It is interesting to note that Full Well publisher has recently deemed the India missionary’s classic book worthy of reprinting in a paperback format. I recently read this book and found it very interesting, a richly detailed personification of 19th century missions programs around the world, particularly in India.
For those who are wondering about the rationale behind the explosion of Christian mission programs during the 19th and 20th centuries, Chamberlain’s book, “The Kingdom in India,” provides a very good place to start your studies. Jacob Chamberlain’s life story provides an exceptional model of Christian missionary service, one who served as Christ’s hands of ministry, fulfilling the Great Commission of the New Testament. Chamberlain’s life story echoes the words of Jesus as he began his ministry at the synagogue in Nazareth, unrolling the scroll to read aloud the words of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then, in explanation of the text, Jesus said to those assembled there, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4)
Although critics typically accuse 19th century Christian missionaries of paternalism, the truth is that the backward conditions in countries such as India during the 19th century perhaps explain the need for the leadership they provided, which explains why American missionaries and doctors at the time found wide open doors for their service of providing educational and medical programs in the 19th and 20th centuries. Certainly the role of American missionaries in the 21st century may never be quite the same now that the nations of the world have been challenged to provide higher living standards, health care, and education for their peoples. And yet Jesus, in another place, tells us that the poor we have with us always, both the spiritually poor as well as the materially poor. In every age, in every place, in many ways Christ continues to seek disciples who will be his hands of ministry to those in need.