Jones was the son of an Ojibwas woman and a European trader. But under pressure, he left Jones’ mother when Jones was not even a year old. So Jones was raised by a single mother for many of his early years. During these years, he was raised among the Ojibwas people. He learned the language, culture, and religion of his people. But as he grew older, he began to doubt the religion of his people. It came to a head when the chief of his clan, hoping to renew the declining faith of his people in their tribal religion, claimed to have experienced a vision of spirits promising that they would make him invincible to arrows and bullet. To prove it, he arranged a demonstration of his spirit-granted invulnerability. He was killed attempting to catch a bullet with a tin pot. This experience, along with others, made Jones realize that there had to be a truth out there he could believe in. But this wasn’t it.
When he was fifteen, his tribe began to experience some severe difficulties. Jone’s father, hearing about the difficulty of the tribe, came and took his sons to live with him and his family. So Jones was taken from his complete Indian culture to a European one. He didn’t even speak any English, but was sent to a one room schoolhouse. He spent nearly seven year among the settlers, learning English and their way of life. But at the age of 22, he attended a camp meeting with his half-sister. Here, he heard the gospel for the first time and accepted Christ. William Case, the missionary holding the camp meeting, saw the potential in Jones to reach out to the hard Indian tribes. Jones could already speak their language and understood their culture. They would trust him, since he was one of them, far more than a white missionary. So Case began to mentor and train Jones to be in the ministry, praying that one day, God would use him mightily.
And God did! Jones returned to his tribe and, in just over a year, more than half the tribe had turned to Christ. Along with his brother, he began to translate the Bible into different tribal languages. He soon began to travel around to different tribes, teaching them the gospel and starting churches. No matter what tribe he went to, he would learn their language, so he could give them the gospel in their own language. Along with all of his missionary labors, he also represented the Indians to the government, toured the US, Canada, and England raising funds for the work (It was in England that he met a wealthy young woman that he married), wrote several books and accounts of his work, and even served as a chief in his tribe.
When Jones died, he was mourned by all his Indians converts and many of the settlers. A memorial was erected at the first church he started that reads:
In Memory of KAHKEWAQUONABY, (Peter Jones), THE FAITHFUL AND HEROIC OJIBEWAY MISSIONARY AND CHIEF: THE GUIDE, ADVISOR, AND BENEFACTOR OF HIS PEOPLE. Born January 1st, 1802. Died June 29th, 1856. HIS GOOD WORKS LIVE AFTER HIM, AND HIS MEMORY IS EMBALMED IN MANY GRATEFUL HEARTS.
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