PrefaceIN THIS PLEASANT TASK of compiling notes on the life of Dr. A. P. Stirrett, the "Bature Mai Magadi" (the white doctor) of Nigeria, it has been difficult to refrain from eulogies, and to present a rounded account of this life that has been so exceptional in the annals of the Sudan Interior Mission. As a man, he had the usual foibles and idiosyncrasies of one who lived alone; and he will doubtless receive the same criticisms that the unknowing and the unthinking give to all who have the courage to count their lives not dear, but to spend and be spent in the service of the Lord JESUS CHRIST.
To those of us, however, who have been privileged to know him and to share in the work that he accomplished, there can be nothing but wholehearted admiration and desire to emulate, "whose faith follow."
He doubtless made many mistakes, and who has not, but these have been forgotten by those who have helped record his life and work. He may have emphasized the need of the Hausa people to the partial exclusion of the hundreds of smaller tribes in West Africa, but he was "called" to the Hausa people, and their salvation became the passion and longing of his heart. He thought of them; he prayed for them; he preached to them; he taught them, until he became part of them. "Can a woman forget her... child?" asks the prophet. So could not Dr. Stirrett forget his people. On one occasion he was heard to remark: "Oh, I hope Hausa will be the language spoken in Heaven!" Then he added: 'Well, some Hausas will be there to hear and understand, even if it is a new tongue."
We have regretted the Doctor's unwillingness to enlarge the notes of his biography, and yet this is an indication of his utter selflessness, and his desire to "decrease that He might increase."
This short account is sent forth with the prayer that many more such men will be raised up to carry the Gospel to the still darkened corners of the world. We cannot believe, as some have said, that the age of missionary giants is quickly passing. The task may be changing somewhat, through the opening up of the countries of the earth; but the need is the same. Men and women are lost and undone without a personal knowledge of the saving power of the Lord JESUS CHRIST. They must know Him, and apart from Him all advantages of education, culture and progress are vain. Better far to leave them to their superstition and darkness than to teach them war and the evils of the white man's ways.
But oh! in CHRIST they can become new creations, go from glory to glory, live holy, useful lives while here, and dwell with Him forever. They await the man who will bring such a message of Light and Life, that they might call upon CHRIST and be saved. "How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent?" "Here am I; send me!"
Dr. Stirrett has kept no diaries, made no written record of his life, and we have had to depend upon the kind offices of his friends and co-workers for the requisite information. He was content that the record be written down in Heaven, but it has been the deep feeling of all who have known and loved him that such a life should not slip away without some word to encourage others to follow in his train, and that the Christian Church everywhere might thank God for the life and ministry of Dr. A. P. Stirrett in Nigeria, West Africa.
DOUGLAS C. PERCY
Biliri via Jos,
Nigeria, West Africa.
A "GREAT HEART" has left us; a prince of missionaries has gone home! One of the most devoted servants of CHRIST since the days of David Livingstone has preached his last sermon, save as "he being dead yet speaketh." He has translated his last book, and prayed his last prayer for his beloved Hausas, those African people who were dearer to him than life itself.
Dr. Andrew Park Stirrett was not an explorer as was Livingstone, but he was no mean traveler, and covered on foot vast areas, wearing out many a younger missionary who attempted to journey with him. The Bature Mai Magani (the white doctor) was primarily an ambassador for CHRIST. Not a great preacher, in the generally accepted sense of the word, he was great in that he preached without ceasing. Our estimate is that he preached not less than 20,000 times, sermons that were heard by not less than 1,500,000 people! The few who have approached this number since the days of John Wesley have possessed rare gifts. Dr. Stirrett was a rare character.
Two thousand such men could have evangelized the world in any generation. If Dr. Stirrett could preach to so many himself; and if Paul could "fully [preach] the gospel... from Jerusalem... unto Illyricum (Albania)," what could not the whole church do through such consecrated effort!
The name of this missionary warrior will not appear amongst the great ones of Westminster Abbey. The world knew him not; it knew not his Lord. Unnoted by broadcast and newspaper, yet the very angels of Heaven must have rejoiced many thousand times over conversions resulting from the doctor's unfailing, untiring efforts. And so an "[abundant] entrance [has been] ministered unto [him]... into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
Dr. Stirrett is gone. This great prayer warrior and preacher has entered into rest after almost half a century of unparalleled effort in the Sudan. Where are those others - intercessors, wrestlers with GOD? Who will take his place? Is there not one? Are there not many, both in the S. I. M. family and amongst its prayer fellowship, who will continue this ministry? Today as never before there are needed those who will give themselves over to the ministry of intercessory prayer for the revival of the church in the homelands; for the furtherance of the Gospel and the salvation of the nations. A tremendous gap has been left with the passing of Dr. A. P. Stirrett. Someone must fill the need. Will you be that one?
Guy W. Playfair,
General Director, S. I. M.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1948