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