On this day in 1861, a massive hurricane ravaged the New Hebrides islands, nearly destroying the work that John Patton had worked so hard to create.  In his journal, John recorded the devastation of the storm:

They tore up and smashed breadfruit, chestnut, coconut and all kinds of fruit trees.  The ground was strewn thick with half-ripe and wasted fruits.  Yam plantations and bananas were riven to pieces, and fences and houses lay piled in a common ruin.  My Mission House was also greatly injured; and the Church, on which I had spent many weeks of labor, was nearly leveled with the ground.  Trees of forty year’s growth were broken like straws or lifted up by the roots and blown away.

At the other station, all Mr. Mathieson’s premises except one bedroom were swept off in the breath of the hurricane.  The sea rose alarmingly and its waves rolled far inland, causing terrible destruction.  Had not the merciful Lord left one bedroom at my station, and one at Mr. Mathieson’s partly habitable, I know not what in the circumstances we would have done.  Men of fifty years declared that never such a tempest had shaken their Islands.  Canoes were shivered on the coral rocks, and Villages were left with nothing but ruins to mark where they had been.   Though rain poured in torrents, I had to keep near my fallen house for hours and hours to prevent the Natives from carrying away everything I had in this world; and after the second storm, all my earthly belongings had to be secured in the one still-standing room.


The autobiography of John Paton

On this day in 1557, a French Huguenot missionary preached a sermon  on Psalm 27:3, “Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.”   This sermon, delivered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, would be the first Bible message ever delivered in  this city, which today has a population of over six million people.

These French missionaries had come over to, mainly, work in a small colony the French were attempting to establish in Brazil.  But while they were they, they took much time to reach out to the local tribes.  They found the tribes eager to accept what they were teaching, mainly due to the fact that the Indians there hated the Portuguese that were in control and hoped these new men would offer them a way to escape their rule.  Even when the Huguenots were forced to flee the colony, the Tupi Indians opened their village to them.

One of the missionaries, when writing back to France, said, “we give thanks to God for the extension of the reign of Jesus Christ in a country so distance and likewise so foreign and among a nation entirely without the knowledge of God!”


An Evangelical Saga

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