John Gibson Paton, 1824-1907, Missionary
Written by: Unknown Posted on: 03/13/2003
John Gibson Paton
John G. Paton was born in Dumfries, Scotland. His family
later moved to Torthorwald, where, in a humble thatched cot-
tage of three rooms, his parents reared five sons and six
daughters. The middle room of the cottage was known as the
"Sanctuary," for it was there that John's father went three
times a day to pour out his heart in prayer to God for the
needs of his family.
At the age of 12, John was helping his father in the
stocking business and also studying Latin and Greek. Later he
left home to attend college in Glasgow, where he studied med-
icine and theology. Not long after, he became a missionary to
the poor, degraded section of Glasgow. The work was discour-
aging, but during ten years of faithful labor, he won many to
Christ, including eight boys, who later became ministers.
When John was about 30 years old, the Reformed Church
of Scotland asked for a missionary to help with the work in
the New Hebrides Islands. John answered the call, and soon he
and his new bride were on their way to the South Pacific, in
spite of the news that the previous missionaries had been
murdered and eaten by the cannibals. The Patons settled on
the island of Tanna, and began their ministry.
Since the natives had no written language, John
talked to them in sign language. One day he learned a few na-
tive words, and after many months of labor, mastered their
language and reduced it to writing. While there, his wife and
infant son contracted tropical fever and died. The natives
repeatedly stole his equipment, his life was in constant dan-
ger, but still he stayed and preached to them.
Moving to the island of Aniwa, Paton built a home, a
mission house, two orphanages, a church, and a schoolhouse.
And, after many years of patient ministry, he won the entire
island to Christ! In 1899 he saw his Aniwa New Testament
printed, and missionaries on 25 of the 30 islands of the New
Hebrides. He went to be with the Lord in 1907.
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