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about hell."

In 18 16, a Foreign Mission School was opened
in Cornwall, Connecticut, for the education of
heathen boys who had come to America. Oboo-
kiah and several other Hawaii lads were among
its first pupils. Friends of missions thought this
was, perhaps, the best way to send the Gospel
to the heathen.

The Rev. Mr. Dwight, Obookiah's early in-
structor, was the first teacher of the institution,
and its pupils were of many different nationalities,
including Chinese, Indians and Greeks, as well as
the Hawaiians. This school was given up in 1826,
owing to the fact that it was found better to
train native helpers in their own lands.

The Transformation of Hawaii

As the years went by, Obookiah was trans-
formed from an awkward, dull-looking heathen
boy into an earnest Christian gentleman, with a
bright, intelligent face, and easy, graceful man-

As he journeyed about in New England, address-
ing churches in behalf of his work, and collect-
ing funds for the training school at Cornwall,
people marvelled at the tall, manly young student,
who had so recently lived in the darkness of

Great and far-reaching were the results of the
influences set in motion by this one earnest, conse-
crated life. Surely "this lonely little heathen child,
blown by seemingly cruel and adverse winds,
was tossed upon our Christian shores by the
good hand of our God," for the accomplishment
of His own great purposes.

The cause of missions was then in its infancy,
and many, even among consecrated Christians,
were inclined to doubt the possibility of convert-
ing the heathen and reclaiming them from their
low estate. Obookiah, Christianized, educated,
civilized, was so powerful a living argument for
foreign missions that many changed their opin-
ions and became strong advocates of the cause.

Biographers of Samuel J. Mills, the ''Father of

Henry Obookiah

American Missions," who was largely instrumen-
tal in forming the American Board, do not hesi-
tate to say that his association with Obookiah
not only increased his own zeal, but greatly aided
him in arousing the churches to a sense of their
duty and privilege in the matter of giving the
Gospel to the heathen.

It is said, too, that the late William E. Dodge,
that princely giver who contributed such
enormous sums to the Lord's work, received his
first impulse in missionary giving from Oboo-
kiah's life.

When quite a little boy he heard of the heathen
lad who wished to go as a missionary to his peo-
ple, and proposed to his companions the plant-
ing of a missionary potato patch to help him
along. Though the season was unfavorable, and
their piece of ground mere swamp-land, they
cultivated it so diligently that it yielded a fine
crop which was sold and the proceeds sent to
the young Hawaiian as they had planned.

But well-fitted as Obookiah seemed to carry
the Gospel to his dear islands, God did not per-
mit him to go back to Hawaii. In February,
1818, while still in the training school, he was
stricken down with typhus fever and died after a
short but severe illness. Hard as it was to give


The Transformation of Hawaii

up his cherished plans, his submission to the will
of God was most beautiful. ''God will do
right," he said. *' It is no matter where we die.
Let God do as He pleases."

The story of his consistent life and peaceful
death was told far and wide, arousing great in-
terest, and perhaps doing more for his people
than he could have done by a long life of service
among them.

Hiram Bingham, a student at Andover, at once
volunteered to go in his stead and carry out his
chosen plans, and Asa Thurston agreed to go
with him. Others joined them, and on October
17, 181 9, after a great farewell meeting in Park
Street Church, a company of seventeen, including
three young Hawaiians from the school at Corn-
wall, set sail from Boston on the brig Thaddeus,

Thus began the famous mission of the Ameri-
can Board to the Hawaiian Islands.



The Overthrow of Idolatry

Ke Kahuhipa Maikai
(Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us)

I. Iesu no ke Kahuhipa,

Kahuhipa maikai e,
Eia makou ka ohana,

Ke hoolohe a hahai ; —
E aloha, e aloha,

Alakai a hanai mai,
E aloha, e aloha,

Alakai a hanai mai.

a. Kai malie ia makou la

Ma na kahawai maikai,
Ma na kula uliuli

Kahi malu e malu ai :—
E aloha, e aloha,

Kiai a hoomalu mai,
E aloha, e aloha,

Kiai a hoomalu mai.




After a long voyage of more than five months,
the Thaddeus sighted the shores of Hawaii on
March 31, 1820.

The native lads, eager and impatient, pushed
off in a small boat before the ship cast anchor.
In a short time they returned, exclaiming in the
greatest excitement: *'Kamehameha is dead!
Tabu is abolished ! Oahu's idols are no more ! "

Incredible as it seemed, the news proved to be
true. The Shepherd who had put forth His
sheep had gone before them preparing the way.

Sceptical ones at home had declared it useless
to attempt the overthrow of such deep-rooted
idolatry as existed in Hawaii, and at the great
farewell meeting in Boston, the departing mis-
sionaries had been admonished not to be dis-
couraged if it was not accomplished in their life-

Even the faith-filled missionaries themselves,
as they journeyed toward the islands had asked,
''Who will roll us away the stone?" And, be-
hold! the stone was rolled away! No wonder

The Transformation of Hawaii

that Hiram Bingham, as he preached on board
the Thaddeus that first Sunday in Hawaiian
waters, chose for his text those words of the
prophet Isaiah: ''The isles shall wait for His

A great revolution had taken place, both in
civil and religious affairs.

In a long series of native wars, Kamehameha
the Great, who in Captain Cook's day was merely
chief over two districts in southern Hawaii, suc-
ceeded in conquering all the islands, uniting
them under one government, with himself as

Having strengthened his position by marrying
the great chief ess Keopuolani, a lineal descendant
of the ancient kings of Hawaii and Maui, this
''Napoleon of the Pacific" set about the consoli-
dation of his island kingdom. Brave and invinci-
ble as a warrior, he proved himself equally noble
and capable as a sovereign, ruling his people
with great ability, making wise and humane
laws for the putting down of crime.

Under his enlightened rule and peaceful reign,
the people began to think for themselves. The
many foreigners who arrived at the islands con-
tinually broke the tabu, violating its strictest laws
with an utter disregard of consequences, and


The Overthrow of Idolatry

offering no sacrifices to the gods. Finding that
no evil results followed this open defiance of
long established religious rites, the islanders
gradually began to lose faith in their gods, and
when at last some of the more daring natives
themselves broke tabu in secret, without being
overtaken by some awful calamity, they con-
cluded the white men were right— their idols had
no power.

As long as King Kamehameha lived, however,
the idols were faithfully worshipped and tabu
strictly kept. In the last year of his reign, only
a few months before his death, three men were
executed for trivial violations of its laws; one for
putting on the girdle of a chief, another for eat-
ing forbidden food, and a third for leaving one
house under tabu and entering another. A
woman, too, was put to death for entering her
husband's eating-house, though she was intoxi-
cated at the time, and scarcely responsible for her

On one of his visits to the islands. Captain
Vancover attempted to instruct Kamehameha in
the doctrines of the Christian faith, endeavoring
to attract him to it by descriptions of the pros-
perity and grandeur of Christian nations, but

without avail.


The Transformation of Hawaii

It is said, too, that other foreigners attempted
to convert the great king to Christianity, but he
said to them: **Go, throw yourselves from the
top of yonder precipice. If you reach the bot-
tom unhurt by the fall, I will consider the mat-
ter." Being unwilling to risk such a trial of their
faith, they gave up the attempt, and left him to
his idolatry.

Toward the close of his life, however, Kame-
hameha began to think seriously about the great
God of whom he had been told, and desired to
be instructed in the true faith. But alas ! it was
too late. Among all the foreigners residing on
the islands, not one could be found capable of
pointing him to Christ or teaching him the way
of salvation. He died, therefore, as he had
lived, an idolater, praying to his red-feathered
god Kukailimoku, and surrounded by priests
bearing many idols.

Thus passed away the greatest of the Hawaiian
kings. His statue in bronze stands at the en-
trance of the legislative halls in Honolulu, and he
will ever be revered as a great and noble char-

After his death, which occurred on May 8,
1819, the high chiefs held a council to decide how
best to show their grief, the first speaker sug-


The Overthrow of Idolatry

gesting that they eat the body raw ! To this the
chief widow replied, not in disapproval, but
merely raising a question as to their rights in the
case: "Perhaps it is not at our disposal. Its
disposition rests with his successors."

It was finally decided to take the sacred body
to the consecrated house for the last rites. The
priests declared that the gods demanded a human
sacrifice, but since Kamehameha had forbidden
such sacrifices during his illness or at his obse-
quies, his wishes were respected and three hun-
dred dogs were offered up instead!

At the close of these revolting ceremonials,
the flesh was removed from the body, and the
bones of the great king tied up in tapa, and so
successfully hidden that they have never been
found. In the mausoleum containing the caskets
of all members of the Hawaiian royal family,
there is one in which these bones are said to re-
pose, but since they were discovered by divina-
tion, through the medium of an inspired hog,
their authenticity is doubted.

In accordance with the provisions of the royal
will, Kamehameha's son, Liho Liho, was pro-
claimed king, with Kaahumanu, his father's
favorite wife as co-ruler. This noble woman,
aided by Keopuolani, the young king's own

* 73

The Transformation of Hawaii

mother, determined to abolish the tabu system,
receiving encouragement from the wonderful ac-
counts that began to reach Hawaii, of the down-
fall of idolatry in Tahiti.

The tabu system had long been displeasing to
the women of the royal household, upon whom
its restrictions fell with special force. At the
time of Kamehameha's death several of them
were in danger of losing their lives for having
eaten fish, bananas and other forbidden foods.

During the coronation ceremonies of the young
king, Kaahumanu struck the first blow at idol-
atry. After proclaiming Liho Liho king, with
the title of Kamehameha II., she publicly ex-
horted him to abolish the tabu. On the same
evening Keopuolani struck the second blow by
deliberately eating with her younger son, thus
violating one of the strictest laws of the sys-

The young king, however, being unwilling to
antagonize the priests, refused to break through
such long-established customs. Nevertheless the
two queens persevered in their purpose, Kaahu-
manu finally announcing her intention not only to
break the laws of tabu, but also to renounce the
idols and cease her worship of the gods.

Liho Liho at last yielded to their wishes, being


The Overthrow of* Idolatry

brought to a decision by hearing of the part King
Pomare and the chiefs of Tahiti had taken in the
overthrow of idolatry in the Society Islands, and
of the many benefits that had resulted from the

Finally, at a great feast to which the high chiefs
and many women of noble birth were invited,
the king formally broke tabu by sitting down to
eat with the women, and ordering his attendants
to serve them dainty food that had always been
prohibited to them.

The islanders looked on in consternation, ex-
pecting some terrible calamity to ensue. When
they found that the gods failed to avenge this
open violation of their laws, they shouted in
great excitement, "The tahus are abolished!
The idols are a lie!"

Incredible as it seems, many of the priests ap-
plauded this action of the king, and urged him
to go still farther in his reforms.

Hewa-Hewa, the powerful high priest of the
war god, a man of great influence, openly coun-
selled the complete overthrow of idolatry, de-
claring that '* there is only one Great God in the
heavens." When the king finally gave the order
to burn the temples and destroy the idols, this
man, — a heathen priest — applied the first torch.


The Transformation of Hawaii

**For the first time in history idolatry threw
down its own altars," and the nation was with-
out a religion.

Civil war followed in which a brief stand for
idolatry was made by a party of priests and
people led by Kekuoakalani, a nephew of Kame-
hameha the Great, who had charge of the na-
tional worship.

After a decisive battle in which the priestly
party was completely vanquished, the leader
being killed together with his loyal wife who
fought at his side, King Liho Liho issued a proc-
lamation forever forbidding a return to idolatry
in the islands.

These important events culminated in Novem-
ber, 1819, a few weeks after the mission party
left Boston.

Obookiah's early prayer was answered, though
not as he had himself planned. ** Folks in
Hawaii no longer pray to stone gods," and good
men whom God had sent were already on their
way to "tell folks in Hawaii about heaven,
about hell."

So strictly was the law against idolatry en-
forced that the Queen Dowager Kaahumanu her-
self journeyed from island to island, destroying
idols found hidden in caves and elsewhere by


The Overthrow of Idolatry-
superstitious natives who still clung to the old

Some years later when the first Roman Catho-
lic missionaries attempted to settle on the islands
they were banished for trying to introduce the
worship of images.



The Missionaries at Work

Hawaiian Proper Names

Many of the proper names have special mean-
ings, some of them beautifully poetic. Thus
Ka-meha-meha means "The lonely one"; Keo-
puo-lani, **The gathering of the clouds in the
heavens" (Lani, wherever it occurs signifying
heaven or sky); Ka-pio-lani, *'The captive of
heaven " ; Kalani-nui-Liho-Liho (the full name of
Liho Liho, who was also called lolani), **The
heavens great and dark"; Kaahumanu, "The
feather mantle" (that is, very precious). Some-
times also special names were adopted late in
life in commemoration of some important event.
Thus on the death of her illustrious father,
Kamehameha's daughter became Ka-meha-maru,
" The shade of the lonely one."




But to return to the Thaddeus at anchor in
Kailua Bay. For thirteen weary days the mis-
sionaries were kept on shipboard. The king
positively refused to allow them to land.

Degraded foreigners on the islands, fearing
that the presence of Christian missionaries would
interfere with their evil practices and ungodly
gains, endeavored to set the kings and chiefs
against them by declaring that they had come to
take forcible possession of the kingdom. To this
the king wisely replied: '' If they had come for
war they would not have brought their women."

At length through the influence of the Queen
Dowager Kaahumanu and the old high priest
Hewa-Hewa, King Liho Liho reluctantly gave
the missionaries permission to stay on his islands
one year, provided they behaved themselves

Disembarking on April 12, 1820, they at once
prepared for work. Formidable indeed seemed
the undertaking. When the ladies of the party
caught their first glimpse of the natives on ship-


The Transformation of Hawaii

board, they exclaimed: *'Can these be human
beings? Are they not rather devils?" And
some of them went below to hide their emotion.

So dismayed was the owner of a trading
vessel, on hearing that these refined white
women intended to live among such repulsive
creatures, that he exclaimed: ** These ladies can-
not remain here. They will all return to the
United States in less than a year," and forthwith
ordered his vessels to give them free passage
whenever they wished to go.

But these brave New England pioneers, like
their Pilgrim ancestors, were made of sterner
stuff. Notwithstanding their many trials, they
remained at their posts, laboring with an in-
domitable courage and a heroic faith that knew
no defeat.

Many indeed were the hardships they were
called upon to endure. No sooner had they
landed than their vessel set sail carrying with
her the three years' provisions they had brought
from Boston!

Living in rude native huts with only such fur-
niture as could be made from boxes and barrels,
their personal discomfort was great. They were
obliged to depend largely on supplies sent from
America, and these, by reason of the long voy-

82 '

The Missionaries at Work

age around Cape Horn, were often badly dam^
aged on the way. Flour sometimes reached them
so hard that it was necessary to chop it with an
axe before it could be used.

The loneliness and isolation, too, were hard to
bear. Since the different families were stationed
far apart and travelling was slow and difficult,
they seldom saw each other. And home letters
came only at long intervals after being many
months on the way.

Added to these sore trials was the suspicion
with which they were regarded by the king.
Unfriendly foreigners still persisted in their ef-
forts to poison his mind against them by relating
frightful stories about the missionaries in the
Society Islands— how they had robbed the people
and made slaves of them. They also declared
that the English king would no longer be friendly
to Hawaii if American missionaries were allowed
to remain on the islands.

But God was watching over His workers and
caring for them. In 1822, just in time to prevent
their being expelled, a ship arrived at Hawaii,
having on board a party of English missionaries
and two Society Island chiefs.

These missionaries assured the king that their
sovereign was glad to know that American mis-


The Transformation of Hawaii

sionaries were at work in Hawaii, and tlie two
chiefs gave glowing accounts of what mission-
aries had done for their islands.

This providential occurrence silenced all criti-
cism, and for a time opposition on the part of
foreigners ceased, though it soon began again,
continuing in one form or another throughout
almost the entire history of the mission.

Notwithstanding these many obstacles, the
labors of the missionaries were richly blessed
from the very first. The natives were eager to
learn the mysterious arts of reading and writing,
but the king and chiefs insisted that they must
be taught first. A school was therefore opened
for the royal scholars.

At the end of four months the king was able
to read fairly well and became not only willing,
but anxious, to have his people taught also, even
going so far as to issue a proclamation ordering
every one in the kingdom to attend the mission

Since the Hawaiian language is by no means
difficult— there being only twelve letters and few
of these having more than one sound, — rapid
progress was made. At the end of six years,
schools were open in every district of the king-
dom with 400 teachers and 25,000 pupils.

The Missionaries at Work

So fascinated were the people with their new
accomplishments that they left their savage
sports to devote their time to them. They were
especially fond of reading. The missionaries
were not slow to take advantage of this, but
hastened to provide suitable literature translating
Testaments, tracts and school books for their

Great crowds attended the meetings for reli-
gious instruction also, listening eagerly to the
Word of God. The Rev. William Ellis of Tahiti,
who spent some time in Hawaii assisting the
missionaries in reducing the native language to
writing, says: "The new revelations were re-
ceived with much attention, with wonder, and
often with delight. The greater part of the peo-
ple seemed to regard the tidings of ' endless life
by Jesus ' as the most joyful news they had ever

The first convert was Puaaiki, a disreputable
blind dancer employed at court for the entertain-
ment of the royal family. During a severe ill-
ness, he was found, suffering and neglected, by
Honolii, one of the Hawaiian youths who had
come with the missionaries from Boston, and
told of the Great Physician who heals souls and

bodies and gives sight to the blind.

The Transformation of Hawaii

As soon as he was able to walk, Puaaiki hired
a heathen lad to lead him to the meetings con-
ducted by the missionaries. He listened eagerly
to every word and soon professed his faith in

When next the chiefs sent for him to dance in
their presence, he publicly refused, saying that he
must henceforth live as a servant of the most
high God. Many ridiculed, but some listened to
his confession with intense interest. Among
these were the queen, Kameha-maru and the
queen-mother, Keopuolani, both of whom were
eventually converted to the Christian faith partly
through his influence.

Though Puaaiki gave every evidence of true
conversion, he was kept on probation four years
before being admitted to church fellowship.
When at last he received baptism he took the
name Bartimeus, feeling that Christ had indeed
opened his eyes and brought him out of darkness
into light. He subsequently rose to positions of
great trust in the native church. In 1843, during
the great revival he was ordained as an evange-
list, being recognized as the most eloquent
speaker in Hawaii.

Shortly after his conversion, Puaaiki accom-
panied Keopuolani to her home at Lahaina on

The Missionaries at Work

Maui. Here she gave herself diligently to the
study of English in order to read the Bible which
had not yet been translated into the Hawaiian

In a few months she became very ill. Sum-
moning her son, King Liho Liho, she pleaded
with him to renounce his evil ways and charged
him to give her a Christian burial in the event of
her death. She also sent for the missionaries and
urged them to allow her to receive baptism be-
fore she passed away.

Her wishes were complied with and the solemn
rite administered. Thus it came to pass that this
noble woman, the highest chief ess in the islands,
the descendant of a long line of royal ancestors,
wife of Kamehameha the Great, and mother of
the two kings Kamehameha I. and II., became
the first baptised convert, the first member of the
native Hawaiian Church.

Many other members of the royal family, both
chiefs and chiefesses, were among the early con-
verts. King Liho Liho publicly declared himself
in favor of Christianity, and his queen, Kameha-
maru, became a devout and earnest Christian.
She urged her subjects to worship the true God,
and erected the first Christian school in Honolulu,
taking a personal interest in its work.


The Transformation of Hawaii

The first convert on the island of Oahu was the
Queen Dowager Kaahumanu. Though it was
largely through her counsels that the king had
allowed the first missionaries to land, she held
strangely aloof from them, treating them with
cold contempt. After a long and severe illness
she became more friendly, especially to Mr. Bing-
ham, and finally yielded to the teachings of the

She was a strong, powerful woman, noted for
her pride and cruelty. After her conversion she
became mild and gentle — completely changed in
character. As she journeyed about from island
to island, establishing schools and exhorting her
subjects to give up their evil ways and accept
Christ, the people marvelled greatly. So unlike
their haughty, imperious queen was she, that
they called her Kaahumanu-ho-u, "the new

Though fifty years of age and weighted down
with the cares of government, she determined to
learn to read and write. Two years later she
took her place among her subjects at a school
examination to stimulate their progress in edu-

At her death in 1832, one of the missionaries,
voicing the feeling of the entire corps, spoke thus


The Missionaries at Work

concerning her: " The mission has lost in her a

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Online LibraryBelle M. (Belle Marvel) BrainThe transformation of Hawaii : how American missionaries gave a Christian nation to the world → online text (page 3 of 8)