He couldn’t say No!
1801 – On this day William Carey, known as “the Father of Modern Missions”, was asked to be the professor of Bengali in the new College. Carey, having never attended college, questioned whether he could produce in the classroom. But this modest, unassuming man did produce, twenty-one of his first forty-five students rose to be judges and other held leading positions in the government. Again we see Rom. 8:28 at work for this also gave stability for Carey, Marshman and Boardman’s work at the mission. They say that Carey was not a genius but what would one have to do to be a genius. He only spoke at least seventeen languages, mastered numerous Indian languages, preached in the vernacular, was an active personal soul winner, and participated in establishing twenty churches and mission stations in India by 1814. Considering the fact that they arrived there in 1793, one of his sons died of dysentery, his wife had a nervous breakdown, and he had to work to support his family, surely all would agree that he should have nothing to apologize for. This is all the more evidence of his testimony that when asked to describe himself, he referred to himself as a plodder by saying to his nephew Eustace, “I can plod.” He told Rev. Swan of the Cannon Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, England, “I never could say —-‘No’.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 143.
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From Man’s Slave to God’s Free Bondman
George Leile was born a slave on a plantation in Virginia around 1750. He would later belong to a Baptist deacon in Georgia. After his dramatic conversion to Christianity in 1773, Leile was set free to become a traveling preacher. Ordained May 20, 1775, Leile is recognized as the first ordained black Baptist pastor in Georgia. In Savannah, he founded the first “African Baptist” church in North America, which is still in existence today.
After George’s master Henry Sharpe’s death in the war in 1778, George and his family moved to British occupied Savannah to avoid re-enslavement. It was in Savannah that George Liele, alongside David George and Andrew Bryan, built a lasting congregation of black Baptists both slave and free. Their place of worship was initially a barn that was given to them by Jonathan Bryan, the master of Andrew Bryan. The fruit of Liele’s ministry was being multiplied through Andrew Bryan as an upcoming leader in the church. On January 20th, 1788, this black congregation was officially constituted a Baptist Church by Abraham Marshall under Pastor Bryan. The church was initially named the First Bryan Baptist Church with a total of eighty members that grew to two hundred and fifty by 1792. In 1794, the church built a frame structure on land they had purchased the year before. By 1802 the church had grown to over 700 members, changed its name to the First African Baptist Church, started the Second African Baptist Church, and in 1803 started the Ogeechee (Third) Baptist Church.
The English Baptist William Carey is commonly known as the “Father of the Modern Missions Movement,” but George Leile predated him by a decade. In 1783, Leile left his homeland and went to Jamaica, where he started the first Baptist church on the island.
Because of the influence of George Liele, the Englishmen William Knibb and Thomas Burchell returned to England to campaign to end slavery in Jamaica. Although William Wilberforce had successfully convinced the English parliament to abolish the slave trade in 1807, they did not outlaw slavery itself. It was not until 1833 that Parliament passed a law requiring all slaves in the entire British Commonwealth to be given their freedom. The last day of slavery for the British Empire was set to be July 31st 1838. Liele did not live to see that day, as he died in 1828, but his influence continued to empower freedom.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 206 -207