Robert Moffat was a Christian missionary to Africa. His efforts there were so successful that Joseph Parker, one of the most famous preachers England ever produced, once said of him, “When Robert Moffat was added to the kingdom of God, a whole continent was added with him.” And the statement wasn’t that much of an exaggeration.
Moffat was born in Scotland, but in 1813 he moved to England. In 1816, he was assigned by the London Missionary Society to go to South Africa and begin his work. He spent seven years in various locations there until he finally settled down in Kuruman, South Africa. That would serve as his home base for the next 49 years as he traveled widely throughout Africa, shared the gospel with numerous tribes, mastered the Tswana language, and eventually completed a Tswana translation of the entire Bible.
But what first gave Robert Moffat the nudge toward becoming a missionary? By his own admission, it was something that his mother did. When he was a teenager, he left his home in Scotland to move to England, where he would work as an undergardner for a home in High Leigh, England, near Liverpool. As he was leaving, his mother walked with him for a while. When she could walk no further, she stopped. The conversation that ensued went as follows:
Mother: “Robert, promise me something.”
Mother: “Promise me something.”
Robert: “You will have to tell me before I promise.”
Mother: “It is something you can easily do. Promise your mother.”
Robert: “Very well, Mother, I will do anything you wish.”
Mother: (clasping her hands behind his head and pulling his face down to her face) “Robert, you are going out into a wicked world. Begin every day with God. Close every day with God.”
Then she kissed him.
Once Moffat arrived in England, it wasn’t long before he became a member of a Methodist church. One night, while he was walking from High Leigh to Warrenton, he happened to see a poster announcing a missionary meeting. He attended the meeting and shortly afterward contacted Rev. William Roby, the Methodist preacher in Manchester, and announced his call to missionary work. Despite Moffat’s scarce training, he was quickly recommended to the London Missionary Society, and he began his work in South Africa at the age of 21. But Moffat would always credit the true beginning of his call to missionary work to his mother’s goodbye kiss and his promise that went with it. He would say, “It was that kiss that made me a missionary.”