David Livingstone – Man of Prayer and Action

Author: C. Silvester Horne, M.P.

David Livingstone was a faithful pioneer missionary whose greatest desire was granted only after his death – the stopping of the slave trade and opening up Africa to Christianity and lawful commerce. Livingstone was born on March 19th, 1813 at Blantyre, Lankshire. He was raised in a pious but poverty stricken home in Scotland. By the age on 9, he had already memorized Psalm 119 and won a copy of the New Testament as a prize. He worked 14 hours a day when he was just 10 years old at a cotton-spinning factory. Livingstone spent 10 years in the cotton mill, then he set out to study medicine and theology.

David liked to study. After his 14-hour workday, he would come home and start studying his Latin until his mother would come in and put out his candle. All these years of studying paid off when he reached the college age. Glasgow University was the closest college, so David and his father went there and he entered as a student majoring in Greek and medicine. The money for his education was not easily acquired, but somehow he always managed to get it on time. Early in winter of 1836, David and his father went to Glasgow and, all day, searched for a room for David, and finally after a full day’s searching, they found a room which could be rented for two shillings a week.

During his second session at Glasgow, David made one of the most important decisions in his life. He decided to offer himself as a missionary for foreign services. He was chosen for the London Missionary Society because of his sympathy with the nondenominational structure of its basis. In November of 1840, he was able to return to Glasgow and qualify as a Licentiate of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, and sometime later, he said good-bye to the old folks at home. On the 20th of November, he was ordained and sailed to South Africa.

This trip took 5 months, and finally he landed at Algoa Bay. He started into the deep jungles of Africa on his first missionary trip, and it proved to be no walk in the park... it was a walk in a jungle. David Livingstone’s main goal in life was to stop the slave trade in Africa and open it up to Christianity. This was his first step.

One day while hunting for lions to eat, Livingstone and his party hadn’t had much luck finding any lions. They figured that they would go back to the campsite and wait for another day to come to hunt again. On their way back, it was quiet... a little too quiet. Livingstone was in the lead position heading back for the campsite, when he turned and looked to his left side, and all of the sudden, a lion jumped out from out of the bushes and latched onto Livingstone’s left arm. The lion was as tall as Livingstone was when standing up and he was shaking Livingstone’s arm like a terrier dog does a rat. Fortunately, the lion released him and set it’s sights on the others in the party. But, the others were carrying rifles. Lion charges, the men shoot and kill the lion. Livingstone escaped marvelously well, but his shoulder bone and upper arm were chewed and the bone was shattered into splinters. Surprisingly enough, Livingstone claimed there was no sensation of pain or fear when the lion attacked him.

Once David had recovered from the lion’s attack, they journey continued. David’s wife and children desperately missed him, and he wrote them telling them that he would be coming home in 2 years. 5 years later, he still hadn’t come home. At almost 6 years, he returned home, still not reaching his goal. His goal was to get to the center of the slave trade - a city called Chitambo.

He was home for about a year, the went back to Africa. This time he bought a boat to use in rivers instead of walking. This came in handy, but it sank. Oh well. Tough luck I guess. Anyway, the rest of the way there they were forced to walk. On the