The Legacy of Kenneth G. Donald in India: A Study of the Missiological Implications. By Dr. B.S. Moses Kumar



The Legacy of Kenneth G. Donald in India:
A Study of the Missiological Implications

Introduction

The progenitors of a race and the pioneers of a movement are often remembered as ‘Fathers’. They instill inspiration for the successors, and foster a sense of destiny among successive generations. The Church from the very first century of her existence had ignited the flame of missions. This happened as the disciples of Christ obeyed His Great Commission. They found their way to different corners of the earth taking the light of the Gospel to many people groups of the world. The flickering flame of missions had shone brighter during succeeding centuries. The Gospel of the Kingdom was being preached to all nations during late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. This was in fulfillment of the prediction of Jesus Christ: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 – NKJV). And there is the challenging history of the Apostles of Jesus Christ and the Church Fathers thereafter.

M. K. Gandhi, who launched and invigorated the Indian Freedom Struggle, has been called the Father of the Nation. William Carey, who rendered unique service in the fields of Indian languages and literature, and, education and social reform, has been acclaimed the Father of the Modern Missionary Movement. In relation to over 100 years of service to the nation by the Pentecostal Holiness Church, two names stand out, who are fondly remembered: 

1)    John M. Turner, Father of the Pentecostal Holiness Church in India, labored since 1920 in the present Jharkhand State for the social, economic and spiritual upliftment of the masses.
2)    Kenneth G. Donald, Father of the Pentecostal Holiness Church in South India, initiated an ongoing movement of equipping and empowering next generation leaders.

This paper endeavors to present the legacy of Kenneth G. Donald in India with an evaluation of his missiological strategies at the end.

The Advent of Pentecostal Holiness Church in India

Pentecostal Holiness Church, with her genesis in the U.S.A. in 1898, was an offspring of the Wesleyan Holiness Movement of the late 19th century, and as such, is older than the Modern Pentecostal Movement. The Manual (2013-2017) elucidates, “As its distinctive contribution to contemporary Christianity, this church has attempted to preserve the Wesleyan tradition while perpetuating the Pentecostal tradition.”[1] Bishop J. H. King’s global tour in 1910 was the beginning of Pentecostal Holiness presence in India, as he spent considerable time in this land. His dream for India took on initial fulfillment when John and Olivia Turner landed in Kolkata in 1921. A detailed saga of the trail of missionaries since then from the U.S.A., Canada and the U.K., and their contribution to human welfare, educational upliftment and spiritual nurture of the masses was recounted in my book, Setting Stones: An Interpretive History of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in India.[2]

Early Roots of the Donalds in India

Kenneth Donald was a great Apostle of God from the U.K. to India. Though an Englishman by birth, he chose to be an Indian by choice.[3] Born on March 7, 1917 at Coventry, England to George William and Betty Donald, he responded to the Gospel around 15 years of age. He married Joan Elsie on August 15, 1942, and later used to quip that on the day when India got her freedom, he lost his![4] After discharge from the army, where Kenneth served in medical corps for 6 years, the Donalds felt the call for missions. Bible Colleges in England did not accept couples those days; they both took a correspondence course. They finally landed in India in February 1950 in faith, as independent missionaries. Having initial fellowship with Dipti Mission, they began language study to learn Hindi at Landour, Mussoorie, Here they met missionaries of all denominations. In the midst of about 300, the five missionaries belonging to the Pentecostal Holiness Church stood out, on account of their experience and teaching of entire sanctification and baptism in the Holy Spirit.[5] Thus they were drawn to join the Pentecostal Holiness Church, which had its beginnings in India, at Jasidih of the united Bihar.[6]

Though Kenneth and Joan, started their mission in Jharkhand in North India (where they labored for 8 years) as J.M. Turner and his successors did, he completed his mission in Ootacamund, Tamilnadu (another 8 years), sandwiched by about 16 years of labors among Telugus in united Andhra Pradesh. He came to Maruter village in February 1958 to pioneer and labor in Andhra Pradesh.  As Apostle Paul, he planted many churches in the twin Godavary Districts and beyond, identifying with people and becoming ‘all things to all’.

Later he went further down to Tamilnadu in October 1974 to finally locate in the highest altitude of their lives in India - geographically and spiritually: geographically, as they set their tents in the hill station of Ootacamund; and spiritually, as they soared high in spiritual revival and compassionate ministration to the needy. This brought deliverance and inner healing to many. 

Apostle of Pentecost to the Blue Mountains

            Kenneth believed that there is no real success without a successor. The highlight of his ministry was his decision to leave the work he established into the hands of national leadership. He moved down to South to pitch their tent initially at Montauban (a property purchased by a Christian Missionary organization around 1906). For over 100 years Montauban has been running as a Christian Guest House. Kenneth held regular meetings and conferences there and in other places in Ootacamund. Spirit-filled preachers and leaders like William Scott and others were invited periodically.

The Church in Ootacamund in early 1970’s, when Donalds arrived, was not exposed to any Pentecostal experience or Charismatic influence.  In all probability, the Donalds seem to be pioneers of the Pentecostal Movement in the Blue Mountains. As a bold Apostle of the Pentecost, he initiated charismatic worship and ministrations among the few who were responsive to deeper things of the Spirit. The church climate was hostile and ostracizing to the new teaching and the new experience. However, St. Stephen’s Church (CSI) opened up to the ministry of Kenneth Donald, and it was this church that held a memorial meeting in his honor, after his home going.

Apart from those who sought deeper life and spiritual growth, many people with inner hurts came in frustration and depression only to receive a new release and a new life, as the Holy Spirit did a deeper work in their lives. ‘Ananda Ashram’, meaning Abode of Joy, where they stayed most during their sojourn, gave them much gladness as they kept it an ‘open house’ for any seeking refuge and relief through ‘inner healing’. The caring ministration of Joan Donald, like a ‘mother in Israel’ added a much-needed dimension to the work. There was much spiritual counseling and intercession for the needy that people literally thronged to the Ashram.

A Movement Rather Than a Monument

            Kenneth dreamed of having an educational institution with Pentecostal Holiness heritage developed at Ananda Ashram with the help of the products of his ministry in Andhra. It remained a dream until after a decade of his home going. The day came when B. A. D. Vidya Sagar donated a piece of land for a Memorial Center, and Donald Vidya Niketan, a Kindergarten School was started at Maruter in 1992. However, it became inevitable for the venue of such a Memorial to be shifted to Hyderabad. Ultimately Bishop B. E. Underwood dedicated Donald Memorial Ashram on November 14, 1993. It became the venue for Donald Memorial Church, Donald Memorial High School and later Hyderabad Bible College, which hosted Asian Ministerial Training Program: India (AMTP India) for about 12 years - training national leaders across the four Conferences in India. The College serves as venue for the School of Church Planting since 2007, apart from regular theological education. A new dimension was added to the Ashram when Bishop Talmadge Gardner dedicated Joan’s Haven Boarding School, as a fitting memorial for Joan Donald, in 2014. 
 
Joan’s Will

            Over 27 years Joan had been a widow, she served the Lord alone in U.K., helping with local churches near where she lived, personally touching many lives, through her ministry of counseling and intercession. An outstanding breakthrough came at the end of her first 8-year cycle as a widow.  Joan led Mrs. Mavis Gentry, on her deathbed, to the Lord.  As the latter “inherited the glorious riches of heaven, she bequeathed her earthly property to the ministry in India.  It was this single contribution that bought the original property at the Donald Ashram”.  Her beloved husband ministered to the very last day of his life, pouring out into the lives of his ‘ministers in the making’ in South India!  She followed his trail, being effectively used by the Lord till her last breath.  Even in her death, Joan longed to be a blessing to the Church in India – making a large room for India in her Will! Continuing to be a blessing even after death to the land she was called![7]

Missiological Implications

What are the missiological implications of this study? Certain insights and implications may be drawn from the life and ministry of Kenneth Donald, and his wife Joan, which are paradigm setters and signposts for successive generations.

1) From North to the South!

With its start in Bihar, the ‘graveyard of missionaries’, Pentecostal Holiness Church blossomed forth life and light of the Gospel among the many tribes and people groups of North India. It was providential for her to have a leap beyond into the South, a distance of over 1000 miles, when Hobert H. Howard landed at Maruter in West Godavary District. He went to explore the need for ministry at the invitation of a native, whom he met at ‘Kumbanad Convention’ in Kerala in 1955. In the recorded history of missions in India, Pentecostal Holiness Church is the only mission that, having its beginnings in North India, had spread to South India, while it was vice versa with other denominations. As Bishop King’s visit to India was followed by the arrival of resident missionaries after a decade, the visit of Hobert Howard and others after him was followed by the arrival of Donalds in 1958, and two other single ladies thereafter, as resident missionaries in Andhra Pradesh.

2) Calling - To A Task or A Place?

Of the 40 years of their married life together, the first eight years were spent in the U.K. preparing for mission field, the second eight years spent in Bihar, the next sixteen years spent in Andhra Pradesh, planting churches and training future workers, and the last eight years spent in Ootacamund in South India, ministering to the wider body of Christ.  It was as if the Lord had calculatedly measured 5 equal portions of about 8-year duration, for each of these progressive phases of their ministry together. The double amount of time they invested in Andhra Pradesh established the Pentecostal Holiness Church in South India and beyond.

While in Andhra Pradesh, having established the first mission station at Maruter, the Donalds moved to Attili town to start another mission station, as other missionaries continued at Maruter. While most of the missionaries ended up in the place where they were originally called to, Kenneth felt that the call could not be to a place – binding a missionary to that place forever – but to a task. The duration of a missionary at a place, therefore, is to be determined by the completion of the task and accomplishment of the purpose, for which one is sent there. Having moved to his last station of ministry himself, Kenneth affected the move of the only existing missionary, Frances Carter to Chennai when Rev. B. A. D. Vidyasagar launched a new Church Plant in early 1980’s. Sensitivity to where one is needed most, with no localization of missions and missionaries, is seen in the history of Protestant missions in Andhra Pradesh where the principle of ‘comity’[8] was in effective operation.

3) Team Work!

            Teamwork signifies the nature of the Body of Christ, with many members and differing roles. Kenneth realized that no lone ranger would fare well for long in the mission of the Church. Being a wonderful and unique team with his wife, he further worked well with other missionaries in South India, and beyond. Though he preserved the Pentecostal Holiness distinctives, Kenneth endeavored to maintain good relationships with all from the beginning – Plymouth Brethren of the Godavari Delta Mission (GDM) around Narsapur, American Baptist missionaries of Ongole, Lutheran missionaries of Rajahmundry, and Anglican missionaries of the Church of South India (CSI) at Vijayawada – sharing pulpit with their missionaries and national leaders.  The Adult Literacy Programs of Mrs. Joyce Scott were made use of with the literature of Gera Premaiah. The Scripture Union & Children’s Special Service Mission (SU & CSSM) staff from Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church (AELC), Samavesam of Telugu Baptist Churches (STBC), CSI and the GDM found their place in the churches planted by Kenneth. He was a promoter of ecumenical spirit among churches, fostering Christian unity.

4) Training the Task Force!

            It is said that leaders are readers. It is expected of a man of God that he be thoroughly equipped and teachable. As Kenneth believed and preached, one can give only what one has! As we become lifetime learners, we become equipped to equip others! It was amazing to see that Kenneth, who served in backward Indian villages, was an avid reader and a shrewd writer. He contributed widely to the denominational publications such as Worldorama, and Advocate, as well as to devotional publications such as Logos Digest and Dunamis Digest and missiological journals such as Evangelical Missions Quarterly.[9]

            The Discipling Formula of 2 Timothy 2:2 was the guiding light for Kenneth, as he focused his labors around winning souls and discipling them through various ministries, such as Sunday School (with CEEFI[10] Curriculum), Life Liners (Youth Ministry), Women’s Ministry, Short-term Bible School, and Correspondence Course (on Mark’s Gospel) administered by Spiritual Progress Bible School. Pastors’ Retreats are pivotal in the training strategy adopted by Kenneth in later years, which proved essential since his move to Ootacamund. They fostered bond of fellowship among Pastors, and also with the missionary as he identified with nationals. They further helped in resolving inner struggles and personality conflicts among the Body of Christ.  

            Four Retreats in the last five years of his life are significant, as recorded below:

1)    In 1978 the Ootacamund Retreat was held after his move there in 1974. All the ministers in the making from Andhra Pradesh gathered at YWCA Guest House with the adjacent Chapel, and there was a wonderful time of ministry by B. E. Underwood, John B. Parker and Dr. Vinson Synan.[11]
2)    In 1979 the Maruter Retreat took place in February, when Kenneth gave studies on Galatians, which were posthumously published.[12] Apart from background study, Kenneth delivered powerful messages on deeper spiritual themes.[13]
3)    In 1981 at the Maruter Retreat, Kenneth shared his studies on ‘Ministries of the Holy Spirit’, which he presented at the First Session of Centre for International Christian Ministries (CICM), London.[14]
4)    Kenneth’s Final Retreat with Pastors took place at Dhyanashram, Chennai during July 28-31, 1982. The things he shared on the second day were the grand ‘finale’ of his life and message.

These Retreats and other teachings by Kenneth had ushered an emerging generation of national leaders that continues to multiply his ministry.

Conclusion

            Reproducing oneself is the ultimate responsibility of a mature leader, and Kenneth as a seasoned leader had equipped many next-level leaders well. Obedience to divine direction and guidance would yield rich results here and in eternity. Pioneering pains would sure do usher in the joy of consummation and fulfillment. Being a model for others is the prime objective of our Christian walk and service. All these principles were lived by Kenneth before the people he ministered.

            One of Kenneth’s profound messages was on 1 Corinthians 4:15 – “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers …”. The agony for such a dearth must have molded him to be one, and he became a spiritual father to all. The successive generations aptly and in gratitude call him as ‘Father of the Pentecostal Holiness Church in South India’.


B. S. Moses Kumar, Ph.D.

About the Author: 
Dr. B. S. Moses Kumar is a triple graduate, with Masters in Arts and in Pastoral Theology, and a Ph.D. His dissertation, The Religious Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Theological Perspective was published by ISPCK, Delhi and his seminal work, Setting Stones: An Interpretive History of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in India was published by LSR Publications, Franklin Springs, Georgia. Dr. Kumar for his Ph.D. in Theology penned the dissertation Incarnation of the Gospel in Indian Culture With Reference to the Art and Poetry of Pulidindi Solomon Raj.   Dr. Kumar is the Field Superintendent for IPHC India. He and his wife Dora are the pioneer-pastors of the Donald Church, and live with their youngest son Donald at the Donald Ashram, Hyderabad, India. He also serves as president of the Hyderabad Bible College. http://www.nativeleader.org/moses-kumar


[1]           Franklin Springs, Georgia: LifeSpring Resources, (2013:12)



[2]           Franklin Springs, Georgia: LifeSpring Resources, 2006. 


[3]           Moses Kumar, B.S., ed. : Biographical Note, in “Free … In Christ” by 
Kenneth G. Donald, Narsapur: Jeevan Jyothi Press & Publishers, (2008:60)


[4]           ibid.


[5]           Moses Kumar, B.S., ed. : Biographical Note, in “Ministries of the Holy Spirit” by 
Kenneth G. Donald, Secunderabad: Authentic India, (2008:76)


[6]           Jasidih was a pilgrim center, and they were guided there by the Pilgrim Mission at
            Varanasi.


[7]           Moses Kumar, B.S. : Tribute Prepared for the Funeral of Joan Donald on December
8, 2009 at Fleet Baptist Church , officiated by Rev. David Bird, p.3


[8]           The principle of comity “demarcated territorial boundaries between missionaries of
            various  societies in order to use personnel efficiently, reduce the duplication of activities,
            and avert competition”.
 
[9]           No. 13, January 1977 and so on.


[10]         CEEFI stands for Christian Education department of the Evangelical Fellowship of India.


[11]         It was here that the author met Dr. Synan for the first time and was prophesied upon.



[12]       Donald, Kenneth G., “Free … In Christ”, Edited by B.S. Moses Kumar, Narsapur: Jeevan
            Jyothi Press & Publishers, 2008.


[13]         Themes like Freedom of the Gospel, Ministry with Oneness, Walking in the Spirit, and
            Worship that Glorifies God.



[14]       Secunderabad: Authentic India, 2008.

            This Book presents themes like Reliance on the Holy Spirit, Ministering with Compassion,

            Dealing with Fear, Moving out with a New Power, According to the Measure of Faith,

            and so on.

           

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