This article will take a slightly different turn than most of my others. Rather than writing a short biography or mission, I will just highlight a few of the numerous adventures that Dr. Chamberlain experienced while a missionary to the Telugus in India during his 48 years of service from 1860 to his death in 1908. I will post them one at a time, so stay tuned for more!
The Snake Killers
After his long walk through the forest to reach the village, Dr. Chamberlain was weary. A short – or perhaps even a long break would be much appreciated. He asked the leaders of the village if there was some secluded spot of the village where he would be allowed to set up his tent to rest for a while. They not only had a spot for him on the outskirts of the village, but they gave Dr. Chamberlain free use of a newly constructed hut. It was quite roomy, and in a quiet, peaceful vicinity. Dr. Chamberlain would have time to rest his aching limbs for a while.
Well pleased with this arrangement, he lay down on his back on the floor and began reading his Bible. Once he had read for a little while, he set his Bible down on the floor contentedly, refreshed at least in spirit if not in body yet. However, he soon became aware that he had not been alone in the hut. In fact, the other occupant of the hut was still there, dangling from the rafters with its long tail. The snake was now only a few inches away from Dr. Chamberlain’s head, and was about to strike. In an incredible feat of agility he jumped sideways while still on his back, a maneuver which Chamberlain did not know was even anatomically possible. He was not a moment too soon. As it was, he only escaped being bitten by a hair’s breadth. Quickly, he ran outside and snatched up the spit that he used for roasting meat in the jungle from the cart where it laid. Charging back into the hut, he speared the snake onto the rafter that it grasped. Chamberlain had to struggle to hold the spit in place to keep the thrashing snake from freeing itself and biting him. Realizing that the snake would soon overpower him and escape if he did not act promptly, he called for his servant to bring him a bamboo cane, which was hastily brought. With vigorous, heavy strokes, he soon succeeded in killing the snake. Glancing out of the doorway he noticed the village watchman standing outside, who quickly ran toward the center of the village to notify the authorities.
Dr. Chamberlain knew that this could not be good since snakes were worshiped here, and he had killed a large one, over ten feet long. While he was considering what his best course of action to take would be, the village leaders approached his doorway. But, the greeting he received was quite unexpected. They carried platters of their most exquisite and delectable meals. Once they reached the hut, they bowed low to Dr. Chamberlain and presented their gifts to him, sincerely thanking him for killing the snake. It had been oppressing them for a long time, killing many of their cattle, and even one of their children. They had been afraid of killing the snake, afraid that wrath would be poured out upon them by other snakes if they did.
Dr. Chamberlain recognized that this was a great opportunity to share the story of Christ with them. He then told them about a snake that was more wicked than this snake, or any other snake there had ever been. It had kept many people in bondage, but Jesus Christ, the Son of God came and died to defeat the snake and set men free, then rose again to show that he had defeated all evil, and even death itself. The snake was the devil, and had them all in bondage, but all who would believe in Christ would be set free from him, and would not be enslaved to sin any longer. After hearing this, many of the people in the village believed in Christ, and devoted themselves to him.
Dr. Chamberlain was pleased. This mission had been successful, since through God he had killed one snake and helped in a small way at least to defeat another more terrible snake that oppressed this village.
"Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God." ~William Carey