SKETCHES (1887)

Miss E VERETT

APRIL 6th the Beirut Boarding-School for Girls celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, and Miss Eliza D. Everett, who had been nineteen years at the head of the school, bade her pupils good-bye in view of her departure for America. After an absence of two years, she returned in 1889 and remained six years until June, 1895, when she resigned and returned to America, and died February, 1902. She thus fulfilled

twenty-five years of successful teaching in the Beirut school. She was attractive in appearance, highly intellectual, thoroughly cultivated and consecrated to the service of Christ and her Syrian sisters. She was revered and loved by her pupils, and in 1904, the alumnae of the school in Egypt presented to the institution a valuable oil painting of Miss Everett. It is impossible to estimate the amount of good wrought by her in the Christian homes of Syria and Egypt. They rise upon every side and call her blessed.


NOFEL EFFENDI NOFEL

Nofel Effendi Nofel, one of the finest specimens of Christian manhood I have ever met, died August 9, 1887, in Tripoli. His family was the famous Nofel family of Tripoli, and his father, a government official, was tortured to death by impalement, because he would not yield to the infamous orders of that monster, Jezzar Pasha, of Acre.

When I removed to Beirut in 1860, Nofel Effendi was chief clerk in the Beirut custom-house, and a fine scholar in Arabic and Turkish. Early in 1862, he united with the Beirut church and became a vigorous champion of the evangelical faith. During the summer he passed through a somewhat remarkable religious experience, a veritable temptation by the devil. He was troubled with blasphemous thoughts which increased to such an extent that he gave himself up as lost. His language was not unlike that of Bunyan in his "grace abounding," and only after protracted struggles in prayer and study of God's Word and finally resolving to go forward and do his duty in both light and darkness, did he find any relief. The Spirit of God led him out into the light although through a painful struggle.

Nofel Effendi wrote several valuable Arabic works, a history of the religions of the East, a history of the Arabs, and a reply to the Romish priests.

After removing to Tripoli in 1868, he became an elder in the Tripoli church, and was a pillar indeed, a man of strong faith, noble bearing, great modesty, a model of courtesy and hospitality, and a wise counsellor to people of all sects who came to consult him. His success as an author was more remarkable as he knew no foreign tongue but Turkish, and his early opportunities for study were extremely meagre. Had he the thorough training of the present course (1908) of the Syrian Protestant College, he would have made his mark throughout the East. As it was he was one of the builders of the fabric of reform in modern Syria.

In the fall there was an evident work of the Spirit among a number of young men from Hasbeiya living in Beirut, and among the students in Abeih Seminary.

July 21st my two daughters, Mary and Amy, and my sister Fanny left, under the care of Dr. and Mrs. Fisher, for America. This separation from children during the formative period of their lives is one of the trials of a foreign missionary. But it is inevitable, and is no more than foreigners in business or civil or military service have to endure. A child may remain in Syria until the age of fifteen with safety to health, but the training in the home land is far superior in surroundings, in the Christian atmosphere, and the higher standard of morals and life than anything the children have seen around them in such a land as this, that we may well make the sacrifice and bear the separation for their intellectual and spiritual welfare. The missionary parent can trust a covenant-keeping God to care for His children, and in the great majority of cases, the children of missionaries have proved to be an honour to their parents and true members of the Church of Christ.

From beyond the sea came tidings of the death of Rev. D. M. Wilson, formerly of Tripoli and Hums. He came to Syria in March 1848, and left for America in May 1861 after about thirteen years of faithful service. The aristocratic airs of the people of Tripoli did not suit him, and he rejoiced to remove in 1856 to Hums, where among the more simple minded and in. genuous Greek weavers of that semi-pastoral city, he took delight in preaching and explaining the Word of God.

He was the founder of the church in Hums, now one of the most flourishing and liberal of all the churches in Syria. For three years I corresponded with him by camel post, a shoemaker in Tripoli and a weaver in Hums acting as our postal agents. His letters were always pithy and pointed and I regret that I have none kept on file. No Syrian missionary was more mighty in the Scriptures and more facile in handling the Arabic proof texts. He soon had crowds of the young men of Hums gathered nightly at his house to hear the Word of God.

In 1860 he narrowly escaped being shot by the Arabs, at a time when the whole country was in a state of civil war and terrorism. He had heard rumours of trouble in Lebanon, and set out with his teacher, Mr. Sulleeba Jerawan, for Tripoli to consult Mr. Lyons as to duty in the threatening state of affairs. When three miles from Hums, by the bridge of the Orontes, a body of mounted Arabs surrounded them and held a parley as to their fate. Not supposing that Mr. Wilson understood Arabic, one of them said, "Let us kill them, strip them, and throw them into the river." Another said, "No, we cannot do that without orders from the emir." So they took them several miles south to the camp. When the emir came, they told him their story and asked why his men had arrested them on the-Sultan's highway. The emir said, "Do you not know that the whole land is rising, and we hear that orders have come to kill all foreigners and native Christians? Why did you not take an armed guard from the government? I will take you back to Hums and hand you over to the governor. He can give you a guard. But do not venture out again alone on the road." It was a lesson to Mr. Wilson and has been a lesson to many missionaries since. I see no need of bearing arms. If the country is safe, you do not need them. If not, you can get a guard.

In March, my old schoolmate and townsman, my seminary chum, and missionary colleague, Rev. J. L. Lyons, died in Florida, aged sixty-four years. We were brought up in the same village, Montrose, Pa., decided on the missionary work about the same time. Our room in Union Seminary was the rallying-place for students considering the missionary question.

Rev. J. Lorenzo Lyons was born April 18, 1824, graduated at Williams College in 1851, and at Union Theological Seminary May, 1854. He sailed for Syria November 19, 1854, having married Miss Catherine N. Plumer, of South Berwick, Maine, in October. He spent a year in Beirut and Lebanon, when I joined him and we were stationed together at Tripoli, Syria, where he remained until June, 1861, when he was transferred to Sidon where he laboured for three years.

During the massacre summer of 1860, he was actively engaged in visiting the refugee Christians and desolated villages of the Baalbec district, distributing charity to the needy. A serious illness in February, 1857, affected his bead and sight to such an extent that for years his writing and most of his reading were done by the aid of his devoted wife. He returned to America in June, 1863, and for five years was confined for the most part of the time to his bed. He then rallied, in a most remarkable manner, and from the year 1871 to 1888 was engaged as district agent of the American Bible Society for Florida and Georgia. His foreign missionary experience, his affability, his knowledge of human nature, and his conscientious fidelity to the work of his Master made him acceptable to the people. He had a keen sense of humour, was a fine musician, fond of travel, genial in his intercourse with the Syrian people, and wise in counsel. He longed to return to Syria but his physicians would not consent.

His uncle, Rev. Lorenzo Lyons, was one of the first missionaries to the Sandwich Islands. His widow, and son John Plumer, who graduated at Harvard in 1882, survive him.

In May we had a visit from General Haig, an English officer, explorer, and missionary. He delivered a lecture on his recent journeys in Southern Arabia, to Sunaa in Yemen, the Arabia Felix of the ancients, a country of surpassing beauty and fertility, on high table-land, 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the sea-level, abounding in rich productions. From Sunaa, he went south to Aden, among friendly Arab tribes. He strongly urged sending missionaries to Arabia. He went to Muscat, Bahrein, and Bussorah and thence to Bagdad. He was ten days of twenty-one hours each in crossing sing the plains from Bagdad to Damascus. The camels as they loped lazily along. But they got through safely. General Haig was a fine specimen of the Christian British officer.


DR. MICHAIEL MESHAKA

On the 6th of July, 1888, died Dr. Michaiel Meshaka, the Martin Luther of Syria. He was an able physician, self-taught by studying the works of the Boulak Press in Cairo, Egypt. He was a fine astronomer and had calculated all the eclipses for a century to come.

Born a Roman Catholic in Mount Lebanon, March 2, 1799, he lapsed into skepticism, but was converted through the labour of Dr. Eli Smith and Dr. Van Dyck, and especially by studying "Alexander's Evidences of Christianity," and "Keith on Prophecy."

A master of the Arabic language, he now used his pen to expose the unscriptural errors of the papacy and wrote a series of books, at times as caustic and severe as anything Luther ever wrote, but full of argument, Scripture, historical reference, and irresistible logic. His books had a wide circulation and had a mighty influence in shaking the despotic sway of the priesthood over the minds and consciences of the Syrian Oriental Christians. He was a great friend of the Emir Abd el Kadir and of all the Mohammedan sheikhs and Ulema. Pashas and European consuls consulted him and he was made American vice-consul in Damascus. Some of his historical writings are still in manuscript, being too personal as to the powers that be to make it safe for his family to publish them. [Under the new free Ottoman government, his history, "Meshed ul Aiyan," has now been published by the "Helal" Press in Cairo, an Arabic book of 200 pages.]

He was a warm friend of the American and Irish Presbyterian missionaries in Damascus, Dr. Paulding, Dr. Lansing, Dr. Barnett, Dr. J. Crawford, Dr. S. Robson, Dr. J. L. Porter, Mr. Frazier, and the lamented Graham who was killed in the massacre of 186o. We have already noted his escape from massacre.

In July, 1888, Rev. F. E. Hoskins, who had taught three years in the Syrian Protestant College and then returned to America to complete his theological studies, reached Syria and was married August 22d, to Miss Harriette M. Eddy of the Sidon Girls' School. They were stationed in Zahleh where they remained until 1900, when they were transferred to Beirut, owing to the death of Mrs. Hoskins' father, Dr. W. W. Eddy, so long a member of the Beirut station.

The same year, October 31st, Rev. and Mrs. W. S. Nelson arrived in Syria and began work in Tripoli.

Six theological students graduated in June. Three of them are in business in America, one is dead, and two are now (1908) faithfully preaching the Gospel in Syria. Thus far, no means have been found by which our theological students can be bound to remain and serve their own country. The temptation to amass wealth by emigration is the touchstone by which the tone, character, and spirit of young men are tested. Those who stand the test and resist the temptation are of good stuff and can be relied upon. But alas, a considerable number yield to the tempter and are lost to the Church of Syria and it is difficult to say whether they are ever connected with the Church in America.

H. E. Wassa Pasha, Mutserrif of Mount Lebanon, was at one time induced by false statements of certain petty officials to enter complaint to the American consul against our schools in Lebanon, but through the efforts of our efficient consul, Mr. Bissinger, he changed his views as completely as his predecessor, Rustam Pasha, had done.

On the 28th of February, a delegation of the missionaries consisting of Drs. D. Bliss, W. W. Eddy, J. S. Dennis, and S. Jessup and Mr. Pond and H. H. Jessup, called upon him in his house in Beirut. The pasha was most affable and said, "Assure your friends and your government that I will do all in my power to protect you and your work." And it has always been found by experience that friendly, informal visits to the officials of the country will disarm suspicion. As a rule, the Turkish officials are personally friendly, and the better educated among them appreciate the benevolent work being done by the Americans in the empire.

They often say, "We like you personally and understand your political and beneficial work, but you represent a republic. We fear the spread of republican ideas among our people." We assure them that we never propagate political theories, and always teach our Syrian preachers and teachers to pray for the Sultan.