Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013 Missions Emphasis Week, Part 4

John Geddie conceived of himself as being on a campaign of conquest for his Lord. Aneiteum was his base of operations, while his parish extended across the vast reaches of Eastern Melanesia with its multitudinous isles. He evolved a five-fold strategy of conquest commensurate with his objective.
Prominent in his thinking was the recruitment of new missionaries. He sent fervent pleas for missionary reinforcements to the Presbyterians of Canada and Scotland and to the London Missionary Society. For years he labored on alone, but eventually other missionaries came to help possess the land. The most eminent of these was John G. Paton.
Geddie worked diligently for the evangelization of the home base. By means of schools, personal conversations and itinerating tours through the island, he was unremitting in his endeavors to win the Aneiteumese. There were many obstacles, many trials, many perils.
Very few attended school at first and these irregularly. Having no comprehension of the value of learning to read and write, many said to him, "How much will you pay me to come and study?" The severest heartaches came when his children, one after another, had to be sent to the homeland for their education and when little Alexander, three years old, sickened and died. As Geddie went through the forests and over the mountains on his evangelistic tours, numerous attempts were made to kill him. Stones, clubs and spears were hurled at him, and several times he was injured. But he kept on telling of the Redeemer's love and exemplifying it in his actions.
From time immemorial war had been the rule in that barbarous realm and peace the exception. This was a great impediment to missionary operations. But Geddie observed one mitigating peculiarity. In the year 1850 he wrote: "During a war on this island they never interfere with the women and children. This is almost more than we could have looked for among savages." Is this not an indictment against the so-called civilized Twentieth Century with its indiscriminate bombing and its threat of future atomic warfare?
One day Geddie came upon a group of women wailing piteously and rubbing a man's corpse with broken leaves. Some were pulling their hair and shrieking violently. The man's widow, an attractive young girl, sat near by expecting to be strangled. Geddie said, "This woman must not be killed," and started leading her from the scene. Immediately some men assaulted him, knocked him to the ground and seized the young widow. While some of the women held down the girl's arms and legs the men proceeded to strangle her. When Geddie again tried to intervene, men with clubs drove him away. The murderous deed was by this time completed. Knowing that the savages were infuriated and that he was further risking his life, he warmly told the people of the foul darkness of their deed. "According to our custom and belief, this is right. Be gone before we kill you!" they shouted. Then he began to tell them of that wondrous love which led the Son of God to give up the praise of the angels for the mockery of men, to exchange the diadem of the ages for a crown of thorns, and to die on the cross that the dark-hearted sinners of earth might be changed and received at last into the heavenly home. As he spoke, clubs were lowered and the people became wistfully attentive, for there is something even in a savage breast that responds to the story of the Saviour's suffering love.

This biography has been used by permission of It is an excerpt from Blazing the Missionary Trail by Eugene Myers Harrison. Chicago, Ill.: Scripture Press Book Division, ©1949.