Christians You Should Know: Mary Slessor August 30, 2023

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Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” – Mark 9:24-25

A Snapshot of the Life of Mary Slessor:

Born: Dec. 2, 1848 – Gilcomston (suburb of Aberdeen), Scotland

Died: Jan. 15,1915 – Itu, Nigeria

Mary M. Slessor, [the] “White Queen of Okoyung.” United Presbyterian missionary to eastern Nigeria. Mary’s family moved to Dundee in 1859. As a young girl, she began to work in Dundee Mills in 1862 to support her drunken father and impoverished family. Converted as a teenager, she offered her services to a foreign missions board and received instruction at Edinburgh. She sailed for Calabar, in 1876 and pioneered missions programs. Mary went where few men dared to go in eastern Nigeria. In 1880, she took charge of a mission at Old Town in Calabar and began a work at Creektown in Okoyung. In 1885, tribal abuses, including human sacrifice, came to an end. She arbitrated disputes, fought poverty and organized an African court. She heard of the death of both her mother and sister in 1886. She continued alone in 1888 to work among the Okoyung as vice-council for them. Mary adopted native dress and lifestyles, and took in African children as her own. After a church service January 1915, she fainted. Lingering for a few days, her last words were “O God, release me?” – (Excerpt taken from the Reese Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies. Used by permission.)

A Spiritual Application for Our Lives:

The life and ministry of Mary Slessor speaks for itself. This courageous woman of faith labored for decades where few others would dare to visit. She was compelled by a love for her Savior, a compassion for the lost, and the testimony of those who were already engaged in missionary work. Most significantly, she was inspired by the life and vision of David Livingstone. As Slessor meditated on the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and God’s various roles in His work (Ephesians 4:12, 1 Corinthians 12), God began stirring within her heart to go to Africa.

In Africa, Slessor began giving the gospel where others refused to go. She learned the languages and cared for those who were ill. Everywhere she went she proclaimed the gospel. She was determined to make a difference in time, but also for eternity. For the most effectual temporal work is the eternal work. The atrocities of infanticide, twin-murdering, slavery, drunkenness, adultery, and the like would only be set right as sinners came to know Christ. Mary Slessor found her work in Africa, and labored with all the strength God would give her! God’s power enabled Mary to see great good done for the cause of Christ.

Consider these lessons from the life of Mary Slessor:

  • Do not allow your circumstances to dictate how God can use you. God placed you in the home and family in which you were raised. Remember that  “all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15). Mary Slessor was raised in a troubled home, yet, God still used her to lift the burden of thousands in Nigeria.
  • Discover God’s will for your life, and do it. Some will encourage, some will scoff, some will discourage, and some may even be angry when you obey God. Never mind! Go on for God and His glory! You are to serve God, not man (Galatians 1:10). God will bless your faithfulness.
  • Launch out on new ventures of faith, no matter what stage of life you’re in. Slessor understood that all of her life was God’s. Therefore, she determined to be obedient to the Master until her last breath.
  • Never forget the necessity of faith and your own need to grow in it. Mary wrote, “I am a poor exponent of faith. I ought to have full faith in our Father that He will do everything, but I am ashamed of myself, for I want to ‘see,’ and that sends faith out of court. I never felt more in sympathy with that old afflicted father before in his prayer, ‘ Lord, I believe, help Thou my unbelief ’—every syllable suits me.” None of us have arrived. May we constantly fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus and study His Word so that our faith may be enlarged (Romans 10:15-16).
  • Maintain a prayer life and praise God for those who lift you up in prayer. “Prayer is the greatest power God has put into our hands for service—praying is harder work than doing, at least I find it so, but the dynamic lies that way to advance the Kingdom…The bands that mothers and sisters weave by prayer and precept are the strongest in the world.

May we not soon forget the lessons this faithful servant taught us. May the life of Mary Slessor constantly point us to the Master she so faithfully served – the Lord Jesus.

 A Suggestion for Further Reading…

Mary Slessor: Forward into Calabar – Janet and Geoff Benge (1999)

Mary Slessor of Calabar, Pioneer MissionaryW. P. (William Pringle) Livingstone (1916)

Mary Slessor: Queen of Calabar – Sam Wellman (1998)

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  1. Grady Ellison on August 31, 2023 at 9:12 AM

    Bro. Scott, I truly like when Thursday arrives each week. It is blessing to read about people the Lord has used it is an encouragement. I pray for you daily. Look forward to when you come back to Oakwood Baptist Church.

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