Henry Opukahaia (d.1818), was the first Hawaiian convert to Christianity. Orphaned at age 10, he was raised by his uncle to be a pagan priest (kahuna) of the Hawaiian religion. He grew disillusioned with the rituals and chants, and left on an American ship bound for New England with his Hawaiian friend, Thomas Hopu. There he was befriended by students and professors of Yale College and soon became a Christian. He studied Greek and Hebrew and translated sections of the Bible into the Hawaiian language. In his memoirs, which sold 500,000 copies after his death, Henry Opukahaia wrote:
"My poor countrymen, without knowledge of the true God, and ignorant of the future world, have no Bible to read, no Sabbath..." - In his memoirs. "Hawaii's Heroes of Faith" University of the Nations (Hawaii: Youth With a Mission Newsletter).
His friend, Thomas Hopu, and a small group of New Englanders launched the first missionary venture to the islands in 1820.