MISSIONS TO THE BURMANS
By Henry C. Vedder, 1927
[Now known as Republic of the Union of Myanmar]
The Country and People
Burma is a region 1,000 miles long and 600 wide, at the two extremes, with an area of 236,000 square miles, almost equal to Texas (265,896), and a population of 13,000,000, about equal to the New England and Middle States combined. Less densely peopled than Hindustan or China, it still far surpasses anything in our experience. It is commonly divided into Upper and Lower Burma. Upper Burma is hilly to mountainous, rich in minerals; Lower Burma is a fertile plain. The Irawadi and its tributaries make a great waterway, which until lately has been the chief means of communication and transportation, though now railways run along it to Mandalay and Bhamo, the principal cities of the north. The chief products are rice, sugar-cane, tobacco and cigars, cotton, and indigo. Upper Burma produces tea and wheat, and in its forests teak and other valuable woods are found.
Over 70 per cent, of the people get their living from the land. The average holding is 6 1/2 acres, while some 2,750,000 have no land at all, and 2,000,000 acres out of 17,000,000 under cultivation are in the hands of large landowners. But a change is impending; Burma is more and more coming to be a mining, manufacturing, commercial country, much as European countries developed in the last century. A great variety of occupations, instead of simple farming, is opening to young people, and the scope and importance of training for these new callings is rapidly widening.
The manufactures of Burma are growing in importance,
and include native cotton and silk fabrics, pottery, lacquer work, wood-carving, gold and silver plate and ornaments. Some modern iron-mills have been started, and ship-building is an industry by no means unimportant.
Burma is one of the most cosmopolitan regions of Asia; it is said that more than forty races are found there, speaking as many languages and dialects. The Burmese proper are of Indo-Chinese stock, some say with a mixture of Malay. Their language is monosyllabic, like the Chinese. Many centuries ago they acquired the art of writing and have a large literature. They are a quite literate people; most of them can read at least. The Burman civilization is not only very ancient, but high. The social position of women is good, far above their sisters in India proper or in China. Women have considerable freedom and monogamy mostly prevails, though concubines are allowed, mostly servants in the house (a la Abraham and Hagar). The birthrate is high and the population is steadily increasing. The Burmese are a polite people, of high spirits, fond of amusements and especially devoted to the theater, which includes not only the drama proper, but adjuncts of music and dancing.
When our missions in Burma began, the country was ruled by a king and council nominally, but practically was an absolute despotism. In 1886 King Theebaw's domains were annexed to India, but in 1897 Burma was again made a separate province with its own lieutenant-governor. The British conquest not only gave the country internal peace, but much social improvement. Laws were made more just and their administration both more certain and more mild; barbarous punishments formerly in vogue have been abolished. The establishment of a general system of schools is also due to British initiative, though they are largely carried on by native administrators
and teachers. The general economic development of the region has also been greatly promoted by British occupation, not always to the advantage of the people. The suppression of bandits or dacoits was one of the first accomplishments of British officials, and life and property are now safer than they probably ever were in Burma before.
Burma is evidently a country with a future; its great resources have only partially been exploited. It is a country presenting problems to be solved; British occupation has done much but has not done everything. In particular, there is a pressing immigration problem. Its rich soil has tempted thousands from overcrowded and poverty-stricken parts of Hindustan to migrate and settle there Telugus, Tamils, and others, more than a million of whom have come in the last few years. They bring a lower standard of living, and their competition with native labor is proving disastrous to the latter. A new missionary problem and opportunity is presented by this movement of population.
Buddhism, one of the world's great missionary religions, early made a conquest of Burma, and is the prevailing faith. More than 10,000,000 people profess it as their religion. The founder of Buddhism is known by several names. His personal name was Siddhartha ("he that succeeds in his aim") and his family name was Gotama. He was born about 557 B. C, son of the rajah of a small Indian province. He had the usual education and lived the usual life of an Indian prince till twenty-four years of age. He was happily married and had one child; to all appearances he was destined to a fortunate life and reign. But he had been increasingly impressed with the universal misery, sickness, and death all about him, and his mind
became so occupied with the problems of life and destiny, that he finally forsook wife and wealth and station, and gave himself to a life of solitude and asceticism. This was the origin of another name by which he became widely known, Sakya-muni -Sakya being his tribal name and muni corresponding to the Greek monos, solitary; hence Sakya-muni is " the hermit of Sakya."
Siddartha thus first sought a way of Salvation in the orthodox Indian fashion, as a fakir, begging his food, practising extreme austerities until he became satisfied that this was a vain quest. When thirty years of age, while sitting one day under a bo-tree (peepul, a species of fig) he had a revelation of the truth and became the Buddha, the Enlightened One not a proper name at first, though it has since become one, like Christ, the Anointed. Thenceforth he taught the way of life and gathered disciples about him until his death, in 477 B. C. Only a pure and strong soul, only a lofty personality, could have exerted an influence so indelible and compelling on his disciples and succeeding generations. That he was calm and fearless, mild and compassionate, eloquent and zealous, noble and winsome, is attested by all accounts and by the results of his life.
Like Jesus, Siddhartha wrote nothing. His teachings were held in memory by his disciples and orally transferred from one to another for generations before an attempt was made to commit them to writing. This makes it difficult to determine with any degree of certitude what were his original teachings and what are the accretions of tradition. We have only internal evidence to guide us. Not merely in what we may take to be the original teachings of its founder, but in its developed form, Buddhism has many curious and interesting resemblances to Christianity. It evolved an official canon of sacred writings, made about 240 B. C., known as the Be-ta-gat. It evolved
an elaborate cult, a priesthood and hierarchy; and in Tibet, where it reached its fullest development, this culminates in a pope (called the Grand Lama) and a council corresponding to the College of Cardinals. Its altars, its priests, with their vestments and ritual and incense, are so strikingly like the Roman Catholic Church that when the earliest Roman missionaries first came in contact with Buddhism they maintained that the devil had preceded them and tried to counteract their labors by establishing a counterfeit Christianity.
Siddhartha was the greatest heretic of his age and race, one of the most daring innovators who ever lived. He repudiated most of the ideas that men then held most sacred. He denied the inspiration of the Vedas, condemned caste, rejected ritual, scorned sacrifice as inhuman and prayer as useless; and while he. thus cast into the rubbish heap all the dogmas of his day, he refused to set in their place dogmas of his own. The core of Buddhism seems to be its founder's teachings under four heads:Four Sublime Verities. 1. Pain is inseparable from existence. 2. Pain is the result of desire, and misconduct through desire, in previous existence or in this. 3. Escape from pain is possible only through Nirvana. 4. Nirvana can be attained only by self-renunciation.In its historical development, Buddhism departed as widely from the teachings of its founder as Christianity from the teachings of Jesus. more could not be said.
The Eightfold Way. 1. Right view. 2. Right judgment 3. Right language. 4. Right purpose. 5. Right profession. 6. Right application. 7. Right memory. 8. Right meditation.
Five Prohibitions. 1. Thou shalt not kill. 2. Thou shalt not steal. 3. Thou shalt not lie. 4. Thou shalt not commit adultery. 5. Thou shalt not get drunk.
Six Virtues. 1. Charity. 2. Purity. 3. Patience. 4. Courage. 5. Contemplation. 6. Knowledge.
One of the best features of the teaching of Siddhartha was his rejection of the debasing system of polytheism, idolatry, and caste that constituted the popular religion of India. He was like Jesus in that his teaching was not for a favored race or class, but for all mankind. But he was unlike Jesus, and more like Confucius, in that he did not really teach a religion, but an ethical philosophy. As to religion, he was atheistic, or at least agnostic. One of the ironies of history is the fact that the teacher who rejected all gods was himself exalted by his followers to be their God. Buddhism thus became a religion, in spite of its founder.
Siddhartha took over bodily, as was natural, the three prime ideas of the Hinduism in which he had been bred, without ever questioning their truth: transmigration of souls, karma, and pantheism. His only God was the universe, the totality of things, and absorption into the essence of the universe, with consequent loss of personal identity a condition of calm repose, indifference to life or death, pleasure or pain was apparently what he meant by Nirvana. Cessation of the thinking, suffering self, of conscious existence, identification with the All, an impassive state of imperturbable tranquillity, eternal repose, seemed to him the highest conception of salvation. Not how to live in this world, as Jesus taught, but how to get rid of life, is Siddhartha's message. A later Buddhist catechism defines Nirvana astotal cessation of changes; a perfect rest; the absence of desire, illusions, and sorrow; the total obliteration of everything that goes to make up the physical man.Yet his disciples tell us that Siddhartha refused to call Nirvana annihilation. The doctrine has close affiliation with that form of Christian mysticism known as Quietism taught by Molinos.
The Ethics of Buddhism
There is much that is admirable in Buddhism and its founder, and the most effective approach to its devotees will be found in this point of view, rather than a hostile and polemic attitude. Siddhartha himself appears through the mists of centuries to have been one of the world's greatest and best. His charm of manner and patent goodness of character, to which all accounts testify, probably did more to win him followers than originality of teaching. And his doctrine, so far as we can gather it from the traditions, was the most pure, inspiring, and elevating of all the sages of the pre-Christian era. If he did not attain to knowledge of the Fatherhood of God, he did proclaim the brotherhood of man. He, as well as Jesus, taught the victorious power of love. He said:A man who foolishly does me wrong I will return to him the protection of my ungrudging love; the more evil comes from him, the more good shall come from me.Many of the maxims attributed to Siddhartha, if not indisputably his, at least developed in the minds of his early disciples as the result of his influence; and not a few of them are almost identical with words of Jesus, while others are worthy of him.The present reaps what the past has sown; the future is the product of the present.
Rituals have no efficacy; prayers are but vain words; incantations have no saving power. To abandon covetousness and lust, to become free from evil desires, to renounce hatred and ill-will, this is true worship.
Comprehension of the truth leads to Nirvana, but greater than all is loving kindness.
We reach the immortal path only by acts of kindness, we perfect our souls only by love.
That which is most needed is a loving heart.
Not by hatred is hatred appeased; hatred is appeased by non-hatred - this is the eternal law.
Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.Buddhism is showing signs of recuperative power, and is again becoming a missionary religion. It is adopting some of the features of Christianity that have been found most effective, such as Sunday schools and something resembling the YMCA. Public religious services, with readings from their sacred writings and a sermon expounding the doctrines are among the new expedients. There is also a movement somewhat like the Reformation, an attempt to revive the earlier and purer teachings and to slough off the later corruptions of Buddhism. Buddhism is growing, more perhaps in China and Japan than in Burma, but everywhere, and missionaries are learning to meet it in a different spirit from that of earlier days. They find a more sympathetic contact with Buddhists not merely possible but imperative. They do not attack it but rather recognize its good and point out its deficiencies. Buddhism teaches goodness without God, existence without soul, immortality without conscious life, happiness without a heaven, salvation without a Saviour, redemption
The fool who knows his foolishness may become wise; but the fool who thinks himself wise is a fool indeed.
Overcome hatred by love; overcome evil by good; overcome lies by the truth.
He who has in his heart the love of truth has drunk the water of immortality.
Greater than the sacrifice of bullocks is the sacrifice of self. Blood has no cleansing power. Better than worshiping the gods is righteousness among men.
The cleaving to self is continual dying, while abiding in the truth leads to Nirvana, which is life everlasting.
Walk in the noble path of truth, that declares thy brother is the same as thou. Walk in the noble path of truth, and thou wilt understand that while there is death in self, there is immortality in truth.1
1 This saying of a disciple of Buddha might have been written by a Christian missionary if he were Christian enough: "Unto us has our Father given two spiritual gifts. Of these the first is the virtue whereby we attain to his kingdom, and the second is the virtue whereby having so attained, we return into this world for the salvation of men. And this second virtue is called the Gift of Returning." Quoted by Fleming, Whither Bound in Missions, p. 30.
without a Redeemer, worship without rites. In all these things Christianity supplements Buddhism with additional truth, most of which can be tested and verified by experience. Above all, it both promises and gives motive power to help do what Buddha exhorts men to do without aid.
While there are many apparent contacts of the teaching of Jesus and Siddhartha, there is a difference that is fundamental and vital: Siddhartha makes self-saving the chief goal, favors a low estimate of environment, paralyzes initiative and progress, and utterly repudiates social responsibility. Jesus teaches the exact contrary: gives a reasonable estimate of environment, encourages initiative and progress, and insists on acceptance of social responsibilities as the prime condition of membership in his kingdom of God. The great thing is not self-renunciation (asceticism), but renunciation of self, not one's own salvation the goal but the salvation of others, which will incidentally secure the salvation of self. It is true that Christian theologians and preachers have too often perverted the teaching of Jesus into something indistinguishable from that of Siddhartha, in their excessive emphasis upon individual salvation and their ignoring if not denial of social responsibilities. But the ideals of Jesus are plain enough to one who will read the Gospels with an open mind.
Beginning of Judson's Mission
When Adoniram Judson and his wife reached Calcutta, they sought out the English Baptist missionaries and found a transient home at Serampore. By their baptism, which soon followed, they cut themselves off from the American Board which had sent them out, and the Baptist mission at Serampore gave them temporary assistance. Luther Rice, who arrived soon after, was also baptized,
and it was decided that he should return to America and enlist the Baptist churches in the support of the Judsons. They began to cast about for a new field of labor, and their decision was influenced by the fact that Felix Carey, eldest son of William, had entered the service of the Burmese government and was residing in Rangoon as the elder Carey put it, "Felix is shriveled from a missionary to an ambassador." So the Judsons decided to go to Rangoon and begin a mission to the Burmese, which was formally constituted in 1814.
The first task, of course, was to learn the language, in which great difficulties were encountered, owing to the lack of competent instruction and books. Judson had to make his own grammar and dictionary as he advanced, and published later the first books of this kind in the Burmese language. He said that he had learned more French in a few months than he was able to learn of Burmese in three years. By 1816, however, he had been able to translate the Gospel of Matthew, but it was not till the end of 1823 that he completed the New Testament, which was first printed in 1832 and the whole Bible followed in 1840. This was Doctor Judson's greatest achievement and remains his imperishable monument. By all competent authorities it is recognized as a master-piece of Bible translation, and with slight revisions remains the one Bible of the Burmese to this day. 2
Judson was not a mere translator; he was a devoted missionary, though for a considerable time little result followed his labors. A zayat or booth was opened in April, 1819, and the first Burman convert, Moung Nau, was baptized June 19. In November two more followed,
2 By cooperation with the B F B S a revision of Judson's version to adapt it to present usage was arranged (1914) so that it remains the standard Burmese Bible. Printing to be done by Baptist Mission Press for ten years. (There is also a version known as the Tun Nyein, which will probably soon be withdrawn from circulation.) Judson's version was made before the present better Greek texts were available, which is a chief reason for the revision.
so that a native church of three members was begun. One reason for slow progress was that the climate was found to be very trying for Americans, and one by one missionaries sent to this field succumbed; while Doctor Judson himself was often incapacitated and had to take furloughs or sea-voyages to recuperate. These experiences of missionaries and the progress of medical science and hygiene have taught successors to overcome most of these obstacles, and a tropical climate is no longer deadly in itself to those reared in a colder clime.
At first the government was not unfavorable to Christian missionaries. At an interview with him in Ava, the king listened to Judson's statement of their objects and efforts and seemed favorable. He continued to be at least neutral and permitted a new mission station to be opened in Ava, then the capital and royal residence. In 1819, however, a new king came to the throne, and his arrogance and brutal tyranny brought on a war with the British, in which Rangoon was bombarded and captured by the British forces May 23, 1824. Judson and his colleague Dr. Jonathan Price were arrested on suspicion of being British spies and suffered a cruel imprisonment at Aungbinle (called in the older missionary literature Oungpenla). They were fastened to bamboo poles with heavy shackles, which kept them lying on their backs, were given no food or water and must have died but for the constant ministrations of Mrs. Judson. Doctor Judson bore the marks of the shackles to his latest day; and Mrs. Judson died soon after, mainly in consequence of the hardships suffered at this time. A chapel now marks the site of this prison and near-by is a school for girls.
As the British forces advanced and the king recognized his defeat, Judson and Price were released from prison to act as interpreters in the negotiations that followed. As a result of this war with the British, the Burman monarch
was required to pay a large indemnity and to cede to the East India Company a strip of territory along the Bay of Bengal, including the Tenasserim provinces, Arracan and Chittagong. Rangoon reverted for a time to the Burmese.
Doctor Judson's uncompleted MS. of the New Testament in Burmese was almost miraculously preserved from destruction during this experience, as well as other valuable MSS. After his release and the end of the war, Amherst became the seat of British administration and the mission was removed to that place. Doctor Judson's Burmese Dictionary was published by the British Government, which recognized its value for all students of that language, and it is still, with his grammar, the chief help of those who have to learn Burmese. After the second war with the British (1852), Rangoon, Pegu, and all Southern Burma became British territory. The mission at Rangoon was reestablished the following year and has ever since remained the center of the Burman mission. A fine brick chapel was erected in 1859, and other buildings have followed, until one of the most extensive and valuable plants on the foreign field has been the result.
A marked impetus was given to the work in Burma, and in all other mission fields incidentally, by Doctor Judson's visit to America in 1845, where he was received with great and well-deserved honors. He returned to his work, but died in 1850 during a voyage undertaken for recuperation, and was buried at sea. It was better so, in view of the tendency of imperfectly converted heathen to deify their beloved teachers and make shrines of their graves.
The Mission Press at Rangoon
One of the first re-enforcements of the Judsons was Rev. George H. Hough, a practical printer; he was able
to set up a press, with types obtained from Serampore, and so the mission printing and publishing business began at Moulmein in 1827. In 1829 Cephas Bennett, a layman and also a practical printer, joined the mission, bringing with him an American press and taking charge of the work thenceforth. The concern was moved from Moulmein to Rangoon in 1862, and under direction of Mr. Bennett grew into a large and prosperous institution. As an auxiliary of the mission, it has proved invaluable. It has published great quantities of Bibles, New Testaments, and portions of Scripture; innumerable books and tracts that have been widely circulated; and through this Christian literature has made known the teachings of Jesus to an incalculable extent. An example of its work is this: In 1837 a tract was given to practically every Burman in Rangoon who could read, with the result that hundreds daily sought the missionaries to learn more about Jesus.
From 1882 onward Mr. F. D. Phinney, another lay printer, had charge of the enterprise, which under his management grew into one of the great business institutions of Rangoon. A fine new building was completed in 1905, and made this probably the best-equipped printing and publishing house in the Orient, certainly without a superior. Any American society or corporation might be proud of it. Some 60 or 70 compositors are employed, and among the recent additions to its equipment are two linotype machines for setting up matter in Burmese and Sgaw Karen. A new sales building has recently been built at Mandalay, said to be one of the handsomest in the city. The Press issues literature of many sorts in ten or more different languages. Since 1882 no appropriations have been' made by the Board for the Press, save for special purposes: a small sum was given toward the new building, and the linotype machines mentioned were given by American Baptists. With these exceptions the
Press has not only been self-supporting for almost two generations, but from its profits is able to contribute considerable sums each year for the work of the mission at large. Mr. Phinney died toward the close of 1922, and his place has been taken by Mr. J. L. Snyder.
There is not space to tell of the many accomplishments of the Press; a few instances must suffice. A new and smaller edition of the whole Burman Bible was printed in 1890; while as many as 390,000 tracts have been issued in a single year. Hymn-books, six monthly papers, one with a circulation of 12,800 copies, and school-books, Burmese and English, are among its numerous publications. Printing is done for other of our Oriental stations, and job printing for Burmese business interests is now a profitable part of its activities. The books are sold at cost price very largely; missionaries have found, as our Bible societies long since discovered, that this is the best policy. A man will perhaps read a book that is presented to him; but if he pays good money for it, he will almost certainly read it, to get the worth of his money, if for no other reason.
The educational work of the Burmese missions has been most important from the beginning. Naturally the training of a Christian ministry first engaged the attention of missionaries, and a theological school for Burmans was begun at Moulmein in 1838, which now has an annual enrolment of about 50. A similar school for Karens opened in 1846 has about forty students. The value of these schools for the evangelization of Burma cannot be overestimated. Both are now located at Insein, a suburb of Rangoon. Though the Burman school was primarily intended, as its name implies, for Burman students, other races have been admitted, and it is said that
sixteen different languages or dialects are spoken among its students. A new dormitory has lately been erected for this school. For the Karen school, in 1923, special gifts procured the construction of a gymnasium building with full equipment, in memory of D. A. W. Smith, who was for many years the head of the institution. Both these schools are now almost entirely supported by gifts of the native Christians of Burma.
Later the necessity of an educated laity, as well as ministry, for the permanent strength of Christian churches in Burma led to the founding of Judson College in 1872. For a time it occupied a fine campus in Ahlone, a suburb of Rangoon, until it reached an enrolment of over 300 students annually, who represented five racial groups - Burmese, Karens, Chinese, Indians, and Anglo-Indians. Sixty per cent, of these students become Christians by graduation, and the rest are profoundly influenced in character and life. It has progressed in educational standing, as well as in size. From 1882 to 1894 it was affiliated as a high school with Calcutta University; from 1894 to 1909 it ranked as a Junior College; since 1909 it has had full collegiate rating. It was made a "constituent college" of the new Rangoon University, in the Act of Incorporation of 1916, and this gives it representation in the governing body of the university. A new campus, a tract of 400 acres overlooking the beautiful Kokine lake, has been secured for the university; and 63 acres have been allocated to Judson College. The Burman Government will pay half the expense of transferring the college to the new site as well as one-half the cost of salaries and maintenance, leaving $500,000 to be provided by Baptists. When this removal is accomplished, Judson College will have no superior among educational institutions in mission fields. It is the only Christian college in all Burma.
Five institutions of high-school grade are maintained, two at Rangoon, two at Moulmein, and one at Mandalay. Gushing High School, on the Judson campus at Rangoon, has 800 boys in attendance. There are in addition 34 other schools of secondary grade, in which 2,300 boys and 1,600 girls are receiving instruction, not to mention 41 primary schools with 1,300 boys and 1,000 girls. An agricultural school at Pyinmana, 225 miles north of Rangoon, is one of the latest ventures and also one of the most significant, as it is training the youth in better methods of work, and making a worth-while contribution toward solving the problem of self-support for all the churches. The meaning of such a school will be better understood in the light of the fact that the greater part of the population of Burma is gathered in 50,000 villages and 80 per cent, of these are engaged in agriculture. They know next to nothing of scientific cultivation: such things as soils, fertilizers, pests, best methods of culture, use of machinery all these must be taught them by precept and practise. Both gardening and field crops are taught. All students work 3 1/2 hours each morning and so are enabled to support themselves. There are over 50 students in the school now, and nine different languages are spoken among them. Nine-tenths of them are said to be already Christians or sons of Christians. The Government takes great interest in this school/regarding it as an experiment on the success of which Burman agriculture largely depends for its future prosperity.
Women's education has by no means been neglected. A school for girls was begun as early as 1867 by Miss Haswell at Moulmein, for which the Women's Missionary Society erected a building in 1872. The Kemendine Girls' High School and Normal School at Rangoon was begun in 1870 and the normal department was opened 37 years ago. A kindergarten department has since
(1895) been added. Over 400 Burman girls are now receiving instruction here, from five European teachers and fourteen Burmese. The school supplies teachers to other denominations, particularly the Methodists. Nine girls of the last graduating class are taking college work. Two Bible schools for women, for Karens at Rangoon, and Burmese at Insein are making a valuable contribution to education and evangelism, by training some fifty women of six different races.
In spite of decreased appropriations from the United States, the work of Christian education is prospering in Burma, largely owing to liberal Government aid, but still more to increased support from the field. Christian parents are displaying new anxiety for the education of their children and readiness to make sacrifices in order to secure it. New schools are opening every year, and the standards of the older institutions are being raised. Buddhists are giving money to Christian schools, in order that their children may be educated. The great need is for qualified native teachers and supervisors. No missionary wishes to be a school manager, but many are compelled to be. It should be noted also, as a missionary contribution to Burman education, that teachers trained in our schools conduct under the British Government 855 schools, with an enrolment of over 30,000 pupils, comprising all grades from kindergarten up.
A serious check was given to educational work on all Baptist mission fields by the visit of the famous Deputation, the first official visitation of the fields by a committee of the Board. Missionaries are but human, and differences of judgment regarding missionary policy are to be expected. Sometimes, however, these develop conflicts that are not expected, and such was the case in the
Burman mission, from 1850 onward. The crisis was adjudged so acute by the Board, that in 1853 a Deputation headed by the Foreign Secretary, was sent out to gather facts on the spot and compose the differences. The plan was not successful; the Deputation increased the troubles rather than diminished them, and transferred the trouble to the Board and the annual meeting of the Missionary Union. The result was the resignation of most of the officers and a reorganization of the Union, after which peace was gradually restored. The difficulties largely grew out of differences regarding the place of schools in mission work, the Board being strongly committed to evangelization, as were some of the missionaries, while the majority of the latter favored a large place for Christian education. Some of the findings of the Deputation were wiser than those relating to education. It deplored the policy the missionaries had pursued toward their native helpers, by putting them and keeping them in a secondary place. Only 11 out of 130 native workers were ordained ministers at the time of their visit. A change of policy in this respect did take place. But the Deputation were very emphatic in declaring that schools should be subordinated to preaching. Schools are not a preparation for Christianity, but Christianity is the true preparation for schools. Unfortunately the Board and even the churches of the homeland in the main took the same view and for a generation or more evangelism was stressed as the chief missionary method. We are now reaping the reward of this narrow-minded policy; we have no adequate native ministry to do the work of evangelism, at the same time having discovered that none but a native ministry can do it effectively.
This was the first experience of Baptists with the tendency of Boards to standardize and limit, and to be too conservative, possibly too despotic. Executives at home
must trust mainly to the judgment of the men on the field, who know their job as it cannot be known by men at home.
Women in the Burma Mission
In 1833 the first single woman was sent out, Miss Sarah Cummings. Her labors were brief but very efficient. Mrs. Ingalls, after the early death of her husband, continued her work at Thonze from 1868 onward with very great success. In her visits to the homeland, she did a work of almost equal importance, in giving missionary lectures to our Baptist churches, which made many people for the first time acquainted with the extent and value of our Burman work. But the great achievements of women in this mission begin with the organization of the Woman's Missionary Societies in 1871 at first one for the East and one for the West, which later were united in a single organization. Two schools have done a notable work in preparing young women for work under this society: the Baptist Training School of Chicago, established in 1881 ; and the Baptist Institute of Philadelphia, begun as the Baptist Training School in 1892. Graduates of these schools are found on all our mission fields, besides those who are giving service equally valuable and equally missionary in the home fields.
Some of the early missionaries were physicians or had had some medical training and were able to mingle a work of healing with their evangelism. Later it was possible to establish hospitals for more systematic medical work. Six of these are now found on the field. These institutions are giving medical aid to 19,000 persons every year, but this makes hardly any visible impression on the misery of Burma, where it is estimated that 90
out of every 100 die without doctor or nurse. A much larger investment than American Baptists have yet made in medical missions would bring large returns in this country.
In connection with this medical work of missions, it is interesting to note a valuable by-product: Dr. Ma Saw Sa, the only woman physician of the Burman race. She studied in Judson College, graduated in Arts at Calcutta, and then went to Dublin for her medical education, receiving her diploma as M. D. from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of that city. Though engaged in a large private practise in Rangoon, she is also one of the most active Christian workers of that city.
Other Workers in Burma
As American Baptists were first to establish a permanent mission in Burma, the principle of missionary comity has for the most part left them without interference there. That has imposed special obligation on us to prosecute the work with energy and persistence, which on the whole we have done. The work of other bodies has been mostly supplementary. The SPG opened a station at Rangoon in 1859, and have made it the center of the work to which that Society is peculiarly devoted, the circulation of Christian literature and promotion of Christian education. Its work has been of high value and great importance. The M E C established a mission in 1878 especially for Europeans and Eurasians, neither of which classes was effectively evangelized by our missions. The W M S began at Mandalay in 1889 a remarkable educational work for native women. They have also an asylum for lepers. The Y M C A and Y W C A have also branches in Rangoon and other cities that are doing a supplementary work of their own special kind among the young Burmese and other races. None of these agencies is attempting
the same kind of work that our missions are doing, and their presence and success contribute valuable aid to all our work.
Achievements and Prospects
At the great Judson Centennial celebration, held at Rangoon, Moulmein, Mandalay, and Bassein, from December 10, 1913, to January 4, 1914, most interesting results of a century's work were reported.
Still the fruits seemed meager fewer than 4,000 Burmese Christians (the report for 1926 gives the number as 5,621). Other denominations practically leave this field to Baptists, but there are large sections that we have failed to occupy. These are not facts to encourage any spirit of boastfulness. On the other hand, as a result of Judson's going to Burma, the gospel has been given to ten different races; and among some of these far greater advance has been made than among the Burmese themselves.
Barriers and difficulties have disappeared in a surprising way. The annexation of Burma to India in 1886 and the speedy pacification of the country made possible missionary operations on a much larger scale. A new constitution has recently been granted to Burma, with a separate provincial government, and more native participation. Women now have the suffrage. The political and social advance of the people are distinctly favorable to the missionary enterprise. The work stands high in the eyes of the governing class, as is shown by the fact that many missionaries have received in recent years the Kaisar-i-Hind medal.
On no field has there been greater progress in self-support and self-direction. There has been less unrest among the natives, Christian or pagan, than in India or China, and perhaps on that account more real achievement. In 1925 the Nyingyan field was turned over to the
Burma Evangelical Society, which assumes full responsibility for it hereafter. This marks a new epoch in Burman missions, and foretells the day when Christianity may be regarded as indigenous in that country. Before this, in 1923, the missionaries asked representatives from the Burmese, Karen, and Indian churches to participate in discussion of mission interests. The day is not far distant when American missionaries can and should confine themselves to training a native ministry and to advisory functions.
A recent enterprise of great promise is a work among Eurasians, in English, at Rangoon, Moulmein, Mandalay, and Maymyo. This is an important undertaking among an unfortunate people, often mentally brilliant, often morally untrustworthy, not admitted to English society, and holding themselves aloof from natives. They succeed in business, professions, and government service. Many are rich and influential. They might do much as Christians to forward the kingdom.
And let us remember for all time Judson's great word when asked about the missionary outlook in Burma: "The prospects are as bright as the promises of God."
============[From Henry C. Vedder, A Short History of Baptist Missions, chapter IV, Judson Press, 1927, pp. 87-108. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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