After Three Years in Guam
Francis M. Price

The Pacific, May 12, 1904
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The missionaries have now been in Guam three years, and it may be that the friends on the Pacific coast would like to know something of the result of these three years of work.

Our work has been complex on account of the fact that it is necessary to carry it on in two languages. There being a naval command here without a chaplain, we thought it our duty to provide religious privileges for such Americans as desired them. The Sunday evening services have been wholly in English, which the Chamorros have largely attended and enjoyed. There has always been an attendance of Americans, ranging from a very few to more than thirty.

Our English work has been disappointing, largely because of our inadequate accommodations. We have had no church building, and it has been very difficult to crowd the Americans and Chamorros together in one small room in a hot climate like ours. Still, we have persisted in this work and have reason to feel that our labor has not been in vain in the Lord. Some have been very faithful, one marine is a member of our church, and a civilian, a Massachusett’s boy, has been our faithful organist for over a year. The work among the Chamorros has been very encouraging, although not counting largely in numbers. There were a few earnest people already interested, when we arrived on the field, who had learned the better way through reading Bibles which had been distributed here by whalers. There were also two Chamorros here, the Castino brothers, who had spent many years in the States and in Honolulu, and were earnest Christian men. These all aided very materially in starting the work by distributing Bibles and tracts among the people. Soon after our arrival, preaching was begun in the Spanish language, which, though very poor, was better than speaking through an interpreter; but, as very many understood almost no Spanish, we were compelled to give instruction wholly in the Chamorro language. Reluctantly we gave up the use of the Spanish language, for it is a beautiful speech and comparatively easy to acquire; but necessity made the duty and we assumed the arduous task of making the Chamorro language, a difficult and meager tongue, the medium of our teaching. The people seemed to appreciate this, and a quickened interest on the part of all was the result. There has been no general movement here toward Protestantism as in the Philippines. Our work here has grown by slow and steady accessions, through the power and influence of the truth and the testimony of converted Chamorros. Usually a man becomes interested through a friend, who persuades him to read the Bible. This he agrees to do, while asserting that he does not like Protestantism and will not attend the chapel; but once a man begins to read the Bible he is no longer the Romanist that he was, and it is only a question of time with him when the scales will fall from his eyes and he will see that his only hope lies in faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to his teaching. When once he clearly sees this he is free from Romish superstition and the threatenings of friends, and boldly enters the Protestant chapel, thus breaking with former things. Later his children come to Sunday school and church, and, at last, the wife joins them.

One very wicked man, a slave to superstition, began reading the Bible some years ago, was soon convicted of sin, and saw his need of a Savior. He came to the Protestant chapel, confessed Christ publicly, and became a new man in word and deed. He was taken sick and died, and I have never known at any sick bed a more intelligent assurance or a more perfect peace.

The priest tried to frighten him into receiving extreme unction, and his family shut the missionaries and his Christian brethren out of the house; but the Governor interfered, and he was permitted to see his friends again. He died in great joy, and his triumphant death made a tremendous impression upon all who knew him, greatly confirming the faith of believers. When we can truly say, “our people die well,” because they live well, our testimony will not be disregarded.

In the first year of our work we organized a Christian Endeavor Society, in which we were able to unite all classes and test the fidelity of professed believers. Out of this naturally grew our church, and on October 4th, 1903, we organized the First Evangelical Congregation church of Guam. Sixty-one names were proposed, but only thirty-one were received, and the other thirty were placed on probation. The probationers are members of the Christian Endeavor society and will be received into the church when they shall have been sufficiently proven. On November 1st was celebrated the first communion service ever held on the island, in which the cup was given to the laity. The service was most impressive and tender. The decorum, solemnity and evident appreciation of the meaning and sacredness of the service filled our hearts with glad surprise. When, with bowed heads and prayerful hearts, the sacred emblems were taken we felt the presence of him who said: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world;” and with joyful thanks-

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giving we saw the harvest of many months of prayerful sowing.

Examining the list of members, we find that of those received nineteen were males and twelve were females; one was 72 years old, two were past 60, and one past 50; twenty-three were parents, and all were over 16 years of age. The probationers are mostly young people. The organizing of the church awakened to a new activity the opposition of the priests. On a Sunday shortly thereafter, a Spanish priest, of whom there are three in the island, watched our chapel from a kitchen window near by during the morning service. A man who was known to be interested received from the priest a rude drawing, representing himself and the devil sitting side by side, and under it a legend something like this: “This is the kind of company you keep now.”

Opposition does not wholly confine itself to words and threats. Our church has been stoned several times during the evening service and also the houses of some of the Protestants, and our people have been attacked and threatened and stoned on the way home from church, but no serious injury has been inflicted. The Governor has placed a guard at the chapel, and we hope there will be no further trouble. During the year the first mission schools were opened in Guam, and their success is, on the whole, encouraging. The day-school in Agana has an attendance of seventeen pupils, and on the mission’s premises at La Punta we have a boarding-school for boys and girls. There are seventeen in this school. There are others who are waiting to come in as soon a we have better accommodations and more teachers. Our schools have made it evident to us and to others that educational work must constitute the larger part of the missionary service for this island. It is very popular and appreciated, and it enables us to send out a corps of instructed workers who command respect and are able to meet with sound arguments the sophistries of the priests. We have a find company of young people who will soon want to enter our boarding schools.

A Girls’ Institute and a Boys’ Industrial Department must soon be added. We have faith in such a work, which can be successfully conducted without a great outlay of funds, and we believe that so conducted it will eventually secure the redemption of this beautiful island over which floats the flag of our own free land. Pray for this island and its interesting people.

The Chamorro Bible In Print

Photograph accompanying Manguaguan na Palabran Si Yuus - God's Precious WordsManguaguan na Palabran Si Yuus – God's Precious Words
With the Photograph of the Day

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