Tuesday, March 31, 2009

American Minute - Mar. 31 - Hawaii's First Missionaries

American Minute
Bill Federer

Henry Opukahai'a was an orphan raised by his uncle to be a pagan priest but he became disillusioned with rituals and chants and left Hawaii for New Englandwith a friend, Thomas Hopu.

They were befriended by Yale students and became the first Hawaiian Christians.

Henry studied Greek and Hebrew and translated parts of the Bible.

In his memoirs, which sold 500,000 copies after his death in 1818, Henry Opukahai'a wrote:

"My poor countrymen, without knowledge of the true God, and ignorant of the future world, have no Bible to read, no Sabbath."

This inspired Thomas Hopu and Hiram Bingham to be the first missionaries to Hawaii, arriving MARCH 31, 1820.

Devising a 12-letter alphabet, they translated the Bible, set up a school, a church, a newspaper and convinced women to wear dresses.

Idolatry and human sacrifice had previously been ended by King Kamehameha II and his Queen mother Ka'ahumanu.

Just prior to her death, Queen Ka'ahumanu, who had helped spread the Gospel in the islands, was presented with the newly completed version of the New Testament in the Hawaiian language.

Her last words were: "I am going where the mansions are ready."

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