A lively portrait of a world in the throes of first contact with the West, and a remarkable account faith and bravery, On the Missionary Trail is a unique addition to the literature of the missionary encounter.


On the missionary trail : a journey through Polynesia, Asia, and Africa with the London Missionary Society New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, c 2000      Tom Hiney London Missionary Society , History , 19th century Hardcover. 1st American ed. and printing. ix, 367 p. : ill., maps ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 350-353) and index.  Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

One of the central tenets of the Christian faith is the commandment to spread the word. The London Missionary Society, founded in 1792, sent families to postings as far-flung as the Kalihari desert, Tahiti, and Canton to spread the gospel. But in an era when mail could take over a year to arrive, the LMS had little way of knowing how effective its efforts were. In 1821 the LMS deputized George Bennet and Daniel Tyerman to travel the world, to visit its stations and report on their progress. On the Missionary Trail is an extraordinary account of this expedition.

Their journey would take them to the South Sea Islands, where they reported chiefs surfing, perpetual warfare, and sudden surges and retreats of Christianity based on the whims of local leaders; New Zealand, where they were nearly killed by Maoris mistreated by their last white visitors; China, where missionaries got around the government’s prohibition on foreign residents by working as commercial translators for traders, the Indian subcontinent, where they evaded a tiger attack and witnessed a suttee. They attended a sumptuous wedding of a Chinese merchant’s daughter, a human sacrifice in Oahu, and the first Christian coronation in Tahiti. Their last stop was the slave hub of Madagascar, where Tyerman died of exhaustion and Bennet had to escape the besieged mission house during the outbreak of tribal war in order to leave the country, finally returning home in 1829.

Drawing on historical records and the diaries Tyerman and Bennet kept of their journey, Tom Hiney has sought to find out what kind of people the missionaries were—men who went to strange lands halfway around the globe in service to their faith and whose lives are now mostly forgotten. A lively portrait of a world in the throes of first contact with the West, and a remarkable account faith and bravery, On the Missionary Trail is a unique addition to the literature of the missionary encounter.

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