October 20

Adam Burwell Brown was born on this day (October 20) in 1821. He was raised in Virginia and first educated by the Episcopalians. It was expected that he would become a priest of that denomination, but upon studying the Word of God, he became a Baptist. He attended Washington College and the University of Virginia. John A. Broadus, a fellow student of his later wrote, “Before the middle of the session it was apparent to me that he (Brown) was the foremost man of the class.” After completing school Brother Brown became engaged in mission work in Western Virginia and West Virginia. But then the War broke out. He joined the Southern forces and became a missionary chaplain. He loved evangelism and worked to start and strengthen churches wherever he could even during the conflict. When the war ended, he found that the churches and missions he had previously served had been decimated of their members and finances. To supplement his income and to feed his wife and family he farmed and taught school. At one point his wife had sacrificially saved a few dollars for her Pastor/husband to buy a vest. She surprised him with some cash just before he left for a fellowship meeting, instructing him to buy the needed vest before returning home. But during the meeting A. M. Poindexter made an impassioned plea for missionary support for foreign missions. Bro. Brown rose and said before a number of more wealthy men, “Here is money my wife gave me to buy a vest, but the vest may go, and I will do without, and foreign missions...

October 13

Julius Kobner was the son of a Danish Jewish Rabbi. Following his training as an engraver he traveled from place to place plying his trade. While visiting in Hamburg, Germany he met the Baptist Johann Oncken when he came under conviction and was converted to Jesus Christ. In May, 1836 he was immersed. Soon he too was preaching the gospel – primarily among the Germans. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Lord began stirring the hearts of some in Denmark. A young Protestant minister in Copenhagen was brought by the Holy Spirit to understand salvation by grace. In Jutland the Lord stirred the hearts of several people. On the Island of Funen a poor shoemaker became a faithful witness for his Saviour, leading many to salvation by grace. In 1839 Kobner heard what the Lord was doing in his homeland and decided to see it first hand, meeting a number of believers in Copenhagen. After returning to Germany he talked with Oncken, and the two men returned to baptize eleven believers and forming them into the first Baptist church in Denmark. One of the new believers became their teacher. A year later Oncken and Kobner returned and baptized ten more. Despite persecution the little Baptist congregation grew, scattering the seed of the Gospel. A group of believers started gathering in Jutland where the persecution was even more severe, and several of God’s saints were jailed. English Baptists sent a delegation to plead with the King of Denmark for leniency, but there was little respite. Then finally, in 1849 a new Danish constitution was secured, providing for religious...

October 6

Thomas Grantham was saved by God’s grace at an early age and joined the Baptist church at Boston, Lincolnshire, England. Soon after he began serving the Lord, he became the object of Satan’s hatred. He was arrested and thrown into the Lincoln gaol. While there, as did many good men during that period, he started writing. His first tract was entitled “The Prisoner Against the Prelate” and set forth the reasons for his separation from the Church of England. After he was released, a small group of believers in Lincolnshire asked Grantham to become their pastor, and he agreed. The persecution continued fueled by lies and false accusations. He again stood before a judge, but in this case, the magistrate could see through the deceitful charges and released him. Much, much later, on this day in 1691, the rector of Tattershall confessed that he had lied about Grantham. But the persecution didn’t stop. Pastor Grantham and his people were often rudely interrupted in their worship services; sometimes they were dragged out of doors and pelted with rotten fruit or stones. Then with the encouragement of the brethren, Grantham and another pastor were sent to wait upon King Charles II. When given permission to speak, they praised God for His blessings and set forth their request for their rights of liberty of conscience. They besought, with respect, the king “to leave them to the light of Scripture, with respect to the exercise of those spiritual gifts of prayer and preaching in their assemblies, according to their abilities for the edification of the church.” On March 15, 1672 King Charles issued...

September 29

Elisha Andrews was born on this day in 1768. The place was Middletown, Connecticut. At an early age he was born a second time and soon began to serve the Lord, preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1793 he became the pastor the Baptist church in Fairfax, Vermont, about 25 miles from the Canadian border. Interested in the spiritual condition of the people of Upper Canada (Ontario), he began making missionary and evangelistic trips across the border. In a report to the Triennial Baptist Mission Committee, the date of which I couldn’t discover, he said that he had been instrumental in starting the first and only Baptist church in Canada – at least of which he was aware. He wrote that beginning at 9 a.m. he spent an entire day examining candidates for baptism, eventually concluding that thirty were truly converted to Christ. They were from the ages of 10 to 50. He stated, “Nearly all they knew had been taught them by the Holy Spirit, and they told a plain, unvarnished tale of the dealings of God with their souls; and I have seldom heard such a number of Christian experiences so highly satisfactory, and decidedly evidential of a real change of heart. The next day we repaired to the Lake, cut a hole in the ice, and fifteen of those happy and devoted disciples were immersed. The baptism of the remaining fifteen was deferred until the next Monday” – probably because Brother Andrews was nearly...

September 22

Fredrick Ludwig Rymker was born on this day in 1819 in Stige, Denmark. At the age of twenty he went to sea. On one occasion when his ship docked in New York harbor, he went ashore and stayed in a sailor’s lodging house which was sponsored by Christians. While there he was invited to visit the Mariner’s Temple where he was introduced to the gospel and where the Lord saved him. Immediately he began serving his Savior. Unfortunately, within the year he was involved in an accident which forced the amputation of a leg, after which he was fitted with a wooden prosthesis. While still in New York Brother Rymker was licensed to preach. Shortly thereafter which he was sent as a Baptist missionary back to his homeland of Denmark. He was ordained to the ministry in Copenhagen where he was preaching and editing the paper The Missionary Magazine for Baptized Christian Churches. After several years, when he was 38, he felt a call to minister in Norway. He settled near Porsgrund, but he established preaching stations in other communities as well – some as far away as 20 miles. Having no means of transportation, the one-legged preacher would walk to each of the missions. In good weather he could cover the distance in 8 or 9 hours, but in winter it took much longer. Once he fell on the icy road and broke his leg – the wooden leg. There was nothing he could do but lay in the snow until someone found him and drove him to town. In 1861 Rymker’s first Norwegian church was established. When...

September 15

Samuel Slater immigrated from England, bringing with him the skills though which he had been earning a living. From memory he reproduced the cotton machinery he had been using. In this it is said that Samuel Slater founded the American cotton industry. In 1793 he established a factory in Pawtucket, Rhode Island under the name of Almy, Brown and Slater, employing – before the days of child labor laws – many of the local children. Slater noticed that his boys spent the Lord’s Day wastefully or worse. He decided to do something about it. Following the plan of something else he had seen in Britain – the Sunday School of Robert Raikes. Inviting some of the most promising children to his home on Sundays, he sought to give them an education. On this day in 1799, America’s first Sunday School was established – composed of seven boys. The texts used were two testaments and three Webster’s spelling books. Five years later David Benedict became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Pawtucket. He saw the work of Slater and lead his church to start a Sunday School for the purpose of teaching the Word of God. Slater’s school was placed under Bro. Benedict’s care, and the secular instruction became more spiritual. Near the close of his life, Benedict, entered into his book, Fifty Years Among the Baptists, “Sunday Schools… which are now in such successful operation with us, and other communities in the land, were wholly unknown in my early day.” Can we find Sunday Schools in the Bible? Not directly. But the teaching of God’s Word, along with...

September 8

When George Mason was contemplating the Virginia Declaration of Rights, he wrote, “No free government or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrent to fundamental principles.” I usually try to keep these little historical vignettes somewhat positive. But with this I’d like to show what happens when God’s people forget to remember the “fundamental principles.” On this day in 1790 the Warren Baptist Association (which existed because some had forgotten their Baptist principles), received a letter from the Convention of Congregational Ministers in Boston, urging them to petition Congress to “take measures… that no edition of the Bible, or its translation be published in America, without its being carefully inspected, and certified to be free from error.” The Warren Association agreed and submitted a request on their letterhead. Of course, as Baptists, they believed that the Bible was critical to the preservation of the Truth. The Word of God through the Textus Receptus must be defended, promoted and taught. But apparently they also believed that the United States government had a duty to protect and promote Biblical Christianity for the good of society. But it is the job of God’s churches and saints to carry out that work; it is not the mandate of government. How easy it is to lose sight of the fundamental principles of liberty of conscience when engaged in a good cause. The end never justifies the means. At one point Baptists in Virginia were offered the support of government taxes. Praise God, they refused, standing...

September 1

I use three primary sources for these vignettes, consulting with others for corroboration and background. For September 1, two of my books referred to the death of Sarah Boardman Judson. Sarah (nee Hall) was born in 1803. The Lord saved her soul, and she became a member of the First Baptist Church in Salem, Massachusetts. There she became intensely interested in the salvation of others and particularly in missionary work. “How can I be so inactive, when I know that thousands are perishing in this land of grace; and millions in other lands are at this moment kneeling before senseless idols!” At the age of 22, Sarah met George Boardman, and their mutual interest in missions led them to marry on July 3, 1825. Thirteen days later they set sail for Burma. Together they accomplished a great work among the Karen people of the mountains of Burma – but the ministry of George Boardman was short. He was cut off by disease after only six years on the field. Sarah returned from the mountains to serve in the lowlands with the missionary team of Adoniram Judson. Judson who had been widowed several years earlier, fell in love with Sarah, and on April 10, 1834 they were married. Sarah was once again the perfect helpmeet for one of God’s missionaries. She was particularly skilled at languages, helping to translate the New Testament into the Peguan language and “Pilgrim’s Progress” into Burmese. After the birth of her last child in 1844, she became ill. When it was decided that a long sea voyage was needed, Brother Judson agreed to his first...

August 25

Vermont has a unique Baptist history. It begins with the birth of Aaron Leland in Holliston, Massachusetts. He was born a second time and became a member of the Baptist church in Bellingham in 1785. Shortly after receiving a license by that church to preach the gospel, he received a letter from some people in Chester asking him to come and minister among them. The people were not Baptists, and when Leland arrived, he almost turned around to return home, but he relented and promised to stay a few weeks. Before he realized it, ten years had passed and a small church had been started. Then in 1799 the Lord began to abundantly bless. By the end of the revival the church was so large that the members decided to divide the congregation, starting churches in four different communities. None of my sources give the details, but while pastoring in Massachusetts, Leland became interested in Vermont, about fifty miles to the north, apparently doing evangelistic work there. Doors were opened which he couldn’t refuse to enter, and for nine years not only did missionary work, but he became a representative in the Vermont General Assembly. For five of those years he was Lieutenant Governor and for two of them the Governor was another Baptist, named Ezra Butler. Additionally, for nearly two decades Leland was one of the assistant justices of the county court. When in 1828 he was asked to run for governor, he declined saying that it would take too much time from the ministry. Once while he was Speaker of the House a proposition came up calling...

August 18

On this day in 1846, General Samuel Kearny took possession of New Mexico in the name of the United States of America. Soon after he raised the flag over Santa Fe, two Baptist missionaries, H.W. Read and Samuel Gorman, entered the new territory in the name of Christ Jesus. They may have been the first of any missionaries in New Mexico other than Roman Catholic. Eleven years later, Bro. Read had the joy of leading Blas Chavez, a twenty-one-year old Spanish-speaking national, to the Lord. Soon after that Bro. Gorman baptized the young man. Under the leadership of the two missionaries, Bro. Chavez grew rapidly in the grace of God, training to become a minister of the gospel. When the War Between the States commenced, New Mexico was occupied by Confederate troops. The two missionaries, whose loyalties lay with the North, suspended their work and returned home, but the work of Christ continued through Bro. Chavez. While primarily ministering to Spanish-speaking inhabitants, he didn’t fail to preach to anyone who would listen, and several churches were started among various nationalities of people. It is said that Bro. Chavez was inexhaustible. Eventually he became known as “The Grand Old Man of the Baptist ministry” in New Mexico. After fifty years of service he was called home on February 20,...

August 11

In 1829 the first Baptist church in the territory of Kansas was organized with David Lewis and his wife, and John Davis, a Creek Indian, and three black men – slaves of the Creeks. The group had traveled from Michigan with Pastor Isaac McCoy and his son-in-law Johnston Lykins. For ten years Bro. Lykins ministered to the group in their new location. The place became known as Kansas City, and Lykins was its first full-time mayor. Bro. McCoy turned his attention to mission work toward the west and southwest. My sources state he started the first Baptist work in the Indian territory (Oklahoma), about 15 miles above Fort Gibson on the Arkansas River in September 9, 1832. Fort Gibson is about half way between Tulsa and Talihina and/or Porteau. After working there for a while, McCoy returned to visit the brethren in Kansas City before traveling to Shawnee, Kansas. His journal states – “our scattered church which once met at Carey, now was able to assemble fifteen members at the Shawnee Mission House. On the 11th day of August, two Delawares were baptized.” One of those Delawares, or Lenape, originally from the Middle Colonies, was Charles Journeycake, who in time became an outstanding Baptist preacher, pastoring a church among the Delawares for years. One source that I consulted said that Bro. Journeycake was the first man baptized in the Kansas Territory. He made twenty-four trips to Washington DC in behalf of his displaced people. Baptists have, from the beginning, been first and foremost in bringing the gospel to our Native Americans, and I am convinced that this is still...

August 4

Eleazer Clay was born on this day (August 4) in 1744. After the French and Indian War he settled in Chesterfield County, Virginia where he married, settled down and began to prosper. But that changed somewhat when the Baptists arrived. Clay was drawn by the Holy Spirit to the jail where William Webber, Joseph Anthony and John Weatherford were incarcerated. They had been arrested for preaching without the government’s license, but that didn’t silence them. Even while in jail, they stretched their arms through the bars of their cells and preached salvation by grace. Many locals came to hear this strange new message including Eleazer Clay. Clay was converted by God’s grace, in 1771, and he immediately became a member of the Chesterfield Baptist church. Soon after that he preaching Christ himself. After some months and Brother Clay was not arrested, the sheriff explained that was because “Mr. Clay has a livelihood,” but the others had been taken because they were vagrants. In reality, by this time, Eleazer Clay had become a wealthy man, and in deference to his money, he was not arrested. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t without enemies. On one occasion, he was preaching in a private house, when a man rode up into the yard declaring, “I have come to cowhide Eleazer Clay.” When the preacher was told the man’s business, he replied, “I fear no man. If I have to go out there after him, I will give him one of the worst whippings he ever head in this life.” Apparently the horseman didn’t hang around for the end of the service. Bro....

July 28

In Norway, before there were any Baptist churches, there was a growth of Baptist principles, including salvation by grace through faith, and as a result, the rejection of infant baptism. Strangely this religious insurgency took place among the disciplined soldiers of the Norwegian army. On Sunday, July 28, 1743 a contingent of soldiers was ordered to participate in a church parade. Among them were several who had rejected the Lutheran faith, and these refused to enter the church assigned to them. They were arrested for insubordination, and after six months in the stockade they were brought before a military tribunal for court-martial. One leader, Hans Pederson, was sentenced to serve three years in chains, while another, Christopher Pederson, was sentenced to six months in chains. The rest were sent to an Oslo prison, so that they might “work constantly and receive instruction, so they might change their mind.” Rather than repent and recant, the Oslo men continued to feed each other the Word of God. And when one of their number refused to enter the prison chapel, he was dragged inside by force, and this stirred even other prisoners to study their Bibles. The Lutheran bishop over the prison then wrote a letter to King Christian VI stating, “These separatists are not only stubborn in regard to their own heresy, but they are trying to lead the other prisoners into the same heresy.” He recommended that they be separated and scattered throughout the prison system. This was a mistake, because they just carried the flame of truth with them to a wider field. There has never been a strong...

July 21

According to all that I have read, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), the famous patriot, scientist, printer and Post Master General, was a moral bankrupt for most of his life. Like many intellectuals in this day, at least as a young man, he may have professed to be a Deist, but he was not a true Christian. A hundred fifty years before Franklin, the Mayhew family did evangelistic work among the Indians in Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket (1646-1806). A later associate of the Mayhews was Peter Foulger, an ardent Baptist and member of the Lord’s church in Nantucket. It was through his influence that some of the Mayhews learned and began to practice Baptist doctrine – scriptural doctrine. Foulger was a schoolmaster, a surveyor and a friend of the Indians, learning their language and becoming instrumental in negotiations between them and the settlers. Because of his ability to speak the native language, he was chosen to be an official of the courts on this day (July 21) in 1673. Peter Foulger was not a missionary, pastor or even a preacher, but he loved the Lord and Biblical truth. In 1676 he wrote a book entitled “A looking Glass for the Times” which was described as a defense of social and religious liberty written in “homespun verse and with a good deal of decent plainness and manly freedom.” Brother Foulger married Mary Morrill, and to this union a daughter, Abiah, was born. When Abiah was of a proper age, she married a man named Franklin, and to them God granted a son, whom they named Benjamin. Although Benjamin Franklin never publically professed...

July 14

In the case of John Taylor, missionary to Siam (Thailand), one of the key events to his “success” was the death of his wife. Taylor was raised a Congregationalist, becoming a Baptist while studying for the ministry. In 1828 he was baptized and joined the Federal Street Baptist Church in Boston. On this day two years later (July 14, 1830) he was married to Eliza Grew, and within a year they were on their way to Burma as missionaries. While in Burma, Brother Taylor became proficient in preaching Christ crucified in both the Burman and Taling languages. He was especially drawn to the Taling people and eventually moved to Siam to minister to them more directly. In 1843 he completed the Taling New Testament which compared favorably to Carey’s Indian Bible and the Marshman/Judson version in Burmese. But the catalyst which brought the Talings to read the Bible was the death of Mrs. Taylor. During his last visit to New York, Jones was quoted as saying – “There is one thing which distinguishes Christianity from every false religion. It is the only religion that can take away the fear of death. I never knew a dying heathen in Siam, or anywhere else, that was not afraid, terribly afraid of death. And there was nothing that struck the Siamese people with greater astonishment than a remark that my dear departed wife made, in Siamese, to her native nurse, shortly before her death: ‘I am not afraid to die.’ For weeks after her death, the Siamese people would come to me, as though incredulous that such a thing could be, and...