Mary Slessor by Martin Baldie, St Pauls RC Academy

Thousands of adults and children die every day. Are you going to stand  back and watch? Or are you going to be a world-changer and do something about it? Mary Slessor decided to do something about it. However, Mary went through some trials in her life before she became a missionary.

She grew up in Scotland with six siblings. Her father worked as a shoemaker and her mother stayed home with the children. After the death of the eldest child, dark days came upon the family. Mr. Slessor dropped into habits of drinking and soon lost his job. The family then moved to Dundee and entered more hardships. They lacked wealth and needed to sell their furniture, but soon the money melted away. Mr. Slessor continued working as a shoemaker but before long became a labourer in the mills. The family went through the loss of three more children and shortly after, Mrs. Slessor began working in the mills to help support the family. This left all of the household chores to Mary, but at age eleven she too, began working as a factory girl. Eventually, her job became a necessity to the family’s income. Mr. Slessor continued to drink and would spend every penny he could get his hands on in this way. Unfortunately, Mrs. Slessor sent Mary to the pawnshop behind his back in order to pay the bills. Also, there would be one night of terror in the house every week. Mr. Slessor would come home in an angry rage and would throw his food against the wall, which sometimes forced Mary out of the house, crying.

These trials strengthened Mary and deepened her sympathy and pity for others. Although she came from a poverty-stricken home, she changed the world by being bold in her faith, determined in her mind and loving in her heart. Undoubtedly bold in her faith, Mary dared to face anything in her life. She was passionate about her religion and wanted to spread it, following in the footsteps of her role models. She became a missionary and moved to Nigeria to spread religion, but achieved a lot more.

Another thing Mary is recognised for is saving twins, an old Nigerian superstition is that when twins are born, one is an evil twin, and the other is perfectly normal, but because they could never tell the difference, both babies were killed, left to die in the jungle, or just left in plain sight to be hunted by wild animals, but Mary taught the natives that this wasn’t true, and saved the lives of hundreds of twins.

Mary did come back from Scotland for a short while, as she contracted Malaria and spent 16 months at home for time to recover, but before long she went back to Nigeria to continue her work. Mary has multiple trips back to Scotland over years as to contracting various illnesses, and had to recover before returning. Mary adopted many children from Nigeria, and saved them from being slaughtered, or left to starve (more twins). In commemoration of all Mary’s work, there was multiple locations named after her, including a Primary School in a local village, where she had worked.

In her dying years, Mary was constantly being weakened after her first catch of malaria when she first arrived in Nigeria, making her more vulnerable to Illness, this eventually affected her so much as to the point she could no longer walk, and had to be pushed in a hand cart. Mary had no intention to come back to Scotland permanently, as she wanted to fully fulfil her plan, and spread the work of Jesus as much as she could. Mary had worked long and hard all her life, in name of God and for the good of other people, and though her life was quite a hardship. She will be remembered, Mary died on the 13th of January 1915. Many British officials attended her “State equivalent” funeral, as a union jack covered her coffin. 100 years on and Mary is still remembered for her accomplishments and ambition, Saving the lives of hundreds and Spreading religion no matter the cost, Mary was very brave to undergo all these hardships but handled everything with extreme care, Mary Slessor was a very inspiring person with a very interesting life. She will always be remembered.

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Scottish Charity No. SC032781

© Mary Slessor Foundation 2016