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Mary Slessor's images - Sources: Church of Scotland, Work out your faith e Nairaland Forum

Read Maria Slessor's biography in the book The white queen of Okoyong (this link)

Mary Slessor was a Presbyterian who was present in Nigeria, for her great work and her strong personality. She was born in Scotland (1848), and lived a good part of her life in the slums of Dundee. Mary was marked by poverty and family conflicts, and was sometimes thrown into the street by her drunken father. From 11 to 13 years old, she worked at the same mill where her parents worked. Part-time she worked and part-time studied.

At the age of 14 she had become a skilled jute weaver. She supported her home for several years, practically alone, due to the number of siblings she had, and the fact that her father lived drunk. Her mother was very fond of telling missionary stories to her and her brothers. This greatly affected her future. Mary was always informed about the ministry of David Livingstone, a missionary on the African continent.

At the age of 20 he started to work in a Mission that did evangelism outdoors. When he was 27, and he learned that Livingstone had died, he felt a desire in his heart to follow in his footsteps. Since she was little she started to have a dream of being a missionary in Calabar, today Nigeria, and on August 5, 1876 she went to Ethiopia, to get there to Nigeria.

She first established himself in the city of Duke, where he started teaching at a missionary school. She stayed there for a while, but she understood that the missionaries lived a very comfortable life, which she did not want, because she was raised in a condition without any comfort. Her heart was ready for pioneering work and not that.

At one point, due to several malaria attacks, she was allowed to take a vacation to recover his health and see his family again. Then she returned to the countryside, but with a new designation in the Old City, by the river Calabar. Her functions were varied there: supervising schools, distributing medicines, mediating fights and caring for rejected children. On Sundays, she traveled through the woods, from town to town, preaching the gospel. She started to live with extreme situations. She saw, for example, huge crocodiles in the streams. One day, her canoe was attacked by a hippopotamus and she saved her life and the lives of the children who were with her by throwing a pot at the animal's open jaws.

Mary Slessor's picture - Source: Heros of the Faith

She saw the shacks in which the captured natives lived in subhuman conditions. He found himself in a land where terrified prisoners dipped their hands in boiling oil to confess their guilt, where wives were strangled or buried alive to go with their dead husbands to the spirit world, where heartless chiefs ordered men and women to be beheaded for cannibal orgies. She saw a culture permeated by witchcraft, which killed newborn twins and their own mother shortly after delivery.

Anguished, she knelt and prayed: “Lord, the task is impossible for me, but not for you. Show me the way and I will follow you ”. Then she got up and said, “Why should I be afraid? I'm on a real mission. I am in the service of the King of kings ”. After a second leave, in 1888, she returned and went to the northern region, a very difficult region, Okoyong, a wild area, a place that had cost the lives of many missionaries. She lived there for fifteen years.

She was a woman of challenge and courage. She went on to serve them, teach them, take care of them and serve as an arbiter with regard to their disputes. Her role as a conciliator became known to all districts in the region; because of that, she started to act as a judge among them. Because of this, she was named the first vice-consul for Okoyong. Slessor chaired many official sessions dealing with land, debt, family and other matters.

She struggled against witchcraft and superstition, yet she could not see so many conversions in her day. She understood that she was preparing the field for other missionaries to come in the future. She saw seven people baptized and a church organized. She preached the name of Jesus at all times and saved several people from death. She did everything she could for her Lord and Master Jesus. She became known as “The Queen of Okoyong”, or “The White Queen of Calabar”. She lived 66 years of a life dedicated to the Lord's work in Nigeria.

Author: Rev. José João de Paula, in Agência Presbiteriana de Missões Transculturais

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