On the Missionary Trail: A Journey through Polynesia, Asia, and Africa with the London Missionary Society

Article excerpt

On the Missionary Trail: A Journey Through Polynesia, Asia, and Africa with the London Missionary Society.

By Tom Hiney. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000. Pp. xiv, 367. $25.

In May 1821 Daniel Tyerman and George Bennet began a voyage that lasted until 1829. They were the third deputation sent out by the London Missionary Society (LMS) and the first to visit the mission's stations in the Pacific and Asia as well as those in Africa.

Tom Hiney provides a vivid retelling of their adventures based on extracts from their published journal. Hiney makes reference to the LMS archives, though there is no record of his having used them. The strongest sense of time and place relates to South Africa, where Hiney is located, but errors of detail include reference to the founding of the LMS in 1792 (actually, 1795). Statements about church relationships seem to lack familiarity with deeper issues. There are attractive maps and some reproduced lithographs.

The missionary movement has had enough of a bad press to be glad for an assessment in terms of intentions and positive outcomes, but critical analysis is still needed. …