Thursday, 1 October 2015

Fr. Thomas Jones built the first Welsh church in NE india.


The first church in North East India 1848 .www.quora.com

Thomas Jones,(1810 -16 September 1849), son of a  carpenter from Montgomeryshire, mid Wales,  was a well-known missionary on the Khasi hills of Assam (now Meghalaya), India.

The Foreign Missions enterprise of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church (later known as the Presbyterian Church of Wales)  was founded  at Liverpool in 1840. Jones  became a Calvinistic Methodist minister in 1840 and shortly afterwards left  for  Calcutta, India, with his wife Anne. His main purpose was evangelical work and conversion of natives on the Khasi hills of Assam to Christianity.

.whazzupnortheast.blogspot.com  
 Above image:  The first church in North East India established in 1848 by Welsh Missionary, Thomas Jones.......

The area, now part of  Meghalaya, had  been brought under British dominion with a military station at Cherrapunji (receives highest rain fall in the world) and in 1874 the Khasia and Jaintia Hills and the plains of Assam were designated as the Province of Assam.  William Carey, a Welsh Missionary in the 1930s sent missionaries to Khasi hills area, a difficult terrain and wettest area in the world, They, initially, did not make much headway in their missionary work. 

Missionary work in India a couple of centuries ago  was a tough one. The person had to tackle tropical climate, wooded areas infested with wild animals, poisonous snakes, etc. Besides they had to tackle the tribes living in the isolated areas. Going through the rugged terrain cir-crossed by streams, rivers and  high cliff  was a challenge to one's stamina.  Another uphill task was carrying heavy baggage  steep uphill. In those days the local people used the mules and donkeys to carry heavy stuff to much higher plains. Having no friendly people in  remote areas, for  inexperienced evangelists, it was indeed a Herculean task to reach an elevation of 4000  feet plus.

Jones somehow managed to reach the higher plains of Khasi hills on his first trip. He and  his wife over a period of time developed close understanding with the natives. Jone's skills in carpentry, agriculture, flair for new language came to his rescue and his skills marked him out as a better preacher and human being. He not only learned their language and lived among the Khasi tribes,  but also opened missionary schools to make them literate. He was fluent in Khasi language and introduced Khasi  alphabet in Roman script. In 1842 he produced a Khasi Reader, and translated a Welsh-language work, Rhodd Mam, into Khasi; these were the first books written in the Khasi language. He also compiled a Khasi alphabet and dictionary.

In 1846 Anne Jones died in childbirth. She already lost a child during birth at Calcutta upon their arrival. Jones was very much saddened and had to put up with pangs of separation from his departed wife. Despite his personal tragedy, he kept doing his evangelical work without any break. Incidentally Jone's wife Anne became the first Christian to be buried in the Khasi hills and there is a tombstone bearing her name.  To take care of his household and to concentrate on his priest work, Jones married one  Emma Cattell, it is believed, a local tribe just 15 yeras younger to him. A son, Thomas Cattell Jones, was born posthumously. To cap it all,  his mission at Pomreng  ran into rough weather with authorities who dumped him in 1847. His marriage with a very young girl and his failed mission became a subject of debate and carping criticism.


He died of Malaria on 16 September 1849 and  was  buried in the Scottish Cemetery at Calcutta.

Thomas Jones Welsh missionary Khasi hills,. colonialfamilies.wordpress.com
 Gravestone of Thomas Jones,the Scottish Cemetery, Calcutta. en.wikipedia.org
India, being a multi religious country, now the state of  Meghalaya has the largest Christian community  - 70-80% of the population. It shows wide spread acceptance of  Christian faith first introduced by the Welsh missionaries  .

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jones_%28missionary%29