Here is a photograph of Kata Ragoso, a Solomon Island chief. I saw this man some time ago and heard him tell his story. He has a wonderful face, and is really a wonderful man. We will let him tell what the Bible did for him and the people of the Solomon Islands.
While in North America he told his story to millions of people over some of the largest broadcasting stations. He said: "In the days gone by I did not know, and my fathers before me did not know, of the message of God revealed in His word. Then our works were evil. There was no love in our country. Our customs did not make peace, and we lived in filth. There was always anger, fighting, killing of men, and worshiping of idols. The supposed spirits of our forefathers would take possession of these idols, and, speaking through the devil priests, they would command us to make human sacrifices. Our men and women were always afraid.
"But when the word of God came to us, we were made happy, and our customs were changed. Our villages were made clean. We made good houses. We ate clean food. Our boys and girls went to school, and they have learned to read and write. There are none who have any desire to return to the old customs. We no longer serve idols, or go to distant islands to fight. We no longer kill one another. We no longer take the heads of men to put in the skull houses. We, the children of our forefathers who did these things, no longer do them, for all the old customs have been changed. And the greatest of the things that brought about this change is the Bible."
Many, many years ago, or, to be exact, in the year 1787, King George the Third, of England, fitted out a small ship called the Bounty, manned her with forty-five sailors and a captain named Bligh, and started the expedition on a long trip to the South Sea Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Some of the islands in the West Indies, belonging to England, were uninhabited because there was no food growing on them. So the king was sending the Bounty out to the South Sea Islands, to gather breadfruit trees, which were to be carried back to the West Indies and planted there.
Could these brave sailors have known beforehand of only a few of the adventures they were to meet on this trip, they might have hesitated to start on such a hazardous journey. The Bounty and her crew set sail from the shores of old England on December 29, 1787, with provisions on board to last a year and a half. Just ten months after they had set sail they arrived at the island of Tahiti, where they spent six months in gathering the breadfruit trees, and also in making friends with the natives of the islands. Some close friendships were formed between the sailors and some of the native women, and when it came time for the Bounty to sail, they found it hard to break away from the friends who had treated them so kindly during their stay on Tahiti. In April, 1789, there was evidence of an approaching storm, and Captain Bligh gave orders for the ship to sail out to sea.
The Bounty had not been at sea very long until the sailors became very much dissatisfied, and they wished that they had remained in Tahiti. Captain Bligh was a hard and tyrannical captain, and as they thought of the long journey to the West Indies and then the trip home again, their hearts rebelled, and they determined to turn back to the island and their many friends.
It was a serious offense for sailors to refuse to obey, or to mutiny. In fact, it would mean death, if news of it ever got back to England and they were captured. But realizing all this, on the night of April 28, 1789, four of the men entered Captain Bligh's room, dragged him from his bed, overpowered him, and tied his hands behind him. A small boat was made ready, and the irate captain and eighteen of his men were lowered in the boat to the sea and set adrift. They were given 150 pounds of bread, sixteen pieces of meat averaging two pounds each, six quarts of rum, six bottles of wine, and twenty-eight gallons of water.
It had taken the Bounty ten months to make the journey from England, and it seemed almost impossible that they would ever get back home again in just a small row boat. But the strong-hearted captain allotted to each man just so much food and water for each day, and they set out to row 3,600 miles. A few birds were caught now and then for food, and at night they spread their blankets to catch the dew and sucked them in the morning to save water. These resourceful men, encountering every kind of weather, enduring dreadful sufferings, untold hardships, and miseries, finally reached the island of Timor, a Dutch settlement, and were there taken on board a large vessel and were soon safe back in old England.
You are glad, I know, to learn that the captain and his men reached home safely, but what about the Bounty and the bold, bad sailors who mutinied ? A few of them returned to the island of Tahiti and their friends. But knowing very well that the king of England would not allow them to go unpunished if they should be captured, some of them determined to search for some secluded spot where they might hide themselves and escape punishment. Their fears were well grounded, for the king did send out a ship to capture the mutineers, and fourteen of them were captured. Ten were returned to England. Five of these were condemned, and three were hanged.
Before the king's officers arrived on Tahiti, nine of the sailors had taken the ship Bounty, and with six native men and eleven native women, set sail, searching for some isolated spot where they might make their home and be safe from the law. Fletcher Christian, who now took command of the Bounty, had heard of a small island in the Pacific named Pitcairn, and they set out in search of it. On January 23, 1790, they caught sight of the island. When they landed and had explored this tiny dot of the Pacific, it seemed an ideal place to hide from the long arm of the British law, for it was only five miles around the island and but two and a half miles across it at the widest point, and it was far removed from the lanes of ocean travel.
Everything they thought they might need was taken off the Bounty to the island, and the ship was then set afire and burned as an additional safeguard against detection. Imagine how they must have felt-only twenty-six of them, on this little island in the great Pacific, no homes, no friends, no conveniences, few of life's necessities, and the ship Bounty-their only means of leaving the island-burned. They set themselves industriously to building houses and were soon comfortably settled. The story of the next few years is one of jealousies, hatreds, treachery, quarrels, and bloodshed. They fought and killed one another, until, in the year 1800, John Adams was the sole male survivor of the mutineers-the only man left on the island.
Picture him, if your imagination can, the lone ruler of a godless, helpless, little band of ignorant people. Shut off from the rest of the world on that small island, he had plenty of time to think of his past life and to consider the future of himself and those under his care.
In one of the chests of the sailors, which had been taken from the Bounty, he found a book. He read it. It touched his heart and changed his outlook on life. He resolved to live a new life. Can you imagine what book it was? Only one book can make such a change as Adams experienced. It was the Bible. His was a deep and genuine repentance, and he began immediately to teach the women and children the truth of the Bible that had so changed his life. Soon the spirit of all changed, and Joy, happiness, and peace reigned in the little island kingdom. Where there had been hatred, there now was love. Their sins and vices were laid aside, and they began to live clean lives. Before this they had been idle and shiftless, but now they began to work and to improve their farms and their homes. A school was started in their midst. They took more pride in their dress and personal appearance. A neat little church was built, and the voice of singing and prayer could often be heard wafting out over the great Pacific. One would hardly believe that they were the same people on the same island. What a wonderful change to be brought about by the reading of a single book!
So great was this change that when, in 1808, the captain of a passing American ship accidentally discovered he inhabitants of Pitcairn and reported them to the world, he was able to tell of such a loving, orderly, Christian community that Great Britain, instead of sending a warship to arrest and punish this last survivor of the mutineers, sent gifts of needed supplies and expressions of friendship. To this day the Pitcairn Islanders are a monument to the transforming power of God's word.
What the Bible has done on Pitcairn Island it has done and is still doing in all parts of the world. It will work just as wonderful changes in our towns, in our own lives.
The Bible is a book for young people, for boys and girls. In it they will find stories of heroes and heroines, stories of war, biography, poetry, and even love stories that are true and uplifting. It is the world's most wonderful book.
Thomas L. Masson, a noted humorist, once said: "I read the Bible two hours a day. The Bible is the best business textbook there is. It makes you cheerful, persistent, honest, and gives you the kind of an understanding that looks through a superficial proposition into the source. It gives you the spiritual power to know how to be provided all the time with the right equipment to carry on your work, and nothing superfluous. Superfluous possessions cause a lot of trouble. Real substance comes from God, and it always comes when needed."
Captain Robert Dollar, who owned the Dollar Steamship Line, or most of the stock in the company, and who died in his eighty-eighth year, read his Bible every day. "By commencing the day with the reading of my Bible," he said, "I find it gives much valuable information and inspiration which is past my power to express. The older I become, the more benefit do I derive from the habit of reading from chapters of the Bible each morning. It has meant guidance and help in my efforts to make a success in this world."
There was a Bible in every room of the boats in the great Dollar fleet, placed there, of course, by Captain Dollar.
From Rome, sometime ago, the news was cabled that an Italian of the name of Mercurio Cosma had learned the whole Bible by heart, and that it had changed his heart and his life.
This wonderful Book has changed lives, families, villages, yes, whole countries. It leaves blessings behind it always. Some may not believe it, yet we find that almost every one likes to live where the Bible has gone before.
A copy of the Bible was given to a Turkish patient in an American hospital over in Turkey. When he was well, he went back to his native village, carrying the Book with him. A priest saw the Bible, snatched it from the Turk, tore it in pieces and threw the fluttering leaves into the street, and they were carried here and there by the wind.
A grocer, who happened to be passing, saw some of the sheets lying on the ground, picked them up, and carried them to his little shop, thinking that they might be used for wrapping very small parcels. So as people came to buy, he used the pages from the Bible for wrappings whenever possible. He, of course, knew nothing about the Bible or the messages on the leaves he was using for wrapping paper. Soon his customers began to ask for more leaves. They wanted to know more about the Book. No wonder that when a Bible colporteur called at this little out-of-the-way village, scores of people came hurrying to him, asking for the Bible.
A man on Chicago's South Side, who had lived a wicked life, arose one morning discouraged and sick at heart. He was tired of his ungodly life, and determined that he would end it all. He pulled a revolver from a dresser drawer, planning to shoot himself. But first he decided to turn the radio on, so people in the nearby rooms would not hear the shot. He didn't pick out any particular station, but just turned the dial on at random. A sincere, earnest voice was quoting John 3:16, which says: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten. Son, that whosoever believeth, in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life."
That one verse from the Bible touched his heart. He put the gun away, got down on his knees, and made his peace with God.
Yes, just a verse from the Book has changed a hardened heart. Just a leaf from the Bible has brought hope and courage to those in need.
It is still the world's best seller. And it is the best book in the world-the Book of books.