Thursday, December 22, 2011

Eighth Book of Christmas: "Mary Slessor of Calabar"

Twelve Books that show how Christmas changed the world.

On the eighth day of Christmas, our True Love gave the world: resurrection for Africa.

Recently, a terrible phenomena has come to light in Nigeria.  Christian pastors, or perhaps shamans playing the role of Christian pastors, have taken to accusing young children of being witches, or possessed by the devil.  Many have been tortured, even killed, based on such accusations. 

Skeptics readily assume Christianity is to blame for these truly diabolical actions.  "Look what fundamentist Christianity brought to Africa!"  I have heard several say recently.   

It is awful when children are harmed by those who ought to safeguard them, especially in Jesus' name -- who warned of God's judgement against those who do such acts.  But it is not true that the Gospel brought that mentality to West Africa, or anywhere else.  In fact, in some areas, it had long been the custom that whenever a chief would die, or a prominent person fall ill, innocent people would be rounded up and murdered with him.  Illness or misfortune were thought to be caused by witchcraft, so victims were again sought.  Twins were assumed to be demons, and put out in the forest to die. 

Mary Slessor was the best-known and one of boldest and most successful missionaries to fight on behalf of the innocent in West Africa.  From a lower-class family in Scotland, this Mary was the true "Queen of Scots," if royalty is measured by courage.  Mary would boldly rush into a melay between factions, unarmed, and force both sides to end battles.  She would stand powerful chiefs down when they wanted to sacrifice human beings.  She would rescue abandoned children and oppressed concubines.  Her force of personality, and the Holy Spirit working through her, brought peace to a large part of southern Nigeria. 

Mary Slessor of Calabar is one of a few biographies of the woman, and it's a good read: a nice antidote to Heart of Darkness. 

But the human heart remains dark, and the fight must go on. 

Other Books:  Slessor was not, of course, the only missionary to help the African peoples in the wake of the slave trades and the wars they spawned, and native oppression.  Tommy Titcombe's Tread Upon the Lion is an equally rousing adventure story, and describes Titcombe's struggle against village murder and human sacrifice in Nigeria. 

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