Sarah E. Gorham served 8 years as an independent missionary. In 1888 she is recorded as the first female missionary of the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church.
In 1880, Sarah visited family in Liberia. Her interest in helping people and pouring into their lives was true and strong and she was described then as a missionary; as a church leader; and, as a social worker. She returned to the United States and was involved in the ministry of the Charles Street AME Church. In 1888, she went to the Magbelle mission in Sierra Leone, where she established the Sarah Gorham Mission School, a place of both Bible teaching and industrial training. In July 1894, Sarah was infected with malaria. She was bedridden, and passed away in one month.
Sarah was buried at Kissy Road Cemetery in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Born into slavery in 1798, Betsey Stockton was an African-American educator and missionary. A servant to Robert Stockton, president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), Betsey was formally freed in 1817. She remained in the service of the the family as paid household help and was able to take advantage of their extensive library, as well as benefit from their willingness to teach her in their home.
Betsey was commissioned by the American Board of Foreign Missions as a Missionary and became the first single American woman sent overseas. Her contract stated that she was sent “neither as an equal nor as a servant, but a humble Christian friend.” Betsey traveled in company with 13 white missionaries, on board a ship rounding the southern tip of South America. The missionaries were on their way to the Sandwich Islands (present-day Hawaii). Upon arrival, the missionaries settled in Lahaina, Maui, where Betsey was the teacher of the first mission school at Lahainaluna School for commoners, learning the Hawaiian language while working on the Islands, the first woman to do so. She trained native Hawaiian Teachers who eventually took over her teachings once the missionaries departed.
Though her contract stated she was not to be a servant, the circumstances of people of color in that day determined that she was a servant at least part time to one of the families that she traveled with. In 1825, the matriarch of the family that she was helping became ill and she return to the USA where she stayed with them for about five years.
Betsey taught briefly at an infant school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, established a school for Native Americans at Grape Island, Canada, and then returned to Princeton in 1835 and taught in its school for blacks. In 1840, she helped found Princeton’s First Presbyterian Church of Color which in 1848 was renamed the Witherspoon Street Church. Betsey passed away on October 24, 1865 and was buried in Cooperstown, New York. Like many early missionaries, she kept a diary of her travels – versions of which were published in the Christian Advocate in 1824 and 1825.
John Marrant, was born June 15, 1755 in New York City. He converted to Christianity at 13 and his family did not agree with his new religion, so he left home – wandering to find a place and was rescued by a Native American hunter. The tribe sentenced him to die, but his prayers and sermons reached their hearts and they spared his life. He lived among the Native Americans many converted. He was only 14 years old when he began this ministry.
In 1782 Marrant started training as a Methodist minister, and was ordained in 1785. He was sent to Nova Scotia to minister to African-Americans who fled to the north. Marrant started a church in the free black town of Birch Town (which Native Americans also attended) with the purpose of igniting a fire among Blacks to walk in their divine destiny and authority. Marrant preached this message consistently during his three years in Nova Scotia. When Marrant left Nova Scotia he moved to Boston and became chaplain of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons (African Masonic Lodge), one of the first institutions in Massachusetts to call for the abolition of slavery. Due to this group’s work, Boston abolished the slave trade in 1788.
In 1789 while in Boston, Marrant preached one of his few sermons that has been preserved on the equality of all men before God. His stay in Boston and his preaching on the dignity of all men infuriated some people and Marrant lived amidst death threats and mobs. He travel to London in 1790 and died in 1791 at the age of only thirty-six.
Marrant authored three books. They were often transcribed by white writers and resold with no financial benefit to Marrant.
A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, A Black, 1785. (a popular biographical memoir that printed 17 editions)
A Sermon Preached on the 24th Day of June 1789…at the Request of the Right Worshipful the Grand Master Prince Hall, and the Rest of the Brethren of the African Lodge of the Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in Boston, 1789. (noting the equality of men before God)
A Journal of the Rev. John Marrant, from August the 18th, 1785, to the 16th of March, 1790.
He died April 15, 1791 in London.
“So we see here the greatest enemies of Christ’s church frequently make a great profession, and have a name or an office in the church, when at the same time are destitute of the vital power of true godliness; they live by a name themselves, and they want a great many names to be set down in their society books to make a fair shew; but they care nothing about real religion; from such religion as this, good Lord deliver us.” John Marrant
Thank you for reading my blog during National Black History Month. I highlighted just a few of my heroes. I have heard of more and have even met some that will be highlighted soon. I do pray that as you’ve seen these people, your own call to missions has become real and strong!
Here’s my story:
Lloyd and Jan Chinn are native to Texas. Lloyd from Edna, TX and Jan from Houston, TX. The Chinns met, married and their careers were rising when Lloyd sensed the Lord’s leading into ministry. In 1998, the Chinns moved to Dallas and Lloyd attended Dallas Theological Seminary with a plan to return to their home church in Houston to engage in faith based community economic development.
In 1999, Lloyd was invited to Ghana on his first short term mission trip – he knew his call was missions then. The next year Lloyd took Jan and their children to Ghana, they returned twice and Jan committed to her calling then. Their passion was leadership development. Lloyd graduated from DTS in 2002 with his ThM – Educational Leadership. The Chinns were appointed by WorldVenture in 2002. They served in Ghana from 2004 to 2014 doing Pastoral and Church Leader Development, Women’s Empowerment, and Community Development. In Ghana the Lord used them and built a Leadership Development Center, a Short Term Missions house (where they lived); and a Poultry Farm. In 2014 their mission agency, WorldVenture, appointed them as the International Ministries Leaders for Africa.
A major joy for the Chinns has been that African American churches supported them to ensure they were on their way
Lloyd and Jan are the 2nd African American couple appointed by WorldVenture
Lloyd and Jan are the 1st African American couple to serve as International Ministries Leaders for Africa.
Lloyd’s firm message to the African American church is:
Sharon began serving Campus Crusade for Christ in 1983 at The Ohio State University. She served their one year. She moved to the CCC work at Jackson State University, where Grover was the lead. Grover and Sharon met there and married in May 1987. They served at JSU together until 1991. They moved to Dallas in 1991 for an education at Dallas Theological Seminary; Grover graduated from DTS in 1995. They moved to Houston after the graduation to raise financial support for their work in South Africa.
In 1996 Sharon gave birth to their third child and suffered a cerebral hemorrhage about 10 days after the birth. Sharon received marvelous health care in Houston, where she recovered in wonderful ways! Thank God! This delayed their desired move to South Africa, but did not cancel the work that was in front of them.
In 2000 they moved to Johannesburg, South Africa where Grover served as Campus Director at The University of Witwatersrand until May 1, 2006. From 2006 – 2007 they served on the CCC Lake Hart Stint, a one year development program & they also worked with The Impact Movement, serving with Staff Development and Staff Care. Currently,
Grover serves as National Alumni Development Director and Fund Development Director. Grover and Sharon serve in supportive roles with the National Campus Ministry and in Impact National and Global Missions, using their years of experience to help develop the staff who lead campus movements around the country and in Africa.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.--Romans 8:38-39