Imágenes de páginas
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed]

pected. But in general the effect as to distribution has been very depressing in all parts of the field, leading us to apprehend a total fruitage considerably less than the peaceful conditions would have yielded. At the very beginning of the year we found ourselves face to face with such conditions as these : Increasing poverty among the masses of the people; a strong movement toward infidelity on the part of so-called Christians, breathing as they did the atmosphere of worldliness and political selfishness; even on the part of sincere Christians who had no thought of disloyalty, a tendency to lose interest in the spiritual side of life by absorption in the political excitement, and to neglect religious literature for the political literature that was flooding the market; and on the part finally of Mohammedans, a natural resentment against Christendom for allowing so-called Christian nations like Italy and the Balkan Powers to force war upon their land in the most wanton and uuprovoked manner, as it seemed to them. All these and other like conditions made the outlook for Bible work unpromising.

But we could not forget the experience of 1912. The outlook in January of that year was hopelessly dark. In December we were able to report a record year. If in January, 1913, the outlook was even darker than the year before, why not anticipate another record year? And such it has proved. The issues of 1913 exceed those of 1912. And we enter the year 1914 with grateful appreciation of what the Lord bath wrought during the awful year 1913, with its aftermath of blood and suffering and poverty.

While in Bulgaria and Macedonia the conscription has drawn on our colportage to some extent, in Turkey we have entirely escaped.

The morale of the colporteur staff has been excellent. There has been, if we mistake not, a clearer sense of responsibility for living a life needed as the background for such a work; a deeper grasp of duty in relation to non-Christian races ; also a more intelligent appreciation of the uplifting power of God's Word in just such crushing circumstances as have prevailed.

In the personnel of our general management we have two serious losses to report. Early in the year Mr. Freyer severed his connection with the Presbyterian Press at Beirut. He had for many years cared most efficiently for the printing of our Arabic editions, as well as for our distribution work in Syria. Mr. Freyer had made himself almost a necessity to us, so that his retirement was a severe loss. The mission has been happy in securing a competent successor in the person of Mr. C. A. Dana, who also assumed the direction of our work. In the short time that he has been in charge he has shown himself most satisfactory, and we anticipate with pleasure his co-operation with us.

Another heavy loss came to us in the death of the Rev. George D. Marsh of Philippopolis in the autumn. His death and the serious meaning of it to us have already been reported to the Society. Dr. Marsh was deeply interested in the Bible work, and gave to it much of his time and thought. In the direction of his colporteurs he was sympathetic and kind, a wise counselor and a sincere friend. The news of his death staggered us. What now should we do for our work in Bul. garia? We have to thank the Lord for what appears to be a happy solution of the difficulty. In co-operation with the Bulgarian Evangelical Society, we have secured as our Superintendent for Bulgaria the Rev. M. N. Popoff, of Sofia. Mr. Popoff was for some years the evangelical pastor in Sofia, and prominent among the reforming spiritual forces in Bulgaria. We have every reason to anticipate that under him our colportage activities will be wisely directed.

With gratitude we recognize the sympathy and helpfulness of other religious movements in these lands: the various missions, the Christian Endeavor Societies, the Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations, the local organizations for usefulness in the old churches, individual zealous Christians. We might have wished for a still more general and effective co-operation ; but we are grateful for what there has been, and deeply feel our indebtedness to all concerned.

The missionary co-operation, however limited by the burdens of their own direct work, has, as always, been valuable and sympathetic.

In Turkey, unable to participate actively in the distribution work, they have been heartily with us, sympathetic as to overcoming obstacles, rejoicing with us in success.

In Syria the mission has been directly active, co-operating efficiently by means of their bookstores, their pastors, and their teachers.

In Egypt the growth of the evangelical movement has been of material service. One interesting feature of the mission enterprise has been the dahabiyye work in the villages along the Nile. Two boats have been engaged in this service, one in the Delta, the other along the Upper Nile from Cairo to Luxor. Our own immediate concern has been with the latter. The missionary in charge has been the Rev. W. H. Reed, our Missionary Inspector of Colporteurs. On his dahabiyye he goes up and down the river, reaching distant villages by the aid of the bicycle which he takes with him. In the places he visits he invites the people to assemble in the evening. Thus he preaches the simple gospel to large numbers of Copts and Moslems, who in many places have never heard the message before. So far as possible he keeps in touch with the colporteurs along the river, so that they and he may be mutually helpful.

Very potent as an impulse to the work has been the increasingly friendly attitude of the old Christian churches. This has been especially the case in Turkey. We must not overestimate this feature of the situation. There is yet much to be desired as to the attitude of the 80-called Orthodox elements among the Christians. But we may gladly recognize and report progress. In Turkey especially this movement has been promoted by the Christian associations which have come into being, interracial and interdenominational in character, emphasizing the nobleness of the Christian brotherhood by practicing it. We have already reported the celebration by the Armenians in November of the 1,500th anniversary of the invention of their alphabet and the translation of their Bible. As a mark of sympathy and good-will, the Agency made a generous grant of New Testaments, especially bound up for the occasion, to be distributed in their schools. Two very appreciative ac

knowledgments were received, one from the National Committee and the other from the Patriarchate. Another more modest gravt of the Psalms was made to a Young Ladies' Society of the principal Gregorian Armenian church in Pera, which has for its object the moral and spiritual uplift of their people. This also elicited a very grateful acknowledgment. It is cheering to see such enterprises springing into being among the people, and we gladly welcome all such applications for co-operation, symptomatic as they are of the vanishing of the old · barriers.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the whole work has been its increasing touch with Mohammedans. On the one hand there has been on the part of the workers a clearer consciousness of the Mohammedans as a substantial part of the constituency. And on the other hand, ou the part of the Mohammedans a greater consciousness of themselves as a developing people and a broader outlook inevitable to the more unchallenged intellectual and religious liberty opening up before them. Possibly the stirring events of the past two years have led to some skepticism as to the vast superiority of their own faith to every other, at least in the sense which previously had been popularly taken for granted. Certainly Christianity has become a subject of inquiry. And the Bible, as its foundation, is studied more than ever before. But the type of Christianity thus interesting them is not the old, fossilized type they have known for centuries, but rather the evangelical type. To the old bigoted Moslem this has seemed the only Christian type they have to dread, with its aggressiveness and forcefulness. To the progressive Moslem it has seemed to appeal as nearer to the Moslem ideals than other types, and as more truly than Islam, at once a religion of the heart and a power in promoting the better life of the world.

However we may explain it, it would be unpardonable blindness not to note the fact of greater nearness to the Mohammedans and their greater readiness to welcome. In Bulgaria we may confidently anticipate for the Bible its more forceful appeal to the large Mohammedan population of that country, where they are absolutely free to read and think and act according to their convictions, except so far as they may be discouraged by domestic and social persecution. In Turkey there are still restrictions. But at all events, they read more what they choose, and their normal religious temperament predisposes to an interest in the Bible when they once begin to read it. In Syria many incidents are related showing Mohammedan susceptibility to Bible teachings and wholesome Christian infiuences. In Egypt this movement toward Christian thought and Christian living is most marked. Witness the large number of Moslem children gathered in Christian schools and receiving Christian instruction. Witness what has been going on in Cairo—six different places for the gathering of Moslems for Christian instruction, a service in some form every evening of the week, an average total attendance per week of nearly one thousand Moslems. Consider also the wonderful success of the work in the Nile villages, the large purchases of Christian tract books, the greater cour

« AnteriorContinuar »