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Subject: ‘Missionaries’

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Saint Andrew is the patron saint of missionaries and of Scotland

Posted in Bible, Missionaries, Religion, Saints, Scotland on Tuesday, 6 August 2013

This edited article about Saint Andrew originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 360 published on 7 December 1968.

Crucifixion of St Andrew, picture, image, illustration

Crucifixion of St Andrew from a C14 French painting

Saint Andrew has been regarded as the patron of Christian missions since very early times. The reason for this is not hard to understand; it arises from what happened when Jesus invited Andrew to become one of His chosen followers, the twelve apostles.

Andrew was the first of the several fishermen of Galilee whom Jesus chose as His closest companions.

It was during a talk between Jesus and himself on the seashore that Andrew had an idea which marked him out from all the others. Instead of accepting the invitation to visit Jesus at His home, Andrew decided that this meeting was too good to keep to himself. He wanted to share the new friend he had made, so he slipped quietly away and found his brother, Simon Peter.

This pleased Jesus very much, for Peter was one of the fishermen whom Jesus most wanted as one of His followers, and he was eventually to become one of His three closest friends.

Although Andrew never became as important a leader as his brother, he is remembered especially for the example he set of what a Christian ought to do.

Instead of keeping his meeting with Jesus a secret, he did the very thing which eventually made Christianity into a world religion: he went and found someone else to join the band of disciples. As the Gospel of St. John tells us (Chapter 1, verse 41) “He first findeth his own brother, Simon.”

Andrew is mentioned several times in other parts of the story of Jesus. Once a great crowd followed Jesus into the desert, and there He fed them in a marvellous way, by sharing a small boy’s picnic among all the hungry people (St. John’s Gospel, chapter 6, verses 5-14). It was Andrew who discovered this boy with the “five barley loaves and two small fishes” which Jesus shared among the crowd.

It would appear that Andrew was always ready to bring people to Jesus and to be then content to leave Him to say or do what He thought best for them. On another occasion, Andrew introduced some enquiring Greeks to Jesus (St. John’s Gospel, chapter 12, verse 22). In fact, he was the ideal missionary, and that is why he was chosen by the Church as the patron saint of all missionary work.

It is much more difficult to understand how or why St. Andrew was adopted as the patron saint of Scotland. All that can be said is that the Scots recognised him as such no later than A.D. 750.

Traditions of the 3rd century connect Andrew with missionary work in Turkey and Russia, and the diagonal cross known as the cross of St. Andrew is said to be in the shape of that on which Andrew was martyred in A.D. 70 at the Greek city of Patras, to which he had also taken the Christian faith.

“St. Andrew’s Tide”, on and around 30th November, is observed all over the world as a time of special prayer for the missionary work of the Church, inspired by the memory of this first follower of Jesus who had the gift of bringing others to Him.

The Canadian missionaries who were saved by their boots

Posted in Adventure, Bravery, Historical articles, History, Missionaries, Religion on Monday, 5 August 2013

This edited article about Canadian missionaries originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 357 published on 16 November 1968.

Stringer and Johnson, picture, image, illustration

Dr Isaac Stringer and his missionary companion C. F. Johnson, trekked across the Yukon and faced freezing conditions and starvation to get to Dawson City by Graham Coton

Dr. Isaac Stringer, who was the Bishop of Selkirk, the Yukon diocese in Canada’s frozen north, was no ordinary bishop. Apart from his university qualifications, he had other qualities. His wrestler’s build gave him a bull-like strength which made him the equal of any of the tough, brawling and often murderous inhabitants of his 200,000-square-mile diocese.

In fact the two-fisted prelate of Selkirk proved himself even tougher than the sinewy, hard-bitten children of the ice, the Eskimos themselves. On a journey from Fort McPherson to Dawson City, when others would have laid down and died, he proved himself a match for the merciless country itself – even though he had to eat his boots to do it!

The bishop and a missionary companion, C. F. Johnston, left Fort McPherson by canoe with four Indians. Their destination was Dawson City, and they had to get there before the winter ice-up. They knew that, once the snow fell and the waterfalls froze solid, it would be almost certain death for anyone who tried to make that 300-mile journey.

Within a few days of starting, one of the four Indians paddling the canoe south was taken seriously ill, and precious time was wasted in a detour to the nearest settlement. This delay was to prove nearly fatal. The party was planning to canoe down a tributary of the big Mackenzie River, carry the boat over the mountains, then continue down the fast-flowing Porcupine River to a point where they would be able to make for home in reasonable comfort. But when they set off once more, there were ominous signs of an early freeze-up on their small tributary.

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Festivals in Florida celebrate the coming of Christianity to the New World

Posted in America, Anniversary, Customs, Historical articles, History, Missionaries on Tuesday, 9 July 2013

This edited article about festivals in Florida originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 322 published on 16 March 1968.

DeSoto Society, picture, image, illustration

Members of the DeSoto Historical Society re-enact the landing of their Spanish hero in Florida in 1539 every year

History was made on the 12th October, 1492, when Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. He became famous and rich, took the title of “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” (as the Pacific was then known) and inspired other intrepid adventurers to follow his course to the new land.

In fact, the New World had been ‘discovered’ hundreds of years earlier by such people as Leif Ericson, the Norse adventurer, in about A.D. 1000, and by Chinese merchants and Norwegians, as well as by Basque and Breton fishermen.

Although evidence of these visitors has been found, they left no record of their voyages. Columbus’s expedition, therefore, marked the first official discovery of the New World. (The irony of it was that Columbus believed he had found India!)

When Columbus reported his discovery to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, other Spaniards were eager to set out to seek their fortunes in the distant land. By 1580, Spain had laid claim to all the lands we now know as the southern United States and the Panamanian peninsula (all of which they called “New Spain”) plus the greater part of South America.

Following the landing of Hernando Cortez in Mexico in 1519, and the Spanish conquest of the great Aztec empire, many other explorers were lured to America by the prospect of plundered gold and treasure which would make them rich and give them power at home.

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The fighting Booths and their Salvation Army

Posted in Historical articles, History, Institutions, London, Missionaries, Philanthropy, Religion on Tuesday, 9 July 2013

This edited article about the Salvation Army originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 322 published on 16 March 1968.

Salvation Army, picture, image, illustration

The Salvation Army in the 1960s in a London street by Peter Jackson

As soon as he finished his work in the evenings, the fifteen-year-old pawnbroker’s apprentice took a chair into the slum streets of Nottingham, and, mounting it, began to preach to the passers-by.

The apprentice, William Booth, was sickened by the poverty which he came across daily in his shop. Week after week he saw the same people pawning and redeeming their most precious possessions. Although they were paid each Friday, their wages were so low that by Monday mornings they were penniless again.

The workers had no ally in their struggle against want, and William Booth, who was born in Nottingham in 1820, resolved to do all he could to alleviate their hardship.

His own father had once been a successful builder, but he died a poor man, and William was left to support his widowed mother and family. Surrounded by “desperation and despair”, he had little time for the usual boyhood pastimes of cricket and football.

Despite working hard from seven in the morning until seven at night, William managed to walk miles to villages where his words brought comfort to the sick. He was by no means a strong boy and, when he was seventeen, a doctor told him that, unless he gave up his “wandering preacher’s life”, he would be dead within a year.

William paid no heed to this warning. Instead, he studied to become a minister. A friend allowed him a pound a week on which to live, and William moved to London, where he felt he could do most good. He paid five shillings a week for two unfurnished rooms, and began to travel about the city conducting meetings and services.

During this period, he met and married the delicate Catherine Mumford, who began to prepare herself for the arduous task of being such a man’s wife. “I added to the number of my studies,” she said, “enlarged the scope of my reading . . . started to learn shorthand . . . and in other ways stirred up the gift that was in me to fit myself the better to serve God and my generation.”

When her husband became a minister, at Gateshead-on-Tyne, Mrs. Booth created a sensation by taking an active part in his meetings. In 1860, it was unheard of for a woman to speak from the pulpit, and she wrote afterwards: “little did I realize how much was he involved! I never imagined the life of publicity and trial it would lead to, for I was never allowed to have another quiet Sabbath when I was well enough to stand and speak.”

For the next few years, the Booths continued their joint career, but by 1878, William Booth had tired of orthodox religious preaching.

“There are enough churches,” he told his followers. “I want to make an army . . . a volunteer army . . . a salvation army.”

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Gregory the Great elevated the Papacy to greater heights

Posted in Historical articles, History, Missionaries, Religion on Tuesday, 9 July 2013

This edited article about Gregory the Great originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 321 published on 9 March 1968.

Gregory the Great, picture, image, illustration

Told that the fair-headed slaves were Angles, Pope Gregory is said to have remarked, "Not Angles, but Angels." Picture by Pat Nicolle

Britain received her knowledge of the Christian faith from two separate sources, which did not unite for many years. The earliest missionaries came from Ireland, not later than the 5th century A.D. Their influence extended first to Scotland, then gradually into north-east England, and from there to the midlands and the south-east. Their followers accepted the teachings and calendar of the Celtic church, which differed in several ways from those of the Roman church.

Missionaries from Rome set out for Britain in the 6th century. The person chiefly responsible for this was Gregory the Great, who was so good a man during his lifetime that he was acclaimed as one of the Saints of the Church immediately after his death.

On his appointment as Bishop of Rome (Pope) in A.D. 590, Gregory became at one and the same time a politician, a church lawyer, an organiser of social welfare, and an international diplomat. In this way he set the pattern for many popes of the Middle Ages. Noted for his generosity (he had given away his great estates for the benefit of the poor), he was at heart a missionary, and the strict discipline he asked of the men in the monasteries under his care was intended to fit them to carry their faith to distant lands, and, if necessary, to die for it.

Almost everyone knows the story of how Gregory one day saw a group of prisoners, fair-haired and blue-eyed, in the slave market in Rome. On being told that they were ‘Angli’ (Angles) he is said to have answered, in Latin, ‘Non Angli sed Angeli’ (‘Not Angles but Angles’).

It has sometimes been alleged that it was the sight of these Angles, or English, people whom he found so attractive, that caused Gregory to send St. Augustine and others from Rome to preach to them in their own land. What is not generally known is that Gregory himself set off as a missionary to Britain, before becoming Pope. Pope Benedict I recalled him after he had actually started out on this mission, because the Christians of Rome were reluctant to part with so beloved a leader.

* * *

It was some years after this unfulfilled mission that Gregory chose Augustine, and sent him, with forty monks, well qualified for the work, to settle in the kingdom of Kent, and to promote Christianity there. Although the Kentish King, Ethelbert, to whom Gregory’s mission preached, was a pagan, his wife Bertha (who came from Northern England) had already become a Christian of the Celtic church before her marriage.

‘Gregory the Great’ as he is always known, was an outstanding scholar, writer, and musician. King Alfred translated some of his writings from Latin into the Saxon tongue. A style of Church music, known as the Gregorian chant, was devised by him, and is still used widely in many churches.

Gregory’s connection with the mission of his Church to England makes it especially fitting for English people to remember him on his own day in the Church Calendar, March 12th.

Wilfred Grenfell made his doctor’s calls by dog-sled

Posted in Historical articles, History, Medicine, Missionaries on Tuesday, 9 July 2013

This edited article about Wilfred Grenfell originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 321 published on 9 March 1968.

Wilfred Grenfell, picture, image, illustration

Sir Wilfred Thomson Grenfell, the 'saviour of the sick' in Labrador

There was nothing young Wilfred Grenfell liked better than to be messing about by the water. He loved fishing, bathing, and even built his own “coffin-like” boat, The Reptile. But his most exhilarating pastime was to dive into the surging current of the River Dee, in Cheshire, and let himself be swept to the far bank.

During his school holidays, he accompanied the local fishermen on their expeditions to the Irish Sea, and when the fierce north-westerly gales struck the district, he helped them to secure their boats in the harbour. In this way he developed the deep respect and concern for fishermen which was to fashion the whole of his future life.

Wilfred was born in the small fishing village of Parkgate, on the banks of the Dee, in 1865. His father owned a boarding-school on the seafront, and it was there that Wilfred and his elder brother Algernon, were educated. When he was fourteen, Wilfred was sent to Marlborough College, where his shock of unruly hair won him the nickname of “The Beast.”

By the time he was eighteen, he had decided to become a doctor. He said that medicine made him thrill with “entirely new emotions,” and he obtained work as a dresser in the London Hospital.

His job there was to prepare badly-injured patients for operations, and to his astonishment he found that many of the cases were North Sea fishermen who had been hurt while bringing in their hauls. He discovered that the men were at sea for months on end without skilled medical help. When they were injured, they sometimes had to wait weeks before a doctor could tend their wounds.

As soon as he had qualified as a doctor, Grenfell decided to look after these men himself. He joined the crew of a trawler which had been specially commissioned to visit the fishing fleets and hold religious services. The Mission ship became a most welcome sight on the fishing grounds, and within a few years the Royal Naval Mission for Deep Sea Fishermen had no less than thirteen such vessels bringing guidance and medicine to the workers of the North and Irish Seas.

Then, in 1892, the Mission decided to send a hospital ship to Labrador, where some 200,000 people depended on fishing for their livelihood. Grenfell immediately volunteered to go, and, on June 15th, the Albert sailed from Yarmouth for St. John’s Harbour. On reaching its destination the small vessel made her way north along the foggy coasts until she anchored in the summer fishing-grounds, where Grenfell took care of more than 900 patients, including many sick children.

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January 25th is ‘The Feast of the Conversion of St Paul’

Posted in Anniversary, Bible, Missionaries, Religion, Saints on Wednesday, 3 July 2013

This edited article about St Paul originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 314 published on 20 January 1968.

The Conversion of Saul, picture, image, illustration

The Conversion of Saul, by Frederic Shields

It is a curious fact that, in its remembrance of the greatest of all Christian missionaries, the Church has chosen to celebrate neither his birth nor his death. Instead, it has selected the day on which he became a Christian.

For Saint Paul, this was undoubtedly the greatest day of his life, and the one by which he himself would have chosen to be remembered. So we keep January 25th each year as ‘The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul’.

To begin with, Paul – or Saul as he was then named – had hated the new religion of the Christians. He had been quite ready to see the first Christian martyr, Stephen, stoned to death, and had looked after the coats of those who did it (Acts chapter 7, verse 58). But perhaps the memory of that day made him uneasy in his mind. The forgiving spirit shown by Stephen, and his readiness even to die for what he believed in, may well have made Saul wonder whether there was not some truth in this new religion after all.

Saul tried to conquer this uncertainty by attacking the Christians more fiercely than ever. So far, his efforts had been limited to Jerusalem but, on learning that a little group of Christians had come into being at Damascus, he set off with some companions to stamp out all trace of the new religion there.

As they walked along the hot and dusty road towards Damascus, Saul was in an angry mood. He had decided that he would stop at nothing to crush the Christian faith, even if it meant killing the new believers, as Stephen had been killed.

Then, suddenly, something happened which changed Saul’s whole life from that moment on. He described it more than once, and his own words are recorded in Chapter 22 of the Book of Acts.

What happened took place in the full light of mid-day, which suddenly became unusually bright. The light was so intense that it blinded him and caused him to fall to the ground. Then, as he lay there, he heard a voice telling him that it was useless for him to resist any longer, and that, instead of attacking the Christians, he must become one of them himself!

Saul was convinced for the rest of his life that it was Jesus Christ himself who had spoken to him that day on the road to Damascus.

When Saul reached Damascus, he was taken to the house of a Christian called Ananias, who prayed with him and received him as a brother. He had a great deal to learn and a great deal of harm to undo before he became the great Christian missionary and writer whom we think of when we mention the new name he took – Paul. But from that day in Damascus, his whole life was changed.

We do well to remember it, for it was a turning point in the history of the whole Christian church.

Aimee Semple McPherson founded her own Christian sect

Posted in America, Historical articles, History, Missionaries, Religion on Friday, 21 June 2013

This edited article about Aimee Semple McPherson originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 300 published on 14 October 1967.

Salvation Army in China, picture, image, illustration

As the Salvation Army spread to Europe, Africa, India and the Far East, people like Robert and Aimee Semple McPherson went far and wide to spread the message.

As a woman preacher, Aimee Semple McPherson had few equals. Beginning her evangelical career as the wife of a missionary, she ended with her own Christian sect, which today has over 700 churches.

Aimee was born on 9th October, 1890, at the town of Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada. Her first husband was a missionary called Robert Semple. She went with him to China, where she helped him in his work until his death. She then returned from China to the USA, where she married Harold McPherson, but the marriage ended when she decided to devote herself wholly to becoming an evangelist.

From the start, Aimee McPherson was an outstanding success, and in 1926, in California, she organised her own church, which she called The International Church of the Four-square Gospel.

While she always had large congregations flocking to hear her speak, she was also widely criticised by people who thought she used too much ‘showmanship’ in her services. For example, she had large choirs of pretty girls dressed up as angels. Many people were attracted to her meetings out of curiosity to see her ‘angels’.

As well as running her church, Aimee McPherson built her own radio station, founded a Bible school, ran a magazine, wrote books and did social work. She died tragically from an overdose of sleeping powder on 27th September, 1944.

Missionaries were finally admitted to the Hindu Kingdom of Nepal

Posted in Historical articles, History, Missionaries on Saturday, 15 June 2013

This edited article about missionaries originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 298 published on 30 September 1967.

Kathmandu, picture, image, illustration

Kathmandu, capital of Nepal

From the rim of the plains of North India to the borders of Tibet there lies a fascinating little country which may well claim to be ‘the roof of Asia’. Less than half the size of the British Isles, Nepal contains several of the world’s highest mountains, including Everest. Glaciers and waterfalls run into its lovely valleys, where a variety of crops grow in sufficient abundance to feed the ten million people of the land.

Among the people of Nepal are the Gurkhas, who, noted for their fighting qualities, have supplied men for regiments of the British and Indian armies for over a century. Many other Nepalis have settled in India as traders, but until recently Nepal was a closed land to foreigners.

Missionaries had long wanted to take the Christian faith to Nepal, but were unable to do so. The Hindu religion was the official state religion, and the only Nepalis to become Christians, or even to hear about Christianity, were those living in India. With their help, however, the Bible was translated into the Nepali language about 50 years ago.

Then, in 1954, there came a change in the centuries-old resistance to Christian missions. Permission was given for missionaries to enter Nepal under certain conditions and to undertake certain kinds of work. These included the opening of clinics and small hospitals, and the building of a number of schools. Also welcomed was a new type of missionary who would help in the improvement of agriculture and give technical training in light industries.

All this is a very long way from the popular idea that missionaries simply want to teach people how to read Bibles and use pocket handkerchiefs. The pioneer missionary in Nepal must be an expert in something which will be of help in the development of the country, otherwise he will find it hard to gain an entry, let alone a hearing for his message.

One of the sad things about Christian missions in the past 150 years has been the fact that different branches of the Christian faith have competed with one another in the countries where they have worked. This problem has sometimes been overcome by allocating different areas to the missions, but rivalries have still occurred. In Nepal, it was decided that this must, at all costs, be avoided. All the missionaries there are invited to work under the board of the Nepal United Mission. This pioneer organisation unites workers of 28 different organisations which have supplied 130 missionaries to Nepal. They include doctors, nurses, teachers, agriculturists and technicians from 13 other countries.

As well as being a pioneer mission to one of the world’s remotest areas, the work in Nepal is also a pioneer enterprise in unity.

An American missionary founded an orphanage by the Nile

Posted in America, Historical articles, History, Missionaries, Religion on Friday, 14 June 2013

This edited article about missionaries originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 294 published on 2 September 1967.

Nile village, picture, image, illustration

A Nile village by Robert George Talbot Kelly

A few years ago I was motoring up the Nile valley, and late in the evening came to a town called Assiut. I had been given the address of Lillian Trasher, an American missionary there, and was assured that I could count on a room for my family and myself for the night at her home.

Once in the town, I asked a bystander for directions to ‘Miss Trasher’s home’. He smiled broadly and answered in Arabic “You want Mama Lillian? Everyone knows where she lives!”

It was true that her house was the best known in the town, for she had the largest family – nearly a thousand children! Her house was, of course, an orphanage, and it had grown to this huge size as a result of Lillian Trasher’s faith in God and love for the children of Egypt.

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