This is the story of one amazing man’s sacrifice for Christ, and yet most of us have never heard of him. His name was Robert De’ Nobili, and he was born into a family of nobility in 1577 in Tuscany, Italy. Being the eldest son, his family had many expectations for him, however, he rejected all of it, disguised himself, and fled to Naples where he trained in theology, joined the Society of Jesus, and was inspired by the stories of missionaries to Africa and Japan. He prepared himself for missions and was sent to India.
Months later, and after being shipwrecked, Nobili arrived in Goa, India in 1605. His superior challenged him to take the gospel into the interior of India. After doing so, he realized that European missionaries were dismissed as unclean and inferior by the upper caste people and they refused to engage in any conversation with him. So Nobili decided to become a Sannyasi (the 4th stage within Hinduism and a religious ascetic who has renounced the world by performing his own funeral and abandoning all claims to social or family standing) in order to reach all kinds of people. He gave up meat, and carried the walking stick and water jug used by Hindu monks. He mastered Sanskrit, Tamil, and Telugu to expound the Biblical truths to the people.
While his coworkers didn’t accept his methods of evangelism, Nobili was successful in bringing many people to the knowledge of Christ, including the upper caste of Brahmins. By 1610, there were 60 people who accepted Jesus and by 1656, Nobili won as many as 4000 souls for Christ. During that time he was imprisoned, and yet he overcame all such difficulties with patience and faith. He also translated several books on Christian doctrine into Sanskrit, Tamil, and Telugu. He died in 1656, but what a legacy he left!