In St. Paul's High School, Calcutta, there was no provision for the teaching of Urdu and Persian, which
I had taken for my Matriculation examination, and also as I was in poor health in Calcutta, it was arranged for me to go to Agra to study in St. John's High School. Mr. B. W. Bean, a new member of the staff, and a young man fresh from Oxford, who later became the Principal of St. Paul's High School, was to take me to Agra. This is my first opportunity to mention this great friend of mine, and it will not be out of place if I add that it reminds me of the invaluable service that a young missionary can render to the country he is serving. A young man fresh from a Christian country with a life dedicated to the service of the Lord and freshly entered into active service, though having little or no knowledge of the people of the land, can be of immense value in the mission field. The freshness of his vision, the active interest that he can take in the people, and the enterprising spirit which is ready to defy all obstacles in the way, are qualities often lacking in the older missionaries, who because of their long labour which often become tedious to them for want of encouraging results, have grown cold and consequently their daily ministry becomes a matter of routine. Mr. B. W. Bean possessed all the good qualities of a young missionary par excellence. He brought a new enthusiasm among the students for evangelistic work. Our preaching camps by his presence received a fresh impetus, and a new inspiration. Long preaching tours which were always made on foot in his company were turned into joyous excursions. By his humorous and jovial talks he never allowed us to feel the tediousness of the long marches which were made from village to village. He had hardly been with us a couple of months when he was able to sing Bengali songs in Indian tunes, and even join our kirtan procession in village markets, and sing like a good Bengali
with all the emotions that it required. He was a good friend to me and gave me the real fellowship that I needed at that time. I was not, however, saintly and good in my behaviour always, and especially to this friend of mine. With all my Christian experience I was often inclined to be saucy to him. I tried his patience chiefly in the playground, as a games superintendent he failed to persuade me to hold a hockey stick or kick a football. In my early education I had no opportunity of playing any game, and hence in the latter days of my career as a student the playground was my 'bogey.' It was with this Mr. Bean that I was to travel to Agra and this added to the joy of travelling. We left Calcutta by a passenger train on October 5th, 1913, and with a break at Allahabad, where he showed me the places of historical interest, we reached Agra on 8th October.
It was with a feeling of loneliness and of 'home sickness' not so much for my own home, as for the boarding house in Calcutta that I began my life in St. Johnís Hostel. The one thing which I chiefly missed was St. Paul's Brotherhood of my School in Calcutta. To conform to the School uniform I had to go through a change of my costume for the second time; the first change made in St. Paul's, when discarding my achkan and trousers I had taken to Dhoti and shirt, the national costume of the Bengalis. Now from the loose Bengali garments I was to be transformed into semi-European clothes, coat and trousers with a pink puggree for my headgear. I was to study in a big School, which was at a distance of a little less than two miles from the hostel. Christians and non-Christians numbering several hundred students, all studied together. The Christian boys lived in a newly erected magnificent
Hostel which had its own spacious playground and a swimming pool. Every day in the week, dressed in our uniform and after a strict inspection of our dress, which we were expected to wear in a particular way, with due regard to its neatness, marching like soldiers, our steps being closely watched and commanded by the chief monitor, we were taken to School, and on Sundays to the Church. The Christian Hostel had a beautiful chapel for our worship, and a strict discipline to ensure good behaviour. The morning Quiet Time was compulsory, and was to be observed in strict silence. The monitors during the period were expected to go about sneaking to find out if any one was whispering or neglecting his prayers and Bible reading, and woe betide the boy caught infringing any of the strict rules! In spite of the due solemnity enjoined in the house of worship, and the strict observance of the Quiet Hour, I felt that the Christian boys in St. John's Hostel lacked that fire which I had seen in the boys of St. Paul's High School in Calcutta, and which had kindled my own zeal for the service of the Lord. The religious duties were something which seemed to be imposed upon the boys; the Quiet Hours were observed under the terror of the monitors' watching eyes. There existed a form of religion, but the spirit was lacking. Providentially the chief warden of the Hostel, Mr. Shoren S. Singha, was I man who had the spiritual interest of the boys very close to his heart. The Hostel had other friends besides him who were closely watching and praying for the spiritual progress of the Christian boys, especially Mr. George S. Ingram, who often visited the Hostel and prayed with some of the boys whenever he found an opportunity for it. I was not long in the Hostel before I shared my feeling in the matter with Mr. S. S. Singha, and told him of my
experience in St. Paul's Brotherhood at Calcutta. As a result of this talk and of subsequent prayers with him and with Mr. G. S. Ingram on the subject, we decided to start a Christian Union in the Hostel. A few of the boys were taken into the secret, and the Lord laid on our hearts the burden of the souls perishing without the knowledge of Christ, and we began to pray and look for an opportunity of evangelistic services. Soon an opportunity came when a hockey team on October 28th, 1913, was to go to Muttra from our Christian Hostel to play a match against a certain School at Muttra! The very name conjured up to us a famous Hindu city with hundreds of idols and thousands and thousands of worshippers of those idols, and it fired our imagination and we decided to accompany the team and preach in Muttra. Thus we went to Muttra and at the entrance of the big bazar three of us, who made up the preaching team, announced the message of the great Redeemer and Saviour to a huge crowd of Hindus, and distributed the gospels to them, while the Hockey team went to play the match. The entire expenses of this trip were met by the preaching hand itself from their own pocket money. On the following day, on the 29th October, 1913, some twenty-nine days after my arrival in Agra, the St. John's Christian Union was organised and its first official meeting was held in the warden's drawing room. Those who joined it signed the pledge cards, chiefly promising to pledge a certain number of days for doing evangelistic service in some form. Devotional meetings with voluntary attendance under the Union were organised and, preaching campaigns every Sunday after the Church service were started. The Christian boys were inspired with new enthusiasm for Christian life and service. The running of Sunday School classes was placed in charge
of the Union. The activities continued in the Hostel till I passed my Matriculation Examination and joined St. John's College, Agra.
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