The LMS Hall of Fame

There are many examples of people throughout the history of the CWM who have been inspirational and influential – whether they served through LMS, PCE or CMS. Some examples:

Robert and Mary Moffatt were commissioned as missionaries in the same service as John Williams in 1816. In 1820 Moffatt moved his family to establish the missionary post at Kuruman where he continued to serve until his return to England in 1870. His daughter Mary, married the missionary and explorer David Livingstone who was also based as an LMS missionary at Kuruman.

Johannes Van der Kemp a Dutch Lutheran pastor read a sermon from one of the LMS founders and was so moved he offered himself for missionary service in Southern Africa. He arrived in 1799 and began his work among African tribes. With the exploitation of the colonialists Vanderkemp built Christian settlements to care and protect people from the colonialists harsh treatment. Van der Kemp refused the governors order to provide labour for farms which put his at loggerheads with the government.

David Livingstone is perhaps one of the best known of the LMS missionaries, though not remembered most of missionary endeavours as for his extensive travels in Africa. He was and remains a controversial figure. Criticised for his failure to make converts, as a poor expedition leader and mostly for his call for Africa to be opened up to “commerce, Christianity and civilisation” which paved the way for the notorious “scramble for Africa.” Yet he was an inspiration to missionaries and became the recruitment poster-boy of the LMS.

John Smith went to Guyana in 1817 with a mission to work amongst the slaves. His work flourished in the Demerara region where he gathered a church of over 800 slaves. He wrote about the appalling conditions slaves experienced and these representation brought changes through acts of parliament. Letters addressed to colonial governors were sent which recommended reform but these were withheld. Despite Smiths encouragement to show restraint violence broke out and a slaughter of slaves took place. Smith was imprisoned for instigating the riot and condemned to death. During his appeal he was imprisoned and in such unhealthy conditions that he died.

Missionaries frequently learnt the languages of the people among whom they worked. Not only learning the language, but writing grammars and dictionaries. The work of Robert Morrison in China is a good example of this contribution.

Eric Liddell was successful athlete whilst a schoolboy at Eltham College – a school founded by the LMS for the sons and orphans of missionaries – so successful that he was selected to run the 100 in the 1924 Paris Olympics. He refused to train and run on Sundays and so was withdrawn, but ran instead in the 200 and 400 metres, winning a bronze and gold medal. He set the world record for the 400 metres in 47.6 seconds. Eric Liddell’s story is captured in a film Chariots of Fire.

At the height of his career Liddell became an educational missionary in China. For a time he worked alongside his brother who was a medical missionary through the LMS. Liddell was interred in 1943 in an internment camp – he had previously been on a prisoner exchange list but gave his place to a pregnant woman – he died in February 1945 from a brain tumour, aged 43.