Bihar in east India. My two-room house had a small courtyard, surrounded by a wall and veranda. The food was cooked on a mud stove fueled by cowdung cakes. My clothes were the broad-trousered white pajamas and the long-skirted cotton kurta or shirt of India. A grass-rope village cot under the open sky was my bed.

The urban India in which I lived was a web of alley-ways in ...

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