John Stewart. Wyandotte. Served 1815 – 1823

John Stewart. Black Missionary to Wyandotte Indians in Ohio from 1815 to 1823.

John Stewart served in Ohio as a missionary to Wyandotte Indians. 1815 to 1823.

John Stewart was a missionary to the Wyandotte Indians of Ohio and founder of what is often considered the first Methodist mission in America. Stewart was born in Virginia in 1786 to free Negro parents.  At some point he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1815 Stewart felt that he was being called to spread the word of God among the Indians and set out on a journey to complete this calling. His first stop was in Goshen, Ohio, where he stayed for almost six months. After this he moved to Sandusky, Ohio where he worked among the Wyandotte Indians.

Stewart was able to successfully convert both chiefs and tribal members to Christianity, a feat which leaves him with the credit of starting the first highly successful Methodist mission among the Indians of the United States. On August 7, 1819, the Ohio Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church established the first official mission to the Indians based largely on the work that Stewart had completed among the Wyandotte. Stewart died on December 17, 1823 at the age of 37.

Perhaps and Promise

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Reading in 1 Samuel (1 Samuel 14:1-14) about Jonathan and his armor bearer carrying out a two-man commando raid! Crazy – right??!!

I mean they climbed up there not knowing for sure what God would do, thinking that ‘perhaps’ God might act on their behalf, believing that God just might give them a sign to indicate a victory (that an entire army could not secure) would be given to Israel through their hands. Crazy Faith – the kind of faith that sees powerful Kingdom things happen in our lives.

Jonathan’s ‘perhaps’ is not that God is able, but that God will act. This is what audacious faith looks like.

Audacious faith believes that God’s promise and His power are greater than our uncertainty/ambiguity about what is ahead of us.

We’d all love it if God allowed us to do big things for the Kingdom that required only minimal risk. It would be so very comfortable if the voice and guidance of the Holy Spirit drowned out the cacophony of voices that we have to wade through. But … truth is – ‘promise’ and ‘perhaps’ must coexist.

Audacious faith does not eliminate doubt and fear – it overshadows the power of doubt and fear one decision at a time. You will know God’s will by doing God’s will. Act on your “perhaps”, and see what God will do in your life!

“Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.” His armor bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart; turn yourself, and here I am with you according to your desire.” Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men and reveal ourselves to them. If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you’; then we will stand in our place and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hands; and this shall be the sign to us..” 1 Samuel 14: 6-10

Eliza Davis George. Liberia. 1913 – 1917

Eliza Davis George served in Liberia, 1913 to 1972.

Eliza Davis George was born in 1879.  In December 1913 she left Texas for New York; and on December 12, 1913, she sailed from New York to Liberia as a National Baptist missionary.

Eliza and another missionary opened a school for children in the interior of Liberia, where there were few missionaries or churches. They called the school Bible Industrial Academy, and their aim was to teach children to read the Bible and show them helpful life skills. Within the first two years they had fifty children attending the academy and saw more than 1,000 people accept the Lord in the nearby villages.

Eliza served as an evangelist, teacher, and church planter throughout Sinoe County, Liberia. Wherever she established ministries, she trained Liberian young people and sent them as missionaries to take the Word of God to their own people and to provide education for their children.

Five years after arriving in Liberia, Eliza’s mission board disbanded. Lacking financial support, she was approached by a British missionary doctor who urged her to marry him so that she would be able to remain in Africa. After much prayer, she concluded that God was permitting her to marry, and in 1919, Eliza became the wife of Dr. Charles George. Together they adopted three children: Maude, Cecelia, and Cerella.

Even when married, Eliza continued to live meagerly, trusting in the Lord’s provision and going to extraordinary lengths to secure support for the ministry Jesus had called her to. Her prayer life reflected her dependence on God:

“O heavenly Father, thou hast taught us to pray for our daily bread. Lord, thou dost know that I do not have one penny to buy food and pay the workers here at the mission. Father, send us something to meet our needs as thou hast promised. Help me to keep trusting Thee so that the children will know Thou art caring for them.”

In 1939, her husband passed away – yet she continued in the work for 33 more years.  By the 1960s The Eliza Davis George Baptist Association had twenty-seven churches in Liberia.

Eliza returned to the USA in 1972 at the age of 93 due to fragile health.  She passed away in Tyler, TX in March 1980.

Louise (“Lulu”) Cecilia Fleming.Congo. Served from 1887 – 1899

Lulu was born 1862 as a slave in Florida. In 1887 she became a missionary teacher in Congo. The students were being introduced to Jesus because of Lulu’s ministry to them. The school had 49 students and many of them came to Christ through Lulu’s ministry to them.

This seems a poor report…and perhaps many may think the work almost discouraging, but to us whom God has given the privilege to labor here it is very encouraging. [It] fills us with unspeakable joy.

Lulu combined her teaching with weekend evangelistic work in the towns and within a year she had learned Kikongo and no longer required a translator. When Lulu saw that women needed to be reached, she began making home visits while urging the mission society (American Baptist Foreign Mission Society of the West) to send more women.

In 1891 Lulu return to the USA as a student at the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, Lulu returned to the Congo in 1895 as a medical missionary.

Known now as Dr. Fleming, she was stationed at Irebu, further up the Congo River where she needed to learn a different language. The power of Dr. Fleming’s ministry came from her identification with those among whom she served. The Baptist Missionary Magazine described her as “particularly successful in winning the hearts of the Congo people, putting herself in close touch and sympathy with them.” She passed away in 1899 from complications from African sleeping sickness.

Trust and Obey … No other Way to be Happy!!

It is normally quite easy to trust God – after all He is the creator of all things, He is just and faithful, His loving-kindness does endure to all generations. But walking closely with the Lord, you are challenged constantly in your relationship with Him. His ways are not your ways, nor or His thoughts yours. As you walk in obedience, with the assurance that you will have your needs met, there are times when God’s method of meeting your needs does not line up with your logic and understanding. Think about our brother, Job.

God presented Job to the enemy as a sacrifice of faith – ‘The Lord said to Satan, “All right, do whatever you want with anything that he has, but don’t hurt Job himself.” Then Satan left the meeting. ‘ Job 1:12

In times like this, it is easy for us to dismiss hard times as a part of living and not recognize that they are tests of our obedience and devotion to Him. As a missionary, one of the hardest things that we do every day is depend upon the people of God to faithfully honor the financial commitments that they make; commitments that keep us on the field. We have found God to be faithful, but we have seen and are seeing more often nowadays moments when the faithful prove not to be so. Our temptation can be to just go return to ‘normal’ lives; or to feel like we are not fully supported because we have somehow failed both God and man. But as we look at the story of Job, we are reminded time and time again that God’s deepest desire is that we depend upon him desperately – yes DESPERATELY!

Desperation is such a difficult place, don’t you agree? But let’s return to Job’s story – at the end of it all in Job 42 – he says ‘“I know you can do everything. You make plans, and nothing can change or stop them. ‘ Job 42:2

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Yes indeed – a witness from a time long ago reminding us that even when the people of God are lulled into a sense of complacency and do not seem to be honoring God’s desire that we continue what we know God has called us to – we must never forget that God is in control and His plans cannot be thwarted.

As I started writing this post – I was feeling a bit discouraged – feeling a praise now coming up from within me that I just cannot keep to myself! Hallelujah! He Alone Is God! I’m singing right now:

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, "Thus saith the Lord!"
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
Oh, for grace to trust You more!