Larger font
Smaller font

General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1

 - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font


    A. J. READ


    Psalm 50:1-6. “The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God is judge himself.”GCB February 17, 1895, page 178.1

    That we may refresh our minds in regard to the field, allow me to call your attention to a few geographical facts. The area of our globe is about two hundred million square miles. Of this area, one hundred and fifty million square miles are water, and of this water area about seventy-five million square miles are comprised in the Pacific Ocean. Dotted throughout this vast extent from the Arctic to the Antarctic are the numerous islands which make up the groups and archipelagoes of the North and South Pacific. The land area of these islands is estimated at one million six hundred thousand square miles, about one half the area of the United States, supporting a population of seventy-five millions.GCB February 17, 1895, page 178.2

    Among these islands may be found every climate and all the diversities of physical geography which it is possible to find upon the continents. There are the low islands and the high islands, the rocky islands and the sandy, the barren and the fertile, the inhabited and the uninhabited, the hostile and the hospitable.GCB February 17, 1895, page 178.3

    Tahiti, upon which we are at present located, is between 17 and 18 degrees south latitude, and about 149 degrees west of Greenwich, being a distance of about four thousand miles from San Francisco. It is about one hundred and nineteen miles in circumference, and sustains a population of about eleven thousand. The city of Papatee is located on the north side of the island and is the headquarters of the French government for the South Seas. There are located in this city about seven or eight hundred marines and military. Between the volcanic mountains which occupy the center and the sea coast, there lies a strip of fertile land, which abounds in the products of this tropical island.GCB February 17, 1895, page 178.4

    The products are principally bread fruit, taro, sweet potatoes, yams, guavas, mangoes, oranges, and other tropical fruits of less importance. The principal exports of the island are cotton, coffee, coconuts, and copra. The climate of Tahiti is very mild and agreeable. Though it is so near to the equator, yet the constant trade winds and the large amount of rain which falls yearly keep the atmosphere comparatively cool. According to the last record, it was estimated that the highest that the thermometer had reached during the year was ninety-one degrees Fahrenheit, and the lowest was fifty-nine degrees Fahrenheit. During the past year there has been a rain fall of about thirty-nine inches. There are two seasons recognized in Tahiti, the wet season and the dry season, although, properly speaking, there is no dry season. The mountains catch the clouds that are wafted down by the trade winds, and keep the island well supplied with rain and water throughout the year. The island has over one hundred and twenty-five streams large and small. Some of these streams are very broad, and flow with such force that in time of flood it is utterly impossible to ford them.GCB February 17, 1895, page 178.5

    The island was discovered in the year 1767 by Captain Wallace, and two years later Captain Cook paid the island a visit.GCB February 17, 1895, page 178.6

    In the years 1784 and 1785 Lieutenant Bligh, of England, visited the island, in charge of H.M.S. “Bounty” to procure bread-fruit trees. After leaving the island, a mutiny occurred, and some of the sailors returned and remained on the island of Tahiti, while others went to Pitcairn and became the ancestors of the present inhabitants of that island.GCB February 17, 1895, page 178.7

    In the year 1797 the Spirit of God had begun to move on the hearts of his people for the salvation of the heathen people scattered over the South Pacific. John Adams was the first to receive these impressions. And at the same time the Spirit of God was moving on the hearts of benevolent people in England, who formed what is known as the London Missionary Society.GCB February 17, 1895, page 178.8

    In the year 1797 some missionaries were sent out by that society to bring the glad tidings of peace and salvation to the people of these islands. Just before they landed upon the island, the Spirit of God had been working on the hearts of those heathen people. A severe earthquake occurred shortly before the landing of the missionaries, and it made such an impression upon the minds of the people that when the missionaries landed on the 7th day of March in that year, they were received gladly; and though they did not at once receive the gospel which the missionaries taught, yet they gave them a home and treated them hospitably. There were eighteen of the missionaries, and they began laboring to teach the people agricultural pursuits, and to bring before them the gospel of truth. They made tours of the island to bring the instruction to the people.GCB February 17, 1895, page 178.9

    Everywhere there seemed to be an absolute lack of all moral sense with these people. If the missionaries would give them a hatchet, an ax, or anything of that kind, they would appreciate it, but when they tried to teach them the truth of the gospel, it seemed almost impossible to make any impression upon them. The missionaries planted a garden, and the work began to look prosperous, when a war broke out, and their garden was destroyed. But they made more gardens, and just as they were about to reap the fruits, another war began, which threatened their lives as well as their property, and under the advice of Pomare, the king, the missionaries decided to abandon all, and leave the island at the first opportunity. Soon a vessel arrived, and the missionaries packed up everything and started to go on board. Their feelings as they were about to leave the island, and to abandon their friends whom they had been teaching, knowing that they would go back into the customs of savagery, may better be imagined than described. Just as the last one was going on board the vessel, a tall native chief cried out in his native tongue, “Mr. Knott, do not go,” and that plea coming from the native chief was so potent that Mr. Knott felt that he could not leave the island. He and Mr. Hayward determined to return and stay with the people and teach them at all hazards. After a little while it was thought best for them to remove to the neighboring island of Morea, and remain there until the war was over, for they could have easy access to the people from that place and be comparatively safe.GCB February 17, 1895, page 179.1

    Pomare took more interest in the gospel, professedly, although they could see no fruits of Christianity in his life; as he kept up the worship of idols, and many of his heathen practices. The war had subsided, and Mr. Knott and Mr. Hayward determined to make a tour of the island of Tahiti, and try again to present the gospel of truth to the people. They knew what it meant to make a tour of the island. They would get together a congregation and try to present to them the word of God, and what our Saviour has done for us, and the native people would perhaps just be getting interested when along would come some native rowdies and bring some fighting roosters and start them to fighting, and attract the attention of the child-like natives; sometimes it would be a dog fight, or they would throw bread fruit or some other missile. So the missionaries knew that it was not pleasant on this account. They reached the island of Tahiti in their canoe, which was an open dug-out, and balanced on the water by an out-rigger that kept the log from rolling over. They spent the night with a friendly native. The next morning the missionaries arose early and went out, as was their custom, to seek a place of retirement where they could pour out their hearts to God in prayer. As they were seeking a place, they heard a sound which attracted their attention. It sounded like the voice of a native praying. They drew near to the clump of banana trees; and as they drew near they found unmistakably that it was a native pleading with the Jehovah God. They had heard them pleading with the wooden idols which they worshiped, but after 18 years of labor, that was the first prayer going forth to the true God. Mr. Hayward could hardly restrain himself from rushing in and embracing the object of his joy, but he did not, and sought another place of retirement, where he poured out his heart in thanksgiving to God.GCB February 17, 1895, page 179.2

    They returned to their stopping place, and sought out this man, and gave him more instruction in regard to God. These seeds of truth that were thus springing forth were those that had been sown during those eighteen years. They gave the man more thorough instruction, and this man, with another who had been associated with him in seeking for light, were brought to the fold of Christ. Already they had begun to translate some parts of the Scriptures into the native language, and were trying to reduce the language to proper grammatical forms.GCB February 17, 1895, page 179.3

    After this, Pomare, the king, took a more decided stand. Some of the chiefs from other islands also received the gospel. The truth was impressed upon their hearts, and pressed home upon them in such a way that nobody could doubt that God himself had established it. Pomare took such a decided stand that it gave an influence to the gospel, and almost before the missionaries were aware of it, whole villages of people became interested to know more of the truth. In the village of Matavai, quite a company were gathered out; they were called, Pure Atua, or “praying-to-God people.” But jealousy was stirred up; the priests of the old heathen worship were angry, and when it came to the annual idolatrous feast for the offering of human sacrifices, they would demand and obtain of the king, the body of some Christian as a human sacrifice.GCB February 17, 1895, page 179.4

    The Pure Atua, or “praying-to-God people,” became so strong that a war was started by one of the opposing heathen chiefs against them, in order that he might extirpate them from the land. They began to think that the water-spouts, hurricanes, etc. were caused by these “praying-to-God” people. One Sabbath when they were all peaceably gathered together in the church that had been built for the worship of God, the cry was started, “Tamai, Tamai,” (war, war). The service was finished and the benediction was pronounced, and then they all went to their huts and took their weapons; they knew that they must fight, but the gospel had made such an impression upon their minds that they determined to do nothing more than to defend themselves. That day and all that night one of the most bloody wars was waged. The victory was to the Christian people, but instead of pursuing the victory as was customary for the natives, killing men, women, and children, and destroying villages, the king said, “Stop, it is enough; they have fled. Let them alone.”GCB February 17, 1895, page 179.5

    The people then began to take more interest in religion, and whole villages embraced the gospel, but there were so few missionaries that the natives did not have the instruction that they ought to have had, and so many became Christians, but little more than in name. They had a “form of godliness,” without the power. The English people had a leading interest in the island until the year 1842, when the French people established a protectorate over the island. In 1880 the island was annexed to France. The whole group afterwards became annexed.GCB February 17, 1895, page 180.1

    In the year 1891 another important event in connection with their history occurred when the “Pitcairn” went to these islands. When we arrived at the island, we found a peculiar state of affairs. We found that all the English missionaries had abandoned the island, because of being so circumscribed by French laws. They found it impossible to carry on their work and so they had left and gone to other fields. French missionaries then took up the work. There are at this time about seven Roman Catholic priests and a large number of Catholic sisters of mercy and other helpers laboring there. The French Protestant Society has also sent out three missionaries to take charge of the Protestant interests on the island, but these are inadequate to instruct so many people in the way of righteousness.GCB February 17, 1895, page 180.2

    During our first visit to the island, I became acquainted with a native pastor, who invited us to attend his services. So one Sunday morning we went early and attended his services throughout the day. The services were after the same form as they are in this country. There were a few benches, but most of the people were obliged to sit on the floor cross-legged in the native fashion; in the congregation there were also quite a number of dogs, and children playing, all oblivious of their surroundings. But some of the people were paying good attention to the service and taking notes of all that the pastor said in his sermon. When the services were over, the pastor invited us to stop and visit him and attend the evening prayer meeting, which was to be a review of all the services of the day. His meeting-house was made of bamboo poles, and had a thatch roof.GCB February 17, 1895, page 180.3

    As we entered the building for the prayer meeting, we saw the native people sitting upon the floor and just preparing for the opening service. As they began the opening hymn, they rolled little native cigarettes and lighted them, the women as well as the men participating in the general smoke, and passing the cigarettes from one to the other; they smoked and sang and repeated passages of Scripture through out the service, until the room became quite thick with tobacco smoke. This meeting continued until about half past ten, and then they had an intermission, during which refreshments were served, consisting of hot coffee and white bread. Most of them buy their bread of the Chinese dealers, but some make it themselves. After the refreshments, the meeting continued, as the pastor told us, until half past one in the morning. We left the service before it was over and went to the pastor’s house to retire. The pastor has his house a little more like the European houses. He had it partitioned into three or four rooms. While we were sitting, talking to the pastor’s wife, we noticed some black thing crawl out between the thatch and fall on the floor. On investigation we found to our horror that it was a centipede. We felt a little uncomfortable at the prospect of sleeping there, but concluded to make the best of it. The next morning we had a talk with the pastor in regard to his service, and suggested that it might be a little more spiritual and beneficial if they would leave out some of the tobacco. During our visit, also, we had occasion to instruct him in several things which he desired to know. One thing was that Mrs. Read taught his wife how to make bread. Their only apparatus for bread making was a piece of an old coal-oil tin for a pan and a hole in the ground paved with stones for an oven.GCB February 17, 1895, page 180.4

    We had a very pleasant visit during the week, and left him quite interested in reading some of our books, for he had learned to read a little English before we met him.GCB February 17, 1895, page 180.5

    While we were away from the island, the native pastor felt very much impressed with what had been said. On the return of the “Pitcairn” in September 1892, we found an improved condition of things. There was beautiful shrubbery growing in the yard, he had a nice little garden, and walks laid on, everything was clean about the place, the pigs had been dispensed with altogether, he had a nice little pine-apple patch planted, his bread-fruit trees were doing nicely, and he even had his house white-washed; and among other things, he had bought a stove.GCB February 17, 1895, page 180.6

    We also found that the native pastor had begun to study the book, “Bible Readings,” which we had sold him. He liked that book particularly because there were references to passages of Scripture, and he could see what they were by looking them up in his native Bible. And so week after week, he would take subjects, and look up all the passages in the Scripture upon them. And when we came back, we found him and others of his people obeying the truth of God.GCB February 17, 1895, page 181.1

    But the pastors are all government employees. So as the native pastor was teaching doctrines that the government did not consider catholic, they decided that he was not fit any longer to be a pastor of that people, and took away his pastorate. But his people had learned to love the truth. And they came day after day to gain instruction from him from the word of God. So when the “Pitcairn” arrived in September, 1892, we found quite a little company of people that were professing to live up to the light of the truth of God. But they still continued the use of tobacco to some extent in their prayer meetings. After our arrival and the establishment of our mission there, we had occasion to give them some instruction in regard to these things, and it was not long until the tobacco had disappeared altogether from the meetings.GCB February 17, 1895, page 181.2

    One thing in regard to the natives of this island is that they need line upon line, precept upon precept, and so we have to give them the simple truth of the gospel over and over again, and often we find them very dull in grasping spiritual truth. But notwithstanding all the difficulties that we have to meet in laboring among these people, and all the discouragements when we find it so hard for them to appreciate the wonders of God’s truth, yet there is one consolation, — we have the assurance that it is the MIGHTY GOD that has spoken to the ends of the earth; it is he that has called the earth from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof, and we know that his truth will find a place among these people.GCB February 17, 1895, page 181.3

    Larger font
    Smaller font