January 31, 2014

Artifact: India Missionaries Photograph

Polish Creche
Size: 4 x 2.75 inches

Date: 1902

Significance: This photograph shows the arrival of Missionary Naumann and his wife to India in 1902. Pictured left to right are: Mrs. Luise Kellerbauer, Rev. George Naumann, Mrs. Helene Naumann, Rev. George Kellerbauer and Rev. Theodor Naether. Missouri Synod foreign mission work began in Krishnagiri, India, on February 2, 1895, with Missionary Naether.

In honor of the 119th anniversary of the start of this mission work in India, here is a description of what Naether’s life was like during his first year as a missionary for the Missouri Synod:

Naether at once set himself to his real task. He reports [in Der Lutheraner] that he usually rose between 2:30 and 4 in the morning, depending upon whether he planned to visit some nearby or distant village. He had to be on the spot to meet people on the way to work. By about 9 or 10 he would be home again, and he would take time for breakfast, devotions, private reading, and rest. After the noon meal he took care of incidental correspondence and other writing until he left for school at 3. Here he was busy till 5:30 [based on the school schedule he taught religion, catechism and Bible history], and then, if strength remained, he would go to speak to heathen who were nearby. Since it got dark very early, he could speak to the people only on moonlit nights. If he spent the evening at home, he played the violin, studied, prepared his diary, or wrote as much as he could of his sermon for the next day. Ten o’clock was bedtime, after devotions. In the first year Naether went out to 124 different villages, to 97 of them repeatedly.*

The photograph above is currently on display at the CHI Museum at the LCMS International Center along with other photographs and artifacts from the India mission field. Naether and Kellerbauer are both shown in the photograph with pith helmets and a similar pith helmet is one of the artifacts from India on display there.

*Excerpt from Herman H. Koppelmann, “The First Decade of Our India Mission,” Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly 27 (January 1955):172.

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