One of the greatest stories of impact is the story of missionary John Geddie. Geddie was called to the islands of Aneitum. When Geddie first reached Aneiteum, there were two Samoan teachers, Simeona and Pita, on the island but there was not a single native convert. The people of Aneiteum, like those throughout the New Hebrides, looked like savages.The people also acted like savages. The female sex was very degraded. The wife was practically the slave of her husband and to her lot fell the drudgery and hard labor. The practice of killing unwanted babies was common. When a man died, his wife was immediately strangled so that her spirit might accompany his to the next world, and any children too young to take care of themselves suffered the same fate as the mother. If there was a grown son, he was expected to perform the act of strangulation.The revolting practice of cannibalism was prevalent on all the islands. The natives confessed that they considered human flesh the most savory of foods. It was considered proper to eat all enemies killed or taken in war. It was a common occurrence for chiefs to kill some of their own subjects to provide a cannibal feast, if the bodies of enemies were not readily obtainable. The missionary knew a man who killed and ate his own child! The people were steeped in moral degradation. Licentiousness was rife, revenge was considered a sacred duty, forgiveness was a word not to be found in the language and the spectacle of a happy heathen family, bound together by ties of love, was unknown. And their religious beliefs were not calculated to elevate them. Their deities included idols and spirits called Natmasses. Their sacred men were invested with remarkable powers, such as producing thunder and lightning, causing hurricanes and inducing disease. “Can we indeed expect anything good from the poor heathen,” wrote the missionary, “when their deities are supposed to be such as themselves, or, rather, are conceived as having attained to a more gigantic stature in every form of vice than man can possibly reach?”What was the force that compelled John Geddie to live in circumstances so desolating and that sustained him amid scenes so harrowing? And what was the message with which he expected to touch and transform a people so debased? In one of his home letters he wrote: “The love of Christ sustains us and constrains us. My heart pants to tell this miserable people the wonders of redeeming love.” And when the day arrived on which he was able to preach to the natives for the first time, what was the momentous theme of his message? “I thank God,” he wrote in his Journal, “that I have been spared to see this day when, for the first time, I can tell perishing sinners of the Saviour’s love.” Again he said: “If ever we win these benighted islanders, we must draw them with cords of love. I know of no power that is adequate to transform their lives except that which transformed my own life, namely, the power of the living Christ who ‘loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood.'”
Geddie was on a mission, a mission that would impact this island with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He had been impacted by the love of God, and in turn wanted to make an impact, with the love of God. John Geddie was unremitting in his endeavors to win the Aneiteumese. There were many obstacles, many trials, many distractions. Yet, he wouldn’t be stopped until there was a lasting impact of the Love of God. Not long after he settled on Aneiteum, Geddie wrote in his Journal, February 9, 1849: “In the darkness, degradation, pollution and misery that surrounds me, I will look forward in the vision of faith to the time when some of these poor islanders will unite in the triumphant song of ransomed souls, ‘Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.'”
This was the text that captivated his heart.
This was the text that animated his labors.
This was the text that irradiated all his days.
When, after twenty-four years of missionary work, he answered his Lord’s final call and left the earthly scene, December 14, l872, a monument, prepared in Sydney, was placed behind the pulpit of the church in Anelcauhat where John Geddie had preached. On it was the following inscription:
“In memory of John Geddie, D.D., born in Scotland, 1815, minister in Prince Edward Island seven years, Missionary sent from Nova Scotia to Aneiteum for twenty-four years. When he landed in 1848, there were no Christians here, and when he left in 1872 there were no heathen.”
That’s making an impact! Arrived to an island, where not a single person, knew Christ. Upon leaving there was not a single heathen. May we be so impacted by the love of God, that we make a lasting impact with the Love of God!