Intimate Moments with a Pioneer Missionary

An Interview With G. F. Jones, of the Solomon Islands

An Interview With G. F. Jones, of the Solomon Islands

What is your mode of approach to the natives of a wild, savage village where the knowledge of the Saviour is unknown?

We begin by teaching the natives the name of Jesus. When we first visit a village, we at once teach the people about Him and His power. The old people who have led and controlled in evil practices, begin to see and feel that they have lost their power. They cannot carry on as they did. Men often come to us from other villages and ask us, "Will you come to our home, to our village?" We reply, "Yes; what for?" And they answer, "We want you to do what you have done here—sing and pray and talk." I say, "What for?" Then they say, "Because we are troubled with these spirits; and wherever you go, the spirits do not come again." So I say, "All right, we will come."

I take our students with me everywhere. The young people do a wonderful work. They know very little at first, but develop steadily. They start singing, "Jesus Loves Me." Then we pray. and I give the villagers a little talk, and the spirits do not come there anymore. The village is cleaned up, and then of course it affiliates with the mission.

Won't you tell us more about the casting out of spirits?

This has been our experience with the na­tives: Suddenly I would hear a weird noise, not like any human voice at all, and I would become frightened. I would not know what it was. It seemed to be something unearthly. I soon found out it came from some man or woman possessed of the devil. In different -villages they have different ways of getting possessed. Fre­quently they want to kill you. The devils use their arms, and they cannot stop waving them in the air. They shout, "He has come, he has come," and keep up the shouting. Then others get possessed through them, sometimes several demons taking possession of one person. It is very alarming.

We have been all by ourselves in a little bam­boo but in a strange village. We did not know what to do, so we prayed. At first we were a little afraid to command the devils to go. So we would call the young people who were with us, and say, "Let us pray to Jesus." We do every­thing in the name of Jesus.

Perhaps just as we knelt down to pray, people would bring in one who was possessed. I recall one case where a girl was possessed of a demon. We said, "Let us get on our knees, and ask Jesus to send the demon out of this woman." They all knelt on the ground. Some of them had pagan charms on their necks, so I said, "We can't talk to Jesus with these charms around the neck. The witch doctor's charms belong to the devil, and Jesus will not listen to us while we have them on." The young people had never taken the charms off before, had never dared to because of their fear of their elders. (That is the principle upon which we worked—they must themselves take the charms off.) One young fellow, the son of a chief, rushed up to the girl and tore off her charm, and the others removed theirs. Then we knelt down and prayed, and that instant the demon left the girl without any command. The Lord knew our weakness, and had mercy on us.

But in some cases victory has not come in this way. When we faced men who had become violent, men armed with tomahawks or spears, then something more had to be done. We couldn't be on our knees with such a man nearby; we had to get up and do something. Then we were forced to command the demon in the name of Jesus (that is the name the natives learn), and he would leave. We learned by ex­perience, little by little, how to cast out devils in those strange places and circumstances.

I do not know whether we have this gift at all times. I failed once when we had some visitors from the conference, who had come to visit us, and to take over the work at a certain place. The young people at the school shouted out, "So-and-so is possessed of a devil." Of course we all went to the place. The conference men came along, and they were curious. I felt myself becoming self-conscious; I feared that I could not cast out the demon, because these men were curious. (You understand, of course, they were good men.) I think that is the secret of failure, —we become afraid that we may not be success­ful, and of the effect that failure will have. That is lack of faith.

Isn't the Bible even more wonderfully adapted to a situation of that kind than to conditions obtaining in civilized countries?

I am quite sure of that. When Jesus sent out the twelve, He said, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils." That command has never been revoked; therefore it is in force today. I believe that if we have faith enough, we may even raise the head—if that were necessary, and for the glory of God. We have seen some very strange things even in that line. I seldom speak of those things because of the unbelief of some. Nevertheless, I believe that this gift is not yet developed to what we shall see when the church is fully baptized with the latter rain. It will not be given simply to convince outsiders, but for the church's sake. I believe as I never have be­lieved before that those powers are ours to en­joy if we will exercise faith.

Jesus knew that in some of these places the first thing we would meet would be demons—fallen angels who are opposed to us and deter­mined to keep out the mission. Sometimes, of course, the opposition comes from other mis­sions; but afterward, when Satan sees that we are beginning to gain a foothold, these demons begin to possess the people. Then, of course, the gospel we preach must be shown to be more powerful than Satan, or we have lost the people. Thus God works for us.

Edgware, England.


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An Interview With G. F. Jones, of the Solomon Islands

January 1934

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