did not wait till the world was ready,
men and nations were at peace.
came when the Heavens were unsteady,
prisoners cried out for release.
did not wait for the perfect time.
came when the need was deep and great.
dined with sinners in all their grime,
water into wine. He did not wait
hearts were pure. In joy He came
a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
a world like ours, of anguished shame
came, and His Light would not go out.
came to a world which did not mesh,
heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
the mystery of the Word made Flesh
Maker of the stars was born.
cannot wait till the world is sane
raise our songs with joyful voice,
to share our grief, to touch our pain,
came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
Dear Reader: This
biography is shared with the conviction that it will not be an imposition on
your time. Rather, you will find that
reading it will enrich your soul and remind you that true greatness in living
is grounded in faith, prayer, and service to others. Our contemporary world
has few equals. No
wonder that when it came time to bring him home to England, his final resting
place would be in Westminster Abbey....A. C. Gray
sketches tell us that when David
Livingstone walked into any university in the British Isles, students and
faculty would rise to a standing ovation because they knew they were standing
in the presence of a giant of a man.”
The Life of David
Narrated biography by
Ravi Zacharias in his sermon “A Fish out of Water.’
David Livingstone was born in Blantyre,
1813. He was born into a home where his father used to put him on his knees and
read to him stories of great missionary exploits, particularly that of Karl
Gützlaff, the Dutch missionary who doubled up as a medical missionary too.
Young David used to look into his father’s eyes and say, “You know, daddy, one
day I’ll be a man like that. I want to be a missionary. I want to be a doctor. I want to serve God.”
David Livingstone got to his knees
one day and said
this prayer, “Lord, Send me anywhere,
only go with me. Lay any
burden on me, only sustain me. Sever any ties, but the ties that bind me to
your service and to your heart,” and the words of God came to him “Lo, I am
with you always, even to the very end of the age.”
He packed his bags
and went off to Africa. And when he
took one glimpse of Africa from a distance, he penned in his journal these
words: “The haunting specter of the smoke of a thousand villages in the morning
sun has burned within my heart.”
He married a woman of the famous
Moffat Family – Mary
was her name. Her father was a great missionary. They went to Africa. But David
Livingstone’s life was that of an explorer and he would move from place to
place and his only goal was Jesus in the hearts and lives of men and women – thousands of them.
Finally his wife
and his young family couldn’t keep up
with him anymore. Some of his children were dying out of sickness and disease
so he said to his wife, “Mary, why don’t you take them home, and I will see you
shortly and spend some time with you. It’s too dangerous for us to go on.”
So he sent his dear
wife Mary back home and letters
would take months to exchange, but some of the fondest letters of love and
romance were sent between David and Mary and you know when he saw her the next
time? Not five weeks. Not five months. Five years.
Five years later
when he set eyes upon his wife, she
could not recognize him because at one stage in his jungle travels going to
preach he walked into a branch of a tree that had completely blinded him in one
eye and marred the other. His face had been burned under the African sun to a
crisp of leather and his skin, which had not been pigmented for it, had been
roasted to the point that his body could not take it any longer. His face
marred and scarred and his eye blinded and at one time he had been attacked by
a lion that had torn one of his shoulders apart. He miraculously escaped.
Now she saw her husband
hobbling in with a marred face
and a disfigured physical countenance. Hours before he arrived, they had buried
his father. David wept because he had longed to tell his dad firsthand of the
stories his father had only told him third hand.
Finally he went back
to his wife one day and he said,
“Mary, the haunting specter of the smoke of a thousand villages in the morning
sun is still burning within my heart. We need to go back.” She decided that he
should go – she had to be with the children. She said, “When they are all old
enough I will join you again, David.” And he set off on his lonely journey to
preach to the African people who was so much within his heart.
Finally after a long
time, Mary joined him and the day
she set foot on African soil, she contracted a disease they had so dreaded she
would contract. The very day she set foot on Africa, she got that disease and a
few days later, he was burying her.
Lowered into the
soil of the African earth there, an
eyewitness said David Livingstone knelt beside the grave, weeping his heart
out, and they overheard him praying, “My Jesus, my king, my life, my all, I
again consecrate my life to thee. I shall place no value on anything I possess
or in anything I may do except in relation to thy kingdom and to thy service.”
Through it all came
the words of God to my heart, he
said, “Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”
He picked up his
belongings and walked back to his
hometown village of Ujiji. When he arrived and went into his little home there,
he found that someone had played a cruel joke on him and had stolen his
medication that he so needed because his body was racked with pain, untold
pain. He walked in constant agony. And they said in one of the very few points
in his life, he prayed for himself, he got on his knees and said, “God, you
promised you would always be with me! I need that medication if I am to
continue preaching the gospel!”
As he prayed, he
heard steps, and as the story goes,
he saw a pair of feet planted in front of him and his countenance lifted for
the first time in a long while – he was looking into the face of a white man
who didn’t live in Africa. He said, “Who are you, sir?” And the man replied,
“Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” (Those famous words) He said, “Yes, sir.”
I’m a press reporter, I’ve been
consigned to do a story on your life. I want you to know two things about me.
Number one, I’m the biggest swaggering atheist on the face of the earth. Please
don’t try to convert me. Number two, somebody sent some medication for you.”
David said, “Give
me the medication please.”
So Mr. Henry M. Stanley
started to travel with David
Livingstone. Four months later, the biggest swaggering atheist on the face of
the earth knelt down on African soil and gave his life to Jesus Christ.
One of the best biographies
you’ll ever read on David
Livingstone – two volumes entitled “Livingstone of Africa” by Henry M. Stanley.
Stanley said, “The power of that Christ life was awesome and I had to buckle
in. I could not hold out any longer.”
Finally his body
began to shrivel with high
temperatures and pain (they used to carry him around from village to village on
a stretcher). One day, preaching from a stretcher, literally trembling, he
finally looked at two of his national brothers and said, “Please take me back
home. I am very very ill. I’m very tired, I need some sleep.” They brought him
back to his home and were about to spill him on to the bed when he said, “No,
please help me on to my knees.”
down to his knees by the side of
his bed and clasped his hands and started to pray. His prayers were so
profound, his sanctuary was so unique that his African brothers felt it was
blasphemy to stay in his single union/communion with God and they stepped out
of his little room.
Then somebody came
running and said, “I need to see
Mr. Livingstone for a moment.” They said, “Sshh! Quiet, please. He’s praying.”
Five minutes went by, they looked in. He was still on his knees. Several
minutes more went by, they looked in. He was still on his knees. After a
protracted period of time went by, they looked in. He was still on his knees.
One of them felt
that the man was too tired to
continue to pray. He needed to get some sleep. He walked over to him and one of
them shook him by the shoulders and inquired, “Wana? Wana?”
Livingstone fell over. He was dead.
He died exactly
the way he had lived – in the presence of his Lord.
He didn’t run from His voice. He didn’t wave a lamp
that had no light in it. He didn’t sell a soul for some earthly pleasure. But
the haunting spectre of the smoke of a thousand villages had burned itself
within his heart so that he could say, “My Jesus, my king, my life, my all, I
again consecrate myself to thee.”
biographical info sourced from the internet:
Livingstone died at Ilala southeast of Lake Bangweulu, located in Luapula Province in
present day Zambia, on 1 May 1873 from malaria and internal bleeding
caused by dysentery.
Even in death David Livingstone showed stubborn
determination in the face of suffering, and also what others spoke of him
coupled with loyalty of his servants whose long journey with his body inspired
wonder. Through this he inspired abolitionists of slave trade, explorers and
missionaries. This in return opened the heart of Africa to education and health
for Africans. Over the years Africans have continued to hold him with high
esteem for his faithfulness and dedication to his call. His name and legacy
continues to linger in the mind of many and that is evident even on various
institutions that have been named after him. His life stands as a clear picture
of what Christians may imitate in their obedience to the call of God.
wanted his body returned for a proper ceremony, but the superstitious
tribe at first would not give his body to them. Finally they relented, but cut
the heart out and put a note on the body that said, "You can have his
body, but his heart belongs in Africa!" Livingstone's heart was buried
under a Mvula [wild fruit] tree near the spot where he died. Loyal attendants
Chuma and Susi carried his body, together with his journal, over a thousand
miles wrapped in sailcloth and in a bark cylinder to Africa’s coast city of Dar
es Salaam, Tanzania. From there the great man’s remains were brought by ship to
England for a state burial at Westminster Abbey on April 18, 1874.
Blantyre, the present capital of Malawi, formerly known
Nyasaland in what was before that British Rhodesia, is named after Dr. Livingstone’s
birthplace in Scotland. As a Peace Corps diplomat my travels took me to
Llongwe, Malawi. The Malawians were
insistent on informing me of their immense pride in naming their capital city
in his honor and letting me know that Dr. Livingstone had brought the Gospel of
Jesus Christ to their country too.