Tschoop The Converted Indian Chief – Part 4

Towards the end of August, Count Zinzendorf visited the station at Shekomeko. The Rev. Mr. Rauch received him and his daughter, who accompanied him, with much cordiality in his hut, and the day- following lodged them in a cottage of bark erected for them. The joy the count felt

at seeing what the Lord had done in this place was very great, and his heart was filled with the most pleasing hopes for futurity. His chief and most agreeable employment was to converse with the four baptized Indians. It happened that a clergyman, whilst passing through Shekomeko, called on the count, and entered into a dispute with him concerning the person of the Son of God. The Indian convert, John, was lying ill on the floor, and began to pray that the Lord Jesus would reveal Himself to the clergyman. When he was gone, John exclaimed, ” how will this man be ashamed, when he learns to know the Lord Jesus truly !” John was at this time appointed to be a teacher to his countrymen in spiritual things, and to act as interpreter to the missionaries, both of which duties he performed very faithfully. He approved himself to be a gifted and zealous witness of his Lord and Master ; he spoke with much animation, and had a peculiar talent to render the subject he dwelt upon clear and perspicuous. Sometimes he made use of figures, after the Indian manner. For instance, in describing the wickedness of man’s heart, he took a piece of board, and with charcoal drew the figure of a heart upon it, with darts and points proceeding in all directions; “This,” said he, ” is the state of man’s heart ; while Satan dwells in it, everything that is evil proceeds from it.” With Indians this simple figure tended to illustrate his discourse better than the most elaborate explanation.

The Indian congregation of believers in Shekomeko continued to increase in number and in grace, and it was accordingly resolved to administer the holy communion to ten of those who had been baptized, and had walked worthy of their calling and election, and John was among this number. They were previously instructed in the doctrines contained in the Holy Scriptures, relating to this sacrament, namely, that in the holy communion they spiritually partook of the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to his word ; that they were thereby united to Him by faith, and would receive a repeated assurance of the forgiveness of their sins. Then the missionaries prayed for them, recommending them to the faithful teachings of the Spirit of God, that He might himself prepare their hearts for this blessed sacrament. On the 13th of March, 1743, the first communion was held, of which one of the missionaries wrote, ” Whilst I live I shall never lose the impression this first communion with the Indians in North America made upon me.”

But from this time the infant mission had to experience persecution. In December, 1744, the missionaries, after having received ill treatment on various occasions, were cited to appear before the court in Poughkeepsie, to hear the act passed by the Assembly of New York, according to which the brethren were positively forbidden to instruct the Indians, and expelled from the country, under the pretense of being in league with the French ; and prohibited under a heavy penalty ever any more to appear among the Indians, without having first taken particular oaths of allegiance to the British government in New York.

On the 23d of February, 1745, the missionary Gottleob Buettner, (to whom John was greatly attached,) after having labored several years with much acceptance among the Indians, departed this life, in the presence of all the Indian assistants. Having exhorted them with his dying lips to abide faithful unto the end, he desired them to sing the verse : ” O may our souls ne’er moved be, From Thee, our faithful Savior with others of the same import; and while they were yet singing the missionary breathed his last, and entered into the joy of his Lord.

After his burial, the believing Indians held a council, to consider whether they should not now leave Shekomeko altogether, fearing, that if left to themselves they might be gradually overcome by sinful seductions, especially as the elders of the Brethren’s church in Bethlehem were

compelled, by the act before mentioned, to recall all the missionaries from Shekomeko, in order not to give further occasion for suspicion by continuing to reside there.

However, the congregation of believing Indians still met together, in their usual order, to edify each other ; and only now and then one or more Brethren, acquainted with their language, were sent to visit them and give advice in their present un-pleasant situation.

The Iroquois, or Six Nations, at this time, upon the suggestion of Bishop Spangenberg, proposed the removal of the believing Indians to Wajomick in Pennsylvania, but contrary to all expectation they refused to accept of it. But soon after, events happened which obliged the Indian congregation to follow the advice given by the elders at Bethlehem, not to delay their removal too long. The white people drove the believing Indians from Shekomeko by force, towards the close of the year, and when the latter applied to the governor in New York for redress, their petition was not attended to. In consequence of this outrage, and the encroachments of the Indians under French influence, the mission at Shekomeko was brought to an end in June, 1746, and the converted Indians removed to different places, in some cases at a considerable distance from each other. The greater number went to Gnadenhuetten, a missionary station about thirty miles from Bethlehem, and many remaiiaed in the immediate neighbourhood of the latter place. In the month of August following, the small-pox was prevalent both at Bethlehem and Gnadenhuetten, and eighteen of the Indian converts departed this life, among them were several very valuable and useful assistants, Whose loss the missionaries most sincerely lamented. John, formerly Tschoop, was one of them ; his death occurred, August 27, 1746, and we close this narrative by the following brief account of his life.

Tschoop The Converted Indian Chief: Written for the American Sunday School Union, and Revised by the committee of publication. American Sunday-School Union. Philadelphia. 1842.