Robert Moffat,1795-1883,Missionary to South Africa
Written by: Unknown Posted on: 03/17/2003
Missionary to South Africa. Robert Moffat was born in
Ormiston, Scotland, of pious but poor parents. The educa-
tional advantages afforded him were limited, so, at a young
age, he became an apprentice to learn gardening. Upon the
completion of this apprenticeship, he moved to England where
he was won to Christ through the efforts of the Wesleyan
Methodists. With an intense desire to serve the Lord burning
within him, he attended a missionary conference being held in
Manchester, and there he felt the divine call to carry the
Gospel to the heathen.
He was later accepted by the London Missionary Soci-
ety, and at the age of 21, he sailed for Cape Town, South Af-
rica. The hardships and primitive conditions did not deter
him as he pushed northward into the interior, where he won to
Christ the most dangerous outlaw chief in that region.
Returning to Cape Town in 1819, he met his fiancee,
arriving from England, and they were married. Together, they
spent the next 51 years on the mission field, experiencing
the many hardships and sorrows of that primitive area. Three
of their children died in infancy and youth. However, five of
the remaining ones remained in Africa as missionaries. Mary,
the oldest daughter, became the wife of David Livingstone.
The work of Moffat was, as it were, the stepping
stones which others used in spreading the Gospel throughout
the Dark Continent. He opened many mission stations and
served as the pioneer missionary in an area of hundreds of
square miles. He translated the Bible into the language of
the Bechwanas, first having reduced the language to written
In 1870, after 54 years in Africa, he and his wife
returned to England, where one year later she died. Moffat
continued to promote foreign missions the rest of his life.
He raised funds for a seminary that was built at the Kuruman
Station, where native students were prepared for missionary
work among their own people. At his death in 1883 the London
newspaper said, "Perhaps no more genuine soul ever breathed.
He addressed the cultured audiences within the majestic halls
of Westminster Abbey with the same simple manner in which he
led the worship in the huts of the savages."
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