Reformed Reflections

Mary Slessor of Calabar
by WP. Livingstone; Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan,
1984; paperback, 364 pages.

Mary Slessor (1848-1915) was a most unusual Scottish woman. She had a hard childhood, a dedicated Christian mother and a warm church life. She did youth work in the slums of Dundee. sailed for Nigeria in 1876 and worked there, under the auspices of the United Presbyterian Church's Calabar Mission, almost continuously until her death. 

Mary Slessor was a shrewd, courageous but shy, pioneer missionary and practical idealist. Not afraid of innovations, moved by love for her Lord and the desperate plight of tribes enslaved by the spirits of darkness, she was instrumental in leading hundreds to Christ. Under her guidance, leaders were trained and churches built. She fought against witchcraft, alcoholism, twin killing and a host of other moral abuses. Seldom without pain, troubled by chronic malarial affliction, she stuck to her ministry. Such was her in­fluence that she came to rule the Okoyong tribe with all the dignity and power of a queen. Later she worked among the Ibo people. No difficult question was settled other than in Mary's hut. No wonder that many called her "White Mother." As a Chris­tian of her time, in the era when the British Empire was still expanding. Mary worked closely with the colonial government. She became the first woman vice-consul for the British when their rule was established in the area. The secret of this able pioneer for Christ? "Prayer," she said, "is the greatest power God has put into our hands for service-praying is harder work than doing, at least I find it is, but the dynamic lies that way to ad­vance the Kingdom." 

I hope that this stirring biography will arouse further interest in missions. Zondervan has done Christian readers a great service by reissuing this classic. which was first published in the early 1900s. 


Johan D. Tangelder