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Radiating the Joy of Christ – Salamo, c.1881–1903

Diana Lynn Severance

When Salamo was about six, Arab traders came into her village near the River Congo, set fire to the houses, and captured the villagers to sell as slaves. Saloma’s father and uncle were away hunting, but Salamo and her mother were among the captives. Salamo was bought by some Dutch traders, who later gave her into the care of Mr and Mrs Darby of the Baptist Missionary Society.

Missionary William Balfern visited the Darbys in 1891 when he first came to the Congo, and admired Salamo’s beautiful smile. Back in England Balfern had been given ten shillings to spend as he saw fit when he arrived in the Congo, and he gave the shillings to Mrs Darby for Salamo. Balfern wrote his fiancé, Mary Grigg, about the charming girl and asked her to pray for her. Balfern died in Africa before ever returning to England.

When Mrs Darby returned to England she placed Salamo in the care of Edith Stapleton, a young missionary wife who had just arrived in Africa. Edith suffered from illness and disease for several years after she came to Africa, and Salamo lovingly cared for her. Salamo joyfully embraced Jesus as her Savior. When she was fourteen she was among the first four Christians baptized at Monsembe. She was full of joy and regularly evangelized the young people in the village.

When Edith returned to England on furlough Salamo, then about sixteen, went with her. Through amazing circumstances, in England they met Mary Grigg, whose fiancé had written her about Salamo. She and her Sunday school class had been praying for Salamo for five years, though they had not heard anything more about the girl. Salamo was quite moved that these people had been praying for her.

Salamo had been praying too – that she could find her father to tell him about Jesus! In 1897, when the Stapletons were developing the missionary station at Yakusu, Salamo recognized the language of her young childhood there. Realizing this must be her tribe’s home, she searched for her father, and did indeed find him and told him about Jesus. 

Salamo became an important part of the early church at Yakusu. She married and had a little daughter, but her husband died shortly after the daughter was born. Salamo was a translator for the missionaries and helped in the early translation of the Gospel of Mark and an early hymnal. With her joyous spirit, Salamo also wrote hymns herself, which are still sung among the Christians at Yakusu. Salamo contracted sleeping sickness and died August, 1903; she was only twenty–two. Her life had seen much tragedy and difficulty, but to the very end, she radiated a Christian joy to all she met.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

~Colossians 4:2~





This extract is from Her–Story: 366 Devotions from 21 Centuries of the Christian Church 

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