In Memoriam: Dr. Rochunga Pudaite

Dr. Rochunga Pudaite, 1927 - 2015

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.

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 Dr. Billy Graham and Dr. Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, did his graduate work at Wheaton College near Chicago, Illinois.

During his time in school, Ro worked hard on translating the Bible into his native language. Finally the job was done. He wrapped up the precious manuscript, mailed it to the printer, and at long last, the Bible arrived in Northeast India. There was much joy and excitement as Chawnga and others dedicated the book that had changed their people from headhunters to heart-hunters!

Ro was named executive director of the Indo-Burma Pioneer Mission in 1958. But, during his years in college, Ro 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 and is now headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Even though the Hmar people now had the Bible in their own language, many of them could not read. Ro firmly believed that education has the power to transform, not only a life, but also a nation.  He realized that literacy would provide millions of people the chance to read God’s Word. With that incentive, Ro and Mawii started 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 over 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 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.

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 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. 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 Sielmat Christian Hospital and Research Center.

Dr. Ro firmly believed there is no tool for world evangelization that works quite as well as the printed Word of God. The Bible challenges and changes lives. It is written for all humanity. All the answers to man’s present and future needs are found in the Bible. It was his firm conviction that everyone, everywhere, should have the opportunity to read it in their own language.

For more than a half-century, Dr. Rochunga Pudaite spearheaded ministry outreaches that have touched tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people across the globe. He was the translator of the Hmar Bible and author of 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.

A biography of Dr. Ro was published in 1974, God’s Tribesman, by James C. and Marti Hefley. And his life story was captured in another book by Joe Musser in 1998 called Fire on the Hills – the Story of Rochunga Pudaite. And a major motion picture, “Beyond the Next Mountain”, tells the story of how the Bible came to the Hmar people of India through Ro’s efforts.

Besides his brother, Lienkung Pudaite of Sielmat, Churachandpur, Manipur, India, Ro 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.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”  Psalm 116:15

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 simply click the button below.