Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mary Slessor

was a Presbyterian missionary, responsible for spreading Christianity in Nigeria and ending many horrific practices among several tribes including infanticide and human sacrifice.

Born in Scotland in 1848, she was the daughter of a shoemaker and the second of seven children. Sadly, only Mary and her sister survived to adulthood. Her father was an alcoholic and was rarely sober, which led Mary to become the families sole bread winner by working in the local cotton mills of Dundee.

After her father's death, Mary returned to persuing her dream of becoming a missionary in Africa and following in the footsteps of David Livingstone the famous Scottish medical missionary....."Dr. Livingstone, I presume?". Mary began her training and a year later she was on her way to Calabar in modern day Nigeria. She lived in a missionary compound for 3 years. Within her first three years, she had come to realize that ministering to the people of Calabar wasn't going to be easy She had personally visited some tribes and people,and quickly grew to know how real their fears of evil spirits are. While she was there,the worst thing that could happen to her happened: malaria. She wanted to go deeper into Calabar,but the malaria forced her to go home and recover. She was in Scotland for 16 months before heading back to Africa.

To her delight,she did not go back to the compound,but 3 miles further into Calabar, to Old Town. With her pale skin,red hair,and blue eyes,it's no doubt she stuck out. It took some time for the villagers to get used to her,but soon they were calling her “ White Ma” (in Swahili it is “nyeupe ma”). In this place, human life wasn't valued much at all,she was finding unwanted babies on her doorsteps. Her cue to save someone was “kukimbia ma! kukimbia!” (Run Ma! Run!). She had even adopted children for herself. She once saved a pair of twins,a boy and a girl,from being killed because twins being born was considered a curse in this culture. But the family had tricked one of the helper girls into letting them “borrow the male child.” Once they had him,they ran off and killed him. Mary was devastated,but took the girl as her “daughter” and called her Janie.

She saved hundreds of twins out of forests,where they were left either to starve to death or get eaten by wild animals and prevented dozens,maybe even hundreds of wars,helped heal the sick,and stopped the practice of determining guilt by making the suspects drink poison. She went to other tribes, spreading the word of Jesus wherever and whenever she could. While in Africa,she received news that her mother and sister had died. She was overcome with loneliness. She wrote,”There is no one to write and tell my stories and nonsense to.” She had also found a sense of writing,”Heaven is now nearer to me then Britain,and no one will worry about me if I go up country.”

In August of 1888, she went up country to Okoyong, an area where missionaries were previously killed, but Mary was sure that her teachings, and the fact that she was a woman, would be less threatening to unreached tribes than male missionaries had been. For 15 years, she stayed with the Okoyong. She was a peacemaker and a nurse. She died when she was 66.

Propers for Mary Slessor - Missionary

The Collect.

Almighty God, who willest to be glorified in thy saints, and didst raise up thy servant Mary Slessor to be a light in the world: Shine, we pray thee, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth thy praise, who hast called us out of darkness into thy marvellous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Lesson - Isaiah 49:1-6

The Holy Gospel - St. Luke 10:1-9


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