A short study of mine, God Our Savior: The Redemptive Arrangement of God and the Participation of His People (1 Tim 2:1-7), has just been published in the August 2013 edition of Expository Times. Here is the website, if you are interested in reading the full article. And here is an excerpt.

Not far from my home in Port Chalmers, New Zealand is the seaside settlement of Karitane. Karitane is a beautifully significant place. On May 17, 1840, the Wesleyan missionary, Rev. James Watkin, stood on this lovely stretch of land and preached the very first Christian ser- mon in the Otago region. Watkin was born in Manchester, England, on September 9, 1805. Early in his life he sensed a call to Christian ministry. Watkin was a brilliant man with a flair for languages. A wealthy acquaintance spotted his unique ability and urged him to attend Oxford University and take orders in the Church of England, offering to pay all fees and expenses involved. But Watkin felt a strong desire to train within his own tradition and to do so with a view to foreign mission work. On August 30, 1830, Watkin sailed for Tonga. He was just shy of his twenty-fifth birthday and just celebrating his two-month wedding anniversary. For Mr. and Mrs. Watkin, this was a final farewell; they were not privileged to see their beloved England again.

For over six years the Watkins toiled for the Tongan people. They battled against hazardous weather, sickness, and tribal wars. James Watkin quickly became an expert speaker of the Tongan language, and his friends often said of him, “In Lufuka and Haabai, the chief scene of his labors, many thousands of natives were won for Christ and his church.” The gospel was advancing and converts were erecting places of worship. In one particular Tongan church, the pulpit and com- munion table were formed of clubs and other weapons that had once been used in tribal wars. A gracious work of God was taking place in Tonga.

In 1837, Mr. and Mrs. Watkin were transferred to Sydney for medical care. James’ body appeared to be failing him. But after a brief rest, and although still feeble in health, Watkin started preaching in Sydney. He ministered there until 1840, when the Mission Board appointed him to Waikouaiti, New Zealand. On May 17, 1840, Watkin preached the first Christian sermon in Otago. He reported to the Mission Board in London that he opened his commission in New Zealand by preaching from 1 Timothy—“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” “The attention of the crowd was great,” he said. And he concluded his report to the Mission Board with a simple yet powerful prayer: “May the Word spoken not have been in vain.” Watkin understood that God’s redemptive plan includes all peoples.

1 Comment

  1. Congratulations, Dillon on being published again! I enjoyed reading the article and it’s amazing how God works…years ago Mr. Watkin and his family found themselves ministering to the people of New Zealand , in your area and today you and your family are ministering to people of New Zealand , not far from the same place! Only God can do things like that ! So cool !

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