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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Robert Moffat. 21 Dec. 1795 - 9 Aug. 1883. Missionary

Robert Moffat is one of my personal hero's.A quote of his;"We have eternity to celebrate our victories, but only one short hour before sunset in which to win them."

Robert Moffat set sail from England in October 1816 and arrived in Cape Town in January 1817 to take up his post as missionary for the London Missionary society in Great Namaqualand. The Governor of the Cape refused to give Moffat permission to travel to his destination. The reason being that the Governor feared that Moffat would be murdered by the outlaw Jager Africaner. Africaner was an outlaw and murderer who terorised the whole of the North West Cape.

Moffat had to spend several months living in the town of Stellenboch, today a university town, where he learnt to speak Dutch. He managed eventually to convince the Governor to let him go and take up his missionary post. He made this journey by ox-wagon through the dry Great Karoo and after much hardship arrived at Jager Africaners village.

  Africaner was amazed to see this white man who fearlessly approached him. He asked Moffat if he knew who he was, and that his name Jager meant hunter and that he hunted men. Africaner was so impressed by Moffat that he instructed the women of the village to build a hut for him. This was nothing more than a beehive structure of sticks and reeds. It offered very little protection against the elements or animals, and Moffat often found himself sharing his residence with snakes and other creatures.

Moffet continued preaching and Africaner came to hear him everyday. Africaner asked Moffat over and over again to explain the message of salvation. The message did not fall on stony or shallow soil and Africaner became a Christian. He also changed his name to Christian Africaner.

Moffat had to go to Cape Town to meet his affianced wife Mary Smith would be arriving in December of that year. He persuaded Christian Africaner to accompany him. Africaner was very reluctant at first but later agreed. There was a reward of 1000 rix dollars, about £100, on his head. He was afraid that he would be tried for his crimes and hanged.

On the journey to Cape Town, the first farm they came to, that of a wealthy Dutch farmer, Moffat told Africaner to stay out of sight until he had spoken to the farmer. When the farmer saw Moffat he thought that he was seeing a ghost. Everyone was convinced that Moffat had been  murdered by Africaner. The farmer was even more amazed when he saw the now changed Christian Africaner, and he exclaimed; "O God, what a miracle of thy power. What cannot thy grace accomplish!"

On arrival in Cape Town Moffat presented Christian Africaner to the Governor. If possible the Governor was even more amazed at the changed Africaner than the farmer was. The Governor was so impressed with Africaner that he pardoned him and gave him a wagon worth £80.

Mary Moffat in later life.
Moffat's fiance had arrived in the Cape by now and they were married on the 27th of December 1819. They were married for more than fifty years until Mary's death in 1870. Robert and Mary had 10 children, 4 of whom died at a young age, Their eldest child, Mary Moffat, later married the missionary explorer David Livingstone.

Robert and Mary left the Cape to start up a new mission at Lattakoo a large and famous Bechuana "city", near what is to today the town of Kuruman, in the northern Cape.

Christian Africaner returned to his people, now as their pastor, no more a bandit chief. On his death bed uttered the following words; "My former life is stained with blood, but Jesus Christ has pardoned me, and I'm going to heaven".

Sources, and Wikipedia.

More about Robert and Mary Moffat in a later post.


Jo said...

What a brilliant testimony to the grace of Jesus over sinners. If Jager Africaner could change so drastically, then so can anyone who just accepts Jesus as their Saviour. I love the story of Robert Moffat and have visited their mission in Kuruman. Robert Moffat knew that if he feared God, he need fear NO MAN. What a brilliant post, Phillip. Thanks for sharing. Love Jo

Gaelyn said...

This is a great piece of history and does prove that good can triumph over evil.

Gorges Smythe said...

That IS a great quote, and VERY true!