THIRD BRUMMANA CONFERENCE OF CHRISTIAN WORKERS
(1904) This third conference was held as before in the beautiful grounds of the Friends' Mission at Brummana, Mount Lebanon. No speaker from abroad could be secured, and the conference was entirely conducted by missionaries from the Turkish Empire. The Rev. Geo. M. Mackie prepared the programme' on the subject: "The Missionary Gospel and the Missionary; The Message and the Messenger, and the things that affect his daily life and service for the Master."
No less than thirty-two brief papers were read, after each of which there was free discussion-and devotional and praise meetings were held at sunrise and sunset daily. Two hundred delegates were present, of whom ninety were British, fifty-eight Americans, thirty-seven Syrians, six Germans, three Danes, three Swedes, two. Armenians and one Hindu.
Eighteen Christian denominations, representing twenty-six societies, were present. Again all felt that the spiritual benefits of such a gathering far more than compensated for the trouble -and expense incurred.
On leaving Brummana, we saw below us in the harbour off Beirut thirty British ships of war, and the thunder of their salutes August 9th, on King Edward's coronation day, when each ship fired twenty-one guns, echoed and reechoed through the mountain ranges of Lebanon. Hundreds of mountaineers thronged Beirut, and went on board at certain appointed hours.
The visits of these fleets always impress the Syrian populace. The spectacle at night (August 9th), when the ships were decorated with thousands of electric lights and the search-lights illuminated the mountain villages ten miles away, was one of great magnificence. England thus maintains and asserts her naval supremacy in the Mediterranean. She holds Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, and Egypt, and will never surrender her control of the Suez Canal, the highway to India, Australasia, and China.
If this empire suffers dismemberment, the arbiters will be the nations who control the sea. The visits, of the European and American fleets make a deep impression upon both Turkish officials and the native people. The braggart, fanatical Moslem roughs hide their heads for a time and officials feel encouraged to keep order and give no occasion for foreign interference or occupation.
Can anything be more beautiful than the love of a little child? I have always loved children, but the artless love of my grandchildren is something precious beyond gold and rubies. A little grandson, two and a half years old, said to me, "Grandpa, I love you." His childish utterances are curious enough. One day his father led him out to the garden and called his attention to a vulture flying overhead. He looked, but it had pawed. Then his father called, "F-------, see that huge bird!" He looked, but the bird had disappeared behind the oak trees, and he began to think his father was joking. In a few moments he ran off some distance in the vineyard and called, "Come, papa, come see!"
His father ran, and the child pointed down between his feet, and said, "See!" "What?" said his father. "A rhinoceros!" answered the lad and burst into laughter.
The Zahleh and Lebanon Presbytery met in Zahleh September 6th, and about twenty members were in attendance. The progress made by these organizations composed of Syrian pastors and elders and American missionaries is encouraging and hopeful for the future. We foreigners are corresponding members, and business is transacted in good order and harmony, giving promise of the time when the evangelical church of Syria shall become self-supporting and self-propagating. What form of polity will be eventually adopted by these churches is a secondary matter. As long as they are dependent on foreign funds they will naturally submit to foreign advice, but when they walk alone and support their own pastors and schols, they will be at liberty to select that form of church government which suits their tastes and preference.
In 1901, a Shechemite swindler of the first water, named Kerreh, a native of Nablus, went to England to raise money for his leper asylum at Tirzah, near Nablus. He represented in his long printed programme that he had a leper asylum with 1,100 patients, extensive buildings, staff, plant, grounds, etc, and he wanted to raise 100 a head for each of his 1,100. He deceived a few persons, when his fraud was detected, and he was arrested. The English judge sent a commissioner, Mr, Francis C. Brading, then travelling in Syria, to investigate. He found at Tirzah an abject village, but no leper, no asylum, and nothing bad ever been heard there of Kerreh and his swindling scheme. He was then convicted and sent to prison. After serving out his time, he crossed the, sea and applied to Mr. H. H. Hall, of Orange, N. Y., for aid for his 1,100 lepers. Mr. Hall wisely inquired through a friend, whose son was in Syria, and obtained the above facts. The man was then headed off, but he will no doubt palm off his monstrous swindle in other parts of America where he has not been exposed. The gullibility of good people is amazing. If all who are asked to help such wildcat schemes would demand credentials and certificates from responsible persons, they would not throw away their money.
On returning home, September 10th, we were shocked by the cold-blooded and unprovoked murder of a beloved and talented young man of Suk el Gharb, a student in the college and a member of a prominent Protestant family in this part of Lebanon. He was stabbed to death just at sunset within a quarter of a mile of his home by two Druse miscreants. The funeral the next day was largely attended and the mudir was present with his soldiers to prevent disturbance, as some of the less educated relatives of the deceased were ready to revenge his death on any Druse who should appear in the village. We conducted the funeral services at the house in the open air, as a noisy crowd of distant relatives and outsiders declared that, according to their traditional customs, to consent to have the funeral in the church would be to admit that they had no further claim for the punishment of the murderers. The father said he would prefer to have it in the church but the crowd overruled him.
The self-control of the father, the brothers, and sister in that tumultuous wailing and shrieking crowd, was a beautiful testimony to the sustaining power of Christian faith. Two years passed and no punishment had been inflicted on the assassins, though legally convicted of murder in the first degree.
September 27th Mrs. Gerald F. Dale, for twenty-five years connected with the mission, tendered her resignation to take the superintendence of the new Maria DeWitt Jesup hospital for women and children and the training-school for nurses. The mission only acceded to this request on the ground that the truly benevolent and self-denying work which she was about to undertake was in every sense a missionary work and an important branch of the great work being done for the benefit of the Syrian people.
On the 14th of October the people of Lebanon saw a brilliant meteoric shower which lasted not less than fifteen minutes.
October 31st word was received that the model of the Syrian Protestant College had received a. gold medal at the St. Louis Exposition. It was deposited in the college. I afterwards heard that the medal was voted, but, with many others, might be given only on paper. When it came it proved to be bronze.
In November, United States Consul Ravendal received a letter from Vice-Consul Shumacher of Haifa, well known as an explorer and archaeologist, resigning his office and also stating that he had .given up his American citizenship and become a German subject, for the reason that, as an American, he could get no rights and secure no concessions for archaeological excavation and exploration, whereas a German subject can get any concession that is desired. Dr. Shumacher's statement is no doubt true. The German emperor, for reasons too palpable to need explanation, has become the backer and friend of the Sultan Abdul Hamid. German railway concessions are necessary to promote German commerce, and for these benefits the Emperor William will stand by the Sultan, who, as a matter of wisdom, will grant the emperor and his subjects privileges allowed to none others. As Mr. Shumacher has large experience in Palestine exploration, and is a permanent resident in Haifa, he naturally prefers the government which can most successfully promote his interests.
December 27th - Today the contract was signed for the purchase of the so-called Misk property adjoining the American Mission premises in Beirut. For sixteen years we bad been trying to secure this valuable property, the funds for which had been given by the late Col. Elliot F. Shepard of New York. The Arabic proverb, "man sabar zafar," "who waits wins," was proved true in this case. Colonel Shepard gave the fund to buy the property and it was carefully invested in America. He authorized the we of the interest for supplying a residence for the native Syrian pastor, and aiding, when needed, in his support, until the purchase should be effected. On completing the purchase, which was done by Dr. Hoskins, after meeting with the various departments and officials of the local courts for three months, the work of demolition and reconstruction was commenced, and the mission premises converted into a convenient campus, containing the church, press, Sunday-school hall, theological school, manse, girls' boarding-school, and cemetery, with two mission residences (the Pharaun and Kekano houses) and open spaces covered with shade trees and orange and lemon orchards.
This valuable property belongs to the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. The Kekano house was purchased in 1889 with funds given chiefly by Morris K. Jesup, Esq., John Stewart Kennedy' and Robert Lenox Kennedy. The Pharaun house was bought with a portion of the theological seminary funds in the hands of the Board of Foreign Missions.
The year has been one of steady progress. The 111schools have instructed 6,353 pupils. The college has had 750 students, more than ever before, and its corps of instructors numbers sixty-two. One hundred and forty-three were added to the churches on profession of faith and the congregations average 5,534.
The press printed 34,577,543 pages, of Which 24,727,000 were Arabic Scriptures for the American Bible Society. The total number of pages printed since 1834 has been 760,089,034.