HOME        ABOUT         TOUR NEWS        CONTACT
First Reformation
Second Reformation
Covenanters in Scotland
Covenanters in Ireland
Sites & Tours
Sunday School Materials























John G Paton
Worms, Cannibals and the History of Scottish RP Missions

John Gibson Paton ‘is perhaps the most famous of all the ministers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church’. The first foreign missionary of the church had been James Duncan, from Airdrie, who was sent to the Maori people of New Zealand in 1843. The Scottish church sent out another missionary, John Inglis, to join Duncan the next year. In 1852, Inglis moved to the New Hebrides (today known as Vanuatu), to be a missionary there. Thirteen years earlier, the first two missionaries to the New Hebrides had been killed and eaten by cannibals minutes after they had arrived. However Inglis and the Canadian missionary he had joined saw thousands converted in a few years.

From 1854, the Scottish RP Church had been appealing for another missionary to go and join Inglis. However after two years, no-one had volunteered to go. John G. Paton, who had been studying for the ministry as well as studying medicine, couldn’t bear this, so he volunteered himself. Many people tried to put him off the idea, including one dear old Christian gentleman. “The cannibals!”, the old man said, “you will be eaten by cannibals!” But Paton replied “Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms, I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honouring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.”

Paton, and his friend Joseph Copeland left for the New Hebrides in April 1858. Before Paton had been there for even a year, his wife and baby son died within a few weeks of each other. After four years things became so dangerous that he had to leave the island. However he returned in 1866 and settled on the island of Aniwa with his new wife. In the next fifteen years they saw the whole island come to Christ.

As well as New Zealand and the New Hebrides, the Scottish RP Church also sent missionaries to Canada in the 1830s and 40s. Closer to home, mission work was done among the Jews in London.

Read more:
John Piper –You Will Be Eaten by Cannibals!” Courage in the cause of world missions: Lessons from the Life of John G. Paton (audio and article)
Jim Cromarty -
DNZB: James Duncan
John Inglis
Kete Horowhenua: Rev. James Duncan
Glimpses of Old Glasgow: John Inglis
John Inglis, In the New Hebrides: Reminiscences of missionary life and work (London, 1887)
World Wide Missionaries: John G Paton
James Paton, The story of John G. Paton told for young folks, or Thirty years among South Sea cannibals (New York, 1892) Also available here
-John G Paton: Autobiography (Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3)
W. J. Couper, The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland: its congregations, ministers and students (Edinburgh, 1925)
DSCHT: Inglis, John; Paton, John Gibson; Vanuatu; New Zealand
David Hilliard, ‘Paton, John Gibson (1824–1907)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004

John G Paton
John G Paton
John G Paton & Family
John G Paton & Family

Back to Reformed Presbyterian Church since the 17th Century


Copyright © 2010 The Reformed Presbyterian Church. All Rights Reserved. PRIVACY