Mary Slessor  (1848-1915)

     Mary's diligent acquisition of local languages and customs of what is now Nigeria paid off in 1882. Chief Okon invited the 'White Ma' into a very wild area to the west of Calabar. A great canoe with 33 oarsmen came to pick up Mary and four of her orphans.
     "Welcome to Ibaka!" boomed Okon when she arrived at his village.
     Okon sat on chair, winged on each side by subchiefs. Because of his remoteness Okon was not as Anglicized as many Efik chiefs, but still he wore a top hat and pinstriped trousers under a leopard-skin robe. 
     "This White Ma will do many great things for us," he bellowed proudly. He stared at Mary expectantly.
     "Friends," Mary shouted, "I have come to tell you of a Savior. If you believe in Him He will save you from death." Mary noted their stony disbelief. "I will also give you the white man's medicine. You can come to me with your sickness." Enthusiasm rippled through the crowd. "I will teach mothers how to keep themselves and their babies clean and prevent sickness." More approval. 
     The chief could not subdue the crowd. His welcome and her promises to them had released their inhibitions. They surrounded her. She allowed them to poke at her, though she rebuked those who were too rough. Fingers tested her flaming red hair. Hands felt the cloth of her dress. A few touched her skin cautiously. 'She is not painted white,' one gasped. A thumb scoured her freckles. 'The spots don't rub off!' said the scourer. They sniffed at her. This curiosity continued for hours. At lunch they watched her eat, their own jaws agape. Those in the front of the crowd screamed to the ones behind. 'She's scooping the black soup into her mouth with a shiny tool!' 'She's picking the bones out of the fish with a pronged tool!' 'She's touching her mouth with a cloth!'
     "Come to your lodging," announced the chief finally.
     Mary and her orphans were installed in the chief's 'yard', a compound for his wives and young children. There the chief also kept his goats, chickens and dogs. Mary resented the conclusion of some that she too was a possession of the chief. But no other accommodation was available, and the yard was well guarded. Moreover, Mary was placed in a special hut, modesty assured by a curtain of calico hung over the door. But any pleasure in her special status disappeared the first night. Mary discovered that the wives, all prodigiously fat in accordance with the local standard of feminine beauty, had to observe proper etiquette for a guest. This was done by sleeping as snug to her as possible. So tiny Mary was hemmed in all sides by the chief's very large wives...

Mary Slessor of Calabar: Pioneer Missionary by W. P. Livingstone, 1916]

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Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1912-alive)

Alexander Solzhenitsyn 's anecdote is available HERE.

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"She is not painted white!" screamed one of her examiners.

Mary Slessor

By the late 1930's Corrie's girls' club had joined 'Girl Guides', an international organization. This relieved her of many headaches. But soon she realized she had paid a heavy price. The organization was secular and tried to squelch the teaching of Christianity. Memories of tiny Pietje and other girls who had died, saved in Jesus because of the club, made it impossible for Corrie to remain in such an organization. So she left it - with her hundreds of girls.
Her girls' club became local again: the Triangle Club. The triangle symbolized social, intellectual and physical skills. But the triangle rested inside a circle. This meant being in the right relationship with God.  The four rules of the Triangle Club were:
          Seek your strength through prayer. 
          Be open and trustworthy.
          Bear your difficulties cheerfully.
          Develop the gifts that God gave you.

Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)

     As commendable as
The Hiding Place (1971) was, it created the impression Corrie was a middle-aged spinster suddenly thrust from a sheltered life into World War II. In fact Corrie was a risk-taker and a superb organizer. The first thing the Nazis did after invading Holland was to shut down her large organization of girls' clubs so that it could not be used by the Dutch underground. From 1923 to 1940 Corrie had built it from a simple diversion for girls after church to her network of well-rounded, spiritually-grounded Triangle Clubs. Her girls wore uniforms, learned crafts, studied the Bible, even camped. Each year they rented a concert hall to perform for friends and relatives. In the middle of the show Corrie, a fearless public speaker, gave a peppy talk with a title like 'God's telephone is never busy!'.
     But her weekly meetings with the girls were the joy of her life. The clubs had various classes, one of which offered physical exercises. This class voted on a slogan. Corrie was high-hipped with pigeon toes, but shorts required for the class revealed another feature: knock knees. One girl, gawking at Corrie's legs, suggested the slogan: WE MAKE STRAIGHT WHAT IS CROOKED! Corrie laughed louder than anyone. She knew teasing was one way some girls expressed friendship. She was not too proud to take a joke either, even though her girls often pushed her to the limit. Every summer they camped out. On the last evening of their campout Corrie would sneak into the woods after lights-out and sing a warm good-bye song. One year a horrible din drowned out her song. She was sure she battled the devil himself. But she didn't stop singing. Next morning her girls insisted she never sang more beautifully. 'Noise?' they asked in mock surprise, 'What noise?'
     Dealing with her 40 or so club leaders took patience too. One leader was so bizarre she was a legend. The girls nicknamed her 'Kipslang', Dutch for 'chicken-snake', because she told them the snake in the Garden of Eden had legs like a chicken. One of her meetings broke up with girls hurling chairs at each other. Corrie had ten clubs that had formed from girls who were first attracted to Kipslang's outrageous club, then fled it! But feisty Kipslang stayed. Corrie was too kind to ask any leader to quit.
     Over nearly 20 years many of her thousands of girls had to deal with death in their families. Corrie consoled in every way she could. Occasionally death took one of the girls. One day Corrie had to rush to the hospital. Pietje - a petite girl with severe physical problems - was dying! The tiny face grimaced from pain. Corrie said, "It is such a comfort to know Jesus will be our Judge.  Oh, how he loves you, Pietje!" Corrie stroked her forehead. She prayed aloud for the Good Shepherd to take his lamb to his Father's house with many mansions. Pietje's face relaxed. She smiled as if she was seeing Jesus. As Corrie said, "Amen," Pietje died.

: In My Father's House by Corrie ten Boom with Carole C. Carlson, 1976, and Corrie ten Boom: Her Life, Her Faith by Carole C. Carlson, 1983]

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Corrie ten Boom
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