Hidden heroes in the heart of Africa

I just received for review the manuscript of the second book in the Hidden Heroes series: The Good News Must Go Out, due out in the spring. It was about a year ago that a friend at church, knowing I was working on a missionary series, asked, “Have you ever read They Called Me Mama? It’s a wonderful book with great stories.”

“No, never heard of it,” I answered. “Who’s the missionary?”

My friend hesitated for a moment. “I can’t remember,” she said.

Oh, how perfect is that, I thought. A wonderful book with stories that glorify God, and she can’t remember the missionary’s name. Sounds perfect for a series called “Hidden Heroes.”

In 1922, Margaret Nicholl became one of the first missionaries to travel to the heart of Africa with Baptist Mid-Missions, newly formed by William Haas specifically to take the gospel to central Africa. With her nurse’s training, her French language study (because the area at that time was a French colony), and her Bible, Margaret and a few other missionaries rode a steamship up the Congo River to the area that became known as the Central African Republic. Later marrying Guy Laird, Margaret continued the work until her retirement in the 1960s, becoming not only one of the first, but also one of the longest serving missionaries with Baptist Mid-Missions.

While they were in the French colony, the French government decided to take advantage of the missionaries’ boldness, asking the Lairds to go to live among a tribe of cannibals in order to gain their trust. The French cared about the gold mines they had discovered in the area. But the Lairds cared about the souls of men, and so they settled in the village of Ippy, where the Lord worked a mighty work in changing hearts.

The stories in The Good News Must Go Out are based on Margaret Laird’s own personal reminiscences in They Called Me Mama. Like its predecessor, With Two Hands, it seeks to focus not only on the western missionary, “the great white mama,” but even more on the national missionaries. After they came to Christ, these African nationals felt the burning longing in their hearts to take the gospel to those around them who have never heard.

These are their stories too.

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