'More Indian than American'

John Anderson, the child of American missionaries, grew up in India and eventually gave his life and ministry to India as a Nazarene missionary, as well. This summer he passed away at the age of 83 with his family near him, along with close friends Sunil and Sarah Dandge. He mentored and discipled Sunil from his childhood. Today, Sunil is the strategy coordinator for Nazarene work across India.

A number of today's Nazarene leaders in India were deeply influenced by the love and personal investment into their lives by Anderson. They pay tribute to his personal sacrifices and love for the Indian people and culture which led him and his wife, Doris, to pioneer Nazarene work in Delhi and Calcutta that lives on today. Read several tributes below.

June 24, 1989. 11:30 p.m. New Delhi railway station. Very noisy. Very hot and humid. My train was 15 hours late. I reached my destination after a 45-hour journey, tired, hungry, and very worried. Worried, because at this hour I had no place to go.

As I looked out of the train compartment, I saw amongst a sea of hundreds of brown faces, a white face with a broad smile, waving at me!

God’s angel? Yes!!

My tiredness disappeared… no more worry!!

Yes, it was John Anderson, waiting to pick me up. That day my long association and friendship with John and Doris Anderson began.

I had gone to New Delhi for my master's in public health. During my two years in Delhi, I would spend every weekend at their home and every Saturday evening we would sit on their lawns discussing almost everything possible on this earth. I gradually realized that I was being spiritually mentored to play a role of leadership at a later stage.

I would address him as Bhai (a respectful term for big brother in Hindi).

He always emphasized the importance of being obedient to the Word of God. He had been exemplary by his “servant leader” lifestyle and had a great role in my life and my career by being a great role model.

I pay tribute to a great man of God who always will be fondly remembered for his ‘Indian-ness,’ his love for India, his humility, his dedication and, most of all, his faith in the Living God.

-- Dr. Arun Noah

To begin with, I have a great respect for early missionaries who reached out to the people with the good news of Jesus Christ and brought many to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. My dad and mom came to the Lord due to Rev. Anderson’s parents’ ministry.  

My father was a Nazarene preacher and as a child I knew Rev. John Anderson’s parents, who were missionaries. The late Rev. John Anderson came into my life when I was studying in the college in Aurangabad. He was then stationed in Washim and was an advisor to the district. Then it was called [Nazarene Young Peoples Society]. I was district NYPS vice president and used to go to Washim whenever there used to be the meeting of the NYPS district council. Though there was not much interaction with him; his simplicity impressed me. His wife, being a good host, often used to cook meals for us after the meeting.

I never knew that I would be in the ministry after I finished my master’s degree in commerce. After working for a central government project for few months, I took up a job in the hotel industry and started working for a five-star hotel in Aurangabad. Whenever Rev. Anderson would come to Aurangabad, he would visit me in this hotel, bringing some international visitors. During my work with the hotel, he directly and indirectly kept influencing my life.

While working for this hotel, the Lord started working in my life and I gave my life to the Lord and, after a few months, I felt the Lord’s calling on my heart. I resigned my job and the Lord opened the doors for me to attend seminary. Rev.Anderson was one of the missionaries whose initial encounters encouraged me to seek the Lord’s direction in my life.

When the national and international leaders started focusing on going to cities, Rev. Anderson was sent to Delhi. He was the pioneer missionary to start our church planting ministry in and around Delhi city. After developing Indian leadership, he handed the work over to Indian leadership.

I finished my seminary training and was called to be a pastor of our church in Mumbai in April 1979. When I became district superintendent of Western Maharashtra District in 1990, he wanted to come to Mumbai to help me in the ministry. He made frequent trips to Mumbai, staying with us a good number of times.

The mission leaders asked him to move to Kolkata. Though his heart was very much for Mumbai, he respected the leaders’ direction and went to Kolkata. Meantime he became very close to me, encouraging me in the district leadership. He indirectly was mentoring me in my initial period of district superintendentship. He was an encourager for me and often would introduce me as his Timothy to others. He was more Indian then American, living a very simple missionary life and won the hearts of many Indians.

His willingness to take advice from his subordinate impacted my life.

I am so thankful to the Lord for Rev. Anderson’s role in my life.

-- Diwakar Wankhhede

John Anderson, a long-time Nazarene missionary to India, was noted for his ability to identify closely with Indian culture. Many said he was far more Indian than American.

John was 3 years old when his parents, John and Mary Anderson, who served long years in India, arrived there in the 1930s. He grew up there, and attended Woodstock, the well-known expatriate school in the Himalaya mountains. His facility with language, his childhood experiences of growing up in India, his deliberate intentionality of making India the focus of his life’s ministry, were all part of what made up the soul of John Anderson.

In terms of career, John and his wife, Doris, were noted for their old-fashioned pioneering work of planting the church in north India, operating from the capitol city of Delhi. It is impossible to overstate or exaggerate how difficult this task was. He networked with government and business persons, started a church, began and pastored the international church (in this case with the target expatriates including several U.S. Embassy personnel), etc. He began the district structure and trained leaders.

Later, the Andersons left Delhi and moved to Calcutta, replicating much of what they had done in Delhi, digging out the work under impossible conditions. Part of this was the employment of Sunil and Sarah Dandge, who are now leaders for the work of India.  

It is really difficult to overestimate the contribution of John and Doris to what we have now in central, northern, and eastern India.

John and Doris are examples of missionaries who received very little public recognition, serving many years under difficult circumstances.

-- Dr. Franklin Cook, Eurasia regional director emeritus