The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1
Many Labourers Needed
Many Labourers Needed.
The work of Christianizing Feejee is now properly commenced; and the greatest efforts are now demanded, to secure help from every quarter, The Vunivalu is very desirous that Feejee should become Christian. He says that, if the work is not now attended to, evil will spring up, and that nothing can possibly save Feejee from its revolting crimes, cruelties, wars, and degradation but the Gospel, taught and enforced by messengers sent forth.
The great difficulty now, is want of native help. The demand is so great and sudden, that we are completely in a fix. When Bau became Christian, we wrote to the Friendly Islands, desiring thirty Local Preachers; and to Lakemba for the same number. From the former we have received four, and from the latter seven; but what are they among so many islands, districts, and towns that are all now crying out for help? places where there is not any person who knows how to pray or teach anything in religion. It is most distressing to receive earnest applications for Teachers, without being able to supply even one. At the large and populous island of Kandavu, persons have lolued at twenty-one towns. When lately visited, the number was upwards of seven hundred; and it is probable that soon there will be several thousands professedly Christian, on that island of nearly one hundred towns; and to it Mr. Moore can supply only four persons for the work. At Ban we applied to King George for a canoe to take letters to Lakemba, again pressing our urgent demands for much help. The case of taking our letters was easily met, as one of his canoes was shortly to sail to Lakemba, in order to be employed by Tui Nayau in conveying property to Lakemba from his outer islands. At Rewa, I again called upon King George, and told him that calls for immediate help were perplexingly numerous and urgent, and that, if men were granted from Lakemba, I feared there would be no conveyance for them. He promptly decided, though the property to be collected by the canoe was for himself, and said, "Of what importance can attention to Tui Nayau's commands be, when compared with the obtaining of Teachers when they are so much needed? The canoe shall return direct with Teachers." He had already shown that his heart is in the work of God, when I met the Local Preachers and Class-Leaders, about eighty in number, who are now with him from the Friendly Islands. On that occasion I had urged them to vigilant attention to their own souls, and to those who are under their care, and laid before them the case of Feejee. He then spoke out plainly, saying, that only a want of love to souls kept them back, as there were numbers of Local Preachers in Tonga whose services were not required there. He was also very kind in bringing many things from Vewa to Rewa to meet Mr. Moore's present wants.
Our work will suffer much by the delay in getting labourers, and also from our being compelled to employ many persons who are not prepared for the work, and, indeed, would not he employed if we could otherwise help ourselves. And after our friends in Tonga shall have so far sympathized with Feejee, as to send a considerable supply of labourers, which I expect they will do, and when Lakemba shall have given till they are made poor themselves, by forwarding many to these destitute and populous parts,—even then the number will not be at all adequate.
The places being partly supplied with men,—most of whom will thus be prevented from being brought under necessary training,—will greatly lessen page 16 the number of suitable persons obtainable for instruction. Yet special efforts must be made for qualifying as many as possible of our native agents for this great work. The converted natives who can read, and who give evidence of being called by God to the work of preaching and teaching, absolutely require much pains-taking labour with them, in order to make them at all efficient agents, to be depended upon. They never had, nor can have, opportunities and advantages which are enjoyed by the lowest in our own country; and if very much is not done for them, it is impossible for them creditably to preach, teach, or manage any part of our work. Their knowledge is very limited; and they are deprived of comments and other useful books to qualify and guide them aright. In order to raise and advance them to a state of efficiency, they should be placed with a Missionary whose heart, mind, and time are given to this special and most important work; and no other branch of our work would ultimately produce equally valuable results. The demands of Feejee are so very great, and it is so certain that the carrying on of the work must mainly depend upon labourers raised up from among themselves, that it is a paramount duty to labour hard to prepare those instruments which God puts into our hands for the proper discharge of the duties that shall devolve upon them. While each Missionary is doing something in this respect, amidst various and oppressive engagements, for those to whom he intrusts the sacred work, it is clear that one Missionary, at least, ought to be specially devoted to this employment, in order that some of the Native Teachers may become valuable auxiliaries, who will be qualified to stimulate and benefit others also.
Now that Feejee is open to our labours, and invites them, more Missionaries ought immediately to be supplied. Before they can learn the language, and get fully into the work, it is not unlikely that some now employed will find their health fail, or have other reasons for occasional absence. And unless the number of Missionaries be increased, the work of instructing, preaching, voyagirig, training native agents, exploring and evangelizing all Feejee, and exercising a pastoral care over the churches, cannot possibly be done. We have, through God's blessing, brought Feejee to its present state; and we are bound to meet the craving demands which we have created. Let Feejee, then, have what it so urgently needs. Without squeezing out the widow's mite, and getting from such persons all that they possess, if some were to relieve their coffers and their consciences, by giving somewhat liberally of their abundance, the case would be fully and easily met as it regards the money difficulty; and men who are called to the work, and desirous to come forth to endure some hardships and fatigue for the salvation of Feejeeans, will not be wanting. The work in Feejee is so manifestly of the Lord, that I am persuaded it will be carried on and effected; so that cannibal and much-debased Feejee shall yet become a praise in the earth: and I trust that the carrying on of this Mission will be an honour to the Southern Conference, and a proof to the world that it was right to intrust these Missions to their care, zeal, and benevolence. The case of Feejee commends itself to every feeling heart and thinking mind; and no considerate person who knows its urgent needs, and the most probable good that will result from an increased number of labourers, can feel comfortable if he withholds what he can easily supply to accomplish the work.