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Reformed Literature
A Presbyterian Internet Journal

Heart for Africa - The story of Jean Nicholson - Missionary in Zimbabwe

Dolina MacCuish.

Published by FP Publications

Over the summer months, I was out in the United States and wondering what book I could give to various people out there that would fairly reflect much of the character and life of the FP Church I decided that this would be the book. If you are looking for a gift for a non-Christian or non-FP friend or you are looking for simply a good heartwarming read then this is a good place to start. Equally, I am told that the Texan Christians to whom I gave this book have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Miss Nicholson's life began in Arizona but her ancestry came from the Sutherland coast in the North West of Scotland. Her father was a Sea Captain working down the Pacific Coast and Canada. At one point he took President Roosevelt out on an excursion. On a trip back home he went with his family to the church at St. Jude's and there met his future wife. In 1904 he was married to Jessie MacAskill by the Rev. N. Cameron.

Five years later he died in Tucson, Arizona leaving his wife and a young family and was buried by Rev. Breckenridge. The trio returned home and shortly settled back in Glasgow, her mother went to college and gained a 1st class diploma and teaching qualification and wrote a Cookery Book that went to three editions. Jean went to University when she finished school and took an Arts Course. The book contains extracts from her diary that are an interesting insight into many of those early St. Judes sermons. She was converted and became a communicant member before she graduated from University in 1931.

In 1932 she responded to an appeal on the mission for a domestic science teacher to serve in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The book then gives a helpful summary of the history of the FP mission in Zimbabwe. She served as Headmistress on the school at Ingwenya along with her mother and the school was officially recognised. There are a myriad of fascinating stories about early mission life - so taken was I with these accounts that I asked a member of my congregation who grew up in Ingwenya about those days and had a fascinating evening with him as he added to the stories with more of his own.

The book shows the courage of the missionaries in the midst of the War Year's and the close encounters with the German military that were suffered at that time. It explains the expansion of the school and the mission. But this book is not just history, it is a fundamentally human story of a mother and a daughter who gave their life work to assisting those on the mission as they spread the gospel. It is a beautiful and heart warming account of godly women doing what was right to serve their redeemer.

In 1994, she spoke at the 90th anniversary of the mission, she concluded her lecture with 'I feel honoured to have known these people - Mr Patrick Mzamo, Mr Philemon Ndebele and many others. Rev J.B. Radasi with Rev. John Tallach and Dr MacDonald. They were truthful and honest, kind and loving. Some could not read or write. Some were very poor, had no shoes on their feet, but these people were a blessing in their own generation. They tried to bring others to the Lord Jesus and what does God say of them? He says they will shine as the stars for ever and ever.'

When she died in May 2000, she died in full possession of her faculties with a marvellous calmess and equanimity. She knew when the moment had arrived and the time of her departure was at hand, it was a parting to be with Christ 'which is far better'.

If you are an FP and have not bought and read this book then do so - take my word for it, you will not be disappointed. If you have unbelieving friends or a friend in another church who you want to gently introduce to the FP Church then this book is a good start. It is available directly from the FP bookroom in Glasgow -