Sybil Mosely Bingham and the Challenges of Missionary Life in Hawaii
By Simonetta Carr - Posted at Place for Truth:Sybil’s admission to the mission field reminds me of a scene of a movie. She was asking for directions to her accommodations when a young man offered to take her there. The man, Hiram Bingham, was preparing to leave as a missionary to the Hawaiian Islands. He just had one problem: the mission board was reluctant to send unmarried people, and his fiancée had just broken off their engagement.
Sybil was a school teacher dreaming of joining a mission. It was common then for young Christian women to seek “higher” service to God by marrying a minister, going to a mission field, or both.
And there they were, in the same vehicle, both thinking of far-off fields. “I had taken cold by a night’s ride over the mountains,” Hiram explained, “and I wrapped a handkerchief about my neck, chin, and mouth, that cold evening, and this awakened ready sympathy in the sensitive heart of the young lady.”
Hiram had heard of a young girl described as “a most amiable and thoroughly qualified companion for a missionary.” During the ride, Hiram’s “mind was intently querying whether this could be the very same.”
When they arrived at their destination, they spoke for a while by the fire. “I measured the lines of her face and the expression of her features with more than an artist’s carefulness,” Hiram wrote.
After discussing the matter with other men, Hiram asked a friend to contact Sybil and ask for an audience. The friend explained the matter to Sybil, leaving her with a verse meant to make a rejection rather difficult: “Rebecca said, ‘I will go” (Genesis 24:58).
But Sybil had no intention of rejecting Hiram’s proposal. She had been waiting for such an opportunity. And there was also a spark of romance. “Since that memorable evening when I was introduced to him, I find that he has secured my love,” Sybil wrote her sister. “God did indeed choose for me.”
She and Hiram married less than two weeks later. On October 23, 1819, they sailed with seven other missionary couples on the Thaddeus, bound for Hawaii.
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