T is for…

This week’s memory verse: T is for…
“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above, and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” -Daniel 12:3

This verse reminds me of another part of the great missionary story I made mention of a couple weeks back. Over 10 years prior to the overthrow of the Kapu system, a young Hawaiian boy witnessed the awful slaying of his parents by an opposing tribe. He escaped with his baby brother on his back but they were overtaken, the baby was pierced fatally through with a spear while they were in flight, and the boy was captured and taken to be raised by the very man he saw murder his parents. Not a pleasant start to my story, is it! This boy’s name was Opukaha’ia and eventually he was found by an uncle who was a high priest, and taken to be raised by him into the priesthood. At the age of 16, Opukaha’ia offered himself as a servant to a ship’s captain that had harbored there and left Hawaii not caring where he went. In 1809 he arrived in New York and there Providence led him to the steps of Yale University where he was taken in by Timothy Dwight, the president of the school and a devout Christian. Under his care and that of many other educated Christians, Opukaha’ia, already a gifted scholar in his own right, received an education that today would be the equivalent of earning a Ph.D. More importantly he learned the Good News of Jesus Christ and set about immediately on translating the Book of Genesis from Hebrew into the Hawaiian language to take back to his people. Opukaha’ia, now called “Henry,” traveled throughout New England pleading with churches to send missionaries to his island home.

Henry Opukaha'ia portrait from wikipedia

Henry Opukaha’ia portrait from wikipedia


Sadly, Henry’s life was soon cut short from disease, which brings me to the part of the story that I was reminded of by this week’s memory verse. It is said that when Henry died there was such a radiant glow of joy on his face that they cut a window in the top of the casket so that the thousands and thousands that attended his funeral could see this evidence of Christ in him. His memoirs were published immediately after his death and became the most widely read book in New England. This proved not only to be a great inspiration to the Mission Board but the sales of the book were exactly what was needed to finance the first group of missionaries which left aboard the brig Thaddeus in October of 1819. You may remember from the previous post that at the very time of their departure the Hawaiian people were overthrowing their old religion and the Lord was preparing the way for His gospel to be sown among Henry’s people! Those island fields were indeed ripe for harvest!

Hymn of the Week: “Nearer, My God, to Thee” (Adams/Mason)

Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee!
Even though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be, Nearer my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee.

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs, Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee.

Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, Upward I fly,

Still all my song shall be Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee.

E pili i ou la wau,
E pili i ou la wau, E ku’u Iesu.

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2 comments on “T is for…

  1. Thank you for this story. The wonderful blessing of a life committed to the Lord and answered in ways “exceedingly and abundantly beyond what we could ever think, ask or even imagine.” Hi and hugs to all!

  2. Wow! Makes me think about what I’m doing for those “led to the steps” of my door and placed in my path. What a story! Makes me think of the tapestry illustration and our own lives… it looks like a bunch of ugly strings and knots on our side below, but from above God can see a beautiful picture that He himself is weaving. I enjoyed this!

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