One Little …
Two Little Indians
“I will stay among your people to help them become Christians,” the young Indian helper, who had come with the missionaries from Canada, told his bride.
Enmegahbowh [pronounced En-mega-bo] had married one of the Chippewa maidens who had accepted Christ as her personal Saviour. He worked very hard in those early pioneer days in the wilds of northern Minnesota to help the poor and ignorant, near-savages learn the better way of life. But conditions grew worse and worse with each passing day.
When the missionaries decided to move further southward to ”better fields,” it paid its toll on Enmegahbowh. Deep depression overcame him as he saw the white warriors for Christ admit defeat and sail down the Mississippi River. Several weeks later, he made the first of several monumental decisions that not only changed the future of many people, but led to some very bizarre happenings.
His wife reminded him of this vow to stay and work with the heathen Indians. His reply was that if the trained, white missionaries could not reach the Chippewas, he, with his lack of education and working alone, was sure to fail, too.
Even though her heart was breaking with plaguing thoughts of leaving her people, his wife consented to go.
“My husband,” she said, I gave you a promise at our wedding. I am ready to go with you and even die with you, if necessary.”
The young Indian and his wife journeyed across upper Minnesota to Lake Superior and paid for their passage on a ship.
“It was so beautiful,” he said later, “to be sailing swiftly toward my own people.”
The captain further increased his joy by announcing, “At the rate we’re moving now we should land at Sault Ste. Marie on the third day.”
“The excellent time the ship was making filled my cowardly heart with courage,” he thought. “In a few days I shall land on the beautiful shores of my Tarshish, the place of my choice.” And with that strange thought, his mind drifted off to the circumstances behind the word “Tarshish” he had chosen to refer to Sault Ste. Marie. He wondered how Jonah had felt when he had refused to obey God’s command for him to go to Ninevah and had, instead, taken a ship to far off Tarshish. His picture of Jonah almost losing his life during a terrible storm at sea was broken by a strange sensation that crept over him. It was silence!
Looking up at the sails, he noticed that they were no longer full with the heavy winds. The wind had fallen and the ship’s speed decreased. Within a few hours there was a dead calm.
About five o’clock in the afternoon the sails began to move. The captain shouted to his men a disarming declaration, “The wind is coming from the wrong direction! It’s a bad wind and it’s always furious!”
At six o’clock, the storm broke with a fury. The blue lake had turned white with the lashing waves driven into huge heaps by the winds increasing fierceness. The huge vessel was tossed about like a rowboat and could hardly make headway. Destruction was heard in every howl of the wind and lash of the waves.
The captain came into the twosomes’ cabin. He was soaking wet. “We’re in severe danger,” he said, “the wind is maddening and determined to send us to the bottom. I’ve sailed this great lake from head to foot for twenty-one years, and no storm has ever stopped me. But I’ve never seen anything like this.”
The captain’s next words struck Enmegahbowh’s already troubled heart.
“I’m afraid that something is wrong with us.
Enmegahbowh could not hide his inner- emotional battle from his loving and concerned wife. Though recognizing the real problem, she said nothing.
An hour later the captain returned to their cabin to tell them of the increasing danger, that it was impossible to move ahead, and that their only safety was in trying to go back to their starting point.
Despite much difficulty, the ship finally made it back to the point of their origin.
Before leaving their cabin, Enmegahbowh’s wife sat down beside him and sincerely shared her convictions with him. “I believe,” she said softly, “as I believe in God, that we were the cause of all of us almost perishing in the deep waters. Even though you are poor, I believe God wanted you to do something for our dying ignorant people. What you have said is true, that this is a great heathen country full of darkness and idolatry.”
Enmegahbowh did not immediately reply. He felt that she was correct, but he just could not admit it, much less agree willingly to return to the isolation and deprivation of the Chippewa land.
“I just don’t believe,” he told her, that God recognizes some one so insignificant and poor as me to be important enough to change the whole course of nature to bring up a storm to stop me from going to Sault Ste. Marie.”
Then to tame his conscience, he added, “How can we expect to accomplish anything among the Chippewas when the white missionaries found it useless? And with their means, education and experience, how could we do that work?”
“Do you still mean to go to Sault Ste. Marie?” she asked.
“Yes,” he replied, “Yes I do.”
The next wind that came to spur the captain on his voyage came at two o’clock the next morning.
Enmegahbowh and his wife climbed back aboard and were soon again sailing at a fast rate across the gigantic, ocean-sized lake.
The captain, crew, Enmegahbowh and his wife were all stunned beyond belief when upon reaching the very same, identical place where the ship first encountered trouble, the wind fell, the sails stilled, and the vessel once again stopped moving.
A deadly calm settled in upon them again. No cloud was to be seen anywhere in the hushed heavens. Enmegahbowh and his wife were sitting out on the deck. It was devastatingly quiet and still. An agonizing hour passed. As the two of them looked toward the setting sun, they saw a small speck of a cloud rising. Astonished, they saw the cloud grow and spread across the sky like a blanket covering a bed.
“The wind is coming!” the captain shouted. “It looks like it might even be worse than the last one!”
Enmegahbowh’s heart beat faster, and fear gripped him feverishly.
Within two hours, the sails were about to break under the unrelenting force of the storm’s tremendous winds and catapulting waves.
The captain ordered, “Throw the fish overboard. That’ll lighten the ship!” But the Tactic did not prove to be valuable in combating the assault.
The sky became ink-black. Thunder boomed above the roar of the waves. Lighting split the impenetrable darkness. The wind increased, and the ship, tossed to and fro, could make no forward movement whatsoever so as to run out of the storm.
The captain ran here and there, frantically giving orders to his desperate men. Then he came into the cabin where the frightened Indian helper and his wife had fled. The captain found them on the floor in a corner, clutching each other for protection and assurance. “This is far worse than we encountered a few days back! I’m afraid that there’s definitely something wrong on this ship. This ship must have been sent by the Master of Life to show His great power over the great world.”
Once again the captain’s words had dug deep into Enmegahbowh’s troubled heart. He immediately pictured Jonah’s experience, and the lesson came before him. He felt, too, that if he would also repent as Jonah had and seek God in his distress, the Lord would forgive and deliver him.
He released his wife’s hand, fell to his knees on the shaking, creaking floor and asked God to stop the storm for the sake of the sailors, the captain, the ship and his fine wife. He promised the Lord that he would abandon his sinful and selfish desires and return to the helpless Indians.
His thorough repentance was not only heard, it was accepted by God.
Later, when Enmegahbowh and his wife left Lake Superior’s shores and made their way back to the Chippewa tribe, their hearts almost burst with happiness. It was because of the joyous welcome the Chippewas extended to them on their return. They knew most assuredly that this was not only the very place God had chosen for their mission, but that they would have rich success for him.
In appreciation for their return, the Chippewa women built them a large and comfortable wigwam.
One day much later, as Enmegahbowh and his wife stood in the door of their wigwam looking out at the men, women, and small children making their way to their hut church at the end of the clearing, Enmegahbowh’s wife came to a full realization why one little child was saved in a Sioux Indian raid some twenty years earlier.
While the Chippewas were encamped on Lake St. Croix, a young child was visiting there with an aunt. In the night, the Sioux attacked and murdered all the inhabitants except one little child. She had snuggled deep down in the animal skins used for blankets between her aunt and sister. She was over looked.
It was Enmegahbowh’s wife!