Prolific Early Missionary to Chin Hills Remembered
21 October 2010: A Christian celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the arrival of American missionary, Rev. Dr Joseph Herbert Cope and wife Elizabeth, to the Chin Hills on 1 November 1910 was early this month held in Tulsa, the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma, USA.
In Burma, a similar celebration scheduled to take place on 4-7 November 2010 had to be postponed as it coincides with Burma’s upcoming 2010 elections. A meeting held in August by 39 Christian leaders said that the date for the centennial celebration has not been confirmed but it has to be held in November, the month that Dr. Cope and wife Elizabeth arrived.
The centennial celebration in the US took place at Tulsa Marriott Southern Hills, with an attendance estimated to be more than one thousand people settling in different parts of the United States.
Rev. Dr. Chin Do Kham, who chaired the event, said: “It was a very emotional day for all of us. We were thanking God, and thanking the missionaries, and thanking Americans for sending missionaries to us.”
Soon after their arrival, Cope studied the local dialect, developed a writing system using the English alphabets and later translated the New Testament and Psalms.
Kham acknowledged in the Tulsa World News, saying: “He [Cope] didn’t just bring us the Gospel, he brought us civilization.”
Among the special guests at the Tulsa celebration were the Rev. Ernest Flores, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Germantown, Pa., which sent Cope to Burma 100 years ago; the Rev. Khup Khen Pau, who pastors a church Cope founded there; and Robert Cope and Christine Cope Dudley, grandchildren of the missionary.
The Rev. Dr Joseph Herbert Cope and wife Elizabeth Cope came to the Chin Hills in 1908 after Rev. A. E. Carson died on 1 April 1908. After two years, Rev. Cope transferred his headquarter from Hakha to Tiddim on the 19 April, 1910. He worked for 30 years not only as a Christian missionary but also as the Honorary Inspector of Schools in Chin Hills.
Dr. J.H. Cope died of diarrhoea on 11 June 1938 in Hakha, where he was buried.
Van Biak Thang