COLORADO SPRINGS, (US): Dr. Rochunga Pudaite, who rose from poverty in a remote village of former headhunters to become the founder and leader of the global Christian ministry Bibles For The World, died at a hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo., in the early hours of Oct. 10, 2015. He was 87.
“Dr. Ro was an inspiration to millions, and his life story and ministry work demonstrate how much one Christian can do when directed by the Lord,” said Jeff McLinden, vice president of Bibles For The World. “Because of his efforts, millions of people around the world have been introduced to the message of the Bible, and they understand what it means to be true followers of Christ. Dr. Pudaite will be greatly missed.”
Pudaite’s son, John, who had served as vice president of international ministries since 2006, took over as president in May 2015 to continue his parents’ work.
Where it began
Pudaite was a member of the Hmar tribe in northeast India, known by the British colonial government as fierce headhunters. His father was one of the first converts to Christianity in the area and dreamed of someday having God’s word in the language of his tribe. Rochunga was the first child in his village to go to school, finishing his graduate work at Wheaton College in Illinois, where he completed his translation of the Bible into his native tongue.
To help the largely illiterate Hmar people, Pudaite and his wife, Mawii, established a series of Christian schools, which today includes 85 village schools, seven high schools, two junior colleges and a Christian college and seminary. The largest school now has more than 2,600 students, and, today, the Hmar have one of the highest literacy rates in India.
Bringing Spiritual, Material Help
Pudaite took his Bible ministry to other nations as well. In 1973, he and his wife established Bibles For The World, recruiting volunteers to mail appropriate language translations of Bibles to households across the globe, with special outreaches into Africa, South America, and the former Soviet Union.
To help children in poverty, Pudaite and his wife created a sponsorship program in India, which now assists more than 3,000 children who receive help including medical care, schooling, shoes and uniforms. They also founded Sielmat Christian Hospital and Research Center in Manipur, India, to provide the region’s poor with medical care and assistance.
“Dr. Ro was concerned for both the spiritual and physical needs of thousands of poor people in India,” said McLinden. “And his ministry has touched the lives of tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people across the globe.”
In addition to translating the Hmar Bible, Pudaite wrote The Education of the Hmar People, The Dime That Lasted Forever, My Billion Bible Dream (republished as The Book That Set My People Free), The Greatest Book Ever Written and The Hmar/English Dictionary.
Two biographies have been written about Pudaite, God’s Tribesman in 1974, and Fire on the Hills – the Story of Rochunga Pudaite. A feature film titled Beyond the Next Mountain tells how Pudaite brought the Bible to his people.
In addition to his brother, Lienkung Pudaite of Sielmat, Churachandpur, Manipur, India, Dr. Rochunga Pudaite is survived by his wife, Mawii, their three children, Paul R. Pudaite of Glen Ellyn, IL; John L. Pudaite of Colorado Springs, CO; and Mary L. Pudaite-Keating of Antioch, IL, and six grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, Oct. 17, at 1:30 p.m. at The Sanctuary Church, 1930 W. Colorado Ave., Colorado Springs.
Memorial gifts in his name may be sent to Bibles For The World, P.O. Box 49759, Colorado Springs, Co 80949, or given online atwww.biblesfortheworld.org.