On the accidental missionary

Matt Busby Andrews tells the origin story of Daniel Matthews.



Matt Busby Andrews tells the origin story of Daniel Matthews.


Daniel Matthews was motivated by love. But not the kind of abstract love; he loved adventure, and he loved people. He went to one of the last – probably the last corroboree in the south-west of Australia, which was in 1859. And he loved fishing with the guys, and he loved hunting with the guys; he loved good company, he loved learning language. You know, he’s a frontiersman.

He fell heavily in love with a woman 11 years his junior, very pretty. Her name was Janet. And I’ve read and held the love letters between them; they’re held in the Norman Collection in the State Library of South Australia in Adelaide. And the love is there, you can see it; but the plan is not. He falls heavily for this girl. She’s very clear-minded about becoming a missionary in China, and as the letters unfold he just, to my mind, makes up this vocation that he also has calling to be a missionary, but to Aborigines. And she says, “Really? Where’s it going to be?” And he says, “Well, it’s going to be … on my land; that’s where it’s going to be. And it’s coming together really well, and you’re going to be a part of it.”

I never got the sense that he had a calling from God, not audibly or anything like that. It really comes out of love. He loved Indigenous people, he loved Janet, and he loved the gospel.