December 1st marked the 137th anniversary of the death of Titus Coan. “Who is that” you wonder? Titus Coan pastored on the Big Island from around 1836 until his death in 1881. God worked through him, along with others, to bring about an incredible gospel work that resulted in Coan pastoring the largest church in the world at the time in Hilo. It’s membership was estimated to be more than 13,000 on the Big Island! That’s even more startling considering there was only an estimated population of 16,000. Lest one thinks they just swelled the numbers, prospects for membership were said to undergo rigorous examination and had to give evidence of a transformed life over a period of time BEFORE being admitted into baptism and church membership.
Titus’ ministry was breath-taking in scope. He spent significant time learning the language and preached his sermons in Hawaiian. Additionally, he was known to WALK or paddle to the various districts of Big Island, personally speaking with every person he could, sharing the gospel, and logging detailed notes in his notebook so that he could pray specifically and follow-up. God blessed his ministry and the impact of that spiritual awakening in Hawaii remains to this day.
Titus suffered a stroke in September of 1881 that signaled the final lap of his race had begun. By all accounts he finished well. Someone asked Coan if he had any fears as death approached. He answered, “When I look at myself, I see no reason why I should be in heaven; when I look at Jesus, I see such a Savior I have no fears, not one, not one.”
On the morning of December 1, 1881, Coan breathed his last, completely resting in the arms of his Savior. Today, 137 years later, that gospel work continues to ring out in the islands to the praise and honor of King Jesus.
As Coan was lowered to his final resting place, the saints around sang together the lines of this hymn: “Asleep in Jesus, blessed sleep, from which none ever wake to weep…” And so it is for all who turn and place their faith in Jesus. Looking only to our selves, there is NO reason we should be in heaven; but looking to Him, truly we have no reason to fear.
Will you look to Jesus this Christmas? Will you lead your family and friends to do the same? We pray you have and you will.