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Issue 2

Sundar Singh

Missionary to Tibet He burned a Bible, thinking he was doing a good thing, but he fell into despair—until he saw a vision of Christ.


he plain outside Rampur, India was hot and dusty, but seven-year-old Sundar was happy. He was walking with his mother, just the two of them. He looked into her kind face with adoration. This was no ordinary day. She had a basket in one hand and they were headed to the forest. “Sundar,” said his mother, “you must not be careless and worldly like your brothers. You must love religion and seek peace of soul, and some day you must become a sadhu—a holy man.” “Yes, mother!” said Sundar. He tightened his grip on her hand. With part of his mind he watched the ground for kraits, deadly little snakes that lie in the dust, and pumped his legs to keep up with her strides as the trees grew nearer. With another part of his mind, he raced over long lines of text he had memorized. As young as he was, he already knew pages and pages of India’s holy books by heart. Sundar and his mother came under the cool shade of the trees. Birds called. Insects buzzed. The rich smell of the forest was exciting.

A hut appeared a short distance ahead. Outside sat an orange-robed sadhu. Sundar’s mother approached, holding out her basket. “Bless you, woman,” said the Sadhu, accepting the gift of bread and fruit it held. He turned to Sundar. “And what progress have you made, Sundar?” “I can now recite the entire Bhagavad Gita and many verses from the other holy books, Great One.” The sadhu glanced at Sundar’s mother questioningly. “It is true, Great One,” she said. “He

left this When we have not have world, we will to bear the another chance . cross for Christ dar Singh —Sadhu Sun 9) (1889-ca. 192

learns quickly from the Hindu and Muslim scriptures and our own Granth Sahib.” “Perhaps you will become a Sadhu like me, Sundar,” said the holy man. Sundar bowed. “That is my desire, Great One.”

he does not disgrace us all by going mad first.”

Like a Mad Man When Sundar was twelve, his father called him aside. “Why are you named Singh?” Father Was Not Sure “Singh means ‘lion.’ In Har Gor When they got vind’s days, our people home, Sundar’s father suffered much for our Sirdar Sher Singh was religion from Hindus standing on the veranand Muslims. He made dah. He shook his head us all take the name unhappily. “You worry ‘singh’ to show we are too much about religion lions at heart.” for one so young, Sundar. “Never forget Go play with the other that my son,” said Sirdar. boys.” “I have arranged for you Although Sundar to attend the Christian wished to become a holy school at Ludhiana to man, his father was not learn English and take so sure. He was woryour place in modern ried by the late hours India. These Christians Sundar kept, poring over have a different holy religious books. “Why book and you are to do you torment yourself respect it while you over religious questions? are with them. But you You will twist your are a Sikh, my son, and Sundar Singh brain...and ruin your must always cling to our sight, too,” he warned. ways.” But Sundar only replied, “I must find “Of course, Father!” peace. I must find peace—but I do not For two years, Sundar treated the find peace!” Christians with respect. Then his mother Sirdar discussed matters with the lo- died, and he became full of fury. He threw cal Sikh priest. “What am I to make of the dirt at the Christian boys and quarreled boy?” with his teachers about the Bible. He “I don’t know, Sirdar. I believe he wanted nothing to do with the holy book could become a great man some day—if of the white people. He even refused to attend their school any longer. He was so stubborn that his father gave in and let Copyright © 2012 by Dan Graves. him to walk to a school farther away. More resources at Trudging the extra miles in the heat every day, fourteen-year-old Sundar became deathly ill. When he got better,

he did not seem to care about life any more. He agreed to return to the Christian school. One day the missionaries had great joy. Sundar’s attitude seemed to change. “Please, I would like to buy one of your Bibles,” he said. Praising the Lord, his teacher hurried to get him one. Sundar took it home that night. He lit a fire. When Sirdar came outside, he found Sundar tearing the pages from the Bible and burning them. “What are you doing? What has possessed you Sundar?” cried his father. “I am burning the Christians’ holy book,” said Sundar. “Stop it! Stop at once! You must be out of your mind. Your mother would be ashamed of you!” Defiantly Sundar stooped down and thrust the last of the book into the fire. Without another word, he stalked past his father into the house, slamming the door. A Brilliant Light Three night’s later Sundar tossed and turned, groaned and moaned. He thought he had done the right thing burning the Bible. Now he was miserable. There in the dark, he made up his mind to kill himself. He would throw himself under the morning train. But first he would ask god—if there was a god—to show himself to him. All night he prayed. Roosters began to crow. Dawn was near. A brilliant light shone into the room. Sundar saw a shining figure and heard a voice saying, “Why do you oppose me, Sundar? I am your Savior. I died on the cross for you!” The light faded. Sundar jumped up from the floor where he was kneeling and ran to his father’s room.

“Father, Father! I have become a Christian!” He cried. Sirdir rolled over sleepily. “What nonsense is this? Just three days ago you burned the Christian’s holy book and now you say you have become a Christian? Truly you are mad! Go back to bed. You’ll feel differently in the morning. “No, Father. I have seen Jesus! I am at peace!” A Disgrace to His Family When it was clear that Sundar really had become a Christian, Sirdar and the rest of the family did everything in their power to change his mind. His father matched him with a girl and commanded him to marry her. Sundar refused. His father and brothers accused him of betraying his people. A rich uncle offered Sundar a safe full of treasure. A cousin took him to court where the Sikh prince ordered Sundar to leave the Christian faith. Instead, Sundar cut off his hair so it would clear he no longer thought of himself as a Sikh. A mountain stream near Tibet

Sirdar was furious. He ordered his son to sleep on the porch like an outcast. The next day a servant fed him one last meal which he had to eat with his fingers. Then his father stalked out of the house and stood over him. “You have disgraced me. You have disgraced your clan. You have disgraced your religion. This is no longer your home. You are no longer my son. You are no longer a Sikh.” Sirdir pointed across the plain. “Go and never come back!” he said sternly. Poisoned! Sundar boarded the train to leave. A few miles later he doubled up with cramps. He had been poisoned! Somehow he managed to stagger off the train and crawl several miles to a mission station. The missionaries called a doctor. “The boy would be dead by morning,” said the medical man.

But Sundar did not die that night. The doctor was so impressed, he became a Christian. Sirdar visited Sundar and asked his forgiveness. He begged him with tears to come home. “You can be a Christian. I won’t hurt you again,” he promised. It was hard for Sundar to say no, but he felt sure God wanted him to do something else. As soon as he was of age, Sundar was baptized. He dressed in the orange robe of a holy man and walked across India to carry the gospel. Later he went to Tibet. He suffered many things. Once he was thrown into a pit full of dead bodies to die. Three days later, someone mysteriously rescued him. It all seemed worth it to him when his father finally became a Christian, too. Then Sirdar paid to send Sundar around the world to tell people in Asia, Australia and Europe the good news of Christ. |

Identify Tibet and as many other countries as you can on this map. solution online at

Ask Yourself 1. How much of the Christian holy book, the Bible, have you memorized? 2. Why do you think Sundar had no peace? 3. What did Sundar mean by “bear the cross for Christ”? 4. Would you give up family, home, gold, and marriage for Christ?

Profile for Daniel Graves

Sundar Singh  

After bitterly reviling Christians and burning a Bible, young Sundar has a vision of Christ which changes him into one of India's most famou...

Sundar Singh  

After bitterly reviling Christians and burning a Bible, young Sundar has a vision of Christ which changes him into one of India's most famou...