THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A DEDICATED MISSIONARY.
Pat and Bruce Coventry are legends among Australian Missionaries to India. Now at 96 years, Bruce reflects upon his long missionary service in India, and his remarkable Christian service back in Australia since retirement.
They are people my wife and I have prayed for and whose service we honour. Coming from the home of a railway man, Bruce felt the call to training for the Ministry and so entered the Churches of Christ College of the Bible in Victoria in 1938, before I was born. He had wanted to be a missionary and completed the appropriate training but Australia was fully committed to the War and no missionaries were being sent overseas.
The death of one missionary in India, and the serious illness of another meant there was a crisis in the mission field, so in 1943 Bruce with his new wife Pat sailed across the Indian Ocean despite Japanese submarine attacks
They went first to the Dhond Hospital where the remarkable Dr George Oldfield was Medical Superintendent. Dr Oldfield was the only medical doctor for hundreds of miles. Bruce and Pat’s four daughters were all born there. Bruce and Pat were to serve in a girls’ home and a boys’ home at Baramati and Shrigonda 95 kilometres away. Bruce was involved in well-digging through solid rock, constructing many buildings and stone fences, establishing vegetable gardens. training Indian leaders, teachers, planting and harvesting crops, erecting stone buildings making their own lime mortar, expanding the Mission to new villages, organizing graduate training for potential new teachers, preaching every week in Marathi, baptizing, conducting weddings and funerals, building class rooms for the schools and houses for the teachers. It was nonstop hard work. They saw the Independence of India from Britain, the partition of Pakistan, and once met and spoke with Gandhi.
In 1964, Pat and Bruce returned to Australia to retire. The numbers of missionaries from Australia rapidly increased. He continued to work in the interests of the Christians in India. Bruce established in Adelaide his own small farm growing potatoes and cut flowers all the while conducting interim ministries in churches without ministers. His building skills were again in demand. At an age of 90 years, he retired from ministry and became a property developer! He built a row of industrial units for lease reserving one to generate profits for the first of two financial trusts he established. These trusts have generated significant profits (at least $50.000 p.a.) to support many Christian enterprises, plus a young Indian Christian medical student at University with his University fees and living expenses. Recently he built a retirement home for Pat and himself, and donated the residual land on the property to Churches of Christ for further retirement units.
Pat and Bruce still have much to do. I pray for their good health. If you ever wonder what missionaries do in a developing country, this is a book of incredible human accomplishment and of God’s grace.
ONLY BY HIS GRACE. BRUCE V.COVENTRY. Peacock Publications. 2012 (No charge for this book. but please give a donation to Churches of Christ Global Mission Partners, P0,6454, Halifax St Adelaide SA.