Legends, The Barley Five
Mothers day_five barley loaves
132 years ago in 1885 Silas Mead, first pastor of Flinders Street Baptist Church in Adelaide, preached from John 6 on feeding the 5000 and likened the first missionaries they were sending to the ‘five barley loaves’.
The implication being that the work these five women were about to undertake in Bengal (Bangladesh) would be one where they were few among many. As Mead finished his message regarding the women, “What are so few among so many?”
These five women, who seemed so insignificant for the challenge of mission among millions of Bengalis, were the start of the global mission sending of Australian Baptists.
Ellen Arnold and Marie Gilbert were the pioneers who left in 1882 PPT map
The “barley loaves” went to Bengal at the end of 1885. (Kolkata – Calcutta)
Silas Mead became recognised as the father of the Australian Baptist missionary movement. In 1873 Mead believed that:
Nine out of ten persons living in these colonies are already acquainted with the truths of the Gospel.
The dispatch of fifty Christian men from other colonies… would not in the long run materially diminish the total amount of spiritual agency put forth here, and any gaps temporarily caused would be speedily filled up.
In 1880 Ellen Arnold heard Punchanon Biswas, the first convert of Furreedpore Mission, speak in Adelaide. In his final address he said, ‘Respected mothers and dear sisters, do not forget the souls of thousands of your own sex who are perishing for want of the bread of life.’
She would go on to serve for 49 years, the longest serving of any Australian Baptist missionary…