March 8

Joseph Islands was born a Creek Indian. He grew up in Alabama – a wild and sinful man. One night in 1842 during a drunken brawl a good friend of his was killed. The next day Joseph went to the grave site and found a Christian black man, affectionately named “Old Billy,” digging the grave. Seeing the distress on Joseph’s face, Old Billy shared with him the comfort of the gospel. The Holy Spirit began working with conviction and later in the black man’s cabin, Joseph Islands was born again.
The Creek nation had earlier imposed a strict law against the introduction of Christianity among their people. Anyone engaged in evangelism was to be whipped with 39 lashes. Under this law, Joseph and Old Billy began meeting in semi-secret. Over time, more and more of their friends heard about their faith and joined them in Bible study, until the number reached about 40 souls.
Eventually the authorities were alerted, and plans were laid to find the Christians and to punish them. On one occasion a spy hid behind some trees in order to follow Bro. Islands to their meeting, but when the Christian man reached the woods he stopped and began to openly pray. He asked for God’s blessings on the tribal leaders, for the police, for his Christian friends, and for several specific individuals, including the man who was overhearing these devotions. A sense of guilt overcame him, and when he finally discovered the place of the Christians’ worship, he presented himself, asking for more of the gospel. He was soon led to Christ.
Ultimately the believers were discovered and the usual sentence was carried out, even on the Christian women. The tribal captain tried to shame the saints, but he couldn’t do anything to shake their serenity and submission. The next day, he and several of his men resigned their positions, saying they couldn’t whip people for praying to and loving Jesus.
By 1845 the law against Christianity had been reversed. Joseph Islands was ordained to the gospel ministry by Ramsey Potts and Joseph Smedley, two missionaries to the Choctaws. Bro. Islands, who had been building a new house, immediately returned to his old home and gave over the new structure to be used as a church building.
The man who became known as the “Apostle to the Creeks” was given only 6 years to serve his Saviour. Joseph Islands died on this day (March 8) in 1848.