We prayed earnestly about the matter of where to live when we returned from South Africa to Nagercoil in July of last year. Two months of search had not availed to find exactly what I felt the Lord wanted us to use. E. M. Meleen had advised that we put forth special effort for Hindus, so I proposed that we go to the most prominent section of the city.
I hardly knew where to go, for I had already made a thorough search. However, I thought of a house I had seen but hardly hoped would be available—the largest and most beautiful house in Nagercoil. We drove our bandy (oxcart) in, and what was our surprise to learn from the tenants (Brahmans) that they were leaving and that the house would be available. Even then we thought the rent would be completely out of our reach, but learned that they were paying only 45 rupees a month. We went to the man in charge, offered him the same rent, and finally succeeded in getting it for that. The owner had gone to Ceylon and was unable to do much about it, which was why it had been renting at such a low rate.
We decided to live upstairs and use the downstairs to hold meetings. This house had a large front veranda which would seat about a hundred men. There was nothing but a spare type of latticework to obstruct the view from the outside. The entrance to the veranda was near the center and directly in front of the entrance was a large room capable of seating fifty or more women in such a way as to enable them to see the speaker and the pictures at the left end. The stairway to the uPstairs was at the left of the veranda, where we placed the pulpit.
We framed our advertising in such a way as to attract non-Christian people, and succeeded in filling the room for men, and pretty well filling the one for women. We placed some in the library room, which was just behind the center room for women, to the right.
For some weeks we had the rooms pretty well filled, but the attendance began to fall off after we had presented the matter of the mortality of man in his present state. This is a "bitter pill" for Indian thinking, as is also the Sabbath. However, a visit from W. H. Anderson, of South Africa, was a very great blessing, for it brought out the crowds again. They kept coining until we had to close the effort because we had used up our budget, and also because of the intense heat of the month of April. Among the baptisms of interest we might mention the following:
1. A Brahman. I know of no other Brahman, except our leading worker, L. G. Mookerjee, who has accepted this message. He is the second person in Nagercoil to ever become a Christian, I believe, and about the third for the whole state of Travancore. He is a teacher, and an earnest Christian.
2. A retired forest inspector. He said he would be baptized in July, but we were away at that time, so he will be baptized this month. I believe in letting them set the time, after urging the danger of delay.
3. A teacher. He took his stand on the first evening he attended, which was the night we preached on the mark of the beast. His relatives locked him in a dark room for refusing to work on Sabbath.
4. Another teacher. She was taken almost directly from her baptism to teach in our Tamil mission high school, on account of the great shortage of teachers. We do not generally take people so directly from baptism into the work, but there seemed to be no other way. The choice seems to have been abundantly blessed of the Lord, for she is making a success of her work, and her husband has gone to Spicer College to prepare for work in the Lord's vineyard.
5. A preacher of the London Mission took his stand for the truth, and is now winning souls in villages. He is an able speaker, having gone to England to study and practice preaching, and we believe he will win many to Christ. His acceptance of the truth has not been easy. In the villages where he is preaching he is meeting determined opposition with a very sweet spirit of meekness and reasoning. Two families have accepted his message, are keeping the Sabbath, and one asking for baptism. His work is self-supporting, with the exception of a small allowance for traveling.
Others were baptized, and we hope and trust that they will stay true till Jesus comes. I plan to start another effort on a small scale here in Nagercoil soon. It will be the third effort of the kind, the first being conducted by R. H. Pierson in 1941.
Of course, these additions to the body of God's people present the most interesting reading for the present, but I feel that a far more substantial work is being done on behalf of children we are sending to our schools. As these children come back from school each year, we see the promising development. We have some who are training for nursing and various types of medical work. Recently the father of one of these children was at work in a large mechanical workshop, trying out a new electric grinding stone which was making about two thousand revolutions a minute. He had been kneeling, examining it from beneath, and just as he arose and stepped back a few feet, the stone burst with a tremendous, explosive noise, some pieces rending large holes in the galvanized roof of the shed. He explained his feelings in the evening as he was attending our Week of Prayer meeting. He felt that God was trying to impress him that he should take his stand for the truth. His daughter also keeps writing him that he must take his stand.