Headed for China but Dies in Africa Pt. #1
Philippians 3:13-14 (KJV), “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
As a surgeon carefully selects the instruments with which he works, so it is ever with the divine Physician; and though David Livingstone was anxious to enter his chosen field, Providence led him to tarry for a little while in preparation. During this time of waiting he put into practice the motto which in later life he gave to the pupils in a Sunday-school, "Trust God and work hard."
Having set his face toward China, he had no notion of turning back in the face of difficulties, and finally, after four years of untiring effort, he earned in 1840 a medical diploma, thus equipping himself with a training indispensable for one whose life was to be hidden for years in the fever jungles of Africa. He wrote, "With unfeigned delight I became a member of a profession which with unwearied energy pursues from age to age its endeavors to lessen human woe."
Livingstone also secured the necessary theological training, and was duly accepted by the London Missionary Society as a candidate for China. But the breaking out of the Opium war effectually closed the doors of that field. Just at this time came his providential acquaintance with Robert Moffat. The missionary was home on a furlough, and at a meeting which the young physician attended, stated that sometimes he had seen in the morning sunlight the smoke of a thousand villages in the Dark Continent where no missionary had ever been to tell the sweet old story of redeeming love. This message came to Livingstone as a Macedonian cry, and he willingly answered, "Here am I; send me." The purpose once formed, he never swerved from it.
The change of fields caused some alteration in his plans, and he remained for a time in England, further preparing for his mission with scrupulous care. On Nov. 17, 1840, Dr. Livingstone spent the last evening with his loved ones in the humble Blantyre home, going at once to London, where he was ordained as a missionary. He sailed for the Cape of Good Hope on the eighth of December.
After arriving in Africa, the new recruit immediately turned his steps toward the interior, where there were real things to do. After a brief stop at Kuruman, the home of the Moffats, he spent six months alone among the Bakwains, acquainting himself with their language, laws, and customs. In that time he gained not only these points, but the good will and affection of the natives as well. His door of opportunity had opened, and from the Bakwains he pressed farther north, until, within the first three years of his service in the Dark Continent, he was giving the gospel to heathens far beyond any point before visited by white men.
Both Livingstone and his wife learned early the secret of power that comes from living with the heathen, rather than merely living among them. He possessed a certain indefinable power of discipline over the native mind, which made for orderly, thorough, and effective service. The natives knew him as their friend as well as their teacher. Under his loving care, heathen chiefs became Christian leaders of their own people; Christian customs replaced heathen practices; and peace settled down where trouble had been rampant.
Continued next week