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(title page) Africa for Christ. Twenty-Eight Years a Slave
(cover) Twenty-Eight Years a Slave
REV. Thos. L. Johnson
112 p., ill.
ALEXANDER AND SHEPHEARD, 21 AND 22, FURNIVAL STREET, E. C.
Call number E185.97.J62A3 1892 (University of Virginia Libraries)
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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
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Yours truly for Africa
Thos. L. Johnson
[Title Page Image]
GOD has indeed been gracious to me, in permitting me to awaken a deeper interest in African mission-work among my own people, chiefly in the Western States of America; so that I feel to-day I am doing more good for Africa than if I had been permitted to continue my labours there. I am indeed very thankful to the dear friends in Britain for their help and sympathy in the African cause, and would ask their further interest and assistance in promoting the sale of this little book, the proceeds of which, after defraying my own personal expenses, will be devoted to the mission. Earnestly requesting the prayers of God's people on behalf of this great work, that Africa may soon be won for Christ,
I am, yours truly for Africa,
THOS. L. JOHNSON."SHALOM" HOUSE,
THOSE only who are acquainted with Mr. Johnson know the elasticity of his heart; how, unmindful of self, it throbs for Africa, the land of his forefathers, and that in loving tenderness it encircles every tribe, however degraded, in that vast continent. Ever since receiving his first freedom, the liberty of his soul, through simply trusting his blessed Jesus, he longed to be the bearer of the glad tidings of salvation to his benighted countrymen; and no sooner had he gained his second freedom, that of his person, secured by the capture of Richmond, and overthrow of the Confederate Government, than we find him diligently striving to secure the education necessary to the fulfilment of his long-cherished hopes; and although his path was strewn with difficulties, and for a time he seemed to make but little progress, yet by prayer and faith they were all surmounted. We have the most unbounded confidence in Mr. Johnson, and earnestly pray God to bless and prosper him wherever he may be called to labour. It is now seventeen or eighteen years since we first met him as the Pastor of Providence Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois, beloved by his own people and respected by all. He frequently spoke of Africa and his longing to go there, and once, when visiting him in a time of sickness, he said: "Oh, if God would only let me go to Africa and preach one sermon, I would be willing to die"; and this in a tone of such intense earnestness that we saw it to be of the Lord, who has proved how He can "fufil the desire of
them that fear Him," even "exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think." For Mr. Johnson has not only laboured himself in Africa, but succeeded in planting a mission where Jesus was unknown, which still flourishes; and he is now an instrument, we believe, in the hand of an omnipotent God, to awaken the interest and enlist the sympathy of many others who shall carry the glorious Gospel to the dark hearts and homes of poor Africa, which seems to have borne the cross as well as the curse for so many ages. How shall we answer to the King in the day of His appearing, if we should withhold our sympathy, prayers and money? Are we not responsible for the discipling of all nations? May a perusal of the following pages, which prove "all things are possible to him that believeth," lead to a deeper consecration, and a coveting of the privilege of a share in "Africa for Jesus," so that sower and reaper may rejoice together; for "all the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ Jesus."
ED. STROUD SMITH.
DOUGLAS, ISLE OF MAN,December 15th, 1891.
April 21st, 1882.
I have known and very highly esteemed my friend Mr. Thos Lewis Johnson for nearly six years. It was chiefly through me that the dear man first came to this country in 1866. He worked with me in connection with the Young Men's Christian Association mission work in Manchester for some time prior to his going to Mr. Spurgeon's College and thence to Africa. I fully believe in our dear brother's zeal for the Lord's work in Africa, and cordially recommend him to all who may be able to further the cause so near his heart.
W. HIND SMITH,
ORGANISING AND VISITING SECRETARY TO THE NATIONAL
COUNCIL OF THE Y. M. C. A., EXETER HALL, LONDON.
THE late Joseph Cooper says, in his book on the African Slave Trade:--"There is a work--one of the glories of our age--in which humanity must rejoice, and of which England in particular may be proud: viz., the abolition of slavery in the colonies of Christian people. In them the Negro has ceased to be game which is hunted--an article of merchandise to be sold--a beast of burden goaded to labour by the lash." Oh, I do so much thank my blessed Jesus for this, and pray that the time may soon come when slavery shall not be known in any part of the world!
According to information I received from my mother, I was born August 7th, 1836, at a place called Rock-Rayman, in the State of Virginia; but I do not know the place, as I was REMOVED when a child.
From what I have heard my mother say about her father. I think he came from Africa, of the Guinea tribe. Both her father and mother died when she was quite young. Her brothers and sisters were sold when she was about thirteen years old. I have often heard her talk of them, and of the cruel treatment she received in her youth. My father was an octoroon,* * One-eighth negro blood.
and a free man. When I was nearly three years old, Mr. Brent, who owned me, removed to Alexandria, Virginia. My father wanted to purchase my mother and myself, but the master would not sell us. A free man was permitted to marry a slave woman, but
* One-eighth negro blood.
her children would be slaves. My father died when I was nine years old. My mother said he left money for me to purchase myself when I became a man; but the white people got it, and I never received it.
I can well remember how happy I used to be, playing in the yard with other children like myself, not knowing we were slaves. Sometimes we saw mother and others of the slaves crying, and whispering to each other, but did not know what it meant. If we tried to listen, they would say, "What are you listening to?" and we would be sent out. They were always careful not to let the children hear what they had to say. The ways of the world, and the condition of my own long-oppressed people, I knew nothing of. As time passed on, first one and then another of those who were as innocent as myself were missed from the company of little slaves. I remember one day seeing John, who was much older than the rest, with a small bundle in his hand, saying good-bye to his mother, while a white man stood waiting in the hall for him. His mother and mine, with others, were crying, and all seemed very sad. I did not know what to make of it. Some kind of fear came over me, but I did not know why. Soon we heard that the man who took John was the "Georgia Trader." All slave-traders were then called Georgia Traders. After this, whenever we saw a white man looking over the fence as we were at play, we would run and hide, sometimes getting near our mothers, thinking they could protect us. Soon another, and in time another, would be taken away. I began to see that there was a great difference between the white and the coloured children. White people were free--"free born"--but black people were slaves, and could be sold for money. What seemed worse than all was the discovery that our mothers, whom we looked upon as our only protectors, could not help us. Often we were reminded that, if we were not good,
the white people would sell us to Georgia, which place we dreaded above all others on earth.
Mr. Brent held some office in the Government, and he removed to Washington when I was about seven or eight years old. I was dressed up and sent into the dining-room at each meal, to drive away the flies from the table and carry out dishes, &c. At night I had to bring my young master's slippers. When I brought in the slippers I was told "This slipper is for the right foot; and that for the left." Up to this time I did not know the difference between right and left, and what was meant I could not tell. The next night I brought in the slippers and put the left-foot slipper on the right foot. He became very angry, and gave me a slap on the head. Night after night, with fear and trembling, I would carry in the slippers. Sometimes I would accidentally get them right, but more often they were wrong; then would come the blow on the head, either with the hand of the slipper.
My poor mother, to whom I looked for protection, could do nothing. I can remember how, after my being ill-treated, mother would say, with tears in her eyes, "My son, be a good boy." Oh, I can never forget the lessons taught me by my mother, now in heaven with my blessed Jesus!
The whole of her education consisted in a knowledge of the alphabet, and how to count a hundred. She first taught me the Lord's Prayer. As soon as I was old enough, she explained to me the difference between the condition of the coloured and white people, and told me if I would learn how to read and write, some day I might be able to get my freedom; but all this must be kept a secret.
If a slave was known to teach another he would be liable to be sent to the whipping post or to be sold; the law was very strict in regard to slaves being taught how to read
and write. My mother's heartfelt desire seems to have been that I should be taught these things; and no opportunity was lost in trying to inspire me to look forward to freedom and an education. She told me what she knew about heaven, where there would be no slaves--all would be free. Oh! I used to think how nice it must be in heaven--"no slaves, all free," and GOD would think as much of the black people as He did of the white. Then she would talk of Africa--how that we were all free there, but white people stole us from our country and made slaves of us. This seems to have been all she knew.
I do thank my blessed Jesus that she knew this; it was the germ of all I know to-day. My mother's advice, my mother's teaching, will ever remain fresh in my memory. I will not, cannot, forget her tears as she looked with a mother's love upon me, more than fifty years ago, and would tell me what little she knew. To her, as to thousands of poor slaves, the Bible was almost a sealed book. I can never forget her tenderness, and the deep security I felt when, in the evenings of my childhood (not knowing what was passing through that loving mother's breast, as her tearful eyes looked upon me), nestling in her arms, she would tell me how she loved me. I was the first and only child.
The few following lines I call "Memories of Childhood. I often sing them in memory of my dear mother:--
"Oh, yes, I remember mother and father too;
My mother laboured faithfully
To teach me Gospel truth.
Now, Lord, I pray Thee
Give me counsel every day,
For mother laboured faithfully
To teach me how to pray.
"Yes, I remember--remember well,
When at my mother's knee she often would tell
Of that sweet prayer the disciples prayed,
Taught by their Lord, who should be obeyed."
"Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen."
"And then, in conclusion,
Mother taught me to say,
In childlike simplicity,
At the close of every day:
' "Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep:
If I should die before I 'wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.' "
Mr. Brent was sent on Government business to Buenos Ayres. Some of the slaves were sent on the farm, others were left in the hands of an agent at Washington. At this time I was sent on the farm. After his return, he settled down on a farm near Alexandria, Virginia, where in two years he died. The estate was divided. It was my lot to fall into the hands of the son who used to cuff me so much about his slippers. His name was Arthur Lee Brent, and he was a doctor. The family were related to General R. E. Lee, of the Confederate Army. My master settled in Fairfax, county Virginia, and first commenced to board with a family of Northern people, who were very kind to me. Mr. Brent found this out, and requested Mr. Barrett not to allow me to repeat any lesson after his children, or in any way to give me instruction. He removed to another family to board. When he went away from home, he left me in the charge of
the gentleman with whom he boarded, who had licence to do as he chose with me, and did not fail to use his authority. The master would often whip me for the most frivolous things. When only twelve years of age, I often thought of freedom, and, as time passed, I made inquiries respecting Canada. This was the second time I had been away from my mother; I had not much hope of ever seeing her again. Freedom was frequently before my mind. I heard that the
had given large sums of money to set the coloured people free, and if I could get to Canada I would be safe. And here let me mention, that we had the idea on the plantation that the Queen was black. Accustomed to nothing but cruelty at the hands of the white people, we had never imagined that a great ruler, so kind to coloured people, could be otherwise than black; so the impression was that Queen Victoria must be black. To me she was the subject of many a dream: she often came before my mind, laid hold upon me, and compelled me to imagine what kind of a person she was. I used to picture her as a black lady, amidst numerous coloured attendants, surrounded by a grandeur that exceeded all I had ever seen amongst the wealthy white people. And then I thought what a happy thing it must be to live under the reign of so good a Queen. Many stories were circulated respecting her. Amongst the rest, I remember one which had great interest for us. We had the idea that a hogshead (in which tobacco was packed) was the largest measure in existence, and it was reported that the Queen had sent a hogshead of money to purchase the liberty of us poor slaves. This, however, had come into the hands of the white people, who, instead of securing our freedom, had kept it for themselves. The origin of this story I cannot understand, except on the ground that the Queen, who had freed so many slaves in other parts, would not willingly leave us in bondage. Alas! there was no way for me to make my escape to freedom; the door seemed
closed against me. I would often think of my mother's parting blessing. She put her hand upon my head, and said, "Good-bye, my son; God bless you; be a good boy, say your prayers, and try to 'seek religion.' The fortune-teller said you were born for good luck." I would look at the sun, and see how beautifully it shone upon everything--all was bright but the poor slave, who was doomed to drag out a miserable existence in bondage, and, if he had no "religion," he must go to that hell my mother had told me of, and of which I had heard so much from the slaves. Day after day, at times, I thought of my condition. The slaves would sing many of the songs that were sung by the Jubilee Singers when they were in England. I would often join them. At last I resolved to try to seek "religion." I was nearly eighteen years of age. My master was a member of the church, and would teach me to say prayers, and the Apostles' Creed, and read to me about Abraham's servants, and Isaac's servants, and Jacob's servants, and "servants obey your masters." He would read these nice things over to me so carefully, have prayers, and then, when he felt like it (which he often did), give me a lashing. Whenever he thought I should have a flogging, he would say to me, "Report yourself to me to-morrow morning after breakfast." If I did not report to get my flogging, I would have an extra lashing for that. Yet with all this, my lot was much better than that of many around me. There was a man who owned the next plantation named Jackson. He was so cruel to the slaves that he was known as "the devil." I had not much faith in what my master told me, and could not understand much of what he said. Yet I wanted to "seek religion." But whenever I commenced to think seriously on this matter, there was one obstacle which presented itself. I was superstitious, and believed in witchcraft and ghosts, as did all on the plantation. It was natural we should. Superstition is characteristic of the race in Africa. Having been brought to America, not permitted to be taught to read the Bible, and having every
avenue to education closed against us, it was natural we should retain the superstitions of our fathers. My idea was that, if I set out to "seek religion," I must meet with
I often heard the slaves say that, when they set out to seek religion, the devil set out with them; and this greatly perplexed me. Then I heard them talk of seeing ghosts. But after they were converted they would go six and ten miles to a meeting in the night, and God would be with them. I resolved to set out. I thought the worst sin a man could be guilty of was to commit murder. I knew I was innocent of this. One day, I was out gathering black-berries, and commenced to pray the Lord's Prayer. I knew not what else to say. As I prayed, a rabbit jumped up from under the bush from which I was gathering the berries. I felt sure this was the devil. I had heard that when he deceived Eve in the garden he came like a serpent, and, furthermore, he could put himself into any shape. I was never more frightened in all my life.
In the year 1853 Mr. Brent took to himself a wife, when I was
to his brother, who lived in Richmond, Virginia. Here I met again my dear mother, after having been separated for about six years. This brother, Mr. William Brent, had always been kind to his slaves, and every member of the family followed his example. How much Mr. Brent paid for me I never heard. His son once told me that he had been offered three thousand dollars in gold for me, but would not take it. From this time I received better treatment. I was never flogged after coming into the hands of Mr. William Brent. I was told that I was to be the property of Mr. Brent's eldest son. He was much younger than myself. During all these years I had not
lost sight of the lessons my dear mother had taught me. While away from her I had worked hard to be able to make the letters of the alphabet, and had learned to spell a large number of words, which much delighted her. But I found out that the white people, in writing, did not use the large letters of the alphabet as I did; I also thought that an education consisted in knowing how to write.
There was a slave on our lot named Anthony Burnes, who managed to get to Boston. Under the fugitive slave law he was brought back to Richmond, Virginia, and put into the slave pen for sale. He finally got his freedom. My young master, Mr. T. C. Brent, came to me one day while Burnes was in the trader's pen, and told me Anthony was in gaol. He knew how to write, had written himself a pass, and gone northward. Mr. Brent with other gentlemen had brought him back, and now he would be sold to Georgia. He had brought it all on himself, because he knew how to write. I said, "Lor's o'er me, Mos Carroll, is dat so?" He answered, very gravely, "Yes, that is so." When I got by myself, I said, "If dat is so, I am going to larn how to write, and if I can git to Boston, I know I can git to Canada." With this resolve I began to
I commenced after a while to pocket the nice-looking letters I saw, and, when my work was over, I would go to my room and try to make letters like them. But after I had copied them, I could not understand them. I remember being in a church once, where I saw a lot of letters in a box. The writing looked so plain and nice, it seemed I could not do better than to take a few of the nicest looking ones to help me in my writing lessons. But this did not do; for, although some of the letters were very nice, I did not know what to call them. The youngest son of Mr. Brent had a copy-book. I made up my mind to have one like it. The first time I got five cents I went to a book store and asked for a copy-book. I had made up my mind
what to say if the bookseller should ask me who I wanted it for. However, he did not question me. I went home and commenced to teach myself how to write, or to learn from this book. The letters were alphabetically arranged. I got on nicely, but
presented itself--I could not spell. I purchased a spelling book, kept it in my pocket, and every opportunity I would look into it. But there were so many words I could not understand. At night, when the young master would be getting his lessons, I would select some word I wanted to know how to spell, and say, "Mos Carroll, I'll bet you can't spell 'looking-glass.' " He would at once spell it. I would exclaim, "Lor's o'er me, Mos Carroll, you can spell it nice." Then I would go out and spell it over and over again. I knew that if I once got it into my head they could never get it out. This young man was always willing to answer my questions; but sometimes he would ask why I wanted to know, and I would say, "I want to see how far you are." I carefully felt my way, knowing that, as a rule, all slaveholders objected to educated Negroes. In the course of time young Mr. Brent became very kind and free with me, and would often read to me portions of his lessons. If I liked it and wanted to hear it again, I would say, "Lor's o'er me, Mos Carrol, read that again," which he often did. In this way each week I added a little to my small store of knowledge about this great world in which I lived.
But the door to freedom seemed as much closed as ever. There was a large map of the United States hanging on the wall in the dining-room, and each day, as I attended to my cleaning, I would stop a few minutes and look at the map. In the course of time, I learned to spell nearly all the cities along the R. W. route from Richmond to Boston. Often I wondered whether I would ever see these cities, where all were free.
During all this time I was thinking more or less about seeking religion. Some of the slaves sang so much about "heaven," and "home," and "rest," and "freedom," and seemed so happy, that I often longed to be able to join them. The home beyond, where there was "perfect rest," and freedom, and peace, where there would be no slavery, was almost daily before me. But how to get religion was what perplexed me; yet I felt it was essential to my happiness both here and hereafter. See how the heathen grope in the dark after God, and the dark heart turns towards Him. When I afterwards went to Africa I found the condition of plantation negroes (in many instances) was but little better than that of the heathen in Africa. "How shall they hear without a preacher?" Rom. x. 14. Dear Christian reader, will not you do something to send the Gospel to them? Hardly a day passed without some one of my own long-oppressed people being led to the whipping post, and there lashed most unmercifully. Every auction day many were sold away to Georgia, or some other of the far-off Southern States, and often they could be seen in companies, handcuffed, on their way to the Southern markets, doomed, doomed to perpetual slavery. "Oh!" I would think, "I must seek religion." In the year 1857 there was a
Many of the coloured people said the Judgment-day was coming. Everywhere you could hear of great meetings and of thousands of souls being converted. There were many large tobacco factories in Richmond, working thousands of slaves, and I daily heard of many converts in these factories. First one and then another of my friends would set out to "seek religion." At last I resolved, if I lived a thousand years, I would not stop seeking until I found peace; but the thought of meeting that old serpent, the devil, was chilling and repulsive to me. I often listened to the converts telling their experience, and I heard some say (as I remarked
before) that, when they set out, the devil set out with them; that, while seeking, they would "fast and pray"; that the devil would do all he could to turn them back. I thought they had seen him with their natural eyes, and that I must also see him. Above all things this troubled me the most, yet I made up my mind that I must meet him if I wanted religion. Then I thought I must in some way renovate myself; that, to be acceptable to God, I must fit myself. With this fixed upon my mind, on Wednesday, the 1st of June, 1857, I set out to "seek religion."
As night came on, my only thought was that I would meet the devil. I feared to go to bed, so sat out in the porch. Night after night I would sit there, and nod a while, then awake in fear, looking round to see if the devil was near. If a cat came upon the wall, I feared it was the devil; if I heard a rat, I thought it was the devil; and thus I went on from night to night. During the day I did not speak to any one. I had always been lively and cheerful; but now, looking as I did, the master wanted to know what was the matter, and he talked of sending me to Georgia. I made up my mind, wherever I went, not to stop seeking until I found peace. I knew that God was stronger than the devil and the master. Hence I asked Him, "Please don't let master sell me to Georgia." After about two weeks, having fasted all I could some days, on others taking a hearty meal, and having lost so much rest night after night, I got at last into a state I cannot describe. I can only say it was a living death. When night came on, for fear of meeting the devil, I would wish for day; and when day came, I would regret that I had been such a coward during the night. I thought that, when I arrived at a state of not being afraid, God would meet me and take me by the hand, and show me some wonderful sight. At last it seemed to me I could not stand it any longer.
After nearly three weeks, I met a coloured man on the street, named Stephney Brown. He was a Christian, and quite an intelligent man. He explained to me the simple Gospel, and how he had found peace. He told me to go to God, and say: "Lord, have mercy upon me, a hell-deserving sinner, for Jesus' sake; set me out Thy way, and not mine, for Jesus' sake." "But," said he, "when you ask, you must believe that He will hear you and answer your prayer, just as you believe I would give you a glass of water if you asked me for it. You know if you wanted a drink of water, and asked me for it, you would believe, when you asked for it, that I would give it to you; so you must ask God, for Jesus' sake, to have mercy upon you, a hell-deserving sinner. Now, you are a sinner. If you die as you are, you will go to hell: but you must ask for Jesus' sake. He cannot deny you, if you ask for Jesus' sake." As he explained to me the finished work of my blessed Jesus, I commenced to see and feel at once as I had never before. "For Jesus' sake," seemed to enter into my soul. "Have mercy upon me, a hell-deserving sinner, for Jesus' sake," seemed to ring in my heart all the way home. As soon as my work was done for that night, and all was quiet, I again resolved, if I lived a thousand years, I would never stop praying for "Jesus' sake." I went into the dining-room, fell down upon my knees, and said: "O Lord, have mercy upon me, a hell-deserving sinner, for Jesus' sake." Oh! I was at once so happy. I got up and went out into the porch. Everything appeared to be different to me. The very stars in the heavens seemed brighter, and I did feel so happy. I did not see any great sights, but there was an inward rejoicing. I had not done anything--I could not do anything to merit this any more than the thief upon the cross could do, but my blessed Jesus did it all. NOTHING for me to do; all God asks of us is to receive from Him. The BLOOD of JESUS CHRIST has been accepted by God as
full atonement for the sin of the world. O how many weary hearts and wasted lives there are to-day through failure to recognise this important truth. The Blessed Christ has atoned for my sin, and all I have to do is to accept God's gift, eternal life. The Lord Jesus was not one whom I had merely heard about, but was now MY blessed Jesus--just as much mine as if there was no one else in all the world. Precious Gospel--Jesus, the sinner's personal friend. I used to hear the coloured people say there were some white people who went to heaven. My idea was that there were not many. But now, I thought if the master would only come to Jesus, he could be saved. I commenced to pray for the white people, and to tell to all what a dear Saviour I had found.
"Free indeed." My poor mother who had for years been so anxious that I should "seek religion," had never made a profession of religion herself. She at once gave herself to Jesus. I was anxious to unite with the Baptist church.* * In Richmond there were coloured churches, but they had white pastors, who never failed to keep us informed about Abraham's servants, and "servants obey your masters," and what the Angel said to Hagar--Gen. xvi. 8, 9.
This I could not do, unless I had a "pass" from my master. I went to him, and asked permission to be baptized. He at once said, "No, you shall not unite with the Baptist church." I told my friend, Mr. Brown, who had been my spiritual adviser. He told me to go to the Lord, and say, "Lord, if Thou hast ever done anything for my never-dying soul, please manifest it to me by making master give me a pass to be baptized." I think it was near three months before I again ventured to ask him. This time I received it at once in
* In Richmond there were coloured churches, but they had white pastors, who never failed to keep us informed about Abraham's servants, and "servants obey your masters," and what the Angel said to Hagar--Gen. xvi. 8, 9.
When the Sabbath appointed for baptizing again arrived, my mother and I "went down into the water," hand-in-hand,
and were baptized. Soon after my conversion, I felt a deep desire to preach the Gospel; but two difficulties presented themselves. First, I was a slave; while I had a free soul, my body was in slavery. There seemed no way of escape for me. Then, secondly, I could not read the Bible understandingly, and there was no way for me to succeed but to pursue the course I had previously adopted. About this time, a young student came from the college one Sabbath to preach. He talked to us from the 5th chapter of Matthew. I was much struck with the explanations he gave, and was anxious to know how to read this chapter. There was a box of books stored away in the lumber-room, among which was a large old Bible; I took this out, and carried it to my room. Day after day I would try to read this chapter. The young master had been requested by his mother to read a chapter in the New Testament every night. Often when with him in his room at night, I would get him to read this chapter for me. Soon I got to spell the words "multitudes," "mountain," "disciples," "blessed," and, in the course of time, I had learnt to repeat the chapter over almost from memory. I then commenced to look about in the Bible, and found I could spell in many places the same words seen in the 5th chapter of Matthew. Animated by this, I resolved to read the Bible through. Day after day, when I had finished my morning or afternoon work in the house, I would lock myself in my room and read the Bible, commencing at Genesis, calling over the letters of each word I could not understand, as follows:--"In the b-e-g-i-n-n-i-n-g God c-r-e-a-t-e-d the heaven and the earth," and thus I struggled on from day to day.
I often met with the slaves in some secret place for prayer, though we knew, if we were found out, we would be locked up for the night, and the next morning receive from five to thirty-nine lashes, for unlawfully assembling together. Over five constituted an unlawful assembly. At night, no slave was allowed to be out without a pass from his master. Oh, we used to have such a nice time at these meetings,
singing and praying almost in a whisper--watching all the time for the policeman.
Steal away to Jesus:
Steal away home,
I ain't got long to stay here."
I have already stated that my mother's brothers and sisters were sold when she was about thirteen years of age. When she was forty-two, she heard that a sister was living at Lynchburg, Virginia, and during the war they met again; but the rest we never heard of. I often thought of Africa, and how I would like to go and tell my own people about my blessed Jesus. During the summer months, for several years, I was hired out to wait in an hotel at the sea-side. On two of these occasions I tried to make my escape, but was defeated. It was not, however, found out by my owners. I well remember the time when
visited the United States. He came to Richmond, and great preparation was made to receive him at the Exchange Hotel and Ballard House. By this time I had found out the Queen was not black. But still there were no slaves in England. One Sabbath afternoon the Prince and his suite were riding out. He rode in Mr. Haxall's carriage. They came down Franklin Street, and I had a good look at him. I cannot tell when I felt more unhappy in slavery than at this time. It seemed to me that if I could only see the Prince, and tell him my desire for freedom, he would purchase me; but how to get into his presence I did not know. Afterwards I heard that he took a dog home with him, and carried a boy to look after the dog, and for a very long time I much regretted that I did not make an effort to speak to him, thinking that he would have taken me instead of this boy. I was in Richmond at
I had to go into the army with young Mr. Brent, to cook, and had an opportunity of seeing much of the campaign around Richmond, Virginia. During the second year of the war Mr. Brent died, and his slaves and property were left to his widow, who was, indeed, very kind to them. After his death, I had to be at home most of the time. I can well remember the excitement among both white and coloured people in Richmond. All the coloured persons I met believed that if the North gained the victory they would have their freedom. The white people believed that "cotton was king," and England would in time help them. In 1863 I was married. My wife was maid to Mrs. Cooper, the wife of General S. S. Cooper, of the Confederacy. Mrs. Cooper was a sister of General R. E. Lee. By this time I could read fairly, as well as write, and could understand much in the papers. Many of the coloured people believed that the 11th chapter of Daniel referred directly to the war; we often met and read (in our way) this chapter. The 5th verse would perplex many of our company, and verses 13--15 were much dwelt upon, as most of us felt quite sure that this portion referred to the war then going on between the North and the South. Some thought it had happened. Whenever we met, all our talk would be about what we had heard, and about freedom. During the war, I commenced to teach other slaves what I knew myself. Sometimes when we heard of other cities and towns having been taken by the United States army, we would become impatient, and talk of "running the blockade." During the latter part of the siege of Richmond, the poor suffered very much indeed. On Sunday, April 2nd, 1865, there was great excitement in Richmond; General Grant had taken Petersburg, and was closing in around Richmond. In the afternoon, many of the families commenced to leave the city. Late in the evening Mr. Jefferson Davis left the city, also General S. Cooper. About 4 o'clock on Monday morning, April 3rd
1865, the magazine was blown up--the report was heard for miles. The Rebels, on leaving the city, set fire to the large tobacco warehouses, which soon spread to other buildings. About 8 o'clock, the United States troops came in and took possession of the city. Before they could stop the fire, great damage had been done. The joy and rejoicing of the coloured people, when the United States army came into Richmond, is almost beyond description. Many of the old men and women had prayed for the day they then beheld, and could hardly realise it. The churches were opened, and hundreds met for prayer and praise. Among the many songs of jubilee, this was the chorus of one:--
"Slavery's chain is broke at last,
Broke at last, broke at last--
Slavery's chain is broke at last;
I'm going to praise God till I die!"
No doubt the sublimest State paper ever issued in America was the Emancipation Proclamation, which was sent forth on the 1st of January, 1863, by President Lincoln, who fell a martyr to American freedom. For years the poor slaves had cried to God for help; when His time came their prayers were answered.
is a question very often asked. Just at this time many of our friends were perplexed to know what to do with us. Thousands were homeless, and, having been deprived of intellectual light and spiritual instruction, they were ignorant. But in the Northern States there were thousands of true-hearted Christians who, at the commencement of the war, had given their sons and millions of money; and, true to freedom and the oppressed, these good people came to the front with their money, their time, and influence. Every branch of the Christian Church commenced to help the poor freedmen. The Government established the
Freedman's Bureau. General O. O. Howard was appointed superintendent. It furnished bread for the destitute, and found homes for the homeless, and established schools to instruct the ignorant. As doors were opened, they went to work--thousands of them for their former masters, thousands for themselves; many went into the Northern and Western States. Notwithstanding the prejudice which has existed against them, and, to some extent, continues to exist to-day, they have made a progress without a parallel in the history of any race in similar circumstances. We find them to-day in every branch of industry--farmers, mechanics, engineers, tradesmen, merchants, teachers, professors, doctors, lawyers; and many are occupying high positions in every part of the Government--legislators, Members of Congress, mail agents, clerks, &c. But, above all, many who were once slaves have passed through the colleges, and are now able ministers of the Gospel.
It was not long after the fall of Richmond before I decided to go North. The latter part of July, 1865, the Lord took my only child, aged eleven months and nineteen days, and in three days my dear mother followed. She had only seen four months' freedom. Through the kindness of Lieut. George Browning, of U.S.A., I sailed with the soldiers for New York early in August. I hoped to get into some store or office in New York, work in the day, and attend school at night, and thus prepare myself for my life work. I had not been there long before I found that there was almost as much prejudice against my race as in the South. The only thing I could get to do was to wait in some hotel or private family. I soon got a situation in an hotel. In seven weeks I had enough money to send for my wife. Then I commenced again to study. After a year in New York, I found I could not make the progress I wished to. I sent my wife back to the South to see if she could find her people. When she was nine years old, living in Georgetown, Maryland, a white man drove up to the door one morning, and called for her. Her master had gone
from breakfast that morning and sold her, and in a few minutes she was off--there were seventeen children in all. When she returned on this occasion she found her mother and father were dead. Eleven of the sisters and brothers were living. Mrs. Richardson, wife of the Rev. C. H. Richardson, who went with me to Africa, was the youngest. Having heard much of
I left New York in September, 1866, for Chicago, Illinois. Here I made up my mind to study hard, and try to consecrate myself more to the Master's work. I united with Olivet Baptist Church (coloured), composed of nearly all freedmen, and commenced to do what I could. I went to work for Mr. H. M. Kinsley, a first-class caterer, in Chicago, who became a friend to me, and I thank God is one among those FRIENDS whom God has raised up for me, who continues to be a friend. When I left him to do mission work, he said, "Thomas, you shall never suffer." I also found a friend in Mr. Pullman, of the "Pullman Palace Car Company," and for a while I worked for the company. The great kindness of Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Isham will always be remembered with gratitude. All this time I was studying all I could. My principal studies were in my Bible. Soon I began to do a little mission work. In the spring of 1869, I was sent out to Denver City, Colorado Territory, to take charge of a little church of freedmen, and to do mission work. They were not able to give me more than £57 a year. Hence my wife and I would work to make up a balance of our support. During the three years I was in Denver the good Lord wonderfully blessed me.
All this time the desire to go to Africa to preach the Gospel to my own long-benighted people continued to grow upon me. Many of my friends became deeply interested about Africa, from hearing me speak so much of the
country and its people--for Africa was in my talk, in my prayers, and in my addresses. After spending three years in Denver, I left to go to Africa. When I returned to Chicago, my friends persuaded me not to go, but to remain in the State. Soon I had a call from two churches. I made the matter a subject of prayer; after which I went to Springfield to supply for a while. In 1873, I was called to the Providence Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois. Here I came in contact with quite a different class of people. Some of my hearers knew more than I did. Most of the young folk were attending the schools daily. This gave me much thought. I would get friends to tell me when I made a mistake--which they would do once in a while--but I fancy they could not keep pace with all I made. Some time before taking the Chicago Church, I had been advised to study an English grammar, and a friend gave me one, but I could not make anything of it. When I came to the Providence Church, I was again advised to study the English grammar. I got one, but I could not understand it. "John's apple, possessive case, &c."--what this had to do with my talk and preaching I could not tell. It seemed to me that it would do for beginners, so I concluded to give it up. What I wanted to know was the Bible. Dr. Blackall, of the Bible and Publication Society, had given me some valuable books and pamphlets. Among them was one called "The Preacher's Prayer." It was an address given by Mr. Spurgeon before the students. I know of no work outside the Bible that helped me so much as this little pamphlet. It told me, if I wished to "reap in the pulpit, I must plough in the closet;" that I must go from the closet to the pulpit. Although I had prayed over my sermons before this, yet I had not seen the matter in the same light as this little book put it before me. Oh! how often since have I felt the presence of my blessed Jesus with me when I have gone from my knees to the pulpit. To my regret I lost this little book in Africa. Soon after taking charge of Providence Church, I began to work to
enlarge it. The cost was 1,700 dols. I raised the greater part of the money by concerts, festivals, fairs, lectures, &c. I had charge of the church three years and six months, during which time we enlarged it and paid the debt.
We had a nice Sabbath-school. Most of the teachers were white, and were members of the white church but
[Illustration]would come and help us. Mr. Edward Stroud Smith and his good wife, who had been in America for many years, came amongst us to help in our Sabbath-school work. We soon found in them those principles which are characteristic of the English people--a tender love and sympathy for the oppressed coloured race. They not only came on the Sabbath to teach, but two nights in the week they
would come and teach a night-school of the freedmen. Their daughters, Misses Flora and Nellie, were then quite young, but first one and then the other would come to assist. The classes consisted mostly of old men and women, who had laboured in slavery through the earlier and prime days of their lives. All they wished to learn was to read the New Testament.
Everyone in the church and school soon learned to love these teachers. Mr. Smith was indeed a great help to me in my ministry, as was also Rev. J. J. Irving, of the Pastors' College, who was then settled in Chicago. Mr. Smith came to my house once a week and gave me lessons.
But I could not get rid of the idea of going to Africa. At last, I made up my mind that, as soon as I could save money enough, I would go to Africa on one of the American Colonisation Society's vessels. The American Baptist Missionary Society were not then sending out missionaries to Africa. I earnestly prayed over the matter, and begged the Lord, if it was His will that I should go to Africa, to open the way for me.
I was told that I must be educated before I could go; but I was convinced that there were thousands in Africa who were heathen, and, if I could only tell them what I knew about my blessed Jesus, some one else could come on and teach them the rest. The main thing on my mind was to let them hear of Jesus. Many of my friends would tell me of what they had heard and read of Africa--the fevers, the cannibals, the reptiles, &c.--but none of these things could change my purpose.
Yet at times I tried to make up my mind to give it up, but somehow there seemed to be something that kept Africa continually before me. When I went to my bed I would dream of Africa. It was sad news to us when Mr. Stroud Smith and his dear wife told us they expected to return to England, which they did shortly after giving us the information. I told them (D. V.) I expected to go to Africa. I did not know when, but felt in my soul that I would some day
be able to go. I again made the matter a subject of prayer. For over seven years, up to this time, the desire had been on my heart to go to Africa-before I got my freedom, but more intensely after I commenced to PREACH.
This longing to "go" increased more and more, until I could think of nothing else. Africa, the land of my fathers, was continually on my heart.* * This is a facsimile of a black-board lesson given by my friend Mr. E. Stroud Smith one Sunday morning at the children's service in Dr. MacLaren's chapel, Manchester. He first drew the heart, saying, as he did so, "Children, I want to show you Mr. Johnson's HEART, which is so elastic, that it is large enough to contain the whole of AFRICA." Then drawing a map of the "Dark Continent" and the blessed Bible said, "Jesus is the light."
* This is a facsimile of a black-board lesson given by my friend Mr. E. Stroud Smith one Sunday morning at the children's service in Dr. MacLaren's chapel, Manchester. He first drew the heart, saying, as he did so, "Children, I want to show you Mr. Johnson's HEART, which is so elastic, that it is large enough to contain the whole of AFRICA." Then drawing a map of the "Dark Continent" and the blessed Bible said, "Jesus is the light."
Africa for Jesus
On February 1st, 1876, I gave the church notice that in six months I expected to leave them and go to Africa. Friends wanted to know how I expected to go. Had I money? or, What Society intended to send me? I gave this answer, "I have no money, but I have faith;" for I was convinced that my blessed Jesus wanted me to go, and hence I knew all would be right. It was about this time that Dr. Murdock, of the American Baptist Missionary Society, called to see me, and promised to pay our passage to Liberia.
We expected, after we got there, to trust the Lord for support. A few weeks after this I received two letters from England, one from Mr. Stroud Smith, the other from Mr. Hind Smith, of the Young Men's Christian Association, Manchester, saying that if I could pay my way to England they would see that an opportunity should be afforded me of taking a course of studies before going to Africa. I wrote at once to say that I would come, and wrote to Mr. Murdock thanking him for his kind offer. On the 6th of August I preached my farewell sermon. The members and friends of the church held a farewell meeting, and presented me with a purse of ninety-six dollars.
On board the National Steamship Company's ss. Spain we met the Rev. Thomas Arnold, Congregational minister, and Henry Marshall, Esq., both of Northampton. The very great kindness shown by these gentlemen, not only during the passage, but while we were in England, will always be among my most grateful recollections.
On the 1st of September, 1876, we arrived in Manchester. Here we met again our kind friends, Mr. and Mrs. Stroud Smith and their daughters. Mr. Hind Smith took us to his house, where we were made perfectly at home, and received every attention from him and his good wife. I was with Mr. Hind Smith at the Young Men's Christian Association for three months, doing mission work in connection with the Association. It was quite strange to me at first to see no coloured folks, but everywhere I was very kindly received. These good friends introduced me to Dr. Maclaren, of Manchester; and through his kindness I was made known to the Committee of the Baptist Missionary Society. After appearing before the Committee, the way was opened for me to enter
where I commenced my first regular course of studies at forty years of age! It was in Manchester I received the news that I was admitted into the Pastors' College. I
cannot describe the gratitude I felt to my blessed Jesus. The privilege of coming to England, and the friends He had given me in Manchester, had already moved me to a deeper consecration, but this was beyond my highest expectations. When a slave in Virginia, before the War, I heard my owners talk of Mr. Spurgeon. Then I was, in the eye of the law,
The Pastor's College.a "thing," a "chattel," proscribed, neglected, doomed to slavery, having no idea of ever seeing Mr. Spurgeon. Now was received and respected as a man, a brother, a Christian. I had often thought how much I would like to hear Mr. Spurgeon preach. Well, my blessed Jesus knew this, and granted me more than my desire. And this is the way He (who "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think") usually treats His children.
I came to London on Saturday, December 1st, 1876, and on Monday morning went to the College. It was with fear
and trembling, but before I entered the class-room the students made me feel perfectly at home. I entered Professor Fergusson's class, and, to my astonishment, the first subject to commence with was the English grammar--the very thing I had made up my mind I could get on without. I began, but it was a hard struggle. A short time in College proved that I did not actually know how backward I really was. Each day there were subjects, questions, and words of which I knew nothing. If the College had been what I had expected to find it, I could not have got on; but, thank God, every student was a friend and a brother. Often I have been up until after one o'clock in the morning getting my lessons, and often, too, I could not succeed until I asked help from my blessed Jesus. It was not long before I met Mr. Spurgeon. I felt anxious to speak to him, but little expected to be received as I was. He took me by the hand, asked me a few questions, and wished me success. Soon the awe all vanished, and I felt as if I had been talking to a dear, loving friend of long acquaintance. I at once fell in love with him, and have loved him ever since. His first words inspired me. I hardly know how to express my feelings about this first meeting, and can only say that I felt so happy in his presence, and so at home with him, that I could not help saying, "Well, thank God, he is my friend." It is impossible to tell how much benefit I derived by going to the Pastors' College, for which I shall ever feel grateful. I regard this as a turning-point in my history. Much as I have loved Africa, and been desirous of serving her for Christ's sake, I am quite sure that I never could have laboured efficiently in this work had it not been for the advantages experienced in the Pastors' College. I shall remember, in all my future work, that I have gathered strength from the tuition so kindly afforded me; and it will be my endeavour to show that this kindness has not been vainly conferred. May God bless the good man to whom I owe so much, and may his College be privileged to send forth in the future a large band of men for the Lord's
service, who, in their faithfulness to His truth and devotion to His cause, shall even surpass the men of the past; and may some of them be turned towards Africa to labour there for my long-oppressed people!
In August, 1877, the Rev. C. H. Richardson and his wife came to England, to go with us to Africa. Mr. Spurgeon at once admitted him into the College. I shall never forget the kindness of the late Rev. C. Bailhache and Mr. A. H. Baynes during the time we were in England. While at the College, I was often called upon to do deputation work in the provinces for the Baptist Missionary Society, so that I frequently met these gentlemen. We shall ever feel encouraged by the remembrance of the profound interest they took in our proposed work.
The Steamship "Kinsembo."*
* See list of the British and African Steam Navigation Company's fleet at the end of this book.
We went under the auspices of the Baptist Missionary Society of Great Britain. On November 6th, 1878, the Rev. C. H. Richardson and myself, with our wives, bade farewell to the dear, kind friends in London. On the afternoon of November 9th we sailed from Liverpool on the ss. Kinsembo, and in the evening of November 22nd we came in sight of Cape Verd, on the West Coast of Africa. As soon as I
caught sight of the peak, nearly thirty miles off, I went into my state-room for my telescope. For years my prayers had been that I might see Africa, the land of my fathers, and now my prayer was answered. "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass." My feelings of joy were indescribable. I could not leave my state-room without falling upon my knees and thanking my Heavenly Father for permitting me to see the land of poor, suffering Africa. So delighted was I to be near the coast of the land for which I had prayed, and of which I had dreamed, that I could sleep but little. On the morning of the 23rd, I was up at four o'clock, to get another look at the land of my fathers. Soon we had entered
As we proceeded up the river, I heard that a pilot was expected to meet us. Having been fourteen days on the steamer, we were all anxious once more to get on land. Soon we saw a small boat. "There's the pilot! there's the pilot!" cried out first one and then another. The little boat was quickly by the side of the steamer, and the pilot came on board. He was a native. As soon as possible I had an interview with him. His name was William Halfner, and I found him to be a Christian, and quite an intelligent man.
It was not long before we found ourselves anchored at the beautiful little town of Bathurst, on the Gambia River. It is about ten miles from the mouth of the river, and contains quite a number of fine dwelling-houses. Here we put our feet on African soil for the first time.
The chief stores of European merchants front the river. I was surprised to find such fine stone buildings, a Government
house, and barracks and hospital, on a line fronting the river.
Mr. Walcott, a coloured lawyer, who had been educated in England, invited us to his house, as also did Mr. Brown, American Consul.
We had quite a nice time going around the town, meeting with different native gentlemen holding office under the English Government. The harbour-master, postmaster, city clerk, Queen's Counsel, and the Custom House officers were all native black men. We also met native merchants, shipbuilders, men in almost every capacity of business, educated in England or in Sierra Leone.
There were two fine churches and a thriving day-school, which made my heart glad.
Here we had the first opportunity of seeing the tall Mandingoes, Joloffs, and natives of other tribes in their native dress. In the back part of the town we saw many huts formed of bamboo, thatched with long grass.
The Gambia River is a magnificent stream, and is said to be navigable to a distance of nearly 400 miles. What is better still, here the messengers of Life have met great success in proclaiming the everlasting Gospel. On the morning of November 27th we entered the harbour of Free Town.
The first British settlement formed on the West Coast of Africa for the suppression of the slave trade and the encouragement of legitimate commerce was Sierra Leone. Free Town is the capital, and is indeed a beautiful place. It is situated on the south side of the river. The first view we got of this beautiful town was perfectly grand. The land in the neighbourhood inclines gradually upwards into hills, covered everywhere with vegetation, presenting a
most picturesque scene. Many of the buildings are of a very substantial character.
Almost every house has its nice large yard and garden, in which the banana, orange, cocoa-nut, pine-apple, and many other kinds of delicious fruit grow. High up on the hill, in the rear of the town, are to be seen the Government house, barracks, hospital, the signal station, and a fine church.
At 10 o'clock we went ashore. The first place we visited was the market-house. This was quite a large building, taking up over half a block. Fruits, vegetables, and different articles were displayed for sale. There were also stalls filled with tinware, hardware, &c.
Many of the natives speak the English language well. I was delighted to meet with some who talked to me about our blessed Jesus.
A large gathering of people stood around the gates of the Episcopal Church, a fine building, close by the market-house. We had been informed that a grand wedding would take place in this church at 11 o'clock. The daughter of a Free Town merchant was to be married to a merchant from Switzerland. We went to the gate, and were at once admitted. A large company had assembled, among whom could be seen all shades from black to white. Nearly all of them were fashionably dressed.
Soon the bride and bridegroom made their appearance, with their relatives and many friends. Mr. Broadhurst, the bride's father, is a wealthy merchant, and very popular among all classes in Free Town. On this occasion all the principal business houses in the town were closed. After the marriage we took a walk along the street leading from the church to the residence of the bride. Along the entire way flags were hanging out of almost every window. In
many places ropes were stretched across the street with flags and mottoes. We were invited by the bride's father to his house. The bride had many valuable presents. A handsome silver tea set was sent to her from England.
The most pleasing feature in Free Town, and, from what I hear in the colony also, is the great progress made by the messengers of peace. Nothing has or can civilise and elevate like the Word of God. Christian schools have long since been established, and for years have made most wonderful progress.
Our next stopping-place was Grand Bassa, Republic of Liberia.
Liberia occupies the grain coast of Northern Guinea, West Africa, extending 600 miles along the coast, and over 200 miles into the interior. Liberia was originally founded by the American Colonization Society in 1821. In 1847 it became an independent State, acknowledged by all the European powers. It is formed entirely by coloured men from America and their descendants. The government is modelled after that of the United States. The first article in her Code of Laws is that Christianity is the foundation of all law; the next is that education is a necessity admitting of no neglect. There are 30,000 of freed slaves from America and their descendants, with 2,000,000 natives, subject to their control. The scenery along the coast of Liberia, from Grand Cape Mount to the Gulf of Guinea, is exceedingly grand. A few miles from the coast the country rises to hills, with gigantic trees, presenting a panorama that can only be described by a skilful artist.
Monrovia is the capital of the Republic. It rests on a beautiful hill overlooking the sea, surrounded by trees. There are many very fine buildings in the city, which are creditable to the Monrovian people. The President's house
is built of brick, as are also many of the buildings; others are built of stone. The wharves face the sea, where there are coloured firms doing a large business with England, Scotland, Germany, and America.
While in Monrovia for a short time, I called, in company with Hon. John H. Smith, U. S. Consul, to see Mr. Sherman, who does a large business both with England and America. After my return to England, I wrote to Mr. Sherman for information regarding the articles of trade. This is the answer:--"The articles of trade are palm oil, palm kernels, coffee, ivory, camwood, ginger, and rubber. Many of our merchants do a business of 100,000 dollars to 150,000 dollars a year. One of Messrs. Gates & Porterfield's vessels left here for New York on the 7th inst. [April 7th, 1880], with a cargo of 50,000 dollars' worth, collected within two months. In this cargo were 118,000 pounds of coffee."
The soil of Liberia is extremely fertile, and will produce all kinds of tropical fruits, sugar-cane, indigo, Indian corn, rice, cotton, cocoa, pea-nuts, and coffee the finest in the world. Vegetables are cultivated with great success. There are to be found the finest dye-woods, the ebony, the gum plant, and the gigantic palm-trees which produce the palm oil. On my way to England, from Africa, 1,500 casks were shipped on the same steamer to Liverpool, a good share of it being shipped from the coast of Liberia. Goats, swine, sheep, cattle, and fowls all thrive in Liberia.
This Republic has a glorious work to accomplish in the future. She will undoubtedly be, in time, the most prosperous State on the West Coast of Africa. With the civil, social, and religious advantages she enjoys, she must succeed. The annexation of the kingdom of Medina, with
and her wide and fertile domains, extending over two hundred miles into the interior, will, no doubt, inspire
renewed energy in giving fuller opportunities for the advancement of the Gospel, as well as an open door for civilisation and commerce.
Above all, thank God! the Truth is having "free course," and being "glorified" in the Republic. Much zeal and perseverance have been displayed. Fine churches, school buildings, and a nice college are to be seen in Monrovia. Oh! how many doors are being opened in Africa for Christian workers.
Who will go and tell the lost about our blessed Jesus?
November 30th, at six o'clock in the morning, we arrived at Nifou, on the coast of Liberia. I counted forty-nine canoes, with two or three men in each, going out fishing. At twenty-five minutes to ten we stopped at Grand Cess, Liberia. Here, fifteen canoes came out, with from three to twenty men in each.
These belonged to the Kroo tribe, the aborigines of a part of Liberia. They are a fine-looking people, and very industrious. But for this class of people I do not know what the European traders or the African steamship companies would do. All the steamers reaching Sierra Leone and the coast of Liberia take on board a gang of "Kroomen" to do the work of the ship in the hot climate. One hundred and thirty were taken on board to go down the coast to work. Many of them speak broken English.
It is quite a sight to see these people coming out to meet the steamer. Their canoes are very light, carved out of one piece of wood, formed like a cigar. They are propelled by several of the men who sit down upon their heels in the bottom of the boat. Their yells, as they approach the steamer, and when they come on board to work, are distracting. Each man selects a name to suit himself. "Salt Water," "Coffee," "Shilling," "Glass Bottles," "Pea Soup," "Bottle of Beer," and the like are common names among them. "Coffee" seems to be the most favourite.
There are many interesting things one would like to say about the Grebo people, the Basa people, the Golas (who, years ago, when the Liberians were in danger of being defeated, under their chief boatswain, took part with the young colony), also of the Deys, who were once a powerful tribe; the Veys, who some sixty years ago invented an alphabet for writing their own language, and this they can boast of being entirely their own ingenuity and enterprise. Accounts of this were published in the Missionary Herald, July, 1834. But we have not the space.
The (coloured) Baptist Foreign Missionary Convention of the Southern States of America has done a great work among the Veys during the past ten years. It is estimated that there are 10,000 of this tribe. It is also believed that at least 100,000 people of the adjacent tribes speak the Vey language.
We thank God that to-day hundreds of boys and girls and young men and women from Africa are in the schools and colleges of Europe and America, being prepared to return as teachers and missionaries
Momolu Massaqui (Albert Thompson), the oldest of these boys, is a member of the Vey tribe, dwelling on the West Coast of Africa. He was educated in the Episcopalian School in Sierra Leone, and he was brought to this country by Bishop Punnick, of Louisville, Ky., over two years ago, and by him sent to the Central Tennessee College to complete his literary course, and to study medicine, before he returns to his native land. He speaks English well, and also his native tongue, and has some knowledge of the Arabic. He is heir to the chieftainship of his tribe. He has a very dark complexion and pleasant expression of countenance; none of the marked Negro features; is gentlemanly in deportment and an excellent student in whatever study he undertakes. He is a member of the Episcopalian
Church, and does Christian work with the Young Men's Christian Association of the college.
Benjamin Payne is fifteen years old, and is a member of the Bassa tribe. He is a Christian, and gives evidence of it in his conduct and spirit. He had received some training in Miss Sharp's school, at Monrovia. He has no difficulty in keeping up with his classes in school. He left Monrovia, with three others, last December, and reached Nashville in January. All these--Frank Payne, Harold Wood, and Gilbert Haven--are from Miss Sharp's school.
Frank and Harold are of the Kroo tribe; are very dark, rather stout-built, and are thirteen and eight years old respectively. Frank has attended a feast of the cannibals of his tribe, and tasted the flesh, which he says was good. Frank has a strong body and will, and exhibits some of the traits of an undisciplined boy. Harold is a quiet boy, and, when he can have his own way, is very good.
Gilbert Haven is of the Dey tribe; of coffee colour; a bright, active, fun-loving boy of eight years; can read and write a little; has hard work to make us understand what he wants at times, as his knowledge of English is rather limited. He is willing to get his lessons, and behaves in school with much more decorum than some boys who have had their birth in a Christian land.
When together, these Africans use their native language nearly altogether. They all seem to understand that they are here to be educated for teachers of their people in Africa.--Chicago Appeal.
The more important towns on the West Coast include Elmina, with a population of 18,000 to 20,000 inhabitants; Cape Coast Castle, which is a beautiful place, with its ports, lighthouse, signal station, and large castle. Around on the heights are to be seen beautiful houses of the wealthy natives and Europeans. Accra is another beautiful and important place. These are all on the Gold Coast.
is said to be the most populous town on the West Coast. It has wide streets, nice stores, and many fine dwellings. They have their markets, soldiers, police force, churches, schools, court-house, custom-house, Government-house, and barracks. The population is estimated to be about 80,000.
one of our stopping places, was in past years a favourite rendezvous for slave ships. Only about twelve or fifteen years since they were all cannibals. It is said that even now, in some parts near Bonny, the barbarous custom prevails of burying twins immediately after their birth. This place is so unhealthy that European merchants live in hulks out on the river.
Archdeacon Crowther, a native, who has charge of the mission work, invited me to dine with him.* * At some of these places we stopped three or four days.
Here I had the great pleasure of
* At some of these places we stopped three or four days.
Princess Florence Siscelia Peble Pepper, and her brother, King George, were both educated in England. Mr. Crowther took me to the school, where I was delighted to hear the children repeat passages of Scripture, give their opinions about them, tell who wrote them, then go through history, arithmetic, and geography, in all of which they seemed proficient.
I took a walk around among the native huts. I saw several huts having skulls hung up in them. I was told by Mr. Crowther that these were the skulls of captives taken in battle; that these people, years ago, were cannibals, and had eaten the flesh of their enemies to make them brave. Thank God, through the influence of the Gospel among these people, this custom has passed away, and they are ashamed to be told they once ate the flesh of their fellow-men. Not only has the preaching of the Gospel done great good in Bonny, but far in the interior they are giving up their idols, and bowing to the "one true God."
In travelling on the West Coast of Africa, you often hear of Ashantee, a very powerful kingdom. The Ashantees are said to be most numerous, warlike, and strong. This kingdom lies inland from the English settlements, between the Rivers Assini and Volta, and has been estimated to have a population of four million people, who are noted for their skill in manufacturing cotton, earthenware, and swords.
in this country. Information given by Bowditch, Dupuis, and others shows how these gentlemen were struck with the display of gold years ago. They found the attendants of the king laden with ornaments of gold. The common articles for daily use were made of gold. But, oh! how repulsive to read of the barbarous customs of
These gentlemen saw at the King's palace the royal executioner, with his hatchet on his breast, and the fatal blood-stained stool before him, ready at the sound of the death drum to do his fearful work. They heard that the King had recently murdered, over his mother's grave, three hundred victims. On the death of a royal person, many hundred people are massacred. In late years, through the influence of missionaries and the authorities at Cape Coast Castle, there has not been so much of this wholesale slaughtering of human lives, yet many are often murdered.
is another powerful kingdom in West Africa, separated from Ashantee by the River Volta. Wholesale murder in years
past was one of the chief features in their religious and state ceremonies. Abomey, the capital of Dahomey, has been referred to as a human slaughter-house, where the King, chiefs, and people have found their greatest pleasure and excitement in sacrificing as many (it has been estimated)
[Illustration]as 2,000 human victims at one grand festival. They not only murder a large number of people on the death of a great man, but believe that in the other world a king is still a king, a slave is still a slave; hence they kill annually so many slaves to send to the departed king. Also, whenever the king wants to send a message to his deceased relatives, he delivers it to one of his slaves, whose head is
instantly cut off, that he may carry the message to the other world, that the deceased may know that they are not forgotten. Some years ago, when the King of Dahomey died, 280 of his wives were murdered.
The King's palace at Abomey is surrounded by a clay wall 20 feet high, the top of which is said to be covered with human skulls. Thank God! through the influence of Christian civilisation, this is not so bad now as in past years.
After stopping a short time at the Island of Fernando Po, where we were entertained by the wife of the British Consul, we arrived at Victoria, Cameroons, on the afternoon of Saturday, December 14th, 1878. This was our destination. Victoria is a beautiful little town of 500 inhabitants, fronting Ambas Bay, with a commanding view of both bay and sea. On the north, south, and east are high hills. In the distance can be seen the Cameroon Mountains, 13,000 feet above the level of the sea. The town is beautifully laid out with broad streets. Each house has a large yard and garden, in many of which are to be seen the palm, lime, cocoa-nut, bread-fruit, custard-fruit, orange, banana, and plantain trees. The cottages are neat and clean, built after the style of European cottages. These are occupied by the English-speaking people who are native Christians, and many of them have, for long years, been earnest workers for our blessed Jesus.
The next day after our arrival being Sabbath, Rev. Q. W. Thomson, missionary in charge, invited me to take the morning service. A few minutes before seven o'clock the bell rang, and we were soon at the church, a fine stone building capable of seating 350 to 400 people. In a short time quite a number of well-dressed intelligent looking people had assembled. I gave out a hymn, and they sang as well as
many congregations I have preached to in America and England. When I commenced to read, nearly all of them opened their Bibles to follow me in the lesson. Here I had the opportunity, for the first time in my life, to speak for my blessed Jesus in Africa, the land of my fathers. I took for my text "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou
MISSION HOUSE, VICTORIA.shalt be saved" (Acts xvi. 31). I cannot remember preaching to a more attentive audience.
At ten o'clock we all went to the Sabbath-school. Rev. C. H. Richardson and myself were invited to take classes; my class was of young men. All of them
At the close of the school I requested the children to sing "Come to the Saviour." They sang it beautifully. The school was well attended, and perfect order was observed during the services.
For years Victoria has been a city of refuge. The late Rev. Alfred Saker, who laboured in Africa about thirty years, established this station in the year 1858. He purchased from the natives (for the Baptist Missionary Society of Great Britain) a tract of land extending ten miles along the coast and five miles inland. Victoria is about the centre. Here no one is allowed to hold slaves or sell his daughters for wives, and no one is allowed to be punished for witchcraft, &c. It was the custom for each man to have as many wives as he might be able to purchase among the natives. On returning to the coast from the interior I stopped with a chief who had forty wives. At Victoria no man is allowed to have more than one wife. It often happens among the natives that when a child dies one wife will accuse another of having witched it. The woman is at once arrested and made to drink the juice of a wood called cass-wood, which often kills her at once. Men also are often accused of witchcraft, and are compelled to drink this juice. If they die they are guilty. If they recover (as some do who have strong constitutions) they are made to pay. If these people who are condemned can make their escape to Victoria they are safe.
The missionaries and Christians have for years rescued many of these people who are on the very eve of being put to death. In one month, I think, the Rev. Q. W. Thomson rescued eight who had been condemned to death. To-day there are over 400 of these refugees in Victoria, where they are brought under the influence of the Gospel, and their children taught in the day-school. Many of them have become Christians.
For years there has been another repulsive custom. When a mother dies and there are no relatives to take the infants or young children, they are
I cannot now remember how many children Mrs. Alfred Saker (who was a mother among the Cameroon people for years) rescued and brought up in her own house. Many of them lived to be men and women. Some became teachers, and two or three are now in active service for the Master. Had it not been for the messengers of peace, who went with undaunted courage and unceasing faith, these men and women condemned for witchcraft would have been lost.
Dear friend, you who now read these pages--you who were born in this Christian land, where you have the Gospel. My prayer is that, if you cannot go to Africa and preach the Gospel or teach the people, you will at once resolve to do all you can to send others to teach and preach. While we are in this Christian land enjoying Gospel privileges, millions are slaves to superstition and witchcraft in Africa, perishing for want of the Word of Life.
"Shall we, whose souls are lighted
By wisdom from on high--
Shall we, to men benighted,
The light of life deny?"
God forbid. Give a thought to Africa.
We had not been in Victoria three days before I was taken with the fever. On January 20th, Rev. C. H. Richardson and Rev. Q. W. Thomson left for the interior, to select a new station; I, being ill, could not go. On the 4th of February Mr. Thomson returned. Mr. Richardson having suffered with fever, had been left at Bakundu, eighty miles in the interior, with two native Christians. Bakundu had been
selected as the new mission station, and he would remain there until joined by his wife, Mrs. Johnson and myself. The only roads through this country are narrow footpaths from town to town, sometimes in the tracks of the elephant. All provisions or luggage must be carried on men's heads. The account we had of the route was anything but favourable to Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Richardson--high hills to climb, large streams to cross. Although we knew that the traders along the river objected to interior mission work, we concluded we would go by water on account of the ladies. The Rev. G. Grenfell volunteered to go with us.
On Thursday, the 6th of February, before day in the morning (after a sweet season of prayer with the Rev. Mr. Thomson and the native brethren), we left Victoria in an open rowboat propelled by four Kroomen, followed by a large canoe with our provisions and eight men. At night we came to Mungo Creek. Here our interpreter and guide lost his way. We had intended to get by Mungo and Mbungo, the two principal towns, in the night. We passed Mungo, but at daybreak we found ourselves between the two towns. About eight o'clock we got under the bank of the river, took out our things, and prepared breakfast under the palm-trees.
About one o'clock we found we had been discovered by the natives, and we accordingly left in the afternoon. As we passed Mbungo there were a few people at the beach, to whom we spoke, and passed unmolested. On Friday night, a man passed us in a canoe, and commenced to beat his drum as he went on up the river. These people can
almost as well as we can send a message in this country by telegraph. They have schools to teach their children this art. On this occasion, this man said on his drum, "White man come to take our country." The natives with me (twelve in number) did not tell me of this until the next day.
Saturday morning, at nine o'clock, several canoes passed us, as we were taking our breakfast on the river, with from fifteen to twenty men in each. Seeing they were well armed with guns and cutlasses, I began to feel suspicious. Soon we were off. About ten o'clock we came up to them. They had all stopped on the beach, put on their war caps, and stood in a line along the river.
We were ordered to come ashore. We told them we would not; if they had anything to say, they must come out in their canoes. They tried to make us leave our boat and go on the beach, but we resolved to stay in our boat. I do not know of any time in my life when I realised the promise of my blessed Jesus more than in this hour, "Lo, I am with you alway." I said to my wife and her sister, Mrs. Richardson, "We lean upon the Lord."
At one time we were surrounded by nearly a hundred men, armed with their cutlasses, ready to cut into us as soon as the young prince would give command. We soon found that it was impossible for us to proceed; hence
to Mungo. We were within six hours of Bakundu beach. Late in the night we arrived at Mungo. Here they wanted us to leave our boat, and go into the town and see the king. We knew how superstitious they were about our English boat, so we resolved, if we had to die, to die in this boat.
There were many of the traders at Mungo who could talk broken English, and who knew how the English protected the missionaries. Mr. Grenfell, who had been several years in Africa and knew something of the people, threatened them with English authority. After the king and his men held a consultation, he said to me, "You must pay for passing through my country." To this we agreed. I gave him a large overcoat, a bag of rice, a box of sugar, a blanket, and a barrel of crackers. While he was admiring the coat (which he had put on) we shoved off.
We arrived at Victoria on Sunday afternoon, having been three nights and four days on the water in this open rowboat. In one week from our return to Victoria we commenced our journey overland. Mrs. Richardson and Mrs. Johnson were carried in hammocks when they did not prefer to walk. Our provisions and luggage were carried on men's heads.
TRAVELLING IN THE INTERIOR.
I have already mentioned that the best roads in this part of Africa are mere footpaths through the forest, from town to town, on which the natives walk single file, a few yards from each other, each man with his load on his head and his cutlass in his hand or at his side, to defend himself against
any beast or serpent that may be in the path. This was the way we started out of Victoria when we commenced our long journey of eighty miles through the wilderness. As we advanced into the interior we found the people along the route in a condition we had least expected to see. They had their fixed dwellings, many of them built neatiy of bamboo, well thatched with mats made from the palm fronds. They had their
so that wherever we stopped at night we and our goods were safe.
There are some eight or ten towns between Victoria and Bakundu. We left Victoria on Monday morning. On the following Saturday afternoon we arrived at Bakundu, where we found Mr. Richardson well. We had a company of thirty men with us when we arrived. It created much excitement.
The first thing I was struck with was the joy of the old king. For years he had desired to have a missionary in his town, to teach the people, as he had heard the natives were taught on the coast. Not only the king, but his sons and all his head men seemed delighted at our arrival. On Sunday we held a meeting in an old unoccupied house. We found the people slaves to superstition and witchcraft, but not so bad as the other tribes around them.
The custom of giving cass-wood juice prevailed here as among the Bakwalli people, of whom I have made mention. The first case we heard of was a young man in the town who was accused of witching his sister's child. He was made very ill from the effects of the juice, but finally recovered. As soon as we heard of it, Mr. Richardson, who was always fearless and ready on all occasions to admonish the people, went at once to the king and told him how wrong it was to allow such a practice. The king promised to put a stop to it. He kept his word. During the nine months I was in the interior I did not hear of another case.
When we first arrived at Bakundu we could hardly sleep at night for the yells of the people in their dance and the beating of their drums. This was kept up day and night. They knew nothing of the Sabbath. Hence they continued their drum-beating on Sundays as on other days. Mr. Richardson went to the king to have a law passed that no work or drum-beating or dancing should be done on the Sabbath. The old man at once consented. The people then wanted to know how they could tell when Sunday came. Mr. Richardson promised to walk up and down the street every Friday night blowing a trumpet, to tell the people that the next day was Saturday; that they must bring enough provisions from their farms to last over Sunday.
On one occasion, while Mr. Richardson was away with men at Victoria, the women came to me to get me to ask the Bible if their husbands were safe.
Soon after our arrival in Bakundu we all commenced to pray that God would convert the king. Soon the old man was taken sick; he sent for us; we attended him; gave him medicine which seemed to do him good; but we soon found that he could not recover. I think he must have been about ninety years of age. One day he sent for me, and I found him very ill. He had a wooden bowl by his bed, in which was a liquid thick and black: this he was taking once in a while as I talked with him. I asked him what it was. He said: "Witch make me sick, tell me not to take white man's medicine, and I take this medicine, get my stomach full, old witch come in my mouth, go in my stomach, he get blind and come out." I tried to persuade him to believe that all power was in the hands of God; that by believing
and trusting Him all these fears would leave him. He had always listened attentively to what we had to tell him about the great plan of salvation.
We continued to visit him, and day after day he would send for medicine. One Sabbath afternoon my wife and I both lay ill in bed. Mr. and Mrs. Richardson went into the town to hold service; our house was outside of the gate of the town. He found the king was very ill. The excitement was such that he could not hold the meeting, so he returned home. We were sent for. I was hardly able to get out of bed, but we were soon in his presence. The house was full of men. Women were not allowed to see him, not even his wives. One man sat at his back to hold him up, and two men on each side, three of them were his sons. As soon as we entered the room they gave us stools to sit on. The old man was very weak, and it seemed he would soon pass from time into eternity. He looked first at Mr. Richardson and then at me. His youngest son, "Ngatee," about ten years old, was called to his side. He took one hand of the lad's and put it into Mr. Richardson's hand, the other into mine, and said, "I give this boy to you. Take him and bring him up as your own child; dress him like white man; teach him to talk English and to read and write. His brothers will get a wife for him." He requested that we should also take the girl whom they selected and keep her in the family and educate her. He then said, "Don't fear; I'm going now.
My son Etau will succeed me. Take care of him; be a father to him and the people." This son Etau was about thirty years old. He then requested Mr. Richardson to take the names of all the boys and commence school at once. Some sixty names were taken the next day. Mr. Richardson then told again the story of God's great love, and that if he would believe and trust in the Word of God we would meet him in heaven. I then said, "Ta Ta Nambulee" (for that
was what he was called), "you say you are going now; are you prepared to meet God?"* * We could not speak the Bakundu language, hence had to depend upon our interpreter for what we here record.
"Ah!" said the old man, "I have been ill these ten days, and He has taken care of me; I can still trust Him." We then wanted to pray with him, but his sons requested that we should let him rest, as he was so weak. We left our interpreter to hear what he could after we had gone. After we had gone, he said to his son who was to succeed him, "Etau, whatever these men tell you, believe it; I have found them to be true men."
* We could not speak the Bakundu language, hence had to depend upon our interpreter for what we here record.
Oh, how we all rejoiced to hear this! so often had we prayed for the conversion of this man. One evening we sent our cook up to tell his experience to the old man, and also to pray with him. He was a native convert. The old man enjoyed it very much, and said, "Tell white man [they all call us white] to pray to God and ask Him, if it is His will, please spare me a little longer. If not, please prepare me to meet Him."
For years this old man had heard of the work of the missionaries on the coast, eighty miles away. A year before we settled at Bakundu, Rev. Q. W. Thomson had visited him and promised to send a missionary to labour among his people. After we had settled among them he was anxious to see how we could succeed. He sent for the women, who do nearly all the work on the farms, and charged them not to work on the Sabbath, as it was God's day; that they must attend Divine service on that day. He was taken to his farm, where he died in two or three days. We arrived in Bakundu, February 22nd, 1879. The king died in the latter part of June. Oh! what gratitude we ought to feel that we have been favoured with the Gospel.
I believe there are to-day in West Africa thousands like Ta Ta Nambulee, who have heard through traders and travellers something about the great mission work and the
one true God, who are anxious to hear more, who are not satisfied in their condition, who want to know but have no way to learn, their souls craving something to rest upon, something stronger, better, and firmer than idols of wood and stone. In this condition they toil on from year to year like the beast in the cage, ever walking up and down, trying to escape, but never able to succeed. How can they hear without a preacher?
" 'Come over and help us,' is their cry,
'Come now, oh, do not pass us by.
We are seeking truth, we are seeking light,
We seek deliverance from dark night.
Can you who have the Gospel fail
To hear our cry, our doleful wail?' "
I believe God is now preparing the hearts of the people to receive the truth. Let us send it to them.
The attention the people gave to the preached word Sabbath after Sabbath was very encouraging. The men and boys always attended in the morning, the women in the afternoon. One Sabbath afternoon it was found that some of the women had gone to their farms to work. The young king at once left the meeting, called a meeting of his brothers and the head men, and passed a law that "if any man or woman worked on the Sabbath they should pay a cow. If they had no cow, their house should be pulled down over their heads."
In Bakundu, as in all the towns along the route, the children are all naked. Men and women have a cloth around their waists. The men generally dress more than the women. As soon as they became more acquainted with us they wanted us to give them clothing. Tobacco and cloth are the currency used in the interior.
Some of the people on the Mungo River raise corn and sweet potatoes. The staple food of the country is plantain. This can be stewed, baked, fried or roasted. It is a very good substitute for bread. The yam and cocoa are plentiful, the latter very much like potatoes when cooked. These they raise on their farms. They have fowls, goats, sheep,
and cattle all through the country. The sheep have hair like goats. The Bakundu people are not a savage people, nor cruel as their neighbours and other tribes. One never hears of any murdering among them as among other tribes. They are very kind-hearted, and in every way differ much from the surrounding and coast tribes. Many of the West African tribes are continually at war. You hear of their
of their enemies; of walls covered with human skulls; of a pavement made of human skulls, to walk on. Truly, "the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty."
Some tribes pay homage to lakes, rivers, and mountains, believing that their gods live there. In some places large houses are kept for serpents, and these miserable reptiles are worshipped. At Dix Cove, on the West Coast, it is said they have a crocodile which they worship. At Duke Town, on the Old Calabar River, in 1859, human flesh was sold at market as we sell beef in our markets here at home. I saw nothing of this at Bakundu.
These people have queer superstitions, and one must be among them to realise what slaves they are to them. When it rains they beat their drums to make it stop. There is a bird which makes a noise at night something like an owl. This is called a witch bird. When it is heard, the children are afraid to go out, and guns are fired to frighten it away. In passing their farms you often see a stick put into the ground, split at the top, with a piece of cloth or wood put crossways in it. I was told that this was to keep off thieves. One night a man came to get medicine for his child, and soon after he left the house he cried out in the most pitiful manner, "Witch come to take my child."
During the rainy season food generally becomes scarce;
the elephants destroy the plantain farms, and the continual heavy rains prevent hunting. One day I heard the natives shouting and singing near our house while it was raining very fast. I looked out and saw a crowd of men at the gate putting up palm branches over it, and burying something under the gateway. I was told that the palm branches were to keep away famine, and that what was buried was to draw game near the town. It was indeed remarkable to see the earnestness and the excitement of these people while they were going through this performance. After seeing us light a match, the news was soon spread through the country that we could carry fire in our pockets, and take it out and make it burn when we wanted to. One day some ten or twelve men and boys came to see us light a match. When I took the box out of my pocket, they ran as though I had taken out a pistol to shoot them. "That's it, that's it," cried the knowing ones, and their consternation seemed to have no bounds.
These people have their Ju Ju houses, or Fetish temples, like the rest of the tribes; there are three in Bakundu. Here they have their secret meetings. What they do, and how, I could never find out; but this I do know, that the preaching of the Gospel and the untiring zeal of Mr. Richardson, fighting against error, have been the means of many of the young men losing faith in Ju Ju. Before I left Bakundu, Mr. Richardson had commenced to hold Divine services in the Ju Ju temples.
They believe that there is a Great Being who has great power, but make no connection between Him and themselves. They do not expect anything from Him; neither do they attribute to Him any qualities good or bad. Their gods are many. The name of their general profession is "Ekodde"; when they are performing some custom they will tell you they are "doing Ekodde." Certain medicines have certain names, and certain powers attributed to them.
They will take a certain medicine and use it, then ask the Ekodde god, or being governing that medicine, to give it power. They have a wooden man in their Ju Ju temple, called "Mosango," upon which they take oath, believing that a lie told by any person who puts his hand on the head of this image will be exposed.
I was told by a native Christian that men often hold out until they get to the Ju Ju house, but so great is their fear of "Mosango" that they will confess before putting their hand on his head. They used to think that after death they would roam about in some unseen form, often troubling those who possessed the property they left behind.
Rev. Mr. Wilson, a native missionary, told me that the lives of many of the Bakwilli people were miserable all the time; nothing but one continual dread of the witch, what he can do and may do at any time. I believe it to be the same to a great extent among the Bakundu people.
But, thank God, the everlasting Gospel is gradually making a great change in the people, even in this short time.
I was greatly impressed with the intense
Their great wish seemed to be, while I was there, to see their children taught how to read and write, and to talk the English language. Mr. Richardson had not commenced the school more than two days before he had over a hundred boys. The men among them, and the young king, wanted me to teach them while Mr. Richardson taught the children.
I was much moved one Sabbath morning, while Mr. Richardson was telling about the love of our blessed Jesus: a man asked if their children could tell them the same story out of the Bible when he had taught them to read and talk English.
"They love to hear the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love."
One Sabbath evening after service some fifteen or twenty came to our house to be more fully informed about the plan of salvation, and this too, without having been invited to come. It is remarkable to see how fast the children learn. But it will take many years to get them out of their superstitions.
In reference to their food, we may say they eat everything from a snake to an elephant. Dogs are quite a delicacy among them. One of the king's sons brought in a serpent one day. I think it must have been sixteen feet long. They had quite a feast over it. Monkey is another favourite meat. They are great hunters; sometimes they have wonderful tales to tell about monkeys and baboons.
The Bakundu people are very clever. They make their own fishing and hunting nets, and baskets and beautiful bags out of grass. I have a few with me. We had not been in Bakundu long before we found they were anxious to have clothes, especially shirts. We would buy meat of them with shirts. Soon quite a number of them, especially the head men, had shirts. One Sabbath morning, just before service, a man came in with his shirt folded under his arm. When the service was about to begin he put it on.
It was indeed extraordinary to see the attention these people gave when telling them the good news. A woman came to Mr. Richardson one day, and said, "I have never stopped praying since you first told us what the Bible said." This was several months after his talk with her.
About the 1st of March, 1879, my dear, faithful, good, loving, Christian wife (after nursing me until I got better) was taken down with the fever. We hardly thought she
would live; but she got better. From that time until her death she was never well. About six weeks before her death she became so much better that we all thought she would soon be well; but she insisted that she would not live long.
During the months of May and June we were building our new house. I would often say how much better we would be in the new house, and what we would do. She would say, "Yes, that is if I live to see it." After the rainy season set in I said, "We must be careful about our provisions" (we had to send to England for them), "as it will be a long time before we can get any more." "Yes," said my dear wife, "but I am going to enjoy these that are here.
Her Bible was her daily study. Mr. Spurgeon's sermons, which were sent out monthly, by Mr. Wigney, from London, she would read, and re-read. Day after day, from morning till night, and from week to week, she would find no greater comfort than reading her Bible.
On Sunday morning, June 29th, I lay in bed, ill. Mr. and Mrs. Richardson had gone to hold services in the town. She sat down near the bed, and commenced to talk over our married life of fifteen years and seven months. On Friday, July the 4th, she was taken down with the fever. The following Monday she slept nearly all day. At night she said, "All of this day has been lost; I have not read my Bible any." I read for her.
Monday night she was delirious nearly all the time. Soon in the morning she said, "Although my mind leaves me at times, I have not lost sight of that rest, that rest! He that the Son makes free shall be free indeed." Her favourite text was (and she often repeated it): "I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness" (Ps. xvii. 15).
About noon she lost her speech. In this state she lay until eight o'clock, Wednesday evening, July 9th, when
from the land of our fathers to "that rest," there to be crowned. The house was soon filled with the natives, who showed great sympathy. Late in the night Mr. Richardson told them they could go home (king, queen, and head men were all present). They said: "No. This is a bereavement in which we are all concerned. It is our grief as well as yours." Thus they remained all night. Though she could speak but a few words of the language, she was indeed dearly beloved by the men, women, and children of Bakundu. They all called her "mamma." I do not think a more devoted wife ever lived.
From the time of my arrival at Bakundu in February, 1879, to November, I do not think I spent two weeks in succession of good health. I suffered from an affection of the liver, which becomes very seriously developed in an African climate. Soon after my journey into the interior I was delirious three days. After suffering from month to month, unable to attend to my duty, Mr. Richardson doing all the work, Rev. Q. W. Thomson, missionary in charge at Victoria, sent the Rev. Mr. Wilson, a native missionary, up from the coast to accompany me to Victoria. I was so ill and weak that I had to be carried eighty miles in a hammock by the natives.
I returned to England, hoping soon to recover, and after five or six months to be able to return to Africa, and again enter upon my work. But after medical examination, I was advised not to return to Africa; that, should I return, in two or three weeks I would suffer as I had for nearly twelve months. The matter was brought before the Committee of the Baptist Missionary Society. Their kindness and sympathy in this trying hour, as well as that of Mr. Baynes and also Mr. Myers, will never be forgotten. In all my
life I do not remember having a more trying time than this, unless it was when I first set out "to seek religion." Having no health, no money, no relatives, no home, oh! how sweet to me was the promise, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." All I could do was to take the matter to my blessed Jesus in prayer. I begged Him to help me do something for Africa since I could not labour in Africa. I promised the Lord, if He would raise me up again, and open some way for me to work for Africa, it should be my life work, and I am indeed thankful to say
After the doctor said I was well enough to travel, the following letter from Mr. A. H. Baynes reached me:--
"19, Castle Street, Holborn, London, E. C.,
June 18th, 1880.
"I have great pleasure in stating that our esteemed brother the Rev. T. L. Johnson has been connected for more than twelve months with the mission of the Baptist Missionary Society on the Cameroons River, West Africa; that there he suffered the loss of his wife, who fell a victim to the African fever; and that he only left that station in consequence of the utter failure and prostration of his health. Medical testimony being strongly in favour of his returning to America, the Committee of the Baptist Missionary Society felt that the best course for Mr. Johnson would be to return to his former field of labour in the United States. He returns to America with the confidence and prayers and good wishes of the Committee of the Baptist Missionary Society; and they desire to commit him to the hearty sympathy and loving regards of the Christian Church in America.
"ALFRED H. BAYNES,
"Secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society."
The Committee furnished me with means to return home. Mrs. Spurgeon made me a present of some nice books, and Mr. Spurgeon of £10. I shall never forget the kind words he said to me as I took leave of him: "If you don't get on, let us know. We will not forget you." Before I returned, I wrote to Rev. R. De Baptiste, Chicago, Ill., to say I would soon be home; and he advised the churches in the State that I would be at the Association meeting at Jacksonville in September. Starting from Liverpool, August 4th, 1880, I arrived in Chicago on the 18th. On
the 1st of September I met the Wood River Baptist Association, composed entirely of coloured people. I presented the claim of Africa, and urged upon them the necessity for their united effort to commence at once mission work in Africa. I told them what the English people were doing there, and of the great work already accomplished. The matter was carefully considered by the Committee appointed, and the following is a synopsis of their report, which was received and adopted:--
"From the shores of Africa, teeming with millions in grossest darkness of heathenism, we see more clearly than ever the prophetic picture of Ethiopia 'stretching out her hand unto God,' and praying for teachers of His Word to be sent to teach them the way of the true and living God. We advise that the Board of this Association take up and more thoroughly prosecute the work of foreign missions in our churches; and by correspondence and conferences with coloured Baptist Associations and conventions in the States, try to organise more thoroughly for the support of mission work in Africa. We advise that the Board immediately appoint Rev. Thomas L. Johnson, returned missionary from Africa, as its missionary and agent in both its domestic and foreign work,"* * This was the first step--only the work of an Association in one State.
* This was the first step--only the work of an Association in one State.
I then visited two Associations in the State of Missouri, representing 120 churches, all composed of freedmen, and they also resolved to enter upon the African mission work. In November of the same year, I met a convention in Mexico, Missouri, when the question of foreign mission work was thoroughly discussed, and the co-operation effected of two other Associations, representing in all a membership of over 60,000 freed men. So anxious were the people for
information about Africa and what I had seen, that I published a little pamphlet of sixty-four pages, telling of my visit to Africa and setting forth her claims. There are thousands of freedmen to-day who are anxious to go to Africa, prevented only by lack of means. It is indeed gratifying to know that interest in African missions has not only manifested itself in the districts to which I have referred, but the freedmen in the far Southern States are equally alive to the importance of the evangelisation of Africa. The work is growing in all parts, and I see the prospect of enlarged operations which will help to bring Africa to the feet of my blessed Jesus.
The enthusiasm awakened at the above-mentioned meetings, was not destined to die out soon. The thoughts of Africa and her perishing millions lingered in the breasts of hundreds of men and women. At meeting after meeting I would see strong men and women weeping, as I would tell the story of what I saw in Africa. I received very many encouraging letters from time to time, from young and old, with expressions of confidence, wishing me "God speed" in the work, and desiring information respecting the people, their condition and needs.
I can now see more than ever the hand of God in my return to America.
Among other returned missionaries to America, God was pleased to use me in the Western States and Territories, to inform the exiled sons and daughters of Africa, of the lamentable condition of our brethren in the land of our fathers. My health continued bad, yet, thank God, I was able to work on most of the time. Sometimes I would go to a town, go to bed--remain in bed all the next day--get in time for the meeting at night, when a conveyance would carry me to and then from the meeting, to return to bed. But oh, my soul! What a privilege to do this! The one thought and desire of my soul was, AFRICA FOR CHRIST, wherever I went; whenever called upon to speak or preach, this was my theme.
Our object was to secure the co-operation of the coloured Baptists of the North-west for the purpose of raising funds, and appointing and sustaining missionaries of our own race among the long-benighted people in Africa. Thank God!
Eleven months from the time we met the Associations and Conventions above-mentioned, the General Association of the Western States and Territories, representing fifteen States, met in Chicago, to consider this matter of mission work in Africa.
At the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Baptist General Association of the Western States and Territories, held in the Olivet Baptist Church, Chicago, Ill., October 12th, 1881, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:--
That the Coloured Baptists of the Western States and Territories establish, in connection with this Association,
AN AFRICAN MISSION.
In the month of July, 1881 (before the meeting of the Convention), I was married to my second wife, and returned
to England. I cannot describe the joy of my soul when I received a letter from America informing me of what had taken place at the Chicago meeting as the result of my return from Africa. I was informed at the same time that it was the intention of the brethren to request me to become the Financial Agent of the mission. I wrote to say I would serve, &c.
At the second meeting of the Board, which occurred in Hannible, Mo., Rev. THOS. L. JOHNSON was appointed a Financial Agent in England, with special reference to the AFRICAN MISSION.
Mr. Johnson is a returned missionary from Africa, and is very well known in England in connection with the African Mission work. It was believed that through his agency the sympathy and aid of wealthy philanthropists and English Christians generally could be obtained in the endeavour to establish and keep up mission work in Africa.
God having answered my prayer by raising me up again, to enter upon my LIFE WORK, I discovered that I had a grand opportunity to do good for two countries at the same time.
Setting out with this determination I had some wonderful experiences, both with rich and poor; learned and illiterate.
To succeed in this, I attended all kinds of missions and meetings in England, Ireland, Scotland, and several towns in Wales. I visited ragged schools; mission halls; mothers' meetings; working men's meetings; Bible-classes; Band of Hope meetings; blue ribbon meetings; Gospel Temperance meetings; meetings for railway men; meetings for postmen; noon meetings in shops; warehouse meetings; noon meetings in machine shops and foundries; the theatrical mission
in London; Y. M. C. A. meetings; Y. W. C. A. meetings; tea meetings, and Christian policemen meetings, and, thank God, it was my privilege to attend many Bible readings and Consecration meetings. Many a time at these meetings I have received a blessing--and I do so thank God to know that I have also been made a blessing to many.
I have a card I carry in my pocket, printed on the back as follows:--
On the inside--
WESTERN BRANCH, LONDON.
Name: THOS. L. JOHNSON. Division: HON. MEMBER.
Date: December, 1883.
"Kept by the Power of God."--1 PETER, i. 5.
RULE--That all Policemen be invited to join this Association who can truthfully say that they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with the heart, are willing to confess Him with the mouth [Rom. x. 9, 10], and are determined by His Grace to follow Him in their life [John xii. 26].
There are policemen in London to-day who claim that the Lord used me to bring them to His feet. I regret very much now that I have not preserved the letters received from persons in Great Britain and Ireland, who state that the Lord was pleased to send me to them with the message which resulted in their conversion. Many Christians also affirm that I have been the means of bringing them to appreciate their Christian privileges more. For all this I am profoundly thankful to my Heavenly Father, and ask the reader to pray that God will make me a greater blessing in the future than in the past.
The following gentlemen have expressed their warm appreciation of my work, and their approval of the AFRICAN MISSION:--
The following testimonials have been gratefully received:--
My wife and I have known and very highly esteemed our dear friend Mr. T. Lewis Johnson for nearly eight years. It was to our house that the dear man first came when he arrived in this country in 1876. He worked with me in Manchester for some time prior to his going to Mr. Spurgeon's College and thence to Africa. I fully believe in our dear brother's zeal for the Lord's work in Africa, and cordially recommend him to all who may be able to further the cause so near his heart, or who may require help in conducting evangelistic or children's services, missions, and Gospel Temperance meetings, or the giving of lectures. Since 1876 it has been my pleasure to receive hundreds of unsolicited testimonies attesting the value of my dear friend's work in winning souls for the Master, and rendering valuable service in extending the knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since Mr. Johnson returned from Africa, he has addressed several meetings in connection with mission work at Exeter Hall, Aldersgate-street, and other branches of the Y. M. C. A.
W. HIND SMITH,
Organising and Visiting Secretary to the National Council
of the Y. M. C. A., Exeter Hall, London.
I have much pleasure in bearing testimony to my high appreciation of the valuable work carried on by Rev. T. L. Johnson. He has on several occasions spoken and preached in our Gospel Hall at Norwood, whilst, at every meeting, we have had large audiences, and his earnest words have been blessed to many. We have helped him in the great work which the Lord has laid upon his heart so far as we were able, and hope before long to have him amongst us again. Surely nothing can more commend itself to any thinking mind than a mission to Africans, conducted by their own fellow-countrymen, particularly when such a mission is so wisely organised and superintended as that
with which Mr. Johnson is connected. He is seeking to win "Africa for Christ," by PROCLAIMING Christ for Africa. Whether in preaching the Gospel, in assisting at Gospel Temperance Meetings, in giving the account of his life as a slave, or in advocating the special claims of Africa, our dear friend is equally acceptable. I would strongly urge any who have not yet heard Mr. Johnson to secure his services without delay.
ALGERNON C. P. COOTE.12, Lancaster Road, South Norwood Park, S. E.
I first knew the Rev. T. L. Johnson when he came to England preparatory to his going to Africa on behalf of the Baptist Missionary Society. I have every confidence in his Christian character, and cordially agree with his intense earnestness for Africa.
GEO. F. SMITH.Glenhaven, Hayne Road, Beckenham.
I cannot speak too highly of my friend Mr. T. L. Johnson, whom I have known and been much interested in since he first arrived in England. His Christian character I admire, and especially his intense longing to do what he can for the spread of Christ's Gospel in Africa, the land of his fathers. I heartily commend him and his work to all who can show practical sympathy.
JAMES BOYD, Manchester.
I gladly bear my testimony to the Christian character of the Rev. T. L. Johnson. I became acquainted with him when he was pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Chicago, and for some considerable time was privileged to work with him in his Sabbath-school. Great blessing attended his earnest Gospel ministry, but his heart was filled with a burning desire to carry the Gospel to his kindred in the father-land. I soon learned to love him as a brother, and heartily wish him God-speed in all his efforts to benefit poor Africa.
EDWARD STROUD SMITH.Douglas, Isle of Man.
Hill Lane, Southampton, May 9th, 1882.
I have known the Rev. T. L. Johnson for some years now, and gladly add my testimony to those already more than sufficient to his sincere Christian character and devoted zeal to his African brethren.
HENRY O. MACKEY,Pastor, Portland Street Chapel.
Eastbourne, Jan. 28th, 1892.
It is a very great pleasure to me to have the opportunity of saying how much I love and appreciate my old friend, the Rev. T. L. Johnson, whom I have known since he first came to England in 1876. Our friendship during this period has remained unbroken, and my respect for him is as sincere as my affection.
W. WILSON HIND SMITH.
5, Clayland's Road,
Clapham Road, S. W.,
January 5th, 1892.
I think it right to bear my evidence to the high merits of my friend, the Rev. T. L. Johnson, who is still anxiously labouring in the cause of his African countrymen. The influence possessed by this gentleman is very great. It is strange, but it is nevertheless true, that one who, until the close of the American War, was a slave in the Southern States, and was almost wholly without education, should have acquired a position of great usefulness in America, and should have gained a marvellous power for good over many individual souls. It is not for me to speak in praise of that resolution of character and elevation to Christ which have placed him in the first rank of devoted Christians in the present day, nor can I do more than follow with respectful admiration the successive incidents in his life, his self-education, his training at Mr. Spurgeon's Pastors' College, his year of devotion, loss and illness in Africa, and his appointment to the important office of organiser of the coloured churches in the great African mission work. But of my personal contact with Mr. Johnson I feel that I not only may, but must, speak freely. When I first made his acquaintance seven years ago, we happened to be residing in the same house. Seeing that I was fond of flowers, he used the imagery of the garden to lead my thoughts to higher things. From the flowers of nature he led me to the flowers of revelation--to the Bible, to prayer, and to God my Saviour, and I now rejoice in the salvation offered to and accepted by me. My dearly beloved mother--God bless her!--taught me to say, "Our Father, which art in heaven," bnt like many more I had almost forgotten not only her teaching, but her God, of whom she so frequently spoke to me until this loving-hearted, Christian gentleman came my way, and constrained me to arise and come back to my Father. Mr. Johnson encouraged me from the first to contemplate working in the Master's cause, and almost against my will urged me to speak to others on the things that had now become dear to me. Above all, he impressed me with the importance of full reliance on God's guidance in all the turns and changes of life. At a particular crisis he taught me to take my trouble to God. I did so, and what seemed to be gloomy and dark was turned into brightness and light. Prayer answered enabled me to leave a position that was irksome to me, and to commence work in a house of business in which I have been not unsuccessful in a worldly point of view. Furthermore, as if adding honey to the bread, by the grace of God I have been enabled to commence, and for some time to carry on, an evangelistic work in South London which is now attaining considerable importance. As President of the Kennington Christian Mission I declare my indebtedness to my kind friend Mr. Johnson. To his kindly efforts I owe, under God, such zeal on behalf of Christ as I possess. Is it not right that I should say this? I know that he earnestly desires to bring the light of the Gospel to his countrymen in Africa, and if my humble testimony to his character and past work helps ever so little to rouse in others the regard and esteem which I myself have for him, I shall indeed be happy.
(Signed) H. B. MCPHERSON.
President K. C. M.
Rev. T. L. Johnson delivered a very pathetic and most earnest lecture in the Hall of Trinity Church. Mr. Johnson riveted the attention, and fully enlisted the warm sympathy, of his audience. I look upon Mr. Johnson as a devoted minister of Christ, who is possessed of much power over an assemblage, and who seeks to exalt the Blessed One.
[Rev.] J. DUNCAN CRAIG, D. D.,Minister of Trinity Church, Lower Gardiner-street, Dublin.
I have pleasure in expressing my high opinion of Thos. L. Johnson. I believe him to be a sincere Christian and a decided friend to Africa.
RICHARD ALLEN.Brooklawn, Blackrock.
Mr. Johnson's visit to Killinchy exercised a very happy influence. All sections of the community waited on his instructions, and offence was given to none.
[Rev.] D. R. MOORE.Hollypark, Killinchy.
I have been thirteen years in Larne, and during that time no other lecturer or preacher drew such large audiences and made such deep impressions as Rev. T. L. Johnson.
[Rev.] JAS. B. MEEK,
Minister of First Presbyterian Church.
Rev. T. L. Johnson lectured for us last session, and kindled much enthusiasm on behalf of the cause he represents. I would strongly urge all who have not heard this "son of Africa" to secure his services at once.
DAVID BLACK,Hon. Sec. Y. M. C. A. and Literary Association, Dundalk.
I have had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Johnson lecture several times in the city. He is a fluent speaker, and puts Christian truth with that simple force which is peculiar to sincerity and earnestness, He made for himself many friends here, and was exceedingly popular before his mission ended.
[Rev.] THOS. A. M'KEE, D. D.Wesley College, Dublin.
Our Association and the Christian public enjoyed his visit here immensely.
DAVID MURPHY,Hon. Sec. Y. M. C. A., Rathfriland.
Mr. Johnson told the story of his life with much simplicity and power to an audience of over 700 people. His lecture possesses a charm because of the thrilling and graphic picture of slave life in America which he places before the mental eye.
[Rev.] HENRY MONTGOMERY,
Minister Albert Street Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Johnson gave a lecture on Gospel Temperance in connection with our Association. I think all who had the privilege of hearing him were charmed with his simple, earnest manner, combined with so much of natural eloquence and humour.
[Miss] C. EDMUNDSON,Sec. Women's Temperance Association, Dublin.
All who can secure Mr. Johnson's services will confer a real boon upon their neighbourhood as well as procure a treat for their members.
DAVID LOGAN, Hon. Sec. Y. M. C. A., Cloughogue.
Mr. T. L. Johnson lectured in our school-room. I have seldom, if ever, heard anyone whose simple pathos and earnest appeals, combined with the touching incidents introduced, were so well calculated to touch an audience.
Rev. T. L. Johnson preached twice in my church this year. On both occasions he produced a deep impression. He preaches Christ with a simplicity, an unction, and an earnestness that win all hearts.
[Rev.] T. HAMILTON,
Minister of York Street Presbyterian Church,
His lectures were most interesting and stimulating. The story of his personal experience is a very touching one, and he tells it in such a manner as to awaken the sympathies and engage the attention of his auditors.
[Rev.] THOMAS M. HAMILL.The Manse, Lurgan.
All who heard him were perfectly satisfied. I have heard the opinion expressed by quite a number of people that they never spent a more pleasant or profitable evening.
H. KIRKER, Hon. Sec. Y. M. C. A.Banbridge.
The people were most enthusiastic in their reception of Mr. Johnson, and both enjoyed and profited by his lectures. Mr. Johnson also occupied two pulpits in Lisburn, and was most acceptable.
[Rev.] JAMES L. BIGGER,Professor Magee College, Londonderry.
Rev. W. Fleming Stevenson, Chairman at a lecture in Christian Union Buildings, Dublin, said:--"Mr. Johnson had a triple claim to be heard. He was full of information that could be depended upon. He had himself served in Africa as a missionary, and he belonged as they knew to the great African population being made known in our time."
At the Annual Christian Convention, 1885, Rev. T. L. Johnson produced a profound impression by his address, which was characterised by that earnestness, simplicity and pathos which are peculiar to his race.
ROBERT COTTER,Sec. Dublin United Services, Dublin.
We were greatly pleased with Mr. Johnson, and with the power he was given by his Master over the congregation he had with us here and at Bessbrook.
JOHN GRUBB RICHARDSON,Moyallen House, Gilford.
We have a pleasant recollection of his last visit and of the lecture he gave us, and would much desire to hear him once more.
[Rev.] J. HOFFE.The Parsonage, Arklow.
Mr. Johnson is one of the most humble-minded I ever met, and one of the best adapted to advocate the cause of Missions.
[Rev.] WILLIAM MAGUIRE, Methodist Minister,South Great George's Street, Dublin.
Mr. Johnson's visit was a success in every way. He gained an interest for Africa and Missions generally such as is not usually felt.
D. MARTIN, Newry.
Rev. T. L. Johnson's lectures in the Friends' Meeting House were largely attended by ALL classes.
J. ERNEST GRUBB, Carrick-on-Suir.
Rev. T. L. Johnson's lecture for this Association was received with great enthusiasm.
H. ED. RICHARD, Sec. Y. M. C. A., Wexford.
We have much pleasure in commending our friend, Mr. T. L. Johnson, to the sympathy and confidence of the Christian public. His unselfish labours for the cause of Christ in Africa, during the past nine years, have won for him the entire confidence and love of many eminent Christian men throughout the kingdom, whose testimonials he bears.
DAVID A. BLACK, Gen. Sec. Belfast Y. M. C. A.
W. S. MOLLAN, Hon. Sec. Belfast Y. M. C. A.
Heartily sympathising with my brother, Rev. T. L. Johnson, in his efforts for Africa, I would ask for him sympathy and help.
ROBERT McCANN,Travelling Sec. Y. M. C. A. in Ireland.
Daily Express, Dublin, referring to his address at a meeting of the Christian Convention, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Dublin, says:--The Rev. T. L. Johnson, an African, addressed the meeting in a voice trembling with emotion, and, with tears starting from his eyes, he besought them to make greater efforts to rescue the heathen."
Christian Advocate, speaking of his work in Dublin, says:--"His interesting and pathetic lectures, simple Gospel preaching and unaffected character, have won their way to all hearts."
Belfast Y. M. C. A. Monthly Bulletin:--"One of the largest audiences that has gathered inside our walls this winter, crowded the large hall and galleries on the occasion of the last missionary meeting. . . . Mr. Johnson completely won the sympathy of the large audience by his pathetic appeal on behalf of his unhappy and Christless Fatherland."
The following letter was sent to Rev. S. Pilling by a gentleman well-known in literature as the "Sherwood Forester," and author of many books:--
May 30th, 1882.
DEAR PASTOR PILLING,--I want you to express for me to the Rev. T. L. Johnson, before he leaves you, my sense of his eloquence good feeling, and usefulness. While listening to him last evening at your chapel, he made me quite forget the distinction, Black and White, in the sense he inspired of our common humanity, and of my hope of that time
"When men to men the wide world o'er Shall brothers be, and all that!"
I trust sincerely in the success of his mission, and am,
My dear Sir, yours always,
SPENCER T. HALL, Ph.D., M.D., M.A., Blackpool.
The Sunday School Chronicle, reviewing the story of Mr. JOHNSON'S life says:--"In every stage of its development, from the period of his slave life in America, to that in which he was a Missionary in Africa, it is full of interest."
The Manchester Guardian says of Mr. JOHNSON'S lecture on "Slavery," delivered in the Town Hall, Rusholme:--"The account of his experiences of the system was at times as touching, if not as graphic, as anything that is to be found in 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' "
The Christian says:--"The story is told with simplicity and earnestness, and furnishes a remarkable instance of the power of God's grace."
And many other similar Testimonials.
Twelve years ago the General Association of the Western States and Territories was organised by the coloured Baptists at Mexico, Adrian County, Missouri. At the time of its organisation the coloured people of the United States had been only ten years out of bondage.
Under the regime of slavery, it may be said, they were taught nothing but to toil. In the States where slavery existed, they had no rights, civil, political, nor religious, except to a very limited extent. In some communities religious privileges of a very meagre kind were allowed them under the surveillance of white persons, who were required to be present in their religious gatherings as a sort of police to watch their actions.
For seven years after the organisation was effected, its operations were confined to the States and Territories west of the Mississippi River, principally to Missouri and Kansas.
In 1880 a special meeting was called and held at Mexico, Mo., in which the brethren of the Western States east of the Mississippi were invited to participate. This was done with a view to obtain a more extended co-operation with the General Association, a broadening of its plans of work, and to extend its usefulness in organising our churches and people for Missionary work in the "dark continent" of Africa, the land of our fathers.
The Rev. Thomas L. Johnson, having returned from Africa, where he had laboured as a missionary under the auspices of the Baptist Missionary Union of Great Britain, was present at this meeting. His addresses awakened a deep interest amongst his brethren, and moved them to more determined effort to give the Gospel to the perishing millions of our race in Africa.
Accordingly the General Association adjourned to meet in Chicago, Ills., in 1881. At this meeting it was resolved to go immediately to work to raise a fund for establishing, at the earliest practical time, a mission in Africa. To facilitate this work, by furnishing information, and to aid in organising in the churches, auxiliaries, and mission bands, it was resolved to publish a religious weekly paper as soon as funds could be obtained to commence its issue. A plan was adopted to that effect for the work proposed. But the poverty of the people, who had so recently been slaves, and the constant strain to provide for the support of religion amongst themselves, has been the hindering cause, retarding the work laid out by the brethren at this meeting.
There are young men and women who are anxious to prepare themselves for missionaries to their own race in Africa. Some of them are making the most self-denying efforts to that end, but with an inheritance of poverty and proscription, by which they are shut out from many of the industrial pursuits that are open to other races their means of self-help are very slender, and their progress is very slow and at times discouraging.
There are others who have been aided by our white friends, and have improved the advantages afforded in the academies, colleges and theological institutions established for the education of the freedmen. The American Baptist Home Mission Society, and other organisations of the different denominations of Christians in the United States, are doing a work for the race in this country that must eventually tell greatly for the evangelisation of Africa by preparing the labourers for that field. So, as it has been said, "it is not without significance that while Africa, with its baneful climate, seems almost inevitably fatal to the white man, we have here in America, by the hundred thousand, sons of Africa whose hearts have been regenerated by the grace of God, and whose minds have been disciplined by Christian culture. Africa must be conquered FOR CHRIST; and here are the trained troups under arms, and only waiting marching orders."
To organise and reduce to system the efforts of our people to Evangelise Africa is a task of no mean proportions.
Slavery gave us no helpful training in that direction. Its whole tendency was to render the race helpless in themselves, and wholly dependent on others. But the success that has attended our effort in our work of home evangelisation, will, with patient and continued perseverance therein, turn to good accounts the efforts we are now
putting forth to prosecute missionary work among our own benighted race in their native land.
Help that is given us to help ourselves in this direction, is true help, and it cannot be lost. It is the bread cast upon the waters, to be seen producing fruit after many days.
The attention that is now being given to African missions in the Western States and Territories is in a large degree the result of the labours of Rev. Thomas L. Johnson since his return from Africa. He had cherished a life-long desire to visit that country, and after his conversion, was seized with a conviction that it was his duty to go there and "preach the Gospel to his own long benighted people" to use his own words.
While in that country witnessing their gross idolatry, degrading superstitions, and the deep darkness of their minds, knowing nothing of the one only true God, and Jesus whom He sent into the world to save them from their sins, his own soul was more deeply stirred to sympathy and labour for their salvation. He was therefore appointed as financial agent (in Great Britain) of the African mission in connection with the General Association of the Western States and Territories to send coloured men and women as missionaries to Africa, seeing, that the race in America have the men, but lack the means, by reason of the impoverished condition in which they so recently come out of slavery.
The encouragement he has received from Christians of all denominations in Great Britain, who have with their characteristic Christian liberality responded with generous donations upon his presentations of his work for Africa, has caused his brethren on this side of the ocean to take courage and go forward. And we may with confidence predict, that its helpful influence will stimulate them to greater diligence, and increased effort to move forward towards the conquest of "Africa for Christ."
By divine Providence, "a great door and effectual is open to us all," to plant evangelical Christian missions into the interior of the continent of Africa. This is most encouraging to us, since the establishment of a Free State in Central Africa, under the protectorate of the powerful Christian nations of Europe and America, in which absolute religious freedom and protection is guarranteed to missionaries to the natives.
Then comes the transfer of the Livingstone Inland Mission on the Congo, to the American Baptist Missionary Union, by the Christian men and women in Great Britain who established and equipped it. And from this society comes the invitation to the coloured brethren in America, descendants of the African race, to co-operate with them in this mission.
Friday, Nov. 12, 1886.
On the 26th of March this year, under the auspices of the Baptist General Association of Western States and Territories, the Rev. Dr. Theo. E. S. Scholes, medical missionary, and the Rev. J. E. Ricketts, mechanic, arrived at Banana Point, Congo River, there to commence mission work. Encouraging reports have been received from time to time from these brethren, giving an account of their work. At the thirteenth regular annual meeting of the General Association, held with the Bethesda Baptist Church of Chicago, Ill., Sept. 22-28, great interest was manifested in the work of the Association carried on in Africa. And in order to facilitate this work in Africa, and more adequately provide for those brethren now engaged there, terms of co-operation were entered into between this Association and the A. B. M. U., by which the work for Africa might be carried on in perfect harmony. Brother Thomas L. Johnson, a returned missionary, and for some time the financial agent of the G. A. W. S. and T. in Great Britain, was present at the meeting of the Association and heartily favoured the measure and terms of co-operation. He also spoke warmly of his reception and encouragement from the National Convention of Coloured Baptists held at St. Louis in August, also the Wood River Association at East St. Louis, Ill., the Mount Olive Association at Metropolis, Ill., the Union Baptist Association of Ohio at Cincinnati, O., and Second District North Missouri Association at Tipton. The enthusiastic spirit manifested at these different gatherings, as well as that of the Chicago Association, undoubtedly affords new hope and life to the friends of African missions in this country and the world. To foster this spirit in America it seemed good to the brethren of the Association that Brother Thomas L. Johnson, who has met with such signal success as the Financial Secretary of the Association in Great Britain, be recalled to America and be appointed the General Financial Secretary of the Association for this country. By direction of the Executive Board of the Association he goes South to spend six or eight weeks in the Southern States in stirring up the brethren in that section in the interests of American mission work. After this visit he will return to England to close up his business there and bring his family to America, where he will engage permanently in the work of his office as the Association's Financial Secretary.
THE Association expresses its profoundest gratitude to the people of Great Britain and Ireland who so kindly helped it through its earnest agent, the Rev. Thomas L. Johnson, when the Association was getting its first missionaries on the field. "By their assistance we
are now on our feet, and we shall ever remember their benevolence with prayer and thankfulness. And among the many other kind friends worthy of mention we cheerfully express our indebtedness to Mr. W. Hind Smith and wife, and George Williams, Esq., of London, W. M. Oatts, Esq., Glasgow, Scotland, and Mr. R. McCann, of Belfast, Ireland, for valuable assistance rendered our agent."
The above was unanimously adopted as the sense of the body, of which the Rev. R. De Baptiste was President, and R. J. Temble Secretary of the Executive Board.
In August, 1887, we returned to Chicago, to enter upon our work of organising, in the churches and schools, the African mission work, and of collecting funds to carry on the work.
I was very cordially received by my friends, who had become deeply interested in my work.
The following clippings from the daily papers of Chicago, give accounts of one of the meetings:--
December 11th, 1887.
Kinsley's Head Waiter after the War now labouring among uncivilised Negroes in the Tropics--His Eventful Career--Born in Slavery He Learned Secretly to Read--Sold away from his Mother--Recollections of the War--Subsequent Progress.
When Thomas L. Johnson threw off his dress suit and took to preaching the Gospel in Africa a good waiter was lost and a good missionary gained. Old-time Chicagoans will tell you that Thomas--they all knew him as "Thomas"--was the best waiter that ever served a dinner. He was a waiter at Kinsley's in those years after the war when Kinsley had his restaurant sandwiched in among a lot of music stores in the Crosby Opera House--Robot & Cady's one side, Kimball's the other side, and Julius Bauer's next door. Then, when Kinsley opened at Wabash Avenue and Washington Street, Thomas was made head-waiter. Mr. Kinsley could still tell you if he pleased, of the great crush in the restaurant the night Grant was first nominated, and how Thomas, the head waiter, buckled to work with the other waiters and took twenty orders for dinner at once at one table, and brought back the twenty complete dinners exactly as ordered. He had an extraordinary memory, had Thomas. You and all your friends could order what you and they pleased, and
Thomas could be depended on to remember it. But he took to studying the Bible, and became imbued with the idea that his mission was to preach to his brethren of the negro race--perhaps the manifestly lost condition of Kinsley's waiters had something to do with that resolve, and perhaps not, but no matter--anyhow, he began preaching, and soon was pastor of a coloured church, and thus, as stated, a good waiter was lost. By-and-by he went out to Africa to preach to the heathen.
On Wednesday afternoon next the Rev. Thomas L. Johnson, an African missionary, will lecture in the banquet hall at Kinsley's, No. 105, Adams Street, on his personal experiences and travels in Africa, Great Britain, and America. Kinsley doesn't usually throw his banquet hall open to missionary meetings--it is not remembered that he ever did it before--but Kinsley is the man who discovered Thomas, and is one of his warmest friends. There are four epochs in Mr. Johnson's life, and this is the way he marks them:
Mr. Johnson, it should be stated right here, has been a most successful missionary, and is one of the most earnest and hard-working labourers in the Gospel vineyard. His work for the heathen in Africa has had prominent recognition in Great Britain.
"I was a slave for twenty-eight years," said Mr. Johnson, in a chat yesterday. "I was born in slavery in Virginia. My father was an octoroon and a free man, and my mother was a slave. My mother's father came from Africa. My father wanted to purchase my mother and myself, but Mr. Brent, our owner, would not sell us. A free man was permitted to marry a slave woman, but her children were slaves. My mother told me that my father, when he died, left money for me to purchase my liberty when I grew up, but the white people got it. I was in Richmond when the war began; after I received my freedom at the close of the war I went North. I got work first at Leland's Hotel in New York as a waiter. I then went to Rocky Point, R.I., where I saw Mr. Kinsley. I came to Chicago in September, 1866, and went to work in Mr. Kinsley's in the Crosby Opera-House as a dish-washer in the kitchen. I was soon made head dish-washer. Then I was promoted to wait in the dining-room. Everybody seemed to know me because of my long hair."
Mr. Johnson is too modest to tell the whole truth. Everybody knew him because he was the best waiter in the place, and was in every way distinguished above his fellows. He was most courteous, attentive, dignified, intelligent, and cleanly. Moreover, he knew everybody and what everybody liked. In those days the Union Pacific Railroad was being built, and when it was completed a few hundred miles beyond Omaha, excursions would be frequently gotten up by the company with intent to boom the project. Kinsley catered for these excursions, and Johnson was always sent as chief steward. His courtesy and cleverness attracted the attention of everybody, and thus it came that the Pullmans, the Fields, the
Leiters, the Ishams, John V. Ayer, Bob Lincoln, John Crerar, Norman Williams, George L. Dunlap, Perry Smith, Col. J. J. Howe, and a host of other leading Chicago people knew Thomas well and appreciated him highly. When Mr. Kinsley moved to his new quarters at Washington Street and Wabash Avenue he made Thomas head waiter.
"I studied the Bible constantly," says Thomas. "I belonged to Olivet [Coloured Baptist] Church, and exhorted some. I went to Denver, Col., in 1869, to take charge of a little church of freedmen, and to do mission work. I had 285 dols. a year from the church, and my wife and I worked to make up enough to support ourselves. I was anxious to go to Africa to preach to my own long-benighted people. After three years in Denver I returned to Chicago and became pastor of a church on Irving Place, near Fulton Street."
In 1876, Mr. Johnson, through the influence of Mr. and Mrs. E. Stroud Smith, and Mr. W. Hind Smith, of the Y. M. C. A., Manchester, England, friends who knew of his desire, was invited to England. He began a regular course of studies in Spurgeon's College, though he was then forty years old. In 1878 he went to Africa. The story of his adventures in Africa would fill a volume. He is at present raising money for the African missions--acting as the authorised travelling agent of the Baptist African Missionary Convention of Western States and Territories. Mr. Johnson has the highest endorsements from well-known people of every denomination. During his lecture on Wednesday afternoon he will exhibit many African curiosities, including maps, idols, pictures of natives, &c. He will also don the African dress, and sing in the African language.
Thursday, Dec. 15, 1887.
A brilliant assemblage in Kinsley's Banquet Hall yesterday afternoon pays tribute to the worth of a most deserving coloured man.
The most brilliant company which ever assembled in Kinsley's Banquet Hall was that which a negro entertained yesterday afternoon. The negro is Thomas L. Johnson, whose remarkable career well illustrates the possibilities in a black man's life. Johnson is now fifty-two years of age. He was born a slave, entered the employ of Kinsley as a dish-washer, was promoted to the post of head waiter at 100 dols. a month, felt himself called upon to engage in missionary work, was successful, went to London, graduated at Spurgeon's College, and went thence into the interior of Africa as a missionary. He returns to Chicago as the accredited agent of the African Missionary Society; he enters a hall into which, until yesterday, no coloured man had gone except as a servitor; he is the honoured guest
of his former employer; he entertains as select a gathering as Chicago has ever seen.
Johnson is six feet in height, with pronounced African lips and nose. He has the forehead of a Caucasian, an honest eye, and a face on which energy and kindness are written. As he stood on the platform yesterday afternoon pleading for Africa eloquently and earnestly, no one gave a thought to his colour. On the westerly wall of the hall were displayed charts and maps of Africa, with heroic-sized types of the black tribes of the world, which were made by authority of the German Government. Rev. Dr. S. J. McPherson presented Rev. Dr. William D. Everts, who offered prayer, after which Rev. Mr. Johnson, his wife, her sister and Mr. Price sang, "A Plea for Africa." The first verse, with refrain, is as follows:--
Give a thought to Africa; 'neath the burning sun
There are hosts of weary hearts waiting to be won;
Many idols have they made, but from swamp and sod
There are voices crying now for the living God.
Tell the love of Jesus by her hills and waters;
God bless Africa, and her sons and daughters.
The melody was that of four finely trained voices, and the "Plea" was one which will be long remembered by the auditors. In introducing the speaker of the afternoon, Rev. Dr. McPherson said that the coloured man who was to entertain them represented a variety of great causes. One of these related to our own nation. The freedom of the slave had been won, and what the black citizens accomplish depends on themselves. They must not expect to be lifted; they must lift themselves. Dr. McPherson said that slavery had been denominated a sectional question. He had not so regarded it. "I have been told by those who ought to know," he continued, "that the roots of slavery were in the Constitution of the United States." Not even New England had any right to boast on this question, for slaves had been owned there under the law, and slaves had been cattle in New York State. It had been only a question of time, however, and the Northern States were the first to renounce the stain of slavery. The speaker said Mr. Johnson represented another great cause--that of the evangelisation of Africa, which can only be effected by men with African blood in their veins. To the Christian as well as to the commercial world, Africa was the great treasure trove. Livingstone, Grant, and Stanley had agreed that there was a great future for the Dark Continent. The lecturer was received with a volley of applause. He said that since the libraries of the world had been opened to him by the key of knowledge he had enjoyed many grateful surprises. But no occasion had appealed to his gratitude more than the one with which he was confronted. He hoped he appreciated the full significance of the gathering. More potent than any words he could speak was the silent lesson of the afternoon, which every young coloured man in Chicago should ponder.
Men and women of religious and moral worth, of wealth and talent, had assembled to show their respect for a poor black man who had tried to respect himself. It was to him another link in a golden chain. The negro who improved his opportunities--who respected himself and honoured God--would secure the respect, confidence, and esteem of men and women whose good opinion was worth having.
"I am now about to treat of my humble life," he said, "in four phases--slave, waiter, student, and missionary. I shall, with your permission, touch lightly on three, and enlarge on the fourth, for my heart is over the sea." Johnson then told of his mother, the black, superstitious, ignorant Virginia slave woman, whose ebony arms were his cradle, and whose songs were to the boy as the music of heaven. "I hardly know what I am: I am not an octoroon, a quadroon, nor a mulatto, but I believe that my grandfather looked like that" (pointing to a large picture of the typical negro of the Guinea coast of Africa). "Woolly head, thick lips, flat nose, black negro. I am not as black, you see, as was my grandfather, and in Africa I was always spoken of as a white man." The speaker's memories of his early days in Virginia were recited with charming simplicity. Then came the story of his conversion, his separation from his mother by a slave sale, their subsequent reunion, the end of the war, his journey to the north, his meeting with Mr. Kinsley, and his installation in the caterer's kitchen as a dish-washer. The steps of promotion up which he bounded were chief dish-washer, dining-room man, captain of the watch, and head waiter. He not only had time to attend to his duties, but every spare five minutes were devoted to study, and at night he received instruction in private. Whenever he had ten cents, which he did not have use for, he deposited the dime in the savings bank. English grammar defied him; he "couldn't see any sense in it," and finally, when he relinquished a position paying $100 a month for a missionary station in Colorado worth only $25 a month, he believed he had just entered upon his true life-work. Modestly the black man narrated the struggles and strivings which preceded his advent in London as a student in Spurgeon's College. When he entered, the English grammar was his stumbling block, but it was finally mastered; and, thoroughly equipped for missionary work, he sailed for the west coast of Africa, accompanied by the wife whom he had married in slavery. To hear the story of Johnson's African experience was a rare treat. The man is a born entertainer. The interest of his listeners was maintained every minute. Statistics were interspersed with African songs, and the religious side of the address was relieved by recitals of personal experiences, by exhibition of African curiosities, and finally by some hymns in native costume and language. Here is a verse of "Come to Jesus" in the Dualla language:
Yana Jazu, yanu Jazu
Yana Jazu, tata nu; tata nu
Yana Jazu, yana Jazu, tata nu.
Johnson's experience, when taken prisoner by a cannibal chief, proves that truth is stranger than fiction. The death of his wife was thus alluded to: "She was crowned in the land of my fathers, and went up to live with our Saviour." In the Congo Free State there are 5,000 miles of fine waterway, and over fifty millions of people. In Africa to-day 250,000,000 are stretching out their hands and straining their eyes, praying for the light. Of missionaries there are three to every million of inhabitants. The horrors of cannibalism and slavery were pictured. Cannibalism was fast dying out, but slavery remained as the curse of the continent. The speaker attributes the degraded condition of Africans to the demoralisation consequent upon slavery. Arab traders sometimes go into the interior and return with 2,300 captives, who are sold into bondage. This was enough to demoralise any people; such treatment would degrade a white nation. Africa for centuries has been a manhunting land, and nearly every other nation had had a hand in making slaves of negroes. Many interesting facts were given touching the bushmen, who converse in the "click" language, with sounds resembling "Klik yik tock woc nic tchu slik," which jabber has been mastered completely by missionaries and committed to grammar. The Hottentot, the Nubian, and the aborigines of Australia all came in for mention, the conclusion reached being that the white man cannot Christianise Africa owing to the climate. He showed by figures that Africa had been the missionaries' grave-yard. It was to-day the white man's cemetery. It had been written in Holy Writ that "Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands." Calling his coloured friends to his side Johnston sang a solo, and all united in the chorus. It is no exaggeration to say that sweeter music has rarely been heard in Chicago than the notes which had been fitted to these words.
O, Africa, thou long hast been
Of sin and ignorance the scene,
For ages trodden in the dust,
The slaves of selfish men of lust;
How long has densest darkness reigned,
And cruelty her way obtained,
O'er thy poor sons whom God designed
To worship Him with heart and mind.
Chorus--Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands to God,
God hath said it, God hath said it:
Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands to God,
Yes, God hath said it.
Dr. McPherson said that Mr. Johnson would answer any questions that might occur to the audience. S. L. Booth, after propounding some queries, said that he could heartily endorse what the lecturer had said regarding the superior intelligence of representatives of some of the interior tribes of Africa. Dr. McPherson, on behalf of the audience, thanked the lecturer for his address, and made fitting acknowledgment to Mr. Kinsley for the kindly interest which he had manifested in his former employé.
Johnson brings from Africa a rare collection of curiosites, which he exhibited to The Herald reporter at the conclusion of his lecture. A large necklace is braided of sea shells, which are the coin of certain tribes, a common shell about as large as a bean being worth
8 cents. He has a cutlass once used by an Arab slave trader, and the iron neck-yoke and twenty-pound shackles now worn by slaves while being driven in droves to the coast. He has the full costume of an African chief, with spear made from ironwood. He says the natives are expert in primitive manufactures. They see a towel and make its counterpart in shape and style out of grasses. A fan they imitate with straw. Their bags and baskets are more durable than ours. Of the numerous specimens of African handiwork which Mr. Johnson exhibits, there is one napkin made of grass which will rival anything of European manufacture in delicacy of texture. On the Mungo River the missionary was one day engaged in explaining the Darwinian theory to a very intelligent chief of a certain tribe. After the ex-Chicago waiter had dilated on the monkey evolution question, the chief assured him that Darwin had "completely reversed the real facts of the case." "Many suns and moons ago," explained the Mungo sage, "some of our fathers and brothers who were hunting, became separated from the tribe and wandered off into the forests. Such became their destitution that they were obliged to feed on the food of animals. By-and-by they became like brutes, and the monkeys and apes which are found in our forests are the descendants of those who, many, many suns and moons ago, were the ancestors of our great-grandfathers." Johnson says the Dutch have shot down African bushmen like monkeys. The Hottentots are treacherous and ferocious, but six of their languages are now printed, and the missionaries are lifting them up out of the degradation which slavery has imposed. On the Mungo the people can talk to each other on their drums by a system of sound resembling the Morse telegraphic alphabet. The articles of trade are coffee, ivory, camwood, palm oil, ginger, dye-woods, rubber, gum, &c. Some merchants are annually doing $150,000 worth of business in African products. One $50,000 cargo was collected in two months.
Johnson is labouring to evangelise Africa with the same faithful, conscientious effort which characterised him when he was a waiter in this city. His salary is 75 dols. a month. Before leaving Mr. Kinsley's employ he was offered $1,500 by a wealthy Chicagoan who wanted him to open a restaurant of his own. The offer was respectfully but firmly declined. To-day the negro missionary is not worth 100 dols. Speaking of his work, he said, "My only object in alluding to my former condition of bondage is this: I want to encourage the young coloured men of this country to persevere in the right direction. No matter what their present discouragements are, they must learn to labour and to wait. I tell you that every coloured man in the United States should be glad that he is in this country instead of the benighted land of his fathers worshipping idols. With sobriety, industry, and honesty he can win fame and name in this great republic. I read the article printed in The Herald, of Monday, relating to the toleration of coloured men in this community. It is a fair presentation of facts. But because our environments are as stated, there is all the greater need for patience, industry, and Christianity. The coloured problem in Chicago is of little concern compared with the great African problem. A missionary can live in Africa on 500 dols. a year and live well. But to endure the African climate he must have African blood in his veins. I want the
American people to understand this great truth, and govern themselves accordingly." To-night Mr. Johnson lectures in St. Stephen's Church, 682, Austin Avenue. At the conclusion of his address at Kinsley's yesterday afternoon several hundred dollars were added to the fund which Johnson is now raising to send negro missionaries to Africa. Before engaging in work in the Dark Continent they are thoroughly educated in secular and religious colleges, and well grounded in the theory and practice of medicine.
I soon found that the work of travelling from city to city, and to towns and villages in fifteen States and territories, was more than I could accomplish. My wife resolved that she would learn how to set type, and then we could publish a paper which would visit the pastors in their studies, the children in the Sunday-school, and the people in their homes. This we thought would plead the cause of missions and speak for the millions in Africa. On Oct. 1888, the first number appeared, bearing the following details of management:--
Publishing office, 180 S. Clark Street, Room 7.
Entered in the Post Office at Chicago as mail matter of the Second Class.
Address all communications to Post Office, Box 678, Chicago.
Official organ of the African Mission of the Western States and Territories, U.S.A.
THOS. L. JOHNSON, Editor,Chicago, Ill.
Mrs. S. A. JOHNSON, Compositor and Manager.
My health gradually failed, until at length I was compelled to give up first the Mission work, and then the publishing of the paper. My wife's health also failed. She used to give her service, setting type, to pay for the privilege of using type to set up our paper.
"CHICAGO CONSERVATOR," Feb. 23rd, 1889.
EVANSVILLE, IND., FEB. 18, '89.
Editor Conservator,--The coloured people of Indiana, as in other sections of this country, are deeply interested in the changes which will take place when the new administration shall take the reins of government. We are desirous that our race shall have its proper measure of recognition, both as to the positions filled and the persons named to fill them. We do not pretend to obtrude our advice upon the great leader whom our State has been privileged to send to Washington as the head of the Republic, but we do desire, as good citizens, to contribute our share in the endorsement of good men from which the President shall choose the representative coloured men of the race.
For this reason, and in this behalf, the undersigned, after earnest consultation with a number of friends, ask the use of your columns to suggest the appointment of Rev. Thos. L. Johnson, of Chicago, as Minister to Liberia. Now it must be understood that we do not pretend to say that he is the only Negro capable of filling that exalted position, but we do say, without the fear of successful contradiction, that his experience, education, and extensive travel peculiarly fit him for that position. His association and acquaintance with the leading representatives of foreign nations, especially his knowledge of Africa and its people, gained through missionary service, strongly commend him as one of the very best selections that could be made by the incoming administration, for the Liberian mission.
The subject of this sketch is a man of marked ability, fine culture, and national reputation. He is known and highly endorsed by the best men of the Old and New Worlds. That a man of his calibre is needed to fill posts of so high a degree of honour, goes without saying.
While in London, Mr. Johnson made many earnest friends among the best people of the kingdom. His earnestness, zeal, and devotion to the work of elevating his race won the sympathy and esteem of all.
Many of the leading clergy of Ireland speak in the most commendable terms of Rev. Johnson, as also did the Daily Express, Christian Advocate, and Monthly Bulletin of Dublin. Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, London, at whose school Brother Johnson was educated, is among those of England who bear testimony of the most flattering character.
Of the testimonials from leading men and journals in the United States, it is unnecessary to speak, Rev. Johnson has travelled and lectured so extensively that he needs no introduction.
In conclusion, Mr. Editor, it is the wish of every patriotic coloured man that our strongest hands and bravest hearts are at the helm. In dealing with Africa no candidate for appointment to Liberia will have had experience on the continent of Africa, as Rev. Johnson has had. No one will more faithfully discharge every duty, and no one will bring more universal approbation to the new administration than Mr. Johnson. Sharing his respect, confidence, and esteem, we
received permission to present his name, and we trust your great State will join with us in heartily endorsing him for the mission above-named.
Rev. Thomas L. Johnson has been announced as a candidate for the Liberian mission, his sponsors being a number of influential ministers of our sister State, Indiana. Their letter, endorsing him, appears in another column, and contains several flattering recommendations, made by prominent men in England and Ireland. They clearly show that he was highly regarded on the continent while preparing for his work in Africa.
All who know Rev. Johnson can testify to his strong Christian zeal in the work of elevating the African race. He has devoted the last fifteen years of his life to that work, and is still earnestly engaged in the work. It is believed that his experience in the missionary work, his active service in Africa, and his fluent use of many African languages would combine to make him a most efficient and acceptable representative.
Of one thing we are certain. He could make an official against whom there would never be word of blame; intelligent, capable, and of sterling integrity, he would make a record honourable to the nation as well as his race. He has lived in Chicago for a quarter of a century, and has the universal regard of every man, woman, and child in his large circle of acquaintances. Among the best class of our white citizens, for whom he was engaged in position of trust, he enjoys the highest esteem, and they may be depended upon to commend him when and wherever it is needed. The Conservator cordially endorses the letter which presents his name, and will add that Illinois has no coloured citizen more acceptable as a representative than the distinguished traveller, Rev. Thomas L. Johnson.
This was entirely the effort of my friends. I never made application to the Government for this position, neither did I write a line to any of the papers advocating the above appointment.
The following appeared in the "HERALD," July 1889:--
To the pastors, churches, Sabbath-schools and Women's Mission Circles of the Baptist General Association of the Western States and Territories.
Please give a prayerful thought to Africa
"Neath the burning sun,
There are hosts of weary hearts
Waiting to be won.
Many idols have they made,
But from swamp and sod
There are voices crying now
For the living God."
It is estimated that there are from 250 to 300 millions of people in Africa; fifty millions in the Congo Free State who have never heard of my blessed Jesus. "And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent? Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." (Romans x. 14, 15, 17.)
For over fifteen years the one desire and prayer of my soul has been, that in some way I might be instrumental in helping to carry the Word of God to Africa.
The one motto of my soul has been--"Africa for Christ." For years this one prayer has gone up from my heart to God. Oh, God, give me Africa for Jesus. And this was not only the prayer of daily devotion, but often in the silent hours of the night, when after awaking from sleep, Africa, Africa, poor long neglected Africa, land of my fathers, would come before me, and as I would contemplate the scheme of my life, the condition of Africa's millions, of how little was being done, of how much there was to be done, from the depth of my soul would come--"Oh, God, give me Africa for Jesus."
In August, 1887, I was called home to awaken a deeper interest for African missions among the churches; ever since which time my health has gradually failed. From month to month I have struggled on, often suffering severe pains, sometimes so weak that I could hardly hold out. But "Africa for Christ" would inspire me. My desire for years has been, if I died a sudden death, that it be while preaching the everlasting Gospel or pleading for Africa. Often I have entered the pulpit to proclaim Africa for Christ, expecting it to be my last, for I have hardly been able to stand.
Now the time has come when I must stop travelling in the interest of Africa. This seems to be God's will. Bless the Lord, He never made a mistake. Thank God the work will not stop. As God raised up Joshua to succeed Moses, so He will raise up someone who can and will do far more for Africa than I have done or could do. While I am not able to visit the churches, I shall continue to do all I can for Africa.
Please, dear brethren, do all you can for our mission on this great Congo River. Dr. Scholes has requested the Committee to send out his sister to assist him at Mukimvika station. Mrs. Ricketts, wife of one of our missionaries, has written to say she is ready to go. We are in debt to the A. B. M. Union. I have been looking forward with the hope of raising this money, but I cannot now. Oh, for Jesu's sake, for the sake of perishing millions in Africa, make a special effort at once for the African mission. I would suggest that every member of each church and Sunday-school give one cent. to the African mission for each year they have lived. This would at once enable us to send out these two missionaries, and meet other demands at once, while I cannot visit the churches or travel in the interest of the African mission.
Africa for Christ
Shall be my theme
Wherever I may go.
Africa for Christ,
Who reigns supreme,
Tis life His love to know.
Africa for Christ
His saints should cry
Who love His holy name.
Africa for Christ
Whose throne is high.
His mandate I'll proclaim.
Africa for Christ
I will proclaim
In sickness or in health.
Africa for Christ,
That precious name
To know indeed is wealth.
And when I'm called
From labour here,
To enter in that "Rest,"
Africa for Christ
Shall be upon
My last lingering breath,
Brethren, pray for me that if it is God's will I may yet do a great work for Africa. "God bless Africa, and her sons and daughters.'
After my health failed me, I was again called to take charge of the little church I had before coming to England in 1876. I accepted the call, and did what I could. At the end of fourteen months, thank God, my health was much better, when the brethren requested me to accept again the appointment as general financial secretary of the African Mission.
Extract from Report of Corresponding Secretary, Dec. 10th, 1890:--
The African Mission of the Western States and Territories is the mission of the coloured Baptists of the West to preach the Gospel to the heathens in Africa. It had its starting point as a definite beginning at the meeting of the General Association in Chicago in 1881. Rev. R. De Baptiste, D. D., of Chicago, was tendered the appointment of corresponding secretary and general financial agent of the Western States to raise money to carry on the proposed work.
The second year Rev. Thomas L. Johnson, who was then in England, was induced to accept of an appointment from the Association as its financial agent in Great Britain for the African mission. It was by the successful work done by Brother T. L. Johnson in England, together with the efficient work of the corresponding secretary at home, that the body was enabled to send out two missionaries in 1885, Rev. Dr. T. E. S. Scholes, as medical missionary, with ample outfit, and Brother John E. Ricketts as an assistant missionary and mechanic to the Congo Free State, where they located the mission at Mukimvika, on the Congo river, West Central Africa. These two missionaries have remained continuously on the field for five years sowing the precious seed of the Kingdom in the hearts of the heathens, which, we trust will bring forth an abundant harvest for the Master. About a year ago Brother Ricketts went further
into the interior, near Lucunga, on the Congo, where he has established several out-stations and organised Sunday-schools. In his last communication he informed us he was building a house for the reception of his wife, who, through the help of Mrs. W. Hind Smith, of London, and other friends, has since been sent to him. She has, before this, no doubt, reached her destination, and is happily united with her husband in the work of taking Africa for Christ, thus giving our African Mission three missionaries on the field, who appeal to us in this gospel land to hold the ropes while they go down into the depths of heathenism to win precious souls for Christ. For these faithful workers we invoke your prayers and your liberal contributions to support them in their work.
This work has been carried on since 1886 with the co-operation and help of the American Baptist Missionary Union at Boston. Our organisation purchased the outfits and sent out Dr. Scholes and Brother Ricketts, but it was the judgment of all of our leading brethren that we should accept the tendered co-operation of the Baptist Missionary Union for the continued support of our missionaries and the conduct of our mission. Our experience has taught us that by this means we have been able to keep our missionaries on the field, supported in their work.
At the annual meeting of the General Association held in Kansas City, Missouri, September 30th, 1891, it was unanimously voted that the Association seek the co-operation of the Christians in Liberia in planting a chain of missionary stations from Monravia, capital of Liberia, to the Soudan country.
My idea is that Africa must be redeemed by Africans, and that the Republic of Liberia is the door to all of West and East Central Africa. But very few Christians know much of this Christian Negro Republic, which is the door to the evangelisation of the twilight continent.
After long years of slow progress and preparation, the time has now come for Liberia to enter upon her great mission of sending the Gospel to the millions in the interior. The Liberians are not unmindful of this fact. In the daily occupations of her people, in the labours essential to their life, in their religious organisations, and in their educational methods, they are doing a quiet but effective missionary work. Thousands of aborigines are coming into daily contact with the settlements, and are gradually brought
under the influence of civilisation. To-day the Liberians are more than ever awake to their privileges, and feel more than ever their great responsibility, to exert their influence upon the natives, which is everywhere increasing. We are sure that the followers of our Lord Jesus Christ will be delighted to know that instead of the settlers of that hopeful republic lapsing into barbarians, they are making effective inroads upon the physical, intellectual, moral wildness.
I believe that if American societies, now controlled by white people, in West Africa would turn their attention more to Liberia, making that a centre of operations, taking advantage of this great pathway to the interior of the great Soudan, sending consecrated coloured missionaries to co-operate with the Liberian Christians, more effective work could be accomplished in twenty-five years on this line in West and East Central Africa than all the societies sending out European missionaries can otherwise accomplish in fifty years. I believe that
First, from the fact that, in all the great reformations in the past, God has seen fit to select men, to do the work, from the nation to be reformed. Moses must lead Israel out of Africa. Luther must raise up Germany. John Knox's prayers must be heard for Scotland. Whitfield must be instrumental in awakening England to God's Word. The Ethiopian eunuch must take the Gospel back to Africa.
Second. COLOURED MEN STAND THE CLIMATE. For seventy years our people have been going to Liberia from America. Old men and women, with their grandchildren in their arms, with nothing constitutionally wrong, have stood the climate.
The following Presidents of Liberia were born in America:--Pres. Joseph J. Roberts (Mulatto) was born in Virginia 1809, emigrated to Liberia 1829, died 1876. Pres. Stephen A. Benson, born in Maryland in 1816, emigrated to Liberia in 1821. Pres. Daniel B. Warner, born in Maryland
in 1815, emigrated in 1823. Pres. Jas. S. Payne, born in Virginia, 1820, emigrated in 1829. Pres. Anthony W. Gardner, born in Virginia in 1820, emigrated in 1831.
We are tied to that people by the ties of consanguinity, of suffering and wrong. We can enter into the intellectual, social and moral life as no race alien to us can do. The history of the returning exiled sons and daughters of Africa to the Republic of Liberia, and their success, is a standing proof that the freedmen of America can stand the climate and hence are better suited as missionaries.
To this special call for missionaries to Africa there is an encouraging response. A promising missionary spirit has manifested itself in nearly every part of the United States. Their are hundreds of young men and women in the South, in process of education, whose hearts and thoughts are turned to Africa. It is also estimated that there are a million freedmen in America who want to go to Africa, to make it their future home. Dr. Edward W. Bliden, of Liberia, who is not only well known in Africa but in Europe and America says, in a letter: "referring to the
They have established at Sablung, about twenty miles from Monrovia, a flourishing mission. At the same place they have founded the Rick's Institute for the education of native youths and training natives for the work. Mr. Ricks, after whom the Institute is named, was emancipated nearly forty years ago, and was sent to Liberia by the Colonisation Society. At this mission sixty-six natives have been converted."
I cannot soon forget the visit of Rev. H. Grattan Guinness, D. D., F. R. G. S., to America, when he awakened such enthusiasm for the great Soudan country, which has not
and, we trust, never will die out, while there are heathen in that dark region.
In December, 1889, the first number of "THE SOUDAN AND REGIONS BEYOND," a monthly missionary journal appeared in Chicago: It contained a map showing the Great Soudan country, with the following article, which I am quite sure will be read with much interest by all. My prayer is
[Illustration]that the time may soon come when in the great Soudan country there may be hundreds of our people from America proclaiming the everlasting Gospel.
We thank God for blessing Mr. and Mrs. Guinness and their children, and making them a blessing to the millions in Africa.
Where is it? What is it? Who thinks or cares about it? Yet its people number eighty to ninety millions; more people than in all the United States, and in all North America.
Everybody knows about the Congo. Stanley has made it famous. To most the Congo is "the New World of Central Africa." Yet the Soudan is greater than the Congo region in extent and population. It is a newer world in Central Africa, and no older. It is less known, less explored than the Congo region, and was peopled earlier. It is far more civilised than the Congo. It is not wholly heathen. Half its people worship in their way the one living God; they are Monotheists, Mohammedans; the other half, the lower, subject, conquered half, are heathen. Arab monotheism and Negro fetishism are mingled in the Soudan. Its people are of mixed blood and mixed religions.
The name Soudan is a witness to this mixture. It is an Arabic name, and means "Land of the Blacks." It witnesses that the land of the Negro has become Arab. The Semite and the Hamite dwell together in its sunny plains.
The Soudan lies between the great desert of Sahara, and the vast Congo basin. It is bounded on the east by the Indian Ocean, and on the west by the Atlantic. America is 3,000 miles broad from New York to San Francisco; the Soudan is half as broad again--4,500 miles.
The Soudan consists of three regions; a WESTERN, an EASTERN, and a CENTRAL. Western Soudan is the region of the lordly Niger; Eastern Soudan is the region of the upper Nile; and Central Soudan is the region round Lake Tchad. The Soudan is the true home of the Negro. In North Africa, north of the Sahara, the people are Berbers, Moors, Arabs; in South Africa, including the Congo, the the people are Bantus; in the Soudan the natives are Negroes. The Arabs are innovators. They have come in and conquered, but are not natives of the soil. They have acclimatised, and are at home, among the sons of Ham; they proudly rule them, they semi-civilise them, they hold them in slavery, but they do not lift them up to God.
In the Soudan the people speak a host of languages. More than a hundred such are known to exist. Their tongues are a babel; a confusion of sounds, uttering no reasonableness and rightness of true religion; no gladness and gratefulness of holy praise.
The western rampart bounding the Soudan, running for two thousand miles parallel with the Atlantic coast line, is the range of the Kong Mountains. The eastern boundary of the Soudan proper may be said to be the mountains of Abyssinia. The breadth of this inner Soudan is about that of the United States. If San Francisco was on the Kong Mountains, New York would be in Abyssinia. In all this Central Soudan there is not found to-day witnessing for Jesus Christ, one solitary missionary. Travellers have crossed the Soudan in all directions. They have gone at the risk of their lives. Many
of them, like Mungo Park, have died in exploring it. They have left their tracks and traces all over it. But the missionary of the cross has never entered it. The Arab has gone there. He has conquered and killed, and boasted of Allah and Mahomet, and multiplied houses, and wives, and slaves; but the messengers of the Cross have shunned the region. They have not cared or dared to enter it. Merchants have gone there; gold seekers have gone; hundreds of each are gathering the riches of the land. There are half a score of steamers on the Niger; there is a Royal Niger Company which has made two hundred treaties with the Niger chiefs and potentates; a company with chartered rights and governmental powers; but the missionary of a Higher Power and a nobler enterprise makes no attempt to go in and possess the land for Jesus Christ. There is a mission on the lower Niger, the delta region, but in Central Soudan, along the 1,700 miles of the Kwhorra and Joliba, along the 600 miles of the Binue, around the vast overflowing waters of Lake Tchad, in the mountains of Adamawa, in the plains of the Haussa tribes, in the rugged ranges of Durfar, in the forests of Kordofan, among the teeming millions of the Soudan proper, no missionaries are found, no Gospel is proclaimed, no Bibles are scattered, no voice is lifted up to cry, "Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world."
The men of the world are the heroes of the Soudan. Travellers have been heroic. Distance has been no bar to them. Disease and death have proved unable to affright them. Neither love of friends, nor fear of foes, has been able to dissuade them from their fixed resolve to open it to the knowledge of the world, and bring its people into contact with the civilisation of surrounding lands. But the heralds of salvation have feared or scorned or forgotten this mighty heritage of a host of heathen nations. They have left them all these ages to the reign of unmixed darkness and unmitigated depravity.
How much longer shall this state of things continue? How much longer shall a population in Central Africa equal to, or greater than, that of the whole of North America, be allowed to remain in ignorance of the Way of Life? How much longer shall the command of Him whom we call "Our Lord Jesus Christ," to go into ALL the world and preach the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE, be, as far as the millions of Central Soudan are concerned, neglected, disregarded, and ignored?
We plead for these neglected millions. We raise our voices on their behalf. They cannot speak for themselves. Distance makes them dumb. Strangership silences them. They wander in moral midnight. They know not what they do. Year after year, age after age, they fall and perish as though of no more worth than the withered leaves of autumn. They have fallen by millions, and none has cared for them. Torrid sun and sweeping rain have bleached their bones, or blanched their sepulchres. Melancholy winds have moaned their requiem. Relentless Time has rolled over their generations the billows of oblivion. They have perished from the earth, gone into a dark and dread eternity, without ever having heard of Him who died and rose that men might live, who was lifted up from the earth to draw all men unto Him, and who cries aloud to a ruined
but redeemed humanity, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
We plead for the neglected millions of the Soudan. We say to the Church of Jesus Christ, "Behold them! They are our own brothers and sisters in a common humanity. They are one with us in sin and ruin, let them be one with us in the knowledge of salvation. Awake, O selfish, sleeping, forgetful Church; arouse thee to thy neglected duties; fulfil thy solemn mission; bear thy testimony; send forth thy sons; proclaim thy glorious message; gird thyself and give thyself, in the name of Jesus Christ, to the tremendous task of evangelising at last this greatest and most populous of all, the wholly neglected and benighted regions on the surface of the globe."
We are thankful to know that since the publication of the above article, practical interest has been taken by the Christians both in Great Britain and the United States, and efforts are being made to a limited extent by Missionaries of the Cross, to reach the peoples of the Soudan.
There are two missionaries now in England who will go with me to Africa during this spring, Rev. R. L. Stewart, and Miss Virginia Jones. Miss Jones paid her own expenses to England. There are twelve more who are ready to go as soon as the way is opened. Had we the means we could take out twelve instead of two. Several of the twelve are preparing themselves in the institutions of learning for the work.
There are hundreds of young (coloured) men and women in America, with good common education, whose souls yearn for Africa; all they need is Bible and Mission training for six months or a year.
I shall be thankful to any friend who reads this little book who will assist me in my mission by selling copies of it or recommending it to some friend. We hope to sell 10,000 copies this year.
At the close of a lecture on "Africa," delivered by Rev. Thos. L. Johnson, at the Second Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Mo., U.S.A., Tuesday evening, Sept. 29, 1891, a committee was appointed to draw up a set of resolutions to be presented to the lecturer prior to his departure from this country in November. The committee in behalf of citizens and friends present the following resolutions:
Whereas, We recognise in Rev. Thomas L. Johnson, a man whose heart and soul are thoroughly devoted to the work of evangelising Africa, and
Whereas, His great love for this benighted continent is so deep, so earnest, that notwithstanding the temporary failure of his health and the loss of a devoted companion, he is still willing, yea, eager to sacrifice home and friends and enter the mission field to give light where darkness now reigns supreme, and
Whereas, His services as Financial Agent in Great Britain, have won for him many strong and devoted friends, both abroad and at home, who are ever ready to assist him in his work, be it
Resolved: That we, as representatives of Lincoln Institute, and of the citizens of Jefferson City, do hereby express our appreciation for this Christian friend and brother, whose patient endurance, earnest zeal and Christian fortitude have made him worthy of our deepest love.
Resolved: That we commend him to the Christian world as a worker whose unswerving fidelity to the cause of Christ embodies a spirit of self-denial and an ever implicit faith in the guidance of his Heavenly Father.
Resolved: Further, that we do hereby convey to him and to his beloved family our most sincere wishes for a pleasant and safe journey across the deep, with the assurance that our prayers for his continued success may ever attend him.
Resolved: That a copy of these resolutions be published in the Jefferson City Tribune, and some of the leading Afro-American papers.
PROF. S. D. FOWLER.
MINERVA J. MATLOCK.
ZELIA R. PAGE.
PROF. W. R. LAWTON.
GEORGIA M. DE BAPTISTE.
ST. LOUIS, Mo., OCTOBER, 1891.
To all whom it may concern:
This is to certify that the REV. THOMAS L. JOHNSON is the regularly authorised Financial Secretary of the African Mission, both in this country and in Great Britain, to collect money and donations for the support of our missionaries in Africa, and to send others to reinforce them. We have had the most ample means of testing and knowing the entire reliability of the Rev. Thomas L. Johnson, and we have the fullest confidence in him, and commend him to all friends who are willing to help us give the Gospel to Africa, by men of that race who are qualified by educational training and spiritual consecration for the work.
REV. J. F. THOMAS, Chicago, Ill, President.
REV. HENRY ROBINSON, Kansas, 1st Vice-President.
REV. P. H. KENNEDY, Henderson, Ky., 2nd Vice-Pres.
CHARLES STEWART, Chicago, Ill., Recording Secretary.
REV. J. L. COHRON, St. Louis, Mo., Corresponding Sec.
REV. B. HILLMAN, Springfield, Ill., Treasurer.
I have known Mr. Johnson for many years and have full confidence in him, and commend him to Christians everywhere.
B. F. JACOBS.Chicago.
November, 9th, 1891.
I have pleasure in commending Rev. T. L. Johnson to the confidence of Christians in various parts of the world, and invite co-operation with him in furthering the work he undertakes in Africa.
EDWARD GOODMAN, of the Standard, Chicago, Ill.
November 9th, 1891.
I have the highest regard for Rev. T. L. Johnson and entire confidence in his Christian integrity. I commend him and his work cheerfully.
W. B. JACOBS,
Secretary of Illinois State S. S. Association.
November 9th, 1891.
It gives me pleasure to commend Rev. T. L. Johnson to the confidence of the people of God. I have known him and his work and give him my heartiest endorsement.
REV. ERNEST D. BURRChicago.
This will introduce Rev. Thos. L. Johnson, who, for the past sixteen years, has been actively engaged in the African Mission work. He is one of the best known of our coloured ministers, and universally beloved by his people.
F. L. BARNETT,
Editor Chicago Conservator.
I have been acquainted with the Rev. Thos. L. Johnson since 1866, and consider him one of the remarkable men of this age. Thoroughly in earnest in his great work, and worthy of confidence in every particular. He has my best wishes for the success he so justly deserves.
H. M. KINSLEY.Chicago, Ill.
Having known our dear Brother Rev. Thomas L. Johnson since 1869, I take great pleasure in commending him as an earnest and zealous Christian gentleman. He is greatly beloved by the people of all denominations for his great efforts in the African Mission cause. I prayerfully commend Bro. Johnson to the people among whom he may dwell.
DR. J. H. MAGEE,
Illinois State Grain Inspector.
October 22nd, 1891.
I have known the Rev. Thos. L. Johnson, the African missionary, for a number of years, and I can cheerfully recommend him as a reliable Christian gentleman, one whose whole soul is imbued with a love for humanity in general, and Africa in particular. Any funds entrusted to his care will be properly expended in the prosecution of his life-chosen work.
C. F. ADAMS,
Editor, Chicago Appeal.
October 22nd, 1891.
Brother Johnson is like a geode, dark on the outside, but as beautiful as crystal within. He is illuminated with the light of the blessed Gospel of Jesus Christ, whose consecrated servant he is. He is a true brother in Christ, and is devoting himself to the work of carrying the glorious news to his fatherland.
S. L. MERSHON.
(Nephew of Dr. Talmage.)
October 22nd, 1891.
I most heartily concur in every word of the foregoing notice of Brother Johnson, as I am entitled to do from an acquaintance of several years.
Those who lend him a helping hand in his work for Africa, will, I am sure, do something well pleasing to the Master, and something which will materially advance the cause of the Master in Africa.
GEORGE E. SHIPMAN, Esq., M.D.,
Founder and President of the Foundlings Home.
Any Contributions to help on this good work may be sent to Messrs. MORGAN & SCOTT, Offices of The Christian, 12, Paternoster Buildings, London; or direct to Rev. THOS. L. JOHNSON, Y. M. C. A., Mount Pleasant, Liverpool.Alexander & Shepheard, Printers, 27, Chancery Lane, W.C.
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