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GOOD NEWS FROM MADAGASGAR.
A LETTER FROM MR. POOLE.
“ Antananarivo, April 29, 1872. MY DEAR Mrs. R.
“Mrs. Poole's extremely weak state of health is the only apology I can offer for acknowledging in person your kind donation for the continuance of the services of the four Biblewomen, who are doing their quiet work in the homes of the Malagasy. Two of the women are superintended by Mrs. Montgomery, and labour in the Ambohipotsy district, of which the Rev. W. Montgomery is the missionary, his testimony to their usefulness I now enclose :
“Ambohipotsy, April 23, 1872. "MY DEAR MRS. POOLE,
“I have very great pleasure in writing some little testimony as to the value of the two Bible-women you have employed to labour in this district of Ambohipotsy. We have here several women, who for years past have done true service in the country villages about the southern and south-eastern parts of the capital. And I was very glad when, through the bounty of your friends at home, I was enabled to liberate two of the worthiest and most devoted of these from their other and secular engagements. These two are now able to devote the chief part of their time to the quiet and unobtrusive labour of spreading the knowledge of God's ever-blessed Gospel among their fellow-women in the villages. They have worked for us thus in many villages ; and I have observed that wherever they have gone regularly, a school has sprung up, originating entirely from the desire of the people for further instruction, and supported entirely by their own voluntary contributions. I have also found that in these villages the missionary or his wife can always secure an abundant audience of eagerly and willingly-listening women. But let me mention particulars.
“ Fourteen or fifteen months ago, very soon after I was able to speak in the language of the people, I visited, for the first time one Sunday afternoon, an out-of-the-way village on the south-east border of my district. I had not known anything of Isamboranto until I came there that day. I entered the second preaching station, and found assembled forty people of all ages, from childhood to grey hairs, and I waited and waited very long,—for the people are very scattered,—and the hour was not come. While I waited I looked about me, and spoke to one here and there; but all I saw and heard saddened me sorely. There was a Bible on the table ; but in all the congregation when they were gathered, there was but one person who could read it: he was the possessor of the only Testament that I could find in all the congregation. I did all I could for them after that day. I put down for them for several months the trustiest preachers on the district plan. And very soon afterwards I was enabled to send these two Bible-women to them once a week ; and now, in that same village of Isamboranto, there are—one pastor, seven resident preachers, sixtythree communicants, 799 attendants at worship, fifteen grownup persons able to read, and sixty-seven scholars in the daily school. Why need I say more? Pray on that God
bless still more richly our sisters, gentle and simple, who are working for Him in England, and who remember Madagascar. 66 • Believe me, yours very truly,
666 WILLIAM M.' “P.S.-The names of the two Bible-women employed in Mrs. Montgomery’s district are Rarafindrina and Rafaravavy:'”
Mr. Poole continues :
“I really question if anything, even the preaching of the Gospel, be more important in the present state of society here than the instruction of the mothers and daughters of the Malagasy homes. They are timid to a degree in the presence of a foreigner until he is thoroughly known, but will listen attentively to any thoughts, especially prepared for them by an European lady. When once convinced she has their good in view, they will visit her throughout the live-long day, generally bringing her some little present. With the Bible-woman the
case is very different, she visits ThEM at their homes, she reads to and with them those words which are spirit and life, she gathers her estimate of their characters in their own houses, and if a streak of light has illumined in any small degree the darkness of their minds she will most likely become acquainted with it. Too much stress cannot be laid upon the value of Native Agency, as to what it has done and is still doing here, in the training of the future men, by their mothers; of those who in a few years will constitute the society, the strength, and sinews of the kingdom. Some years must elapse before we can expect to see many Bible-women prepared and thoroughly furnished for their important work; but we can, and do now take women whose hearts have received the truth as it is in Jesus, women who can speak of what they have felt for themselves, women who can read the precious record of a Saviour's love and death to their sisters, and let it speak for itself. The value of one text fixed in the memory cannot be over-estimated.
“You may be sure, dear friend, that we well remember here the silent influence of a few scattered
away or among bushes during the reign of terror and darkness; how, through their perusal under pain of death, the number of disciples increased and were edified. The same truths are now read by the Bible-women, not with feelings which a dread of discovery must elicit, but with openness and earnestness in the broad daylight, with the door unclosed and in quiet homes, and the Bible-women here have no drunken husbands to contend with, need no labour to rescue them from the effects of strong drink, for in and near the Capital, its sale, its use, its manufacture, are strictly prohibited by lau. Christian work has now settled into its groove; there is no excitement, nothing out of the ordinary course of things ; the Sabbath is strictly observed, there is little need to urge attendance on public worship, the multitudes of praying ones come together on the day of rest, the admissions to the table of our dying Lord are numerous. What is required by the people is constant unremitting instruction in a very simple serious manner, not only from the pulpit, but individually from those who, daily and from house to house cease not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. It is a privilege to be engaged in
any humble manner in prosecuting this great work, and that privilege is greatly enhanced by the knowledge of so much kindly sympathy with our discouragements and depressions, and by the reflection that at the very moment we are putting forth an effort some loving kind heart at home is praying that it may succeed. We would earnestly reciprocate such prayers. “ We remain your grateful co-workers in Madagascar,
“ W. & M. P."
THE GIRL OF THE BOOK AT TYRE.
“MY DEAR FRIEND,
“I send you the letter from Raheel, the "Girl of the Book,' as she is called at Tyre, a true missionary, although only about fifteen. She assists our teacher, Miss Williams, in the school, also a most valuable missionary, always happy in her trying work, and contented under privations. A ship-builder has just launched a little ship which conveys our missionary stores to Tyre, and called it the 'Bowen Thompson. May it prove the forerunner of many swift messengers to carry the Gospel and its precious truth to the daughter of Tyre.'
“ SUSETTE SMITH."
“ British Syrian School, Tyre, June 4th, 1872. “ TO THE LADY, Mrs. Mott,
“Your servant, Raheel Kaleel, kisses your hands. “MY KIND LADY,--
“I will tell you a few things about the school in Tyre. We have now just 60 children ; most are Moslems and Metawalies, anxious to learn everything. A few days ago I went to Assad Abousad's house to read to the women and talk to them about God. Fifteen Roman Catholic women came in, and when I began to read the Bible to them they called me names, and got sticks to drive me out, but I would not let that stop me, and I read three chapters, and answered their questions, and they got better behaved, and some asked to hear more of the truth. When I go to the Moslem women they are always friendly, and are glad to hear of God. They especially love to hear of Moses and Joseph.
“Last Sunday the Consul Accad was out of town, and so the lady, Miss Williams, and I took the service. There came in a Moslem man, who listened quietly to all that was said. I read two chapters and some prayers out of the Arabic Prayer-book. The people could not respond, as we have only one. The children helped us with the singing. I put into Arabic what Miss Williams said on the chapters, and we read the chapters referred to. After the prayers and catechising the children, I gave the Moslem two of the Whately papers, ' The entrance of Thy Word giveth light.' He took them with joy, and read them. He came the next morning to ask for more, saying, . The words in that paper made him feel himself a sinner,' and I gave
him another. The man we found was a soldier. “ In the afternoon a beggar boy came. I took him by his hand to turn him out, but I thought, This is not right, I ought to teach him about God.' So I began to tell him about Christ, and he said he had never heard His name, and he listened and cried, and told me he would come and hear about the new Christ; that he never heard a word about Him before.
“There is also a man, blind and deaf, who comes on Sundays, who had learnt to read before his affliction, so I form letters on his hand, and teach him texts. He can repeat three; they are, • For God so loved the world,' &c., ' Come unto me all labour,' &c., Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,' &c. This man is a Maronite. “ I am, your grateful servant,
The following is an interesting account of Miss Seeley's and Miss Collet's visit to Tyre, April 29, 1872 :
“We left Beyrout early on the morning of April 3, 1872. Mr. Mott kindly accompanied us as far as Mar Elias (a Greek convent on a sandy hill just outside Beyrout), and then left us with a parting warning to beware of quicksands. Our road lay along the sea-coast over miles of sand. The sun was hot, and when weary we rested under the shelter of our umbrellas. Later
VOL. VIII.-NO. 8.