[From the Lutheran Kalendar]
Lars Olsen Skrefsrud was born in Norway in 1840. He wanted to become a postor, but his family was very poor, and after minimal education he was trained as a coppersmith. Unhappy with his life, he began to drink heavily. With some drinking companions, he robbed a bank when he was nineteen years old. He was caught, refused to name the other robbers, and was sent to jail for four years. A girl he had known, Anna Olsum, visited him in jail and had faith in him.
In jail, he began to read religious books. After a talk with a visiting pastor, he dedicated himself to study to become a pastor. He was released in 1861 when he was 21, and went to the Gossner Missionary Society in Berlin, which accepted him as a trainee. He worked, studied, fasted (living for the next two years almost entirely on bread, cheese, and water) and prayed (attending church services daily).
In 1863, he left for India, where he joined the Baptist E C Johnson to work among the Santals of northern India. Anna Onsum joined him a year later ad they wer married. The first converts were baptized in a little over a year, and when Skrefsrud died about 45 years later there were about 20,000 baptized Santal Christians. The Santals were a tribe oppressed by their neighbors. He appealed to the British government to protect them. They were illiterate. He gave them a written language, and translated the Gospels into it, and wrote hymnals and textbooks. He founded schools to teach them farming, the care of animals, carpentry and the like. His aim was an indigenous church, with its own language and clergy, retaining the native culture.
He died 11 December 1910, and is buried in Santalistan. The Christian community he founded there continues to flourish.
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Lars Olsen Skrefsrud, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the Santal people of northern India. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land heralds and evangelists of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Lars Olsen Skrefsrud, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the Santal people of northern India. Raise up in this and every land heralds and evangelists of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.