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Man-Eaters of Malekula

Roy Brandstater

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“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”, (Matthew 28:19 ESV).

Throughout the centuries, many have suffered martyrdom in answer to this command of Christ. And none have stood more brave and true than the courageous men and women who accepted without question the call to share the good news of Jesus among the cannibalistic peoples of the South Pacific.  These young missionaries accepted the challenge and faced the dangers of serving a heathen and hostile people who were a law unto themselves—who lived and died the only way they knew: without God and without hope.

Among the 80 some islands of the New Hebrides (Vanuatu), Malekula was the most primitive, the most heathen, the most savage. There was no evidence of human love, but in its place disaffection and malice reigned. From the mid-nineteenth century to the late twentieth century, missionary pioneers faced the dangers, suffered the fevers, battled the elements, and gave their lives. Man-Eaters of Malekula is their story.

This colorful record gives the factual stories of these Christian heroes—C. H. Parker, Harold Carr, A. G. Stewart, Norman and Alma Wiles, Will and Louisa Smith, the Ross James and Don Nicholson families—and they are remembered here as honored examples of dedication, fortitude, and Christian courage.

Man-Eaters of Malekula is more than a mission story. It is a documented account of miracles, drama, tragedy and triumph in the rescue of thousands from the darkness of evil to the hope and healing found in the name of Jesus.

Here's the first chapter:

Of the eighty islands of the New Hebrides group, Malekula was the most primitive, the most heathen, and the most savage. Andrew G. Stewart, pioneer Adventist missionary to the South Pacific islands wrote, “This is the saddest point in all the Pacific.” John Geddie, Presbyterian missionary of the nineteenth century, wrote in his journal, “this is truly one of the dark places of earth, where all the abominations of the heathen are practiced without scruples and without remorse.” My brother, Gordon Brandstater, who spent some twenty-five y ears supervising mission work in the Pacific, told me, “There is no place on earth where I have been that shows the degradation of mankind as I have seen on the island of Malekula.”

 

Crimes of every kind were commonplace. The people considered theft and licentiousness honorable. There was apparently no human love, but in its place disaffection and malice. There was cruelty instead of sympathy; brutality instead of mercy; suspicion instead of trust; sullenness instead of smiles; warfare instead of peace; and fear instead of faith. No adult male went about unarmed; every man carried a club or a spear – or both – until the white trader cam and provided muskets.

 

Pigs were the main article of barter until recent years. A wife cost an average of ten pigs. The animals shared human living quarters and were treated as prime property. In March 1980, Pastor Sam Dick, a native of Malekula, visited me in my home in Redlands, California. I asked him about his parents. In reply he said, “Oh, my father killed my mother.”

 

“Why would he do such a terrible thing?” I asked.

 

As if it were not an unusual thing to do, he answered straightway, “Oh, he had a very special pig, which had to do with our tribal worship. It was kept in the house; mother was its keeper, and it must not be let out. Somehow it found its way to freedom, and father saw it outside wallowing in the mud. He was so angry he took his club and killed my mother. Then he took me as a baby to a widow to care for me. She said ‘No! You killed your wife; now you take care of your own baby.’ So he killed her also. Then he gave me to my mother’s sister, who was just a girl at the time, warning, ‘Take care of this baby or I will kill you too!’”

ISBN Number: 9780816363049