Aizawl, Jan 11: ‘Missionary Day’ the anniversary of the arrival of the two pioneer Christian missionaries Rev JH Lorrain and Rev FW Savidge was today observed and celebrated across the Christian-dominated north eastern state of Mizoram.
The day was declared as a public holiday by the state government and all government offices and educational institutions were closed for the day. Prayer and worship services were held in different local churches especially belonging to Baptist Church of Mizoram and community feasts was organized to mark the occasion.
A function was held this morning at Mc Donald Hill in Zarkawt near the memorial stones of pioneer missionaries -FW.Savidge, Rev. JH.Lorrain, Rev DE Jones and Rev. Edwin Rowlands (1867 – 1939) to pay tribute to the missionaries who set their foot on Mizoram soil. The tribute function was first organized by Zarkawt Presbyterian Church followed by BCM Chanmari Kohhran (Chruch) during which prayer and thanks giving were held.
Welsh Christian missionaries – Rev JH Lorrain, and Rev FW Savidge, fondly called by the Mizos as ‘Pu Buanga’ and ‘Sap upa’ respectively arrived by boat from Assam at the banks of river Tlawng near Sairang village on January 11, 1894 and spread Christianity. Since then the day the two missionaries set their foot on Mizoram soil was venerated as the ‘advent of Gospel’ in Mizoram. The Presbyterian Church began observing the day since 1974.
The two missionaries made Lushai (Mizo)-English Dictionary, known to the local people till today as ‘Pu Buanga Dictionary’ and established Presbyterian Church, began education by creating Mizo alphabets using Roman scripts. They changed the whole Mizo way of life through education and the Gospel and all the Mizos, earlier animists, were converted to Christianity.
However, opinion differ on the date of Missionary day after the Synod, the highest decision making body of the Presbyterian Church in 2009 decided to observed March 15 as ‘advent of Gospel’ or ‘Chanchintha Thlenna Ni’ from 2014. Rev William Williams, who landed at Changsil, on the banks of the river Tlawng on March 15, 1891 was now accepted by the Presbyterian Church as the first missionary who ever set foot on Mizoram soil and also the day as the day Christianity was brought to the Mizo people. Rev Williams, who came to Aizawl from Changsil did not have time to convert anyone into Christianity due to the prevailing condition at that time, but spread the gospel by distributing tracts and Biblical pictures to the natives. The Baptist Church, however, continues to observe January 11 as the ‘Missionary Day’.