What children should say about their parents

John Paton was a Scottish missionary to the island of New Hebrides in 1851.  This was an island full of cannibals.  In fact the only other missionaries that had ever attempted to evangelize this island were murdered and their corpses were eaten by these cannibals.  John and his wife, Mary, went to be missionaries to this island in 1858.  Three months after arriving there, his wife gave birth to their son Peter.  However, nineteen days later, Mary passed away from a tropical fever, followed by the death of his son Peter.  Despite these challenges, John served faithfully among this people group and as a result of his faithful service and God’s divine intervention, the entire island professed faith in Jesus before John died.


John began a journal which later became published.  The first 100 pages of the auto-biography is where he talks about the influence of his parents on his life.  I wanted to give you a few quotes of what John would say about his parents:
[pl_blockquote]The very discipline through which our father passed us was a kind of religion in itself. If anything really serious required to be punished, he retired first to his closet for prayer, and we boys got to understand that he was laying the whole matter before God; and that was the severest part of the punishment for me to bear! I could have defied any amount of mere penalty, but this spoke to my conscience as a message from God. We loved him all the more, when we saw how much it cost him to punish us; and, in truth, he had never very much of that kind of work to do upon any one of all the eleven—we were ruled by love far more than by fear.[/pl_blockquote]
Another excerpt that stood out to me was the day that John describes leaving his home to attend missionary school.  He had to walk 40 miles just to get to the train station.  His godly father walked with him the first portion of the journey, knowing that accepting the missionary calling was accepting the call to leave family and probably never see them again.  Here is what happened:
[pl_blockquote]My dear father walked with me the first six miles of the way. His counsel and tears and heavenly conversation on that parting journey are fresh in my heart as if it had been but yesterday; and tears are on my cheeks as freely now as then, whenever memory steals me away to the scene. His tears fell fast when our eyes met each other in looks for which all speech was vain! He grasped my hand firmly for a minute in silence, and then solemnly said: “God bless you, my son! Your father’s God prosper you, and keep you from all evil!” Unable to say more, his lips kept moving in silent prayer; in tears we embraced, and parted. I ran off as fast as I could; and, when about to turn a corner in the road where he would lose sight of me, I looked back and saw him still standing with head uncovered where I had left him gazing after me. Waving my hat in adieu, I was round the corner and out of sight in an instant. But my heart was too full and sore to carry me further, so I darted into the side of the road and wept for a time. Rising up cautiously, I climbed the dyke to see if he yet stood where I had left him; and just at that moment I caught a glimpse of him climbing the dyke and looking out for me! He did not see me, and after he had gazed eagerly in my direction for a while he got down, set his face towards home, and began to return, his head still uncovered, and his heart, I felt sure, still rising in prayers for me.

I watched through blinding tears, till his form faded from my gaze; and then, hastening on my way, vowed deeply and oft, by the help of God, to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonour such a father and mother as He had given me. The appearance of my father when we parted has often through life risen vividly before my mind, and does so now as if it had been but an hour ago. In my earlier years particularly, when exposed to many temptations, his parting form rose before me as that of a guardian Angel. It is no pharisaism, but deep gratitude, which makes me here testify that the memory of that scene not only helped to keep me pure from the prevailing sins, but also stimulated me in all my studies, that I might not fall short of his hopes, and in all my Christian duties, that I might faithfully follow his shining example.

2 Replies to “What children should say about their parents”

  1. Thanks for posting this Sam, Incredible story of sacrifice by both father and son and not dissimilar from another Father-Son sacrificial story.

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