In 1873, as Livingston was making one of his exploration trips into the heart of Africa, he fell extremely ill. He grew so weak that the natives that traveled with him were forced to carry him back to the nearby village. That night, Livingston died. The next morning, his faithful native assistants came into his tent to find his body kneeling in prayer and his soul with his Master.
Livingston’s assistants, knowing that Livingston was an important man back in his motherland, realized that the English would want to take David’s body back there to be buried. So they embalmed his body and made a makeshift coffin out of tree bark. They then carried his body over 700 miles of jungles, swamps, and hostile territory to get it to a port to take it back to England. But before they embalmed the body, they removed the heart and buried it under a tree in the heart of Africa. They said, “Livingston’s heart belongs in the place he loved so much.”
When his body arrived back in England, the dean of Westminster Abbey suggested to have the body buried there with great honor. A memorial service was held and Livingston’s body was placed inside one of the stone sarcophagus outside the Abbey. The stone was engraved with this summary of the man’s life:
BROUGHT BY FAITHFUL HANDS OVER LAND AND SEA HERE RESTS DAVID LIVINGSTONE, MISSIONARY, TRAVELLER, PHILANTHROPIST, BORN MARCH 19. 1813 AT BLANTYRE, LANARKSHIRE, DIED MAY 1, 1873 AT CHITAMBO’S VILLAGE, ULALA. FOR 30 YEARS HIS LIFE WAS SPENT IN AN UNWEARIED EFFORT TO EVANGELIZE THE NATIVE RACES, TO EXPLORE THE UNDISCOVERED SECRETS, TO ABOLISH THE DESOLATING SLAVE TRADE, OF CENTRAL AFRICA, WHERE WITH HIS LAST WORDS HE WROTE, “ALL I CAN ADD IN MY SOLITUDE, IS, MAY HEAVEN’S RICH BLESSING COME DOWN ON EVERY ONE, AMERICAN, ENGLISH, OR TURK, WHO WILL HELP TO HEAL THIS OPEN SORE OF THE WORLD”
The great Robert Moffat, a missionary in Southern Africa and the father-in-law of Livingston, said this of David, “He Sacrificed everything-home, Christian intercourse, lucrative prospects, and earthly honors, for one grand object, to carry the Gospel of the Son of God to the heart of Africa.”
As a young minister, Edward had already been used greatly. He had started a church in Michigan, which he pastored for twelve years. He was a founding faculty member for a small Bible college. But as he began to attend mission conferences, his heart began to be stirred for the work of World Evangelism, especially in China. Even though he was now 49 years old, he decided to join the ranks of the missionaries.
Due to an incident while he was working at the college, Edward was not on very good terms with the Lutheran hierarchy that he belonged to. He knew that the chances of being sent to China by the synod was very slim. So he decided to go on his own. He published two books of sermons, one in English and one in German. He also developed several small brochures and tracts. He sold his books and writings, building up enough financial base to get started. He then sent out newsletters to everyone who bought his material, asking them for monthly financial support. For five years, Edward and his family were able to work comfortably off the sales of his materials. After five years, he joined the Lutheran Synod.
For the rest of his life, Edward worked faithfully among the Chinese. Even when the communist took over the country briefly in 1926-27, Edward refused to leave the Churches he had started. When threatened that he would lose his American citizenship if he stayed, he responded that he would gladly lose anything for the sake of his flock. He died and was buried in this land he loved so much.
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