break out your badges and your Pith helmets for
19.3.1813 – 1.5.1873
From the age of 10 he worked in a cotton mill in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland from 6am to 8pm. While working on the loom he propped the Rudiments of Latin in front of him and studied it. He also went to night school until 10pm and was fascinated by geography, but he was puzzled and irritated by the word ‘Unexplored’ across parts of many maps including Africa.
Brought up in a Christian family and with an influential Sunday School teacher, he recited the 176 verses of Psalm 119 from memory at the age of nine with only five mistakes. At the age of 19 he had saved enough money to go to the University in Glasgow where he studied medicine, theology and greek.
In 1838 he was accepted by the London Missionary Society but stayed in England for another two years to finish his medical degree. His intention was to go to China, but war broke out and this door was closed. He met Dr Robert Moffatt, missionary to Africa whose challenge to David to go to Africa was accepted. David later married Mary Moffatt. On arrival in Africa he immediately pushed on 200 miles further than the station where Dr Moffatt had worked. He later pushed further north still and also travelled to both west coast and east coast performing detailed and accurate exploration, discovering many areas of significance including Victoria Falls on the Zambezi.
He was very distressed by the slave trade still going on on the East coast of Africa by the Arabs and contributed to its ending within a few years of his death.
On his third time of working in Africa, he pushed even further north in order to find the source of the Nile. It was on this journey that reports of his death filtered back to England, but these could not be confirmed. So it was that Henry Morton Stanley was sent by the New York Herald to find him which he ultimately did with the historic greeting “Doctor Livingstone, I Presume? I am Henry Morton Stanley, from the United States.”
It was another 14 months later, after 32 years in Africa that, very ill, he lay down to sleep one night and early the next morning his servants came in and found him kneeling by his bed, his Bible open in front of him, but he was already with his Saviour and Lord. He was buried in Westminster Abbey where the inscription on the floor in the middle of the nave – I’ve seen it! – says
BROUGHT BY FAITHFUL HANDS
OVER LAND AND SEA
BORN MARCH 19, 1813
AT BLANTYRE, LANARKSHIRE.
DIED MAY 1, 1873
AT CHITAMBO’S VILLAGE, ULALA.
FOR 30 YEARS HIS LIFE WAS SPENT
IN AN UNWEARIED EFFORT TO
EVANGELISE THE NATIVE RACES,
TO EXPLORE THE UNDISCOVERED SECRETS,
TO ABOLISH THE DEVASTATING SLAVE TRADE,
OF CENTRAL AFRICA
and on the side of the plate is the text “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice.”
Sources: Michael P.Green; Patricia Hunt; Cottler and Jaffe
“Lord, send me anywhere
Only go with me.
Lay any burden on me,
Only sustain me.
Sever any tie that binds,
Except the tie that binds me
To Thy heart and to Thy service.”
I am immortal
until the will
of God for me
I will place no value
on anything I have
or may possess,
except in relation
to the Kingdom