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Scripture Memory:Praise.
VERSE : Psalm 9:1 “I will priase thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.”

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

19 January 2014
8 am & 1045am Worship Service:
Eld Chin Hoong Chor (I Will Sing Praise to God, Ps 9:1-20)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Calvin Loh (The Betrayal of Christ, Ps 41:9)

26 January 2014
8 am & 1045am Worship Service:
Rev Colin Wong (Relying on God, Ps 118:5-14)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Isaac Ong (The Sufferings of Christ, Ps 22:1,7-8,16,18;)

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THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONS (Part 4)

(Extracted from Jerusalem to Irian Jaya – A Biographical History of Christian Missions, by Ruth A. Tucker)

John Eliot

One of the first and probably the greatest of all missionaries to the American Indians was John Eliot, often referred to as the “Apostle to the Indians.” It was not until 1644 when Eliot was 40 years old that he seriously began his missionary endeavor. There was no Macedonian call. There was no solemn commission. There was simply a need, and he was available.

His first step was language study – two years of mental anguish learning the Massachusetts dialect of the Algonquin tongue, an unwritten language composed of guttural sounds and voice inflections. This difficult task was aided by Cochenoe, a young Indian captured in the Pequot War. Cochenoe served as Eliot’s teacher and also accompanied him as an interpreter and assistant for a number of years.

In the fall of 1646 Eliot delivered his first sermon to a group of Indians who lived nearby. It was the first crucial test of his ability to effectively communicate, and he longed for success. Despite his efforts, his message fell on deaf ears; the Indians “regarded it not” nor gave “heed unto it, but were weary and despised what I said.”

A month later Eliot preached again, this time to a larger group of Indians who congregated at Waban’s wigwam. The response was greatly improved. The Indians listened intently for more than an hour, and when the sermon was over they asked questions – questions Eliot later described as “curious, wonderful, and interesting.” Eliot answered some of the questions, but then with perceptive missionary psychology he closed the question time and “resolved to leave them with an appetite.” He had his first taste of success, and he “departed with many welcomes.”

Two weeks after this encouraging meeting Eliot returned, accompanied by two pastors and a layman (as he had been on his first visits). More curiosity-seeking Indians turned out and the meeting was profitable. Following the opening prayer, Eliot drilled the children in recitation of catechism, and of course, the parents learned while they listened. He then preached on the Ten Commandments and on Christ’s love, to which some Indians responded with tears and weeping. Again there were questions that followed – the most difficult of which to answer was, “Why has no white man ever told us these things before?”

As the weeks and months passed, some Indians were converted and noticeable changes were seen in their lives. A report published less than a year after Eliot’s first meeting documented the following progress: “The Indians have utterly forsaken their powwows. They have set up morning and evening prayers in their wigwams. They not only keep the Sabbath themselves, but have made a law to punish those who do not. Whoever profanes it must pay 20 shillings. They begin to grow industrious and are making articles to sell all the year long. In winter, brooms, stoves, eelpots, baskets; in spring they sell cranberries, fish, strawberries. The women are learning to spin.”

One of the first concerns of the Indians as well as of Eliot was to have an area of land specifically designated for the Christian Indians. Eliot’s rationale was that the new converts needed to be separated from those who had no interest in the gospel. He made a general appeal in their behalf to the General Court, and the Indians were granted several thousand acres 18 miles southwest of Boston in an out-of-the-way corner of the Natick territory. The Indians raised no objections to moving, and soon they established Natick, commonly referred to as a “praying town.”

There were problems in establishing Natick, particularly from white settlers who resented the Indians’ permanent residence among them, but Eliot periodically petitioned the Massachusetts General Court for more grants of land, and by 1671 he had gathered more than 1,100 Indians into 14 “praying towns.”

Eliot was interested in more than professions of faith. He sought spiritual maturity in his Indian followers, and in his view that could be accomplished only if the Indians could read and study the Bible in their own language. Therefore, in 1649, three years after his first sermon at Waban’s wigwam, amid a hectic schedule, he began his translation work. His first completed project was a catechism printed in 1654. The following year the Book of Genesis and the Gospel of Matthew were published; and in 1661 the New Testament was completed, with the Old Testament following two years later.

As the years passed and as the praying towns grew in numbers and the Christian Indians grew spiritually, Eliot concentrated more and more on training Indian leaders. By 1660 24 Indians had been trained as evangelists to minister to their own people, and several churches had ordained Indian ministers. Schools were established in every town, and the Indians were seemingly adapting well to European culture.

On the surface the future looked bright, but time was running out. Decades of European encroachment on Indian lands could not go unchecked indefinitely. The land encroachment, dishonest bargaining, and ill treatment of the Indians were bound to bring retaliation. There was unrest among the Indians of the Northeast, and even the praying Indians would not escape the horror looming on the horizon – the bloodiest war in American colonial history.

Although much of Eliot’s work was ravaged by the devastation of war, his place as a missionary statesman of the first rank was not blemished. His example as an evangelist and Bible translator paved the way for further missionary efforts among the Indians, and his influence in the founding of the SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel), a missionary arm of the Anglican Church that actively worked in the American colonies, cannot be overestimated.

What was the secret behind Eliot’s exceptional life of service? What carried him through years of opposition, hardship, and disappointment? Three characteristics are worth noting: his unbending optimism, his ability to enlist the help of others, and his absolute certainty that God, not he, was saving souls and was in control of the bad times as well as the good.

David Brainerd

One of the most intriguing missionaries to the American Indians, and perhaps of all time, is David Brainerd, an heir of New England Puritanism and a product of the Great Awakening. Brainerd was a zealot. Bringing the gospel to scattered wandering tribes of Indians was his single mission. He spent his life for that cause. At the age of 29, after a mere five years of missionary work, he died as a result of his strenuous labors.

In September of 1739, at the age of 21 Brainerd enrolled at Yale College. It was a time of transition at Yale. When he first entered the school he was distressed by the religious indifference he saw around him, but the impact of George Whitefield and the Great Awakening soon made its mark, and the whole atmosphere changed. Prayer and Bible study groups sprang up overnight, usually to the displeasure of school authorities who were fearful of religious “enthusiasm.”

It was during his student days that he heard Ebenezer Pemberton deliver a stirring message about the opportunities for missionary work among the Indians. Brainerd never forgot that message, and in November of 1742 he eagerly responded to Pemberton’s call for him to come to New York City to discuss a possible role for him in missionary work to the Indians.

His first days as a missionary were lonely and depressing: “My heart was sunk. It seemed to me I should never have any success among the Indians. My soul was weary of my life; I longed for death, beyond measure.” Though he later was assisted by an Indian interpreter from Stockbridge, for several weeks Brainerd attempted to preach to the Indians without an interpreter. His efforts were fruitless and his life was miserable.

The following summer Brainerd built his own hut near the Indian settlement, but his attempt to evangelize the Indians remained unsuccessful. His first winter in the wilderness was one of hardship and sickness. On one occasion he was lost for a time in the woods, and on another he “was very much exposed and very wet by falling into a river.” In March of 1744, after a year at Kaunaumeek, Brainerd preached his last sermon. He was discouraged with his missionary career, but despite offers from established churches to be their pastor, he “resolved to go on still with the Indian Affair.”

Brainerd’s next assignment was in Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia within the Forks of the Delaware River. Here he was well received by the Indians and was often allowed to speak to them in the chief’s house. Progress, however, was slow. His new Indian interpreter, Tattamy, not only had a drinking problem, but was also devoid of spiritual knowledge, and thus he was wholly ineffective in delivering Brainerd’s message. Brainerd viewed his prospects for winning converts “as dark as midnight.”

After several months at the Forks of the Delaware, Brainerd traveled west to reach Indians along the Susquehanna River. It was an arduous journey. To make matters worse, Brainerd’s horse fell in a “hideous place” and broke her leg, which left Brainerd with no alternative but to kill her and continue on to the nearest house some 30 miles away. After preaching with little success, Brainerd returned to the Forks of the Delaware, where, except for frequent travels, he remained during his second year of missionary experience.

The real fruit of Brainerd’s labors became evident in the summer of 1745 when revival broke out among the Indians. Although Brainerd still depended on an interpreter and the Indians understood only the most elementary tenets of Christianity, they responded to his preaching, and the emotionally charged scenes so characteristic of the Great Awakening suddenly appeared among the Indians of Crossweeksung.

In the spring of 1746 Brainerd convinced the scattered Indians in New Jersey to settle together at nearby Cranbury, and soon thereafter a church was established. More revivals followed, and after a year and a half the converts numbered nearly 150. But Brainerd’s health was broken. His fourth and final journey back to the Susquehanna, though more successful than previous preaching tours, was too much for his frail condition. He was dying of tuberculosis. His missionary work was over.

After spending the winter in the home of a pastor-friend in New Jersey, Brainerd traveled to Northampton, Massachusetts, where he spent his last months in the home of the great preacher and scholar, Jonathan Edwards, whose daughter, Jerusha, he hoped to marry. This dream however, was never realized. For 19 weeks Jerusha tenderly nursed him, but to no avail. He died on October 9, 1747. The following Valentine’s Day Jerusha joined him, dying of consumption that she apparently contracted from him. (To be continued)

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1) Membership Roll Update Exercise: If you are a member of Life B-P Church, please fill the form and put it in the box at the church entrance.

2) The Life B-P Church Camp will be held from 16 to 19 June 2014 at Awana Genting, West Malaysia.  Dr John J Davis will be preaching on the theme “Called unto Holiness.”  Please book your leave early to avoid disappointment. Registration begins early 2014.

3) Combined Lunar New Year Service, 31 Jan 14 (Friday) at 9.00 am. Rev Peter Chng will be speaking on “God’s Waiting” (2 Peter 3:8-13).

4) Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Jason Ho on the birth of a baby boy on 13 Jan 14.

Preaching appointment: Rev Wong at Thai BPC Service, 2.30 pm.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25