Conversion to Christianity, 1901

A story next from a former minister of David Livingstone Memorial Church.

On Sunday 1st December 1901, the Winter communion services were being held in Livingstone Memorial Church on Glasgow Road. With Rev Thomas A Hugh and the congregation that evening, was a special guest. Minister Rev Prentice who was ‘home’ in Blantyre after labouring for 7 or 8 years in Jamaica as a missionary.

For that particular service, Rev Prentice gave an address and the church was fully packed to hear of his exploits abroad. Stories which were listened to with great interest. One of the major obstacles in working abroad, said Rev Prentice was to get the locals to overcome the fear of embedded deep superstition and instead put their faith in God. An example of this and how he tried to overcome this was given.

Rev Prentice told the congregation, “In many of the Jamaican gardens, the proprietor hangs a large black bottle from a top from a tree. From the neck of the bottle was suspended a piece of red cloth. When this was seen, nobody would steal from the garden or household, as the supposed evil spirit in the bottle would be transferred to the person who committed the theft with a proposed outcome the person would likely die early. The superstition had served Jamaica well for many years. “

One day Rev Prentice, seeing an opportunity to overcome superstition was walking past one such house with some locals and asked the locals to break the bottle. None dared to do so, fearing for their lives. So the minister then took a stone and broke the bottle himself. The local men in his company were at once shocked and fearful for their minister friend, stating he would likely not be alive by the end of the week. However, the minister replied he had faith in God and that belief and faith would always overcome superstition. The locals in time as passing months grew to years, saw this Minister survive and evil spirits had no power over God. They put the event entirely down to faith, and thus conversion to Christianity was achieved, to the satisfaction of the minister.

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