It is the 4th of March 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I'm Dan van Voorhis.

The year was 1827.

On the show for Friday the 26th of February, we told the story of Brahmabandav Updhyay, the Indian convert to Christianity who sought to harmonize Indian Culture with the Christian message. We briefly outlined the history of the Christian faith in India from the supposed travels of the apostle Thomas in the first century up through the first Western engagement with India in the 16th century. Brahmabandav was baptized in 1891 at the age of 30. Feel free to visit or revisit that show for the earliest origins of Christianity in India and later 19th and 20th century though the man called the father of modern Indian theology.

But the modern history of Christianity in India will rightly highlight William Carey. Carey was the English minister and missionary responsible for a concerted effort to spread the Gospel into the Indian subcontinent. But there were some in India that didn't welcome Carey and other missionaries. And perhaps the most surprising of antagonists was the British-owned East India Company. The Mughal Empire was in decline, and the growth of the British Empire through the East India Company looked to be a lucrative commercial endeavor. And those in the Company knew that mission work could only irritate local Hindus and Muslims and interrupt commerce.

William Carey would remain an influential example for many who saw the East as a ripe opportunity for mission work. Charles Simeon, an evangelical preacher and contemporary of Carey was preaching to his Cambridge parish about the work of William Carey. A young man, Henry Martyn, would decide to become a missionary rather than go to law school. Martyn was one of five men known as the "Five Chaplains" or the "Bengal Chaplains." While Martin's work was invaluable, his life was cut short. It is said that Martin was responsible for only one conversion.

But that one convert would be Sheik Salih, who would take the name "Abdul Masih." Masih is recognized today as perhaps the most important native Indian Christian convert in the 19th century. Abdul Masih, then known as Sheik Salih, was likely born around 1776 into a well-to-do family. He studied in Delhi, where he became a teacher and scholar of the Muslim tradition. On a trip to Cawnpore, he heard Henry Martyn preach and began to engage him in conversation about Islam and the Christian faith. The soon-to-be Abdul Masih became an assistant to Martyn to complete his New Testament translated into Hindustani. While binding the book, the man known as Sheik Salih decided to read the text. He became convinced of the truth and relevance of Christianity and was baptized Abdul Masih in 1811.

Abdul Masih would become the first native catechist working for the Church Missionary Society. He would have been the first ordained Indian Anglican had not the English church initially balked. Abdul Masih was ordained instead by German Lutheran missionaries who did not have to share the peccadillos about ordination exhibited by the English. Abdul Masih was an evangelist as well as a medical missionary. A man of his background and means would have likely had some informal training in medicine. His background also helped supply the means for medicine and materials for first aid.

An Englishman noted that "with his long eastern dress, his long grey beard, and his calm resigned countenance gave him already the air of an apostle." Brahmabandav might be the father of modern Indian Christian theology, but his work was predicated on the work of Abdul Masih, who died on the 4th of March in 1827.

On his death bed, Abdul Masih is said to have requested that those present sing the alst stanza of a hymn with him, a hymn he wrote. The reading for today is this hymn translated into English.

Beloved Saviour, let not me
In thy kind heart forgotten be!
Of all that deck the field or bower,
Thou art the sweetest, fairest flower!
Youth's morn has fled, old age come on;
But sin distracts my soul alone:
Beloved Saviour, let not me
In thy kind heart forgotten be!

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 4th of March 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man whose favorite Abdul's include Masih, Kareem, and Paula. He is Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. And remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true. Everything is going to be ok.