THE LORD WILL FIGHT FOR US
An incident from the life of Joel Bulu, a Fijian missionary.*
In the early morning we heard the war-trumpets sounding from three different points; and our people gathered together in the open space in front of my house, waiting for the battle. I went out to them, and cried with a loud voice, ‘Sit down. Let very man sit down. Let them see that we do not want to fight. Sit down, and wait for the will of God. Then, if they fire upon us, let us spring to our feet, and fight for the lives which He has given us.’
So they all sat down in silence, each man with his weapon lying across his knees; and the blast of the war-trumpets sounded nearer and nearer, louder and ever louder, until the enemy appeared in sight on the edge of the forestÂ—a great multitude of heathen warriors, all painted and armed for war. When they saw us, they set up a shrill cry; and as with a confused noise they came forward towards us, I spoke to our people, encouraging them. ‘Sit still,’ said I, ‘the Lord will fight for us.’ But when Abraham saw a number of the heathen leaving the main body, and making a circuit as if to get round to the back of our house, then he ran to prevent them, and certain of the young men also ran with him; but I called them back, and made them sit down again with the others. ‘Abraham,’ said I, ‘do you not know that we die to-dayÂ—you and I, and the rest of us here? Why, then, should you go forth to meet your death, and to bring it upon yourself? Let the Lord bring it upon us, and it will be well. Perhaps even now He will save us alive.’
And the heathen came up to where we were sitting. Those who had guns pointed them at us; those who were armed with clubs raised them to strike; the spearmen poised their spears, making them quiver before our eyes; and the bowmen bent their bows; but no shot was fired, no blow was struck, no spear was thrown, and no arrow flew in our midst. What held them back I cannot say: this only I know, that for a long while they stood there threatening us with their weapons of war, while we sat in silence, speaking never a word; but our hearts were crying to the Lord for help, and He heard their cry. At length, after the enemy had been for a long time thus threatening us, and we expecting every moment death at their hands, I saw a chief coming towards us through the town with a whale’s tooth in his hand. Walking forward between us and the heathen, he sat down and presented the tooth to them, begging that we might live, and that there might be no
fighting. And when the chiefs had heard his words, they drew off their men to a distance, and sat down holding a council.
After a while two old chiefs from the heathen war-party came to me, bringing with them a whale’s tooth as a token of peace; and sitting down before me in my house, they kissed my hands, sniffing at them, after our fashion in Fiji and Tonga, one taking one hand, and one the other.
‘Joel,’ said they, ‘we know this day that you are a true man, and that your God is a great God. Wonderful are the things which we have seen today, for there was rage in our hearts, and it was in our minds to kill you all; but when we came to where you were sitting in silence on the ground, all the .strength departed from our hands, and we could do nothing against you. It is you, Joel, who have saved us alive. If we had .killed you, it would have been shedding our own blood, for are not all your people our kinsfolk? Therefore are we sent to ask pardon for our anger, to thank you for your long-suffering, and to tell you that we shall never forget your love to us. Let this tooth of a fish be the burying of all ill-will between us. Know this, moreover, that if any man hereafter does you any harm, he shall be clubbed, whosoever he be, and an oven shall be his graveÂ’
*Autobiography of Joel Bulu. Edited by the Rev. G.S.Rowe. 143