Methods in the Solomons

It matters not whether the skin of an individual is white, brown, or black, once he makes contact with the spirit and power behind this advent movement.

By N. A. FERRIS, Missionary, Solomon Islands

It matters not whether the skin of an individual is white, brown, or black, once he makes contact with the spirit and power behind  this advent movement. He then becomes vitalized with its theme, his life becomes radiant with joy, and the current of a Christlike life will pass on from circuit to circuit, with new  lights appearing. As we look back over the years and see the development of our work in the Solomon Islands, we feel to express again the statement that "God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform."

Captain Jones responded to a call of the Australasian Conference back in 1914. When he and his wife landed at Gizo, the port of call for the Central Solomons, they were the only Adventists in all the group. He went onward into the very thickest of heathenism, and into the very strongholds of the enemy. His method of approach varied from the sing­ing of a hymn to standing fearlessly before menacing clubs and spears. He gave presents, showed sympathy in times of trouble, and used simple medicines as an opening into some chief's confidence. With tact and prayer he demonstrated that the power of God is stronger than the power of the devil. Having gained a certain amount of confidence, he quickly gathered a few boys together, and through them demonstrated in living form the meaning of the message. To Pastor Jones's credit, it should be stated that all those boys of that first school became strong workers in the cause of God, and pioneers of the message to many islands.

Then, having gained still more of the con­fidence of the people, he began the process of unfolding the truths of the message in simple story form, with comparisons as illustrations. It is at this stage of development that the mis­sionary needs to be guarded as to his deport­ment and statements, for primitive man does not depend upon proofs from the Bible, but accepts the sayings and teachings of the mis­sionary as sufficient proof. The natives' fu­ture conduct will be fashioned after the ways of the missionary; for the worker virtually becomes the spiritual leader of the village or tribe. This applies alike to both European and native workers.

As the young people grow and receive train­ing in the various schools, as parts of the Bible translated into the people's language are read, they begin to realize that it is not always wise to depend upon the statements of man only. They turn to their Bibles for proofs of their new-found faith. We who have followed in the footsteps of Captain Jones have realized that the principles of demonstration are large factors in the success of mission work among primitive natives.

Today we are meeting with new conditions. The old head-hunting days are gone, and there are but a few places left where heathenism still blinds the hope of the people. The new generation knows the advantages to be had from modern conveniences, but with these benefits have come the curses and the diseases of a so-called "civilization." We have had to meet this, and under the blessing of God our teachers are meeting with success, though often the way is difficult and at times most discouraging. We depend largely upon our native workers to do the aggressive work. A teacher is placed in a village where he con­ducts morning and evening worship in com­bined meetings. Usually he spends about three hours in school, and then for the rest of the day he associates with the people in the gar­dens, or assists in any of the routine work of the village, living the principles of the mes­sage before the people. In the early evening the teacher mingles with the people and talks with them as they sit around the open village fires.

As the work moves onward, and teachers are placed in various villages, a director will dis­cover that he cannot do justice to the work, or to himself, without breaking down under the load, working as he does under difficult tropical conditions, if he has more than a certain number of teachers to supervise. Yet I believe that our work can be well cared for by placing some of the more experienced na­tive workers in charge of districts. Our work on Guadalcanar has grown strongly on both sides of the mountains. Here I have divided the field, and placed an ordained native min­ister in charge of twelve teachers on the northern coast, and an experienced native worker on the southern coast with about the same number of teachers under his care. I keep in touch with them all, and in addition I am able to spend time in the newer sections where the work is just beginning, helping with the baptismal classes and overseeing the gen­eral church work.

From the day schools, boys and girls are brought into the district school, where another leading boy has charge. From there the brighter boys are taken to the training college to be trained as workers. I have observed that having the work thus cared for, by rep­resentatives of the people, enables the people to know the message better, and creates among them a more profound respect for a move­ment that not only uplifts the people to a higher plane of living, but prepares a clean people for the kingdom of God.

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By N. A. FERRIS, Missionary, Solomon Islands

March 1940

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