John Hunt sailed for Fiji in the 1800’s and immediately began studying the language and spending quantity time with the natives. Knowing the people motivated him to preach and begin translating the Bible within six months. He would first read from the Greek and English New Testaments, research word definitions, and study Bible resources. He then consulted many natives to improve his use of the Fijian language.
Culture shock hit hard. Hunt’s firstborn died as natives mocked, an elderly woman was strangled at Hunt’s door, and eleven bodies were dissected by cannibals in front of his home. Worse yet, Hunt was asked by local chiefs to leave. However, God gave a supernatural love which grew in proportion to the mounting hate. He wrote, “I am determined to…be spent in trying to do them good, until God…shall remove me from them…” (The Life of John Hunt: Missionary to the Cannibals – George Stringer Rowe, pg. 106) He concluded, “We seem to labor in vain, but faith can never come to such a conclusion.” (pg. 111) Hunt pressed “onward,” as was his motto.
God soon sent encouragement. God rescued Hunt’s ship from attacking natives, and transformed a prominent chief into an effective missionary. Finally, God anointed the island with revival. Hunt wrote, “During the first week of the revival, nearly one hundred…[obtained]… forgiveness of sins through…Jesus Christ…Many who were careless…have become…devoted to God…Many never understood till now…” (pg. 184, 185) Hunt gave God the glory!
Those newly saved refused to renounce Christ although warriors gathered to feast on them one night. God moved again, and the warriors admitted, “We came to kill these people, and we cannot lift a hand.” (pg. 190) The retreating warriors were shocked when the Christians assisted them in carrying their weapons back to the canoes!
No missionary should expect to provide God’s Mighty Word to a spiritually-oppressed people without a struggle. John Hunt’s life proves that Satan’s attacks are powerless against God’s victory. Faith is the victory. Though John Hunt died at thirty-six, he had translated most of the New Testament! Let us also press “onward”!