Thursday, September 19, 2013

2013 Missions Emphasis Week, Part 5

Geddie sought, too, to train converts to go forth as Christian teachers and evangelists. After years of patient seed-sowing and cultivation, the missionary began to reap some precious sheaves. From the first he taught the converts that they were saved to win others. Reinforcing his teaching with action, he took them with him on his weekly tours through the island and encouraged them to witness for their Lord to their countrymen.
He taught all his converts to read and love the Word of God. As they developed in the Christian life, he imparted to them his vision of evangelizing the teeming populations of other islands. Scores of them volunteered in the spirit of Isaiah, "Here am I, send me!" and went forth to hazard their lives for Christ on other dark islands. Many of them "loved not their lives even unto death" and perished as martyrs on a foreign shore. Only eternity will reveal the full story of the magnificent heroism of these humble men and women who, like their beloved missionary, impelled by the love of Christ, went forth to labor, suffer and die, sustained by the presence of their Lord and soothed by the assurance that some day the seeds they had sown would be blessed of God to produce a harvest of precious souls.
He journeyed often to other islands. In response to Geddie's ardent plea, friends in Canada and Scotland raised a large sum of money and provided him with a vessel. In this, and sometimes in other vessels, he made extensive journeys through the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands. He settled new workers on various islands and encouraged those already settled. His view of the importance of native workers is thus indicated: "Native agents, under the judicious direction of right-hearted missionaries, will yet accomplish a great work on this and neighboring isles of the sea." He never landed any teachers unless the chiefs solemnly promised to protect them and assist them. Despite these precautions, many of the workers suffered severe privations and died violent deaths. Many others were victims of the ravages of disease. As some fell, others were always ready to take their places and, after years of toil in the night, the dawn began to break on some dark islands.
Natives from other islands were encouraged to visit Aneiteum. Years of labor and prayer brought an amazing transformation on the island. Let Geddie's Journal speak: "For many months after our arrival almost every day brought some new act of theft to light, and altogether we lost property to a considerable amount; but now locks and keys are entirely useless. The natives who attended our Sabbath meetings used to come with their clubs and spears and painted visages; but now we seldom see a weapon on the Sabbath day, and the habit of painting is falling into disuse. I have seen the day when a man who wore a garment was the sport of others, but now every rag in the community is in requisition on the Sabbath day. All this were nothing, however, except as evidence of a change of heart wrought by the Spirit of God." It was a day of rejoicing and thanksgiving when the ordinance of the Lord's Supper was first observed. "This is the first time," says Geddie in a letter, "that the Redeemer's love has been celebrated in this dark land. Oh! that the time may soon arrive when many more of its dark and degraded inhabitants shall join us in this ordinance of love."
Not long after he settled on Aneiteum, Geddie wrote in his Journal, February 9, 1849: "In the darkness, degradation, pollution and misery that surrounds me, I will look forward in the vision of faith to the time when some of these poor islanders will unite in the triumphant song of ransomed souls, 'Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.'"
This was the text that captivated his heart.
This was the text that animated his labors.
This was the text that irradiated all his days.
The life of John Geddie and his monumental accomplishments in Eastern Melanesia, especially on Aneiteum, constitute an everlasting memorial to the power of the love of Christ to transform savages into saints and the abodes of barbarism into a possession of the Lord.

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.