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Contact with Missionaries

Contact with Missionaries

One or two chaplains were recruited from New Zealanders serving with Christian missions in the Pacific, while several other missionaries were able to help the Army in different ways. One of page 118 these, the Rev. A. H. Voyce,3 gave much valuable information about Bougainville to the Americans. Native churches were often used for Church parades, and the troops were greatly impressed by the results of missionary work. Many a soldier. lukewarm in his religion, was challenged by the simple inquiry of a native: ‘You a Jesus man? Me a Jesus man.’

In New Caledonia the French pastor, M. Ariège, often lent his church for Army services, and he and his wife made numerous New Zealanders welcome in their home. In September 1943 the little missionary yacht Bishop Patteson landed the Rt. Rev. W. H. Baddeley, DSO, MC, Bishop of Melanesia, at Guadalcanal, and he came ashore to visit the New Zealand troops. He conducted several confirmations and made a profound impression when he preached at a big morning service organised by the 14th Brigade. At Vella Lavella, the resident missionary, the Rev. A. W. E. Silvester of the New Zealand Methodist Church, who had remained through the Japanese occupation, welcomed the Americans and New Zealanders as they arrived. The soldiers were so impressed by the work of the mission that they subscribed a very large sum for its re-establishment.