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A Letter from an American Missionary in India - 1944

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The Rev. Carl C. Herrmann (1879-1968), a Methodist missionary, went to Jabalpur, India in 1908. After several years, he became principal of the Bible Training School (now Leonard Theological College) and superintendent of the Khandwa District. Mr. Herrmann went to the Philippines in 1920, and returned to India in 1927. He became superintendent of Aligarh district. His first wife died after a year of marriage. His second wife, Florence, served with him from 1910 until her death in 1944. They had four children, three boys and a girl. In 1947, Mr. Herrmann married Lahuna Clinton, a missionary in India since 1910. They returned to the US when he retired in 1948.

Editor’s note: This material has been provided by Camy Rea, who is a descendant of the Herrmann family.

Dear friends:

Hearty greetings in his name. A great many of our dear friends have learned that I reached the states in August, 1944. Quite a few have written and asked about the last illness of dear Mrs. Herrmann as well as to plans for the future. I have replied to a good many of these, but we have such a vast host of kind friends, who have stood by us and the Lord's work, down thru the years of our missionary service, both in India and the Philippine Islands, that I feel I ought to send a general letter to as many as possible to give some information of our last year in India, of the deep waters of trial and affliction we were permitted to pass thru, and of the wonderful, blessed release and home going of dear Mrs. Herrmann. We had definitely planned to reach the States early in 1944 and to attempt to complete some very special projects that were on our hearts for India and the Kingdom of Christ. In July 1943 the Bishop's in India changed our appointment from District Superintendent to that of Area Secretaries of the Delhi Episcopal Area. This would mean doing all the patron correspondence for the North and Northwest India Conferences. We had moved to our new home in Ghaziabad in September and had definitely planned to start at once on a tour of visitation to the various District Conferences of the Area, so as to get better acquainted with the work and the pastors of the area assigned us. But just two days before starting Mrs. Herrmann took seriously ill. We rushed to our Bareilly Hospital for medical aid and advice. Our fine doctors there did what they could and then advised that we go to Brindaban for further examinations as they had an X-Ray machine there. After careful examination we were advised to proceed to the Memorial Hospital at Ludhiana, Punjab, where they had Radium, which was necessary for the required treatments. There an operation was performed and Mrs. Herrmann responded splendidly to the Radium treatments. On December 20th we returned to our home in Ghaziabad. We had a quiet Christmas together although we had practically nothing unpacked as yet. Early in January 1944 our Annual Conference met in Delhi. Everyone was surprised to see how well Mrs. Herrmann looked. The Bishop and the Cabinet decided that it was best that we return to the States as soon as possible after conference. We did all our repacking and shipped the first luggage to the Censor. On March 6th we started our journey towards Bombay. We stopped off at Muttra, where we had been in High School work for nearly two years and then at Brindaban, where our son Gordon may be stationed as doctor, when he is released from the Army in which he is serving in the Medical Corps. While here, Mrs. Herrmann had a very serious setback and it was decided that it would be best to return to the Memorial Hospital, Ludhiana, for observation and consultation, for it was here she had had the Radium treatments. Thus, we canceled our journey to Bombay and returned to the Memorial Hospital. On March 19th another emergency operation was performed as Intestinal obstructions were feared. However, it was found that the cancerous condition had spread to the intestines and that there was little hope of recovery. For a while she gained in strength, but at the end of April she began to lose strength as she was able to take but little nourishment. It was getting very hot on the plains of the Punjab. We then planned to remove her to Landour in the United Provinces, where a fine community hospital is maintained by various Missions and Patrons. Brother T. C. Badley came to Ludhiana to assist me to make arrangements and with the aid of two British Nurses we took Mrs. Herrmann, by a night train to Dehra Dun U. P. and then up the mountains by car to Landour. How lovely and cool it was for her at an altitude of 7000 feet. Here she lingered from May 10th to the 24th.

On the morning of May 23rd, the day before her release, after we had had prayers together, she whispered the words of St. Paul: ''The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight. I have finished my curse, I have kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearance." And then she whispered the last verse of her favorite hymn:

"My Jesus as Thou wilt, all shall be well for me.
Each changing future scene, I gladly trust to Thee.
Straight to my home above I travel calmly on.
And sing in life or death, my Lord Thy Will be done.''

 

And then we bid each other Good Night for the last time. She said "Yes my dear, its only Good Night." We will meet again on that Glorious Golden Morning. Yes, thank God we shall meet again! His wonderful promises are Yea and Amen! Some days before her homecoming she expressed the wish that she hoped that Brother and Sister Wm. Dye and her dear friend Miss I. A. Farmer, R. N. and I might pe present when her spirit left for the better home. On the afternoon of May 24th, at about 4:45 Brother and Sister Dye did come in to make a short call. Mrs. Farmer had been present thru the day with me. At five o'clock she asked, "What time is it dear?" And I informed her it was just five o'clock. After some ten minutes she feebly said: I am going now!" and in thirty minutes she was asleep in Jesus her best friend. Now her pain and suffering was over. So very often as I waited at her bedside, I would hear her repeat that beautiful little verse which became her daily prayer:

"Dear Lord I thank Thee for this pain;
I thank Thee for this cup that I must drain.
I thank Thee, for in this Thou givest me
One more blest privilege of trusting Thee,
Of proving, once again, how strong Thy strength for me,
How deep thou lovest and how tenderly;
And so this cup, dear Lord, this cup of pain shall be,
My cup of joy that draws me close to Thee."

About a week before her release she said to me: "Dear, when they take my earthly remains into the cemetery, I wish they would "sing instead of reading the ritual." I asked "Dear what would you have us sing?" She replied "Have them sing "Come Ye that love the Lord and let your joys be known." Chorus: "We're marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion &c. &c."

This was done, and it was indeed a march of victory and triumph. Scores of missionaries and friends who were present spoke to me after the funeral and said that they had never been to a funeral where there was such victory and joy in the Lord. Bishop B. T. Badley had charge of the services and gave such a message of comfort at the Kellog Memorial Church. She is interned in the Landour Christian Cemetery. There her earthly remains rest under the whispering pines, facing the mightily snows of the wonderful Himalaya Mountains.

"The strong, brave, loving heart lies still at last, it's throbing o'er;
Folded the busy hands; the willing feet serve no more.
The ceaseless round, the daily toil, forever done:
Ended the conflict, trod the pilgrim path, the victory won.
Calmly, without a cloud, the sun event down, gilding the wave;
And Christ's own hand was stretched across the bar,
mighty to save."

Thus, our plans of coming to the States together to meet our dear children, of meeting relatives and friends, of intensive deputation work for India, had to be changed. Our dear Lord and Master had planned otherwise and His plans are always best for us. I remained in the mountains for some three weeks and then was called to Bombay as there was an opportunity to get a sailing date. I sailed from Bombay on July 8th on a U. S. A. transport with hundreds of Soldiers. I had the honor to be asked to be the acting Protestant Chaplin for the homeward journey. We came via Australia and reached the Pacific coast on August 12th. Many of my friends in India, before I left as well as friends in the homeland have asked what my plans may now be for the future. The following versa expresses my feelings splendidly.

Nellie Herrmann
Florence "Nelly" Englehardt Herrmann. Around 1907

 


Reverend Carl C. Herrmann, Wife Florence "Nelly" Englehardt Herrmann and Children Cedric and Gordon Herrmann. Around 1916

 

Family photo
Back: Esta, Cedric and Gordon Herrmann. Front:  Rev.Carl, Joyce and Florence "Nelly" Englehardt Herrmann

After reaching Huntington, Indiana, where my daughter Mrs. Arthur W. Howard lives, and receiving my luggage, I opened the box of books which had to pass thru the hands of the Bombay Censor. Even our Bibles had to be censored. I took out the precious Bible of Mrs. Herrmann and as I opened it, found the following little verse, which I firmly believe she had placed there especially for me.

"If I 'should die and leave you here a. while,
Be not like others, sere undone, who keep
Long vigils by the silent Mast, and weep:
For my sake turn again to life, and smile,
Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do
Something to comfort weaker hearts than thine;
Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine,
And I, perchance may herein comfort you."

Yes, I am trying to turn again to life and smile. For there is so very much to do. The dear Lord has been so gracious to me in letting me pass thru sad but very blessed experiences. Experiences that I would not have otherwise for they have meant much to my own spiritual life. And then the loving request of dear. Herrmann made in the poem, "COMPLETE THESE DEAR UNFINISHED TASKS OF MINE." These were tasks that we had planned and prayed about together.

Let me tell you about the main task was very much on our hearts. We had served the Clancy High School, Muttra, U. P. for nearly two years. Yes, the appointment was because of an emergency, but somehow the importance of that school and the development of the young life entrusted to us, became a burden on our hearts. We have in Muttra the Clancy High School, which is now a Co-Educational Institution. A new venture in India. With the High School is connected the Boy's Middle and Primary schools. Then we also have the Girl's Anglo Vernacular Middle and Primary School. With these is also connected the Girl's Normal Teacher Training School and a Training School for Bible women. In the boy's schools we have about an average of 225 students. In the various branches of the girls' schools nearly 200 during the school year. Approximately 100 of the boys are Christians and most of the girls are Christian. The Sunday services are held in the small Girl's School Chapel, as we have no church building in Muttra for our Sunday services.

 

I wish you could see how crowded the audience is every Sunday morning. Every seat is filled, many sitting on the floor and others standing at the back of the room. During our time in Muttra, there were also a number of the National Indian Soldiers, who attended the services. It was simply impossible to accommodate the audience. The Christians of the city could seldom get in as there was no room. Let me tell you a bit about Muttra. This city lays claim to universal fame because of being the birth place of the Hindu God Krishna. This seems to be the greatest event in her history. The city is situated on the banks of the Jumna river, one of India's holy streams. There are hundreds of Hindu Idol temples along the banks of the river as well as in other parts of the city. Because Muttra being the birthplace of Krishna, it is one of the many special pilgrimage places of India. It is estimated that an average of 25000 pilgrims pass thru Muttra every month from all parts of India. These come to worship in the various temples and to bathe in the supposedly sacred waters of the Jumna. This, especially, is the case at the time of the full moon or other Hindu holidays. So here we are in Muttra for more than 50 years and no outstanding Church building for our Sunday worship services. At various times while we were in Muttra prominent Hindus challenged me, saying that if our religion really meant anything to us and if our God could do great things, then why did we not put up a suitable church or temple to honor Him. Because of this challenge the matter of a suitable church building became a real burden to Mrs. Herrmann and myself, and we had planned to undertake this for our Lord while on furlough.

After I reached the States, I received information from the Field Committee of the Delhi Conference, urging me to raise funds for a Memorial Church at Muttra. The matter has been given prayerful and serious consideration. The consent of the Division of Foreign Missions has been obtained. Thus, this letter is also an attempt to raise the necessary funds for a suitable church in the sacred Hindu city of Muttra. A church that will be an outstanding Monument of the saving power of Christ. A church building, so that the thousands of Hindus, who come to the Jumna river to wash away their sin and the pollutions because of contact with outcasts, might learn and experience that "there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins, and sinners plunged beneath that blood lose all their guilty stains.

Let me tell you what your gift will do. Suppose you gave $10.00 or $25.00 towards the much-needed church. $10.00 would buy 1000 first class brick, put them in place and pay for the proportionate share of roof, floors and windows. Every dollar adds just another 100 first class brick. Thus $50.00will put in 5000 brick and $100.00, 10,000 brick. What a fine investment this would be for Christ and the salvation of India. As I stated, I would prefer to call it a MEMORIAL CHURCH. Not merely for Mrs. Herrmann, but for many others, who I feel certain would be glad to make a real contribution towards this splendid cause. You, too, may have a loved one who has gone on before to the heavenly home, and you would like to do something definite that would be a Memorial for them as well as yourself. This then would also be a means of helping develop real Christian Character and a finer spirit of worship amongst the students at Muttra, as well, as a place where India's seeking millions might find salvation in our Christ.

This is my plan to keep, as far as possible, an accurate list of all contributors, both of names and gifts and to place them in a special shrine in the walls of the interior of tile Church. If it is possible, for gifts of $500.00 we would plan to put in a special tablet in the Church giving the names of such donors. Again, I believe there are some who would like to make a contribution of $1000.00 or more towards this Memorial Church. For such we would be happy to put a special personal tablet inside the church with inscription and name of the dear one, as may be requested by the donor. Or if desired put a Memorial Window in the church, or apply the amount on the illuminated Cross that we hope to put on the tower of the building. A cross that could be seen from afar by the thousands of pilgrims who come and go from Muttra. Then there is another group that has been on my heart in a special way since I am home. There are many of our dear friends, who have lost loved ones in this terrible war. How lovely it would be if you could give a special gift towards this Church as a Memorial for that boy or girl, who may have fallen while serving their country and their God. It would be my plan to put all such names on a very special tablet ln loving memory of them.

Naturally, I do not know many such friends, who may have lost loved ones in this war. But you may know of many such. Will you help me in this important matter? Let such friends read this letter. Talk it over with them and pray about it. Or there maybe Sunday schools or classes, or Epworth Leagues, that might be interested in this project. Will you not try and influence them? Let the Lord lead and guide you in your giving. I am enclosing some blank forms, which kindly fill out and send it together with your kind gift to Dr. Geo. Sutherland (Treasurer), 150 Fifth Ave., New York, 11, N. Y. He will in return send you a voucher in acknowledgement of your gift, which may be used for World Service Credit.

My furlough expires at the end of October. It is my plan to return to India shortly after that if the Lord permits. I have put in 37 years in missionary service and hope to put in the remaining years that are left before I am retired from active ranks. It is my hope to sail with my daughter, Mrs. Arthur Howard, whose husband is now in India at the Lucknow Christian College. I shall be delighted If I can be in India and help supervise the work and the construction of the Memorial Church.

Mrs. Herrmann had corresponded with many of you, who will receive this letter. Many have written and stated how they enjoyed her cheerful and inspiring messages about the work and her strong faith. She gave her life in blessed service for India and Christ Now she is on the other side of the vail, but serving Him with the heavenly hosts. Shall we not attempt to COMPLETE THESE UNFINISHED TASKS OF HERS and thus usher in the blessed Kingdom of our Christ in India? If it is not asking too much, I would be happy to have a card from each of you who receive this letter or who may contribute to the cause of the Memorial Church. Remember that your gift of $10.00 or $25.00 or whatever it may be will put just that many more bricks into this house of the Lord. It will be a Memorial of your faith and love for Christ, who did so much for each of us. May the Lord abundantly bless and guide you as you make your decision to help in this worthy cause.

"O' Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be."

Yours in the blessed service of Christ,

 

C.C. Herrmann

Address till October 1st: 1836 College Ave., Huntington, Ind. After October 1st: 150 Fifth Ave., New York, 11, N. Y.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

© Camy Rea 2019

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