John first arrived in India in 1810, where he set about to establish a mission in the city of Seringapatam. But his attempts were met with extreme difficulty and failure. Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t get the mission established. But rather than allowing discouragement and disappointment to set in, John took this as God’s direction that this wasn’t the place he needed to be. So with the help of some friends, he went to the city of Bellary, the largest city of the province. Trusting God, he tried again.
Arriving in Bellary, Hands discovered that the people of the city spoke a different language than any he had ever heard before: Canarese. Recognizing it as the missionary’s prime duty to acquire as perfectly as possible the tongue of the people he comes to benefit, Hands gave his days and nights to the study of Canarese. There were no dictionaries or grammars available. But Hands became fluent and the language and began to translate the Bible. He also became heavily involved in evangelism, attending massive Indian festivals and distributing tracts and Bibles. At the annual Festival at Humpi, where over 200,000 attended, Hands and a Indian man he was training took over one of the stages and preached a gospel message. The people loved it and having a missionary preach became a tradition at the festival ever since. Soon, other missionaries arrived to help Hands in his mission and the mission at Bellary became one of the strongest missions in Southern India. And it all began with a man who didn’t let a small failure deter him from serving his Lord.
I am just recovering from severe illness… on recovering from the effects of the fever and just resuming the translation, I was suddenly seized with the cholera morbus, though that disease is not now prevalent in the place and several hours of suffering elapsed before medicine took effect. This, with the quantity of laudanum administered, deprived me of the little remaining strength which the fever left me and I am now scarcely able to hold my pen…If it be the will of God, I feel desirous of living to finish the New Testament in Burman, a work which must otherwise be suspended for some time
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