David Livingstone's Perspective Of Missions

David Livingstone is one of my favorite missionaries.  If you are into missionary biographies one of the best I have read on Livingstone’s life is “David Livingstone - The Truth Behind the Legend” by Rob Makenzie. Listen to Livingstone’s heart in relation to missions.  Clearly David Livingstone had an eternal perspective:

1. In relation to his family

On 5/51852 DL wrote to his wife Mary whom he had put on a ship to return to England.  They agreed together that it would be best for DL to penetrate the interior without his family and after two year he was to join them in England.

“Dearest Mary,  How I miss you now, and the dear children!  My heart yearns incessantly over you...  I feel as if I would treat you all much more tenderly and lovingly than ever...  Let us do our duty to our Saviour, and we shall meet again.  I wish that time were now...  I never show all my feelings; but I can say truly, my dearest, that I loved you when I married you, and the longer I lived with you, I loved you the better... Let us do our duty to Christ and He will bring us through the world with honour and usefulness.  He is our refuge and high tower; let us trust in Him at all times, and in all circumstances.  Love Him more and more, and diffuse His love among the children.  Take  them all round you, and kiss them for me. Tell them I have left them for the love of Jesus, and that they must love Him too, and to avoid sin, for that displeases Jesus.”

2. In relation to his life

On 12/28/1852 David Livingstone wrote:  “Am I on my way to die in Sibituane’s country?  Have I seen the last of my wife and children?  The breaking up of all my connections with earth, leaving this fair and beautiful world and yet knowing so little of it?  O Jesus, fill me with Thy love now, and I beseech Thee accept me and use me a little for Thy glory.  I have done nothing for Thee yet, and I would like to do something.  O do, do I beseech Thee, accept me and my service and take Thou all the glory...”

On 4/4/1853: “If God has accepted my service then my life is charmed till my work is done.  And though I pass through many dangers unscathed while working the work given me to do... Death is a glorious event to one going to Jesus... There is something sublime in passing into the second stage of our immortal lives if washed from our sins.”

3. In relation to possessions

On 5/22/1853:  “I will place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the Kingdom of Christ.  If anything will advance the interests of that Kingdom, it shall be given away or kept only in reference to whether giving or keeping will most promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes in time and eternity.  May the grace and strength sufficient to enable me to adhere faithfully to this resolution be imparted to me, so that in truth, not in name only, all my interests and those of my children may be identified with His cause.”

4. On pioneer missions

On 6/18/1853:  “Discoveries and inventions are cumulative.  Another century must present a totally different aspect from the present.  And when we view the state of the world and its advancing energies in the light afforded by childlike or call it childish faith, we see the earth filling with the knowledge of the Lord, aye all nations seeing His glory and bowing before Him whose right it is to reign.  Our work and its fruits are cumulative. We work towards another state of things.  Future missionaries will be rewarded by conversions for every sermon.  We are their pioneers and helpers.  Let them not forget the watchmen of the night, we how worked when all was gloom and no evidence of success in the way of conversion cheered our path.  They will doubtless have more light than we, but we served our Master earnestly and proclaimed the same gospel as they will do.”

5. On the lack of results

On 9/25/1853:  “A quiet audience today.  The seed being sown, the least of all seeds now, but it will grow a mighty tree.  It is as if it were a small stone cut out of a mountain, but it will fill the whole earth.  He that believeth shall not make haste.  Surely if God can bear with hardened impenitent sinners for 30, 30 or 50 years, waiting to be gracious, we may take it for granted that His is the best way.  He could destroy His enemies, but He waits to be gracious.  To become irritated with their stubbornness and hardness of heart is ungodlike.”

6. On ill-health

9/24/1853:  “I have not, I am sorry to confess, discovered a healthy locality.  The whole of the country of Sebituane is unhealthy... I am at loss what to do, but will not give up the case as hopeless.  Shame upon us, if we are to be outdone by slave traders.”

“We must brave the fever (malaria).  It is God not the Devil, that rules our destiny.”

“The conversion of a few, however valuable their souls my be, cannot be put  in the scale against the knowledge of the truth spread over the whole country.  In this I do and will exult.  As in India, we are doomed to perpetual disappointment, but the knowledge of Christ spreads over the masses.  We are like voices crying in the wilderness.  We prepare the way for a glorious future in which missionaries telling the same tale of love will convert by every sermon.  I am trying now to establish the Lord’s Kingdom in a region wider by far than Scotland.  Fever seems to forbid, but I shall work for the glory of Christ’s kingdom, fever or no fever.”