December 8

Andrew Marshall was born a slave in South Carolina. His first “master” was John Houston, the colonial governor of Georgia. Even though he was promised freedom upon the death of Houston, the promise was not kept and he was sold, becoming the property of Judge Clay, who became a United States Senator. Traveling with Clay, Andrew met George Washington on several occasions, and when the President visited Savannah, Andrew was honored to be his temporary personal servant. Later, Andrew Marshall not only purchased his physical freedom, but he was purchased from the penalty of his sins through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1785 he joined Savanna’s Second Baptist Church, becoming its pastor ten years later. Under his ministry the congregation grew to more than 3,000. When the church thought it best to divide the congregation, Marshall became pastor of the First African Baptist Church, where he remained until his death on this day (December 8) in 1856 at over ninety years of age. Elder Andrew Marshal, despite a limited education read good material and studied hard to become the most effective pastor possible. He had a deep, sonorous voice to go along with a natural ability to communicate. During his long ministry in Savanna he baptized more than 4,000 converts. He also preached in many of the foremost Baptist churches of his day, ministering as far away as the First Baptist church of New York. His piety and wisdom was so well-known that he was invited to speak to the Georgia State Legislature. The man was so well-admired and loved, it is said that at his...

December 1

Today’s history note once again deals with Missouri, but this time only in the eastern part of the state and somewhat earlier. John Mason Peck was born – and born again – in Connecticut, but the Lord laid the spiritual needs of the West, upon his heart. On this day (December 1) in 1817, he and his family arrived in St. Louis, after more than four months of travel by foot, wagon, and boat. On the day of his arrival, he was so sick with a fever that he had to be carried to his bed on a stretcher. But soon he recovered and began an illustrious ministry. First, he established a school and began to evangelize the local black population, then he started riding out into the country-side, preaching Christ in homes and farming communities. Looking ahead, he established a station where the thousands of settlers traveling through St. Louis could be refreshed in body and soul, providing them with the scriptures and the gospel to carry to their new homes. He planted some of the earliest Baptist churches west of the Mississippi, and despite his own limited education founded the first college in the West. He was called “God’s Ambassador to the Mississippi Valley” and because he seemed so busy he also earned the nickname “the man with twenty hands.” Illustrating his expanding his ministry, a 1823 note in his journal stated: “I have been absent from home 53 days; have traveled through 18 counties in Illinois and 9 in Indiana; rode 926 miles, pleached regular sermons 31 times, besides delivering several speeches, address and lectures.” For...

November 24

In the 1830’s Polk County, Missouri, was a part of the “Wild West” with small log cabins rarely less than five miles from each other. The people living in those cabins needed the Saviour as much as those living in the large cities. D.R. Murphy was born on this day in 1802. As a young married man, while living outside of Knoxville, Tennessee in complete disregard for God, he came under such conviction of sin that he despaired of life. But God broke his heart with divine love and gave to the young man a peace and confidence of salvation in Christ Jesus. He was immersed and joined the Mill Spring Baptist Church on September 3, 1832. With a love in his heart for the Lord, he began preaching the gospel. He was ordained in 1834 and after ministering in the vicinity of his home, he felt a burden for the spiritual needs out west. Brother Murphy moved his family to western Missouri in 1839 and secured a home for them, before beginning an itinerant preaching ministry. The Lord blessed his work abundantly. In April 1840 a Baptist church was established in Enon, then in August the Mount Zion Baptist church was formed, followed by the Coon Creek church the following July. During his thirty-five year ministry, the Lord established thirty churches in several Missouri counties. After the death of his first wife, pastor Murphy married the widow Cedar, who labored beside him another 23 years. It was she who reported the death of her 73-year-old spouse with the words, “My husband’s death was a most triumphant one. He...

November 17

Juliette Pattison was born in 1808.  After the Lord saved her, she was baptized by her brother, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Providence, RI.  While teaching in Charlestown he met her future husband, J. G. Binney.  They married in 1833, and on this day ten years later they set sail for Burma as missionaries.  Neither the husband or the wife expected to live long in the hot and dangerous climate of Asia, but they were willing to spend their lives for their Saviour. In 1850, as Sister Binney’s health began to fail she wrote to her brother.  “As you see by the date of this letter I have entered on my fortieth year; and yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of my marriage; can you think of your ‘little sister’ as being so very old?  Joseph, I can see, is a little anxious about my health.  I am not.  I did not expect to live many years when I came to this country… My husband said yesterday that if on leaving his church in Savannah, he would have known that he would only live long enough to accomplish what the Lord has permitted us to do here, he would not have hesitated a moment.  Do not be alarmed, lest I grow worse, I should go home.  We have not the most distant idea of ever seeing your dear face again, though I would give anything short of sacrificing conscientious convictions to do so.” Mrs. Binney then returned home to the States, and she did see her brother’s face again.  While there she recovered and then returned to...

November 10

William Cate was born in 1807 in Jefferson County, Tennessee.   At the time, the religious condition of East Tennessee was said to be deplorable – overrun with lifeless paedobaptists.  Nevertheless, here and there souls were saved by the grace of God, and among them was William Cate. On this day (November 10) in 1837 he and his wife were immersed in water and joined the local Baptist Church.  Two and half years later Bro. Cates was ordained to the gospel ministry.  Instead of becoming a pastor, his first year was spent in itinerant preaching.  After twelve months he reported that he had preached about 200 sermons in 23 protracted meetings, and approximately 500 people had been saved.  Then he started working as a missionary. By 1842 he organized churches in Jonesboro, Elizabethton and Blountsville.  Later there were also new churches s in Rogersville, New Salem and Bristol.  For 18 years he pastored in Jonesboro, and at the close of his life, the membership stood at 170.  It is said that Bro. Cate was not a remarkable preacher – he lacked a solid education, but the Lord trained his mind and guided his heart. In 1851 he was scheduled to preach at the Baptist church at Dumplin, east of Knoxville.  Just prior to the meetings there was a notice posted on a tree close to the church-house which read, “Mr. William Cate.  It is generally believed you had better not come to this camp-meeting at Dumplin, lest you cause sinners to be lost; for they have no confidence in you.  They believe you are not seeking souls, but money.  Now...

November 3

Richard Miller did nothing to become famous among God’s servants on this earth.  But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been rewarded in Glory for his sacrifice and service to the Lord. Richard M. Miller was born in Seveir County, Tennessee on this day in 1815.  While a teenager he was born again.  When his family moved to Missouri, he joined the only Baptist church in the area.  Although with little formal education, the Lord called him into His service, first as a witness of God’s saving grace and then as a preacher.  Feeling self-conscious of his limitations, he confined his ministry to the backwoods. The Union Baptist Church in Osage County called for his ordination on July 8, 1843, and he became their pastor, but he soon extended his work into Johnson, Cass, Miller, Maries and Pulaski counties as well. At the time there was not a single major community in any of this region, nevertheless, Bro. Miller was able to gather a good number of converts in Pisgah, Pulaski county, and it was there he and his family eventually  settled. Miller preached the gospel on Sundays, visited the lost in the evenings and worked on his farm during the day.  One day while working in his field, he suffered a stroke.  His wife found him on the ground helpless and nearly speechless. Three days later he passed into the presence of the Lord. Today’s vignette could have been about Roger Williams who was banished from Massachusetts on this day in 1635.  Or we might have examined I.J. Stottard who set sail to become a missionary in Assam on...

October 27

Vavsor Powell was born into one of the leading families in North Wales.  He was given an excellent education, graduating from Jesus College, Oxford.  As an unsaved man he was ordained an Anglican minister.  Then one day a Puritan found him breaking the Sabbath by playing in some sort of sport and he soundly condemned him.  This lead to two years of mental agony over his sins.  By reading Puritan books and listening to their sermons the Lord gave Powell a new heart.  He left the Church of England, becoming an Independent and preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1642 Brother Powell joined the parliamentary army as a chaplain.  Following the war he returned to Wales with papers accrediting him as a Presbyterian minister.  For fourteen years there was scarcely a church, chapel, market place or field where he did not preach Christ. But then in 1656 he came to understand that the Bible taught Baptist doctrine, and he was immersed.  This brought about almost instant persecution.  On one occasion he along with fifty or sixty of his hearers were locked inside a church building at Brecknockshire, confined there for the night.  At midnight he preached from the text “Fear not them who kill the body.”  Not only were his friends stirred by the message, but so were their captors.  The next morning he was taken to the house of justice where a crowd gathered to condemn him.  But the judge was delayed.  While waiting for his arrival, Powell preached again.  The justice was indignant to find his house turned into a church, and even more...

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...