It’s not the length but the depth that counts
Henrietta Hall Shuck, raised in a godly home, sailed on Sept. 17, 1835, with her husband Lewis for missionary service in China, along with twenty-two other missionaries. She was but a teen bride, the daughter of Col. Addison Hall of Merry Point, Virginia. Henrietta was saved in a Baptist camp meeting and baptized at thirteen years of age. At sixteen she moved to Richmond Virginia where she met Lewis Shuck who was studying theology and later married. After leaving Boston their ship stopped at Calcutta, India and then on to Amherst in Burma where the Shuck’s were able to visit the grave of Ann Judson, whose life had provided great inspiration for Henrietta. Finally they reached Singapore where they would study the Malay language, and then it was on to Canton, China, and to Hong Kong to minister, after it was ceded to the British in 1841. Within four months, two chapels had been built and dedicated and before long there was a third. By Sept. of 1844 there were thirty-two boarding students. On Nov. 26, Henrietta became very ill. The doctors could not save her, and in the early hours of the following morning, she fell asleep in Jesus. Only ten years after she had begun her work for her Lord whom she loved, her work on earth was over. It’s not the length, but the depth of our work that really counts for Christ. “Her life was like a glorious meteor, and her light still shineth.”[Majorie Dawes, Great Baptist Women (London: Carey Kingsgate Press Limited, 1955), p, 75. Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 509-11.
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He evangelized a wild and barbarous people
Sept. 03, 1884 – W. Holman Bentley sailed from England to the Congo to begin his second tour of missionary service, married for the first time with four other men and their families. Holman was the son of Rev. William Bentley, Baptist minister at Sudsbury, Suffolk, England. Holman was born Oct. 30, 1855. At 17 young Holman was reading from the Hebrew Psalter and Greek New Testament, and at 19 was baptized into the Downs Chapel (Baptist) at Clapton. He became actively involved in witnessing. He was appointed as a missionary by the Baptist Mission Society on Jan. 15, 1879. The Congo missionaries had many trials including escapes from wild animals, disease and cannibals. Bentley served longer than any of the others who left with him in 1879. Even though he only lived to be fifty he translated the N.T. into Congolese and gave the people a complete dictionary and grammar. He saw over 1200 baptized and according to historians saw a whole district of wild, barbarous people almost completely evangelized and civilized, if not Christianized. [H.M. Bentley, W. Holman Bentley-The Life and labors of a Congo Pioneer (London: religious Tract Society, 1907), p8.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 481- 83.
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Jehu L. Shuck entered heaven on August 20, 1863. His 51 years were fruitful as he saw many “firsts” in the ongoing of the gospel among the Chinese. Shuck was born in Alexandria, VA, on Sept. 4, 1812. He was educated at the VA Baptist Seminary. Shuck Married Henrietta Jeter and two days after their wedding in 1835, they were approved as missionaries by the Triennial Baptist Convention and sailed for China on Sept. 22, 1835. Mrs. Shuck has the honor of being the “first American evangelical woman missionary to go to China.” Shuck baptized his first convert in Portuguese Macao in 1837, who had been reading Christian literature. In 1840 their finances failed and they had to go to Hong Kong for safety under British protection. Shuck supported himself by editing a paper. In 1843 he organized a church with 26 members. However in 1844 Mrs. Shuck died and it was necessary for him to return to the US to make provisions for his children. A convert named Yong who had become a preacher came with him and spoke at the first anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1846 at Richmond, VA and the two of them stirred a great interest in missions. In 1847 Shuck returned to China to labor in Shanghai. Dr. and Mrs. James L. Sexton also responded as medical missionaries but their schooner to Shanghai capsized. Schuck was crushed but was successful in gaining the first permanent foothold into the interior of China. But as trials persisted and his second wife died, he returned to America wishing to be nearer to his children. He resigned from the foreign board and continued to work with the Chinese in California.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 343-44.
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“…And he That Loveth Son or Daughter More Than Me is Not Worthy of Me.”
Helen Maria Griggs was saved, baptized and joined a Baptist church in Brookline, Massachusetts on August 11, 1822. When a small girl Helen had been very sick, and her mother had prayed that if God spared her life that she would give her without reservation unto God’s will. When Helen told her mother that God had called her to go to Burma, her mother was fully willing for the Lord’s direction. However the Board had never sent a single lady out alone. But the Lord of the harvest was working behind the scenes, and Francis Mason, a student at Newton Theological Institution met Miss Griggs.
He too planned to go to Burma, and after a courtship of nearly five months, they were married on May 23, 1830 and their honeymoon was spent on board ship as they sailed the next day for Burma. Their trip took 122 days before they arrived at Calcutta. Mrs. Mason’s health provided problems for the missionary couple, but whenever possible, she labored beside her husband. She became proficient in the Burmese and Karen languages and was able to teach and write in both. But the matter of leaving her children came to pass after a furlough in the States. Many in the homeland criticized Mrs. Mason, and she was charged with having “no more affection than a Sandwich Island mother.” Editors of Christian periodicals had to go to her defense, and in a short time a drastic change for the better took place in public opinion.
Four years later when Mrs. Grover Comstock left for Burma and parted from her children, an announcement was made in the newspaper under the caption, “The Noble Mother.” The Lord took Helen to Himself at forty years of age on Oct. 8, 1846.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 330-31.
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A Preacher, a Missionary and a Soldier
Philadelphia saved from the plague
One cannot peruse the minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association from 1707 to 1807 without often seeing the name David Jones. He was born May 12, 1736, and he experienced salvation and was baptized May 6, 1758, when he was just turning twenty-two years of age.
We gather from the records of an October meeting in 1772 that the early Baptist missionaries were thrust out by the Holy Spirit and provided for by the local churches according to the New Testament pattern at Antioch.
David Jones wrote several circular letters to the churches making up the Philadelphia Association. These letters revealed the prevailing spiritual condition and welfare of the churches and country. Days of fasting and prayer were often requested. Jones in writing the letter in 1798 mentioned,
We have been once more prevented assembling in the City of Philadelphia by a dreadful visitation from God. Whatever may be the natural cause of this complaint, no doubt SIN is the procuring cause; nor can we reasonably expect a removal of the calamity without a suitable reformation among the inhabitants, for which we ought fervently to pray to God; and who knoweth but He may in His great mercy, graciously answer our supplications.
The minutes of 1800 record that the association met in Philadelphia. The eleventh entry states, “Conscious that the interposing Providence of God hath preserved the City of Philadelphia, during the present season, from the malignant fever, and caused the earth to bring forth her fruits more abundantly than for some years past, the Association set apart, and recommend, Thursday the 13th of November next, to be observed as a day of thanksgiving by all the churches in our connection.”
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 184-185
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First white woman to see Japan
1907 – Lucy Ann (St. John) Knowlton, the first white woman to see Japan died on this day. Few in the little white frame building that housed the First Baptist Church of Napoleon, Michigan would have ever though that one of theirs would have such honor. Lucy was the daughter of a deacon who married Miles J. Knowlton, a missionary to China, and saw the land of the “Rising Sun” as they were bound for that land, having sailed for Ningpo, China on Dec. 10, 1853. The Knowlton’s arrived in China as the civil war was raging in that country and it lasted for many years. Knowlton’s efforts in evangelism met with great success over the twenty-one years that they spent in Ningpo. However, as the war swept into their area, Mrs. Knowlton saw things that literally shocked her to the point that her health collapsed and they had to return to America for restoration. In two years her health was improved and they were able to return and they enjoyed a blessed spiritual harvest. At the conclusion of fifteen years, and Lucy’s health deteriorating again they took another two year furlough in the States. It was his only furlough and during this time he lectured in several colleges and seminaries where he also received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. He was also able to preach in his home church in Vermont where he saw the joy of seeing converts baptized. In 1872 the Knowlton’s sailed again for Ningpo from San Francisco and this time it was only a trip of four weeks since they didn’t have to sail around the Cape Horn. However, after two years Dr. Knowlton died of exhaustion. Lucy lived on for twenty more years and was invited often to speak to ladies groups concerning the challenges of China. She went to be with her Lord from their daughter’s home in Chicago.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 107.
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A preacher and a diplomat
1834 – A BAPTIST MISSIONARY PUBLISHES THE FIRST NEWSPAPER IN THE INDIAN LANGUAGE – On February 11, 1834, Isaac McCoy left home for Washington, D.C., to find that the Secretary of War had submitted his plan for the organization of Indian affairs. McCoy was born in Pennsylvania on June 13, 1784, but six years later his family moved to KY where he received Christ, was baptized, and united with the Buck Creek BC. He married in 1803, and one year later they moved to Indiana where he was licensed to preach the gospel. He was later ordained by the Maria Creek BC and served as pastor. The church grew as he, “with the Bible in one hand and rifle in the other, went everywhere preaching, ‘the Lord working with him.’” In 1817 the McCoy’s were appointed missionaries to the Indians of Indiana and Illinois. He founded a mission just west of what is now Niles, Michigan and named it “Carey” for the great missionary. He rode hundreds of miles on horseback through the wilderness. Five of his six children died while he was away from home but no sacrifice was too great. He also made several trips to the Nation’s Capital to present the needs of the Indians to the Congress. McCoy composed hymns which were used by the Indians in their worship of the true God. He secured a printing press, and on March 1, 1835, he printed in the Shawnee tongue the first newspaper ever published in an Indian language. He preached the first sermon in Chicago or near where it is located. In 1842 he was appointed the Secretary of the American Indian Association of the Triennial Baptist Convention. At age 63, returning from preaching, he was caught in a rainstorm and fell ill, and in a few days, on June 21 1846 he went home to be with the Lord. On his tombstone are these words, “For nearly thirty years his entire time and energies were devoted to the civil and religious improvement of the aborigines of this country.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 57.
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The First Baptist Chaplain
1820 – FIRST BAPTIST CHAPLAIN TO THE AMERICAN MILITARY AND FIRST BAPTIST MISSIONARY TO THE INDIANS – David Jones died at age 84 on February 5, 1820. He had been an author, pastor, missionary, medical doctor, and the first Baptist pastor ever to become a chaplain in the American Military who in 1776 was appointed to serve Col. St. Clair’s regiment. He also served under General Horatio Gates and General Anthony Wayne. He was highly trusted by Gen. Geo. Washington and preached to the troops at Valley Forge. He was raised in a hearty Welsh Baptist family, saved at an early age and trained at Hopewell Academy (America’s First Baptist academic facility) in N.J. He studied medicine but apparently was influenced by the life of David Brainerd among the Indians because while pastoring the Freehold Baptist Church in Monmouth County, N.J. he became the first Baptist missionary to the Indians in Ohio on two extended tours that consumed over a year. He became unpopular as he supported the cause of American freedom. In April 1775 he became pastor of the Great Valley Baptist Church in Chester County, PA. On July 20, 1775, after a day of fasting and prayer he preached to the Continental Army on the subject, “Defensive War in a Just Cause Sinless.” In 1776 he left his flock to serve the first of three tours with the American forces. He was at Ticonderoga, Morristown, and Brandywine. He barely missed being killed at the Paoli Massacre, and he spent the winter at Valley Forge. Gen. Howe offered a reward for his capture. He was at Yorktown at the surrender of Cornwallis. He used his medical skills as well as his weapons. After the war he went with Gen. Wayne as Chaplain to the Indian War from 1794-96 and was there at the Treaty of Greenville. It was said of him, “In danger – he knew no fear, in fervent patriotism he had no superiors and few equals, in the Revolutionary struggle, a tower of strength…as a Christian, above reproach.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 49.
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Dr. A.T. Pierson
A Presbyterian became a Baptist
1896 – This was the day that one of America’s greatest Bible expositors, Dr. A.T. Pierson was immersed, in his own words, “to fulfill all righteousness” by Spurgeon’s brother, Dr. James A. Spurgeon at the West Croydon Chapel, London. Dr. Pierson, one of the most successful Presbyterian ministers in America, counted among his personal friends such as D.L. Moody, Charles H. Spurgeon, George Muller and A.J. Gordon. His pulpit ministry was so effective that he resigned in 1859 to devote his full time to Missionary crusades. In 1891 he was invited to serve the Metropolitan Tabernacle in the Spurgeon’s absence for up to six months, until Spurgeon should recover from his illness. However, on Jan. 31, 1892, Spurgeon died and Pierson continued the pulpit ministry while Spurgeon’s brother James carried on the pastoral responsibilities. Pierson had slowly been coming to Baptist views and believed that he should request baptism but feared that his motives would be questioned. When the Tabernacle called Spurgeon’s son Thomas as pastor that relieved him of that stigma and he was baptized by on Feb. 1 the day that he was invited to preach at Spurgeon’s Tabernacle. His motives were still questioned and on April 6, 1896, the Philadelphia Presbytery requested his resignation. “With peace of heart produced by obedience, Pierson wrote the presbytery, ‘Had I this action to take again I would only do it more promptly…’ Thank God for the testimony of Dr. A.T. Pierson.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp.
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An Exciting Missionary Adventure
The die was cast on April 25, 1844, when Richard Fuller, prominent pastor from Charleston, South Carolina, presented a resolution at the Triennial Convention to restrict its action to missions and not to become involved in the problem of slavery. From 1814 until 1845, missionary efforts had been primarily made through the Triennial Convention, but in 1845 the split between North and South occurred. However, Baptist associations in various states had formed small, independent mission agencies as well. Richard Henry Stone, born in Culpeper county, Virginia on July 17, 1837, he was sent as a missionary by a Georgia association to serve the Lord in Africa. He united with the Salem Baptist church in Culpeper County and answered the call of the Baptists in Georgia for a missionary to Africa, he and his wife Susan sailed out of Baltimore on November 4. They were three months on the journey, and landed at Lagos. They disciplined themselves to learn the Ijayte language, but with failing health, the couple was forced to return to the States. Mr. Stone then joined the confederate army, and served as a chaplain with the 49th Georgia, Benning’s Brigade. In 1867, with the completion of the war, Mr. Stone returned to Africa and Lagos for two years. The last twenty years of Mr. Stone’s life were spent in Virginia and Kentucky where he supported his family by teaching. Mr. stone died on October 7, 1894, and he was buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Culpeper.
Dr. Dale R. Hart adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins) p.p. 239 – 241