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TWELVE DISCIPLES IN BROWN
S. JOHN BACON
(MARSHALL, MORGAN & SCOTT LTD.) 317 Collins Street, Melbourne.
The Women’s Auxiliary for Overseas Missions (Methodist Church of Victoria) desires to thank the author, the Rev. A. W. Guy, for the gift of manuscript and photographs.
All profits from the sale of this book will be utilised, without any deduction whatever, in the work of Methodist Overseas Missions.
Registered at the General Post Office, Melbourne, for transmission by post as a book.
Wholly set up and printed in Australia by Spectator Publishing Co. Pty. Ltd., 134a Little Collins St.. Melbourne, C.l.
The tribes to which the following "Disciples in Brown” belong are to be found off the S.E. coast of Papua, where the D’Entrecasteau and Engineer Groups of Islands con join.
Sixty years ago not one of the tribes had any idea of a Supreme Being. Not a prayer, not a song of praise—even to an idol—was offered by any member of any of the tribes. In this particular area, among some seven thousand people, ten different languages were spoken, and, in most cases through everlasting blood feuds, the tongue of other tribes was unknown to their neighbours. Nor did one tribe ever know a period of security when they might sleep free from fear of a cannibal raid. Every night witches roamed freely, springing across the intervening seas from Island to Island to work their fell mischief, while the sorcerer wrought his secret spells for the price of a pig or two at the request of any with a fancied grudge. Evil spirits peopled the rocks, the caves and the deep valleys, their favour never to be bought with any degree of certainty.
Death was a fearsome thing. For while the soul went eventually to the spirit land of Bwebweso on Mt. Tabu, on Normanby Island, yet the fear of spirits of all kinds left no desire in any living person to join their shadowy throng. There were good spirits which looked after the growing food, and many claimed that the tree fairies indicated propitious times for planting and fishing, but the fell spirits often worked against these good spirits to bring ill to the people.
No message of any kind could be conveyed, except by word of mouth, for there was neither written language nor material on which to write. Into this benighted land came the messengers of the Cross with the Gospel of liberation from fear and the radiant hope of fellowship with God and man. Two words, meaning "person” and "gieat” had to be conjoined to form the word for Supreme Being —"Eaubada.” The idea of His Son and of a good and
great and "tabu” Spirit had to be got across, the languages learned and reduced to writing and portions of Scripture and spiritual songs translated, evil customs had to be superseded—crowded out by better ones, actually— and the hope of a happy immortality with Christ and loved ones had to be brought to light in the minds of the many tribes.
But the Power of the Holy Spirit, the interpretation of the Love of God in the lives of the messengers of Christ and the abject need of the people combined to produce the miracles of Grace outlined in the thumbnail sketches of these "Disciples in Brown.”
A. W. GUY.
1 Malihani—Cannibal Chief........... 9
2 Silou—The Sorcerer................ 13
3 Chinaman—The "Wangler'*.......... 17
4 Elijah—Pocket Knife .............. 21
5 Steven—Steward of the Church....... 25
6 Phillip—Village Christian............ 29
7 Toginitu—A Tin of Red Paint....... 33
8 Iemesa—Beloved of the People......... 37
9 Nathaniel—The Local . 41
10 Luka Iogalu—Student . . 45
11 Abraham—"Softie'’ Brother of Andrew . . 49
12 Daniela—Tried, Triumphant ....... 53
• \ •
"But I’ve eaten too many men of other tribes—and women too—it would not be safe for me to live near the beach.” The speaker, an old man, vigorously shook his head while he made his protest. A look of fear in his deep-set eyes expressed his dread at the suggestion that had been made.
Away up in the hills beyond the beach village of Piopio a tiny hamlet perched precariously on a spur of the mountain side. Three small houses made up the village, and
Malihani’s hut stood in the centre of the group. The place was not easy of access and the site had obviously been chosen because of its defensive character. Not infrequently, the heavy clouds, which for months in the SouthEast season enshrouded the mountain tops, descended upon the little village. For days at a time everything was wreathed in filmy vestures of grey mist. Tiniest globules of moisture festooned the edge of every leaf and fell silently into the dampened mould.
Across a stretch of sea and valley some three miles distant the bold promontory, on which the Mission Station
stood, rose like a sentinel facing the trade winds that blew in from the open ocean. Sometimes, from Malihani’s eyrie on the mountainside, when the atmosphere was clear, it almost seemed as if one might shout across the intervening space and be heard from station to village plot. When the great wooden drum boomed out its call to worship at dawn on Sunday morning its echoes reverberated through the hills, and reminded those who had no names for their days that this was the day on which those strange people, who had invaded the land where spirits ruled of old, came toge'her to talk about their Great Spirit. Gardens were forsaken and tools laid aside, so Malihani was told, and fearlessly, with song and story the Great Spirit was named and also hailed with joy.
Many of Malihani’s friends and kinsfolk were joining in with this new thing the foreigners had brought. For him, however, there could be no indiscriminate mingling with other tribes. Past deeds precluded any hope of fraternisation—even if there had been a desire for such in Malihani’s heart.
When I first visited him on a day that was all perfection of light tnd beauty I found him squatting contemplatively on the small platform of his house. Away before him stretched a oanorama of calm, blue sea with here and there an Island group rising abruptly into the clear air, until, in the far distance, a chain of larger Islands completely shut out the "dimdim”—the Southern horizon out of which the white men had come. I was right upon the old man before he saw me. Immediately he doubled back into the darkness of the hut’s interior. A woman relative preparing food nearby greeted me and called to him assuringly. But this his first contact with a white man, and coming so unexpectedly, had for the moment unduly startled him. Joining my voice with hers we soon induced him to show his face and, ere long, he was once more squatting on the platform of his house.
My main object in visiting his village that day was to try to induce him to leave the hills and come to live with
his people at Piopio. His relatives had long since built their homes near the sea, and they found it increasingly difficult to give him the attention he required. He was their old chief, the last remaining link with the old, dark days.
The gift of the tin that had contained my camera spool broke the ice properly for us. It was the first tin he had ever owned. With the help of the woman relative I talked with him about many things, and told him of Jesus who loved him just as He loved me. He replied that the village Christians had told him many things and he thought them very good indeed. I led up to the matter of his living on the beach. It was then that he protested how truly impossible it would be for him to leave his hill protection. Then, turning to me, he said, "Have you ever climbed the way of the great divide and seen the measure trees? Have you counted them?”
"I have seen them and I have counted them too, Mali-hani.”
"Those were the height of the biggest men I slew. I always fought the biggest warriors, and they were afraid of me. How could I live on the beach where their relatives might any day pass by? Fifteen tribes were our enemies and I have tasted some of them all. When they bring me pork to-day I think again of the taste of men.”
"But, Malihani, that was long ago and times have changed. Your own people have told you how they live as neighbours with the children of those you slew.”
"But I cannot forget, and neither will they,” was his emphatic word.
"Let them leave me here,” he went on. "When I hear the tapwaroro drums beating on the hill I iust wait until I think the people have gone into the house where they speak to their Spirit and then I go into my house and shut the door. I wait there until I think they will be coming out again—sometimes I wait until they come home—then I open my door once more. Sir, that is all I know.”
Wistfully, it seemed, he gazed out over the sea. Then, almost in a whisper, he said, "If, when I was young—”
I longed for eyes that could see into that old man’s mind. Perhaps if I could I would not have understood its working; but I do know that here was one of whom the Master said, "Who worship Me in Spirit.”
Entering the dim recesses of his hut again as I was about to leave, he brought out one of his best yams, saying, "This, in token of my fellowship, I give you.”
A year after, too old to walk, he consented to being carried down to Piopio, where he ended his days. Just before he died he fancied he heard the call of the drums again. "Shut the door,” he said, "shut the door; it is service time.”
He was never baptised, but he is surely numbered among those of the redeemed. His granddaughter, Idi, now a widow living in retirement, served for many years as a teacher’s wife. Her influence is still a gracious one indeed. Two Sundays ago his great-grandson conducted the service on the Mission station as a local preacher; and last Sunday, his great-granddaughter led the congregation in a beautiful prayer of praise and thanksgiving in the midday service on the Station hill. To them that sat in the shadow of death Light is sprung up.
"He is smiling—truly, he laughs”—were the amazed whispers that ran around the two hundred people who listened to Silou’s words. Incredulous smiles spread over the countenances of those who heard. This phenomenon was the thing almost less believable than the revelations being made. "Silou has laughed.”
the sight of many white-clad figures prior to the landing, then the undoubted warmth of the welcome—though not a word was understood—seemed a very happy augury for our stay. Teachers and village folk had shyly shaken hands with the newcomers who were beginning this great adventure in friendship. About to move off from the landing place we were suddenly startled by an unearthly scream from the bush nearby. Immediately after there burst forth from hiding a hideous creature, painted and unkempt, with leaf streamers flying from his arms and legs. Everyone, in awe, stopped short in his tracks and the crowd parted before him. Rushing up, he grasped a hand of each of us muttering some gibberish as he did so, then, suddenly as he had appeared, he turned back with agile leaps to his hiding place.
We learned later that he was Silou, the sorcerer and that this was his custom. We made a mental resolve that we would avoid crossing this creature. Later we saw him in a dance of welcome—was it an evidence of welcome to us or an opportunity of displaying his grotesque capers? A huge, curved boar’s tusk grasped between his teeth curled up over his nose, face painted black and bedaubed with splashes of limewash, dishevelled hair and clawlike hands grasping spears, he gyrated and stamped until, nearing exhaustion, he bolted unceremoniously from sight. Everybody, seemingly to please or placate him, laughed uproariously at his antics whilst he glared savagely in return.
We were to have much to do with this man, for he lived in a village near by. He was everything one might expect a sorcerer to be. Unruly hair, a short upper lip, a protruding chin and a scowling expresion—Silou never smiled. If he saw a joke he had sufficient self-control to keep his set expression. No native ever dared attempt any liberties and, though we often tried to banter him, it seemed that he had forgotten how—or had lost the ability to smile.
He was a master of suggestion and of implication. By a single word or a knowing look he inferred that he knew the cause of every untoward happening. He might have been responsible for all the tragedies of village life. It was easy to credit him with the possession of extraordinary powers.
A Teacher’s child was sick and, taken to a hospital fifty miles away, the child died and was buried. Within a week after everybody knew—and great was the distress of the parents—that the White Doctor had performed a post-mortem examination and had found the child’s stomach full of green tree leaves. Nobody knew who had said so but everybody knew that Silou could find the perpetrator of this outrage—this bewitching of the" child— of course, for a consideration. A canoe overturned twice in rough weather in one week. Faulty construction and unruly elements were not the explanation. Had the owner been lavish with his gifts to Silou, or not? A lucrative occupation was the capturing and the killing of evil spirits that had caused the death of people. These demons took the form of lizards, insects and frogs, and they were caught as they emerged from the earth of newly filled graves.
But Silou had also the power of hunger and the gift of plenty in that he could control the rain. Torrential rains that threatened to destroy the newly planted yams and taro could aways be stopped by the gift of a pig. One or two pigs would bring copious showers of rain when a few weeks without rain caused further food anxiety. After one long-continued rain spell someone from another village reported Silou to a visiting Patrol Officer. On judicious enquiry the officer learned—mainly from guarded statement and ominous silences—that it would be for the good of the people and the health of Silou if he spent three months in gaol. Silou went quite unperturbed and returned with a reputation enhanced beyond measure. His office now had the Government imprimatur. "For, see,” said, Silou, "The Government knows I am a rainmaker else they would not have gaoled me.” He was indeed a troubler of the people and they greatly feared his powers.
It was by linking up Silou with schemes for the betterment of the village life that a change began in him. A personal friendship was formed and the barriers began to thin. There came a day when he listened to some of the preachers who spoke in the village square. On a notable day he came with others to make a gift at the annual Missionary meeting. Later on he sat in the back of the church at a special service and then the day came when he remained after the mid-day service to be enrolled as a Catechumen.
During a service some time after his baptism and reception as a Church member he testified, at our request, to the change Christ had wrought in his life. Bringing some of his old magical stock-in-trade he demonstrated his use of it. As he exhibited these one-time fearsome contrivances and explained their uses, so he smiled—maybe at his own skilfulness, maybe because of the great credulity of the people. Then it was that the congregation exclaimed in wonderment, "He laughs—he laughs; he is truly a changed man.”
Silou still believed that the creatures he caught at the newly made graves were evil spirits of death, but now he was helping Christ to rid the world of the demons that brought sorrow and fear to the people.
Came a day when we visited him—a very sick man. "Does Christ help you now,” we asked.
"Yes, indeed, He does, I am not afraid.”
Then, turning appealingly to us, he said, "Sir, do you think Jesus might allow some of us older ones to go first to Bwebweso—our spirit land—to see our friends of long ago? And then take us to His own place.”
"He might even do that,” we said, "He might want you to tell them of the joy that is now yours.”
"That is what I have been thinking—He might even do that,” and, over the countenance of Silou, ex-sorcerer, the unsmiling one—there radiated a glow, a smile that transformed his ugliness through a deep spiritual joy—"Yes,” he half whispered, "He might even let me do that.”
Chinaman—or Sainamani, as they pronounced it—received his name after his father, visiting the Port, had seen a certain foreigner aboard a ship. This foreigner had a long pigtail down his back, and someone told the visitor that the owner of the pigtail was a Chinaman. "Sainamani, Sainamani,'’ the name sounded euphonious so repeating it often on the way, when he returned home he gave it to his little boy.
When Sainamani grew to be about seventeen years of age he felt that life on a Mission Station should be better than that of his village. There were more games and there were plenty to help with work that had to be done. Papuans are not malingerers ordinarily but some of them are born very astute. Given a task by himself Sainamani worked quite well, but he usually contrived to have a companion with him whenever there was a job of work to be done. In company he was the cleverest person we have ever known at giving instructions. Assuming an air of bustling, wise importance, he could show anyone how a thing should be done and could then sit with a most helpful look on his face while he watched the others work. He
could grunt the loudest of any, urge more heartily and look more important than any two others at a task. Yet he always appeared to be the most active of any group of toilers. While often much annoyed with him over such tactics I nevertheless gave him full credit for his ingenuity.
Sainamani wanted to be a Mission Teacher. A man set in authority among the Papuans can always command whatever servants he may require. This aspect of the work, I am sure, appealed very much to him. Our aim, however, is to employ men of authority whose privilege it is to serve their people. Sainamani learned to read quite well and to write indifferently but figures were his bugbear. In school sessions he would say, confidentially, to another scholar, "Those figures there—17 and 32—they don’t make 105, do they” to be told, perhaps, "No, only 65.” Sainamani could always be depended upon to have the same answer to his sums as the scholar next to him; sitting apart, he was invariably wrong.
As a preacher, Sainamani was always able to give a message in an interesting manner and with a great show of authority. He was really born to rule but his world was a hard one.
Betelnut chewing is a strong social habit among the people. Immediately friends foregather betelnut is shared round and limepots and spatulas are produced. It is usual for each person to carry a gourd containing lime made from burnt coral, together with a spatula of bone, wood or tortoise shell. The betel nut—not unlike an acorn in appearance, is skinned and crushed in the mouth. The spatula follows it to make it wet and it is then dipped into the limepot, tapped inside to remove excess lime which is then sucked off. Green pepper leaves are added and the action of one ingredient upon another causes the whole mass to turn a blood red. A strong flow of saliva is induced and the chewers expectorate copiously. It is not a cleanly habit and any excess in chewing may have serious toxic effects. Some Papuans maintain that the habit preserves the teeth but medical evidence is against this contention. Some may go for long periods without food by chewing the drug. A heavy chewer is usually found to be unreliable in most things—even extending to the moral realm. Overindulgence will sometimes cause dangerous mental upset, the victim often becoming violent and requiring forcible restraint—which usually means being tied to a tree until the fit is over.
Sainamani was an inveterate betel addict. After his first bad bout—through betelnut brought on to the station by a friend and through which he was in a state of stupidity for days, he was cautioned against the use of it if he desired to stay on as a student. One day, when we were away with most of the boys, a cry suddenly rang out, "Sainamani is mad. Sainamani is mad.”
With a bundle of spears in one hand and another poised he pursued a smaller boy who was running for his life. He hurled the spear, which, fortunately missed its mark. The station girls rushed to Marama at the Mission house, climbing into cupboards and hiding behind doors, imploring Marama to barricade the windows and the doors. Sainamani, meanwhile, continued running around shouting and hurling his spears at anything that moved. Several of the smaller fry narrowly escaped injury. Having used up his spears he grasped an axe, slashing at fruit trees and gashing the corrugated iron sides of buildings. Marama, seeing that grave damage might be done to life and property, determined to attempt to quieten him. Going boldly up to him she demanded the axe. Sainamani swung it wildly round and round his head, then quailed before the imperative demand to deliver up the weapon, and— meekly handed over the axe. Once he was disarmed, others quickly pinioned him.
Chewing of betelnut after a bad bout of malaria had quite unhinged the lad temporarily, but stiff doses of quinine sipped slowly and forcible restraint for about a day restored him to his usual condition of health. This habit made it impossible for him to continue as a student. He maintained his membership when he went back to his village life. Here his ingenuity still stood him in good stead for he married a woman who was an expert gardener. He died in indolent middle life later on in her village.
In a village about five miles from the Mission Station there was born a boy who was destined to follow closely in the footsteps of Jesus.
When he came first as a lad to be a student on the station—there to be tried out as to his fitness both for dis-cipleship and apostleship, he was called Gipuam.
Papuan children usually are not named as are ours at birth. The "youngest one” or "the baby” will do for one who has no personality. Then it may be that a friend happens along and, seeing the child, might say, "Iguwariesa”—which means "that is my namesake.” So the child is named for him. One disadvantage to such a person is that the younger namesake might make any demands upon his elder at any future date and, of course, could not be denied. It may be that an uncle says the child is to be so-and-so and "so-and-so” he is. It may be that the child suffers from some affliction. This simplifies matters for a blind child is called "blindy.” A deaf one is "deafy.” A deaf and dumb is naturally "fool.” The halt and the maimed are constantly reminded of their defects just as the bereaved in the married state are called "widow” or "widower” whatever their names might previously have been. Contact with the first Europeans brought such names to the children as "Billycan,” "Pumpkin,” "Cockroach” and "Pannikin.”
A small, shorthandled splinter of bamboo with a sharp point and cutting edge, equivalent to our pen knife, was usually carried in a pouch, and called a "Gipwam.” Soon after the laddie was born his uncle was stabbed in a quarrel, with one of these sharp instruments. The mother, with the babe in her arms staunched the wounds, and so the child was named for the knife.
At about fifteen years of age, Gipwam, having learned to read and write, cut the village ties, deciding that he wanted to be more closely associated with Christian things. He became a good student and was found to be both dependable and self-reliant. In baptism he took the name of Elijah. Ilaitia Gipwam then, after about four years training, completed his preparatory course and was sent on to the District Institution where he was to complete his training for his life-work as a Teacher and Evangelist.
Near the completion of his term when the District Mission vessel, the "Bromilow,” was about to leave on a visitation of the farflung Islands of the area, Gipwam was much concerned for the welfare of the missionary in charge. Besides his other training Ilaitia had become a competent engine boy and the young man in charge of the engine at the time, though competent, had had but little experience of the present engine. Ilaitia sought permission to accompany the party to assist in the navigation of the vessel and in the management of the engine. Though this would mean the cutting out of perhaps three weeks of his studies his sense of responsibility urged him to take this course. Such was the trust in which he was held that his request was granted without question.
Disaster was to overtake the vessel and the party on that trip, and the darkest chapter in the history of the mission was to be written as a result. During the return journey, on a night of storm, the boat struck a hidden reef in the darkness as she was carried out of her course by strong tides, and she became a total wreck. A Teacher and seven boys were lost as a result of their privations. Rev. G. P. Lassam, the Missionary concerned, in his report spoke highly of Ilaitia’s seamanship during the voyage, of his attention to the engine and his helpfulness at the time of the wreck. After the disaster a dinghy with two boys set out to seek help from the main Islands that could be seen in the distance. After their departure Ilailia constantly pressed to be allowed to attempt to swim for help to other Islands that could be seen. He thought it better to make such a venture than that they should perhaps perish without it; the dinghy might not get through the storms.
It seemed a forlorn hope, but at length his request was granted. A plank was taken from the improvised raft on which the party was gathered. Ilaitia and a friend, Morina, set out courageously on their formidable attempt to secure help for their friends. They were watched out of sight by those on the raft. Again and again they waved farewell from the crest of the seas as they battled on toward their objective and then they were lost to sight in the vast expanse of the ocean. Bravely they risked the monsters of the deep, the perils of the tide rips and the strain of physical exhaustion in the hope that thereby their friends would be saved.
Some days later the Missionary and one boy—all that were left—were picked up on a small atoll to which they had drifted, but only just in time. The dinghy had got through and help had come a week later. The Papuan Teacher, who had gone as interpreter, and five boys had perished and Ilaitia and his friend were never seen again. The prospect we had for Ilaitia of long years of effective service for Christ among his own people, was concentrated into that service of love wherein a man lays down his life for his friends.
It was a lovely sunny morning on a Wednesday in March on the western shores of Normanby Island. There had been a very fine service during which four people had been baptised. This service had been followed by the annual Missionary meeting, when the people presented their gifts to the Church and a very happy spirit prevailed.
The people were in no hurry to return to their villages and a seemingly contented hum of conversation arose from the various groups scattered around. Well content
' •** '—■ii»«»»-
with the general feeling of well-being, I went to eat the meal which my cook boy had prepared. In the midst of it I seemed, almost unconsciously, to sense that a change had developed around me; the sounds outside had taken on a different meaning and there appeared to be some shouting. I asked the Teacher to investigate. In a few moments he ran in to say that a quarrel had arisen and a
fight was developing. Hastening outside a very different scene, indeed, met my gaze.
Two men, each grasping a splintered stick, were standing toe to toe calling down imprecations upon the other’s head at the top of their voices. Others had begun to take sides and sticks were being broken off with like splintered ends to act as spears. No one had come armed and, moreover, the Government had long since banned possession of fighting spears. Realising that an ugly situation was rapidly developing I ran to the combatants shouting to them to cease their quarrelling. Absolutely no notice was taken of me though I bawled into their ears. As they raised their improvised spears I grasped each mop of hair and pulled them apart demanding that they come to reason. Others assisted in keeping them separated and they began shouting each other down trying to tell me the cause of their quarrel—each blaming the other.
I was able, presently, to quieten them somewhat and I commanded those who were involved to accompany the teacher and myself into the Church. Four women and two other men besides the combatant« were seemingly involved. It was then that I realised with sorrow that one of the opponents was the steward of the Church.
We bowed in prayer asking God’s guidance in the business before us, and this had the effect of magic upon them. There was indeed a great calm. In this atmosphere I learned that the one chiefly involved, who lived on the other side of the Island, had killed a pig on a Sunday and had that same day sent a leg of it by a messenger to Steven, the Church steward, who lived near the Mission station. Steven was much grieved that this should be done to him on a Sunday, and he asked a woman to return the leg to the giver. He told her to explain that he did not refuse the gift, but, because he cried to observe Sunday as a sacred day, he could not keep it. The young woman went part way, delivering the offending leg and the message to another woman. This woman took it on and handed both over to a woman from the village from which the gift had
STEVEN—STEWARD OF THE CHURCH
originated. A highly garbled account) of the supposed frightful anger of the steward at the insult offered him was the result of these transferred messages. This Missionary Meeting gathering was the first occasion on which these two had met since the happening. The women-folk admitted that they had not taken notice of the message Steven had given but each had told what she thought Steven would be thinking.
Full explanations having been made and accepted they shook hands, and we returned thanks to God together for the happy outcome of the dispute. We came to the waiting people and explained what had transpired and announced that all was now "square.”
I proceeded to finish my meal. Suddenly the quiet that had supervened upon the uproar was broken by the most pitiful wails imaginable. I found they emanated from the Church which we had just! left. Fearing someone might have suffered injury, I ran into the building. There squatting alone in the middle of the white coral floor of the church, his knees drawn up to his chin by his clasped hands, was Steven the steward. An ocean of tears ran down his face and trickled over his knees.
Utterly oblivious of our presence and our questions he continued to wail disconsolately. Kneeling beside him I put my arm around his shoulder and pressed him to tell me what ailed him. "Oh, I’m wrong, I’m wrong,” he cried.
"But, my friend, it is all over, it is all squared up and you are friends again.”
"Yes, yes, that I know,” he wailed. "But it is God—it is God. I am the steward of the Church, and on this glad day of the year when we give our gifts—I do this thing. I am wrong, oh, I am wrong,” he sobbed.
I persuaded him that together we had asked God’s forgiveness and that he knew God forgave him. "But I’ve shamed Flis Church and I can’t forget it,” he cried in despair. I prayed for his consolation and, soon, he dried his
tears, shook my hand, and deeply chastened in spirit he went home to his village.
In the years that have passed since that time Steven has wiped off the score of shame which he felt, that day, he had piled up against his Lord and the Church. Perhaps his best friend and fellow helper is his opponent of that tragic day, for, two Sundays following the disturbance, the "insulter” came humbly to the Lord and has gladly followed Him since.
The principal service on Sundays is held round about midday. There is usually a service in the village community about seven in the morning, but at midday the village people who go to make up the mission station gather together at the Church. Open-air services are held among the hamlets during the afternoon and, after dark, some usually gather at the teacher’s house for a sing. Only on special occasions is a service held at night time. Most
tracks are but footpads suitable for daylight travel and— night time has always been witch time and the roaming time for evil spirits.
The midday service is the evangelistic service, and at its close each Sunday those who are members meet their leaders for prayer, exhortation and inspiration. An invitation is always extended to any who may wish to become Christians—their desire being indicated by their remaining to the Class meeting with the members.
Laumani accepted the invitation one day, and his name was duly recorded as a Catechumen. Twelve months later, having regularly attended class, he was advanced to
membership on trial. Another year later the leaders of the classes had his name before them when they considered whether or not he should become a member in full standing.
"Does his life show evidence of Christian growth? Is he regular in attendance at the services? Does he give needless offence to his neighbours? Is he ready to give whatever help is required to keep the Church property in order?”
Those whose duty is was to assess his conduct in regard to these matters were, in the main, the people of his own village who knew almost his secret thoughts and, certainly, every aspect of his public life. They agreed that he was a fit person for baptism and reception into full membership. One other at the same class meeting was kept back for two more quarters for quarrelling with his wife, another for one quarter’s further trial membership because, on the last occasion of community help for the Church roof, he had gone fishing.
So Laumani was baptised and received into the membership of the Church, taking the name of Phillip. Pilipo was one who sensed the inward significance of Christian teaching to a remarkable degree. There was, to him, a fundamental difference between the way of Christ and the old ways he had always known. Therefore he could not be happy concerning certain customs practised by his people. There was the "kenogute” custom, for instance. Instead of burying certain people of importance the corpse was placed upon a platform—perhaps up in a tree—and mourners who wished to show special respect camped around the foot of the platform for several weeks. Burial in the villages, carrying of skulls and the incarceration of widows, all seemed to him to be contrary to the spirit of Christian living. Led by the Holy Spirit, he did not create violent opposition to these affairs. His plan was to offer a more excellent way.
Anxious that others should share in his satisfactory way of life he began to pray for his friends and, at the same
time, do them as much good as possible. One day, as I spoke to the members on our duty as intercessors and sought to enlist each one in a campaign to seek friends for Christ, Pilipo’s eyes shone. “It works, it works!” he exclaimed and he went on to name several who had recently become members. "Every day I have prayed for these, and God has answered me.” It was a joy to find a Spirit-instructed ally in this matter.
A fear that is, perhaps, harder to eradicate than any other is the fear of the sorcerer. That fear and the fear of evil spirits have exerted a lifelong strangle-hold on the people. Pilipo fought hard against these fears and for some years in these and other ways he exerted a quiet, leavening influence among the people of his tribe before his work was completed.
He had passed middle age and was still vigorous in health when he had occasion to go with some of his friends to a place some twenty-five miles distant. It was during the wet season of the year and, possibly because of the exposure on the way, Pilipo contracted pneumonia. The people were partial strangers to them, though by no means enemies. Pilipo’s friends decided immediately that he had been sorcerised and proposed making a stretcher on which to carry him home. Pilipo, in the face of such weather refused to be taken. They tried to force him but he said, “If I’m to die, I shall die here and here you shall seek a place to bury me. That will make these people our blood brothers. No sorcerer can touch a Christian. My sickness is due to the rain on the long journey.” Strange, new thoughts from one who had always known all sickness was the work of witches and sorcerers!
His sickness increasing in intensity, he began sending messages to his friends. The Christians v/ere to be exhorted to be strong in their “tapwaroro.” Tonugana and Marama were to be told how he loved them for what they had done for him. Then he sank into a coma. To his friends he was already dead. As is the custom they began to call his name. "Laumani, come back to us, brother
Laumani, do not leave us,” they pleaded. Pilipo Laumani opened his eyes, held up his hand and whispered, "Hush, I hear the angels singing—keep quiet, quiet, they come for me.” And Phillip went home. Strong in faith, patient in hope, a true witness for Christ.
Keeping close by his father, young Toginitu was fascinated by the tins of paint on the verandah of the Native Teacher’s house. The white man with his Fijian helper had
just come to set up residence on the south-eastern promontory of Normanby Island. A few helpers from the adjacent Islands had been brought, but local labour was required for the erection of the temporary Mission House.
The Fijian Teacher indicated by sign language that he would give a tin of red paint to Toginitu or to any lad who would be his cook boy. The lure almost overcame the fear of strangers, but his father spoke fiercely in his ear, "Come away, son, this new talk of no more fighting, this talk of peace for us—for us with all our blood debts to pay—is not for us to heed. Come away.” And the lad, with a longing, backward glance at the tins of paint, reluctantly followed his father back to their nearby village.
Toginitu was destined, amongst other things, to become a builder of canoes. Already, as a lad, he had many models to his credit—and the thought of red paint that would not wash off with sea water—red paint, above all other colours, with which to decorate his canoes, dominated both his dreams and his waking thoughts. Risking the anger of his people and the fear of the foreigners, he contracted, some little time later, as cookboy with a tin of the alluring colour as his reward.
Well, he got his red paint! But he got something else, something greater. By precept and by example he learned that it was sin that begat fear. He learned that One had come to take away our sin. A Cross, stained red by the wounds of a Saviour, was the price of peace in his own soul and the way of peace with the foreign people who had come to bring these tidings. Essentially this ind much else he learned as he cooked the food and drew the water for these strange and kindly people.
Toginitu never went home again. He remained always a loyal son in village matters, but he gave over his allegiance to another tribe the tribe of the Redeemed. The tribe of his adoption claimed him body, soul and spirit, thenceforth and forever. Many gifts came to his village through the advantages he gained by his association with the Mission people. And many canoes, fashioned by his skilful hand, for use in the service of God, were lavishly decorated in many colours over the years—tribute to his energy and his craftsmanship. His father always bore him a grudge because of his refusal to take up the family feuds, but judici-
TOGINITU—A TIN OF RED PAINT
ous gifts prevented any open hostility. Thirty years after leaving home I photographed the two of them—Toginitu, who had been baptised Kelebi, the leading evangelist in the District, and the old man, now almost blind, physically, and groping with feeble faith for the Light which came just before he died. It was a great grief to Kelebi that his father had not been baptised—through lack of time and opportunity—after his turning . to Christ, but he knew that, at last, his father and he were once again united in the new tribe of Christ.
Kelebi, after training, became a Teacher to his own people. He sought always the pioneer tasks. One Sunday morning a noted sorcerer led a tribe against his station. Brandishing spears, they marched right up to the verandah of the house of the Teacher. Kelebi and his wife sat there completely helpless. The local tribe, in fear of the sorcerer, joined with the invaders. The sorcerer, dancing in frenzied rage before the pair, challenged Kelebi and all his gods to mortal combat. Kelebi had never learned to fight with spears and the situation appeared hopeless. The teacher and his wife looked at each other and said, "Our time has come. It is as God wills.”
"Then,” said Kelebi, as he told the story at a Christian Convention many years after, "then it was that the Spirit of the Lord raised me up and thrust me forth. I strode up to the sorcerer—not in my own strength—-I seized the spear and broke it in half across my knees—insult of insults—and hurled it away. The sorcerer fell at my feet begging mercy while all the people stole silently away. Thenceforward I knew God does undertake for us.”
The principles of Christ’s teaching cut dead across some of the native practices. Especially so among customs between the sexes where a certain promiscuity was not uncommon. Licence was not encouraged but a system, somewhat akin to trial marriage, obtained. An illicit affair between the sexes was frowned upon lest it complicate the arrangements of the parents for the marriage of their offspring. It was only wrong if it involved a "kawa-kawa-lulu”
—one spoken in marriage. The conception of the Christian family appealed greatly to Kelebi and Lisi, his wife, and more than ordinary care was exercised by them in the training of their growing family. They would present their children pure to the partners who might later be chosen for them. The oldest lad was a rather boastful and headstrong boy, and it was with him that the tragedy happened.
The parents came to me utterly stricken. Where had they failed God that this should happen? Never again could they hold up their heads. Never again could they teach others with this shame upon them. For more than a week their misery kept them from their regular duties. 1 shared with them their distress in their sorrow and disappointment. Eventually I enabled them to see that their grief in this thing was a tremendous step upwards in the establishment of Christ’s standards among their people. They had entered into the sorrows of God in bearing a burden for which they were not responsible.
Kelebi eventually became the first ordained Minister among his people. He was not highly trained in theology, and he had only a very slight smattering of even "pigeon” English. But he did know in Whom he believed and he was utterly and absolutely loyal to his Lord. The burden of this higher leadership lay heavily upon him, but he laid a foundation of complete faithfulness and solid integrity upon which others have since built their service.
After more than 40 years service, when both were extremely wearied in, but not of, their labours, they spoke of retirement. But, if they retired, could it be arranged that they should live on some small Island—too small to support a regular Teacher—where they could end their days in God’s good time? There they could, without the heavier responsibilities, continue still to live and preach the glad Good News that had been their life. And it is there at this time, in quiet but effective service, that they are rounding out their consecrated span.
When Dr. Chalmers first visited the South East end of the Territory of Papua he persuaded several young men of Ware Island to act as guides in the navigation of the local waters. The young son of one of these guides was named
Idadi. This Idadi was never meant to be connected with such heathen practices as head hunting—as a matter of fact his tribe was never of warlike disposition, though at times they were compelled, by the circumstances of the dark days, to take stern measures for their own protection, even to engaging in punitive expeditions. Idadi has said that it was a wonder their enemies did not heat the noise of the shaking of the canoe as he sat there, trembling with fear, awaiting the return of the warriors from a raid.
Idadi was one of the first students to come to the Training Institution established by the Rev. J. T. Field on Slade Island in the Duau Circuit. Under the preaching of a Fijian teacher, Idadi simply fell in love with Christ and
His way. He was naturally of a Christian type of temperament, with a native courtesy that needed nothing of Christian training for its refinement.
There was urgent need in those early days to promulgate the new message and to occupy strategic positions as soon as possible, and therefore the students could not be kept for very long in training. An intensive course of instruction in the meaning of the message and close, personal contact with the missionaries to learn its practice, by example and precept, so that they might judge of its reality, was the method adopted. Actual practice and experience was the only workable proposition for such times. After a year and a half of such training Idadi, who had been baptised Iemesa, was married to Sara, a woman who was blind in one eye and of a similar spirit of consecration with her husband. They were then sent out to proclaim the Gospel message of which they had experimental knowledge.
Very few Papuans can be trusted to use authority wisely. The man who can talk loudest and longest usually gets his way and runs the show in village life. The temptation to use "the big stick,” backed by the authority of the Government with officials, or of the Church in the case of teachers, is very strong among them. Particularly is this so if the person is stationed far away from the seat of authority. This proclivity sometimes causes conflict with head men in the villages. It is likely to become an increasing source of friction as village councils under Government supervision become increasingly stronger in these later days. Owing to the fact that there never has been the exercise of strong leadership among the vast majority of the people, there has been litde cause for trouble in the past. This has worked out well for the Christian faith in that it has not been difficult for the teacher to direct affairs along Christian lines.
Iemesa’s nature made it impossible for him to exert any undue authority because of his position of teacher. He was a Christian strategist. There was always a way around any
obstacle. There was a compensation for any frustration. An approach from another quarter could always be made when the way became closed. Iemesa never had to say, "Go, come, obey.” He said, “Let us go. Shall we come to you. Let us delight to do together these things”—an attitude to duties which, in men of goodwill, always produces fine results in the matter of work and of conduct. With the indifferent, things are rather left to the leader than otherwise.
Iemesa could compromise on things non-essential and by a sweet reasonableness he could bring harmony out of factions most discordant. His was the strength of Christian meekness and, truly, he "inherited the earth” where he laboured. "O let me commend my Saviour to you,” was the theme song of his life.
Iemesa had one great sorrow and that was his insufficient knowledge of God’s Word and His ways. He envied those who were able to have longer training—though none, however much better trained than he, ever had more influence among the people.
He served for twenty years until past middle age. Then an influenza epidemic swept through the district and reduced our teaching staff by one third. Iemesa Idadi was one of them. Many hundreds of people died during this visitation. There were too many sick for us to keep close watch on all, and every house on the station had its quota of sick ones. Iemesa, feeling distressed with the high temperature, did what most Papuans do naturally and with like dire results—he opened both doors of his hut and lay in the cool draught that swept through. All the upper portion of his body was exposed to the breeze and when we visited him later, pneumonia was strong within him.
A little while before his end came, which he faced with the same gentleness of spirit that characterised all his life, I saw that something troubled him. Enquiring the reason he replied, "I do not like to trouble you, Tonugana, but could I ask you to take my two lads as your houseboys?” "Why do you ask that, Iemesa?” I enquired. "I thought
that if they were near you they would learn more about Jesus. Then, as He called them into His work later on, they’d be better fitted to carry it on than I have been.” "In case God called them!” His only desire for his family—trained and ready, if God wanted them. Of course we promised, and kept our promise, too, humbled to think we were counted worthy of such a trust. So died in peace, satisfied, Iemesa Idadi, a vessel meet for the Master’s use, beloved of God and of the people.
The conversion of Nataniela Ulai was typical of that of many among the various tribes. It is not at all uncommon to hear how affliction of some kind or other has been the immediate agent of their conversion. Possibly for long under conviction, the crisis of sorrow or sickness turns the scale.
Ulai, as a boy, attended the Mission School in his village. There he learned to read and to write and was quite familiar with the Catechism. In most things he was fairly quick in the uptake and on his own request was enrolled as a junior catechumen. It semed as if the lad, being a promising student, might go on and become a missionary to his own people. Then a spiritual tragedy that resulted in the suspension of the village Teacher for a grave offence left the station without a missionary, and this lack of personal supervision broke the contact. Before another teacher was appointed Ulai’s vision had become clouded.
A recruiter visited the area, and Ulai signed on to work for two or three years. Part of his duties was to dive for trochus shell in between spells of plantation work. One day, in a tide rip between the reefs, the dinghy was overturned and several boys were taken by sharks. Ulai, clinging to the upturned dinghy, was eventually rescued. After the termination of his contract he returned to his village and, marrying, he settled down to the life of the community. A year later he became very ill and in his semidelirium he had a vivid dream. In a vision, Christ came to him and said, "Ulai, I called you to follow Me when you were a boy and you heard my call. I called you again from the upturned dinghy. This is now my third call to you— will you still be unheeding?”
Ulai told of his vision and asked the Teacher if he might have his name again on the Members’ roll. Two years later, after careful instruction, he was received into the full membership of the Church and was baptised Nathaniel.
Nataniela was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, and he became a valued helper in the community work of the Church. Eventually he became a Local Preacher. In any temporary absence of the Teacher he maintained the school and preaching work effectively. Unfortunately, his marriage was not the happiest. His wife was even more jealous than the average Papuan woman. Nataniela’s preaching and class work brought him into more than the usual contact with members of the other sex, and this factor gravely aggravated a woman constantly suspecting infidelities of her husband. In vain he remonstrated with her privately. He did not want the thing to become a public scandal, whereby, whether true or false, any charges would hurt the Church. Then he called in the Teacher and his wife with two of the stewards and laid the matter open before them for their counsel. They were confident of his integrity and the wife accepted their judgment and advice and the matter appeated to be cleared up. ‘
It was, however, but driven deeper in. The Church officers were in collusion with him and against her—and Nataniela’s life was made unbearable. One day he informed the Teacher that the thing was past bearing and there would need to be a show-down. Later in view of his wife and others, he walked along the track from Church in the company of another woman, talking with her, and, before leaving her, laying his hand upon her arm. His wife now had a case indeed and there were witnesses. From the local church council—the class meeting—the matter was brought before the Circuit Local Preachers’ meeting. Nataniela admitted that he had deliberately broken the conventions so that the matter between himself and his wife might be ventilated in the highest court, having tried all other means to no avail. His wife and the witnesses admitted that he had certainly done the thing openly. Strangely enough, by this audacious plan in which he might have lost his membership for years, his wife was won from her insensate jealousies and, herself, entered fully into her husband’s work. Nataniela was asked not to preach for three months lest a dangerous precedent should be set up.
Some years afterwards a teacher in a small neighbouring station died. Nataniela was asked to give oversight for a time. No other teacher was available and the people were hard to deal with. Many were affected with leprosy, and a deadly lethargy seemed to have settled upon the place. Eventually, deeply discouraged by the hardness of the people and their neglect Nataniela, himself, fell sick and he let the services lapse.
Ill for a long time it seemed as if he must die. The teacher from the neighbouring station gave monthly oversight and at a subsequent Quarterly Meeting he told the story of Nataniela’s end. The story came from Nataniela’s wife. She said, "Nataniela had been dead for days and we were only waiting for the ticking of his heart to cease to bury him. For a week he had not spoken. Then, suddenly he aroused and asked me to call the people together. It was late afternoon and they came quickly. 'Sit me up near the door,’ he commanded. They lifted up his bones and held him where he could see the people. Then he confessed his failure and urged them to flee from the wrath to come. 'Turn to Christ at once and live—He has sent me from the brink of the grave to call you to Himself.’ Nataniela was dead before they laid him down.” The teacher concluded, "Two men and three women were waiting last Sunday for me to record their names, saying they had come at Nataniela’s call.”
In carrying on the work of the Kingdom among the people the constant aim is to win them by their own evangelists. Every head station is a school for the training of the young people for Christian service and every outside teachers’ station is a recruiting ground for such as desire to do Christian work. There is always an open invitation to the young people of the Circuit to come to live
on the Head Station, therfc to be trained for the work of the Church. In this regard many are called but few are found to be chosen. Some become medical or technical students, some go on to the evangelistic or pastoral work and many fall out by the way.
It is, however, a well-established fact that even a few months of station training is worth a thousand times more than the financial cost involved. In numberless villages scattered throughout the District the leading Christians are almost invariably found among those who have been resident at some time or other on a Station. Many of these, full of promise, have broken the hearts of the workers when they have failed, and have gone back to their village life. It not infrequently happens that there is a deep descent into sin—seemingly by way of reaction—and then, after a lapse of time, a coming back into village membership with a greatly increased understanding of the nature of Christian conduct.
Those who come to the station live together as single girls or boys, moving on to married quarters as they choose a partner. Co-education is the rule in all but the deeper theological subjects and, in this way, a teacher usually hnds he has a partner capable of giving him real help in his work. She is usually a leader of the women of the villages.
All building and other station work is done by the students who are taught various handicrafts to help in the provision of food and clothing. Food is supplied if it is impossible for them to grow their own. Self-support is the ideal airped at and at the present time is fairly general. Lighting and clothing are supplied also, but are well-earned by the work done in keeping station properties in order. School sessions for their training occupy about half their time. Games are encouraged and a well-rounded programme is planned.
Some students come to the station urged on by teachers. Others come because their friends are there, logalu was drawn to the station by the lure of a cricket bat. Fiaving bought a bat he decided that the Mission station was the best place to use it. While of an age ac which he might please himself—if there is ever such an age among the people—yet he did not come without opposition. Fdis people desired his services in gardening operations and for other projects. On his premise to return to his village after a short stay no real objection was made. Such solemn promises count for just nothing at all; the merest whim will result in the breaking of the most solemn vows. After many months logalu returned to his village on holiday, and the usual traps were set to cause his moral downfall and so, through such failure to prevent his leaving them, logalu was not to be caught, and came away without yielding to sin.
A few months later they caught him by bold tactics on the part of a most eligible young woman, and we lost him for a year. It was normal native custom and Iogalu married the girl as their people had hoped. Then he persuaded his wife to accompany him back to the station and they settled in as a married couple. Iogalu made good progress. Still fond of cricket he, nevertheless, saw that he could have his cricket and a vocation as well. However, he reckoned without Loisi, his wife. The first resort and the last, and on every other occasion between among the people is—a lie. The very best of them, cornered in any trouble, almost invariably take refuge in a denial. With the most innocent expression and with sometimes the least necessity, the foulest of lies may be uttered. Moreover, refuge in a lie is accepted as the normal thing if occasion arises. The only shame about a lie is in being found out. Ananaias and Sapphira were just normal beings—it was too bad that they were found out. There is no known device for discovery of such in Papua.
Loisi again and again landed Iogalu in ".rouble through her lack of cleverness in concealment of wrongs. Twice she was unfaithful to him but he forgave her as he earnestly wished to be a Christian. When she stole away to their Island village he had perforce to follow her. All these things prevented his making the grade and so he went back to his village life. Time proved that he was destined to be among those unspectacular people whose vocation is to return to their own house to show there how great things God has done for them. Loisi was satisfied only with village life and Luka Iogalu settled there with her. He began family worship in his own home and introduced it to other homes, and became a faithful steward of the Lord’s work, utterly trustworthy in his duties. He was the village conscience and, during the war he was the sheet-anchor of the village people in their times of fear.
One Sunday afternoon just as the village service was concluded, an Allied launch, manned by Australians, came to anchor. Fruit and vegetables were sought and they were required at once. Luka boldly pleaded that they be allowed to leave their gathering of these things until Monday, promising that at daylight everything would be on the beach. To his delight the soldiers granted the request. That night the people sang in their own tongue the many hymns they knew and the soldiers delighted in the familiar airs. Luka told us later that they wanted again and again the "Boniai” one—"Silent night.” The soldiers interspersed the community singing with songs in their own tongue. At daylight there was a boatload of provisions ready for sale on the beach and innumerable love gifts as well.
Three weeks later the launch returned—again on a Sunday. There was one officer only of the original crew. The request this time was for "A boatload of food at daylight and a song on the beach to-night.” The request was honoured fully in both respects.
Luka Iogalu had not made the grade he sought first, but he had, indeed, "come to the Kingdom for such a time as this.”
Ialeweni or Iauiuale was Abraham’s village name. It means that such a person is not quite right in the head. Not really insane but "soft,” a "shingle short.” He came to the Station first of all because of persecution in the village. Ialeweni wanted to be a Christian and there were many who said he could not be one because he could not understand properly. He was always at the beck and call of anyone who wanted anything at all among his people. He rebelled at last and sought sanctuary on the Mission Station. There he earned his keep by doing odd jobs while he conformed with the others to all the station discipline.
His brother Andrew was, until middle age, a bachelor —which was quite an extraordinary thing for a Papuan. As a matter of fact when he did marry and take his wife to an Island where he was to become a Teacher, he enquired of her as they landed when she would be returning to the Mission Station. He did not ever make a success of his marriage.
When Abraham came on to the station Andrew was in training as a student. He took charge of Abraham which, of course, meant that Abraham became his brother’s batman and also the batman of Andrew’s friends. Usually of a very happy„ willing disposition he had occasional fits of deep depression during which his moroseness often became dangerous. Put out in any way at such a time his temper was uncontrollable and, when the fit had passed, he was deeply repentant. I had to tell him that he would not be able to take charge of a station but that he could be a steward, perhaps, in his own village. He was much averse to a return to his own place, for the station afforded him sanctuary and the pleasure of meeting with other Christians in the daily services. Although he was somewhat mentally deficient his Christian character was exemplary and he learned to read his Bible. His "Buki Tabu” (Holy
Book) was a very precious possession and he was often to be seen slowly spelling out its message.
I sometimes wondered if attacks of malaria were responsible for his mental aberrations. His fits gradually became more frequent and culminated one morning in what might have been a tragedy. I had lined up the boys and girls on the station compound after morning prayers for drill. Abraham did not join in though the station rule was that all should be present unless sickness prevented. As the ranks formed Abraham stood near his house chopping at a piece of wood with a large scrub knife. 1 called him, but he just shook his head. I comanded him in a quiet tone to take his place with the others. "All right, I’ll come,” he replied, striding across toward me with the knife upraised. The boys began to break rank, but at a word they stood still and waited. No one thought he had any sinister designs. As he drew near he rushed at me with the knife. I parried the blow with the short cane wand 1 carried and struck the knife from his hand. He threw himself upon me but I was able to hold him without difficulty—it was harder to keep the other lads in their ranks. His fit subsided almost instantly end he sat on the ground with his head in his hands. As I turned to conduct the drill, Andrew sprang from his place, grasped a heavy piece of wood and aimed a murderous blow at his brother’s head. I was just in time to prevent a tragedy. "Let me kill him, he’s not fit to live, let me kill him—what shame to our village and to me he has brought that he should lift his hand to you,” he wailed livid with passion. I calmed Andrew and then we concluded our drill.
We held a meeting afterwards to consider what should be done with Abraham. "Thrash him,” said some. "Lock him up,” others said. "Hand him over to the Government.” Poor Abraham was in dire disgrace. The thins: was unprecedented. For his own sake I saw that he should return to his own people. I made him a present of sufficient capital to set him up as a food buyer for the station. Ialeweni was very repentant and with much sorrow at leaving the place he had come to love, yet very thankful
ABRAHAM—"SOFTIE” BROTHER OF ANDREW 51
for his new chance, he went away to the home of a relative and began his life as a trader.
Some time later a recruiter for the mines visited the villages and Abraham signed on as a labourer. It was soon found that he was not physically fitted for arduous toil, and a more congenial job was found for him. Some of the boys had to do certain, unavoidable work on the Sunday. When it came to Abraham’s turn he refused point blank. He was reported to the manager of the mine who found him poring over his Buki Tabu. Remonstrating with him because of his refusal of duty, Abraham looked up from his book and said, "But, sir, this is Sunday and I am a Christian.” The manager insisted that the work must be done for the safety of the mine. "Softie” was adamant, "This is Sabate,” he reiterated. Admiring his principles, yet for the sake of discipline, the manager threatened him with severe punishment at the hands of the magistrate if he did not obey. "Kill me if you will but I cannot work on the Lord’s Day,” was Abraham’s quiet but determined reply. Neither threats or blandishments could turn him from his purpose, and he was confined to his hut for the day.
Another job was found for him, and a little later he returned to his village with the full respect of his employer. A consistent Christian, he died a few years later among his own folk. "Softie” in many ways he continued to be, but Abraham, like his prototype, to the very end was "found faithful.”
Hetuka, as we knew him first, was a young man of very pleasing feature and personality. A round, set face, that broke into the most engaging wrinkle of smiles, which lingered long enough for others round about to catch the contagion, and then lapsed again into immobility—such was Hetuka’s outstanding characteristic as a lad. He was thoughtful of demeanour from the beginning, yet just as full of fun as the next one, and, given fair conditions, there is not a happier race, naturally happy, I should say, anywhere, than these same people.
Hetuka was baptised Daniela. After about four years on the station where his worth was fully proved he went, with his wife, to the District Training Institution. Here his earnestness and co-operation were immediately recognised among his teachers. At the time of his return to his Circuit to take up his work among his own people we were just beginning the dramatisation of Scripture events, and Daniela and Mary, his wife, were chosen for the part of Joseph and Mary in the Advent drama.
After Daniela had spent some time as a Teacher a call came from the Misima Circuit to the Teachers in the District. Rossel and Sudest Islands in the far South East of our District were calling for the Gospel. Who would hear the Macedonian call? Daniela was the first to respond. His . fellow teacher, Gideoni, soon followed his example and they placed themselves in readiness. They could be ill spared from their own work but nothing was put in the way of their offer. The people of the distant Rossel and Sudest Islands were complete strangers to them, and the offer meant that they were willing to minister to those who were foreigners indeed. Only those who have entered into native life in all it ramifications could realise all this offer meant.
However, before they could be transported to those distant places war came, and nothing further could be done.
As war receded and some of the workers returned, it was found that the offer of Daniela and Gideoni still was valid. There was much grief among those who bade them farewell—not unmixed with a certain hidden pride, however, for this was, both to them and their people, a tremendous adventure.
They were placed in stations not very far apart on the Island of Sudest and were warmly welcomed by the people. Some were won for Christ in a very short time. But there was opposition, too. One sorcerer, whose brother had died while working for Angau on the mainland, began to blame these newcomers for the death. He was suspicious of the gatherings of the Church members and he reported them to a visiting Angau officer as being engaged in plots against him. This officer tried the teachers on the charge, but did not get to the root of the trouble. The teachers were warned by him not to engage in sorcery—that curse from which they had themselves been liberated through their faith in Christ.
Not long after this an epidemic of dysentery broke out in the villages, having been brought by a sick workboy returned from the mainland. Many people died. One of Daniela’s children contracted the complaint and died in a few days. Then his other three children died within a fortnight. A little more than a week later, Mary, Daniela’s wife, worn out by her care for and loss of her whole family, went down to an attack of pneumonia and, in a few days, she too, was dead. During this time Gideoni’s wife died also. .
Then came another visit from the Angau officer. Again the charge of sorcery was preferred against the Teachers. This time the officer, saying he had forbidden the practice of sorcery on the Island twelve months before, committed the Teachers to prison. In vain they protested their innocence, and they were removed to the gaol of Misima Island. Gideoni w^ts released after a short period.
Tuberculosis had, by this time, claimed Daniela as a victim, and he became very ill. A house was built at the
DANIELA—TRIED AND TRIUMPHANT
Misima Mission Station by the Missionary in charge, who had strongly but unavailingly protested against the prison sentences. When the small place was finished Daniela was carried to it from the prison, but it was too late to do anything there for him and he died the next day.
Of the party of twelve who went with high resolve to take the message to those other people, only Gideoni and his four children returned to their homes. Seven lie buried in what to them were foreign places—an offering of brave people to the work of the Lord.
After the tragic deaths, Daniela was pressed by his friend to return to their own place by the first available boat. Daniela replied, "Here I have buried my wife and my children and here I shall stay and work for Christ until I, too, am buried with them.” Knowing Daniela from his youth I would not have expected any other reply from him.
The story of this happening seems like tragedy unrelieved. War conditions were mainly responsible for the latter part of what took place. The price paid for such service was indeed costly, but in the final accounting there are many people who might envy Daniela his unstinted gift to his Lord. He offered himself, was sorely tried and came through, in spite of the loss of all his possessions, triumphant in Christ.
Printed by Spectator Publishing Co. Pty. Ltd., 154a Little Collins Street, Melbourne, C.l.
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