Reverend Dr. John Scudder, Sr (September 3, 1793 - January 13, 1855), was born in Freehold, New Jersey. He was the son of Joseph and Maria Scudder. Joseph Scudder was a lawyer. John Scudder was trained at the College of New Jersey and graduated in 1811. He graduated from the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1813. He had a very successful medical practice in New York City.
He was visiting a patient and saw a tract on a table which captivated his attention. He read the pamphlet entitled "The Conversion of the World or The Claims of Six Hundred Million and the Ability and Duty of the Churches Respecting Them." After reading the pamphlet, he became convinced that he was called to become a missionary in response to the command of Christ to go into all the world and preach the Gospel and heal the sick. Dr. Scudder decided to take the gospel of Jesus Christ and healing to those people who have not heard the Good News. He became convinced that God had called him to serve Him through medical missions.
In 1819 Dr. Scudder and his wife sailed to Ceylon as missionaries for the Dutch Reformed church, under the American Board of Comissioners for Foreign Missions.
The "Indus" was a boat on which the first revival took place enroute to India. Several of the officers and crew confessed their faith in Jesus Christ. Scudder was ordained upon reaching Ceylon.
In 1821, he established a hospital in Jaffnapatam and in the following year a college was created. Dr. Scudder founded the first Western Medical Mission in Asia at Panditeripo in Jaffna District which was part of the American Ceylon Mission. He served there as a clergyman and physician for nineteen years. He became the first American medical missionary to India.
He became the physician in chief of a large hospital which he established. Scudder was exceptionally successful in the treatment of both cholera and yellow fever. Dr. Scudder was the founder of several churchs and native schools in India.
In 1824 a revival broke out under his preaching but in 1836 he was transferred by the American Board to Madras which is on the eastern shores of Peninsular India.
He started a mission in 1836 at Madras with Reverend Winslow to establish a printing press to create tracts and the Scriptures in the Tamil language. He spent a great deal of time printing portions of the Gospel in Tamil which he distributed among the villages. His residence was at Chintadrepettah (Chintadripet).
Dr. Shudder was indefatigable in his desire to distribute Christian tracts throughout India. He became acquainted with a Christian woman in Madura who became a Christian through reading a tract which had been given to her fifteen years before as a member of the Jaffna Mission in Ceylon. The tract which she received and read was titled: "The Loss of the Soul." He records in his personal journal that a tract titled "The Blind Way" was the pamphlet which he chose to distribute most often.
Furthermore, he published "Leters from the East" (Boston, 1833); "Appeal to Youth in Behalf of the Heathen" (1846); "Letters to Pious Young Men" (1846); "Provision for Passing over Jordan" (New York, 1852), and various tracts and papers published in the "Missionary Hearld." The tracts were an accompaniment to his preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of India.
The Arcot mission was established under his care and began to grow significantly.
He returned to American between 1842 and 1846 in the interest of the missionary work of India and to regain his health.
Upon returning to India in 1847, he was stationed at Madura where he gave medical aid to the Mission at the request of the Board although he was not appointed a member of the board. He returned to his mission in Madras in 1849 where he continued to labor until his death. he took a trip to Wynberg, Cape of Good Hope, Africa where he died of apoplexy on January 13, 1855. Reverend Scudder and his wife Harriet had six surviving sons and two daughters who continued his work in South India.
All of his children became medical missionaries serving the people of India.
Reverend Dr. John Schudder, Sr. and his wife Harriet began more than 1,100 combined years of Christian medical service by forty-two members of four generations of their family as missionaries in India.