C.F. Swartz

C.F. Swartz was born on 26th October, 1726 in Brandenburg, Germany. George Swartz was his father. Before his mother’s death, she got a vow from her husband that her son was committed to the Lord and her son should be given necessary training to become the Lord’s servant. Accordingly his father taught young boy C.F. Swartz about self-denial and maintaining simple life. When C.F. Swartz was attacked with deadly diseases, he took vows to dedicate his life to the Lord.

In the year 1746, C.F. Swartz went to Halle to join in a Grammar School by staying at an orphanage. There he was nominated to assist in the evening prayer meetings. There Mr Herman Franke, Professor in Divinity guided and trained C.F. Swartz in this spiritual activity.

Meanwhile, Rev Benjamin Shultz who was serving as a missionary in Tamil Nadu was trying to print Tamil Bibles in Halle University. For helping this printing of Tamil Bibles in Halle University, C.F. Swartz was requested to learn Tamil. When C.F. Swartz was involved in this ministry, Prof Franke insisted Swartz to go to India as a missionary.

Missionary service in India

January 21, 1750 Swartz and his friends started journey by ship to India from England. This sea route journey was very difficult and much more dangerous. It took about 6 months to reach India from England. On 24th July 1750, Danish missionary Mr Viyedebrok accompanied C.F Swartz group to Tranquebar. C.F. Swartz got fully equipped to leave his home country and his father’s home land to win the souls for Christ.

If you want to spread the knowledge of the Gospel, the best way ahead is to start schools, which will be a touching point the young folks as well as public in general. This was the belief of C.F. Swartz. In 1762, he constructed a place for the stay of catechists, a small chapel adjoining a school. In 1784, Mr Sullivan who is a friend of Mr C.F. Swartz gave a suggestion that schools should be started in every district. Based on this, Bishop Heber High School was started in Tiruchirapalli.

Mr Ayyadurai Solomon who was a teacher in Swartz had a more mesmerizing influence on Mr Abdul Kalam, former President of India. Mr Solomon taught him usage of imparting good education.

After learning Tamil language, C F Swartz spent almost 5 years in reading the Indian classical history. He used to quote from the famous books which were so close to the Tamil people and Tamil ancient history. By doing this, he used to attract the minds of Tamil people. Moreover, he learnt languages of Portuguese, English, Urdu and Parsis.

By establishing foundation of the churches in Tamil Nadu, this pioneer missionary visited and served the Lord in Tranquebar, Tiruchirapalli, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli and Sri Lanka for 48 years.

In May 1762, C F Swartz got an opportunity to go to Thanjavur. He got permission to enter into the King’s Palace in Thanjavur. Though the King was not present there, all the officials of the palace listened to the Gospel message shared by C F Swartz. He answered various questions posed by the officials of the palace. Instead of going back to Tranquebar, he wanted to go to Tiruchirapalli. During those days, the Fort in Tiruchirapalli was an important stronghold under the control of Arcot Nawab.

In the year 1769, Swartz had very close friendship with Karnatic Nawab Mohammed Ali and King of Thanjavur Duljaji.

Swartz with Prince Sarboji

Never there had been good relationship with Amir Singh and the King of Thanjavur Duljaji. When Amir Singh was nominated to protect the country and Sarfoji, he started to torture the widows of the former king. Swartz told this to the Government. Hearing this, the King got angry. Swartz was called out to see a big dark room. There he saw the small boy Sarfoji who was seated under a small light. Immediately Swartz comforted that small boy Sarfoji and enquired whether anyone is there to teach Sarfoji. Immediately Sarfoji lifted up his head and told that since I got no opportunity to learn, I know not even a single letter. Then as per the advice of Swartz, Sarfoji learnt Tamil and English languages from a reputed teacher.

Very soon Sarfoji learnt the languages of Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Sanskrit, French, German, Greek, Dutch and Latin and in the year 1798, he became the King of Thanjavur. He was one of the greatest Kings who ruled Thanjavur.

In the same year 1798 on 2nd February, Sarfoji wrote a letter to Kerick Society that Swartz has become seriously ill. Just a year back, Swartz had big swelling in his left leg and this gave tremendous pain during his last times. On Feb 13th 1798, this loving and good man Swartz went to be with the Lord in glory. Those who were waiting for him in his garden were crying with tears saying that he was a very good teacher, good in giving consolation to others, good protector, one who wishes other’s welfare, good counsellor and the one who intercedes with God in prayer for others. And the people surrounding him were totally grief stricken.

Sarfoji who was King of Thanjavur was full of tears and he came to the tomb. Then the King Sarfoji wrote the following lines, inscripted those words on the stone which was on the top of his tomb and put it in the alter of the chapel situated in the Mission Garden.

“You are man of steadfastness, humbleness, having good wisdom, straightforwardness, holiness and without any hypocrisy. Moreover, you were the father of the fatherless, caretaker of the widows and you consoled every person at their distress and troublesome period. You were the radiant light to those who were in darkness, you were showing only the right and justice to others and did the same to others. You were the Father to the kings, the general public and to me also and indeed you were a real blessing to everyone. You were fit to receive all these honours and I pray with utmost honour to you.