In 1797, Nott, with a group of fellow missionaries, landed on the island of Tahiti, with the dream of starting a flourishing mission. When they arrived, they found a people engrossed in strange and dark practices, but who were strangely glad to have the missionaries with them. It soon became obvious, however, that their friendliness came from a desire for gifts, not to know the truth. Soon, floods of natives came to the mission, seeking tools and other supplies of the missionaries. When the supply ran out, they resorted to robbing the missionaries, taking many of their needed supplies.
The difficulty of the field, the constant danger they faced, the lack of supplies, drove many of the missionaries mad. But like a rock in the midst of the storm, Nott worked to hold the mission together in the midst of severe persecution and hardship. Of all the missionaries, he was the first to learn the language, which allowed him to preach to the people without using an interpreter. During his first sermon in their language, he said, “O Tahitians, I come with a message of infinite compassion to those in deep distress. I bring glad tidings of salvation to those in sin’s control. I proclaim a gospel of comfort to those in sorrow’s gloom.”
When the other missionaries had been killed, or ran away, or forsook the work, Nott remained to fight for the gospel. Just three years after the work began, Nott remained alone as the only missionary among the Tahitians. Still he worked on. After twenty years, he saw his first convert baptized, the king of the Tahitians. The following sums up the ministry of Henry Nott:
Thus, after more than two decades of tears and toil, occurred the first baptism in Tahiti. Twenty-two years of hardships and disappointments, and Henry Nott began to see the travail of his soul satisfied. In all the thrilling annals of missionary heroism, is there to be found anywhere a devotion to duty in the face of manifold perils, a fortitude under accumulated sufferings, and a fidelity that held on so long with no evidence of harvest, to surpass that of the bricklayer of Tahiti?
The harvest was at last ready and the reapers were busy. During the ensuing decade hundreds of baptized Tahitians became eager students of God’s Word and earnest seekers of souls. Some of them, and also some of the missionaries, went forth to take the gospel to Borabora, Raiatea, Huahine and other dark islands. Nott preached in the huge Royal Mission Chapel on Sundays and Wednesdays, and went on preaching tours through Tahiti and other islands. On Eimeo a building, formerly used for the offering up of human sacrifices and other abominable practices of the Areoi Society, was solemnly dedicated as a house of Christian worship. With 3000 people in attendance Nott preached the dedication sermon, using the text: “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.”1
Giants of the Missionary Trial by Eugene Myers Harrison 1
In 1873, as Livingston was making one of his exploration trips into the heart of Africa, he fell extremely ill. He grew so weak that the natives that traveled with him were forced to carry him back to the nearby village. That night, Livingston died. The next morning, his faithful native assistants came into his tent to find his body kneeling in prayer and his soul with his Master.
Livingston’s assistants, knowing that Livingston was an important man back in his motherland, realized that the English would want to take David’s body back there to be buried. So they embalmed his body and made a makeshift coffin out of tree bark. They then carried his body over 700 miles of jungles, swamps, and hostile territory to get it to a port to take it back to England. But before they embalmed the body, they removed the heart and buried it under a tree in the heart of Africa. They said, “Livingston’s heart belongs in the place he loved so much.”
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