On this day in 1885, the Bhoi Baba (or head chief) of a village in India was baptized. This Bhoi Baba was of the Gond people, who are, today, the largest tribe in India with over four million people. A missionary with the Church Missionary Society, H.D. Williamson, had been working among the Gond people for a little while when he heard that there was a powerful Gond chief who was known as a seeker of truth. This chief would spend long hours in meditation, once spending an entire week sitting on a rock in the middle of a river. He had learned to read so he could study all the sacred Hindu writings. Williamson decided to visit the chief. However, when he got to the village, he was informed that the chief had just left to go out on one of his meditation journeys and it was unknown when he would be back. Quite disappointed, Williamson decided to spend the night and wait a few days to see if the chief returned. That evening, the Bhoi Baba returned to the village, saying that he felt a strong urging to return. Williamson immediately gave him the gospel and this chief, this seeker of truth, realized that all his mediation and efforts couldn’t find the truth. It was only found in Jesus Christ. The Bhoi Baba was saved, baptized and taught the Word of God. He was the first Gond to put his trust in Jesus Christ. After his salvation, he became a bold witness. He carried around a Hindi New Testament and told everyone about Christ. When the the Bhoi Baba died in 1896, 200 of the Gond people had been saved and Baptized.
On this day in 1851, William Ashmore, a Baptist missionary from Putnam, Ohio, arrived in Hong Kong, where he would begin a work that would last nearly half a century and span all over China, Thailand, and Siam. When Ashmore first arrived, he applied himself with extreme diligence in learning the Chinese language. After he had a mastery of the language, he would go from house to house, talking with those that lived there, handing out tracts, and teaching them of Christ. In just a little over seven years after their arrival, Mrs. Ashmore became very sick and they headed back to the states, in hopes that she would recover. But in 1858, William’s wife, a women he described as being “of rare quality in mind and heart”, died. This was a crushig blow to the young missionary. But the Lord gave him strength and, after spending a few years recuperating, returned to China in 1864 with his new wife. He continued his work until he died in 1909.
On this day in 1866, Scottish missionary James Chalmers and his wife, Jane, set sail from England bound for the New Hebrides. Despite several difficulties and a short stay in Australia, the Chalmers arrived at the island of Rarotonga, sixteen months after they set sail from England. At first, James was disappointed because he felt that the area was already Christianized by the many missionaries that had gone before him. But he realized that there was still much work to do and threw himself into it. In 1877, he had the opportunity to pioneer! He was sent to the large, unknown island of New Guinea. There, he faced a totally unreached people who cherished war and murder. In his own words, James describes a conversation he had with the people when he first arrived about why he was there:
“What is the name of your country?”
“Why did you leave your country?”
“To teach you and to tell you of the great loving Spirit who loves us all.”
“Have you coconuts in your country?”
“Have you yams?”
“Have you taro?”
“Have you sago?”
“Have you plenty of tomahawks and hoop-iron?”
“Yes, in great abundance.”
“We understand, now, why you have come! You have nothing to eat in Beritani, but you have plenty of tomahawks and hoop-iron with which to buy food wherever you can find it.”
It was useless to tell them we had plenty of food different from theirs, and that want of food did not send us away from Beritani. We had no coconuts, yams, taro, or sago, and who could live without these? Seeing us opening canned meat, they came to the conclusion that we too were cannibals who had human flesh cooked in our country and sent out to us in cans.
Chalmer’s life among these people proved to be difficult and full of challenges, but he faithfully continued on. He was able to see hundreds of natives saved and baptized. Many chapels were started in villages across the Island. Chalmers became known as the Greatheart of New Guinea. He stayed on the island until his life was taken by the very people he was trying to reach in 1901.
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