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Missions: March 6, 2004

David Livingstone on Sacrifice

For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice

Statement by african missionary David Livingstone, Cambridge University, December 4, 1857.

LIVINGSTONE, DAVID: Explorer and missionary in Africa, was born at Blantyre (8 m. s.e. of Glasgow) Mar. 19, 1813, and died in Ilala, Central Africa, May 1, 1873.

Early Life and Education. He grew up amid the austere Scotch piety of his home, with very limited schooling. At ten he went to work in a cotton factory, and formed the habit of putting most of his earnings into the acquisition of books (a Latin grammar, works on natural sciene, etc.), which he studied far into the night. His studies were so successful that in 1830 he was able to enter the University of Glasgow, with the object of studying medicine, supporting himself by factory work in the summer months. To this period belongs his awakening to personal Christianity. He describes his inner transformation as being similar to the curing of color-blindness. His desire to serve the kingdom of God was directed by an appeal of G?f's toward the mission in China. He began to study theology with the design of going to China as an independent missionary. Some friends, however, induced him to join an organized mission. In 1838 he entered the service of the London Missionary Society, at whose expense he continued his studies. When these were completed, his proposed expedition to China was prevented by the outbreak of the Opium War. Through the influence of Robert Moffat, then in England, his thoughts were turned to South Africa, for which he was duly commissioned on Dec. 8, 1840.

Early Missionary Labors. At Moffat's station, Kuruman, Livingstone was to learn the language of the Bechuana people. While astonished at the results already achieved there, he was obliged to modify his earlier conceptions. In many particulars he was not in harmony with the existing methods. Before long his characteristic impulse to go further manifested itself. A few months after his arrival he made a journey of over 700 miles, winning the confidence of the natives wherever he went by his medical activity. Upon Moffat's return with the young missionary Edwards, Livingstone migrated with the latter to the Ba-katla tribe. Here, with great practical efficiency, he organized the Mabotsa station, to which in 1843 he brought Moffat's daughter as his wife. On account of difficulties arising apparently out of the wounded vanity of his colleague, who even brought charges against him before the missionary board of directors, Livingstone proceeded in 1846 to the country of the Bakwena, deserting the house and plantations at Mabotsa. He now founded a station on the river Kolobe�� which Setshele, the chieftain, transferred his capital. This chief, who had known Livingstone since his first journey, was deeply impressed by his teaching, and when he made up his mind to abandon polygamy he was baptized.. Unfortunately, but few of his subjects followed him. Concerning Livingstone's personal missionary labors at this period little is known, as his diaries have been lost. Since he refused to take in any but true believers, the congregation remained very small. He himself seems to have been far from satisfied with his labors here, which would never have made him famous.

His great nature impelled him onward. There was no rest for him at Kolobe��t the coat of laborious journeys, he was continually seeking new tribes. The immediate occasion was furnished by the destruction of his station by the Boers, who, having retreated before the English power into the interior, kept a sharp watch to prevent the natives from obtaining firearms, while Livingstone, a thorough free-trader, paid no attention to their wishes. So when Setshele failed to comply with the demand of the Boers that he should suppress this traffic in his tribe, a retaliatory expedition was undertaken against his capital, in which the mission station was destroyed. At the time Livingstone with his wife and child was on the journey in course of which he discovered Lake Ngami, and was paving the way by his acquaintance with Sebituane, chief of the Makololo, toward wider enterprises.

Posted by tim at March 6, 2004 5:15 PM

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