Monday, 30 April 2018

Richard Davis--Missionary, Part II

Only Two Hundred Years Ago

Maori culture and civilization was a mixed bag.  The culture of cannibalism, utu (or revenge), and slavery benighted the Maori people.  However, missionaries who stayed the course, also observed positive aspects of Maori culture.

The missionaries wanted, above all, to expose the Maori tribes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Gradually, as men and women repented of their sins and believed in the Son of God, examples of remarkable Christian faith began to emerge. 

But the scene documented by Davis below graphically underscores how the light, when it eventually began to shine, came as it were, through a debilitating darkness.  Amidst this darkness, the coming of the Gospel was like the light of Eärendil's star--a light which would shine when all other lights had gone out.
The Waitangi natives have returned from the Thames, where they had been to fight, and have killed the greater part of some poor people coming to Taiamai, under the protection of a chief who was absent when they met them.  They then transferred their fight to the place of the late Christian Rangi, to punish the misdemeanour of a young man.  They broke his arms, and beat him cruelly.  Then they butchered a poor slave girl in the most barbarous manner before the young man.  They first cut off one arm, and then the other.  They next cut deep gashes down her body, saying "I will have this part," "I will have that part to eat."  The merciless barbarians then cut off her legs while she was alive, and finally roasted and ate her.  They told the young man they had done this as a punishment for his crime.  My soul is filled with horror and dismay.  O Lord, in mercy interpose in behalf of these poor wretched heathen!  [John Coleman, ed., A Memoir of the Reverend Richard Davis (London: James Nisbet and Co., 1865), p.78.]
These events occurred early in 1826.  Davis had been living and working with his wife and family in the Bay of Islands for about eighteen months. 

Thank God those days have passed. 

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