Article: Miss Slessor’s Return to Darkest Africa. Published in the Women’s Missionary Magazine [November 1907] [November 1907]
Dundee City Archives
An account of a meeting held in the Assembly Hall, ? Edinburgh prior to Miss Slessor’s return to Calabar. A plea for more personnel to help with the mission work in Calabar, and for prayer, is made by Miss Slessor, together with Miss Peacock and Miss Reid.
From the Women’s Missionary Magazine of November 1907?
Miss Slessor’s Return to Darkest Africa.
A farewell meeting to Miss Slessor was held in the Assembly Hall on the evening of 7th October, presided over by Dr.Robson, Miss Peacock and Miss Reid being also present.
Miss Peacock told how the burden of the unreached parts of Calabar had weighed upon her and her colleagues. As the home Church held out no hope of support, Miss Slessor had offered a native house at Ikotobon, and she and Miss Reid went there last March to work among the Ibibio people, who are a race very far down, physically, morally, and spiritually. They started a school for the men and boys. One lad, Efiong, has become a new creature in Christ Jesus. On being asked how it was that he became a Christian, he replied, “I don’t know, but I heard the gospel, and God just showed me and I believed.”
Miss Reid described the sad down-trodden look in the faces of the women, and recalled to us the fact that these are our sisters. One woman, who had been helped with medicine, clasped her hand and said, “The God of Efiong bless you.” She knew nothing about the God of Abraham, but knew that the God who had changed the life of that lad must be good.
On rising to speak Miss Slessor met with a very hearty reception. She began by saying it was not a weak cause that they had come to plead. There have been sixty years of work in Old Calabar. The second chapter of the history of the Mission is to be written now. God has had to employ the British Government to do what we could not do; and the British soldiers have been humane. patient, and tactful with the natives. Had it not been for the work of the Church, they could not have done what they have; and they will never hold the country without gospel light. Itu was the slave-market and was kept by the north-country people. The soldiers penetrated beyond. All honour to our soldiers; they deserve our prayers as well as our criticism. The Governor had asked again and again, “Why don’t you move in?”
Miss Slessor went on to tell how a deputation of the natives waited upon her and said, “We are going to sit down till you come with us; we have money laid aside, and you must come.” She engaged a boy and went up to Itu. The women especially came crowding in to the worship. These women became Christians and have been true missionaries; outspoken in their devotion to Christ. There is now a congregation testifying for Christ. Miss Slessor then told of the call to Arochuku. Two missionaries went up to a village and took a boy with them. He is now the head of the Church there. From this work in Arochuku six congregations have sprung, five of them have Christian men and women, the sixth has been taken up by Miss Reid and Miss Peacock. In a country like that, women must go first, not men. Wherever a punitive expedition has been, the natives will not believe in men, they plead for women.
Miss Slessor told of a Christian man who had presented twenty-seven children of his own for baptism the day he was baptised himself. Another man came up once to Arochuku asking Miss Slessor to follow him to his home. She went up with Mr Wilkie. He took them into his semi-European house with a court, in which stood a table and chairs. They sat down, and a box was brought forward in which were some books, a Bible, catechism, an ink bottle, etc. They asked whose box it was. “My boy’s,” was the reply. “Where is your boy?” “My boy is dead. I had a son, and I thought he would bury me when I was dead. There is nothing I have left undone. I got Christian traders to come in and teach him, and I got another boy taught with him to keep him company. *I want God*” the man continued fiercly, “and you won’t leave me till I find Him.” Miss Slessor said, “Oh, father, God is here! He is waiting for you.” Half-an-hour later a silent company went away, but the man got God: of couse he did. Now he is a Christian. He has twins living there that he has taken in from Ibibio. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.
We hold the money and the power, and we hold everything, and what are we going to do with that great land? It is not twenty men or a score of women that we want; it is a *host* to take possession of it for Christ. This is a new opportunity. Something more than money is wanted, and a kneeling prayer of a few monutes twice daily. We have not learned to pray yet. If we had a praying people we would have a missionary Church and a victorious Church. The Church will have to set times apart just for praying, and keep on. The command is, “Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Teach them by prayer and by the power of the Holy Ghost. If we are in living union with Christ, the men and women and money will come. May it be that Calabar will be marvellously helped by the faith and love of the Church.
Mrs. Duncan M’Laren said Miss Slessor’s dauntless spirit was clamouring to be back in Africa. Africa claimed her, and for Africa she was eager to labour on to the end. We were there not to praise her, but to praise her Lord, the Lord who has guided her, and whose gift she is to our Church, and who has kept her through manifold dangers safe to this hour. There are times when the beckoning hand is seen, when the voice is heard distinctly, “Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.” There are also times when it needs the God-given vision to see the guiding hand. We feel that our friend has this vision, and she at least has not been disobedient to the heavenly vision. We all feel humbled when we hear what she and her brave colleagues have done. Do we not feel that we must make a great change in our policy after this night?
We say farewell to Miss Slessor, praying to God that it may indeed be a “faring well” with her to the end of the journey. May we so hold the ropes that when she comes again bringing her sheaves with her, we may in a humble measure rejoice with her. In God’s keeping we may safely leave her, praying that the Lord may preserve her going out from this time “even for evermore.”
Enthusiastic meetings in connection with Miss Slessor’s return to West Africa, and the forward movement there, have also been held in Glasgow and in Aberdeen.