David George was born a slave in 1742. At some point another slave began to witness to him of the grace of God, and he came under deep conviction. Eventually, repenting of sin and putting his trust in Christ Jesus for deliverance and forgiveness, he became a child of God. Soon thereafter he began to exhort others of his people to trust Christ. David was illiterate, but he acquired a spelling book, and with the help of some white children, he began to read his Bible, better equipping himself for the gospel ministry.
When, during the Revolutionary War, the English were evacuating Charleston, S.C., Brother George was given his freedom and advised to go to Halifax, N.S. Once there, and not being permitted to preach to the whites in the area, he requested and obtained permission to move to Shelburne, about 150 miles away, where many blacks had settled. His evangelism began with going into the woods and singing. This was so unusual that many came to investigate, and the gospel was presented. Soon God began to touch hearts, saving souls. Brother George baptized about fifty, and a Baptist church was organized. When a white family was saved and requested baptism, a mob rose up and attempted to stop the service. Bro. George was beaten and driven out into a local swamp, where he stayed for some time.
As tempers cooled the preacher returned and began once again preaching to the local blacks, becoming more skilled and more used by God. He was invited to St. John’s to preach, and there many were saved, but once again the persecution began. This time it was stated that the opposition was not due to the preacher’s skin color but to the fact he was a Baptist. He decided to speak to the governor about the situation, and with the help of a man he had known in Charleston, he was given an appointment which resulted in the following document: “Secretary’s Office, Frederick-town, 17th July 1792. I do hereby certify, that David George, a free Negro man, has permission from His excellency the Lieutenant Governor to instruct the black people in the knowledge and exhort them to the practice, of the Christian religion. Signed, John O’Dell, secretary.”
Over the few next months, the ministry of David George changed dramatically. This man who pioneered the gospel preaching in the Canadian Maritimes, joined the 1,190 people who moved to Sierra Leone, West Africa, in 1792. There he became a pioneer missionary. Later he traveled to England and was well received by the Baptists of that country, encouraging missions among the brethren.
David George is not a well-known name, but it ought to be. He was one of the most important early black Baptist leaders – not only on this continent, but on two others as well.