Sunday, January 25, 2009

Say Among the Heathen that the Lord Reigneth

This past week one of our church families faced the traumatic news that their 11 year old son has Guillaine Barre Syndrome. Without immediate treatment, according to the doctors, the GBS would eventually shut down the boy's vital organs. As mom and dad checked their son into Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City, the family knew that the road ahead of them would be tough and at times dark. It is one thing to be confronted with a life-threatening disease personally, but even more difficult emotionally when it is a young child. I decided to travel to Oklahoma City and visit the boy and his family Saturday, but I determined to first make a side trip in order to obtain a memento that could possibly help the young man face some tough, even painful days ahead.

Two and a half hours east of Enid on Highway 412, between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, is a little community called Chouteau, Oklahoma. The Neosho River, also called the Grand River, runs north to south just a couple of miles east of Chouteau. Highway 69 runs parallel (north south) to the Neosho River, and I turned off of Highway 412 at Chouteau and headed south on Highway 69. Five miles down the highway I turned back to the east on a dirt road leading to the Neosho River. After a few twists and turns, I eventually arrived at my destination, deep in the woods of Mayes County, about a half mile from the western bank of the Neosho River. It was at this precise spot that one of the greatest missionaries in the history of Christianity, a Connecticut man named Epraphas Chapman, established Union Mission on November 15, 1820. Chapman desired to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Osage Indians. Not many Christians have ever heard of Epaphras Chapman, but his story is extraordinary.

During the Second Great Awakening of the 1790's and early 1800's, a revival swept the eastern coast of the United States resulting in an increase of missionary spirit. In 1817 in New York City, the United Foreign Missionary Society (UFMS), a cooperative missions sending agency representing several evangelical denominations, began sending ministers to preach the gospel to American Indian tribes living beyond the western frontier. At the time, the Mississippi River was considered to be the edge of civlization by the United States, but after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase President Thomas Jefferson led the government to explore the new lands acquired by the United States, including all of present day Oklahoma. Other than a few French traders in what we now call the midwest, and some Spanish traders in the southwest, the lands west of the Mississippi were inhabited by plainsmen Indians, including the large Osage tribe of Missouri.

The Osage Indians

Explorers Lewis and Clarke reported to President Thomas Jefferson in 1805 that the Osage Indians had split into two tribes, the southern tribe leaving the Missouri River area and settling south near what Lewis and Clarke called "the three forks area." This was a reference to the place in Oklahoma where three rivers converged, the Neosho, the Verdigris, and the Arkansas. At three rivers, the mouth of the Neosho and the mouth of Verdigris opened into the Arkansas River. President Thomas Jefferson spoke of these southern Osage Indians at "three forks" in his 1806 speech to Congress. This is believed to be the first time the United States government officially recognized a place in what we now call Oklahoma. The three forks river area, just east of present day Muskogee, Oklahoma would eventually become a major trading post and the United States would build a fort called Fort Gibson (est. 1824) there. But before any U.S. soldiers, any English traders or anyone else ever entered Oklahoma to permanently settle, Epaphras Chapman made the journey to "three forks" to share the gospel with the Osage Indians and established the first white settlement in present day Oklahoma.

The United Foreign Missionary Society had sent Chapman and Job Vinall in 1819 to find a place to build a mission station for the Osage. Although Vinall died on this initial journey, Chapman succeeded in finding a potential location on the west bank of the Neosha River, about 25 miles north of "the three forks." The spot was about half a mile from the river, escaping the spring floods, near both a natural spring and a salt spring. Chapman then returned to the East to assemble a "mission family." Those who joined this "mission family" included Chapman's wife, Rev. William F. Vaill and his wife and four children, Rev. Abraham Redfield, Dr. Marcus Palmer, six men to serve as teachers, farmers, and mechanics, and six single women who would serve as school teachers. A total of 21 people set off from New York on April 20, 1820 to make their way to present day Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Historical Society narrates what happened next:

They left New York April 20, 1820 and took the accustomed route via Pittsburgh and down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and then up the Arkansas.

The mission family stopped for several days here and there in the first part of their journey. These delays were generally profitable in that a great deal of money was collected for the enterprise. This was not solicited but freely contributed by churches, individuals and various cities where sympathy with the missonary movement was in evidence . . .

(The narrative then briefly describes the journey down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River, and then down the Mississippi River to the mouth of the Arkansas River in the southeastern portion of modern day Arkansas, where the mission family turned upstream in their canoes, sometimes called rafts, to follow the Arkansas River into Indian Territory).

As the party made its way up the Arkansas River the members began to sicken and by July 25, 1820 two of the women had died. Upon reaching Little Rock they made a temporary camp and lived in tents and log houses while some of the men proceeded to the proposed mission site to prepare lodging for the winter (arriving November 15, 1820). Here on the west bank of the Neosho River about twenty-five miles above its confluence with the Arkansas they began Union Mission.

When the remainder of the party at Little Rock was able to go on, the river having risen making it possible to use boats, men were employed to help move to the station. Through the late winter and early spring months the long journey was finally completed. A happy entry is found in the journal which to the missionaries meant both an end and a beginning. The following was written: "Union Lord's day February 18th. about ten oclock this morning reached the long look(ed) for Station after a journey of nearly ten months attended with many delays, and disappointments. It has been a day of joy and gladness to us all."

It is almost impossible for the modern American to fathom the ten month journey of Epaphras Chapman's mission family from New York to present day Oklahoma. These men, women and children drifted downstream on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to where the Arkansas River enters the Mississippi in southern Arkansas. Then they had to paddle upstream on the Arkansas for several hundred miles to the "three forks area." Then they paddled 25 miles further upstream on the Neosha River to the place Epaphras had chosen to establish a mission a year earlier. During the journey the mission team slept on the banks of the river under the open skies. They faced the fierce heat of a southern summer, the frigid cold of an Arkansas winter, the constant threat of Indian attack, flies, mosquitos, and other pests, not to mention the danger of wild game that included bears and mountain lions. The men, women and children were entering a land with no roads, no conveniences, no towns or settlements, no people other than Indians and a handful of French traders like Chouteau and Pryor. Often stricken with fever and other illnesses, the entire team, less the two women who died en route, would eventually arrive at their intended destination.

The Union Mission, the first Protestant mission west of the Mississippi, would eventually establish the first school and church in what we now call Oklahoma. Epaphras Chapman and other men (and women) at the mission would learn the Osage language and preach the gospel to the Indians. The accomplishments of these first settlers in Oklahoma are too numerous to mention, but their reputation would spread throughout the land due to the Union Mission's location on what would eventually become known as the Texas Road. People who stayed at the Union Mission for weeks, sometimes months, included Washington Irving, Isaac McCoy, Sam Houston, Samuel Worcester, and other important American politicians and missionaries.

The story of Epaphras Chapman is as powerful and colorful as David Brainard's. The only difference is there has not been a Jonathan Edwards who has written about the life of Chapman as their has been in the case of Brainard. What little we know of Epaphras Chapman comes from "The Journal of the Union Mission," Chapman's hand written journal sold to the Oklahoma Historical Society by the grandaughter of one of the original Union Mission family members in 1920. Epaphras Chapman is ripe for a modern scholar to write a biography of his life. Chapman died of typhoid fever just five years after arriving in Oklahoma. His wife placed a tombstone at his grave, located on a hill just to the west of the Mission, with these words at the base.

Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth

This quotation from Psalm 96:10 is one of my favorites. As I sat beside the Union Mission grave of Epaphras Chapman, a missionary who died almost 200 years ago, I couldn't help but consider how his life should put all our lives in perspective. We live in an age when people are fearful about the future. There are unknowns out there for all of us. We don't know if we are secure in our jobs. We don't know if we have enough for retirement. We don't know if the world will be at peace or at war. There are a great deal of dark places around the next bend for all of us. But nothing we face could be as difficult as what Epaphras Chapman confronted as he fulfilled his calling of taking the gospel to the Osage Indians.

As I stood near the western bank of the Neosha River last Saturday, reflecting on the life and ministry of Epaphras Chapman, I picked up a small rock near his tombstone which was in the shape of a mountain. I cleaned it of its dirt and took a permanent marker and wrote Psalm 96:10 on the rock. I then drove back west to Oklahoma City and went to visit our eleven year old church member who is fighting the neurological disease that has the potential to paralyze his limbs and shut down his vital organs if not arrested. I told the young man about Epaphras Chapman and then gave him the stone from the Union Mission site and told him the following:

The next time you find yourself afraid of what may be around the bend; the next time you feel a twinge of anxiety over the unknown that is just ahead; I want you to remember Epaphras Chapman. He, like you, had a great deal of obstacles to overcome. He, like you, faced a number of unknowns. He, like you, found himself needing to completely trust in His God. In the end, the life of Epaphras Chapman influenced an untold number of people in the state we now call Oklahoma for Christ. His sole purpose in life, as well as in death, was to say among the nations that the Lord reigns. My prayer for you is that your life may reflect the same truth - our God reigns.

I don't know how much of an impact my words may have had on an eleven year old boy, but as I left, I turned back to see a few tears and the young boy's hand clutching the Union Mission rock. I left the hospital thanking my God for men like Epaphras Chapman who can inspire Christian people nearly 200 years after his death.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Anonymous said...

Song of Praise
1 Chr. 16.23-33
1 O sing unto the LORD a new song:
sing unto the LORD, all the earth.

2 Sing unto the LORD, bless his name;
show forth his salvation from day to day.

3 Declare his glory among the heathen,
his wonders among all people.

4 For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised:
he is to be feared above all gods.

5 For all the gods of the nations are idols:
but the LORD made the heavens.

6 Honor and majesty are before him:
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7 Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people,
give unto the LORD glory and strength.

8 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name:
bring an offering, and come into his courts.

9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: Ps. 29.1, 2
fear before him, all the earth.

10 Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth:
the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved:
he shall judge the people righteously.

11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein:
then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice

13 before the LORD: for he cometh,
for he cometh to judge the earth:
he shall judge the world with righteousness,
and the people with his truth.

Anonymous said...

Another version of this beautiful Psalm is in
First Chronicles 16:23-33

"23 Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.

24 Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.

25 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.

26 For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.

27 Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place.

28 Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.

29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

30 Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.

31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth.

32 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein.

33 Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth.


Thank you, Wade,
for sharing your day with the Lord,
and with the holy places where the Osage were taught of Christ,
and with the family who is so much in need of your loving-kindness, and with all of us here.

I will pray the Psalms for this sick child and his family. L's

Anonymous said...

I will pray for this boy.

I don't want to give false hope, but I survived and recovered from Guillian-Barre syndrome, and as far as I can tell have no lasting effects from it.


Anonymous said...

I have a copy of a book about Isaac McCoy's missions. I have been astonished how little historic testimony is given in regards to missions towards Native Americans in the past. The mission organization Ameri-tribe mentions how much help is still needed in this area.
Somewhere west of Enid

Anonymous said...

Similar little-known story of former senior pastor of the church I serve:

"Yeah!" for missionaries!


Anonymous said...

Link didn't copy/paste completely.

Type pioneer_preacher.pdf at the end of the link copied.


Anonymous said...


You said, “I don't know how much of an impact my words may have had on an eleven year old boy?” I will say this story had a big impact on me. I love History especially about the early Christian who spread the Word a cross this country. I will be praying for God healing of the young boy.

Thanks for sharing your Saturday with me.


WatchingHISstory said...


May I be the first real person to comment to your post.

I have had Ps 37:1 on my mind how would this verse relate to your topic, "Say Among the Heathen that the Lord Reigneth."

Anonymous said...

So L's, Susie, David and Art are not real people?

Little Mary Sunshine

Anonymous said...

If Mr and Mrs Sunshine named you Little Mary then you must be real even though you are anonymous.

Anonymous said...


I am of the Baptist profession of "particular redemption" without the free offer to all. (I attend SBC, FBC, here in Collierville, TN)Can I contribute to discussion here without ridicule of my character?

I can say "the Lord reigneth amoung the heathen" without a free offer of Christ.
In fact not a day goes by that I don't (following your lead of tooting your own horn as a pastor toward a young lad) I too minister as a witness unto Christ without trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit in applying the will of the Father. In fact my toot in my Bible Fellowship class is "I witness more than you all."

Yet here I am a Baptist of the particular redemptive persuasion. I am not hyper-but very Biblical in my belief!

Anonymous said...

Prayer for the Sick

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.

Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ.
Rest your weary ones.

St. Augustine

Anonymous said...

I'm real--for real!



Anonymous said...


Variation of the Jesus Prayer for Healing (Anglican Prayer)

Glory to God, source of all being, eternal word and Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever. Amen

Blessed are you Lord God, King of the universe who heals sick and broken hearted.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts;
The whole earth is full of your Glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God;
Let your healing flow down upon us.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts;
The whole earth is full of your Glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God;
Let your healing spring up within us.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts;
The whole earth is full of your Glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God;
Let your healing love enfold me.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts;
The whole earth is full of your Glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God;
Let your healing power flow through us.

Blessed are you Lord God, King of the universe who heals sick and broken hearted.

Glory to God, source of all being, eternal word and Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now,
and ever shall be.

Anonymous said...

for the sick child.

"Since at least the sixth century, a prayer that has had an important role in the history of Christian Worship is "The Jesus Prayer."

Though the Jesus Prayer has been used for centuries in the east by orthodox churches;
for many, the first exposure to the Jesus Prayer came from Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger:
"... if you keep saying that prayer over and over again, you only have to just do it with your lips at first - then eventually what happens, the prayer becomes self- active. Something happens after a while. I don't know what but something happens, the words get synchronized with the person's heart-beats,"

and then you're actually praying without ceasing. The prayer has one aim, and one aim only: to endow the person who says it with Christ-Consciousness."

There are many forms of the Jesus Prayer, but the most common is:


Though the Jesus Prayer is simple it is rich with meaning. To ask God to have mercy on us is to ask for loving-kindness.
Mercy is comprised of compassion, charity, clemency, loving-kindness and grace.
Compassion that forebears punishing even when justice demands it;
Charity stresses benevolence and goodwill;
Clemency implies a mild disposition in one having the power to punish;
Grace implies a willingness to grant favors and meet one's needs.

When we pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray to Jesus Our savior and Christ the Anointed King. In calling Him 'Lord', we acknowledge Him as our King and our Savior.


'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner '

'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.'

'Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.'

'Lord Jesus, have mercy.'

The Jesus prayer could actually be expressed in one word: JESUS
It is reverence for the Name coupled with an intent to seek God's mercy that is the foundation of the Jesus Prayer.
Whatever the form, the Jesus prayer is actually a prayer from the heart of the person praying the prayer to the Heart of God.

We ask for God's mercy - his compassion, charity, clemency, and grace."

Anonymous said...


"Jesus, during His life on earth, not only had a special love for children and for those who are ill or disabled.

He even identified Himself with them when He said:
"I was sick and you visited Me . . .
as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me" (Matth. 25, 36. 40).

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this story with us, and reminding us how truly spoiled we are. Here is a group of believers who had nothing except the presence of God with them, going to do God's work. And I look at us, especially in the SBC, who would rather spend our time doing politics, grabbing perceived power, and generally complaining about everything and everyone who is 'not like us'. Even with all the problems we may face in our country and our world, it was nothing like this group of people. I pray that God would give us a vision for Him so that we can grow up and rely on Him, not on our economy, our wealth, our country, or anything else we have turned into idols. And please tell the family that I am praying for them and their son.

Anonymous said...

For the child: the Mi Sheberakh

The prayer in English translation from the Hebrew:

May the One who blessed our ancestors --

Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,

Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah --

bless and heal the one who is ill

May the Holy Blessed One

overflow with compassion upon him,

to restore him,

to heal him,

to strengthen him,

to enliven him.

The One will send him, speedily,

a complete healing --

healing of the soul and healing of the body --

along with all the ill,

among the people of Israel and all humankind,



without delay,

and let us all say: Amen!

Anonymous said...


Prayers are now being said in my church, in a convent, and in a synogogue for this sick boy's recovery.
Let all Christians who blog here stop for a while and remember this child and his parents in prayer, in the Name of the Lord. L's

P.S. I don't know the
child's name, but,
in prayer, I call the boy
"a lamb of Wade's flock"
whose members are all under
the protection of Christ,
The Good Shepherd.
Please pray for this child and his parents. They need God's Peace.

Monte Erwin said...


That was awesome. I read with tremendous interest--being from Oklahoma, and having been a missionary. What a precious gift of truth and meaning you handed off to the boy and his family. It most likely meant more than you will ever know. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

becca said...

thank you for that story. I love history, and of course it made me tear up. I will pray for this boy.
Thanks for visiting my blog :)

Ramesh said...

Google Map Directions from Enid to Union Mission Site

You can explore the map further from here. I think I am fairly close to where the Union Mission was setup.

WatchingHISstory said...

Once a month our Bible Fellowship class joins with another class and some folks in Arkansas to feed the homeless at Union Mission here in Memphis, Tennessee. other churches participate as well at different days.

There doesn't seem to be a connection just the same name. I throughly enjoy going down there. We serve food then participate in a worship service.

Anonymous said...


Chronicles of Oklahoma
Vol. 2, Part 1


"That summer there came west two missionaries for the purpose of selecting a site for a mission among the Osage of Clermont's bond. Rev. Mr. Epaphras Chapman and Mr. Vinall of Connecticut ascended the Arkansas as far as Fort Smith where they were both detained by illness and the latter died. Mr. Chapman then continued and with the assistance of Nathaniel Pryor in securing the sanction of the Osage, selected a place for the mission on Grand River southeast of the present town of Pryor. Work was begun on the buildings the next year and the missionary family arrived at their new home on February 18, 1821, after a journey from the east of ten months."

Anonymous said...



It is a 9 year old boy who God told to build a church. He was saving his money TO BUILD and died suddenly of an aneurysm.

darrell treat

Ramesh said...

Mackintyre Kindol McDill-Garton
August 21, 1999 - September 12, 2008
Lathrop, Missouri

Anonymous said...

This story reminds me how most of us like to claim we walk by faith but in fact we like to walk by sight and just make the faith claim.

Walking by faith means we do not know what is ahead yet we go forward in the expectation that Father's love and grace will embrace us no matter what may be next.

May his grace extend to growing our faith walking. God made me blind, now I can see.

Anonymous said...

TRAVELLER said, 'God made me blind, now I can see.'

Praise His Holy Name.