It was at Kuruman that Livingstone first formed his opinions around the effectiveness of traditional mission and evangelical models and how they related to the African people. His motto, as recorded beneath his statue at Victoria Falls, is 'Christianity, Commerce and Civilisation'. (au.christiantoday.com)
Part Two continues:
Livingstone's motivations shows him to be a deeply passionate man, driven by his convictions, and an almost overwhelming sense of optimism in the face of insurmountable obstacles. In European company, he proved himself to be a poor leader, secretive, self righteous and moody, and incapable of sympathising with the sufferings of others, not tolerate their criticism.
He continually saw what he wanted to see, and as a result, this often brought not only Livingstone trouble, but also his associates, at great risk to life. The complete failure of the mission to the Makololo lies as proof of this. On Livingstone's insistence, based upon his unbelievably optimistic assessment of travelling, and settlement conditions, the London Missionary Society funded a group of two missionaries, their wives and four young children to move to central, malarial Africa, to start a permanent mission ministering to the Makololo people.
Due to the grossly optimistic reports given by Livingstone concerning land quality, travelling conditions and the severity of malaria, paired with an aggressive tribal environment that had been all but overlooked in Livingstone's summations, all but one of the embarking missionaries didn't survive the ordeal.
Just as Livingstone was capable of showing the very worst of human nature, under extreme duress he shone, showing a quality of strength, perseverance and conviction in face of severe hardship. His dedication and loyalty to see his convictions through to completion was his most defining feature, and it bordered on superhuman. Despite suffering bouts of malaria that would render most catatonic, chronic dysentery and anal bleeding, infestation from parasites, and foot ulcers did not stop Livingstone trudging though inhospitable swamplands through to famine stricken lands to search out new possibilities for settling and evangelising in an uncharted territory.
In his earlier years, Livingstone expressed a desire, and prayed about the opportunity to push further afield so he would not be 'building upon another's work'. Throughout his life this desire was most definitely fulfilled. (en.wikipedia.org)
With the exception of his transcontinental journey from west to east Africa, and other geographical discoveries within the interior, the majority of Livingstone's endeavours met with failure. He had been a staunch campaigner against slavery, petitioning for British intervention to block the Arab slave trade in central and eastern Africa. Even so, from time to time, Livingstone had depended upon slaver charity to rescue him from illness and starvation. Towards the end of his life, Livingstone could no longer persuade himself that he had a coherent set of aims.
He saw his final endeavour; the search for the Nile's source, as a purely geographical task, as he couldn't see what impact he could possibly have on the slave trade. This was a faulty assumption as it turned out, as he witnessed an Arab led massacre at Nyangwe, killing hundreds of African people, which he reported to the British government, fuelling a fire that did eventually result in a British lead embargo against Zanzibar, the chief port of export for the majority of slaving caravans from the African interior.
When he died, throughout his entire life as a missionary, Livingstone had won only a single faint hearted convert. He was not alive to see the eventual colonisation of central Africa, and their subsequent liberation into independence. His life, after death, spawned a flurry of missionary interest from not only Britain, but America as well.
This was in no small part due to his encounter with Stanley, and Stanley's subsequent writings, which immortalised Livingstone as the noble missionary, living a self sacrificing life to further the gospel and preach the word, which was unquestionably what Livingstone had spent the greater part of his life doing. Teams of missionaries flooded into the interior and the gospel was spread to people who had never heard it.
In Livingstone's case, John 12:24 certainly rings true: "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."
In life, he was a determined, yet complicated man, brusque, opinionated and almost devoid of charm and social graces, and yet he had a passion to spend his life in service to Jesus at tremendous personal cost, for little real tangible benefit in this life at least.
Despite his nature, and woeful leadership abilities, Jesus used him to build a foundation for the eventual cessation of widespread slaving throughout central Africa, and paved the way for future missionaries to share the Good News to those who would not have heard it otherwise. His legacy still remains, and is being built upon today.
Ben Kitzelman has spent the last 4 years travelling between Australia and Zambia, serving for one as a missionary, and is now an IT professional in Melbourne.
Ben Kitzelman's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/ben-kitzelmen.html