Hidden in the 1920’s - Still Hidden!
Rev. Herbert C. Long first went to India in 1916 the era of the Student Volunteer Movement as a missionary with the American Baptist Foreign Missions Society; he returned from his final term there is 1957. He currently resides in Redlands, CA. If his reflections on missions had been put into practice during his terms in India, if more laborers were sent into the harvest at that time, perhaps there would no longer be 3,000 Hidden People groups in India. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will thrust out more laborers!
When I had completed two years of studying the Bengali language, I was, rather surprisingly, appointed to take charge of a junior theological seminary, a Bible School, in Midnapore, West Bengal, India, during the nineteen twenties.
The Bible School had the custom of granting four months interim during the cold season, so the students could gain practical experience by joining an evangelistic group, touring areas hard to reach during the cold season.
Nearby mission field
As a result of these trips I was made acutely aware of thetremendous territory adjacent to our home base where the Gospel had been preached, but only to a very limited extent. To the east, there was a stretch of territory fifty by a hundred miles where no Christian church had been established. Yet on either side of this great Rupnaryan River there was a continual stretch of rich alluvial soil, thickly populated by Bengalis.
It occured to me more than once that this river affords an excellent opportunity for a good sized, modem type river boat, which might do a work similar to the famed Fukuin Maru in the Japan Inland Sea. At the time we made our trip to Ghatal, the government (British dominated) would not have presented any obstacle; indeed, they might have welcomed such a project.
Even now if along with the Gospel Message, instruction in better agricultural methods, health, sanitation, and population control were given, such a boat might well be permitted. With the comfortable ship as a base, excursions as far as five miles inland could be made, and a large number of people could be reached, not once, but repeatedly.
Tentmaking in India?
Now that India has adopted a policy on not admitting foreigners where Indians can do the job, how can missionaries get in? Years ago the Tata Iron and Steel Company brought out groups of Welch and. Scots to teach their workers new processes in the manufacture of iron and steel; but they have not done so in recent years.
But here is a clue. Could it be done elsewhere and in other industries? Unexpected opportunities may open up, and it is very important that there be a mission organization to improve such opportunities as they occur.
Then there is the already established Christian community from which a forward looking program can draw wisdom. By working with two ecumenical bodies of the church of South India, and the Church of North India, certainly great progress can be made in reaching the vast, unevangelized portion of the population.
World missions should have the backing of everyone who feels that through it we can make a real contribution towards fulfilling the Great Commission, and establishing the Lord's Kingdom world wide.
Notice in his reflections, 1) the author's lifelong desire to see the lost reached with the gospel, 2) his interest in the regions beyond, and 3) an awareness of the cultural distinctives that make one people distinct from another, and 4) his creative thinking on new mechanisms needed to penetrate frontier areas, "tentmaking missions." Rev. Long did not bemoan the difficulties of "closed doors", nor underestimate the potential conflicts or opposition.