Around the country, every February people remember, celebrate, and learn about the various ways African American and black folks have impacted the country and the world. Many of whom have been forgotten about, or simply not given much attention in history books, biographies, and films. The same could be said about the impact that African American and black folks have had on the Church: overlooked and understudied. There have been many black folks who have significantly contributed to the advancement of Christ's church in the world. So as we approach the end of February, I would like to offer you a brief series about the life and works of four influential African American and black Christians.
Born into slavery, Leile was born in 1750. At 23 he became a Christian and his owner eventually gave him freedom so that he could pursue ministry and preach. He preached to slaves in Georgia and many were saved through his ministry. He would eventually become the first ordained African American Baptist in America, and soon afterwards he planted the first African American Baptist Church. But what is even more intriguing about Leile, is that he became a very influential missionary to Jamaica. Though, Adoniram Judson is often cited as the first Baptist missionary from the US, Leile deserves this recognition. While in Jamaica, thousands of men and women (both black, white, men, women, slave and free) became Christians through his ministry. Despite persecution, slander, and imprisonment, his ministry changed the landscape of Jamaica and that great island went from 8,000 baptists to over 20,000 in less than 2 decades! Though Leile died in 1828 the fruit of his labor abounded. It was only 10 years after his death that slavery would be abolished in Jamaica.
At the end of the day, there are more men who could have made this list and unless by God's providence we find more artifacts of history, there are even more men whom we may never know about. But may prayer is that we may be encouraged by what we do know, and that we may grow in our thanksgiving towards God for the way in which he's used different kinds of people throughout the history of the Church. May we be challenged by these men to persevere in the face of sin and hindrances to live radical, counter-cultural, and theologically driven lives that change our country forever- because we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).
We hope that you will join us this Sunday to hear from our guest preacher D’Markus Thomas-Brown. Immediately after our 10 a.m. gathering, D’Markus will be leading a workshop called “Our City’s Difficult History and Current Challenges”. You can register here to have lunch with us during this important workshop!