The Covenant Makers: Islander Missionaries in the Pacific

Article excerpt

The Covenant Makers: Islander Missionaries in the Pacific.

Edited by Doug Munroand Andrew Thornley. Suva, Fiji: Pacific Theological College and Institute for Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific, 1997. Pp. xi, 321. Paperback $11.

A generation after the Duff landed on Tahiti, local Polynesian churches were sending their own missionaries to neighboring islands. The remarkable expansion of Christianity throughout the Pacific region, where over 80 percent of the population today claims affiliation to some church or mission, owes much to the dedicated work of thousands of islander teachers, evangelists, catechists, and ordained clergy. Indeed, it is safe to say that most islanders learned of Christ from the lips of other islanders, not from European missionaries. Yet most accounts of mission relegate islander missionaries to the background. The Covenant Makers goes a long way toward remedying this injustice, demonstrating that the documentary obstacles that have hampered study of islander evangelists can and must be overcome. This accessible and fascinating collection makes a major contribution to current attempts to write Pacific histories focused on the experiences of islanders themselves.

Enriched by Sione Latukefu's excellent overview chapter and the editors' cogent review of the scholarly treatment of islander missionaries, the volume presents thirteen fine-grained local histories and biographical accounts. …