Saturday, September 24, 2005

AT GANDHI'S FUNERAL

LISTEN TO HIM. If the words and actions of the peacemakers opposed to America's war on Iraq seem out-of-step and unworkable, then let us recall the life, words, and work of Mahatma Gandhi. The will and spirit of this little man influenced his people to muster a nonviolent revolution in India that brought Hindus and Muslims together and brought colonialist Britain to its knees. He never owned a gun.

CHRISTIAN INFLUENCES. Today, I participated in a Deeper Prayer Conference with author and retired Christian missionary to India Dr. Wesley Duewel. Duewel, age 89, served in India during the Gandhi's time and knew of distinctive Christian influences on the leader. Well known is the relationship of Methodist missionary E. Stanley Jones to the Mahatma; Jones' biography of Gandhi influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. to seriously consider nonviolent action in the American civil rights struggle.

INTERCEDED FOR GANDHI. As a young man, Duewel says he felt led to pray for Mahatma Gandhi every day, which he faithfully did until the Indian leader was assassinated by a fellow Hindu. Recently, Duewel reread Indian newspapers that reported Gandhi's assassination. Duewel has taken heart that his prayers for the leader and his eternal peace were not in vain, as Gandhi lived and prayed quietly for several hours after bullets were fired into his body.

GANDHI'S FAVORITE HYMN. Duewel recalls that Gandhi's funeral procession was well over a mile long. His Christian compatriots were asked to walk together and sing Gandhi's favorite Christian hymn. Here are some of the words:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride.

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e're such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

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