March 29th in World Evangelism History

On this day in 1822, Missionary Benton Pixley and a doctor return from their visit to the Osage Indians.

Both Pixley and the doctor were part of a missions organization known as the United Foreign Missionary Society. This organization worked among the Osage Indians to establish a missions school for the Indians known as Harmony School. The team of missionaries consisted of ministers, a physician, blacksmith, carpenter, millwright, shoemaker and two farmers.

Pixley spent a lot of time with the Osage people. His primary reason for spending so much time with them was to learn the language. Pixley spent much of his time away from the missionary team with the other men of the Osage Indian tribe. He would go away with them for months as they traveled around the land hunting food during the summer and fall hunts. He spent much of his time, not only just with the Indian men, but also with their women and children. He would spend his evenings in the tents and rude bark homes of the Osage people listening to them talk.

Pixley discovered a big struggle within the clash of cultures of which he was at the forefront. The Indian people ridiculed Indian individuals who became educated through the missions school and who adopted anything of the culture of the missionaries. Pixley states in one of his writings, “I offered large wages to a young Osage, Milledoler, who has long attended school at Harmony, to induce him to remain with me through the present winter, and assist me in acquiring his language, he, at the same time, learning the English. This, he said, he would be glad to do, but remarked, ‘The Osages call me a fool.’ Although he understands much of our language, he can hardly be persuaded to speak a word of it in presence of the Indians.”

How willing are we to adopt the culture of the people around us who need to hear the gospel? Are we willing to adapt to their culture, language, and customs for the sake of the gospel?  Pixley saw the importance of immersing himself in a foreign culture to reach them with the gospel. He saw how it was more important that he learned their customs than it was for them to learn his.

 

On this day in 1798, Missionaries of the London Missionary Society to the island of Otaheite, known today as Tahiti, wrote a letter to their missions board. Originally, a group of missionaries had gone together to spread the gospel to a number of islands. However, after facing so much opposition and difficulties, within a year of arriving, a number of the missionaries decided to leave the work on the islands. To this occasion, the missionaries who decided to remain write:

“Dearly beloved brethren…The change that has taken place in out situation, by the sudden resolution of the major part of the society of missionaries to depart from this island of Otaheite for Port Jackson, in New Holland, we trust will nothing hinder that work which first induced us to offer our services to the directors of the Missionary Society, supported us under the heavy trail of forsaking parents, brothers, sisters, friends, etc, and still encourages us to abide the will of God on this island. We can only assure the directors of the Society, that our confidence is the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose aid we depend upon, and whose servants we desire to manifest ourselves to be…

 We also humbly request the directors of the Society not to forget us either in their prayers or re-visiting us, if any opportunity for so doing should occur…if the directors should judge it prudent, and find it convenient, to send out a few presents for those who showed themselves most friendly to us, such as knives, scissors, axes, and such articles, they will be gratefully received. Experience has taught us the more we are encumbered about worldly things, the less concern we have for the conversion of the heathen; and the more we are detached from secular employments, the more, we trust, our minds will be attached to the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

How willing are we to be like these missionaries? In the face of trials and upon their fellow Christians abandoning them to do the work themselves, they put their confidence in the strength of God, not in their own. When hardships come and serving God becomes very difficult and lonely, will we quit the work or will we thrust all of our hope and faith in our God? Then will we be the kind of people that these missionaries needed? Will we be people who pray for them? Will we go visit missionaries to help and encourage them? Will we support them financially so that they can use their energy to focus on their goal of spreading the Gospel? Serving God can get lonely and discouraging. If we are in that position, let’s put our faith and hope in our strong and mighty God. If we are not in the position, let’s encourage those who are with our prayers, encouragements, and support.

 

*Entries entered and written by Edward de los Reyes

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Jason Rishel

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