Missionary Day in Mizoram Date in the current year: January 11, 2024

Missionary Day in Mizoram Missionary Day is a public holiday in the Indian state of Mizoram celebrated on January 11. It was established to commemorate the 1894 arrival of the first European missionaries and the subsequent Christianization of Mizoram.

Although Hinduism is by far India’s prevalent religion, India is constitutionally a secular state, and about 20% of its population adheres to other religions. Christians account for about 2.3% of the country’s population. Although this may seem an insignificant number, one shouldn’t forget that the total population of India is over 1.3 billion people, which means that India is home to almost 32 million Christians. They form a religious majority in the states of Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland.

According to Indian Christian tradition, it was Thomas the Apostle who introduced Christian faith to the Indian Subcontinent. He is said to have reached Kerala in 52 AD. The second wave of Christianization resulted from the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, and the first Protestant missionaries began to arrive in India in the 18th century.

The Christianization of Mizoram began in the 19th century, when the British Empire organized an expedition to the region inhabited by the Mizo people and conquered the territory of present-day Mizoram. To make the Mizos, who heavily relied on ancient tribal customs and were illiterate, easier to rule, the British decided to educate them through Christian missions.

The first Christian mission in Mizoram was financed by British investor and philanthropist Robert Arthington, who chose two young Baptist missionaries, James Herbert Lorrain and Frederick William Savidge, to serve there. Lorrain arrived in India in January 1890, and Savidge in November 1891. They met in Brahmanbaria and decided to start a mission in Tripura, but they were unable to get a permission from the local maharaja.

After that, they waited for more than a year for a permission to establish a mission in Mizoram. Finally, the permit was issued, and Lorrain and Savidge set off on Tlawng River on December 26, 1893. After a more than two-week journey, they arrived in Aizawl on January 11, 1894. The anniversary of their arrival is now celebrated in Mizoram as Missionary Day.

After setting up a camp, Lorrain and Savidge started to work on creating a Mizo alphabet based on Roman script in order to teach the Mizos the Bible. In just two and a half months, they opened the first school. In addition to teaching, the missionaries translated and published the Gospels of John and Luke and Acts of the Apostles, as well as created and published the first grammar of the Mizo language.

According to Arthington’s conditions, missionaries were required to move every couple of years. So Lorrain and Savidge left their mission in December 1897, but not before handing it over to the Presbyterian Church of Wales. Presbyterians converted several Mizos to Christianity and founded the first church in Mizoram.

Baptists returned to Mizoram and founded their first church in the early 20th century. The Salvation Army arrived in 1917, the first Catholic missionaries in 1925, the United Pentecostal Church in the 1930s, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1946. As a result of the active work of missionaries, more than 87% of the population of Mizoram identify as Christians.

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