February 24

On this day (February 24) in 1876, George Grenfell and his wife sailed from England to begin missionary work in the Cameroons, Africa.

George was raised in the Church of England, but he became attracted to the Sunday School of the Heneage Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. There he was born again, and there he was called into the ministry, having been introduced to the work of David Livingstone. Grenfell attended Bristol Baptist College, but when he heard that missionary Alfred Saker was on furlough, he wrote to him, offering his services. The Lord made it clear that the young man should travel to Africa as an assistant to Saker. When the elder missionary could no longer endure the rigors of missionary life, both men returned to England. On February 11, 1876 Grenfell married his long-time fiancee, and on this day, the two sailed for the Cameroons.

Ten years later, in August 1877, Henry Stanley emerged from the African darkness at the mouth of the Congo River. Leaving from the east coast, he had been in search of David Livingstone, and after finding him (“Dr. Livingstone, I presume!”) he had continued westward, eventually sailing down the river to the coast. Although Grenfell was 600 miles to the north, upon hearing the news he raced down to hear what Stanley had to say about the continent’s unexplored interior. The missionary was immediately attracted to the idea of using the mighty Congo River to reach the Christless people of Africa. George Grenfell became the primary explorer of the Congo and the first to carry to gospel of Christ into the heartland of the dark continent.

Over the years, he buried his first wife in Africa, several children and not a few fellow missionaries, but he never gave up his quest to present the gospel to the lost.

George Grenfell died on July 1, 1906.