When the Second World War broke out in 1939, the Mission went into a period of anxiety and hardship. At the very beginning of the war, there was little change. However, after the German occupation of Denmark and Norway in April 1940, the situation altered immediately.
Santal Mission and Second World War
The Missionary Conference had gathered at Dumka in February 1940. But due to the new situation, the whole budget had to be reconsidered. Denmark and Norway had no possibilities for sending out funds; and though the American Santal Mission increased its contributions greatly, an unpredicted situation had arisen.
As a result of the war the cost of living increased. At the same time, the missionaries as well as the national workers had to live on decreased salaries. After the Pearl Harbour catastrophe in December 1942; it became difficult to keep connections with the American Home Board also.
Still, the work went on more or less as usual, though part of the institutional work had to be curtailed to some extent. The plan needs new constructions, needed repair, etc. had to be postponed until after the war. That the work could be carried out in this way was to a great extent due to Mornai Tea Estate.
Mornai Tea Estate
During the Second World War, there was a great demand for tea and the prices were good. The tea garden gave substantial financial help to the Mission during these years. So, that no institution had to be closed.
Help also came from other sources, such as The Norwegian Exile Government in London and the Lutheran World Federation gave quite large sums annually. The Anglican Church in Assam gathered funds for the Santipara Leprosy Colony.
Scottish Santal Mission
The Scottish Santal Mission in Bihar and some friends in Argentina and Iceland and the Faero Islands also sent their contributions.
The Rev. Johannes Gausdal succeeded Rosenlund as Secretary of the Mission in 1940. Gausdal had been on the field since 1915. During Rosenlund’s furlough in 1933-1934, he had been the Acting Secretary of the Mission.
Gausdal was immensely interested in the upbuilding and establishment of an independent Church. Only a few years after his arrival in India he published a small booklet called Menighetsdannelsen i Santalistan, in which he gives his historical account of the forming of the Santal Church.
Gausdal always thought more in the term of Church than Mission; and he was one of the most active missionaries with regard to the formulation of a Church Constitution during the 1930s.
Synod of the Church
When Gausdal moved to Dumka in 1940 this question was taken up in earnest. A draft was ready in 1941 and sent to the American Board for their consideration. On April 19, 1945, the Church Constitution Committee met in Dumka.
This Committee, with delegates from all the Church Councils, acted also as the Synod of the Church. The meeting decided that provided all the three Home Boards would sanction the proposed Church Constitution; a Maha Sabha would be called sometime in the spring of 1946 with representatives from the Church; and the Mission in order to finally accept the new Consitution.
The war ended a few months after this meeting had been held. The Church Bells rang the peace in from every church building all over the field. However, it took time before a normal situation could be created after the chaos of the Great War.
Many of the missionaries had been on the field ten to twelve years. Their health was failing, and they were anxious to go home as soon as possible. Many had not heard from relatives and friends for years.
Some of the missionaries had their children in the home country. But it was almost impossible to obtain passage for Europe. Scandinavian Mission Societies then went together and bought a plane. You can read by clicking here about the contribution of P. O. Bodding.
During the Second World War Scandinavian Mission Societies
It was named Ansgar, after the famous missionary to Scandinavia who lived in the eighth century. The mission societies at home had been able to continue their work during the war.
There were many new, young candi dates ready to go to the mission fields. And so Ansgar brought new missionaries to the different fields; while re-turning with missionaries waiting to go home.
In India, a new period was in process, a period that would bring great changes, politically, socially and culturally. This process has also affected both the Mission and the Church in many ways as will be seen when we go over to the post-war period of the Mission and the Church.