Friday, May 27, 2011
The Good White Doctor
The old missionary continued the trek, ravages of malaria notwithstanding. His stretcher bearers manifested almost a woman's touch when the spells came on. There were numerous villages yet to be visited.
His reputation these days had always preceded him. Coming into a clearing he would be gladdened by the happy faces, the singing children and the studious though somewhat guarded faces of the elders.
Medicines would be distributed. In measured hours he would get himself upright and dress open wounds; relieve toothaches; set and splint fractures; consult the women on the progress of their pregnancies.
A modest supper, usually from his own caravan's supply, with tea and biscuits served generously around, would always settle the Good Doctor for the evening's event.
Word had traveled to each community that he carried with him a magical "light box which told stories up against a white sheet". This of course was a rudimentary projector equipped with transparencies to assist in the presentation of a Gospel message. All the basics were addressed: the miraculous birth, the sinless youth, the baptism and wilderness testing, the happy ministrations of mercy and absolution at the Lake side, the growing opposition of hypocrisy, the vacillation of His followers, the anguish of resolve in the garden, the hill-top death, the empty tomb, the joyful new community thrilled with the reality of resurrection.
For the Doctor, David Livingstone, the focus had to be the Grand Old Story. Of course he would minister to the people's needs and graciously endeavour to make each one feel included. But in the Dark Continent, with death just around the corner in a thousand different ways, souls were the thing...and Jesus the only gift for such soul hunger.
On the last morning, the servants found the Good Doctor, kneeling bed-side in the posture of prayer. Arrangements were made to bury his heart right there in the land which he loved and served. The corpse was carried to the coast over a matter of weeks. His remains were identified by the scars of the large wound on the shoulder inflicted years earlier by lion attack.
Visitors now find Livingstone's remains commemorated in a focal place in Westminster Abbey.
It was said that for two generations following, in the East African territory, it was only necessary to mention the Good White Doctor. Everyone knew Livingstone was meant by the term.