As you may have read I go into the Baptist Union of Southern Africa’s archives on a regular basis to catalouge and research the artifacts. Over time you grow a fondness for individuals from the past. One who stands out in my mind is Olive Carey Doke. This morning I found a framed certificate in the archives which again adds colour to the past. It is signed by Queen Elizabeth II, and is an Order of the British Empire, recognising Olive’s outstanding service and life. Below I’ve included a short biography written by Sydney Hudson-Reed, a past historian of Baptist history in South Africa.
On March 1972 the trumpets must have sounded on the Other Side for Olive Carey Doke had surely received the most prized commendation of time and eternity – “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
A life worth living is fueled by an unquenchable love for God – Deuteronomy 6:5, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
Born in Bristol on 16 September 1891, Olive Doke learned to know the Saviour through the example and teaching of her parents. Her love for the Lord Jesus influenced every part of her life. Three years after the S.A.B.M.S. accepted the responsibility of staffing Kafulafuta Mission Station, Olive Doke responded to the challenge. From that time, to the end of her road of service, Olive Doke lived for, and loved the Lamba people. To them she gave herself for almost sixty years. They not only accepted her for her incessant labours on their behalf, but for her gracious understanding of their needs. The training of leaders was her concern, and by her life she revealed to them the “manifold grace of God.”
A life worth living love others, sacrificially – Psalm 96:3, “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!”
But Olive Doke was more than a missionary, if that term implies traversing the cross-cultural bridge of service amongst another race. She acted as secretary for the Luanshya Church and at no time was she without flowers. She had a ‘big heart’ also for animals, but people ever remained her first love. She taught the people to read their own language; she translated the Bible and other literature for them and prepared hymns for Lamba worship. During her years of isolation she kept her own mind fresh through reading far and wide, ever looking for ‘nuggets’ to share with ‘her people’. In her earlier ‘treks’ to the remoter areas of the field to extend the gospel witness were undertaken. She was closely associated with the Rev. Paul Kasonga, the Lamba leper saint, contributing greatly to his unusual spiritual maturity.
A life worth living is spent in the service to the King – Philippians 2:17, “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.”
In recognition of her services to the country, the M.B.E was presented to her in 1957 but only her Lord knew fully what her consecrated life had meant to the acceptance and spread of the Gospel in Lambaland. The S.A.B.W.A., accorded her their highest honour by electing her as President in 1958. Her wide ranging visits to the churches were owned of God. The uplift of Lamba women was ever near her heart and at her internment the women of the Church requested the priviledge of burying her.
She being dead yet speaks through the outstanding example of courage, compassion, fortitude and faithfulness seen in her response to the Call of God in Lambaland, in the lonely vigil of responsibility, in the tedium of translation, in the danger of her long treks into bush and her brushes with wild animals and therefore with death, in her visits to the Churches.
As the female Missionary of the illustrious Doke family she carved a name for herself in the annals of the Missionary Enterprise and has put the whole denomination into debt for her work of faith, labour of love and patience of hope!