THE SEVEN PIONEERS OF SYRIA MISSION WORK
THE question has often been asked me during my visits to America, "Were you and Dr. Bliss the first missionaries to Syria?" At times it has been hard to answer such a question with patience. In 1878 a good elder at the synod in Rock Island asked me if I was the son of Dr. Jessup of Syria? "No," said I, there was none of my name there before me. "Well," said he, "I thought you must be eighty years old, for I have read of you ever since I was a child." I asked him, "How old are You?" He said, "About fifty years." I replied, "And I am forty-six!" I can only account for this idea by the fact that in the providence of God -I have had to visit the United States seven times during these forty-nine years, and as my health has been uniformly good, I have traveled thousands of miles and by rail visited hundreds of churches and Sunday-schools, and many colleges and theological seminaries, "stirring up the people," and thus, in spite of myself, becoming known to multitudes.
If one asks, “Why did not you in your addresses give the people the early history of the Syria Mission?” I can only say that the pastors and people always ask for facts as to the present state of the work, and when one is allowed half an hour in a pulpit, twenty minutes in a synod and ten minutes at a general assembly, the only course is to give a brief, succinct account of the present state of your work and that of your colleagues, Unembarrassed by moderator's gavel I would fain revive the memory of some of the saints, men and women, who were the real pioneers in Syria and whose shoe latchets I am not worthy to unloose.
While I have been introduced in America as "the father and founder of the Syria Mission," "the bishop of the Bible lands," "the president of the Syrian Protestant College," the manager of the American printing-press," and as several other persons, yet when introduced thus under false pretenses, I have generally let the minister have his own way, lest he lose caste with his people, for ignorance of missionary history, and hastened to use the brief time allotted in endeavoring to arouse interest in God's work for the Arab people of Syria.
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