Monday, August 13, 2007

Mission Thoughts on Monday - August 13, 2007

Henry Nott, the consecrated bricklayer, who, by his heroic sufferings and unwearied labors, opened the door of Tahiti and Polynesia to the sublime tidings of a matchless text: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

I love missions and enjoy reading lots of missionary stories, this past week at a used clothing store I found a little paperback for $ .25 – Gaints of the Missionary Trail.

Reading the story of Henry Nott, missionary to Tahiti, I was reminded of our own society. The story speaks of a pagan society of ‘theivery’, ‘murder of children’ and ‘acts of buffonnery’. As today, John 3:16 can and will make a difference, we must proclaim its truths.

Here is part of the story –

The most powerful man in Tahiti was Pomare. Because of his advanced age, he had given the title of king to his son, Otu, but he was still the real ruler. Pomare was a man of powerful physique and of aggressive, dominating personality. By dint of his ferocious courage, he had succeeded in bringing all of Tahiti under one ruler and had extended his sway over a number of other islands.

Pomare was very friendly with the missionaries and often came to see them. He always brought a voracious appetite and regularly stayed to eat. His favorite missionary friend, Henry Nott, watched him devour a quantity of vegetables and fruit, two chickens and two pounds of pork at one meal. One of his attendants always fed him; his dignity would not permit him to feed himself. The missionary was amused "to see so stout a man, perhaps the largest in the whole island, fed like a cuckoo."

One day Pomare and his wife, Iddeah, came for a visit, perched as usual on men's shoulders. Several of his attendants carried a large chest. When asked why he brought it, he smilingly replied, "To hold the presents you will be pleased to give me." He specifically asked for twenty axes, ten shirts, sixteen mirrors, twelve scissors, one hundred nails, ten combs, one cast iron pot, one razor and one blanket. When these had been given, he looked around and pointed out a number of other things he especially craved.

The natives were persistent in demanding presents. When the supplies of the missionaries ran low and they ceased to give out gifts with a lavish hand, they were robbed of things they desperately needed and which could not be replaced. Thievery was extremely common; in fact, it was a recognized part of the religion of the Tahitians. One of their gods, Hiro, was the protector of thieves. When they went out to steal, they promised Hiro part of the booty in exchange for his assistance.

The missionaries found a class of people called areois. They blackened their bodies with charcoal and dyed their faces red. They had no occupation but dancing, boxing, wrestling and indulging in acts of buffoonery. They made it a practice to kill their children as soon as they were born. Pomare's chief wife, Iddeah, was a member of this society and had killed three of her children subsequent to the arrival of the missionaries.

Soon after reaching Tahiti, Henry Nott and the missionary company conducted the first Christian service ever held on the shores of that dark island. It was Sunday, March 19, 1797. The meeting was held under cover of some enormous trees. The king and a vast concourse of people were present. Pomare said he had been "dreaming about the Book of God which the missionaries had brought" and was eager to hear its message. What was the text used by the missionary speaker on this auspicious occasion? It was John 3:16. As its majestic syllables were translated by Peter, the Swede, and its momentous truths explained, Pomare nodded his head in approbation and exclaimed, "My ty! My ty! Very good! Very good!" And this sentiment was echoed by a host of dark-skinned savages.

"We are an ignorant people and this message is good for us," said the king.

“John 3:16 in the only sure and efficacious remedy for the ignorance and superstitions of mankind,” said Henry Nott.

“My ty! Very good!” agreed the people.

This week, let us be about sharing the ‘good news’ of John 3:16.

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