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Brothers in the New Hebrides

By Charles Fox

From Southern Cross Log, London, January, 1939, pages 15-16.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Retired Bishop of Malaita, 2009


The Conference of the Brothers in the South was postponed from May (because of the epidemic of whooping cough in the New Hebrides the ship did not visit the Group then) and was held from August 19th to October 21st, during the time the ship was in New Zealand. Altogether 40 were at Qatnapni during that time. There was a daily celebration of Holy Communion and four hours every day were given to school, courses of lessons on the Life of our Lord, the Acts of the Apostles, the Pilgrim's Progress, and one hour daily to English. An hour's discussion on Brotherhood affairs was also held every afternoon. Qatnapni is a beautiful place and the grounds have been planted by the Brothers with many flowers and flowering shrubs; paths with bright coloured hedges run in all directions. It was ideal for a Brothers' Summer School, and native food was plentiful, though it had to be helped out with 400 lbs. of rice. The weather, however, was not good, for it rained continuously during the first six weeks, indeed we only saw the sun on two days during that time; mosquitoes were very numerous and the place swarmed with rats, which nibbled our toes as we slept and ate a large part of our clothing. Still, the Conference will always be a happy memory to the 40 Brothers who were there.

A good deal of the discussion was about making the Brotherhood self-supporting. Last year the Ratatasiu cost about £750, but made nearly £400 from copra and in other ways. But under those expenses is included the school at Alangkaula of 100 lads and small boys taught by a Household of Brothers, which is not really Brothers' expenses. In making the Brotherhood self-supporting it is the actual upkeep of the Brothers themselves which is meant, and in the South they propose to try to do this by working the plantation at old Sanlang, not now used for a school, and perhaps adding to it and planting cocoa as well. The price that natives get for copra in the New Hebrides is more than double what they get for it in the Solomons. This year there are 27 Brothers (12 retired in October) and they hope to make about £50 from the plantation, which should pay all the expenses of the Brotherhood in this Group. Ten Brothers have gone to Sanlang to work the plantation for the rest. Four Brothers have gone again to Vila (where at the church the Brothers built last year and which the Bishop has just consecrated there are about 6o people daily at prayers and 8o on Sundays). Mr. Ballard has helped the Brothers greatly there, he [15/16] has learnt Mota and preaches for them in their church on Sundays. The Conference sent him a letter of thanks for all he has done for the Brothers. Another Household has gone to Lakona, where there are two heathen villages. And the fourth Household is at Qatnapni, the headquarters, where they will teach the novices and also visit heathen villages in the hills at the back. The Household at Wanur in the south of Raga has been given up for the time, for though there are still seven heathen villages there, there has been no success during the three years the Brothers have worked there. As in the Solomons, it is the divisions in the Christian Church which keep the heathen from becoming Christians in that part.

Another matter discussed was a kind of sect that has arisen among the bush people of Raga, though there is as yet no actual separation from the Church. It began with a teacher named Daniel (now dead), who heard heavenly "voices," which gave him instructions. This was a year or two ago, but the Moemera at Qatnapni had been greatly influenced by the Danielites (of whom there are six villages) and had come to accept their teaching. Their leader now is one Edwin Buletik, an old Norfolk Island boy. Their teaching seems strange enough to us: three Trinities, one in the Godhead, one in Man, and one in the Devil. But really two in Man, for in him may be either the image of the Trinity of the Godhead or that of the Devil. They call the Church of Rome the "Coconut," the Baptists "The Owl," and the Church of England "The Brand," while the Danielites are "The Torch." Daniel's old wife is soon to have a child, who will be holy and baptised with fire. Daniel has been appointed keeper of the gate of the heavenly Jerusalem and will let in only Danielites. They know one word of the language spoken in Heaven, which is toswin, meaning "with." It is wrong to eat or keep a pig, to buy wives, to drink kava, to smoke, and to use a walking stick. These sins cannot be forgiven, and anyone who practises any of them cannot go to prayers or Communion, or be buried with a prayer. Weeping for those who die is forbidden, cheerful songs should be sung. Unmarried men and women may go freely together into the bush, for they cannot sin. A married woman must not live in the same house as her husband. Dancing is forbidden. Clergy and teachers must not be paid. The heavenly voices continue, but now in a woman. Some while since the heavenly voice told the Danielites to kill all their fowls and make a great feast on a certain Friday, for our Lord would return on that day. They were to await him in the churches, which they did in silence for thirty-six hours. Probably one could find parallels in Africa to the teaching of the Danielites. They are intensely in earnest and willing to give up everything to do what they believe is the will of God.

The Brothers renewed their vows and six new ones were admitted when the Bishop came to us on October 21st.


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