Real Stars – Mary Slessor

The Real “Stars”
Ask any child today who a “star” is and you will be inundated with names of acknowledged artistic performers or athletes. Who are the real “stars”? Let´s see… “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

Isn´t it amazing that in God´s perspective, the ones who can ever hope to shine like stars for all eternity are those who work with God to save others from sin and its consequences? True “stars” enlist all their gifting, abilities and opportunities to further the singular purpose of God on earth; the worship of the one true God by men of every race and tongue.

Let us rehearse to today´s generation, acts of faith and sacrifice that made a real difference to the eternal destinies of many. Let´s make a start with Mary Slessor.

Mary Slessor

Women missionaries in Africa worked within the confines of an established mission station until Mary arrived on the scene eager for exploratory and pioneer work. Born in Scotland in 1848, she was the second of seven children. Her father was an alcoholic and Mary´s early years were spent working hard both at home and at the Mills. She converted as a youngster through the concern of an elderly widow in the neighboruhood and soon became active in her local church and in open-air meetings with the Queen Street Mission where she sometimes had to stand up to thugs and street gangs who tried to break up the meetings.

The Calabar Mission received women and Mary applied and was accepted in 1875. The next year, at the age of 27, Mary sailed for Calabar in Nigeria.

She was confronted with slave trade, witchcraft, spiritism, and superstitions including the killing of twins as they believed the second child was fathered by an evil spirit. Mary rescued the twins and adopted 11 of them as her children.

She ministered to their mothers who otherwise would have been shunned and exiled. She risked her life fighting cruel superstitions. The missionaries in Boko, Nigeria are following in her steps, fighting to stop the killing of children who grow their upper teeth first or who fall face down when born. They, like her, have had to adopt a child at risk.

Mary supervised schools, dispensed medication and was soon dissatisfied with such “routine work”. Mary believed that pioneer work in Okoyong, Nigeria, an untamed area was best accomplished by women who would be less threatening. For 25 years she continued to pioneer missions in areas in which no white man had been able to survive. She hardly had conversions to Christianity to report but her pioneer efforts prepared the way for other missionaries, established trade routes to raise the African standard of living and employed her gift as an arbitrator in personal disputes. This became widely known and in 1892 she became the first Vice-Consul to Okoyong and acted as judge in disputes over land, debt, family matters etc.

It was not all smooth for Mary, she was confronted with attacks of malaria, long bouts of illness and painful boils, homesickness, prolonged care of her mother and sister while on furlough in Scotland and overwhelming loneliness. During a sick leave to the coast, she met Charles Morrison, a missionary teacher who was eighteen years younger. Mary accepted his marriage proposal but the marriage did not hold as Charles´ health did not permit him to remain in Nigeria and for Mary, missionary service came before personal relationships.

In 1915, she died at the age of 66 in her mud hut after nearly 40 years of ministry in Nigeria. In 1997, Clydesdale Bank introduced a new £10 banknote which commemorated the life of this real star – Mary Slessor.

* Excerpts from the book “From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya” by Ruth Tucker. Zondervan 1983

Article from Occupy UK Vol. 1 No. 1 2009

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