“History Lesson”

Madala tells the children the story of David Livingstone.

Themes Found in This Story:

  • Missions History
  • David Livingstone

Possible Bible Memory Verse:

“I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Acts 26:17-18 (NIV)


  • Exploration Expedition
  • Explorer Binoculars

Prayer Points:

  • Thank God for the legacy of missionaries like David Livingstone and Lottie Moon, and pray for the missionaries today who are continuing their work.

The Story

It was a warm, sunny day in the bush, and Madala’s hut was very busy. Three little lemurs, two lion cubs and a rhino were dash- ing back and forth across his yard with water, soap and sponges. They were helping him wash his Land Rover.

“Madala,” said Philibert. “I have a question.”

“What is it, my boy?” the old cha- meleon answered.

“Well,” he began. “In the Bible, it talks a lot about Jerusalem and how most of the Bible people lived around there. And in my geography class, I just learned that Jerusalem is in Israel, and we looked at it on a map, and Israel is very far away from here.”
“It is,” agreed Jejy, who was in Philibert’s class. “It would take weeks and weeks to walk there.”

“That it would,” agreed Madala with a smile. “What was your question?”

“I was just wondering,” Philibert said. “If Israel is so far away and all, well, how did the story of Jesus ever come to Africa at all?”

“Ah,” said Madala, nodding his head. “Well, the Word of Jesus spread through missionaries. Not just to Africa, but all over the world. People traveled away from their homes to new countries to tell people about Jesus. You know, there’s even a story in the Bible about the first missionary to Africa.”

“Really?” asked Tshameka.

“Ooh, ooh, wait! I know!” said Francois, jumping up and down on the hood of the Land Rover.

“It was Philip and the man from Ethiopia!”

“Very good, my boy,” said Madala. Francois smiled proudly.

“Ethiopia is still quite far from here,” pointed out Reë. “Not so far as Israel, but it’s still a long way.”

“That is true,” said Madala. “The news of Jesus didn’t spread much farther than that until much later in history, when European missionaries came to Africa. Of course, you all know about the most famous missionary to Africa, don’t you?”

“Lottie Moon?” asked Tshame- ka uncertainly.

“No, silly, she went to China,” said Kili, nudging him with his elbow.

“No, the most famous missionary in Africa was a man called David Livingstone,” Madala said. He leaned back on his cane, and the children quickly put down their rags and sponges and settled down, sensing a story was on the way.

“David Livingstone was an explorer and a missionary. He came to Africa in 1841,” Madala began. “He explored deep into the heart of Africa, where no Europeans had ever been before. Everywhere he went, he told people about Jesus. Many times he got sick or was deserted by his guides, but he never stopped going. Once, he got lost, and nobody heard from him for six years. Everyone thought he was dead! But he wasn’t! And he went right on exploring and evan- gelizing.”

“Six years?” asked Kili. “That’s a long time to be lost. That’s as long as I’ve been alive!”

“But why is he so famous, Madala?” asked Francois.

“Well, it was partly because he was such a great explorer. He discovered places in Africa that European people had ever seen before, and made all sorts of maps and charts,” Madala ex- plained. “But he was also a different kind of missionary.”

“How?” asked Jejy.

“Well, you see, my girl,” Madala went on. “David Livingstone was kind and respectful. He didn’t travel with guns and soldiers like other people did. He didn’t come barging into a village and say that everybody had better listen to him because they were wrong about everything. He talked to the local people and he treated them nicely, and because he did that, everybody was more will- ing to listen to what he had to say.”

“I would rather listen to someone who was nice than someone who was cross,” said Reë.

“Exactly,” Madala said. “He spread the Word of Jesus by being kind. He also fought to stop slavery. By doing that, he showed the love of Jesus in his actions and not just his words.”

“Wow. He sounds pretty cool,” said Tshameka.

“He was an example that we all could follow, young man,” Madala said. “Right up to the end of his life, he kept on going—right on through sickness and suffering and dangerous places, to get the Word of Jesus to
places that needed it.”

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