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British Missions in Africa
Christian Repository, 1888

      BAPTISTS of America, North and South, must ever feel an interest in British Missions, commensurate to that they have in their own distinctive fields. Our first Baptist missionaries of modern times were Englishmen. They planted the standard in India, and as early as 1805, William Carey proposed to send his son Felix and Mr. Marsden to the interior of China, by way of Dualla and Siam. In l806, Dr. Marshman began to translate the Bible into the Chinese language. London sent the first Baptist missionary to Jamaica—Rev. John Rowe, in 1813.

      The first missionary to Africa was a black man, Mr. Keith, who having been emancipated in the West Indies, determined to return to his native land and preach the Gospel on the very spot of his capture and sale into servitude. He left his home, worked his passage to Africa, and accomplished his purpose. In 1840, the Missionary Society of London, sent out Messrs. Clark and Price from Jamaica, who proceeded to Fernando Po, in the Bight of Biafra. This island is about twenty miles from the nearest point of the western coast of Africa. Here they planted a mission, and before leaving for Jamaica, in 1842, they had baptized five persons in the Colony of Clarence.

      In 1842, four missionaries and eight teachers were sent out from England. These planted a mission on the island opposite the mouth of the Cameroons River. The opening of the mission was attended with the greatest encouragement. The churches were liberal in furnishing supplies. The chiefs on the banks of the Cameroons were very friendly. The languages of the tribes were studied and reduced to writing. Portions of the Scriptures were translated and printed; school-books prepared. Everything promised well—when disease and death came to the homes of the missionaries. And, to add to their discouragement, Jesuit priests visited Fernando Po in 1843, '46, and '56, claiming to be the only legitimate religious teachers on the island. The Spanish Government, to whom the island belonged, supported this groundless claim, and on the evening of the 27th of May, '58, the Christians met for the last time on the island for worship.

      Led by the Rev. Alfred Saker, they quietly went out to find


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a new home, where they could worship God without molestation. They located at the foot of the Cameroons Mountain, on the shore of the Bay of Amboise.

      The career of Mr. and Mrs. Saker in West Africa, their labors and endurances, their achievements and trials, invest the Cameroons Mission with the deepest interest.

      They were the first Europeans to take up permanent abode among these tribes of the Cameroons. When they found the people they were sunken in the grossest ignorance and most debased superstition. The natives were naked, had no tools, followed no industry. His first out-station was at King A'Kwa's Town, twenty miles from the month of the river. It was with the greatest difficulty he learned the language sufficiently to preach to them. The savages were suspicions of him, and often imposed upon him in words and their meaning. But his faith failed not. Called of God to this work, he stood by it until at length, he not only preached to them, but taught many of them to read. He translated the entire Bible into the Duella tongue, and published it with the assistance of his daughter and the natives to whom he had taught the art of printing.

      In 1872, the church consisted of seventy-two members. Mission stations have been planted at Mortonville, Dido Town, King Bell's Town, and other points. Victoria, the colony first planted at the base of the Cameroons Mountain, still exists. It contains about two hundred persons. Rev. J. Pinnock has it in charge. He is both preacher and teacher.

      The debased and ignorant condition of the tribes of Africa, makes mission-work among them very laborious and very slow. It is a long step from the Mumbo-Jumbo described by Mr. Wilson, to faith in the Unseen One. There seems to be absolutely nothing in the negro to lay hold upon. You have to educate him out of his gross ignorance before he seems at all prepared to accept the thought of God.

      Should we feel astonishment at the words of those Christian parents who said, "We dedicate our daughter to missions, provided she be not sent to Africa "?

      But God has a people among these barbarians. To them the Gospel must be sent. And surely the reward will be great to the men and women who, through love to Christ, go to these benighted people. All the missions in Africa are needing reinforcements—Lagos, Congo, Algiers, Cameroons. Shall we not earnestly pray that consecrated men and women will offer


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themselves, as has been done to the Chinese Inland Mission; and that the Christians of Great Britain and America will generously give of their substance for their support?
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[From Samuel H. Ford, editor, Christian Repository, July 1888, pp. 297-299; via Google on-line document. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]



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