Acts America

New Covenant Youth Ministry

John Hunt - Part 1

Everything seemed to be going just right for John Hunt. His ministerial course was about to end and he had done very well in his studies. His young fiancee, Hannah, whom he had courted for six years, was willing to go with him to South Africa, where he hoped to begin his missionary work. Then, suddenly, his consecration was tested to the extreme! Summoned john huntto appear before the Mission Board, he was asked if he would be willing to go to Fiji. It was as though he was in a dream! Fiji? The land of the cannibals?

When he returned from the appointment, his fellow-students noticed that he was fairly writhing in an agony, which was most unusual for John Hunt. Something must have been terribly wrong for this optimistic young man, usually so full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, to be troubled so. We can just imagine his inner agitation as he turned over in his mind the drastic obedience demanded of him by his sudden and unexpected venture. A host of questions must have flooded his bewildered brain. Would he lose his fiancee? Would her shuttered, delicate upbringing allow her to withstand the hardships to come? Would her mother still approve the marriage now that the circumstances had changed?

There is no telling what went on the next few hours when his soul met its Gethsemane, he most likely toyed with the idea, even if just for a moment, of refusing the Board's request and proceeding as planned to Africa. Africa was a much easier road, it had already been pioneered by others. Surely, this was his test – to place his beloved Isaac on God's altar and proceed. Carefully he went over the situation and finally penned a letter to Hannah. Here are the words of a young man in his early twenties to his fiancee:

My dear Hannah: I have some strange news to tell you, and I am not able to use many words in making it known. You must, therefore, excuse my abruptness.

I have been fixed upon by the Missionary Committee to go to the South Seas. You must, therefore, immediately return home, and make preparation for becoming a missionary's wife to a most remote Station, for twenty years. No one knows my feelings, dear, for our dear friends. I never had such difficulty in seeing my way. I believe it is of God; it is entirely unsought for by me. I need say no more. May our God help us and bless us in this most important and distressing affair! I hope to see you, my dear Hannah, when I shall be at Newton, if possible, on Thursday. We have only a month, or five weeks for everything to unfold. God bless you my dear!

“J. Hunt.”

Patience was tested as anxious days passed, but all his fears were quelled by Hannah's answer as he exultantly informed his friends, “It's all right! She'll go with me anywhere.” God loved Fiji and God also loved John Hunt and Hannah. Things moved fast. Within a few weeks they were united in marriage. Those were busy days with John preaching every night, appealing for Fiji. Financing came in as people gave liberally for the conquest of these cannibal islands.

God had taken great pains to prepare his ambassador for Fiji. If we could only view our God as One Who works far ahead of a need, we would delight in the order with which divine conquests are carried to a final issue. The nobility and steadfastness of Christian character needed in such a formidable calling was not born overnight, but was the result of a long series of personal choices over the twenty-six years prior to his call. And as we shall see, John received great inlets of grace from the Throne of God which coupled with character, made a lasting impression on a land hitherto untouched by the Gospel.

It was in the county of Lincolnshire in England, which had already produced the sturdy and hardy Wesley family, this was to be the anvil on which John Hunt was to be hammered into a useful instrument. Mr. Hunt's father labored as a bailiff. Due to this occupation John Hunt was born in a fairly comfortable state financially, on June 13, 1812. These prosperous times were not to last long though. Mr. Hunt lost his job when his employer moved to another area. Mr. Hunt took up farming as a result. Hardship and poverty is a good teacher when the pupil is being prepared to endure privation and hardships.

The Hunts would have been considered irreligious by many, for they were not church-going people. They father, however, believed from his heart in the power of prayer and trusted in God's providence. The mother, into whose hands the young lad was placed for training, had an abhorrence of idleness, dishonesty, and swearing. In her presence no one was allowed to say any slighting remark against the ministries of the church. Prayers were said by the children very early in life, and John had faith to pray about the smallest details.

Schooling for the Hunt children was limited. John left the classroom for the farm at the age of ten. As neither of his parents were very educated themselves, they put no high regard on scholastic attainments. A sense of inferiority overwhelmed John as he fumbled about the farm jobs because he was not very skillful or knowledgeable. The children nicknamed him after the town idiot. John, however, was determined to master farming, so much so that his nicknamed changed to “Farmer Jack”.

Although John's circle had indeed been very narrow, and his knowledge of the Gospel meager, the fear of God was early planted in his heart. By sheer perseverance and determination, the young farmhand overcame the disdain of his fellows and in it's stead won their admiration. But now, popularity became a snare to the growing teenager. He began to lose the sense of God. However, a very serious illness struck him, and is caused him to think on eternity and where he would spend it. The “foreverness” of it haunted him, but he was soon to be led into circumstances where he would hear the good news of the Gospel.

When seeking employment, John had entered too hurriedly into an agreement to work on a farm where everything seemed favorable, but his conscience troubled him for the entire month. Why? He had not prayed enough before committing himself to another month. The lad was coming to know God in such a way that to be completely dependent upon God's wisdom in every choice was a matter of great importance.

It was usual in England for farmhands seeking work to appear at the local marketplace on a certain day to be employed by farmers who were looking for hired help. Having left his former employer, John found himself standing in the marketplace praying that he might enter into a position where he could learn more about God. His prayer was answered for he was hired by a Christian farmer. It was here that he was first introduced to the Methodist band-meeting by a fellow servant, and it was also here that he became concerned about a personal experience with God. See how God was “working all things”.

The momentous event which was to usher him not only into a new family but also into a new Kingdom was brought about through the preaching of the saintly John Smith (you will learn about him in another newsletter). Going to a meeting with a group one evening, he listened impassively to a message and only seemed hardened by its words. The time came for the group to return home, but on leaving the building, a strong persuasion to return and continue in prayer with the others seized the seeker. His companions consented to stay longer with him. The preacher was praying with a lady who was finding it difficult to believe in Christ and so he called out, “Send us more power.” John Hunt spontaneously responded “Amen” to that request. “Immediately,” he tells us, “an overwhelming influence came upon me so that I cried aloud for the sake of Christ, in a minute, I was completely bathed in tears and perspiration as if I had been thrown into a river.” John Smith, noticing the boy's agony of soul, asked him what he wished. “I want my sins to be forgiven for the sake of Christ,” the boy replied. The youth was conscious that he had passed from death to life. It was no idle fancy. He knew a “joy unspeakable.”

“In no part of my religious course,” the new convert said, “do I remember having such delight in His service and such compassion for the souls of others. I was persecuted by those around me; but it was for righteousness' sake according to their own acknowledgment.”

Even some of his professedly Christian friends found his strict adherence to the Sabbath and his rigid morality irksome, so he took another position with a Mr. Wilkinson for one year. This boy whole sole library had been his Bible and Pilgrim's Progress was surprised to find that his new employer possessed a large library. The reading that ensued was an advanced step in his journey of knowing God. The riches and treasures of a hitherto unknown dimension were now made available to him.

Meanwhile, the industrious and conscientious farmhand pleased his new master and it was in his employment that John learned how to mediate on some portion of Scripture as he labored without it affecting the quality of his work. He would trace the meaning of a text and discover the main point and it was only once that these meditative practices in the lad caused distress to his master. One morning, while feeding the horses and preparing to take a load of grain to market, he was so carried away in meditation and prayer that he eventually set off with an empty wagon!

Then an opportunity presented itself. There was a gathering of the brethren planned for that evening, but the speaker failed to come. Thus Mr. Wilkinson asked his ploughboy, John, to give the message. The listeners were convinced that latent talent was hidden behind the rough exterior, and soon opportunity after opportunity opened up for him. Nearby city chapels were asking for John Hunt to minister to them. Once when ascending the pulpit all his former preparation seemed to fade from his memory, and he went home to spend a restless night pondering if he had failed so sacred a calling without due fitness for the task.

From this experience a deeper relationship with the Lord was strengthened when he began to spend two whole nights a week in prayer, reading the Bible with the additional help of Wesley's, Fletcher's, and Watson's works. When a new minister was appointed to the Lincoln Circuit and heard John Hunt speak, he was convinced that uncommon unction rested upon the rustic youth. The practice of daily meditation together with long hours spent in prayer had given the farmhand's words a power not of this world. When encouraged to enter the ministry, John did not take it lightly. “I see to be useful as a public speaker, I must be eminent as a private Christian.” Intense intercession preceded his pulpit ministries. When John felt it time to begin training for a missionary career, the Missions Board in London where were amused by the letter sent to them by John. They thought he was unusually extravagant. They knew he had the heart, but thought he should have more knowledge and understanding, so they allowed him to enroll at the Theological Institution at Hoxton. This school had only been opened for a year and John was one of twenty candidates who attended the school. Not because the school was small or had only the budget for so few students, but because only exceptional people were even considered. So, at twenty-three years of age, John Hunt started on the new part of his journey towards God's calling. The change from farming to studying at first produced headaches, but the earnestness which had characterized him in all his former work now stood with him in his new circumstances.

His heart yearnings to become more like Jesus were recorded in the pages of his dairy:

Oh, that I were more holy, then I believe I should be more useful. I am afraid some will be lost because I am not more holy! But why should this be the case? My God is willing to give me all the salvation which Jesus died to purchase for me; and I am willing NOW! Lord, I receive more of Thy salvation even while I am writing now! . . . Let us not be satisfied with being ordinary Christians. Let us pray and believe, until praying and believing become habitual. I believe it is possible to live in the Spirit to such a degree, that it would be as natural to pray and believe as to breathe . . . We must subordinate all other study to the study of the Bible. And with respect to that blessed Book, we must always be scholars. We never speak to or for God better than we do it in His own words.

fiji islands
~ Look for the Part 2 Next Month ~

Take From :

"They Knew Their God" Vol. 4 ~ By: Edwin & Lillian Harvey