William Henry Sheppard – Congo; served 1890 – 1910

William Henry Sheppard was born in Virginia; 1865. In 1880, at the age of 15, he enrolled at the Hampton Institute – Virginia; graduated in 1883. After Hampton Institute Sheppard attended the Tuscaloosa Theological Institute, now Stillman College. He completed his studies at Tuscaloosa Theological Institute in 1886, and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister two years later. In 1894 he married Lucy Gantt, she gave birth to four children.

Sheppard assumed the pastorate at Zion Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, but immediately found himself restless and made several applications to be sent to Africa as a missionary. In 1990 Sheppard’s chance to go to Africa finally came when another minister of the Presbyterian Church that volunteered to go to Congo, wanted to take Sheppard as his partner. He was in Congo for 20 years.

Though much of Sheppard’s story is based upon his sincere love of African Art and his collection of such items; his work among Congolese was effective because he viewed the people in a vastly different way than white missionaries that had served in the same places. The Congolese people grew to love Sheppard and gave him the name ‘mundele ndom‘, which has been translated as ‘black white man‘. His missionary passion was often labeled as social work – distinct care for the wellness and education of nationals. While in Africa, two of his children died.

Sheppard was known to have exposed the loot that Belgian King Leopold II had taken from Congo because in 1904, he returned home on furlough and spoke out against the savagery taking place in the Congo. President Theodore Roosevelt received Sheppard at the White House on January 14, 1905, to hear the case against Leopold.

Sheppard finished his work in Congo in 1910 and returned to the USA. He settled in Louisville, Kentucky. He served as pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church. One of his most known ministries while pastor of this church was the development of a settlement house for Louisville’s black population. He died on November 27, 1927.

Stillman College dedicated its library in Sheppard’s honor in 1959 in Alabama.

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Trust Him with ALL

proverbs-3-5-and-6On January 17, 2017 –  I was involved in a serious car accident with my sweetheart.  I was driving and went unconscious while behind the wheel for several minutes.  The car was going down the highway at about 70MPH.  Lloyd had to maintain his composure while: 1)  hoping that his unconscious wife was alive ; 2) having thoughts of what his life (and his children’s lives) might be like if she was not alive; 3) realizing that he would have to save our lives; and 4) realizing that no matter what he did, only God could save us.

The King of Kings was with us that night for sure because Lloyd says the muscle in my right leg relaxed which let the car start to slow down while he grabbed the wheel.  We crashed into a traffic sign instead of into oncoming traffic.  Eric, an off duty Colorado police officer, was behind us and stopped to help Lloyd to navigate the madness – which was also wonderful because the calls to 911 kept saying “call failed”.  God kept Lloyd and I here and I just cannot thank Him enough!

The reactions of our friends/family were varied:”God has something planned for you!”; “It wasn’t time for you to go!”; “God extended His grace to you!”; “God granted His grace to us!”; “God looked out for us!”; “Thank God!”; “Get to the doctor!”; “REST!”; “Don’t ever travel again!”; Or in some cases – just tears or looks that needed no words.

My heart and Lloyd’s heart have been running through a gamut of emotions.  We are grateful!  We’ve been concerned! We have had some fear that has passed.  But the most amazing thing is that we have felt great passion for our callings toward the gospel being spread across the earth.  We have felt a burning urgency to carry out some of the things that God has placed in our hearts in recent days.  We have found ourselves worshipping everywhere we go because that has been one of the most effective tools against the fear and concern.  Gratefulness. Concern. Fear. Passion. Urgency. Worship! Yes – worship has been one of the most effective tools against the negative thoughts or feelings – I can see what Paul and Silas felt at midnight!  We lived to see another new mercy. This mercy – we truly can say we’ve never witnessed before!  Nothing in us has us wanting to stop doing what God has called us to do.  This latest experience has only made us both want to dive deeper into it and get it done with more passion; more excellence; and as soon as we can do it.

What about you?  As you live your life for the King of Kings are you acting as if your eternal life will be lived right where you are?!  I want to encourage you to live it like every moment just might be your last where you are.  None of us know when our last moment is –  I’m not saying that you might die; but I am saying that you might be moved!!  You just don’t know!  If the Lord tells you to share the gospel with someone – Open Your Mouth Today!  If the Lord tells you to write a book – Put The Pen To The Page Today!  If the Lord tells you to get under someone’s discipleship – Make The Move Today! If the Lord tells you to get a doctorate degree – Start The Program Today!  If God makes a way for you to show some hospitality – do it Today!  Don’t Procrastinate!  Don’t Hesitate!  Don’t try to fit God’s plan into your schedule.

If you’ve made the decision to call Him the Lord of your life – just go ahead and trust in Him completely and move your own understanding of things out of the way.  Relinquish your own idea about what might be right about how to carry things out over to Him and believe that He really will work it out in the way that is best for you!

As for Lloyd and I,  YES – God has asked us to do some pretty radical things in the last couple of years and we’ve done most with very little hesitation; but we’ve piddled around on some that aren’t so comfortable or easy.  This latest experience has just told us to go on and Do It!  He’s Ordering our Steps.  He’s Making the Path Plain.  He’s Got Us!  In Fact — He Has Got It All!!  Nothing that He’s asking of us is too hard for us because all of our strength is in Him and all of our purpose rests in Him and our life is hidden in His Son!

In fact, the only reason we even ARE is Him!

Proverbs 3:5,6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.