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...

January 17

George Blaurock was an Anabaptist who became known for two things – his opposition of infant baptism and his love of music. The first historical reference to this man occurred on this day (Jan. 17) in 1525 during a public discussion of baptism. It was said by Blaurock, or one of his friends who was with him at the time, “by infant baptism men coerce people to enter the Kingdom of God; and yet there should be no coercion there. All they have eternal punishment awaiting them who seek to sustain the Kingdom of God with recourse to the civil power… the magistry has no assignment touching the Kingdom of God.” Hans Denck, another Anabaptist said: “Let everyone know that in matters of faith things ought to be on a voluntary basis, without coercion.”    These statements provoked the banishment of several notable Anabaptists and the arrest of Blaurock and others. As was common, incarceration for these “crimes” rarely ended in freedom; they usually ended in martyrdom. Blaurock had been a Catholic monk, but he renounced the religion of ritual for one of reality in Christ. After the murders of Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz, Blaurock became a leader among the Swiss Christians, until he, too, was burned at the stake in Claussen. It was pronounced that his death was justified because “he had forsaken his office as a priest… that he disregarded infant baptism, and taught people a new baptism… that he rejected the Mass… and that he said the mother of Christ is not to be invoked or worshipped.” As said earlier, George Blaurock loved music, and...

January 10

Daniel Defoe was born into a English Christian home in 1661. As a young man he fell in love with the word of God, and during a period when there were few copies of the Bible, he was one of many to copy it in short hand for future use. Being a good writer, he began to write anti-government articles and political satire. On this day (January 10) in 1702 the government put an ad in the London Gazette offering a £50 reward for the person who would help in his apprehension. Subsequently, he was discovered and after being pilloried, Defoe spent time in jail. At some point God blessed the man with saving grace and eventually Daniel Defoe became a Baptist. Yes, this is the same Daniel Defoe who wrote the classic novel “Robinson Crusoe.” Sadly the “Robinson Crusoe” which is published and given to children today is not the version Defoe originally wrote. His was filled throughout with the gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, in his 1888 edition the following paragraph can be found: “I took the Bible; and beginning at the New Testament, began seriously to read it…. I found my heart more deeply and sincerely affected with the wickedness of my past life…. I was earnestly begging of God to give me repentance, when it happened providentially, the very day, that, reading the Scripture, came to these words: ‘He is exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and give remission.’ I threw down the book; and with my heart as well as my hands lifted up to heaven, in a kind of...

January 3

On this day (January 3) in 1644 the British Parliament, which was then controlled by the Presbyterians, passed a bill making sprinkling the official act of “baptism” in England. The bill read, “The minister is to demand the name of the child, which being told him, is to say (calling the child by name) ‘I baptize thee in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.’ As he pronounceth the words, he is to baptize the child with water; which for the manner of doing it is not only lawful but sufficient and expedient to be, by pouring or sprinkling of the water on the face of the child, without adding any other ceremony.”  (Remember, this is similar to an Act of Congress.)     This bill actually reversed the law of 1534 which enforced immersion, and under which those who were not baptized were to be treated as outlaws.  That law, directed by King Henry VIII, was passed when the Roman Catholic Church was abandoned and the Church of England became the established English religion.  At that point and for more than a century, immersion was the only “baptism” permitted in Britain.     Like the earlier law, which was designed to attack the practice of the Roman Church, it is now generally admitted that the law of 1644 was passed primarily to choke out the Baptist cause – which was then prospering in the country.     It is amazing and amusing that many religious historians claim that immersion was unknown among Baptists until 1641.  Not only did almost every in England immerse, but immersion...

December 27

Benajah Harvey Carroll was born on this day (Dec. 27) in 1843. His father was a Baptist preacher and the rest of his family were devoted Christians. His brother, J.M. Carroll, authored the often-published booklet “Trail of Blood.” Despite being surrounded by the gospel, B.H. Carroll for years remained an unbeliever and avowed infidel. He later testified, “My infidelity related to the Bible and its manifest doctrines. I doubted that it was God’s book. I doubted miracles. I doubted the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. But more than all, I doubted the vicarious expiation for the sins of men. (But) I never doubted that the Scriptures claimed inspiration, nor that they taught unequivocally the divinity and vicarious expiation of Jesus. If the Bible does not teach these, it teaches nothing.” As a thirteen year old boy, in a protracted “revival meeting” B.H. was coerced by well-meaning adults to join his father’s church. They repeatedly asked leading questions to which he was forced to gave affirmation simply to end the attack and embarrassment. He was baptized as a dry sinner and arose a wet sinner. At that point he vowed never to darken a church door again. However, some time later his mother convinced him to attend a brush arbor meeting where an evangelist challenged the unbelievers in the crowd to consider what they had without Christ. “Have you found anything worth having where you are? Is there anything else out there worthy trying that has any promise in it? Well then, admitting there’s nothing there, if there is a God, mustn’t there be something somewhere? If so, how do...

December 20

John William Jones was married on this day (Dec. 20) in 1860. That fact has nothing to do with today’s vignette, it just gives us a reference to the calendar. John Jones was born in 1835, and he was born again while a teenager. He was preparing himself for missionary service when he married, but he and his wife never made it to the mission field due to the commencement of the Civil War. Jones enlisted in the Confederate army as a private, but was soon appointed as a chaplain serving as an evangelist. In 1887 Brother Jones wrote a book entitled “Christ in the Camp” in which he recounted the service of the many faithful chaplains in the Southern armies. He wrote, “any history of this army which omits an account of the wonderful influence of religion upon it – which fails to tell how the courage, discipline and morale was influenced by the humble piety and evangelical zeal of many of its officers and men – would be incomplete and unsatisfactory.” It is said that more than 100,000 Southern soldiers trusted Christ during that war. He wrote, “It is believed that no army in the world’s history ever had in it so much of genuine, devout piety, so much of active work for Christ, as the Army of Northern Virginia. None but the most severe revisionists in America would dare deny the fact that both General Robert E. Lee and General Stonewall Jackson were born-again believers.” When Chaplains Jones and B.T. Lacey visited General Lee one day, they mentioned that many people were in prayer for him,...

December 13

Edward Pierce was born in Gates County, North Carolina, on this day (Dec. 13) in 1870. The Lord saved his soul when Edward was sixteen, and shortly after that he was called to preach the gospel. He graduated from Wake Forest College and then from Southern Baptist Seminary. Brother Pierce, despite being well-known for positively preaching Christ, was not one to back down from a fight against sin. He made many friends but also powerful enemies. In 1917 the 18th amendment to the Constitution was passed by Congress. It declared that the production, transportation and sale of liquor was illegal. Immediately, the criminals of the underworld stepped in to supply the demands of thirsty sinners. And in response to them, preachers across the country preached against the evils of the liquor trade. Edward Pierce was among them. For the rest of the story we turn to an article from the Cumberland County “Herald” – “On the fifth day of June, 1923, two Garrett brothers armed approached and invaded the Baptist parsonage at the Cumberland Court House, Cumberland County, Virginia, about eight o’clock in the morning. Mrs. Pierce, with a cooing baby girl in her arms, met the armed Garretts at the door and informed the men that her husband was in bed. When the two men insisted on seeing the preacher he was called and came to the door, from which he was dragged into the yard, his nose broken, his face beat up, one eye beaten to a poultice. The second brother allowed no one to render any assistance to the struggling minister, not even his frail wife...

December 6

According to David Benedict’s Baptist history, a church was formed in Salem, Massachusetts, in the year 1780. On this day (December 6), a year later, Samuel Fletcher was ordained as their pastor. He was 33 years old, had been saved about thirteen years, and had been preaching about three years. He not only pastored in Salem, but the Lord blessed his ministry in the surrounding region. This was during the period when there was little social or governmental toleration for religions other than the state-approved Congregational church. On one occasion several Baptist preachers were visiting Bro. Fletcher. They were enjoying one another’s fellowship and looking forward to a baptismal service the next day, when three officers of the law came into the house where the brethren were gathered, telling them to get out of town for their own safety. When one of the Baptists asked if their lives would be in danger if they did not depart, no answer was given. But the expressions on the faces of the intruders left the impression that there was the potential for serious trouble. The brethren disbursed, agreeing to meet further up river the next day. When they came together at the appointed hour, six converts were immersed, further strengthening the local assembly. Persecution eventually did fall on Brother Fletcher and the church, but the Lord’s grace was sufficient, and the Baptist’s testimony to the truth continued in the...

November 29

In the 1870’s the First Baptist Church of Portland, Oregon became burdened for the many Chinese who were moving into their city. Pastor D.J. Pierce wrote to E.Z. Simmons, a Baptist missionary who was on furlough from China, asking if he would come up from California to help the church. In 1874 Simmons and a young Chinese convert named Dong Gong arrived in the city – which had a population of about 100,000 at the time. Little is known about Brother Gong other than the fact that he was born in China and emigrated to America with his parents. Through the evangelistic efforts of the First Baptist Church of San Francisco, Dong had been converted. When his pastor recognized in him the call of God, he began to train him for the ministry. On this day (November 29) in 1874 a Chinese Sunday School was convened in Portland with twenty-two students, and before the end of the year the number was over a hundred. Soon some of these students were trusting Christ and were being baptized as a testimony of their faith. On June 22, the following year, Dong Gong was ordained, becoming, it is believed, the first Asian-American minister among the Baptists. In addition to preaching the gospel, Brother Gong took an active roll in opposing the opium trade and the gangs which controlled the local Chinese society. Eventually, his ministry was taking him back and forth to China. Dong Gong passed away at about the turn of the 20th century after faithfully serving the Lord and his people. Throughout the years, many Baptist Churches in America have...

November 22

On this day (Nov. 22) in 1755 sixteen Baptists, originally from New England, formed the Sandy Creek Baptist church in what is now northern North Carolina. The church immediately called Brother Shubal Sterns to become their under shepherd and leader. With the blessing of God, the congregation quickly grew to more than six hundred. Elder Sterns, not a particularly great orator, but he passionately preached salvation through the free grace of the sovereign God, and hundreds of souls were born again. One of the founding members of Sandy Creek was Daniel Marshall who took the missionary spirit into Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. Soon other believers, like Dutton Lane and Samuel Harriss, began to take up the mantle of the ministry, and the blessings of God spread like wild fire. Morgan Edwards, an historian associated with the Philadelphia Baptist Association, wrote “Sandy Creek is the mother of all the Separate Baptists. From this Zion went forth the word, and great was the company of them who published it. This church, in seventeen years, has spread her branches west as far as the great river Mississippi; southward as far as Georgia; eastward to the sea and Chesapeake Bay, and northward to the waters of the Potomac; it, in seventeen years, is become mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, to forty-two churches, from which sprang 125...

More than eight thousand people attended the funeral service of William Knibb who died of yellow fever on this day (Nov. 15) in 1845. Bro. Knibb served as one of the first Baptist missionaries in Jamaica. When he first reached his field, he was shocked at what he found. In a letter home, he wrote, “The cursed blast of slavery has, like a pestilence, withered almost every moral bloom. I know not how any person can feel a union with such a monster, such a child of hell. For myself, I feel a burning hatred against it, and look upon it as one of the most odious monsters that ever disgraced the earth.” Driven by compassion, he immediately began his work of evangelism among the slaves. But in doing so he incurred the hatred of white planters, civil authorities, British soldiers and the Roman and English clergy. Despite the opposition against him, the Lord began to bless his labors. In addition to his Sunday services, he held Wednesday morning prayer meetings at which there were often more than a thousand slaves in attendance. With such influence, he was thrown in jail, unjustly charged with inciting the slaves to rebellion. After several years, Bro. Knibb returned to England with the hopes of having slavery outlawed. He stirred many Baptist Churches to join him and earned the friendship of such men as William Wilberforce. Eventually success was achieved. Having returned to Jamaica, on July 31, 1838, twenty-five years before President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, a mahogany coffin, packed with whips, branding irons and other symbols of slavery was lowered into a grave...

November 8

The Cloughfold Baptist Church in England had its beginning in 1692 when two cousins, David Crossley and William Mitchel wanted to establish a “Protestant Dissenters” congregation. David Crossley was raised by a godly aunt and trusted Christ for his salvation before he was twelve. His cousin William Mitchel was brought to repentance and faith when he was nineteen – after the tragic death of his brother. William quickly began to grow in grace, and soon he was pastoring at Cloughfold, publically preaching Christ – for which he was arrested. While he was in prison, David became pastor of the congregation. At about that time David met John Bunyan and other Baptists, and he began studying what his Bible said about the ordinances of the church. On August 16, 1692, he was baptized. Shortly after William’s release from prison, he too was immersed. Over the next few years, the cousins lead their congregation to join them in the scriptural observance of baptism, and the Cloughfold Baptist Church was established. More than a century later, on this day (November 8) 1828 the church borrowed £45 to build a schoolhouse for their burgeoning Sunday School. Five years later the loan was repaid with interest. In 1876 a history of the Cloughfold Church was written.. In one chapter the author noted – “An important item in connection with the Sunday School is its library of nearly 800 volumes. It was founded in 1834. This institution had done excellent service during the forty-one years of its existence by supplying the scholars with instructive reading. We cannot, however, help recording our regret at the great...

November 1

In 1755 a church was established in North Carolina made up of refugees from New Jersey. It was called “Jersey Settlement,” and their first pastor was John Gano. When the local Indians made life miserable for the settlers, Gano returned north and many members fled from the area, greatly reducing the size and strength of the church. Then on this day in 1874 they called J. B. Richardson to become their undershepard. When even more people moved from the area and spiritual apathy settled on the Swearing Creek area, Bro. Richardson made arrangements for the visit of Elder F. M. Jordan. In the evangelist’s report, he said “I don’t know that I ever felt or witnessed more of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit both in the heart of saint and sinner. I preached a short sermon and many came forward for prayer. The meeting continued nine days. We had a prayer meeting every morning at 10:00 and by 9 o’clock the hill was lined with people, and inquiring souls were finding the Saviour precious to their souls. The whole community was moved by the power of the Holy Ghost. It was difficult to preach, indeed it did not seem to require much preaching; just pray and sing and rejoice. Sunday, the the last day of the meeting, was a memorable day in the history of old Jersey Church. A large number had been received, and were to be baptized. There was a nice stream running near the church, through a body of large timber, a beautiful place for baptism. The brethren prepared two large tents near...

October 25

Allen Wyley, a resident of Culpeper, Virginia, was born again as a young man and was baptized by David Thomas in 1765. He earnestly prayed that a Baptist preacher would come to his community to establish a church. One day when he heard that the Separate Baptist, Samuel Harris was nearby, he set out to find him. When they finally met, Harris sensed that Wyley had a message from God, and he determined to return with him to Culpeper to preach Christ. That was the beginning of a lengthy period of persecution in the area, but it didn’t deter either Wyley or Harris. Some months later, in Orange county, Mr. Wyley was arrested while preparing a meeting place for the visit of another Baptist evangelist. The court order reads, “This day Allan Wiley, John Corbley, Elijah Craig and Thomas Chambers [are] charged as Vagrant and Itinerant Persons… for Assembling themselves unlawfully at Sundry Times and Places Under the Denomination of Anabaptists and for Teaching and preaching Schismatick Doctrines. Whereupon the Court [is] of the opinion that the said Allen Wiley, John Corbley, Elijah Craig and Thomas Chamber are Guilty… and [are] Ordered [to] enter into Bond each in the sum of 50 pounds… until the 25th of October next and in case they fail to Enter into Such Bond as aforesaid that Each of Them so failing Shall be committed to Gaol Until the Same Shall be performed.” Although Wyley was never ordained, as a godly layman he began openly witnessing of his Saviour, and this ministry eventually moved him to Stafford County. He became a founding member of...

October 18

Massachusetts and Plymouth were two separate colonies, both established by Protestant dissenters. Over time the Plymouth colony became more amenable towards other faiths, but it was not so in Massachusetts. On this day (October 18) in 1649 the Court of Massachusetts sent the following letter to Plymouth expressing their hatred of the Baptists in the region. Honored and beloved Brethren: We have heretofore heard diverse Anabaptists, arisen up in your jurisdiction, and connived at; but being few, wee well hoped that it might have pleased God, by the endeavors of yourselves and faithful elders with you, to have reduced such erring men againe into the right way. But now, to our great grief, wee are credibly informed that your patient bearing with such men has produced another effect, namely, the multiplying and increasing of the same errors, and wee fear of other errors also, if timely care be not taken to supressed the same. Particularly wee understand that within a few weeks there have been in Sea Cuncke thirteen or fourteen persons rebaptized (a swift progress in one towne; yett wee heare not of any effectuall restriction is intended thereabouts). Lett it not, wee pray you, seem presumption in us to remind you hereof, nor that wee earnestly intreate you to take care as well of the suppressing of error, as the maintenance of the truth, God equally requiring the performance of both at the hands of Christian magistrates, but rather that you will consider our interest is concerned therein. The infection of such diseases [like the immersion of adult believers], being so near us, one likely to spread...