When John Paton began to pursue the call of God to take the Gospel to the far-off and dangerous New Hebrides, many tried to dissuade him. In his autobiography, he describes the argument used by one old Christian gentleman: “The Cannibals! You will be eaten by Cannibals!” He goes on to record his reply:

“Mr Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid out in the grave, there to be eaten by worms. I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honouring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or worms. And in the Great Day, my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.”

With this retort ringing in his ears, the old gentlemen left the room, exclaiming, “After that I have nothing more to say. “ He was right. There is nothing more to say. Those who have their marching orders have no option but to march.

Paton knew what he was going to. John Williams and James Harris had been the first to take the gospel to these South Pacific islands 20 years earlier. They were clubbed to death within minutes of arrival, and their bodies were cooked and eaten. But rather than being deterred by such a tragedy, Paton was stirred with fresh confidence. He wrote, “Thus were the New Hebrides baptized with the blood of Martyrs; and Christ thereby told the whole Christian world that he claimed these Islands as his own.”

John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebrides (pp.56, 75)

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