Against the Odds: Mary Slessor in Africa

It seemed unlikely that this small, red-haired, fair-skinned Scottish woman would survive in Africa in the 1800's. Her life will amaze you! #MarySlessor

Her father was a drunk who couldn't keep a job.

They lived in a slum.

Her brothers died young.

Eleven-year-old Mary Slessor was forced to work alongside her mother at the local mill in order to put food on the table. Mary's happiest moments were spent at church, and she often dreamed of being a missionary. 

When Mary's younger sister started earning a wage to help pay the family bills, Mrs. Slessor encouraged Mary to apply to a mission board. 

So in 1876, 28-year-old Mary, a self-educated mill worker, headed for Africa. At that time in history, Africa was known as "the white man's grave" because it was an extremely difficult place to live. It seemed unlikely that this small, red-haired, fair-skinned Scottish woman would survive. 

But Mary's early life had prepared her for the disease, danger, and difficulty of ministry in Africa. For 39 years she thrived in conditions too difficult for other missionaries and effectively shared Christ with thousands of Africans.

Sometimes we think a difficult childhood ruins a life, but God is in the business of using bad for good (Romans 8:28). 

God can use the difficult parts of your life too. Will you let Him? 
Let your Spanish-speaking friends know that they can read this and other Bible Love Notes in Spanish: Contra todo pronóstico: Mary Slessor en África

For more Romans 8:28 stories: 


Learning a Hard But Important Lesson: It's not as dramatic as Mary Slessor's story, but God taught me some things when I fell off my scooter a few years ago.



Do You Believe It? We often quote Romans 8:28, but do we believe it? This 1-minute devotion encourages us to believe. 

Source: Mary Slessor, Forward into Calabar, Janet and Geoff Benge, YWAM publishing 
While I recommend this book in the series, I do not recommend the book in the series called "Lottie Moon, Giving Her All for China." Lottie Moon's family had a large plantation and they were slave owners, but the book presents them as victims of the Civil War. I wrote YWAM about my concerns, and they made it clear that they were comfortable with the book.

I encourage you to check out the Wisdom for
 Life Devotional. It contains 100 one-minute devotions to challenge, encourage, instruct, and inspire your love for God's Word. To find out more see 10 Reasons Why You'll Love Wisdom for LifeI also encourage you to sign up for a free subscription to Bible Love Notes and get a free e-booklet offering quiet time encouragement. Find out more HERE.

It seemed unlikely that this small, red-haired, fair-skinned Scottish woman would survive in Africa in the 1800's. Her life will amaze you!

Bible Love Notes


  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story

  2. What an inspiration Mary is. Thank you for keeping her story alive.

  3. What an amazing, encouraging testimony. Thank you for sharing.

  4. God is good all the time. I learnt that all things are actually working in our favour.

  5. A woman named Bobbie left this comment on this devotion, but it didn't go through, but I really enjoyed reading what she had to say, so I'm sharing it here for her:

    "My siblings and I shared a tough childhood, and as we age I see us growing out of complaining about bad things that happened to being proud of skills, personality traits, habits, the strength of our (my siblings and I) relationship, even our work ethic. I used to hate that we'd fall into complaining about how bad things were, or even use our experience to explain away reclusiveness, lack of trust, inability to be vulnerable with others...etc. however! Now I notice we reminisce a LOT about good things, good people, happy times from that childhood. I see that we have strengths and are using those individual strong our jobs, hobbies, families. We're truly seeing God uses ALL things- and though we all knew this verse- it's only recently come to light this particular aspect of our lives. God is sooooo good.. He truly prepares us and He truly prepares the good works in our future. So glad to see a devotion on this topic!!!