Monday, April 11, 2011
He left his heart in Africa, but his body is buried in Westminster Abbey in London. At his death, natives gently removed his heart and buried it in the Africa he so dearly loved.
Then his body was carried to the coast, where it was shipped back to England for burial. His name was David Livingstone. And he was one of the first missionaries to go to Africa.
What sustains men and women who leave behind family and comfort to go to another country for the gospel's sake? What kept David Livingstone in Africa, when, as a medical doctor, he could have lived a very comfortable life in his native Scotland?
Livingstone, himself, answered that question. After 16 years of service in Africa, he returned to Scotland and
was asked to speak at the University of Glasgow. One of his arms had been rendered useless, the result of a lion's attack. His body bore physical evidence of the suffering he had endured with 27 bouts of jungle fever.
His face was a leathery brown from exposure to the elements. And it was creased from the cares of a hard life battling the Turks and the slave traders, both of whom had little use for Livingstone.
A hush swept over the students at the University of Glasgow as they prepared to listen to this man, realizing this was no ordinary person. "Shall I tell you what sustained me amidst the trials and hardship and loneliness of my exiled life?" he asked. And then he gave them the answer. "It was a promise, the promise of a gentleman of the most sacred honor; it was this promise, 'Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.'" (Matt. 28:20)
When Livingstone died, they found his body bent in prayer as he had knelt by his bed. Beside him was a well-worn New Testament opened up to Matthew 28. In the margin beside verse 20 was this notation:
"The Word of a Gentleman."
As the body of Livingstone was carried through the streets of London on its way to its final resting place in
Westminster Abbey, one man wept openly. A friend gently consoled him, asking if he had known
Livingstone personally. "I weep not for Livingstone but for myself," the first man said, and he added, "he lived and died for something, but I have lived for nothing."