John Joseph Kilpin Fletcher.

The sign of the cross in Madagascar; or, From darkness to light online

. (page 17 of 17)
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of promise too, telling that the darkness is pass-
ing and the glory of the Lord is again about to be
revealed.

It is not altogether surprising, when we think
of the rapidity with which the great changes
which have occurred have come upon the island,
that many of the people should have become be-
wildered, alarmed ; and, at first contact with their
new surroundings, should have drifted from
their moorings. The fact that very many more
have not been driven altogether from outward
allegiance to Christianity, is evidence of the
power with which the Gospel has influenced even
the hearts of the masses ; and the further fact
that, during a period of peculiar trial, when in-



Looking to the Noonday 305

vasion and conquest, loss of country and queen,
persecution and destruction of property, fell upon
them, so few renounced their faith in Christ, is
proof of the reality and purity of their love to
Him.

One or two instances of this steadfast faith
should be recorded. One is given by the Rev.
J. Coles, of the Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel. The heathen burnt the home of a
native Christian and carried his wife away into
slavery. Unable to protect himself or to recover
her, he entered the Hova camp and remained
there for more than a year. Drum sounded in
camp at 4 a.m. every day, and at that hour each
morning, and again each evening, this man held
public prayers — especially pleading for his ene-
mies. Many used to scoff at him ; but they could
not turn him from his habit; and at length, by
his consistent life, he stopped the mouths of the
mockers, and won their respect.

In the darkest moments of the persecution
the hearts of the European missionaries were
greatly cheered by occasional and remarkable
signs of divine blessings. The district of Tsira-be,
occupied by the Norwegian Society, was in the
stronghold of the heathen rebels; and every
family suffered during the war; but the native
pastor, Rarifoana, kept right on with his work.
In this large district, at the crisis of the persecu-
tion, over four hundred were baptized in one year,
and seventy-nine received into the membership



306 Sign of the Cross in Madagascar

of the church ; while last year one hundred men
and women came forward seeking baptism and
Christian fellowship. In the whole Norwegian
Mission there were, in 1898, 4,230 baptisms.

Such facts surround with a halo of glory the
life of the Christians and the spirit of the workers.
While there are such men in the Church of Christ,
it can never be overthrown. During these
troublous times, knowledge has been spreading;
the printing press has been kept running; and
from this agency has poured forth an increasing
supply to meet the increasing demand, which has
come with the return of peace and a more stable
government.

The Christian Endeavor movement has taken
firm hold upon the young people in the churches
of Madagascar; and possibly some of the most
earnest and faithful Endeavorers to be found in
any part of the world are to be found there. Their
influence has been most marked and helpful to
the churches and the spiritual life of the natives
during the period of change and trial ; and gen-
erally, the young people seem to be possessed of
an aggressive spirit. Their Bible, Orphanage,
Missionary, Preachers' and Tract societies, are all
of them indications of this fact, and call for deep
gratitude to God and earnest prayer in their be-
half. If the past gives any promise for the fu-
ture, then the young people of Madagascar are
certainly to be counted upon as one of the great
forces which will labor, and that successfully, for



Looking to the Noonday 307

the full establishment of Christ's kingdom in the
land; and thus are the means being prepared,
and agencies advanced, to reach the masses which
are yet unevangelized, and to send out the light
into the regions still sitting in darkness.

Let us not lose sight of the important work that
remains to be done; for, notwithstanding the
mighty results already realized, we have so far
seen only the beginnings of the Gospel's triumph.
The total population of Madagascar is estimated
at 3,500,000 ; and of this number only some 500,-
000 are nominally Christians. It is a great thing
to have secured a permanent footing in the capi-
tal, and to have brought the central province, and
the powerful Hova tribe, into loyalty to Christ
and His teaching. It is a great thing to have
the Church of Christ firmly established in the
heart of the country, and stations widely planted
amid the heathen tribes, which, growing in
strength, will become more and more powerful
as centers for the evangelization of all these
heathen. But the knowledge that there are yet
3,000,000 souls to be taught, won, saved, reminds
us that much remains to be done before we shall
behold the noontide splendor of Christ's kingdom
in Madagascar. Nevertheless, it is toward that
hour we are looking — gazing in unshaken faith ;
anticipating it with undimmed hope ; and, while
we look, marking the signs of increasing bright-
ness, and relying upon the promises of God.

Such are the prospects : — what is the sum-



308 Sign of the Cross in Madagascar

mons? Surely the events we have chronicled —
the power of the Gospel displayed in this land ;
the sustaining grace manifested in the lives of
suffering Christians ; the triumphs of the king-
dom of Christ over all the malice and pride of its
foes ; the awakening of the churches to new life ;
and the signs of the weakening of heathenism,
together with the outpouring in new power of
the spirit of God — are all of them the voice of
God speaking to the hearts of His people, and
summoning them forth to nobler purpose, and
more faith-inspired effort, to hasten the coming
of his kingdom and the final triumph of the
cross in Madagascar.

I do not appeal for Madagascar alone; for
there is no discrimination in the love of God,
and there need be none in the missionary labors
of His church, between the needs, the claims, and
the invitations to salvation, of all the islands and
continents of the world. Each station occupied
in the name of Jesus is but an advanced post,
marking the line of conquest of His kingdom,
and pointing onward to the uttermost ends of the
earth; and there is no danger that the love and
effort devoted to Madagascar will exhaust the
energies of the Christian church, or lessen her
power and resolution to make His kingdom
world-wide! The unselfish joy kindled by the
inspired hope of universal salvation, lights up
the hearts, and illumes the faces of all who go
out in His name to win the world for Christ.



Looking to the Noonday 309

Standing in America, in Europe, in Madagas-
car, the vision is the same on all sides: — Every-
where the sounds of strife, the signs of toil, the
songs of praise, the shouts of triumph, and the
first fruits of harvest from a century of sowing;
and the prospect grows wider and brighter as the
days go by. To faith's eye it is given already to
see the consummation ; and thus, amid the perils,
toils and shadows which still surround their work,
the Christian church and her missionaries move
hopefully and steadfastly forward to the realiza-
tion of the promises of God — the day when all the
nations shall bow before the cross of Christ;
when His name shall be proclaimed as " King of
kings and Lord of lords ; " when the world's dark
night shall issue into the day of God on earth;
and the light that never shall pale shall shine over
every land ; since it is written, " Thy sun shall no
more go down."



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Online LibraryJohn Joseph Kilpin FletcherThe sign of the cross in Madagascar; or, From darkness to light → online text (page 17 of 17)