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‘The relationship of Mizos with each other was easy, even with their chiefs, simple and informal. There is a total absence of class distinction that is hard to imagine in Britain. In most other parts of India too there are divisions and distinctions such as the Mizos have never known’.

Rev. J Meirion Lloyd ‘Zohmangaihi Pa’, ‘History of the Church in Mizoram’, 1991, Page 215.

Conclusion 1: 1910-1922.

In 1910 Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ pushed ahead with his efforts to secure a trained leadership for the churches. Chhuahkhama was doing the standard theological course at Cherrapunji College in the Khasi Hills and there were 12 students in the Evangelist Class at Aizawl where lectures and lessons were given entirely in Mizo.

In 1910/11 Dr. Fraser erected several new buildings in Aizawl. Two were large hostels for serfs ‘bawi’ who had been set at liberty. A third was a large dispensary. His career came to an end in 1912 over a controversy with the Government Superintendent over the ‘bawi’ system. Dr. Fraser believed there was no place for any kind of slavery in any territory under British rule.

In 1913 a second wave of Revival, more powerful than the first, began in Champhai. Later it came to Durtlang, six miles north of Aizawl, and to Aizawl a week later. It was just these three places that experienced the Revival of 1913. Faintings, trances and prophecies were witnessed. When singing Mizos often shook and waved their hands, while some danced wherever they could find an empty space in the church. Late in April 1913, 62 were baptised and 400 took part in the Lord’s Supper. The new church was due for completion in October and the Presbytery meeting of that month was the most important yet held.

In 1913 the first Bible-woman was appointed.

In 1913 the Mizo Hymn Book ‘Hla Bu’ was printed in Aizawl for the first time.

In October 1913 Rev. Cedrig Evans, the senior missionary in Shillong, attended the Presbytery and ordained the first Mizo pastor, Rev. Chhuahkhama, who was then thirty-two years old.  Lorrain ‘Pu Buanga’ was present.

At the same meeting of the Presbytery Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ ordained his Baptist friend J. H. Lorrain ‘Pu Buanga’.

On 23rd October 1913 Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ writes: ‘The new chapel was simply crammed full with members. We thought there were about 700 in and about the chapel, and the boys actually counted over 1,000. 122 were baptised’.

In 1914 Fred J. Sandy (1), from Swansea, arrived in Mizoram. He married Margaret Hughes at the Free Church of Scotland, Calcutta at the end of October, 1914.

In 1914 Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ and Sandy visited the Baptist Mission centre at Serkawn to consult Lorrain ‘Pu Buanga’ about translation work and a new arrangement was worked out.

Sandy produced a Mizo grammar for English speakers and collected and defined 2,000 ‘Lushai double-adverbs’ a notable feature of the Mizo tongue. He also produced and published St. Mark’s Gospel in Hmar.

In 1915 Sandy took over the care of the Primary Schools. They were well cared for under his supervision.

On 14th May 1915 a tablet was erected to the arrival of the first three missionaries. It was placed on Tea Garden Hill (later Macdonald Hill) where Lorrain ‘Pu Buanga’ and Savidge ‘Sap Upa’ erected their first hut ‘basha’ of bamboo and sungrass in 1894, and where Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ joined them in 1897. The tablet was paid for by the Government Superintendent Colonel Loch.

By 1916 the persecution of Christians by chiefs had become an infrequent event.

In 1916 Mrs Sandy took over the Girls’ School from Mrs. Jones.

In 1915-16, during the First World War, Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ felt profoundly grateful that Mizo Christians, despite their poverty, had struggled to be self-supporting as mission fields in general suffered financial difficulties.

In 1916 the first complete Mizo New Testament was published. Copies were available for all. It was now possible to print yearly commentaries to the New Testament in Aizawl. The practice has continued to the present day, with editions of up to 5,000. This has enabled a small theological library to be built up in many Mizo homes.

In 1917 the Government of India called for volunteers to work behind the lines in France. Over 2,000 Mizos, a mixture of Christians and non-Christians, responded to the appeal and became the Lushai Labour Corps. Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ left Mizoram in June 1917 to be the volunteers’ chaplain and interpreter. While in France some Christians lapsed and some non-Christians were converted. It was a traumatic experience for all and marked them for the rest of their lives. At the end of their service many were invited to visit Wales. None were prepared to prolong their stay in Europe.

The Sandys were the only missionaries left. This proved a fruitful period for the growing church and a significant time for the country as a whole. Sandy trained a good many Primary School teachers and the number of scholars improved steadily. Much emphasis was placed on girls’ education and considerable efforts were made to persuade parents to send their daughters to school. In one of her letters Mrs. Sandy notes that there was an improvement in the attitude and conduct of Christian husbands in general.

Fred Sandy had ensured, while  Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ was away in France, that the development of the Presbytery ensured it had the powers it needed. A Sunday School committee was appointed. Motions to the Presbytery could only come through the Church or District Meeting. All churches were to keep careful record of their membership. Delegates to the Presbytery should be competent to speak on behalf of their churches and to convey Presbytery messages and exhortations back to their churches. Delegates should be properly and regularly appointed. These practices were fundamental to the Presbytery system and proved a very sound democratic arrangement. They were also well suited to the traditions of the people.

At the Presbytery meeting in the autumn of 1917 the Sandys prepared a Cymanfa Ganu, the first Singing Festival in Mizoram. On Monday afternoon the children sang their hymns and songs, in the evening the young people of the churches sang theirs. After the revival of 1904 such festivals had become popular in Wales, particularly in the Rhondda, Merthyr, and other South Wales valleys. Frequently the atmosphere was revivalist and even ecstatic. Preparation for the festivals was long and careful. A special hymn book was prepared and every congregation involved held a series of practices and appointed a competent conductor. Mizo hymn-singing was still in its infancy and was often not beyond the pentatonic stage but many had mastered the use of the Solfa Modulator and had learnt to sing in parts. All their deep religious fervour was expressing itself increasingly in songs and melodies. The first Mizo Singing Festival was an enormous success.

Since the church in North Mizoram was growing Kawlkhuma and a number of his friends felt that by introducing another denomination into the area more resources would be available than the limited funds the Welsh Presbyterians had at their disposal. He was keen to see the Salvation Army working in the Mizo Hills. In 1916 Commander Booth Tucker invited Kawlkhuma and Chalchhuna to come to Simla for an interview. Kawlkhuma went for training in Bombay and became a Salvation Army officer.

In 1917 Mizo Sunday Schools first entered for examinations under the Indian Sunday School Union.

On 20th August 1917, Khuma, the indefatigable evangelist and the fist Mizo to be baptised, passed away after a long battle with tuberculosis. Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ describes him as living ‘like the birds of the air’ totally reliant on his Heavenly Father. He accompanied Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ on many tours and everyone had come to know him. What he loved most was to begin his sermon with the story of the Garden of Eden, continuing the story of man’s salvation in considerable detail, till he came triumphantly to describe the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation. At the September Presbytery of 1917 it was decided to erect a memorial to the memory of Khuma. This was subsequently erected in front of Mission Veng Church.

At the autumn Presbytery of 1917 the deacons proposed that an Evangelistic Campaign (or ‘Beihrual’) should be held in June. The aims were: ‘In the first half of the month efforts being directed towards the completer consecration of those who are already members of the Church; during the latter part of the month endeavours to be earnestly made to reach non-Christians and bring them to Christ’. These were the aims that were originally framed and they remain the aims to this day, though, among Mizos, non-Christians are very rare. The ‘Beihrual’ occurs every year (the month soon changed to September) and its influence is strongly felt in every village.

In December 1917 a request by Watkin Roberts to be ordained by the Presbytery was refused by the Directors of the Mission. Thus a chance of a rapprochement with the Thadou-Kuki Mission did not come to fruition. This brought about little co-operation and, at times, considerable tension.

In January 1918 the Assembly was held for the first time outside the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, on the Plains in Sylhet. This suited the Mizo delegates well and there was a much better representation. This was a genuine step forward and the result is the close-knit relationship between the Presbyterian churches of North East India that exists today. A Congregational Singing Committee was formed and the Autumn Presbytery was scheduled to be held at Champhai.

In May 1918 there was enormous excitement in Mizoram when news came that the Lushai Labour Corps was on its way home from Europe.

In 1918 the number of church members was 12,495.

1918. At the Autumn Presbytery Meeting in Champhai there were representatives from the South of Mizoram, also from the Chin Hills and from the Karen in Myanmar. 27 were baptised and 14 new churches were approved. From 1918 onwards Baptist delegates attended the Presbytery meetings in the North and delegates from the North attended the Baptist Presbytery (as it was then) in the South. Delegates from other denominations now attend the Presbytery in the North but the Baptists are regarded with special affection. This is because the earliest Baptist missionaries started their work in the North and prepared the first books and Scriptures.

During the First World War educational budgets were tight just at a time when expansion was necessary. The school buildings that were erected by villagers were rough and ready. Sandy had two main sources of income for education. The Mission educational grant for Mizoram was considerably less generous than for the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. The second came from the Director of Public Instruction’s Office in Shillong and was more generous than the Mission’s grant. In April 1919 the Government increased its grant by 30% to 1,200 rupees a year. This allowed for ten more teachers to be taken on for training and new schools were soon opened.

The teacher’s salary was poor, but in a pre-monetary economy a regular monthly salary was precious. The teacher still needed a ‘jhum’ to feed his family. His position in the village was almost as great as that of the chief, but official authority and power remained with the chief  for another forty years. The teacher was encouraged to fall in with the wishes of the chief wherever possible.

In 1919 Sandy met Rev. Pengwern Jones and Ceredig Evans, two senior Welsh Presbyterian missionaries, in Calcutta, to discuss the prospect of evangelising the inhabitants of Tripura (or Hill Tripura as it was called) that lived close to the border of Mizoram. Their language and customs were very similar to the Mizos and many families either side of the border were inter-related. Volunteers had already started evangelising and there were numerous Christians there. Sandy, Jones and Evans met Watkin Roberts ‘Saptlangvala’ in Calcutta. Roberts ‘Saptlangvala’ claimed the mission field for himself and no further progress was made.

In 1919 Mrs Sandy was keen for the Bible-women to learn the basic elements of midwifery and the principles of hygiene and cleanliness. Two Bible-women studied under Pawngi, the Government midwife. It was hoped that the Bible-women would be progressively trained in batches of four and station in six key villages. This made them more acceptable in non-Christian homes and was an important factor as Christians still only numbered one in five.

In 1919 the Lushai Labour Corps had returned from France and Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ was in Wales. He would not be returning to Mizoram for another two years. The Sandys were happy and felt fulfilled in their work. The First World War was over but the influenza which raged on every continent in the postwar months took its toll in Mizoram. People were depressed and the dreary rainy season did not help. There was a near-famine in the land. To help brighten things the Sandys decided to try out a very Welsh tradition, the Eisteddfod, to see if it appealed to the Mizos. The Singing Festival had gone well in 1917. Mrs. Sandy called it ‘A Grand Eisteddfod’. It was an elaborate event with an astonishing variety of competitions. Mrs. Sandy wrote: ‘We gave competitions in music — glees, solos, duets, sightseeing, essays, needlework, wild flowers, impromptu speeches etc... ...The most remarkable feature was the solo singing by the young women. This is the first time that women have sung solos in public in Lushai.’ This event was linked with the Mizos’ new faith and their new literacy, but healthily competitive. There had never been anything like it and as soon as it was over there was a demand for another one like it as soon as possible.

In 1919 there was a third wave of revival. It came upon the Christians with extraordinary power. Nothing was ever quite the same again in Mizoram. On 26th July 1919 it broke out simultaneously in three separate villages, Zotlang and Thingsai in the South, and Nisapui in the North. One hundred and forty miles separated the southern and northern villages. They were as remote from each other as any villages could be yet the revival bore the same characteristics and the same emphases in all three villages. The other notable feature was the speed with which it spread across Mizoram, spilling over into Manipur and Tripura. It affected every Mizo speaking area and those with similar tongues to Mizo. The emphasis was on the Cross and the sufferings of Christ, revealing the love of God for man and demanding the corollary of brotherly love and Christian affection. There were often love-feasts. Hymn singing became much more popular and the use of the drum, which had previously been very sparing, spread to every church at this time. 4,000 came to Christ that year. Of the Baptist area in the south Lorrain ‘Pu Buanga’ wrote: ‘Before the Revival we in South Lushai numbered 3,760 communicants. The Christians now number over 9,000... ...We owe more to North Lushai than we can ever tell.’  By the end of the year there were 20,000 new believers to the Church in North Mizoram alone. There was a proportionate increase in the South.

The Presbytery meeting of 23rd October 1919 was described by Sandy as the most wonderful he had ever seen. ‘The crowds were immense; many hundreds were unable to get into the chapel [at Aizawl] so great was the crush. All day long for five days... ...the preaching and revival services continued.’

News of Dr. Fraser’s death reached Mizoram in early 1920. He died at North Lakhimpur [on the south bank of the Brahmaputra, west of Guwahati], North Assam. A commemorative brass plaque was placed on the pulpit of Mission Veng Church.

In April 1920 Sandy wrote to the General Secretary in Liverpool asking for the printing press from the former Sylhet Press which was now in Shillong. This was agreed to and the printing press was moved to Aizawl. It gave valuable service and was only discarded in 1958 when the Aizawl Press was electrified.

In April 1920 1,500 copies of the church’s magazine ‘Kristian Tlangau Bu’ were being printed and published. No doubt the readership was four times that number. A commentary on St. Matthew had been completed and another on St. John’s Gospel was in preparation.

In 1920 Sandy went to Lunglei to consult with Lorrain ‘Pu Buanga’  and Savidge ‘Sap Upa’ on the translation of the Scriptures; a Lushai-English Dictionary; a Lushai Orthography; the revision of the ‘Hla Bu’ (Hymn Book) to contain about 500 new hymns. The work was jointly undertaken by both North and South. An order for 15,000 copies of the new ‘Hla Bu’ went to the Madras Christian Press in South India.

In 1920 three pupils at the Girls’ School passed their Middle English Exam and went on to the Welsh Mission High School in Shillong. Two boys from the Boys’ M. E. School in Aizawl went on to the Government School in Shillong while two went to distant Allahabad to continue their education.

In 1920 Fred Sandy stepped down as Presbytery Secretary. Mizos have held that post ever since.

At the October Assembly of 1921 Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ ordained Liangkhaia. He served his fellow Christians as pastor, teacher, and translator for 60 years.

In the early 1920’s there were 51 Primary Schools in North Mizoram. Funds for the schools came from limited Mission Funds. Villagers built their own churches and there were three times as many churches as schools. Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ and Sandy’s main aim was to create a system that would provide every sizeable Mizo village with a good elementary school. This had actually been achieved when the Government of India too over the school system in 1952.

At the end of 1920 Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ set off for Mizoram, leaving his wife (who was in poor health) and son in Wales. It was a difficult decision for him to make. This gave the opportunity for the Sandys and their two-year old daughter to return to the UK on furlough. On the journey to Aizawl he visited villages along the way and baptised 124 converts. Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ arrived in Aizawl in February 1921. He was 51 years old. The change in size and extent of the Mizo church while he had been away made him wonder how it had all happened.

A request came from Haflong to the annual Mizo Presbytery to release Thianga to go to the North Cachar Hills, east of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, to work as an evangelist. A mixture of tribes lived there, Aryan and Mongolian. Some were akin to the Mizos in language and tradition (2), but interspersed with these were many other tribes, Khasi, Mikir, Bengali, Punjabi, Santali, and Naga, who mostly spoke languages completely unrelated to Mizo. But the pattern of their lives, especially the Hill People, was often similar. The opportunity was not to be missed and although they could ill afford to lose Thianga they agreed to the request. Thianga settled in Haflong and worked there for the rest of his life.

In 1921 an Assam Government census was undertaken when each person was expected to note down his religious faith. The figures for Mizoram caused some astonishment because of the enormous increase in the number of Christians. The statistician for Assam questioned the accuracy of the returns and asked them to be checked once more in case of fraud. The Aizawl officers assured him the figures were accurate as any person who was not of the indigenous faith had to supply proof of their religion. There is evidence that the actual figure was an underestimate.

In November 1921 a new missionary, Rev. Enoch Lewis Mendus ‘Pu Mena’ (3), arrived in Mizoram. In Wales Mendus ‘Pu Mena’ had heard Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ make a surprising statement viz. that he had 174 churches in India to supervise. He offered his services there and then. Mendus ‘Pu Mena’ served in Mizoram for 20 years (1921-1944). His passion was for preaching and Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ commented soon after his arrival ‘...the young people have taken to him’.

In 1922 the American Presbyterian Mission transferred the area it had in Assam, south west of Sylhet, to the Welsh Mission.

On 1st September 1922 the 50th anniversary celebrations of Jones ‘Zosaphluia’ arrival in the Mizo Hills were celebrated.

On 7th October 1922 Miss Kitty Lewis ‘Pi Zomawii’ (4) arrived in Mizoram. The arrival of Kitty Lewis ‘Pi Zomawii’, the first woman-teacher, was the fulfilment of a long held dream of both Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Kitty ‘Pi Zomawii’ was the daughter of Sir. Herbert Lewis, a member of the British Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary to Lloyd George [Welshman and British Prime Minister from 1916 to 1922]. Sir. Herbert Lewis, even before William Williams had visited Aizawl in 1891, had toured the length of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. He was a fervent Christian and an ardent believer in the Welsh Presbyterian Mission enterprise. Kitty Lewis’s ‘Pi Zomawii’ main role was the care of the Girls’ School which she undertook with enthusiasm.


NOTES:

(1). Frederick Joseph Sandy was born on 3rd June 1884 in Swansea, South Wales. He was ordained at Aberfan, Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, on 22nd October 1913. He was appointed by the Missionary Society at Fishguard, Dyfed, West Wales, in 1913. He arrived in Aizawl in March 1914. He married Margaret at the Scottish Church, Calcutta, on 31st October 1914 and moved to Durtlang in 1924. Sandy died suddenly at Durtlang on 6th November 1926. Mrs. Margaret Sandy returned to Swansea in January 1927 and died on 17th June 1958. They had one child.

(2). For example the Biate people.

(3). Enoch Lewis Mendus was born at Wiston, Haverfordwest, Dyfed, West Wales, on 27th August 1887. He was ordained in 1913 and became a pastor at Treforest, Pontypridd, South Wales, and at Cardiff. He was appointed by the Missionary Society in 1921 and arrived in India in Mizoram in November 1921. He was involved with education, general mission work and translation. He married Gwen in September 1936 and retired in January 1944 to Cardiff. Mendus died on 10th March 1982. Mrs. Gwen Mendus died 1st February 1984.

(4). Catherine (Katie) Hughes was born at Talysarn, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, North Wales, on 28th July 1889. A Teacher. She was appointed by the Missionary Society at Holyhead, Anglesey, on 18th June 1924 and arrived in Aizawl on 26th December 1924. In charge of the Girls’ M. E. School for many years. From 1945 she was the full-time Mizo Sunday School Union Secretary. She retired to the U.K. in January 1962 and died on 27th December 1963.

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