According to the parable, a servant does not use his talent at all for which the master becomes angry with him. The servant is punished. The second servant makes some use of the talent. It is the third servant who makes the most possible use of his talent to increase the wealth of his master. Dr. Peter C. Mall was that servant of God.
John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost and several other books, lost his eyesight when he was in the process of completing his immortal epic. He dictated most of his epic to his daughters who often rebelled. Imagine the path of hardship he must have walked. He wrote a poem in which he mentions his helplessness. The life of John Milton is a history of a person who overcomes his surroundings and physical disability with an iron-will. In the history of India the name of Sur Das is remembered with respect because of the beautiful work that he was able to produce in Hindi Literature in spite of the fact he was without his eye sight. The hardships could not stand in the ways of these souls.
Dr. Peter Mall may not be a poet, but he definitely has a Miltonic will. The work that Dr. Mall has done and is still doing, in spite of his age and eyesight, is epical.
Dr. Mall is engaged in solidifying the church of his poetic vision. With the help of his friends and family, he was able to purchase a building in Birmingham, England. He faced the stormy moods of his own people--- but he conquered the dragon of his environment to produce the church of his epic. While the castle of courage and patience of others began to shake, he held to the pillar of his faith and industry, emerging ultimately as victorious. It was in 1983 when The Good News Asian Church was established, the first Asian church in the world outside of India and Pakistan. He is the senior trustee and secretary of this church.
Through his initiative and encouragement, another church, The Asian Christian Fellowship, came into being in London, Ontario, Canada. Here Urdu, Panjabi and Hindi speaking people from south of Ontario and north of the United States gather for worship and fellowship. The first service was held on the 3rd of September 1989 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Sadhu Sunder Singh, a great saint from India. In addition, Dr. Peter Mall has successfully organized several radio and television music performances for the BBC, and has coordinated Asian Christian conventions.
The story of his saga does not end here. He has compiled a monumental book for Asian Christians which contains more than five hundred hymns in Hindi, Urdu and Roman scripts. He is also an advisor to several Christian publications. He is always ready to open the purse of his heart wherever and whenever there is need, especially to promote Christian press and writers from the Panjab of India and Pakistan. One of his notable tendencies is to help newcomers from India and Pakistan.
Considering his age and eye-problems, these are unique achievements of Dr. Peter Mall which have been recognized by several international institutions. The Canadian Alumni of the World University honoured him at a special gathering on the 10th of February of 1996. The award was handed by Gary H. Bennett, the Mayor of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, in the presence of several dignitaries, including Peter Milliken, a Member of Parliament who is also Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons (presently speaker).
His devotion, selfless service and concerns for others were recognized further when the World University honoured him with the prestigious award of a doctorate the same year. The World University, located in Arizona, the United States, is almost fifty years old.
The heart of The World University envisions a broad ecumenical perception of the new order and dedication to humankind's continuing universalization. There are several ways through which universalization can be improved to create an atmosphere for a peaceful world. Religious institutions provide one of those ways. The unique role that Dr. Peter Mall has played and is still playing to foster harmony is commendable. The congregation of his Asian Church in England celebrated both the recognitions with joy, talks, feast and letters of congratulation and good wishes. Lately, he has been selected for The International Directory of Distinguished Leadership, to be released by the American Biographical Centre in 1997.
Dr. Peter Mall was born on the 16th of January 1922 in Jullundur, Panjab, India. Due to the untimely death of his father, soon after passing his grade ten examination, he joined the family business of running army canteens during the British regime. That is how he became a ompetent businessman at an early age. He was a proprietor of British Army Canteens from 1937 - 1947; business proprietor of Indian Army Canteens from 1947 to 1963; and was a manager of Sunblest Bakery for a while.
In 1963, Dr. Mall emigrated to England. From 1989, Canada has become his second home. His three sons also live here. God has blessed him and his wife, Anayat, with five children, named Barnabas, Silas, Beula, Alias and Amos. His family is behind him in his noble task.
His passion for gospel music led him to learn a variety of musical instruments, such as sitar, dilruba, violin, harmonium, mouth organ, accordion, piano and the organ. He is also a good singer. He likes to meet people of every colour and creed. Dr. Peter C. Mall is a pride of South Asian Christians.
His present projects include writing the history of The Good News Asian Church which he has fathered diligently. Also, he is striving to form a council of Asian Christian churches in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom to work jointly for peace through peaceful means.
All that Dr. Peter C. Mall has done, and plans to do, evidence the concerns he has for the community. The present collection of hymns is a living proof of those concerns. The collection is a bouquet which gives the perfume of his love. I expect readers to receive this bouquet with admiration and the same love for a person who has prepared it in spite of his physical predicament.
About a year after the appearance of the above article in India Journal and elsewhere, Dr. Peter C. Mall passed away in England on April 15, 1998. I was invited to pay him a tribute at his memorial service that was held at the Asian Christians Fellowship in London, Ontario, Canada, on June 13, 1998. The church was fully packed. I started my tribute in the
"This is the same place-- the same hall where not long ago I met Dr. Peter C. Mall. These are the same walls of the same building, which remind me of our first meeting. This is the same floor, under the same roof, where I have come for the second time-- this time to participate in the memorial service for the same person.
"I am here with mixed feelings. One feeling is that of loss. It was a deep shock when I was told of the death of Dr. Peter C. Mall- it was a shock because it was an irreplaceable loss. It is an irreplaceable loss to his wife and children and the other members of his family for personal reasons. It is a loss to the community because Christians, particularly Panjabi Christians, have lost a star- because the community has lost a guide-- lost a Moses, a hope. To me, it is that loss or hurt which is felt when someone loses a part of the body."
I concluded my tribute in the following words:
"I said in the beginning, I am here with mixed feelings. One is the feeling of loss. Another feeling is of a different kind. I can dare say that Dr. Peter C Mall is still alive-- Dr. Peter C. Mall is still breathing--he is breathing in his noble deeds-- he is breathing in the auspicious work of his life-- in the tree whose seed he sowed--- the tree he looked after diligently---the tree that has grown into a mighty oak- a tree that is able to give solace and inspiration to all those who care to sit under its refreshing shade during the tiring journey on this earth."
The ambitious project of Dr. Peter C. Mall that took most of his time was his book Hamd-O-Sana. It came off the press in 1999, about a year after his death. In an age in which it seems acceptable to work for only money and personal glory, it is refreshing to find Dr. Peter C. Mall, a researcher and compiler of this collection of hymns. My first meeting with Dr. Peter C. Mall was in a gathering in London, Ontario, Canada. I found something unexplainable in his appearance. We became friends as if we knew each other for years. When he went back to England, we often had long conversations over the phone.
Dr. Peter C. Mall told me about his various projects. One was about a book of popular hymns. Because of my experience as an author of novels, collections of poems, and critical studies, I did not take him seriously. I have discovered in my journey as a writer that there is no shortage of people who have brilliant ideas. There is however shortage of people who have courage to face the demon of their lonely battle. They get discouraged soon-- Dr. Mall had many demons in all shapes and forms.
I was wrong in my assumptions about Dr. Peter C. Mall. He surprised me one morning over the phone to let me know that his project was complete. It was a miracle because a project of this type required a calm patience of many years, a deep concentration, financial help and assistance of various nature from various sources. Dr. Peter C. Mall was able to collect nearly all the hymns which were popular among the Christians of Pakistan and North of India. It was a monumental work. Dr. Mall was able to do it in spite of his physical condition and other problems. The completion of his project proved to me that Dr. Peter C. Mall was a man with a mission.
There are zaburs in Panjabi, written in Persian script, which can be read only by Urdu-knowing Christians. Partition of the subcontinent of India also divided the Christians of Panjab. The new generation of Panjab that is in India does not know Urdu. It is difficult for them to find the zaburs in Hindi script. The Panjabi Christians who have settled in foreign countries face another type of problem. Their children have some knowledge of Hindi, Urdu or Panjabi. The parents want to sing zaburs at home and in parties. But their children cannot read Hindi and Urdu. They want those zaburs in Roman script.
In addition to that, there are countless hymns in Urdu, Hindi and Panjabi which are popular with the Christians all over India and Pakistan. The question was how to put those hymns together in a sensible way so that the readers from the different provinces of India, Pakistan and from abroad could find them easily in one book. The material was not available in one place. It was not available in one country or province. It was everywhere in different scripts and languages.
There was another problem. It was to find a printer or a publisher who knew Hindi, Urdu, Panjabi as well as the Roman script, who had the facilities to typeset them, and put them together in a proper way. To find a dependable helper and also to find a dependable printer and publisher was an uphill task. Several friends discouraged him in several ways.
Dr. Peter C. Mall, a man of vision, had an iron will for his mission. He wanted Panjabi Christians from Pakistan, Christians from every province of India and from foreign countries to be able to sing their popular hymns together. He wanted to unite them in the fragrance of one bouquet. Hamad-O-Sana is a child of his vision.
I would like to mention here Dr. Amam-uddin Shahbaz. Nearly every Panjabi Christian family has a copy of the Panjabi zaburs. Panjabi Christians sing them alone and in congregations. The handful of Christians know how the zaburs, which are the translations of the psalms in the Old Testament, came into being. There are not many Christians who know the tragedy of Dr. Shahbaz, the person who translated them for us and gave tunes for several of them. Dr. Shahbaz lost his eyesight in 1908. The community has forgotten the translator although it has benefited immensely from his contributions. Dr. Shahbaz was not recognized by his community. Only an outsider, a university from the United States, recognized his contributions by honouring him with a doctorate. But the community of Panjabi Christians remained almost oblivious of him for years.
Dr. Peter C. Mall asked me to write a page for him to pay his thanks to his Christian brothers and sisters who had helped him in several ways to complete this project. He was indebted especially to the late Rt.Rev.Bishop William Young, the Bishop of Lahore, Pakistan; Brother G. Parker; Amanat Masih Lal; Rev. S.P. Prem; and Rev. M. R. Sood. These noble souls helped him from time to time to translate the hymns of his choice in Urdu, Hindi and Roman languages.
He was indebted also to Mr. Hakim Singh Rahi, who went through the manuscript to give his suggestions; and to Mr. Freddie Joseph, who worked diligently to print and publish this book.
He was indebted also to his loving wife Inayat; and his sons, Barnabas, Silas, Alias, Amos; his daughter Beula; and his daughter-in-law Usha Rani. Without their valuable assistance he would never have completed this gigantic task. He was also thankful to the writer of every hymn, chorus and song included in this book. He also wanted to insert a line in the book to invite readers to submit new hymns to add in the next edition. For some strange reasons, I do not find his thanks in his book Hamd-O-Sana.
Dr. Peter C. Mall also asked me to help him prepare a dedication of the book. It was his earnest desire to dedicate the book to his brother Rev. Yaquob C. Mall.
His brother Rev. Yaquob C. Mall was born in the month of March of 1914 at Garha in Jullundar, Panjab, India, in a family of business people. He helped the family in running the British Army canteens. Influenced by the piety of a missionary, he surrendered his life to the service to God. In 1935, he joined Saharanpur Seminary to study Christian theology. In 1939, he was appointed as pastor for Kartarpur in the district of Jullundar, and in 1940, pastor for Bhullath as well.
During World War Two, he joined the British Army as a chaplain. In 1951, he became in-charge of Adampur. He became the superintendent of Hoshiarpur Mission field and later superintendent of Jullundur mission field as well. He was appointed the pastor of famous Golak Nath Memorial Church in Jullundar City in 1958, where he faithfully served the Lord till 1988.
On the 9th of August in 1988, after visiting his family and friends in England and Canada, he left for his heavenly abode. The last rites were performed in the city of St. Thomas in Ontario, Canada, on the 15th of August 1988 with great respect.
Rev. Yaquob C. Mall was a powerful speaker and a brave soldier of God. He was among the chosen men of our Lord and remained faithful to Him till the end of his journey on earth. He spoke often in Christian conventions. It was the sincere prayer of Dr. Peter C. Mall to God to keep the spirit of his brother in His glorious company, along with all the Saints.
The death of his brother Rev. Yaquob C. Mall had strengthened the motivation of Dr. Peter C. Mall to glorify the name of God more vigorously. He was guided by the Holy Spirit to undertake the project of Hamd-O-Sana that he wanted to dedicate to his brother. For some strange reasons, also the dedication has not appeared in the book.
My third visit to the Asian Christian Fellowship Church in London, Ontario, was on the 8th of April in 2001 when I was invited by Mr. Mushtaq Mall to speak about the violations of human rights of Christians in India and Pakistan. This is the church that was established by Dr. Peter C. Mall, and where I had met him for the first time amidst a crowd that had packed the church to its fullest extent. It is the same church where I spoke on June 13, 1998 at the memorial service of Dr. Peter C. Mall, the pioneer of the church. The church was packed again to its fullest extent.
When I paid my third visit to this church, the situations of Christians in India and Pakistan were not the same that existed during the time of Dr. Peter C. Mall. The situations had started deteriorating during his life and grew worse after his death. At the time of my third visit, the persecution of Christians in Pakistan was at its height in spite of the sacrifice of Bishop John Joseph to open the doors of awareness against injustice and discrimination by Islamic fundamentalists. This was the time when the violations of human rights of Christians in India were also at their height in spite of the sacrifice of Dr. Graham and his two young children who were burnt alive by the Hindu fundamentalists.
I spoke for about thirty-five minutes in the church that was established by Dr. Peter C. Mall and that meaningfully bustled with Christians and non-Christians on my previous two visits. This time, the walls of the church appeared to be forlorn. Empty chairs seemed to be staring at me in despair. I sensed something missing. Obviously Moses was