Sunday, December 20, 2009
Blind Warrior of Raiatea
My journey in the library stacks today yielded a book by John Williams entitled "A Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands" (John Snow, Publisher, London, 1838)
In Journal fashion the martyr herald of the London Missionary Society retells some of his trials and victories among the native people of French Polynesia.
The elderly blind man "Me" loved to hear stories of the merciful, miracle-working Jesus. He always had time and compassion for the bruised, estranged ones along the pathways of the Holy Land. Me would ask friends for many accounts of the Gospel tale and of the preacher's messages. Without much hesitation he became a Christian.
This brought new joy to his tireless working of a field and occasional care of the little ones. But the day came when he was stricken with serious illness and bed-ridden. Others ravaged the crops of his field. Social custom suggested that this "useless one" be eliminated or starved.
Williams found his friend in this pathetic condition and wondered why other recent converts had not fed or nursed Me. The old man's response was that he dare not beg for help. Better to go hungry than to embarrass and hinder the recent inroads of the Good News.
Bedside, the old man related an encouraging vision to the "eyes of the heart":
"I have been in great trouble this morning, but I am happy now. I saw an immense mountain with precipitous sides, up which I endeavoured to climb, but when I attained a considerable height, I lost my hold and fell to the bottom. Exhausted with perplexity and fatigue, I went to a distance and sat down to weep, and while weeping, I saw a drop of blood fall upon that mountain and in a moment it was dissolved...That mountain was my sins, and the drop which fell upon it was one drop of the precious blood of Jesus, by which the mountain of my guilt must be melted away."
Williams promised to return with food and medicine, which the old man agreed to accept. But he was quick to add that he was not looking for recovery but rather to depart and to be with the Lord, which was far better.