Robert Moffat :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

Robert Moffat

I want to tell you the story of a young man who played a very great role in the country of South Africa.  It all started farther north of the equator than Cape Town is south.  It was in Scotland.  An old village pastor was questioned by the deacons of his church: Why had there been no growth in the church, no new members?  It seemed the work of the church, if not going backwards was at least at a standstill.  They were about to dismiss the pastor and call a new one.  The deacons said to the old pastor, "No one has come to Christ through your ministry in the past year."  His reply:  "Yea, it has been a lean year, but what about wee Bobby?."  The deacons had forgotten about the young lad who had come to Christ that year. 

Wee Bobby was from a poor but devout Christian family.  Some time after his conversion, there was a mission meeting in that village church.  An offering was taken.  When the offering basket came to wee Bobby, he told the usher to put it on the floor.  "I have nothing to give to God but myself," and so saying stepped into the plate with his bare feet. 

Bobby really meant it when he gave himself to God for His service.  He had little opportunity for education, and as an early teenager was apprenticed as a gardener.  He learned to love this work and later in life he was called "God's Gardener."  It was in his late teens that he was attracted to a notice of a mission speaker at a church in a nearby village.  Although the date was past, he went to talk with the pastor of that church and began to think more seriously on the great task of missions. 

In due time, he volunteered to be a missionary.  After a short term of missionary training, he along with another young couple left England October 1816 for their respective fields of labor.  Robert Moffat went to Cape Town.  He was just 21 years old. 

The other couple sailed on to the South Sea Islands.  John Williams was only 20.  Both of these couples did great exploits for Christ.  Almost three years later, the daughter of Moffat's former employer traveled to South Africa, and they were married in Cape town in December 1819.  Robert and Mary Moffat served together for 50 years.

Wee Bobby became the outstanding missionary to South Africa—Dr. Robert Moffat ,who spent the next 52 years of his life at Kuruman.  He used his gardening skills to benefit the tribal people there, but much more importantly, he preached Jesus Christ and translated the Bible into that tribal language. 

John Williams was also used mightily of God in the South Sea Islands.  He was eventually martyred for the cause of Christ—killed and eaten by the cannibals of Erromanga

These men were faithful and committed to the cause of Jesus Christ.  Moffat served seven years before he had the joy of seeing the first convert come to Christ.  It was many years before there was a real turning to Christ among the people to whom he was ministering.  During that time he mastered the language and began his lifelong translation work.  In due time, he printed the whole Bible in the local tribal language. 

He had a profound influence on his own family.  Son John Moffat returned to Africa as a missionary.  His daughter Mary became the wife of the renowned David Livingstone.  Through his influence, many others went to the mission fields of the world—not just Africa alone.  He took one furlough in 52 years of service.

Why do I tell you this story?  One young lad from a poor family with little formal education, but who gave himself without reservation to Christ, was used of God to do mighty things of eternal value.  What could God do with your life?  [John 6:1-14].  This event is recorded in all four Gospels, so it is intended to teach us a great lesson.  A lad gave what he had, and this was mightily used of Christ.  We need to come to Christ, give Him our all.  He'll take it and multiply it for His glory.


JAD  6/14/99