I recently learned Rochunga Pudaite died on October 10 of this year. His life is a remarkable testament to the transformative power of the Bible. Here is a part of his story.
In 1904-05 a revival broke out in Wales. Watkin Roberts was spiritually transformed by it. In time he believed God wanted him to take the Gospel to India. In 1910 without any theological training he traveled to India armed only with a New Testament. When asked by Indian authorities about the nature and purpose of his visit he said he had come to preach the Gospel to those who had never heard it.
When Indian immigration learned he had not been commissioned by any denomination or missionary organization, they warned Roberts it would be dangerous, untrained as he was, to try to evangelize the primitive people he felt led to reach and should consider returning to Wales. Roberts ignored them, hired a guide, and struck out for the northeastern jungles of India.
When the Indian authorities discovered what Roberts had done they immediately dispatched a rescue party to get him. After an arduous journey Roberts and his guide came across two young men about fifteen years of age who were members of the Hmar tribe. The British government had labeled the Hmar as “the worst headhunters” because they were responsible for beheading more than 500 British soldiers.
Roberts shared the message of Christ from the Gospel of John in his New Testament. Both these young men converted to Christianity. One was named Chawnga. Before he could do more the Indian authorities caught up with Roberts and forced him to return and be deported back to Wales. Those two converts began to proclaim the message of Christ to their own tribesmen based solely on the spoken word of Roberts.
Though illiterate, Chawnga and his companion converted many of their family and friends to Christ. But Chawnga had noticed Roberts New Testament and hungered to know more about this book. When his son Rochunga was born in 1927, Chawnga believed God had shown him his son would be the one God would use to bring His Word to their people. So while Rochunga was still a young boy Chawnga told him he must go, get an education, and bring back the Bible.
Surviving a perilous journey through the jungles of India, Rochunga eventually acquired an education and would travel to America and attend Wheaton College, where Billy Graham graduated. Just one generation from a clan of headhunters, Dr. Rochunga Pudaite translated the Bible into the language of the Hmar and returned to his people with Bibles. He would go on with the help of Billy Graham to found Bibles for the World an organization that distributes Bibles around the globe.
I do not have the space to share the scope of how Rochunga’s life work has radically changed his people. But I am convinced Rochunga has already heard the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” Matthew 25:21.