The Diocese of Mizoram, in the north-east of India, has already sent one missionary to south Wales and has a second lined up to arrive in April, assuming the first one survives that long. These peaceful and pious folk were converted by Welsh missionaries a century ago, and are now coming to the aid of the Welsh Presbyterian Church, ostensibly to help their “mother church” with its shortage of ministers. One suspects that the three remaining Presbyterians in Wales might have dissembled a little re the real issue when they sent their appeal - less a lack of clergy than a chronic shortage of Christians in general and Presbyterians in particular.
The Rev Hmar Sangkhuma, interviewed in his razor-wired compound in Bridgend yesterday, described himself as a ‘mission enabler’. "Many people in Wales were suffering from a spiritual void" he told incredulous journalists, wiping the spittle off of his face and dodging a half-brick. "There is a perceived lack of relevance of Christianity to lives based on materialism. Excuse me, but they’re pressing up against the fences again. I have to go turn the current on.”
You have to admire a faith so simple and heartfelt, yet still strong enough to lead a man halfway around the world, from the beautiful and overwhelmingly Christian upland valleys of Mizoram to exile among the squalid ratholes and filthy savages of modern Wales. After all, there are parts of Cardiff and Swansea where there is a very literal danger of him ending up in a big pot. Let’s just hope it’s worth it.
“For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world ... but for Wales!”
The charming and picturesque Welsh, yesterday, in their distinctive national costumes. And some fell on stony ground...