Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Dangerous Escapades of Dr. Chamberlain

This article will take a slightly different turn than most of my others. Rather than writing a short biography or mission, I will just highlight a few of the numerous adventures that Dr. Chamberlain experienced while a missionary to the Telugus in India during his 48 years of service from 1860 to his death in 1908. I will post them one at a time, so stay tuned for more!

The Snake Killers

After his long walk through the forest to reach the village, Dr. Chamberlain was weary. A short – or perhaps even a long break would be much appreciated.  He asked the leaders of the village if there was some secluded spot of the village where he would be allowed to set up his tent to rest for a while. They not only had a spot for him on the outskirts of the village, but they gave Dr. Chamberlain free use of a newly constructed hut. It was quite roomy, and in a quiet, peaceful vicinity. Dr. Chamberlain would have time to rest his aching limbs for a while. 

Well pleased with this arrangement, he lay down on his back on the floor and began reading his Bible. Once he had read for a little while, he set his Bible down on the floor contentedly, refreshed at least in spirit if not in body yet. However, he soon became aware that he had not been alone in the hut. In fact, the other occupant of the hut was still there, dangling from the rafters with its long tail. The snake was now only a few inches away from Dr. Chamberlain’s head, and was about to strike. In an incredible feat of agility he jumped sideways while still on his back, a maneuver which Chamberlain did not know was even anatomically possible. He was not a moment too soon. As it was, he only escaped being bitten by a hair’s breadth. Quickly, he ran outside and snatched up the spit that he used for roasting meat in the jungle from the cart where it laid. Charging back into the hut, he speared the snake onto the rafter that it grasped. Chamberlain had to struggle to hold the spit in place to keep the thrashing snake from freeing itself and biting him. Realizing that the snake would soon overpower him and escape if he did not act promptly, he called for his servant to bring him a bamboo cane, which was hastily brought. With vigorous, heavy strokes, he soon succeeded in killing the snake. Glancing out of the doorway he noticed the village watchman standing outside, who quickly ran toward the center of the village to notify the authorities. 

Dr. Chamberlain knew that this could not be good since snakes were worshiped here, and he had killed a large one, over ten feet long. While he was considering what his best course of action to take would be, the village leaders approached his doorway. But, the greeting he received was quite unexpected. They carried platters of their most exquisite and delectable meals. Once they reached the hut, they bowed low to Dr. Chamberlain and presented their gifts to him, sincerely thanking him for killing the snake. It had been oppressing them for a long time, killing many of their cattle, and even one of their children. They had been afraid of killing the snake, afraid that wrath would be poured out upon them by other snakes if they did. 

Dr. Chamberlain recognized that this was a great opportunity to share the story of Christ with them. He then told them about a snake that was more wicked than this snake, or any other snake there had ever been. It had kept many people in bondage, but Jesus Christ, the Son of God came and died to defeat the snake and set men free, then rose again to show that he had defeated all evil, and even death itself. The snake was the devil, and had them all in bondage, but all who would believe in Christ would be set free from him, and would not be enslaved to sin any longer. After hearing this, many of the people in the village believed in Christ, and devoted themselves to him. 

Dr. Chamberlain was pleased. This mission had been successful, since through God he had killed one snake and helped in a small way at least to defeat another more terrible snake that oppressed this village.

"Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God." ~William Carey

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tireless Men Conquering the Land of Fire

The Conquest for Tierra del Fuego Part 3

Mr. Despard was becoming quite anxious. Weeks had passed since he had sent some of his fellow missionaries on the Allen Gardiner to Woollya, one of the main islands of Tierra del Fuego. Not a word had been heard from them since then. It was an ill wind which seemed to bode nothing good for the mission. He engaged Captain Smyley, the same captain who had been the first to discover the fate of Allen Gardiner, to investigate.

It was not long before Captain Smyley returned on his ship the Nancy. Behind him sailed the Allen Gardiner. Well, at least they knew that the schooner had not been shipwrecked. But what had happened, and why they had not heard from the missionaries, time would soon tell. Once the ships docked, the Allen Gardiner’s cook came and told Mr. Despard the whole story. He was the only survivor of the schooner.
When the Allen Gardiner landed on Woollya, the natives had been quite friendly. In fact, they were all so amiable that the missionaries decided to have a church service on the very next Sunday right on the island for all who wished to attend. Accordingly, when Sunday arrived, the missionaries came onto the island and prepared for the service which would soon begin. Many natives gathered around them. But, as the missionaries were about to start the service, the natives charged forward and murdered all of them. When the cook who was still on the Allen Gardiner saw this, realized that they would come on board the schooner to kill him next. Quickly, he concocted a risky and unusual plan, although it was probably the best to be had under the circumstances. He swiftly lowered a rowboat, jumped into it, and rowed to the island. Upon reaching it, he clambered out of the rowboat and charged into the dense forest as fast as his legs could carry him.

After a few days, he decided to leave his hiding place and risk coming out into the village. He might die at the hands of the natives, but he might die anyhow if he stayed in the forest without much to eat. Fortunately, he was not killed by them, although some of them treated him rather roughly. A few of them were nice enough to give him food and let him stay in the village until a ship came. The wait was not very long, because Captain Smyley and the Nancy soon arrived. The cook was glad to be able to leave the island, and came on board the ship. A native boarded the ship along with him. He had been appalled by the conduct of the other islanders in murdering the missionaries in cold blood. His name was Okokko, one of the natives they had used when establishing their mission station. He was a Christian along with his wife, and they both decided to leave the heathen island of Woollya for the mission station at Keppel Island.

The mission had received a stunning blow by the death of their comrades. Now was not the time to keep pushing forward, but rather it was the time to slow down and regroup – again. William Bartlett and Mr. Bridges along with Okokko and his wife Camilenna would stay on the island to study languages. Mr. Despard would go with the Allen Gardiner back to England for repair and renovation.

While in England, Mr. Despard procured the assistance of Mr. Stirling, who would later become Bishop Stirling. Mr. Stirling had work to do as soon as he reached Keppel Island with Mr. Despard. His task was to go back to Woollya and attempt to reopen communication with the natives. This would be hard to do, since the natives had murdered the missionaries, and they probably would not want any more to come to them. Nevertheless, he would try, even if he would have to be yet another man to sacrifice his life. Mr. Bridges and Okokko both knew how to speak English and Fuegian quite well, so Mr. Stirling decided to bring them along to help him with interpretation. When Mr. Stirling arrived at Woollya, all of the islanders were apprehensive. They were afraid that it was a mission of revenge, and that Mr. Stirling and his friends would kill them. But, when Mr. Stirling explained that they were here peacefully, and wished to talk with them, the natives were satisfied. In fact, they were even excited about helping now that they saw that the missionaries were kind and had even forgiven their murder. Many of the natives volunteered to come to the mission station. There were so many volunteering, that Mr. Stirling could choose only a small fraction of them. It looked like there was hope for the mission after all. He chose a few of them, and returned to Keppel Island to report on the success of his expedition to Mr. Despard.

The missionaries were busy now that they had natives on the Island. In addition to their normal work, they would have to train the natives and teach them about the Bible. Once each native had been at the station for a few months, they would take them back to the island from which they came, and bring new natives with them. The progress that they were making was amazing, but Mr. Stirling’s part was interrupted by needing to return to England to be dubbed Bishop of the Falkland Islands. He left to receive the office, and when he returned, Tierra del Fuego had changed completely. The natives were kind, and many of them had become Christians. The maps were soon revised to state that anyone within forty miles of the mission station should not need to worry about having any treatment other than kindness in Tierra del Fuego and surrounding islands. Everyone was glad, happy to have finally accomplished the mission that Captain Allen Gardiner had dreamed of so many years before. The change in the natives on Tierra del Fuego was so amazing that even Charles Darwin became a regular supporter of the mission society, and had to admit that he was wrong in saying that all the missionaries in the whole world could not have made the Fuegians honest. God had moved an incredibly large mountain through the faith of just a few people.

"Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God." ~William Carey

Monday, January 27, 2014

Determined Men near the Land of Fire

The Conquest for Tierra del Fuego Part 2

It is 1855. Four years earlier Captain Allen Gardiner had died, and many thought that his dream of evangelizing Tierra del Fuego had died with him. But, that was not the case. Reverend G.P. Despard was tenaciously determined that Allen Gardiner’s quest would be completed. “With God’s help, the Mission shall be maintained,” he declared. Others heard his battle cry, and joined him in the fray. Among them was Captain Gardiner’s only son, Allen W. Gardiner.

They christened a schooner the Allen Gardiner after their society’s fearless founder. After boarding the boat, they set sail in the direction of Tierra del Fuego. This time, though, they were not going to land directly on one of the islands in Tierra del Fuego itself, but rather on a neighboring island. That way they could get their bearings and plan their mission without having to be bothered with hunting for food all the time, and dodging natives that wished to murder them. They chose Keppel Island as their location. When they arrived, they set to work building a mission station, and small huts to live in. It was hard work for everyone. They would dig peat moss to fuel their fires until breakfast. After breakfast they would do a hundred different chores until their next meal. Another hundred chores would need to be finished before the sun went down. Then when the sun went down they would go into their huts to study various languages for a few hours. Finally they would drop to sleep to begin again in the morning. Their job was already strenuous, and they were only preparing! Finally they became fairly settled on Keppel Island, and finished building their mission station. Since they were settled down and did not have as much to do, they decided to tour various nearby islands to become acquainted with their surroundings.

They visited many islands, including some in Tierra del Fuego itself. Allen W. Gardiner rowed alone to the very same rocky shoreline on Picton Island where his father had landed and died a few years earlier. He walked around the small island, and found his father’s grave. After a while, he returned to the ship. A few more islands were visited, and then they travelled back to Keppel Island. Their next mission was to find someone who knew both English and Fuegian. After considering who might know both languages, they remembered the famous man named Jemmy Button. He would do perfectly.

Now, they just needed to find him. As always, that was easier said than done. Most likely, he was on Button Island, which had been named after him, but they could not be sure. It was winter and very cold since they were near Antarctica, but they decided to search for him anyhow, rather than waiting until it became warmer. They boarded their trustworthy schooner, and set sail for Button Island. It was not cold enough for the ocean to freeze, but there was snow encrusting the islands and the ship. Icy winds howled across the deck, throwing frozen snow into their teeth. Their hands quickly became numb, and their breath was like a cloud of smoke. Sometimes they were almost too cold to shiver. Just then, an island came in sight. Natives in canoes were just rounding the cove. “Hillo, hoy, hoy!” one the natives called out to the ship. Excitedly, the men shouted, “Jemmy Button!” but the native pointed to the island. Jemmy Button was not found yet, but it seemed that they were very near to finding him. They stayed on their boat to wait until the weather was nice enough for them to go onto the island in search of him.

Two days later, the temperature warmed up a little. The sun shone down brightly, and made the snow dazzle. Its rays warmed them. Early that morning they saw four canoes rounding the island again, as they had seen earlier. Hopeful, Allen W. Gardiner called out, “Jemmy Button!” “Yes, sir,” the man in the foremost canoe replied. Soon, he was on board their schooner. They had found their man without even going onto the island. On invitation he went into the cabin to have a breakfast of buttered bread and coffee. While eating, they talked over their plans, and asked if he was willing to stay with them for a few months at Keppel Island to help them with the work there. He answered that he was quite willing. Accordingly, Jemmy Button brought his family the next time he came to the schooner, and they set forth to return to Keppel Island.

When they arrived, everyone set to work. Jemmy Button worked very doggedly. He would do all the tasks they gave him, and often would catch fish for them in his spare time. The missionaries were quite glad that they had the help of the Button family. The missionaries were only disappointed that the Buttons did not like to speak their native language in front of others. Even so, the Buttons were still an invaluable help to the mission. After a while, the time had come for Jemmy Button and his family to return to Button Island. Everyone was sorry to have his family leave since they had been such a great help and enjoyment to all of them, but they knew that the Buttons had to go back to their normal life.

After placing the Button family back on the island, they secured the help of a few more natives. All of the natives that they had met had been quite friendly. Mr. Despard thought that everyone had overstated the cruelty of the natives on Tierra del Fuego. If the people on neighboring islands were so friendly, why would the people in one little archipelago be unfriendly? He decided that now was the time to send missionaries. The mission was put into the hands of Mr. Phillips, one of his most trusted coworkers. In October of 1859, Mr. Phillips and a few others set out to Woollya Island in Tierra del Fuego. Everyone was excited, but also slightly nervous. What if they had misjudged the temperament of the natives? Only time could tell.

"Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God." ~William Carey

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Dauntless Captain in the Land of Fire

The Conquest for Tierra del Fuego Part 1

December 17, 1850. A captain and his men land on a small, rocky island. It is located within a frigid, desolate archipelago. It is called Tierra del Fuego, the Land of Fire. At this moment, no name could have been more unsuitable. It was cold and dreary, whereas fire makes things warm, bright and colorful. Everything in sight looked bleak. It was as if it had all been turned to stone. The shore was rocky, the sky and water steel gray. Breakers monotonously crashed on the shore, and seagulls screeched ominously overhead. The captain and his men clearly were not pleasure-seeking in such a remote isle as this. They had a mission - a hard, desperate mission. They would spread the enlivening gospel of Jesus Christ here, or perish in the attempt. But why was this location chosen over all others? Why choose a barren island inhabited only by cruel, greedy cannibals? Presently, we do not know, but if we travel with them from the beginning, we may gain some insight.

The leader of this determined expedition, Captain Allen Gardiner, was born in Berkshire, England, in 1794. Of course, he was not a captain from birth, but he did seem to be endowed with a desire to become a seafaring man while still very young. When he became thirteen, he entered the naval academy in Portsmouth. Two years later, he set out to sea. While traveling around the world on ship, he considered various religions. He realized that the God of the Bible was the only true God. But he was destined to be more than just a travelling sailor. In 1812, a war broke out, and in 1814, the ship in which Gardiner was a crew member engaged in a battle with an American man-of-war. They soundly defeated the man-of-war, and Gardiner was promoted to the rank of captain for his valiant, dauntless fighting. He would later show that he was dauntless in much more difficult situations than this one. He remained a captain in the British Navy until he turned the age of forty, when he decided to retire and become a missionary. Like any bold soldier, or at least like any tough sea captain, he chose the most demanding locations, where no one else would venture. He went to South Africa, Papua New Guinea, and various parts of South America. Unfortunately, war broke out in South Africa, interest and support was negligible in Papua New Guinea, and Catholic priests thwarted his every move in South America. Captain Gardiner was indomitable. These unfortunate events would not stop him at all. He would just choose a different location. He thought back on his voyages as a sailor, to see where he should go next. One place seemed to plead for the gospel in his mind. He could not refuse its pitiful cries. He would venture to go to Tierra del Fuego at all costs. That is, if he could find any way to get there.

He did not have money, or a ship to reach his destination. So, he put the idea forward to every missionary society he could find. But they were all either too busy, or too disinterested to support him. Of course, that was no trouble to Captain Gardiner. He just started his own missionary society1, and went around to people to obtain money for the project. He was able to gather just enough money to start him off. Now he had to face another dilemma.  No one was very interested in taking a missionary down to a barren island within a cape that could not be much worsened with whatever else you could imagine into it. The sea was very turbulent, the coasts were rocky, and the weather would be stormy, perhaps treacherously so. Taking a long voyage to transport a few people to a place where finding the shore might be as hard as landing on it for just a little money did not sound glamorous or appealing to anyone. Nonetheless, Gardiner kept trying to find a ship. Finally, he secured a run-down, washed-up, rickety, old schooner to make the journey. Surprisingly, both the ship and the men made it safely to shore in March of 1842. This was an amazing feat considering how flimsy the schooner was. But by the hand of God and the experience of the captain, they had done it. They were enthusiastically greeted by a chief and his followers when they saw provisions being unloaded. Wissale, the chief, knew that no provisions would last forever, so he graciously made it his business to always be available at mealtimes. Thanks to the chief, the provisions were eaten long before they even had the potential to go bad. The stores were demolished so quickly that Captain Gardiner had to go back to England much sooner than planned.

When he returned, he decided he would work in another location, at least for a while. He chose Bolivia. He worked vigorously in Bolivia until a revolution broke out, when he deemed it prudent to evacuate. When he returned, he determined he would try Tierra del Fuego again. It still cried out for the gospel. This time he would meticulously plan out every step. He hired another ship to take him to Tierra del Fuego, where he planned to establish a small station to house himself and his men. He acquired four men and one carpenter to come along on his quest. They reached their destination while a gale was raging. Sleet and hail was coming down heavily, and to make matters worse, a war party decided to camp out on the beach where Gardiner wished to land. He only had time to survey the island to decide the best location to land next time. He returned to England, but he was not disappointed. He just set himself to work on obtaining a ship of his own. Without it, he might never even be able to land. His friends were nervous about his idea. John C. Lambert put it this way in his book, The Adventure of Missionary Heroism2, “Though his new idea filled him with fresh enthusiasm, his enthusiasm was not widely shared. At this we can hardly wonder. There are not many persons who possess a hero’s indomitable courage together with the perseverance of Bruce’s spider. Some of the Captain’s best friends advised him to give the whole thing up. ‘Only with my life,’ was his reply.” So, they stopped begging him to terminate his plan. It was clear to them that nothing in this world could dissuade him.

Before he could leave, he needed his own boat, and before he could get it, he needed money. Germany liked his story, but declined his plea for support. They just did not have the funds. Scotland also could not supply him with money. As he was about to leave Scotland, a lady from Cheltenham came to him, and gave him a substantial donation. At the same time, a few people offered their services to his missionary society. Everything was set in order now. They purchased two double-decked launches, and had obtained seven men to go on the expedition. Commanding was Captain Allen Gardiner, the stalwart seaman. Accompanying him was Mr. Williams, an experienced surgeon. Mr. Maidment, who formerly was a Sunday school teacher, also came along. There were also three fishermen who could nearly flawlessly row the boats. And last of all, there was the ship’s carpenter, a veteran of the previous expedition, who was there to fix the boats and keep them afloat. He had the right men, all of them perfect to support him in his arduous task. They embarked on the Ocean Queen, which they were using for the bulk of the journey, so as to reach Tierra del Fuego more rapidly, and to keep their launches in pristine condition, which they stored in the ship. Who knows what they might run into when they landed. They did not need to start off with damaged vessels. Even with all the dangers that might lie ahead, they were prepared for anything, even to lay down their lives if need be. They would be faithful to the end.

December 17, 1850. Captain Gardiner and his men land on a small, rocky island, located within a frigid, desolate archipelago. It is Tierra del Fuego, the Land of Fire. They might have wondered why such an unsuitable name had been chosen. At least, it was very unsuitable now.  It was cold and dreary, whereas fire makes things warm, bright and colorful. Everything in sight looked bleak. It was as if it had all been turned to stone. The shore was rocky, the sky and water steel gray. Breakers monotonously crashed on the shore, and seagulls screeched ominously overhead. They had a hard, desperate mission ahead. They would spread the gospel here, or die attempting it. They landed in Banner Cove, thus named by Captain Gardiner on one of his previous expeditions. A gale sprang up as soon as they landed, so they quickly unloaded their stores into a secluded location, without any hungry chiefs spotting the stores this time. The provisions would only last for six months. But they were prepared for that dilemma as well. A ship would arrive with more provisions before six months were up. No sooner had they packed away the last of the provisions, than a Fuegian war party sailed out toward them in their canoes. They wanted very badly to attack, but they also wanted very badly not to fight against anyone with a gun. Therefore they bided their time, and just kept Captain Gardiner’s troop hemmed in. They stayed right in their positions for a while. But then, the natives were so bored with nothing to do but be out in bad weather that they just left.

A few days later, a hurricane blew in. One of their boats was wrecked on the beach, and their stores were severely damaged. They retrieved what little was left, and stuffed it into a small, dank cave. They soon got sick, and decided to move to a better location: inside the one small boat that was left. Food was scarce, since their provisions were on another part of the island. All they had to eat were the few birds they could catch. They went back to Banner Cove and gathered the last of the food that they had. All that was left was two casks of biscuits. Now they knew that unless the ship arrived very early, they would not survive. The ship never came until almost a year after their arrival on the island. Nevertheless, they trusted in God, and that he knew what was best for all of them. Sadly, men began to die. Captain Gardiner stood bravely to the end. We have a fragment of his last letter. In it he says that he trusts in God, and is singing his praises. He states that he had been without food for five days, but he neither hungers, nor thirsts. He was gladly anticipating going to heaven. He may have been the last one to die. His letter is dated September 6, 1851, and he went to heaven shortly after that. This story has a sad ending, but God would use it for much good. Everyone had been rather disinterested in his mission earlier, but when they heard that he had died because of his great dedication to it, they rallied together, and took up the task which he had so bravely begun. I will relate the story of the accomplishment of this mission in my next article.

"Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God." ~William Carey

1Captain Allen Gardiner’s mission society was founded in 1844, and was originally known as the Patagonian Mission, but was renamed twenty years later as the South American Mission Society. To read further about what this society has done and is doing, go to

2John C. Lambert’s book entitled, The Adventure of Missionary Heroism, is a very useful, interesting work, and is what I mostly use when researching for these articles. I would highly recommend reading it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Victorious Samurai in Enemy Territory

Prior to 1853, the year that Commodore Perry arrived, Japan was nearly completely isolated from the rest of the world. They did not let anyone in, except for a once-a-year visit from one nearby port that had Dutch traders. The Samurais were still in a high position. Even after 1853 when some of Japan was opened to the world, the Samurais still had a little power. It was into this culture that Shimeta Neesima was born.

Neesima was born in 1843 as a Samurai. Even as a boy he wore his sword wherever he went. His allegiance was to the daimio (the lord of a large area of land in Japan) that ruled the part of Japan where Neesima lived. But, he was not content to only be a Samurai. He longed to learn truth and knowledge. Once, while sneaking away from his duties to visit a teacher whom he often talked with, the daimio caught him. After flogging him, the daimio asked, “Why you run out from here?”
“That I wish to learn foreign knowledge, because foreigners have got best knowledge, and I hope to understand very quickly,” Neesima replied.
“With what reason will you like foreign knowledge?” the daimio questioned. “Perhaps it will mistake yourself.”
“Why will it mistake myself? I guess every one must take some knowledge. If a man has not any knowledge, I will worth him as a dog or a pig.”
The daimio thought that was unimportant, and also that Neesima was acting more like a peasant than a Samurai. “You are a stable boy,” he laughed.

But nonetheless, he still tried to learn as much as he could. What happened one day is well put in Neesima’s own words: “A day my comrade sent me an Atlas of United States, which was written in Chinese letter by some American minister. [He had learned to read Chinese as well as Japanese and later English.] I read it many times, and I was wondered so much as my brain would melted out of my head, because I liked it very much – picking one President… and so forth, and I thought that a government of every country must be as President of United States. And I murmured myself that, O governour of Japan! Why you keep down us as a dog or a pig? We are people of Japan; if you govern us, you must love us as your children.”

But not only was he concerned with knowledge, he was also concerned with religion. When he was about fifteen, he refused to keep worshiping the family gods. He realized that they were “only whittled things.” Soon after that, he obtained a portion of the Bible in Chinese. After reading only the first verse, he began praying to the only true God.

Even with all that he had already learned, he thought that it was yet not enough. He wished to go to America or England to learn more, but the daimio denied his request to leave. Even so, he would not despair. As he put it, “My stableness did not destroy by their expostulations.” After a few years, though, the daimio changed his mind and gave Neesima permission to leave Japan. But, that was only one daimio that allowed him to leave. There were many others in Japan. Whenever any Japanese person was caught leaving the country, he was nearly immediately executed. So, this would be a dangerous journey.

He was allowed to use one of the daimio’s junks to sail to Hakodate, a port on the coast. A friend, Mr. Munokite, had made arrangements with a captain of an American ship. Unfortunately, even though Neesima was in the right port, it would still be quite hard to slip by the Japanese officials and into the boat. Mr. Munokite had a plan: Neesima would dress as a servant while following a friend dressed like a Samurai. When they reached the dock, Neesima would then pretend to be a bundle of cargo by laying down, allowing himself to be wrapped in a tarp, and hoisted and put into a rowboat to be taken to the ship. The plan worked! He made it on board the Berlin safely. But, the danger was not yet over. The officials always checked all boats leaving the harbor. Captain Savory had been prepared for this. He put Neesima in a part of the ship where the officials did not even think about checking. Of course, the officials did not see him, and the voyage was started. The Berlin took him to Shanghai, where he got on a trading vessel, the Wild Rover.

While stopping at Hong Kong to load up provisions for the journey, trade with the people, and such, Neesima stopped in at a shop and saw a complete Chinese Bible. He very much wanted to purchase it, but he did not have even a penny. All he brought with him on his journey was his Samurai sword. He thought about it. He desired to buy the Bible, but could he really give up his sword? It was the emblem of a Samurai. And it would be a sorry Samurai to be without a sword. He hesitated for a moment while contemplating it, then went back to the ship, picked up his sword and sold it in exchange for the Bible. He made a very good trade. A thin Samurai sword for the greatest, most powerful, sharpest sword of all: the Bible. After getting back on board the boat, they set off. Thus through God’s Providence, the help of some friends, and the careful planning of Captain Savory, he safely reached England.

When he arrived, he had nowhere to go. He stayed nearby the ship, hoping to find somewhere to live. The captain of the Wild Rover told the owner of the trading company about Neesima. Mr. Hardy, the owner, was interested and decided to hire him as his servant. But when he met Neesima, he found out that he was not a normal runaway. He had big plans about helping his country. Instead, Mr. Hardy adopted him because he was interested in Neesima and wanted to help him in his mission. Neesima was 21 years old at this time. Mr. Hardy named him Joseph Hardy Neesima, since he was called “Joe” by the sailors on the ship, and Hardy was after his own name.

Neesima was also able to go with an embassy of Japan to America to learn about how America’s political system worked. When he finished his work for the embassy, Japan was open to learning European ideas. He saw his opportunity. He would go back to Japan to not only teach his people knowledge, but he would give them the greatest knowledge: the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Of course, he had a minor problem. He had planned to start a Christian College in Japan to teach others about Christ, but he still had nearly nothing except his Bible. There would be no way to start a Christian College for the Japanese. He would need money. Since he was still in America, he decided to try to raise money for the college. He had been offered a time to give a speech in front of an American board of missions, so he planned to use this opportunity. He carefully crafted his message to make it as convincing as possible. The day finally arrived for him to give his speech. When he went up to the platform in front of all those people, he completely forgot his message. Instead of trying to remember, he spoke from his heart about Japan’s need for Christ. When his speech ended, he received $5,000 dollars in donations. Now he had at least enough to get started.

When he arrived in Japan, he decided not to go where it would be easy, but where it would be most difficult: Kyoto, the very heart of Japan. Kyoto was the city with the most Buddhist and Shinto temples numbering around six thousand. He was rather outnumbered: 5,000 dollars to 6,000 temples. But he would not be deterred. He made more speeches, obtained more money, and started the college. Through the years it taught five thousand people, eighty of which became ministers. Who would have guessed that with originally starting with only $5,000 he would teach 5,000 people about Christ! The Samurai Neesima had defeated the pagan city with his new sword, the greatest sword of all, the Bible. Neesima shows us that even when we do not seem to have enough to accomplish something, we should never give up. God can accomplish anything even when it appears that it is impossible.

“Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.” ~William Carey

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Daring Princess in the Heart of a Volcano

All the way up until the 1820s, Hawaii was a heathen nation that worshiped false gods. But, in 1820, seventeen missionaries accompanied a Hawaiian who had converted to Christianity while in England. Soon, some of the Hawaiians were converted because of the preaching and influence of the missionaries. One of the new converts was the most influential of the Hawaiian queens. Her name was Kapiolani.

When she became a Christian, she began encouraging her people to listen to the missionaries’ sermons. But, they were very reluctant. This puzzled her. Why would they not even go to listen? After thinking for a while, she realized why. They believed that the Volcano goddess Pele would be angry with them, and obviously, they did not like the idea of having a big angry volcano on their small island. It was then that she saw that she needed to convince the people that the volcano did not have any power except from the God that the missionaries preached. And there was only one way to do that: defeat it.

When she told the people her intention, they were terrified. They begged and pleaded with her not to go to defy the volcano, but nothing would dissuade her. She knew that she must go to the volcano.

With many of her people watching, she began the journey to the volcano. Some of her people were either brave or curious enough to follow. She took the most direct route over mountaintops and through old lava beds. When she finally reached the volcano, a priestess of the goddess Pele read a supposed message from her. But, it was only incomprehensible jabbering. Kapiolani’s reply was, “You have delivered a message from your god, which none of us can understand. I too have a pala pala [writing], and I will read you a message from my God, which every one will understand.” After opening her Hawaiian Bible, she read a few passages to her people. Near the mouth of the volcano grew ohelo berries. No one was to eat them unless they gave a whole branch full of berries to the volcano, and told the goddess that they were going to eat some, too. The princess Kapiolani walked over to the berries and ate some without giving any to the goddess, or saying anything to the goddess. This finished the end of the skirmishes with the volcano, and now the real battle would begin. This was the ultimate test: she would go into the heart of the volcano!

After climbing down into the crater, she finally reached the rocky floor. Kapiolani was next to the goddess’s supposed dwelling place, an immense pit filled with lava. By now, all the people were terrified. But the princess was not. Undaunted, she picked up lava fragments and hurled them into the lava, while defying the goddess. Surprised, the people watched the unbelievable happen. Or perhaps, not happen. The volcano did not erupt, bubble, or do much of anything. Kapiolani called all the people to come down with her. They were very hesitant still, but they obeyed. Then, down in the heart of the volcano, she led the people in worshiping God. Like Elijah, she had stood alone, defied a false god, and, by having faith in the true God, had been victorious. By the brave princess’s example, we see that no matter the odds, we can never have too much faith in God. 

"Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God." ~William Carey

Monday, March 4, 2013

Welcome to My Blog

Hello! I am Aidan Jachim, and I am 16 years old. I am writing this blog so that you and I both will be able to better see some of the big things that God has done – colossal mountains that have been moved – through great men of faith from the past and the present. It will include events from the Bible, history, and even recent times. The title of my blog, Mountains were Moved, was inspired by passages such as:
  • Matthew 17:20b, “[F]or verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
  • Matthew 21:21, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”
  • Mark 11:23,  “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”
 I pray that this blog will strengthen and encourage us to work hard for Christ by seeing how God rewards the efforts of his children. We cannot be content to sit back and let others do the hard work, and simply cheer them on. We need to be working as well. Sometimes the big things will be really big tasks, or sometimes they may only be little tasks. Even little tasks are very important, because someone needs to do them. We do not necessarily need to be doing big things that will be seen by the whole world, or even things that will be seen by anyone at all. We just need to be working our hardest for Christ. In Matthew 10:42 and Mark 9:41, Christ says that if you give a cup of cold water to a brother or sister in Christ, you won’t lose your reward. Let us get to work, serve others, and glorify God. I pray that God will help and encourage you as you strive to honor him. Remember, with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26 and Luke 18:27), we can do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13), and God will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6 and Heb. 13:5).

“Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.” ~William Carey