Dr. Rochunga Pudaite, Founder and longtime CEO of Bibles For The World, went home to be with his Lord and Savior early in the morning of October 10, 2015.
After a brief illness, “Dr. Ro” left behind the ministry he so loved and millions upon millions of lives he helped transform through the power of the Gospel. 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.”
When the Gospel first came to the fierce, headhunting Hmar tribe in Northeast India in 1910, one of the first converts was a young man by the name of Chawnga. As more and more of the tribal people became Christians, he saw the need for the Scriptures in their native language. Chawnga prayed that someday he would have a son who would learn to read and write so that he could translate the Bible into the Hmar language. Chawnga’s son, Rochunga, fulfilled his father’s dream … and much, much more.
Ro became the first boy from his village to go to school – in the village of Churachandpur – a dangerous hike of 96 miles. He was further educated in Calcutta and received a bachelor’s degree from Allahabad University. Ro later continued his schooling in Glasgow, Scotland, and, with the help of Rev. Billy Graham and World Vision Founder Dr. Bob Pierce, did his graduate work at Wheaton College near Chicago, IL.
During his time in school, Ro worked hard on translating the Bible into his native language. Finally, when the job was done, he wrapped up the precious manuscript and mailed it to the printer. Then, at long last, the Bible arrived in Northeast India, where Chawnga and others dedicated the book that had changed their people from headhunters to heart-hunters!
In 1958, Ro was named Executive Director of the Indo-Burma Pioneer Mission. But, during his years in college, he had met a young lady back in Northeast India. Her name was Lalrimawii, which means “the name of the Lord is a beautiful sound.” When his work in translating the Bible was finished, Ro went back to India and asked Mawii to be his wife. They were married January 1, 1959. Together they founded the Partnership Mission in 1968. In 1973, that ministry – which was then located in Wheaton, IL – became Bibles For The World. Today, Bibles For the World is headquartered in Colorado Springs, CO.
After he completed his translation of the Bible into his native tongue, Dr. Ro, together with his wife, established a series of Christian schools to help the largely illiterate Hmar people, believing that literacy would provide millions of people the chance to read God’s Word. The schools included 85 village Christian schools, seven Christian high schools, two junior colleges, and even a seminary for their people. Today, the original school (and now the largest of all the schools), located in Churachandpur, has more than 2,600 students. In addition, the Hmar people now have one of the highest literacy rates of any people group in all of India. God also led Dr. Ro and Mawii to start churches throughout Northeast India. More than 350 churches are now a part of the Evangelical Free Church of India, the denomination they founded.
Dr. Ro and Mawii’s personal passion for sharing the Gospel has taken them to many nations across the globe where they have engaged men, women, and children from all walks of life, including heads of state as well as the poorest of the poor. Besides their innovative use of volunteers to mail packages of Bibles directly to households across the globe, special projects have included blanketing entire regions within Eastern Europe with the Gospel, working with the First Lady of Guatemala to provide Bibles for the entire police force of that nation, and engaging in special outreaches into Africa and the former Soviet Union.
Over the years, their ministry has worked with dozens of strategic partners to provide language-appropriate copies of God’s Word to millions upon millions of people in more than 100 nations who would otherwise have little or no access to the Bible.
One of the challenges addressed by Bibles For The World is the overwhelming numbers of children who are growing up in poverty without the opportunities to reach their God-given potential. Dr. Ro and Mawii began an extensive sponsorship program within India to help children and young people receive help that can change their lives, their families, and their communities. Today, some 3,000 sponsored children receive help including uniforms, shoes, medical care, and schooling. Many older students may also receive sponsorship help to attend the ministry’s Trinity College and Seminary and other institutions across India. Addressing the medical needs of those in poverty was also a high priority, which was the impetus for their founding of Selma Christian Hospital and Research Center.
For more than a half-century, Dr. Ro spearheaded ministry outreaches that have touched tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people across the globe. In addition to translating the Hmar Bible, Pudaite authored several books, including 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 Dr. Ro: God’s Tribesman, published in 1974, and Fire on the Hills – the Story of Rochunga Pudaite, published in 1998. A feature film titled Beyond the Next Mountain tells how Dr. Ro brought the Bible to his people.
A celebration of Dr. Ro’s life will be held Saturday, October 17, at 1:30 p.m. at The Sanctuary Church in Colorado Springs.
Besides his brother, Dr. Ro is survived by his wife, 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.
Pudaite’s son, John, who had served as Bible For The World’s Vice President of International Ministries since 2006, took over as President in May 2015 to continue his parents’ work.
The Rochunga Pudaite Memorial Fund has been established to carry on Dr. Ro’s priorities of Scripture distribution to those who are unreached or under-reached, healthcare for those in poverty, education at all levels, church planting, and leadership training. Memorial gifts may be sent to Bibles For The World, P.O. Box 49759, Colorado Springs, CO 80949, or by clicking this link.
By NRB Staff
Published: October 15, 2015