Introduction and start
Building Babel: The Christianisation of the New Hebrides
Aboard the Camden, off Dillon’s Bay [Unpongkor/William’s Bay], Erromanga, the New Hebrides.
The Rev. John Williams was a man dedicated to the service of God. In the service of the London Missionary Society, He had brought Christianity to parts of Polynesia, in the Society Islands and Samoa. But now he searched for another place, where he could spread the word of God to those unfamiliar with Him. In his search, he found the islands of Western Polynesia [Melanesia], inhabited by the Papuan race, dark-skinned peoples who had so far not embraced the warmth of Christ.
And so, he found himself on the morning of the 20th of November, in the Year of Our Lord Eighteen Thirty-Nine, on the missionary ship Camden, in the southern New Hebrides. Buoyed by recent successes in establishing peaceful contacts with the inhabitants of Fatuna and a chief of Tanna who helped establish contact with the inhabitants of Port Resolution on Tanna, the ship had now sailed to the island of Erromanga. The previous night, William’s fears had disappeared, and been replaced with great confidence and joy about the success to be had in his mission.
But in his sleep, the feeling of elation had been tempered. For the magnitude and importance of his work, the scale of what needed to be done, had fell upon him. Williams believed that “the New Hebrides are key to evangelising the islands of New Caledonia, New Britain, New Guinea, and the other islands inhabited by the Papuan race.” To fail this mission would be failing not only the people at the Society, but also himself, God, and not to mention the natives of the island whose shores he stood off. By not helping them into Christendom would be failing to act his mission as guide to natives of the South Seas.
The Reverend now made a promise to himself and the Lord. He would begin his mission here, in the southern New Hebrides.
On the morning of the 20th of November, aware of the dangers that he faced, the Reverend John Williams went down in the whaling boat of the Camden, to try and establish contact with the natives of Dillon’s Bay. And thus started the path of Christianisation of the natives of the New Hebrides…
And so, the POD starts. In OTL, at this point, John Williams was surveying the New Hebrides, to find a suitable starting point for a new mission to be founded, in order to convert the inhabitants of the New Hebrides. Very little has changed from OTL so far, save Williams deciding to start his missionary work in *Tafea, the southern part of Vanuatu’s archipelago. Should he be successful, his work will not only jumpstart the process of Christianisation in Vanuatu, or the New Hebrides as it was called, by 9 years, but will also have interesting knock-on effects concerning the Kingdom of Hawaii, the sandalwood trade, and blackbirding for the Queensland sugar plantations.
I’m unsure if this timeline will generate any interest, but due to the scarcity of timelines on AH.com about Melanesia, and Oceania for that matter, I thought I’d give it a go. Any feedback, thoughts, ideas, or criticism would be greatly appreciated!