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Captain Jack Radley and the Heyday of the Fleet

The story of Adventist mission boats in the south seas

BY Rose-Marie Radley

Since the earliest days of Adventist mission, reaching the people of the South Pacific has offered unique challenges. Vast oceans, remote islands and hostile populations, limited communications, and the ever-present risks of tropical storms and diseases rendered this a region in which the gospel would only spread with long-term commitment. Generations of expatriate and then local missionaries faithfully took up this challenge—supported by a growing fleet of mission boats of many shapes and sizes. 

A self-taught engineer, ship’s captain and navigator, Jack Radley was one of the dominant figures in the development and heyday of the fleet, demonstrating the pioneering spirit that saw the Adventist church established and growing in these island nations, as well as contributing to the medical and economic development of the region. As such, this carefully researched history of Adventist mission boats is also the story of the people who sailed them and the international church they helped build. 

 “These stories fill a gap in the story of Adventist mission in the Pacific islands, remind us of the commitment of our sea-faring pioneers, and challenge us to re-examine how we can be involved in mission.” –Graeme Humble, Director of Adventist Mission, South Pacific Division 

Rose-Marie Radley experienced much of the history in this book as the daughter of Jack Radley, sailing with him on the Ambon around the South Pacific as a teenager. After training as a nurse, she served in Adventist hospitals in Taiwan and Hong Kong, before taking up the position of Director of Nursing at Sydney Adventist Hospital. In retirement, she still lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


Publisher: Signs Publishing

ISBN: 9781925044805

Format: Paperback

STATUS: Available

Customer Reviews

An interesting piece of mission history. There is yet another chapter of this book that would offer another perspective to that covered in this story. Indeed, it could well be documented as another story altogether - An islander perspective to the history of the amazing work of the mission. It would seem, there is so much more to this story left to be told.
[ Bookshelf Review ]
In 1944, Pacific Press—one of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s publishing houses in North America—wrote to Captain Jack Radley, expressing their interest in publishing a book of his missionary stories, particularly around his service as a medical boat captain in Papua New Guinea during World War II. Of course, his mission service was much longer than the war years, extending from 1917 to his retirement in 1955, which spans the heyday of the Adventist mission fleet. He always intended to write a book, but this was not something he had achieved before his death in 1968.
Some 74 years after that fi rst request, Captain Jack Radley and the Heyday of the Fleet includes these stories, as well as the author’s memories of her experiences as a teenager sailing with her father around the islands of the Pacific on the Ambon and growing up as a missionary kid in old Rabaul. Assisted by careful research into the church’s history in our region, this new book is also a comprehensive survey of the history and significance of mission boats in the growth and development of the Adventist Church in the South Pacific—from the earliest missionary efforts launched from California to the boats that are still in service today. As a valuable work of church history, Signs Publishing has been pleased to partner with Avondale Academic Press to publish this new book.
With the passing of time, people who can re-tell the stories of mission 74 years ago are becoming less common, which is why books like Captain Jack Radley and the Heyday of the Fleet are so important. And even more so, as we allow the service, sacrifice and sense of mission demonstrated by our previous generations to inspire our continuing and faithful mission in our communities, our region and our world today.

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