Friday, 3 June 2011

Fredrick Alliston & the life of a dangerous Hindu radical

Fredrick Alliston (Great Grandad) left on a boat for India around 1897 where he lived for 25 years. His story is one of huge decisions made at great cost with both eyes fully fixed on a greater hope to come.
Serving as a Salvation Army Officer, working as an Evangelist to the Hindi speaking natives, Fredrick operated out of the British compound. His desire to see locals impacted by the gospel, frustrated by the colonial British culture into which he brought converts & their desire to simply assimilate Christianity as Britishness.

Here is where Fredrick made the call that all heroes of the faith have made at some point down through the centuries. He decided that his need to genuinely reach Hindus with the gospel was greater than his need to live in safety & comfort amongst the 'little England' crowd in the compound.

This was no easy turning point for any man, particularly one with a wife, Louisa, & by now a growing family of small children. How quickly we make choices today based on the perceived risk to our family - Fredrick deemed it a greater risk to remain settled, valued a greater prize than comfort would bring, thought it better to lose it all for something he could never lose.

With Louisa & the children in tow, they moved quickly out of the compound. Ignoring warnings from the British that they would be out from under their protection, recklessly blocking their ears to threats that they would be cut off from safety & their own kind, they came out. Abandoning themselves to the only hope they had left. That some might be reached.

Just moving out was not enough. Fredrick knew he had to gain acceptance amongst the suspicious Hindus. In leaving the compound he buried even his own identity as an Englishman & a Salvation Army Officer. His western clothing left behind; His name changed to a name understood by Hindi speakers : 'Bringer of Light'. This is who he was now, this was all there was to him.

As a family they absorbed Hindi customs & food, they lived in their squalid housing, they caught their diseases. They even died weakly, needlessly like the impoverished locals. Fredrick & Louisa had ten children whilst out in India. Three were buried there. Given up for the sake of the gospel through the kind of accident, fire & disease that they would never have been exposed to in the security of the expat community. After one such death, Fredrick cycled for 3 days & nights with his child's body in a box upon his back, searching for a burial place that would be safe from digging animals.

What a cost, some might say too great a cost. What is it that drives a man to live so radically, so dangerously? What is this glimpse of future hope & glory which enables a man to value the spread of the gospel over settled, safe living? What is this madness that brings a man to his knees beside the graves of his children, only to get up again & press on further, deeper?
Friends, the world desperately needs more of this kind of madness. The certainty of future grace to come which releases incredible hope & joy through suffering for millions down through the ages, & still today. We don't long for Fredrick's trials, but we are awakened with a raging thirst for his authentic hope in God that might just change our lost generation!

No comments:

Post a Comment