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A Living Stone Set in Africa
June 7, 2004
Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,
Our mandate as we go to Africa is to break the strongholds of the curse, deliver the word of the Lord to Africa, and pray the prayers of David Livingstone. I believe that God desires to answer those prayers now, but who is this man, David Livingstone? And isnít his name interesting?
To Christians, David Livingstone is known primarily as a missionary. To others he is known also as a doctor, explorer, scientist, and anti-slavery activist. To nearly all, he is known as the man Henry Stanley encountered with his famous greeting, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" (Henry Stanley had been sent by the New York Herald Tribune in 1870 to find Livingstone, an assignment which took a year to fulfill.)
Born on March 13, 1813, in Blantyre, Scotland to devout Christian parents, DL grew up in austerity with limited schooling and hard conditions. At ten he began working in a cotton factory from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. six days a week, walking back and forth from home, and trying to attain some learning into the nighttime hours. He did this until age 20. A breakthrough came into his life with Christ, but he felt unworthy until he read John 14.16, 17, where Jesus promises the Holy Spirit as the paraclete and Spirit of Truth. DL came to realize that the Spirit of God dwelled in him, was with him, and desired to work through him. Livingstone engaged the love of God.
DL taught himself Latin, botany, math, and theology. He chose to study medicine and combine it with Christian foreign missionary workóa novel idea for the time. By 27 he was a licensed surgeon. His iron-will determination overcame much rejection. He was accepted by the London Missionary Society and decided to go to Africa, a place with no Christian presence.
The slave trade was a hot issue. Britain had abolished slavery throughout the empire, but other nations continued in it. DL, influenced by Robert Moffat, came to believe that Africans would continue to sell their own into slavery until brought to Christ and until accepting legitimate commercial business via produce and products instead of dealing in people. He sought trade routes for missions, evangelism, exploration, and emancipation.
DL wrote his parents, "I am a missionary, heart and soul. God had an only son and he was a missionary and physician. A poor, poor imitation of him I am or wish to be. In this service I wish to live. In it I wish to die." God honored that. DL discovered that the Holy Spirit calls and equips believers for fulfilling their individual parts of the grand scheme of Godís plan and that this same Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ, whom believers are called to imitate.
DL traveled 29,000 miles in Africa, keeping journals and valuable notes. He discovered many famous lakes, the Zambesi and other rivers, and was the first white man to see Victoria Falls. His harsh upbringing proved foundational to his ability to cope with the difficulties of travel in the jungles and to having a quick understanding and sympathy for native Africans. He encountered a lion once, shot him, but the wounded lion sprang up to shake DL. With his left arm crushed to the bone, DL lost the use of that arm for the rest of his life.
That didnít stop him, though. He kept on, declaring one time, "I will open a path into the interior or perish." With 27 Makololo men on loan from Chief Sekeletu, he trekked some 1,500 miles of jungle in 1853/4. Sickness, hunger, swamps, and hostile tribes left him broken in health, but DL remained loyal to the Africans and guided them to safety. He turned down an opportunity to return to England.
Sorrow, discouragement, and failed attempts served only to be the guiding hand of God. In 1855, DL reached Lake Nyasson on August 8 and began journeying north toward Lake Tanganyika. He wrote, "O Jesus, grant me resignation to Thy will, and entire reliance on Thy powerful handÖThe cause is Thine. What an impulse will be given to the idea that Africa is not open if I perish now!Ö"
DL did something no one else had ever done. He had crossed the entire African Continent from west to east. He returned to England where his feats brought him undesired acclaim, but God used it for good. DL was appointed Consul for the East Coast of Africa and could have anything he wanted or needed. With government salary and supplies, he set out for Africa again in 1858. What followed, however, were more reversals, shattered dreams, loss of family members, and much personal grief. At one point, the Portuguese used lying and trickery to obtain even more slaves, using DLís name as a ploy to deceive Africans into giving up their children.
At one time DL wrote, "Future missionaries will see conversions, and follow every sermon. We prepare the way for them. May they not forget the pioneers who worked in the thick gloom with few cheering rays. We work for a glorious future which we are not destined to see. We are only morning stars shining in the dark, but the glorious morn will break. Our duty is onward, onward proclaiming Godís word, whether men will hear or whether they will forebear."
During his travels, DL confronted the horrors and brutality of slave trading. Stronger African tribes brutalized weaker ones, attacking, murdering, and capturing people only to manacle them like animals and march them around for days without food or water. DL wrote, "One woman had her infantís brains knocked out because she could not carry her load and her child. A man was killed with an ax because he had broken down with tiredness." Each incident entrenched DLís resolve to eradicate this gaping wound of humanity.
Nothing staggered him, though tragedies befell him one after another. On one occasion DL arrived at a location expecting mail and medicine, but the medicine had been sold and the letters destroyed or sold by Arab traders. Yet Henry Stanley stayed the course to find DL and succeeded in bringing a supply of food and the mail. DLís trusted aides also included Jacob Wainright, Susi, and Chumah. When DL grew too weak to travel, Susi carried him on his shoulders. Plagued by dysentery, DL continued mapping to within a day of his death.
At the end, he came to Chitambo, a village in Itala where a hut was built for him. His last written words by letter were: "All I can say in my solitude is, may Heavenís rich blessing come down on every oneóAmerican, English, Turkówho will help heal this open sore of the world."
On May 1, 1873, DLís African friends heard a thud. David Livingstone had been praying by his bed. He was found dead on his knees in the hut. His heart was removed and buried at the foot of a mulva tree. Wainright spoke and a wood monument was erected. DLís body was embalmed by filling it with salt and leaving it in the sun to dry for 14 days. Then the body was wrapped in cloth and enclosed in the bark of a Myonga tree and heavy sail cloth. Two men carried the body on a long pole 1,000 miles to Zanzibar, a trip that took nine months. The British Consul received the body in February, 1874, and carried it back to England. Controversy ensued over its legitimacy, but the mangled left arm left no doubt.
On April 18, 1874, David Livingstone was buried in Westminster Abbey. At his funeral were his then living children, Susi, Henry Stanley, and the aged Robert Moffat. He is the only pauper buried there.
David Livingstone recognized that his life served Christ in a manifold way. He served the cause the Christ, whether he was delivering a sermon, exploring and mapping, doctoring, and/or informing the outer world of the atrocities of the slave trade in Africa. He led almost no one to Christ, only a handful of people. Many Christians back home criticized him for this. "Where are the results? Where is the fruit?" DL answered his critics with "My views of what is missionary duty are not so contracted as those whose ideal is a dumpy sort of man with a Bible under his arm. I have labored in bricks and mortar at the forge and carpenterís bench, as well as in preaching and in medical practice. I feel that I am not my own. I am serving Christ when shooting a buffalo for my men, or taking an astronomical observationÖand after having, by Godís help, gotten information which I hope will lead to more abundant blessings being bestowed on Africa than heretofore."
God used the troubles of life to shape and mold David Livingstone into the image of Christ. He wasnít always saintly. Some found him difficult, a loner, aloof and stern. He had little patience with othersí weaknesses, and especially with Europeans who lacked his fortitude. It was hard for him to forgive those who failed his expectations. But he was a courageous and uncomplaining pioneer, even when critical and tough minded. He was harder on himself than on any other. He prayed to be better, more gentle and loving. He prayed for his sins to be blotted out. He prayed, "May he who is full of grace and truth impress his character on mine." In the end, he had grown quiet and gentle as the Holy Spirit moved in answer to his prayers.
Iíve been reading a book lately by John Piper. Itís called, Donít Waste Your Life. Itís about living for the glory of God. Christians of DLís day largely judged David Livingstoneís work a failure. God does not. DL didnít waste his life. He lived it for the glory of God and for the good of Godís people. God filled him with His presence and equipped and directed him for His purpose. God molded him and made him into a person useful to His plans. Isnít that what we want?
August 4-12 an MCM mission team will be heading to Livingstone, Zambia and Zimbabwe to carry the anointing and gospel of grace to the peoples there and to call the people to repentance and resurrection. In addition to strategic spiritual warfare, we will be ministering to the Ebenezer Childcare Trust, an orphanage housing and caring for 54 orphans inside and 48 orphans still living on the streets. We need sponsors. Will you be one?
By His grace,
P.S. You can now find us using www.craighouse.org in addition to www.marycraig.org for the latest events, updates, articles, and map to Craighouse®. In the area? Worship with us at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060.
"Lord, send me anywhere; only go with me.
Lay any burden on me; only sustain me.
Sever any tie but the tie that binds me to Thy service
And Thy heart. My Jesus, my King, my life, my all,
I again consecrate my life to Thee."
You also as living stones are built up a spiritual house,
A holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices,
Acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2.5)
To support the MCM mission to Africa and/or the Ebenezer orphanage in Zambia, click here for where to mail donations. If you would like more information, please contact Mary at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2004 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.
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