“There was little or no truth in the rumours that the German missionaries acted a political agents for their Government”

Mission workers were keen to renew cooperation with Germans.

THE GERMAN MISSIONARIES.

Before the war there were large numbers of German missionaries at work in British territory, about 400 in India alone. When the war broke out they were all expelled, and their work has remained for the most part at a standstill up to to-day. It appears to be the intention of the British authorities to refuse permission for their return for the present, perhaps for many years. At the last meeting of L.M.S. Directors, a resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority urging the authorities to shorten the period of exclusion as far as possible. It is a most serious matter for mission work over so large an area to cease, and for so many Christian Churches to be shut out from any participation in foreign enterprise. At the Board meeting it was stated on unexceptional authority that there was little or no truth in the rumours that the German missionaries acted a political agents for their Government.

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, October 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

The thoughts of many people are turned in the direction of the Red Cross work in this special year

Broad Street Church hoped that concern for the wounded soldiers did not detract from other needs internationally.

The week beginning Sunday February 10th and ending Sunday February 17th is to be observed as “L.M.S. Hospital Week”, when the gifts of our friends are asked for the valuable Medical Missionary work of the London Missionary Society….

It is hoped that in this special year, when the thoughts of many people are turned in the direction of the Red Cross work being undertaken on behalf of our own wounded and those of other countries, there may be a great increase in practical sympathy with the needy sick and suffering throughout the world.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, February 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“Many of our Missionaries are engaged in work amongst the troops”

Many British missionaries were now working with the troops when the latter were off-duty.

THE LMS ANNIVERSARY

This year the annual meetings of the Reading Auxiliary of the London Missionary Society are to be held on Sunday, November 18th and following days.

In the afternoon of [the Sunday] there will be the usual gathering of children and young people at Trinity Church, where addresses will be delivered by the Missionary Deputation…. The annual Public Meeting will be held at Broad Street … [where] we are to have addresses from the Deputation.

Owing to the difficulties of travel in these days, and the fact that so many of our Missionaries are engaged in work amongst the troops on the Continent and elsewhere, the authorities at the Mission House have very few Missionaries at their disposal for deputation work…

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“The Cook Islanders march magnificently, and make an impressive spectacle”

Men from across the British Emoire, including those of non-European descent, answered Britain’s call during the First World War. Several hundred men in all came from the Cook Islands.

THE L.M.S. AND THE EMPIRE

Not only have many sons of the L.M.S. missionaries answered the call of the Empire, but also many “sons of the L.M.S.” from far off Rarotonga and its sister isles of the Cook group in the South Pacific two contingents of the young cook islanders, trained in New Zealand and associated with the famous Anzacs, have found their way to the battle fronts of Europe. In 1915 a first contingent of 50 or more young men left Rarotonga for training. Of these some have already fallen in action “somewhere in France.” The second contingent of 120 odd left Rarotonga in July of 1916, and after training in New Zealand were sent on to Europe recently. Special services were held for these men before they left their island home, and several of them became seekers of “the Pearl of Great Price.” These sons of the Mission have gone forth not only as soldiers of the Empire, but as soldiers of the Empire of Christ.

The Rev. G.H. Eastman, of Rarotonga, communicated with the Congregational ministers of Auckland, New Zealand, and with other friends there, who gave the young Cook Islanders a warm welcome, and made arrangements for their spiritual welfare while in camp. The friends of the Devonport Congregational Church in particular went out of their way to help these “missionary children”, and the following extracts are from a letter received by Mr. Eastman from one of the deacons of the church.

“…The Narrow Neck Camp where the men are training is only a few minutes’ walk from my home, and we see a lot of them under all sorts of conditions; everyone is loud in their praise the men are all that could be desired in behaviour, in smart appearance, and show intense interest in their work. We have had the great pleasure of seeing some 90 men Sunday by Sunday at our church for the morning service.

“The men march magnificently, and make an impressive spectacle. We have a service suitable to the Cook Islanders in the morning, being only too happy to waive our regular procedure to any extent needed. The reading of the lessons is first in English and then in the native tongue. We usually have two hymns sung by our friends, and they are the soul of the music. The sermon is translated in the usual way, and in this particularly we are indebted to Sergeant Beni, he is a most intelligent chap and does wonders. We shall miss these men when they go, they are quite one with us, and we feel we quite love them.

“Words fail me when I think of the work that has been done at the Cook Islands that such a magnificent example of missionary ‘children’ should come to our shores, their behaviour and attention during service is truly wonderful. I wish the L.M.S. Authorities in London could step in to our church one Sunday morning and see them.”

Trinity Congregational Magazine, April 1917 (D/EX1237/1/12)

Endless streams of wounded soldiers – the normal condition in the mission field

Maidenhead Congregational Church compares war hospitals to peacetime in what we would now call developing countries:

MISSIONARY HOSPITAL WEEK
We must not forget, at this time of strain and many demands, the claims of the Hospitals which we have established in many heathen countries. The L.M.S. has no less than 50 in India, China and Africa, with 37 British doctors working in them and nine nurses, besides many native helpers. We are deeply moved by the reports of the overcrowded military hospitals into which the maimed soldiers from France and Belgium are carried in endless streams. But we ought to realise that this state of overcrowding has been going on for year and is the normal condition at most of our hospitals in the mission field. They demand our support no less than the admirable Red Cross work of the Army. We shall celebrate “Hospital Week” for the L.M.S. from February 14-21.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, February 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5)

A child’s house of cards in ruins

Maidenhead Congregational Church ponders the war, which seems to have come as something of a shock to them, and remembers its own young men who have joined up:

THE WAR.

To most of us the war came as an immense surprise. We thought war between the great nations, the civilized, not to say the Christian, nations, was at an end for ever. We heard with irritation and impatience the many prophecies that war was bound to come, thinking them nothing but stupid cries of “wolf”. We believed that Christian teaching and the influence of the Churches in England and Germany had built up an edifice of trust and good feeling, which made the talk of possible war nothing but a monstrous absurdity. But alas! That edifice at a touch tumbled into ruins like a child’s house of cards, and we were plunged into the most tremendous war in all history!

At the directors meeting of the London Missionary Society on Tuesday last a latter was read from the directors of a Missionary Society in Germany, comprising no doubt as sincere and godly a band of men as any in that country, which spoke of Germany’s passionate desire that peace should not have been broken, and of the wicked conspiracies of Germany’s enemies, which had forced war upon her! To us the case seems not a little different. Surely we are under no delusion in saying that there was nothing our statesmen would not have done to maintain peace, short of treachery to honour and pledged word! But there was a point beyond which it was not possible to go. “The whole value and beauty of life is that it holds treasures for which men will even dare to die!”

Let us never cease to pray that God will defend the right, and bring victory to our arms. And may it not be, that even by means of the thunder of monstrous guns, and the clash of ten millions of armed men, shall come a truer knowledge of the unspeakable blessings of peace, a new upspringing of the spirit of true brotherhood, a more earnest turning of the hearts of men to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all mankind, and the Prince of Peace.

 
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