“And the world’s gonna know your name cause you burn with the brightest flame. And the world’s gonna know your name and you’ll be on the walls of the hall of fame.” ~ Hall of Fame by The Script
Will they remember your name? How about you, can you remember the name of your grandfather? How about your great grandfather’s name? Many of us live with the goal of making some sort of Hall of Fame yet if we go back far enough we find it hard remembering particular people of big events unless we are a sports or history buff.
April 18th, 1874 was declared a day of national morning for the British Isles. There was not a student or factory worker that did not know that Britain’s greatest hero was being buried that day. It was eleven months after his death but because of three African friends his body made it back to his homeland. However, his friends first buried his heart under a Mpundu tree in Chitambo, Zambia because they felt it belonged in the country he so dearly loved. Then they prepared his body and carried it over 1,000 miles to the coast of Africa to the British authorities. He was taken back to his homeland and laid to rest in London. On his tombstone is inscribed a portion of one of his last letters written to a friend about his most passionate topic, slavery. It reads, “All I can say in my solitude is, May Heaven’s rich blessings come down on everyone, Americans, English, Turk who will help to heal this open sore of the world.” They said of this national hero that he served three masters, as a missionary he was, first and foremost, a servant of God. As an explorer he was a servant of science, and as a denouncer of the slave trade he was the servant to humanity.
I recently attended a class where the professor was telling us about his trip to London. As he visited Westminster Abbey, he was looking for this hero’s grave in the church. He walked all around the gravestones but ended up asking a lady overseeing the abbey that day. He told her who he was looking for and she replied, “Last name again, please?” He said, “Livingston… David Livingston.” He was amazed that the name did not ring a bell for a person that was first of all, British, and that worked in Westminster Abbey. She went to her records and on finding David Livingston’s name, she was amazed that the grave was right in the middle of abbey in such a prominent location.
I found the story interesting because most of us work our whole lives trying to make a name for ourselves. I can remember one year at church camp getting a silly superlative award at our camp banquet. It said, “Most likely to be disappointed if they don’t become famous.” I first kept this award because it was a fun memory of Camp 1982. I have continued to keep it because it’s a reminder that my ultimate intention is not to become famous or to make a name for myself but to love Jesus, and to love people just like Livingston did.
David Livingston is probably the greatest missionary to come from the British Isles and one of the greatest explorers in the world. Yet today, most of us know little about him. His grave probably would not be a one we would look for on a visit to London. Few would know of his passion for abolishing slavery and slave trading. In most circles his name would not stand out. He surely did not make a name for himself with the Westminster Abbey staffer that day. Good thing that was not what he was trying to do on his mission to love Jesus, and to love people.