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MISSION WORK IN NEW BRITAIN., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2104, 13 April 1889
MISSION WORK IN NEW BRITAIN.
Of the groups of Idands lying to the north-east of the eastern portion of Now ' Guinea, and comprising New Britain, New Ireland, New Hanover, and the Salomon Islands most people have bu*- ! little knowledge. They havo a hfzy notion that thes^ Islands lie among the irohlpebgoea which thickly stud the Pacifia between the Kg lator and the Tropic of Otprlco-n, and thoy possibly remember reading, new and then, of some of the crew of a copra or bsche-ae-mer veaselbeinj, niaßsacrod by tho Natives, who forthwith dined on the remains of thoir viotima. And, if tbey turn to their reference books, they gain but little additional knowledge. Tbey ascertain from these that though Beveral centuries have elapsed sinoe some, at least, of the Islands were discovered, butlittletaknown about th?m, and that little is mainly that the inhabitante are fierce aud intractable and that their tastes, soolal and gastronomic are Badly In need of amendment. Happily, however, during the laat few years a vaßt improvement has been nude m these directions through the agency of the missionaries, and wherever these Intrepid men have established a footing a __uropean oan go about without apprehension of being tapped on the head, and constituting the ohief oourse at a Mew Britain bauquet. Any adequate conception of what the missionaries have done, and are doing, to civil, z a and humanize the natives of thes. lands, but seldom reaohes the outside , world, and the information given by a missionary who has labored for several years among the group and who la at present travelling through the oolony must be instructive to many and Interesting to all. This missionary, tbe Rev Mr Rooney, leotured at the Wesleyan Ohuroh hit night, and bii addresi wai one of the most engrosslngly interesting we have ever listened to on missionary subjects. Mr Rooney is accompanied by a native oonvert, Daniel by name. Daniel is a Papuan, nearly as black as an African negro, and ls a native of Duke of York island, whioh Is, however, m reality m group of small islands closely set together, jln St George's channel, the strait separating New Britain and New Ireland. Daniel adlressed the meeting m his native tongue, his diaconrse being interpreted by Mr Rooney, describing the condition of his country, aud the ouitoms of the iohab't%n ! a before the Introduction of Christianity s ma thirteen years ago. The principal occupation of the Natives then was fighting and cannibalism, village _e : ting out against vlilpg-3 and family against family. A Native never dared to venture forth without his spear and club, and always, when he laid down to rest, hail bis weapons close to his hand lo oase of a midnight alarm. Tbey worshipped idols of stone aud wood — of some of which they were horribly afraid — tbe spirits of tbelr deceased ancestors and various object., animate and inanimate. Their theory of the oreatlon was tbat the world was made by two men, one of whom was a good workman, and tnrned out as his share all the good and fertile land, and ail that was beautiful, while the other who was a lazy, good-for-nothing fellow, neg- > looted to properly finhh his work, whioh was represented by preol pices, and barren Und, These two worthies, however, had nothing to do with tbe manufacture of the ooean, the formation of whioh was the work of an irritable mother who quarrelled with her two sons. The latter ran away to eso.pe their mother's vengenoe and the old lady ln her anger dragged a large rook out of the earth, whereupon tbe water gushed forth from beneath, and so the ocean was formed. In connection with their religion the New Britons had a couple of secret socle! lee. A youth was admitted to one of these on payment of thirty fathoms of shell money, a fathom of this oorrency being about equal m value to an English pound sterling. The members of tbe society had a number of privileges. They had oampiog g-ounds along tho beacb, and any native not belonging to thalr oirole who trespassed on their grcuad or even came near to it was selzsd and, unless he oould pay bis captors an adequate raocom, was sheared and utilized for culinary purposes. The other sooiety was of a somewhat different character, the members being forbidden to eat twenty four of the principal articles of food of the Islands. While they were undergoing their uovltlate, however, the Intending members of this Society were cammed with the articles of diet which were henceforth to bo denied them, and stone Images of the respective birds, beasts and flmeß whioh tbey were not to eat were always before tbelr eyea, the intention being that they should not be led into a mistake by ignorance. Mistakes would b 9 dangerous, bpoaqse the offender's head would swell up to enormous s'zi and then burst ; if, ou the other hand, an outsider chanced to look at one of these Images, the popular idea was tbat he would get a twist m his body whioh he c?uld never straighten. A belief m witchcraft was prevalent, the natives attributing all siokness and death to tbe malevolent designs of witoheß. They firmly believed m a future state, and furthermore thought that separate districts m tbe spirit land were allotted to the souls of men, according as tbsy died from witohoraft, drowning, or ln other ways. It was also believed that the spirits o. the departed oarried their fighting proollvltles with them beyond the grave, and that the shades of the drowned waged fieroe battle with those of the men killed by falling from trees, and bo on, eaoh district In spltltland being at warfare with another. In these encounters the spirits were able to kill each other, and it was believed there was still aaother plaoe for tbe deceased ghost to take up its residence m. The natives wero terribly afraid to die, believing that a demon woman with a long arm, which the could with ease stretch to any part of the globe, was on the look out for their soul., which when she caught she mutllatod with a huge axe. Natives at the point of death persuaded their relatives to sleep beside them, the old heathen belief being that the souls of the sleepers would accompany that of the deceased into the land of spirits and proteot blm on his journey thither. It Is a oommon superstition among savages that during seep the spirit leaves the body and roams about the world, and so the dying New Britain heathen thought that the souls of his sleeping relatives wonld looompany him on his journey beyond the grave. This superstition wai shown to bave its pathetlo side. When a child died its father was known frequently to carry It about In bis arms for days after Its death, sleeping with it In h's embrace so that his spirit might m , his slomoers accompany that of tbe little one aud be a protection to It whitber it was going. In conclusion Daniel showed what a great difference there was now. Thirteen years ago that wbloh be had described was general. Now the natives had forsaken tbelr idols. Christianity was spreading and flourishing. Sohools had been established, which were attended by old aud young, no one would willingly absent himself, so anxious were all to learn. A coup'o of hymns were then Bung by Daniel not unpleasln»ly, the words being In his native tongue, and the airs well known English ones The Rev Mr Rooney addressed the meeting at considerable length, commencing by describing tbe establishment of missionary stations m the groups already mentioned. Now Britain part of the territory annexed by Germany, but so far from throwing obstee'es m tbe way of missionaries the Germina had given fchem every fteill'y to further their work. When frinoo Btemvuck reoelved his report on the sabj.ct ho was do .atUfi.d with the effort, ot the We.lejai missionaries In New Britain thst he Instructed the German Missionary Sooiety not to interfere m •ny way, but to tarn their attention to
fl New Guinea. Mr Rooney devoted muoh time to deaorlptlon of th« s .olal life of tbe islanders aud tbe'r »>» rr«i*e customs an-i rights or property. Ho showed that thoy ire a very intelligent race, and strong h: physique, though not co muaoular uthe Inhabitant* of the cftatward Island? The -groat difficulties tho ml.3lona.lef> h_d to contend with wero the unhealthy olimate, the multiplicity of 1-ngur.gee, totally diff -rent from each other, aud tht absence of i.fl-jent<al chiefs. In other plr-cos there were ohiefa with areas Influence over their followers, and when tho chief adopted Obristlanby ><he people willingly came to tho missionary and their conversion was assured. In the portion of New Britain, which was the scene of the Wesleyan mission, there were no less than thirteen distinct languages spoken, all of which bad to be learned by the missionary, and Into all of which the Scriptures, hymnbooks and lesson books had to be translated. Notwithstanding these enormous difficulties, their work had been attended under God's blessing with . marvellous success, there being thousands, old and young, attending school, and nearly 1000 church members. Mr Rooney Interspersed his lecture with very interest, ing anecdotes of his personal experiences, and also made reference to the success of missionary efforts m Fij l . Tue attention of the large audience wai thoroughly engrossed during the whole of the evening, and the proceedings were full of interest and information, -At the olose a collection was taken up, aud a hearty vote of thanks to the lecturer and his native assistant was oarried by aoclamation on the propo- | sltlon of the Rev W. Morley, who expressed the great pleasure he had experienced iv listening to tbe Addresses given. During tbe evening an anthem and some hymns were very pleasingly sung, the oholr being led by Mr Gamble, and the proceedings which were opened by prayer were closed by the benedlotioa.
MISSION WORK IN NEW BRITAIN., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2104, 13 April 1889
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