Notes and Comments: The Wesleyan Mission

The Review of Religions (English), March/April 1908 Issue (Vol. 7, Nos. 3 and 4, pp. 141–142)

The sixty-eighth annual report of the Wesleyan Mission in the Mysore province which gives a brief review of the Mission’s work for the year 1907 has just reached us. The report complains of the Hindu and the Muhammadan [Muslims] opposition to its work growing fiercer and stronger day by day, but we are sure that a Hindu or a Muhammadan mission in a Christian country would meet with similar or even stronger opposition.

“One grievous result of this active enmity,”

according to the report,

“is that we are not able to sell Gospels as we did previously.”

But our own experience in a similar line tells us that religious prejudice in advanced England interferes with the propagandic works of other religions even more severely, for our free offer of religious literature on Islam was rejected by many pious Christian individuals and societies in that country. In fact, the spirit of religious intolerance is stronger in Christendom than it is elsewhere.

The gain to Christianity through the Wesleyan Mission is very small so far as the numbers are concerned.

“The increase in the membership of our Indian Church,”

we are told,

“is seventy-two, and is distributed among several circuits. This represents both the natural growth of the Church by the reception into membership of those who have been brought up within its fold, and also its increase by accessions from without.”

As to how far this gain can be said to be a success, we would let the report speak for itself:

“The numbers detailed in the schedules which we present with this report are not large compared with the length of time that the Mysore mission has been in existence, with the size of the Mission staff, and with that ratio of tabulated ingathering to expended rupees which is to be found in some parts of the mission field and may perhaps be looked for here also, the result is disappointing.”

But there is also the usual solace, for there is evidence which the missionaries never fail to discover in any mission field that

“there is a most important movement going on beneath the surface.”

It is, however, quite true that the result must be sought in quality and not in quantity. There may be fields in which a mission can reap a plenty harvest such as among the Paraiyars, but one important and genuine conversion is worth more than a thousand, or for that reason, a hundred thousand converts who hardly know what they abandon and what they accept.

Apart from the religious work, though only as a result of it, however, the mission is doing some very useful work. It has schools and colleges in which more than ten thousand scholars, nearly half being girls, are receiving education. It has hospitals in places where the sick cannot have any other medical advice. It has also its rescue homes where girls leading a sinful life can find a refuge from their cruel and savage relatives. It has distributed during the year more than twelve million pages of religious literature of its own, that is, apart from the Gospels sold or distributed.