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Great exploits don’t come easy

An bull African elephant feeding at the precipice of Victoria Falls.

An bull African elephant feeding at the precipice of Victoria Falls.

David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, came on three expeditions to Africa.   He loved the African people and his great desire was to see Africa set free from the curse of the slave trade.  He died alone, riddled with malaria, kneeling beside his cot in the heart of Africa.  He committed his ways to the Lord Jesus Christ right up to his last breath.

Looking from the outside in, one might think Livingstone failed at his mission. He didn’t find the source of the Nile. Nobody seemed to listen to him.  The London Missionary Society (LMS) struck him off their books because they considered him a failure.  He buried his wife beneath a baobab tree at the mouth of the Zambezi River.  His children didn’t know him.

Yet, after he died the whole world sat up and realised that the slave trade could not continue.  People began reading the letters that he had faithfully written and sent back to Britain, as well as over to America.  Just weeks after Livingstone’s death in 1873, Britain realised that the Arab [Islamic] slave trade in East Africa – the horrors of which Livingstone had highlighted in letters home – could not continue.  Finally the slave market in Zanzibar was closed, ending the eastern trade in slaves, and subsequently thousands of young university students went into the East African mission field preaching the gospel.


Livingstone was attacked by a lion while staying in an African village, trying to defend the village’s sheep from the animal.

“Commit your ways to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass”  Psalm 37:5.  As you read this, are you thinking that it was all very well for someone like David Livingstone to serve God with such fervour and commitment?  You feel that you cannot serve God wholeheartedly because you have too many problems, too many things that are holding you back.

My friend, no one who has done great exploits for God has had it easy.  I can mention name upon name to you of people whom God has used mightily down through history; every one of them has known hardship and difficulty.

Psalm 37 goes on to promise: “He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday”  Psalm 37:6.  Wait patiently for Him, trust in your God – commit your ways to Him and he will bring it to pass in His own time.

Edited from “Walking by Faith” by Angus Buchan [Page 22]


Dr David Livingstone: A 200-year legacy

By Gillian SharpeBBC Scotland

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