The Jungle Doctor Inspires the World to Missions

The Jungle Doctor, Paul Hamilton Hume White, was converted to Christ on December 3, 1926.

Paul Hamilton Hume White was born in New South Wales, Australia, in 1910. Hamilton Hume was an Australian explorer from the early 1800’s. Paul’s father had served in the Boer War and it seems that the dad’s stories of life in Africa inspired a life-long fascination for Africa in his son, even though the father passed away with meningitis when Paul was only 5.

When Paul White was sixteen he saw a newspaper headline – “Irish Evangelist calls Bishop a Polecat!” It was a story concerning William P. Nicholson who had visited a pipe-smoking Anglican clergyman and had been asked by a reporter what he thought about such a nauseous habit. Nicholson had replied in his usual blunt manner! But that headline led Paul White to go and hear the unique Irishman.

50 years later Dr White recalled, “He finished up by talking about the cross and Jesus’ love. He made it clear that there were two things I could do – either go God’s way or turn my back on Him.” Thus it was, “the great transaction” took place as this teenager surrendered to Christ.

White studied medicine at Sydney University, in preparation for a life of missionary service in Africa. In 1938, under the auspices of the Church Missionary Society, White took his wife, Mary, and their young son, David, to the bush plains of Tanganyika in East Africa (now known as Tanzania), where he providing medicine in a primitive colonial hospital.

Paul’s dispenser, Dan Mboga, helped him to understand, and communicate with the people he was there to help, and also how to share God’s love with them in a way that made sense. Dan used animal stories to explain truth to the natives. This example led to the story-telling, animal anecdotes which White became famous for.

Paul and Mary were forced to return home in 1941, due to Mary’s severe health issues. Shortly after arriving back in Sydney White was able to start weekly Jungle Doctor radio broadcasts which soon spread across Australia and were used overseas. These weekly broadcasts lasted for 36 years, and were used in America, Philippines, South America and elsewhere.

Then, while working as a part-time doctor and promoter of missionary work, White wrote an autobiography about his African experiences, Alias Jungle Doctor, which was published in 1941.

With the popularity of his first book, a young Australian artist, Graham Wade, was commissioned by the Church Missionary Society to turn several chapters into cartoons, starting with Jungle Doctor meets a Lion. At the same time White began writing a series of fables, geared toward younger readers. Then Paul moved to fictional novels, based around an African mission hospital. The books were popular internationally, including Germany, Britain the USA and many third-world countries.

In 1971 White created Paul White Productions and engaged Wade to create comic books from the Jungle Doctor fables. By 1977 White had created 42 Jungle Doctor books which had sold about three million copies – and his autobiography, Alias Jungle Doctor, later hit the Christian bookshops. Jungle Doctor books have been translated into 107 languages.

Paul had the pleasure over the years of meeting people who said they were moved to go overseas as missionaries because of his books.

Mary died after a long illness, in 1970, after which Paul married Ruth.

Marcus Loane, former Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, is well within the mark when he writes: “Paul White’s influence as a soul-winner, creative genius and inspiring leader made him one of the most outstanding Christians in 20th century Australia.”

The “Jungle Doctor” heard the Saviour’s “Well Done!” in 1992. His wife, Ruth, continued to direct Paul White Productions following Paul’s passing.

This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Marcus Whitman dies to reach the Indians

This is the day that … Marcus Whitman was born in Massachusetts, in 1802. (Other sources say Rushville, N.Y.)

After studying medicine for eight years (four in Canada and four in New York), he heard Rev. Samuel Parker plead for missionaries to work on America’s western coast. He travelled to Oregon with Parker and at the Green River rendezvous they met several Indian tribes who so fervently requested missionary help that the two men returned east to ready men to go west.

Whitman married Narcissa Prentiss, who was born on 14 March, 1808, who had heard the same preacher and felt the same divine call, and off they set on a 2000-mile trek across the Rocky Mountains to a new world, to take the gospel to the Red Indians. That was in 1836.

They journeyed with a fur trading caravan and another missionary couple, Rev. Henry Spaulding and his wife. The fact that Narcissa had once been engaged to Henry Spaulding “was not an ideal situation”(!) (From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, by Ruth Tucker, page 99).

On this overland trip, Whitman drove a light cart from Ft. Hall to Ft. Boise, thereby opening a portion of the Oregon Trail to wagon traffic. Mrs Whitman and Mrs Spaulding were the first American women to cross the Rockies overland.

In Oregon the Whitmans established their mission compound, baby Alice was born … and accidentally drowned in a nearby river two years later. Whitman taught irrigated farming, ranching, construction and civilization to the Indians. A dynamic, vigorous, resourceful, even stubborn man, he was often overly optimistic.

Problems with the Red Indians surfaced. Not to mention problems with the mission board back on the east coast. Marcus Whitman found it essential to make a return visit and sort things out with the home board.

He left, with a companion, on 2 October, 1842, upon what has been described as “one of the most difficult rides in American history” (Great Women of the Faith, by E. Deen, page 211). Hostile Indians and fording flooded rivers nearly cost them their lives. At one stage, “their food gave out … and they had to eat their pack mules and dog” (page 212).

Having pacified the mission leaders, Marcus Whitman returned to Oregon, and Narcissa. But the new settlers who made the 1500-mile return trip with him brought an epidemic of measles. “In the space of eight weeks nearly half the 400 member tribe (of Cayuse Indians) suffered painful deaths…” (From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, by Ruth Tucker, page 103).

On 29 November, 1847, five angry Indians attacked the mission station, massacred the Whitmans and 12 others, and burned the buildings, thus initiating a long and savage war between Indians and whites. Marcus was 45 years of age and his wife was 39.

Joe Meek carried news of the Indian war to Washington, pleading for protection so eloquently that Congress created the territory of Oregon and sent troops to it – just at the time the American Board for Foreign Missions was abandoning the region.

The Whitmans are described as “two of the most consecrated, successful and heroic missionaries ever sent out by any missionary society” (Great Missionaries, by T. Creegan, page 366).

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.