From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48b

Having been a pioneer missionary in the Pacific since 1818, John, from England, was well qualified to embark upon a trip to the island of Erromanga in the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) in 1839. He had previously planted churches in Tahiti, the Samoan Islands, Raratonga and numerous other islands.

At one point in his career John had built a boat, which he used to travel to new, unvisited places. His stocky physique and godly manner had made him well known among the Polynesian Islanders.

But at Erromanga John had a very different reception when he attempted to land on 20 November 1839; he was murdered and eaten on the beach by the islanders.

However, John’s story inspired many other missionaries to visit the New Hebrides, and eventually a church was established there.

O Lord, who has warned us that 
you will require much from those to whom much is given: 
Grant that we, whose lot is cast in so goodly a heritage, 
may strive together the more abundantly, 
by our prayers, our labours and our gifts, 
to extend to those who do not know 
what we so richly enjoy; 
and as we have entered into the labours of others, 
so to labour that others may enter into ours, 
to the fulfilment of your holy will 
and the salvation of all humankind; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer from the 5th century

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.