The Sea of Galilee Mission of
the Free Church of Scotland
Chapter VII. The Other Agencies
THE Rev. John Soutar, M.A.,
is the ordained missionary at Tiberias, and the Rev. J. E. Thomson, B.D., at
Safed. The Rev. W. Ewing, B.D., was the first ordained missionary at
Tiberias. Some young Jews in Safed have moved Christwards, but they have
paused on the threshold of decision. A Jewish teacher made profession of
conversion, but he quailed under terrible persecution. A promising youth of
the holy city of Safed has, however, been baptized in the holy city of
Tiberias—the first Jew, it is said, who has been baptized on the shores of
the Sea of Galilee during the last fifteen centuries. He has encountered a
hailstorm of anathemas from the rabbis, and received many tokens of eager
interest and good-will from his companions. We have had reason to believe
that several young Jews might confess Christ if a good example were once set
There is divine service on
Sabbath in English and Arabic both at Tiberias and Safed. There is also a
German service on Wednesday evening at Safed for German-speaking Jews.
Our missionaries at Tiberias
are assisted by a native Scripture reader. A Bible depot has also been
established at Tiberias. During the past year, Dr. Torrance has been
assisted by Dr. George Wilson, who volunteered for the work, and who
accepted only a fraction of the usual salary of a European medical
missionary. Two trained nurses have been appointed to the hospital. Dr.
George Wilson has again offered his services, and has been appointed to
A pleasing proof of the
influence of our mission has just come to our knowledge. In June last, Mr.
Soutar was travelling on the east of the Jordan, where reaving and bereaving
are still, as in Job's day, the common lot of the Ishmaelites. The party met
a ' band of raiders. One of the robbers had been at our hospital, and at
once recognized his friends. He made kindly inquiries about Dr. Torrance,
and promised to fetch his girl to the school at Tiberias in autumn.
Day schools and Sabbath
schools for both boys and girls have been established at Tiberias and Safed.
About one hundred Jewesses attend the Tiberias day-school. Mr. Christie, our
missionary teacher at Safed, has been specially encouraged by some of his
senior scholars. The girls' schools have hitherto been supported by the
Glasgow Ladies' Society, who appointed Miss Fenton as their first teacher.
They are now under the charge of the Women's Jewish Missionary Association.
These schools have formed an epoch in the history of the women around the
Sea of Galilee. When the schools began, only one native woman in Tiberias
knew the alphabet, and not one girl could read or distinguish between the
top and the bottom of a page. The schools are doing not a little "to give
light to their that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide
their feet into the way of peace."
Co-operation is one of the
watchwords of this mission.
Mr. Soutar is supported by
the United Presbyterian Church. Mr. and Mrs. Thomson are members of the same
church, and they have volunteered to go out as unsalaried agents of our
committee. Mrs. 'Thomson is to devote herself to the work among the girls.
Thus, of the five European agents of the, -mission, apart from the nurses,
three are representatives of the United Presbyterian Church. The Convener
and the Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of that church are members of
our Jewish Committee, and take part in its deliberations. Dr. Torrance is
called "The Charles Russell Missionary," because his salary is provided by a
former elder of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, in memory of a beloved
son. In several other ways besides these, the cradle of Christianity has
become the nursery of Christian co-operation.
Ours is the only Protestant
mission on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The nearest Protestant mission
stations on the west are at Nazareth, Safed, and Damascus; and eastward, one
would require to travel to Mesopotamia before he could find any permanent
Many tender associations have
already gathered around this mission. Several wards in the hospital are
associated with the memory of loved ones whom God has called home. One is
called "The Milne Ward," in memory of the late Rev. John Milne of Perth and
Mrs. Milne. Several of the beds and cots keep alive a well-beloved name. We
are hopeful that the whole hospital may ere long be entirely supported by
memorial donations. The yearly upkeep of a bed is £20; of a cot, £10. Each
bed and cot has painted over it the name of the congregation, family,
friend, or friends by whom it is supported. Some of the natives at first
believed or pretended to believe, and wished others to believe, that the
been built by their great
father, the Sultan, and should be set down to the credit of Islamism. But
these beautiful superscriptions remove that mistake; and, in a land where
backsheesh and utter selfishness reign, they also convince the people that
many Christians among the Gentiles and Giaours are ready, for Christ's sake,
to help them without fee or reward. Every part of the' hospital has thus an
evangelistic value, and indeed the whole building embodies in stone the
parable of the Good Samaritan.
Ground has recently been
purchased at Safed, and the committee contemplate an extension of the
mission there as soon as funds are supplied. The cost of the ground will
absorb nearly all the money that has as yet been volunteered. One of the
mission buildings is to be a memorial of the late Mrs. Findlay of Glasgow. A
mother in Dundee, in memory of her daughter, has entrusted to us a
considerable sum to be used either at Tiberias or at Safed.
Our committee is urged to
acquire land, and begin a farm with a Scottish overseer. We are told that it
might soon be self-supporting. It has also been suggested that we might
teach the young Jews useful trades, by which they might support themselves.
There is a. strong feeling, however, that this should not be the direct work
of the mission, but that business men who are friends of Israel might form a
company like the African Lakes Company, though on a much smaller scale. They
would thus render an invaluable service to the cause of Jewish
evangelization in the Holy Land. We commend this to the earnest laymen in
the church, in the hope that it may lead to some practical result; for
unless work is found for then, Jewish converts in Palestine must beg or
Our mission is thus
many-sided, and aims at touching the Jew at every point of his life. While
it regards the Jew as a first charge on our liberality, it offers healing of
soul and body to all who are willing to receive it. By this mission, were it
fully developed, we might soon evangelize all the districts in Galilee which
were visited by our Lord in the days of His flesh.
There is "a sepulchre in the
garden" of our Tiberias mission. In it our missionaries have had to dig more
than one "new tomb." The bodies of Mrs. Torrance and Mrs. Ewing; of Miss
Huber, the assistant nurse; of Dr. Torrance's twin boys; of Mr. Ewing's
infant girl; and of Mr. Christie's infant boy—these seven rest in that
little "God's acre." The possession of Abraham's burying-place among the
Hittites in the land of Canaan was held by the Jews to give them a valid
claim to, and a firm hold on, the Promised Land. We have now a similar
pathetic connection with the land of Galilee—an earnest, may we not hope, of
a better possession?
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