Young, athletic scholars often make the best missionaries, especially when, like John Coleridge Patteson, they abandon all for Christ. Patteson, great-nephew of poet Samuel T. Coleridge, was “finely educated” at Oxford where he excelled in sports, especially in rowing. Following graduation he became a curate of the Church of England and soon sailed to New Zealand to assist his missionary friend, Bishop George Selwyn.
Patteson conducted schools for Melanesian Christians, preached the gospel, and translated the Scriptures. He spoke 23 dialects and translated the New Testament into local languages. In 1861 he was consecrated Bishop of Melanesia, and after 20 years, only 40 of the 800 natives on the chief island, Mota, remained unbaptized.
But European slave traders sullied the atmosphere by sailing among the islands, kidnapping native boys. In all, an estimated 70,000 young men were captured into servitude. Patteson fought the practice tooth and nail; but a fear…
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