India - Jeypore

At the DMS Board Meeting in Kolding 22 April 1931, East Jeypore was included in DMS as the third mission area together with South India and China.

Mission History Background

The history of the Jeypore Mission is closely interwoven with the war of 1864 (the Second Schleswig War) and the First World War (1914-18). The history therefore also deals with Schleswig/North Schleswig/South Jutland and the significance of this part of the country for Denmark in the years following 1864 and the Reunification of 1920.

Before 1864, there were Danish Mission circles in and around Aabenraa as well as in Northwestern Schleswig and Flensburg. After 1864, however, the circles disappeared and in the period of 1864-1924 there was hardly any connection between the DMS and Southern Jutland. Yet, interest in mission work continued in South Jutland where the Schleswig-Holstein Mission, also known as the Breklum Mission (founded on 19 September 1876 by Reverend Jensen in Breklum), sent two missionaries to West Jeypore in the Indian state of Orissa (Ernst Pohl, 1860-1935, and Hermann Bothmann, 1856-1920).

In 1886, the North Schleswig Inner Mission was founded by five parsons, and one of these, Reverend Bahnsen, became the chairman of the Breklum Mission in 1894. After this, there was an Inner Mission revival in North Schleswig, and interest in overseas mission work (‘the mission to the heathen’) grew strongly. In 1906, the North Schleswig Reverend Bracker succeeded Reverend Bahnsen as chairman of the Breklum Mission, now known as the North Schleswig Mission.

During the years 1900-12, several Southern Jutlanders were sent to the Breklum Mission field in India, among them Hans Larsen in 1900, Ole Jensen in 1906, Hans Toft in 1907, Rasmus Jørgensen in 1908, and Anders Andersen in 1912. The Breklum Mission strengthened Danish sympathies in North Schleswig through mission periodicals written in Danish (Vort Missionsblad, ‘Our Mission Magazine’, and Palmebladet, ‘The Palm Leaf’) and through the annual Mission Festival on Whit Tuesday in Tinglev (since 1904) as well as the annual course in mission work in Breklum.

The main mission work was carried out in West Jeypore and the adjacent ‘Telugu country’ (the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh) through the work of the American United Lutheran Church Mission in Guntur and Rajamundry (the ‘Guntur Mission’ since the 1840’s). Work in East Jeypore started later because of geographical and cultural differences between this area and West Jeypore: High mountain ranges separated the two territories, and the distribution of tribal people (among them the Khond tribe) to the east resulted in great language differences. In East Jeypore, the mission stations of Gunupur and Bissamcuttack were founded in 1900 and 1908 respectively.

Kathrine and Hans Toft with 6 children. Family photo from Denmark in 1932. (For several years missionaries in Jeypore, India, sent by The Breklum Mission, American Lutheran Church Mission, and from 1931 by Danish Missionary Society).

When the First World War broke out, India was temporarily closed to German companies, including mission companies (e.g. the Basel Mission, Leipziger and Breklum Missions). All the Breklum missionaries were interned in December 1914 and later sent home. There was great concern about the deserted mission field in Jeypore. The American Guntur Mission took over supervision of the Breklum mission area on the condition that the Breklum Mission would take over the work when the war had ended, and would refund the Guntur Mission its direct, work-related expenses. During the war years, however, the Guntur Mission was hard-pressed due to lack of manpower on the mission field.

The Toft-Andersen Mission

The discharged missionaries, Hans Toft and Anders Andersen, continued as parsons in North Schleswig and South Jutland, Reverend Toft in Lintrup-Hjerting Parish and Reverend Andersen in Arrild Parish. In 1918, the chairman of the Breklum Mission, Reverend Bracker, asked these two missionaries to contact the Danish Mission Society (DMS) concerning the possibility of sending them out as missionaries. This proposal was negotiated in the DMS Board in 1919, but the suggestion was turned down by the Council in Breklum. The Guntur Mission was pressing for an answer to the question of whether missionaries could be sent out as soon as possible to the deserted mission area in East Jeypore. After the Reunification of 1920, Toft and Andersen had become Danish citizens, and the Guntur Mission applied to the British-Indian government for entry permits for the two Danish missionaries. They were rejected entry, however, with reference to the Allies’ ban against opening the border to German companies before 1926. Negotiations in 1920 with the American Lutheran Church resulted in the approval of Toft and Andersen as missionaries in the American Guntur Mission. Formalities were not completed until 1924, after which Toft and Andersen were sent to East Jeypore with their families, their salaries and travel expenses covered by America. Pleased with this development, the Tinglev Assembly decided in August 1924 to found the North Schleswig ‘Committee in Aid of Toft and Andersen’s Mission Work’. Hereby, the Toft-Andersen Mission was established.

The families left for India in September 1924 together with a Danish teacher, Miss Adamine Smed (from Hurup in Thy). Her travel expenses and salary were paid by the Toft-Andersen Mission. She was to be the housemother for the missionary children who would go to the English school in Kodaikanal in South India. Miss Smed was also to teach the children Danish. The two Danish missionaries went to their old mission field in West Jeypore, and after some years they took over the supervision of the work at Gunupur and Bissamcuttack in East Jeypore.

The East Jeypore Mission and DMS

The American Church did not wish to keep the East Jeypore mission field, and in 1925 negotiations were held with the Toft-Andersen Mission Committee about forming an independent mission society that could take over the mission area. After the Reunification, there was a great wish among mission friends in South Jutland to form stronger ties with DMS. The Toft-Andersen Mission Committee and the DMS Board discussed the idea of letting the East Jeypore mission field become a third mission area under the auspices of DMS, after South India and China. The DMS Board was in favor of a union with the Toft-Andersen Mission, especially in order to promote the position of DMS in South Jutland and to prevent the formation of a new, independent Southern Jutland mission society. Uniting all mission friends was a noble Reunification task!

The DMS Board could not make the decision about a union until the question of establishing a new mission field had been presented to the Council, which is the highest authority of DMS. As DMS had severe economic problems during the years 1927-28, the time was not ripe to discuss the question at the Council Meeting of 1928. On the other hand, the DMS Board passed a declaration of intent, saying that it was desirable to merge the Toft-Andersen Mission in East Jeypore with the DMS, but that economic conditions ‘at the present time’ prevented the realization of this plan. It was pointed out that a possible independent East Jeypore Mission Society in Southern Jutland would receive support from DMS, for example through cooperation at joint meetings and by having a member of the DMS Board elected to the board of the East Jeypore Mission.

The Committee of the Toft-Andersen Mission then founded the East Jeypore Mission Society at a meeting on 12 March 1928 in Tinglev, with Hans Toft and Anders Andersen as missionaries. The chairman of DMS, Reverend Axel Busch, was elected to the board of the new mission society. Busch stated: Many of us hope that coope-ration can happen, and that in time a fusion between the East Jeypore Mission and our old Danish Mission Society will be possible (Dansk Missionsblad 1928, no. 16). The East Jeypore Mission published a small mission magazine called Den lille Missionsklokke (’The Little Mission Bell’, published in 4700 copies).

As mentioned earlier, the American Guntur Mission took over the Breklum Mission’s area of activity in Jeypore during the First World War, expecting the Breklum Mission to resume its work after the war. However, the Guntur Mission was not able to finalize its temporary work after the end of the war, because England did not lift the residence ban against German missionaries until 1926. In 1925, the American mission generously chose to renounce the debt which had been agreed upon in 1919 (reimbursement of the Guntur Mission’s expenses). The Breklum Mission replaced the American mission in West Jeypore, but could not manage to take over the entire Jeypore region. As mentioned earlier, the American mission had appointed the Toft-Andersen missionaries to East Jeypore in 1924. DMS implored the American mission to keep East Jeypore until this area could potentially be turned over to DMS in 1928. In Baltimore, the American mission issued a transfer document of the East Jeypore mission area, effective from 1 July 1928. The mission stations of Gunupur and Bissamcuttack were turned over to the East Jeypore Mission.

The inclusion of the East Jeypore Mission into DMS

At the DMS Board meeting in Kolding on 22 April 1931, the question of including the East Jeypore Mission into DMS as a third mission area alongside India and China was finally discussed. The board members of the East Jeypore Mission were all present. Again, the importance of South Jutland and the Reunification played a significant part in wanting a ‘union for spiritual reasons’. The decision was made to submit the matter to the Council Meeting in Aarhus on 9-10 September 1931. DMS pointed out that the East Jeypore Mission would become the third mission area of DMS, as it could not be joined with the South Indian mission field in the ‘Tamil country’. The distance to this was too great, and the people of East Jeypore and their languages were very different from the people of the South.

Again, the ‘spiritual work of Reunification’ and its significance for South Jutland was stressed during the consideration of the case at the Council Meeting. Representatives from both DMS and Southern Jutland circles gave their warm recommendation to the inclusion of the East Jeypore Mission into DMS: “[…] Usually, conditions out on the mission field are the reason behind the expansion. This is not the case with the inclusion of the East Jeypore Mission, however. Here, the opportunity has arisen because of domestic conditions due to the quite extraordinary effect of the Reunification. Back then, faithful brothers and sisters were accepted into the Danish congregation; now, by including this Southern Jutland mission, we are helping to accomplish the spiritual Reunification of 1920.” (Reverend Lindenburg, minutes from the Council Meeting, September 1931. Dansk Missionsblad 1931, no. 38). The assembly rose in full acceptance of the inclusion of the East Jeypore Mission into the DMS field of activity as of 1 January 1932. Most of the activities in the mission area of East Jeypore did not begin until after World War II – i.e. when several missionaries were sent out from 1946 and onwards (see below).

East Jeypore, Orissa, India. Procession of pastors and evangelists at the Rayagada Church Inauguration, October 1955.

The Jeypore Evangelical-Lutheran Church

The Jeypore Church was founded in 1964 by joining the two churches of East and West Jeypore. East Jeypore became a deanery in the Jeypore Evangelical-Lutheran Church as a DMS area of responsibility. The church activities included evening classes in villages, adult courses and two boarding houses in Rayagada and Gunupur (for pupils at municipal schools) as well as a home in Gunupur for widows and other disadvantaged women. In Bissamcuttack, the Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack has been run since 1954, founded by DMS Medical Missionary Lis Madsen.

East Jeypore, Rayagada District, India. All the boys of Gunupur Hostel, April 1972. At the back: Hostel Leader, Rev. Bancha Nidhi Mohanty.

The three mission stations in East Jeypore

GUNUPUR – Missionary Bothmann started work in Gunupur in 1900, but found his lack of knowledge of the Oriya language to be a hindrance and therefore applied for transfer in 1907. He was replaced in Gunupur (1907-14) by Missionary Leuckfeld who spoke both Telugu and Oriya and was therefore able to extend the mission work to both population groups. In the years after 1928, Missionary Anders Andersen took over Gunupur and the surrounding mission area – from 1 January 1932 as a DMS missionary.

Anders Andersen (1889-1981) has been a central figure in the Jeypore mission history (see above). In addition to his evangelical work he taught at theological seminaries, but he is especially known for his translation work. He translated hymns, as well as the Old and the New Testament, into Oriya.

East Jeypore, India, Missionary Kaethe Andersen teaching at the porch, Gunupur. Photo 1974.

From 1950, the mission work at Gunupur was continued by his daughter Kæthe (Katharina) Andersen (1917-2018). Kaethe Andersen was a DMS missionary from 1947 to 1985 but decided to stay on in East Jeypore after her retirement. (She died 100 years old in September 2018).

Missionary Nurse Stinne Korsgaard (1915-1992) was sent out from 1946 to 1976. The first eight years  she was involved in women’s work in Rayagada and from 1960 onwards in Gunupur where she served in an outpatient clinic, among other things.

Reverend Johannes (Johs) Andersen (1923-1994) was sent out from 1949 to 1966 together with his wife, Mrs Inger Andersen. Johs Andersen worked for short periods of time in both Rayagada and Bissamcuttack, but had his longest spell as a station missionary and manager of the boys’ hostel in Gunupur.

BISSAMCUTTACK – In Bissamcuttack, mission work was started through the help of two native employees, appointed by the Breklum Mission in about 1906. In 1905, a piece of land had been purchased in Bissamcuttack in preparation for building a mission station. The house was not completed until 1910. The purpose of establishing a mission station in Bissamcuttack was, among other things, to gain a better foothold for mission work in East Jeypore. At the same time, the construction of the railway through East Jeypore was underway. There were great difficulties in carrying out this construction project in the very remote Bissamcuttack region.

During the few years before the outbreak of the First World War and the discharge of German missionaries, there was a quick turnover of missionaries. Around 1 July 1928, Missionary Hans J. Toft (1880-1934) moved to Bissamcuttack in order to revive the mission work there. Toft was on home leave from 1931 to 1933. Before his journey home a new missionary, Johs. Larsen, had arrived in Bissamcuttack. Most of his time was spent on language studies, but he managed to supervise the work of evangelists and the small congregation in Budumi. In 1933, Larsen came down with ’blackwater fever’ (malaria), which nearly cost him his life. He therefore had to resign from mission service in 1935. Missonary Toft returned to Bissamcuttack in 1933 without his family. He was looking forward to getting his wife and youngest child out in 1935, but he died suddenly from blood poisoning on 24 November 1934, at the hospital in Vizagapatnam. He was buried on the following day at the Waltair Cemetery.

The Missionary couple August and Karen-Margrethe Toft with children: Niels and Bodil. Photo 1946 in Denmark, ahead of departure to East Jeypore, India.

Reverend August Toft (1912-1989) and Mrs Karen Margrethe Toft were sent out from 1946 to 1958. Their work was mainly based in Bissamcuttack where August Toft was station missionary. August Toft was born in India as the son of Missionary Hans J. Toft (see above).

Missionary Nurse Else Lose Andersen (1919-2006) was sent out from 1947 to 1960. From 1950 to 1956 she served in an outpatient clinic at Bissamcuttack and 1957 to 1959 at the Kotagiri Medical Fellowship Hospital in the Nilgiri Hills of South India.

Dr Lis Madsen (1913-1991) was sent out by DMS from 1953 to 1976. She founded the Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack in 1954. For more on her and the hospital’s history, see below.

Johanne Nørnberg (1920-2017) finished her nursing training in 1945. Inspired by Lis Madsen’s hospital work in Bissamcuttack, she volunteered to be sent out by DMS in 1969. She served as the nursing superintendent at Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack from 1970 to 1974.

Dr Kai Erland Pedersen (1936-) qualified as a doctor in 1965. Together with his wife, Mrs Ida Pedersen, he was sent to Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack from 1967 to 1973.

Ellen Blæsbjerg (1936-) finished her training as a hospital laboratory technician in 1960 and was sent out in 1962 to Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack. Here she worked from 1962 to 1965, after which she moved to hospital work at Arogyavaram in South India.

East Jeypore, Gunupur, India. DMS missionaries, left to right: Stinne Korsgaard Pedersen, Lis Madsen, Agnes Hertz and Kæthe Andersen. Photo 1974.

RAYAGADA – The mission work was originally divided between the Breklum Mission and a Canadian Baptist Mission. During the First World War the work fell apart, and in the end the Rayagada Mission Station was left without any missionaries. Instead of selling to the government or to the Indian Railway Department, which had activities in the area, the Canadian mission preferred to transfer the mission station to a mission society, so that the mission work could be resumed. The Canadian mission therefore accepted an offer from DMS, and on 1 April 1934 the whole property was handed over to DMS. Hans Toft was given supervision of Rayagada, but he died in 1934, as mentioned earlier. Reverend Ole Jensen, who had been sent out in 1906 by the Breklum Mission, but was sent home from India because of the First World War, had joined DMS again as a missionary. He took over Rayagada and Bissamcuttack in August 1935.

The translation work in East Jeypore also involved Missionary Agnes Hertz (1919-1999). In 1950 she was sent out to Rayagada where, among other things, she translated hymns and parts of the Bible into the tribal language Kuwi. She was also a teacher at the Jensen Theological College and a manager of the Rayagada Girls’ Hostel. Agnes Hertz served from 1950 to 1989.

Student girls from Rayagada, East Jeypore, India, showing their adoption certificates and letters, received from sponsors in Denmark. Photo 1976.

Reverend Ingvar Tousgaard (1909-1993) and Mrs Edith (Nille) Tousgaard were sent out from 1948 to 1964. Their work was mainly based in Rayagada where Ingvar Tousgaard served as a station missionary.

Ellen Thinggaard (1921-?) was a trained laboratory technician. She was sent to Rayagada from 1950 to 1956, but left DMS in 1956 due to health issues.

Missionary Nurse Gerda Kobberøe (1929-) was sent to Rayagada in 1958, and from 1960-70 she worked partly at Rayagada Girls’ Hostel, and partly at the outpatient clinic. She left DMS in 1970.

Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack (CHB)

Lis Madsen (1913-1991) travelled to East Jeypore in 1953 as a DMS medical missionary. She had been a general practitioner in Aalborg and sold her practice in order to follow a calling to build a hospital in Bissamcuttack, Orissa. The hospital was founded in 1954 on the piece of land belonging to the mission on the outskirts of Bissamcuttack. The hospital grew in size from about 30 beds in the 1950’s to 75 beds in the 1970’s and 150 beds in the 1990’s, and today it is a modern hospital with over 200 beds. In 1975, Lis Madsen turned over the mana-gement of the hospital to the Indian surgeon, Dr Virendra Kumar Henry (1933-2015), who was the medical superintendent at the hospital from 1975 to 1998.

East Jeypore, Orissa, India. The Medical Director, Dr Virendra Kumar Henry and Head Nurse Nancy Henry at Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack (CHB). Photo 1980.

From 1975, DMS reduced the financial support gradually over 4-5 years in accordance with the wish for the hospital to become self-supporting. Organizationally, Lis Madsen had the hospital registered as a self-governing institution, its management linked to the Jeypore Evangelical-Lutheran Church. The hospital constitution is characterized as being ‘church-related, but not church-governed’. The governing body of the hospital consists of 15 members, and the chairman usually belongs to the health profession. The church is represented by the bishop who is an ex officio member. The church board nominates four persons, of whom two are Christians not employed by the church, and at least one person is chosen among tribal people. Two members, one doctor and one nurse, are elected by the Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI). Three members are elected by the officially registered Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack Society at its general assembly. These members are chosen because of their profession, which is considered to be important to the hospital (e.g. lawyer, admini-strator, education expert, medical or nursing experience etc.). One member is elected by the UELCI (United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India). Finally, the following four persons are ex officio members of the governing body: the Medical Superintendent, the Nursing Superintendent and the Administrator, all employed by the CHB, as well as the Medical Superintendent at Christian Hospital Nowrangapur.

From a historic perspective, the CHB is an interesting example of a mission hospital which has survived, and which continues to contribute to development and poverty reduction in a tribal population in great need of help. In contrast to CHB, other mission hospitals were taken over and governed by churches, resulting in unprofessional management. Several of these hospitals are now at risk of closure.

East Jeypore, Orissa, South India. Dr Lis Madsen examining a patient at Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack (CHB).

In 1976, Lis Madsen continued (unpaid) with development of the Community Health Service (primary health care) among tribal people in villages around Bissamcuttack. She herself had moved to Bandaguda, a village 7 km from the hospital. Her work also contributed to research into causes of disease (especially causes of anaemia) in collaboration with the Community Health Department (CHD) at Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack. Here, the work of Lis Madsen became the foundation for MITRA, Madsen’s Institute for Tribal and Rural Advancement, which is currently active in 53 villages, covering a tribal population of about 13,000 people. Lis Madsen returned to Denmark in 1988 and died here on 22 December 1991.

Birthe Frimodt-Møller
November 2017

References – in Danish:

Dansk Missionsblad 1924, p. 493-494, Jeypur-missionen.

Dansk Missionsblad 1925, p. 590, Jeypur-missionen. Tyske missioner i Indien: p. 74, 184-186, 279-281, 536.

Dansk Missionsblad 1928, p. 249-251 af A. Busch. P. 439: Bestyrelsesbeslutning.

Dansk Missionsblad 1930, p. 533-535, 538-541, Øst-Jeypore Missionen.

Dansk Missionsblad 1931, p. 322-326, Jeypore-Missionen. P. 607-615: Repræsentantskabsmødet 9-10. sept.1931, Aarhus.

Dansk Missionsblad 1932, p. 5-8. O. Jensen: DMS’ nye missionsmark og nye missionærer. P. 9-13, A. Andersen: Øst-Jeypur. P. 589-593 and p. 606-607, A. Andersen: Fra arbejdet i Øst-Jeypore.

Dansk Missionsblad 1982, no. 6-7, p. 34-35: DMS’ Arbejdsområder, Jeypore.

Andersen: Øst- Jeypore. Det Danske Missionsselskab, 1936. I hovedkommission hos O. Lohse.

Lis Madsen: Landsbylæge i Indien. DMS. Hellerup 1969.

Dansk Missionsblad 1977, no. 8, p.10-13. Steen Møllgaard Andersen: I lommelygtens skær – Hvor er Lis nu?

Dansk Missionsblad 1982, no. 6-7, p.34-35: DMS’ Arbejdsområder, Jeypore.

Personal information from Dr Johnny Oommen, Head of Community Health Department at Christian Hospital Bissamcuttack (2017).


View more photos from India – Jeypore here


Birthe Frimodt-Møller. (1940). Born and raised in South India. MBBS 1971 and thesis in community medicine 1982. Over the years several study visits to India. From 2012 voluntary coworker in the Danmission Photo Archive

Rev. dato: 25. September 2018
Rettelser eller tilføjelser sendes til