I Heard Him Call: The Story of Neville Langford-Smith
Seen by some as ‘always controversial’ and by others as ‘humble’ and ‘most caring’, Neville Langford-Smith lived among African peoples in Tanganyika and Kenya for over four decades, sharing their friendship, joys and sorrows. Beginning in 1932 aged 22 years of age, he first served in Uha, midway between Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika, setting up mission stations and schools in strategic places. He became a teacher, headmaster and teacher trainer and in 1937 was ordained priest in Sydney, marrying fellow missionary and kindergarten teacher, Vera Dobson shortly after. Together they shared in the development and encouragement of an indigenous church in Tanganyika and Kenya, experiencing the difficult war years, the East African Revival and the turbulent years of the birth and growth of Kenya as a nation.
Queenslander Margaret Thornton spent eight of her thirty-one years’ experience as a CMS missionary in Kenya as the Bishop Neville’s secretary and diocesan bookkeeper, working closely with him and his wife Vera. Her leadership roles in Africa encompassed Sunday Schools, Lay Training, Theological Education by Extension, writing and publishing, enabling her to witness the remarkable growth of the church in Kenya and Tanzania.
Small of stature, inclined to shyness and a very real love of ordinary people.
Bishop Neville Chynoweth, Redhill, ACT, Australia
For him, it seemed there were things to regret, a certain lack of confidence in his own dealing with affairs, regret that he had not allowed his own gifts to develop, too much done by way of imitation of others. He was a man who was more honest than most, burdened and enhanced by considerable self-insight. My own life was the richer because of his friendship.
Bishop Donald Cameron, Sydney, Australia.
I shall always be inspired by his humility. He was always serving others, many of whom were not allowed to see that he himself might have some problems of his own.
Bishop George Tung Yep
He was very single-minded; devoted to Vera; devoted to the gospel; devoted to Africa. His long career as a missionary and a missionary bishop was an impressive testimony to his own character. His vision, statesmanlike qualities and total dedication far outweighed any lack of broader interests.
Archbishop Sir Marcus L. Loane
This great man of God loved and cared for the clergy of the Diocese. When he left no other Bishop visited us and encouraged us the way he and Vera did.
Revd. Geoffrey Ochana, Kenya
He was a ‘natural’ in the field of shepherding his flock and exercising a ministry of encouragement. It was an intrinsic part of him. He understood the African mind and thought/behaviour patterns as well as those of compatriots and was known by all to be ‘pro-African’ both before and after independence in Kenya.
Ailsa Park, former CMS missionary in Kenya