This Sunday in Baptist History
American Baptists were introduced to their missionary responsibilities in West Africa through the thousands of slaves who had been kidnaped and brought to this country from that region. Many of the people carried here brought with them the pagan witchcraft of their forefathers, but by the grace of God, while in their servitude, some were saved.
In 1821, two freed slaves, Lott Carey and Colin Teague were ordained by the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia and sent with their blessing to minister in Monrovia, Liberia. They were the first of many missionaries to West Africa. When Teague left the mission, Carey was joined by another former slave, Colston Waring. Carey not only preached the gospel, but was made governor. However on November 8, 1828 he died from injuries sustained in an accident.
On this day (Jan. 24) in 1826 Calvin Holton, the first white man was appointed as a missionary to the region. After arriving in Africa he lived only a few months before the heat and disease of the region took his life.
The missionaries continued to come. In 1835 William Milne and William Crocker and their wives arrived. Within a month Mrs. Milne died of a fever, and the others were so ill, their lives were in jeopardy. Even then Bro. Crocker wrote to a friend, “You ask whether I am not by this time, sorry I came to Africa. I can truly answer, ‘No.’ Every day I bless God for bringing me hither.” Two years later his health forced him to temporarily return home. But others continued to step forward as missionary volunteers. The Clarkes arrived in 1837, Rispah Warren in 1839, the Fieldings in 1841 and J. C. Minor in 1842.
In 1840 Bro. Crocker married again, but before the year expired this lady also passed away. The Fieldings both died within six weeks of their arrival. After Brother Crocker came home to regain his health, he returned in 1844. Then a few months later, the day after preaching from, “I have fought a good fight,” he also died.
Other missionary agencies such as the Livingstone Inland Mission lost eleven missionaries to disease. And the English Baptist Mission in West Africa gave up thirty-three men and sixteen women to death in their service of Christ.
Missionary work is often costly – not only in finances but in personnel. But remember, whateveris given to Christ is never truly lost – even our lives.