May 28

On this day in 1789, Andrew Broadus, a nineteen-year-old believer in Christ, was immersed and received into the membership of the Upper King and Queen Baptist Church in Caroline County, Virginia. He had been raised in the Episcopal church and forbidden by his father to associate with the illegal Baptists, but the Holy Spirit overruled his father’s wishes. He was educated in front of his family fireplace, but he applied himself well, later becoming well-known for his ability to write. After the Lord called him into His ministry, Andrew pastored several small rural churches, sometimes five at a time. He was a very good preacher, and eventually his fame spread to as far away as Boston and New York. He was asked to candidate in several large churches, but he was so timid that he always refused. Even in the smallest churches, if a stranger walked in during a message, Broadus would sometimes become so distracted that he’d loose his train of thought and be forced to retire. Most modern preachers could use a large dose of Andrew Broadus’ humility. When he was offered an honorary doctorate degree from Columbian College, he doubted the wisdom of the college officials and turned it down. How many today would do such a...

May 21

Hiram Read, was born in Jewett City, Connecticut in 1819. His parents had wealth, some of which they invested in their son’s education. While a student at Hamilton College the Lord redeemed him, and Hiram was baptized into the Baptist church in Oswego, New York. He continued his education at Madison University, making him qualified to pastor any of the larger churches in New England, but he and his wife moved west. While in Wisconsin, Brother Read served as chaplain to the State Senate. But he still wanted to move further west, setting his sights on California. Reaching Santa Fe, New Mexico, on July 12, 1849, the couple had just about worn themselves out in traveling. Hiram was so reduced in strength he could hardly walk and his hands were worn and swollen to the point he could barely hold the reins of his team. When the governor heard of him, he went out of his way to meet with him. He begged the preacher to settle in New Mexico, explaining that the city had over 6,000 inhabitants, and there were 100,000 in the territory – only a tenth of which were Americans. There was not a single non-Catholic minister among them. Read agreed to stay in Santa Fe, becoming the chaplain at Fort Marcy, a post which he held for three years. Brother Read applied himself to learning the Spanish language so that he could evangelize his neighbors. He preached in both languages. He visited Indian pueblos, distributing Bibles. He was captured by Indians and threatened with death by fire. Several times, he rode from Santa Fe to...

May 14

John Leland was born on this day (May 14) in 1754, about 40 miles west of Boston. In time the Lord saved his soul and called him into the ministry. That ministry took him south into Virginia, where he was invaluable in guiding some of the founders of this country in the subject of liberty. But his work was primarily spiritual, not political. Throughout his life of service, God blessed with periods of revival. For example for 18 months beginning in October 1787, Brother Leland baptized about 400 new believers. His life was filled with interesting anecdotes. For example: after a dancing school opened in his neighborhood, at the close of a morning service he announced that he too was going to open a dance studio. He said that he would fiddle the tune while the angels of God sang, if the people of his community would dance repentance on their knees. On one occasion a man consented to allow his wife to be immersed, but then he changed his mind. On the day of the baptism, he brought a gun, threatening to shoot the preacher. Leland and the woman went ahead into the water while the husband glowered at them, but he never pulled the trigger. At another time, a lady invited Leland to her home to preach the gospel to her friends. When her son, a captain in the militia heard about it, he blocked the doorway, demanding that the preacher leave. Leland asked if he had any authority to make that demand, and the man said he didn’t, but he was going to stop the service...

May 7

To the best of my knowledge the first Baptist church to be composed mostly of black members was the First African Baptist church of Savannah, organized by Abraham Marshall and Jesse Peter in 1788.  Its first pastor was the former slave, George Lisle.  Soon thereafter, and before the war, there were large, flourishing black churches in most major American cities from Boston, New York, Philadelphia and into the South.     On this day (May 7th) in 1855, Elias Camp Morris was born into a slave family in Murray County Georgia.  After the war his family moved to Tennessee and then again into Alabama.  At the age of nineteen Elias was baptized upon his profession of faith in Christ, and shortly after that he moved to Helena, Arkansas where he was called to pastor the Centennial Baptist Church.  He was a man of godly character and wisdom.     Historian Leroy Fitts, described Morris – “His ability to organize was fully recognized among Baptists of Arkansas.  In 1884, he organized the Arkansas Baptist College, and for sixteen years he served as chairman of its board of trustees…. He inspired the black Baptists to begin publishing interests of their own.  It was his active mind that conceived the idea of the National Baptist Young People’s Union Board….  And the American Baptist National Convention.”     Baptist distinctives were strongly evident among the churches with which Morris had fellowship.  The scriptures were considered supreme and were preached with clarity and conviction.  Those churches demanded personal faith in Christ, and only open believers were baptized and received into their churches.  Each church was considered independent and...

April 30

It was on this day in 1823 that George Boardman and his wife were sent to Burma as missionaries. Working with other missionaries, God blessed their work, particularly amongst the Karen tribe. By 1910 there were 774 Karen Baptist churches and more than 50,000 members. High in the hills overlooking the territory of the Karens were their ancient enemies, the Brecs. Like the Palestinian Philistines, the Brecs lived by plunder and murder and were greatly feared. At an assembly of Karen churches the matter of evangelizing the Brecs came up. After much discussion, concluding that it was too dangerous, one of the Karen evangelists volunteered to go, if the brethren would promise to pray for him and to take care of his family while he was gone. The group tried to dissuade the man, but his stubborn faith could not be extinguished, and the promise was made. With nothing and no one but the Lord, his Bible, a song book and some food, the evangelist set off, climbing up into the mountains and down the other side. He didn’t realize that the first Brec village he approached was one of the most wicked of them all. He was immediately surrounded by dozens of fierce men with spears and knives. Pulling out his Bible, the Karen said, “This is the white book of which our ancestors have told us. Listen to what it says.” Then he spoke to them of Christ and began to sing. He had a beautiful voice and the Brecs’ wrath calmed a bit. After the spears and knives were put down, the evangelist once again told...

April 26

Early in 1529, the council of the Archbishop of Cologne presented a special report to Charles V, Emperor of the “Holy” Roman Empire. It said in part that the Anabaptists call themselves “true Christians,” and that they had existed for more than a thousand years. In one place it quoted a statement from the Parliament at Speyer which said that the “new sect of the Anabaptists”… for more than twelve centuries practiced baptism in the way taught and described in the New Testament, and that such a practice had been made an offense punishable by death. On this day in that year 1529 the Emperor made a new decree against the Anabaptists which in part read: “Yet do we find daily that, contrary to the promulgated common law and also to our mandate issued, such ancient sect of the Anabaptists condemned and forbidden many hundred of years ago, more and more advances and spreads.” So “all and every Anabaptist and re-baptized man or woman of intelligent age shall be sentenced and executed by fire, sword, or the like.” In 1529, Charles V knew that the Anabaptists had been baptizing by immersion and serving the Lord for over twelve hundred years. To be more exact it was over fifteen hundred years. Those Anabaptists are the spiritual great-grandfathers of this non-Protestant, Baptist...

April 16

William Moore was born on December 8, 1821 in Ohio. At the age of twenty he was born again. Six years later he was ordained to the gospel ministry. He and his wife sailed for Burma and arrived there on this day in 1849. For five years the couple labored unceasingly for the Lord – until William’s health broke and he lost his voice. For the rest of his life, he could hardly speak above a whisper, so they returned to America. He served as a faithful deacon in a Baptist church, working in the commercial world and supporting missions as best he could. He died on September 29, 1880. Like everyone else, a sense of humor is always a good quality for a missionary, and William Moore had the wonderful ability to laugh at himself. He told the story that while still in Burma, riding an old, solid-tire bicycle along a dusty road near Nowgong, Assam, coming around a corner he ran over a snake. Looking back he couldn’t see it. But then he heard it – swish, thump, swish, thump with every turn of his tires. Swish, thump, swish, thump. The snake was caught up in the spokes of the rear wheel. Knowing that the country was filled with highly poisonous snakes, and unable to stop to see what kind it was, because that would endanger him, Bro. Moore decided to ride as fast as he could, hoping the snake would fall or jump out of the spokes. In the hottest part of the day, the missionary rode for several miles. Swish, thump, swish, thump swish, thump,...

April 9

Calista Holman was born on this day in 1807 in Union, Connecticut. When she was sixteen she was saved by the grace of God, but shortly thereafter she contracted an illness which appeared to bringing her to the point of death. As a child of God, she asked for baptism and her the Baptist church in her community voted to receive her. On a very cold day in March, she was carried by sleigh to the water’s edge and her pastor, a man named Grow, with the help of a deacon, immersed her. Calista’s friends even more than usual, looked upon the ordinance as a burial – the young lady’s funeral. But, by the grace of the Lord, the next day she began to recover and was eventually restored to health. While in the Baptist Institute of Hamilton, New York, she met her future husband, Justus Vinton and together they studied the Karen language. The couple were married on Calista’s birthday, which was this day in 1834. In June that year they sailed for Burma. Throughout their missionary lives, the health of both of them fluctuated, sometimes requiring them to return home, but they always went back to their ministry among the Karens. In 1858 after about twenty-five years on the field, Justus contracted jungle fever and died. Calista continued serving the Karen women for another six years before she passed way in December, 1864. One of the greatest tributes to the Vintons is the fact that both their son and daughter followed their footsteps into missionary...

April 2

The Metropolitan Tabernacle, usually called Spurgeon’s Tabernacle, was opened on March 18, 1861. Two weeks later, on this day, there was a Baptist fellowship meeting in the new building. In his greeting to the brethren, Spurgeon said, “We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the very days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel under ground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready lo suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with Government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of...

March 26

Not long ago I talked about a man who led one congregation for more than four decades. Today I mention another – Joshua Hutson pastored the Pine Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia for more than 45 years. Joshua was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia to Methodist parents, but I don’t know the year. He was saved by Christ and baptized by a Baptist church in 1858. While he planned to go to Bible college the war began and formal schooling became impossible. Nevertheless he studied to show himself approved unto God and was ordained by the Byrne Street Baptist Church in Petersburg, Virginia in 1871. On this day in 1874 Joshua married Lenora Baugh and the couple moved into the parsonage of the Pine Street Church. At the time, the membership was an exceptional 162, but that was only the beginning. By 1890 the membership had grown to 1,110, and by the time of his retirement, the number had nearly doubled again. Joshua Hutson baptized 2,799 converts, married 1,764 couples and conducted 2,202 funerals. One day Hutson was asked why the church had kept him so long. He said that it was because on hot days he only preached twenty-minutes. Whether that was always true or not, after his death, The Religious Herald wrote: “He made no attempt at rhetorical display or display of any kind. He was content to take some theme of doctrinal or practical value …. and from it to bring his people useful and valuable lessons of warning, comfort or courage.” That was probably the real reason that his ministry lasted nearly fifty years...

March 19

Benjamin Watkins was born into a Virginia Episcopalian home in 1755. That was the year that Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall began preaching Baptist doctrine in Virginia and the Carolinas. Benjamin’s mother was left a widow when he was small, but despite family poverty, she raised him surrounded with morals and love. While these were good, they did not fill the void which only Christ could satisfy. When he was nineteen, Benjamin Watkins was born again, and in 1776 he was baptized. Seven years later he began traveling throughout the region preaching Christ. Somehow the Lord protected Brother Watkins, and he was never caught or arrested by the authorities. There was plenty of opportunity for this, however. His journals indicate that he never tried to hide either the Truth or himself. He openly preached an average of three times a week for forty-eight years. His messages were serious, but evangelical, and with what was described as a unique style. His last Sunday on earth, at the age of seventy-six, he preached twice. One message was entitled “God be merciful to me a sinner.” The following Wednesday, he was too weak to attend the church meeting, so some of the brethren gathered around his bed. He assured everyone present that he was resigned to the Lord’s will, looking forward to seeing his Saviour, which he did on July 19, 1831. Unlike many of his friends, Benjamin Watkins was not called by God to suffer any jail time, but he was called to be faithful. He was true to his...

March 12

Samuel Stillman was born in Philadelphia in 1737. At the age of eleven his family moved to South Carolina. There under the preaching of Oliver Hart, Samuel was converted to Christ. He became a student under Hart, and at the age of twenty-one, he began preaching the gospel. Because of ill-health Brother Stillman moved north, first to New Jersey and then on to Boston, where he eventually became pastor of the First Baptist Church. He remained in that church for forty-two years. In 1766, ten years before the Declaration of Independence, Still man denounced the Stamp Act, and from the moment he was an ardent supporter of the Revolution. Although his health was delicate, keeping him from enlisting, he was fearless in the pulpit. When the British occupied Boston in 1775, his church was scattered, but it quickly regathered the following year. His patriotism drew the attention of John Adams, John Hancock and General Knox. These and others often came to hear him preach, but Stillman refused to compromise his Baptist doctrine just to please powerful men. On one occasion his denunciation of sin was so scathing that a visiting gentleman remarked, “The doctor makes us all out a set of rascals, but he does it so gracefully and eloquently that I am not disposed to find fault.” Samuel Stillman served the Lord in Boston until his death on this day in...

March 5

J. M. Pendleton was born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia in 1811. He was named in honor of the then current President of the United States, James Madison. When J.M. was a baby his family moved to Kentucky. It was there that the Lord saved him and where he was baptized. At the age of 18 he went to seminary at Hopkinsville and immediately began preaching the gospel. For twenty years after he graduated, he pastored at Bowling Green, Kentucky. While J. R. Graves preached a meeting at the church, the two became good friends. They shared similar opinions about the fallen state of many Baptist Churches. On January 1, 1857, Brother Pendleton left Kentucky and moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to teach university. But in sympathy with the North, he left Tennessee in 1862 to become pastor in Hamilton, Ohio, before moving to the Upland Baptist Church in Pennsylvania where he assisted in founding Crozer Theological Seminary. One of the saddest aspects of his life, was that his son, John Malcom Pendleton, disagreed with him on the subject of slavery and the war. John joined the Confederate army and lost his life in battle. I have two books written by J.M. Pendleton – An Ancient Landmark Reset and Pendleton’s Church Manuel. He died on this day in 1891. His funeral was conducted by another famous Baptist of the period, T.T. Eaton of Louisville, Kentucky. He was buried in the cemetery at Bowling...

February 26

It was on this day in 1770 that John Picket began his three month incarceration in the Fauquier County, Virginia, jail. Because only the Church of England was lawfully permitted in Virginia, Brother Picket did most of his preaching in the open air. On one occasion before his arrest, a priest of the State Church appeared at one of these meetings and strutted down to the front of the audience, evicting someone from his chair, and pulling out some paper in order to make notes. He had two or three men with him who stood glaring at the preacher, trying to intimidate him. Following the sermon, the parson called the Baptist preacher a schismatic, a broacher of false doctrines and a teacher of damnable errors, telling everyone that he was going to publish his notes in the newspaper. This delighted the steadfast Anglicans but ultimately drew sympathy from the more common people. The Fauquier gaol was an 18′ x 16′ log building divided into two cells. In each, there was a 12″ square grated window high in the wall, but it did nothing to comfort the prisoner. In the winter the building was exceedingly cold, but once spring came, it was like an oven. Brother Picket’s zeal was not quenched by this experience. After his release, he preached the gospel in Culpepper County and in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is said that he was the first to baptize people in the Shenandoah...

February 19

When it is God’s will, things can move very quickly. Adoniram Judson was an unsaved, unconverted man when he enrolled in Andover Theological Seminary. Later that year, in September 1808, he was born-again and his study of the Word of God took on a new nature. Five months later he read a sermon entitled “The Star in the East” which moved his heart to volunteer for missionary service. The next June he met a young lady named Ann Hasseltine. In September, 1811, he was approved as a Congregational missionary. Five months later, on February 5, 1812 Adoniram and Ann were married. The following day he was ordained, and two weeks after that, on this day, February 19, 1812, the couple embarked on the brig Caravan for Calcutta, India. Their honeymoon was spent on a long voyage which ended on June 17. During that time they were also converted by the Lord from Congregationalists to Baptists. On September 6, the young couple were immersed in water at the Baptist chapel in Calcutta. And the rest is Baptist...