In 1808, a young Hawaiian boy, ʻŌpūkahaʻia, swam out to the ‘Triumph’, a trading ship anchored in Kealakekua Bay. Also on board was Hopu, another young Hawaiian; they eventually headed for New York, then, they made their way to New England. ʻŌpūkahaʻia was eager to study and learn. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) formed the Foreign Mission School; ʻŌpūkahaʻia was one of its first students. He yearned “with great earnestness that he would (return to Hawaiʻi) and preach the Gospel to his poor countrymen.”
Unfortunately, ʻŌpūkahaʻia died on February 17, 1818. ʻŌpūkahaʻia, inspired by many young men and women with proven sincerity and religious fervor of the missionary movement, had wanted to spread the word of Christianity back home in Hawaiʻi; his book inspired missionaries to volunteer to carry his message to the Hawaiian Islands. Over the course of a little over 40-years (1820-1863 – the “Missionary Period”), about 180-men and women in twelve Companies served in Hawaiʻi to carry out the mission of the ABCFM. The Hawaiian Mission Bicentennial is approaching (first events commemorate the bicentennial of ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia’s death (February 17, 2018 – a year from now)).