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Mother to the People
Photo: Luc Sesselle
My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions (Daniel 6:22).

As the ship cast anchor off Duke Town on the slave coast of West Africa, the young woman who had so bravely left her home in Scotland to become a missionary was facing a scary reality. A mysterious land awaited Mary Slessor. A land governed by witchcraft and superstition, where human life was cheap and torture by poisoning and boiling oil was the order of the day. Twins were abandoned to die at birth and their mothers banished from their communities because it was believed that they were children of the devil.

Shut Their Mouths

Mary realized that before she could be of any service to the African people she had to understand their ways and become one of them, which was not an easy task. She was often frightened not only of the people but of the jungle through which she had to walk. “I did not use to believe the story of Daniel in the lions’ den until I had to take some of these awful marches, and then I knew it was true, and that it was written for my comfort,” she wrote in 1880. “Many a time I walked along praying, ‘O God of Daniel shut their mouths,’ and He did.”

In addition to preaching the gospel, Mary taught the African people ways to promote more healthy lives. She also had a heart for the twins and their mothers who were left to die. As soon as she heard that a woman was to die for bearing twins, she would run and find her and take she and her children to her home. For her compassion and the great number of women and children she saved, she became known as Eka kpukpro Owo – Mother of All the Peoples.

Africa did not change rapidly and Mary sometimes became impatient, but she then reminded herself, “Christ sent me to preach the Gospel and He will look after the results.

”It’s easy for us to get discouraged and to think we’re not accomplishing great things for God, but we’re not responsible for the results. As Mary said, “He will look after the results.”

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By Dee Reed. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the New International Version ®.

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