- (fl. late 19th century)Indian evangelistDitt, an untutored pioneer evangelist in eastern India, is one of a few 19th-century native evangelists still remembered amid the host of western Protestant missionaries. He was a farmer and a member of the Chuhra caste, a lower caste whose members were not, for example, allowed to drink from wells belonging to recognized Hindus, Muslims, or sikhs, nor enter their places of worship. He was small of stature and lame in one leg. He could neither read nor write. He was about 30 years old when he encountered a Christian convert named Nattu. Ditt converted and accepted baptism.Living 40 miles from the nearest mission station, Ditt managed to convert four people within two months - his wife, his daughter, and two neighbors. He continued to witness among his neighbors and was soon recognized as a valued evangelist, and he was later supplied with a small salary so he could work full-time. Though unlettered, he mastered the Bible and Christian teachings and developed an ability to share the basics of the faith with his peers.Ditt's efforts inspired a mass movement in southeast Uttar Pradesh; the results of his work continue in several churches now operating in eastern India and Bangladesh. His story was recorded in a book by American Presbyterian missionary Andrew Gordon, Our India Mission (1886), one of the few books of the era to celebrate the native leadership developed by the missionaries of the period. Ditt was typical of such leadership, which greatly expanded the work initiated by Western missionaries and prepared the way for the rise of an indigenous ordained Protestant ministry in the next century.Further reading:■ Andrew Gordon, Our India Mission, 1855-1885 (Philadelphia: by author, 1886).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.