10 - Among the Thugs



by Margaret du Plessis


On Wednesday 12 March 1884 the War Cry was published and sold in London for the usual price – One Halfpenny. The front page must surely have caught the eye of the readers when they saw a major heading in the fourth column ‘INDIA’. For eighteen months Major Frederick Tucker and his small group of pioneers had been sending news and messages direct to General William Booth. Many of these were published in the London War Cry for the interest of those who were praying and also raising funds for India. Mrs Major Louisa Mary Tucker was hardly known when she left London with her husband to start the work in India. However her zeal and dedication to evangelism were quickly recognised both in India and abroad. This article reveals a gifted and courageous Louisa Mary.


Many a young cheek has paled at the name “Thug”[1]. Mine has often when a child. “Here they come,” said the devoted young missionary, as they came from the Jabalpur Jail, while we waited for them under a wide-spreading Banian (Banyan) tree surrounded by a high platform of stone. “Will you mount the steps?” On came a number of miserable-looking old men, the clanking of whose chains fell sadly on my sorrowful heart. They looked at me and whispered to each other quietly as they all gathered round, wondering at my “chaddar”[2].  For years they had been kept as prisoners, having been captured on the chain of hills along the country side and so stopped in their careers of cruelty and bloodshed.

How many innocent people have been surprised and murdered by those withered hands – souls long forgotten by all but themselves and God. From a full heart the story of God’s love in divining a way to bring back his “banished ones” is told. Like a springing fountain the sweet, joyful news of Salvation for sinners comes bubbling up, while the speaker’s heart dances for joy. God loves you, and you, although you have been so wicked and cruel. “Will you let Him wash away all your crimes for Jesus’ sake?  Although He Hates the Sin -  He Loves the Sinner. Jesus has more than suffered for all you have done.” Eagerly each bend forward nodding and smiling with approval, for a murderer can smile. Did Satan hinder the message? Of course he did, he always does. An old man began thus, “I am a sinner, but am suffering for the sins of former birth” – alluding to their doctrine of transmigration of souls.

“Let all that go! Will you be freed now by the death of Jesus?”

“I am God!” said he again.

“That cannot be, for God is holy.” 

The most sorrowful sight was that of the women and children, the former sad and hopeless looking, the latter, bright and playful. “Lord, visit not the sins of the fathers upon these,” I whispered, as (bishoplike) laying my hands on all, I claimed them for Jesus in faith. Turning away amid the laughter of children, the chattering of the women, the clanking of fetters, and the echoing shrieks of long buried victims, came the blessed word like a peal of silver bells – “Many shall come from the East.”

Reader, you know the rest. Will you, “a child of the Kingdom” be cast out, while some of those shall sit down in it? You have but to ‘forget God,’ live for self, keep your heart closed and your lips locked against Him, and it shall be more tolerable in the day of judgement for those “Thugs” than for you.

Listen! “From all your filthiness and all your idols I will cleanse you.”

“Lord, I will be cleansed.”



[1]   ‘thug’ – applied to a robber and assassin of a peculiar class, who sally forth in a gang

[2]   chaddar’ or ‘chudder’ the ample sheet of cloth of any kind worn as a mantle by women in North India. Source - The Anglo-Indian Dictionary by Hobson-Jobson – first published 1886, Wordsworth Ed. Ltd, Great Britain.