Florence Nightingale  (1820-1910)

     Florence organized nursing for the British army in the Crimean War. Officials everywhere thwarted her, but not the soldiers. She and her nurses had tended thousands. In May 1855 she left the hospital at Scutari to sail across the Black Sea to the huge army and naval base at Balaclava. Aboard ship she wrote home of the irony of accompanying 400 of her patients back to the front where they might be killed. In the Balaclava harbor no officials greeted her. Two other reformers from London, Dr. Sutherland and John McNeill, greeted her.
     Atop fine riding horses she and the gentlemen toured the fortifications. The British army now in Balaclava numbered almost 200,000. Tents were used by many thousands of British soldiers but wooden barracks were being built as rapidly as possible. The ground seemed a sea of mud. Florence shuddered to see men marching toward the trenches where they waited for a Russian attack from Sebastopol only seven miles away.
     Yet at one spot she observed 'the most flowery place you can imagine'. It seemed out of nowhere a sergeant appeared to present her a bouquet. He reminded her she had saved his life at Scutari. Then she remembered. On one of her nocturnal rounds she saw his inert form in the corridor. Ever thorough she examined him under her lamp. Somehow he had been missed. He was unconscious, beyond protesting. A bullet was in his eye! Florence had him rushed to surgery. A surgeon saved him. And now here was this very sergeant back on the front. 
     Florence was astonished as more and more soldiers gathered around their small party. At first dozens, then hundreds, then thousands. Uniformed men stretched beyond her like a vast blanket of khaki. 'What is the attraction?' She wondered. The soldiers began to cheer. For her? Surely not. But for whom?  They all appeared to be gawking at her.
     One man boomed, "Behold the heroic daughter of England, the soldiers' friend!"
     The soldiers cheered until it was deafening. More bouquets of wild flowers were presented to her. 'Pick the best one,' they eagerly asked. 'I pick them all' she cried, hugging them to her. 'Give God the praise,' she tried to yell, but their cheers drowned her out.

Florence Nightingale: Selected Letters edited by Martha Vicinus and Bea Nergaard, 1990, and Florence Nightingale by Cecil Woodham-Smith, 1951]

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By 1860 Florence Nightingale's supreme confidence showed in her classic Notes on Nursing: what It Is and What It Is Not.
          ...It is a curious thing to observe how almost all
          patients lie with their faces turned to the light,
          exactly as plants always make their way towards the
          light; a patient will even complain that it gives him
          pain "lying on that side." "Then why do you lie on
          that side?" He does not know, but we do...
          ...Unnecessary noise, or noise that creates an
          expectation in the mind, is that which hurts a patient.
          It is rarely the loudness of the noise...(but) he cannot
          bear the talking, still less the whispering, especially if
          it be of a familiar voice, outside his door...and (he)
          knows they are talking about him...
          ...Walking on tip-toe, doing any thing in the room very
         slowly, are injurious, for exactly the same reasons. A
         firm light quick step, a steady quick hand...not the
         slow, lingering, shuffling foot, the timid, uncertain
         touch. Slowness is not gentleness...

Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)

Francis Schaeffer's anecdote is available HERE.

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Mary Slessor  (1848-1915)

     In 1882 Mary was a guest of Chief Okon in the remote village of Ibaka. She was accommodated in the chief's 'yard', a compound for his wives, children, goats, chickens and dogs. One night two young wives sneaked out of the yard to visit a man. But they were seen. It was discovered that two other wives in the yard knew they had left and said nothing. So all four wives were in trouble.
     "This is very bad," said Chief Okon. "Wives must remain pure. And other wives must not pretend to be ignorant of such a great crime."

     "What punishment do you plan?" asked Mary cautiously.
     "I have already met with the elders. One hundred lashes with the whip of crocodile hide!"
     "That's too severe!" protested Mary. "People die from 100 lashes."
     "If you try to stop it with your written Word of God, the people will say your way is no good because it destroys our power to punish wrongdoers."
     He was right but Mary cringed. She was no stranger to floggings. Not only was it excruciating and possibly lethal but salt was rubbed into the wounds afterwards. Sometimes a finger or two were chopped off for good measure!
     "I want to meet with the elders," she told Chief Okon.
     Years ago she would have done everything in her power to work a problem out behind the scenes. She was terrified of men. But now she felt so bold and so authoritative though Christ's strength she was willing to take on all the men and their system of justice in front of the entire village! After Chief Okon gathered the elders and the four wives, Mary stepped before the assemblage. 
     "You wives have shamed all the women of the village!" she snapped. The wives were stunned. "Wives must remain pure," she continued. "You betrayed your chief's trust. But the Word of God I bring you in this sacred book says that God has mercy." The four wives began to relax; surely White Ma was going to insist they go unpunished after all. Mary continued, "But God does not overlook sin, nor does God forbid punishment for sin." The wives looked sick again.
     "Punishment," grunted an elder. "Now White Ma speaks well."
     Mary turned on the elders. "It is your terrible custom of taking many wives that caused these young women to get bored and stray. Men should not have more than one wife!"
     "Did I hear White Ma right?" blurted Chief Okon. "What's this about not having more than one wife? Does it say that in your book?"
     "Yes! Right here in the 10th chapter of Mark," she cried. 
     Chief Okon was boiling. "I don't know about this Word of God..."
     An elder growled, "Are these sinful wives not to be punished after all?"
     "Listen to me!"  Mary held up her hand. "The wives must be punished for their foolishness. The hide of the crocodile is appropriate..."
     "She speaks wisdom now!" yelled an elder.
     "No salt in the wounds," she insisted.
     "Granted," commented the chief.
     "No fingers or toes may be cut off," added Mary.
     "That's a small thing anyway," shrugged an elder.
     Mary announced, "Each wife should get ten lashes!"
     "Ten lashes is almost as painful as a hundred lashes," commented another elder matter-of-factly. "After the first ten lashes they usually faint anyway."
     And so the young wives received ten lashes. Mary cleaned their wounds, rubbed in analgesic salve and gave them an opiate. She would sedate them for a day or two - until the worst pain was over. It was the most she could do. But through the power of Christ she had probably saved their lives.

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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