On this day in 1897, Lyman Jewett, the Baptist pioneer among the Telugu people of India, died at the age of 84. In 1849, Jewett and his wife landed in India and began to assist in the mission there that worked among the Telugu people, a low ranking people on India’s tightly controlled caste system. The Jewetts proved to have a talent with languages and in just nine months, Mr. Jewett was preaching in Telugu. However, the work at the mission station was very slow and the home committee of the American Baptist Missionary Society was growing impatient. At an evaluation meeting in 1853, several members of the committee were pushing to pull all of their missionaries out of the Telugu mission in India and to stop sending missionaries to that country. The expense and resources they were pouring into the mission was not equal to the return. On the wall of the committee room was a map with stars that marked all the successes of the Mission board. The critics pointed out that India only had one star. Why keep pouring so much into a country were nothing could be done? But one member of the committee, Dr. Smith, felt inspired by the lone star. On the night before the vote was to be taken on the fate of the Telugu mission, he wrote a poem, “Shine on Lone Star”. The next day, before the vote was taken, Smith’s poem was read and a passionate appeal was made to keep the station open. When the votes were in, it was decided to keep the mission open a little longer.
But the attention paid to the Telugu mission caused a special surge of enthusiasm to develop around it as countless people began to pray for the “lone star mission”. Dr. Jewett, the central man of the mission, continued to lead the work faithfully. Soon, they began to see fruit as Telugu began to receive the word, believe, and be baptized. The movement came to a head with the conversion of Tupili Rangiah, a bright student in the school Jewett started. He was the son of a Hindu priest and when he embraced Christ, he was excommunicated from his family and made hopeless. This just pushed him further into willing arms of the Jewetts and into the ever-eager fold of a new faith. Soon, Rangiah was baptized by Jewett and became one of the leaders in the work in India. All four of Rangiah’s son went into the ministry and were ordained as Baptist pastors. Meanwhile, Jewett succeeded in making the first translation of the Bible in the Telugu language. In the fifty years following the decision to keep the Telugu mission open, 65,000 Telugu believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. The first church the missionaries started, Ongole Baptist Church (Renamed Jewett Memorial) became the mother church of nearly 2,000 churches throughout India. “Statisticians may despise lone stars, but God does not”
On this day in 1858, Henry W. Frost, American missionary pioneer, was born. Frost was responsible for establishing an American headquarters for the China Inland Mission. When Hudson Taylor was visiting America at the invite of D. L. Moody, he met Frost and was impressed by this young Princeton graduate. The two men became good friends and Taylor asked Frost if he would be willing to start and run a branch of the CIM in North America, so the work going on in China could be more easily supported by the Christians and churches in the US and Canada. Originally, Frost started the CIM North America branch in Toronto, Canada in 1889 and was able to successfully create a strong network of supporters across North America. In 1901, he moved the headquarters to Philadelphia, PA. Under Frost’s leadership, the CIM grew in North America and by 1930, more than a third of all the labor and a half of all the support for the CIM was coming from North America.
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