George Liele - The First Baptist International Missionary

William Cary often gets credit for being the first Baptist sent as missionary to the nations. He certainly deserves credit, along with pastor Andrew Fuller, for kicking off the modern missionary movement.

Adoniram Judson frequently is identified as the first American missionary for leaving the shores of the U.S. in 1812. However, he isn't the first missionary to leave this land to go overseas, nor the first Baptist. Judson is important, but there was a Baptist missionary that preceded him.

The title of the first Baptist missionary actually belongs to a black man from colonial America named George Liele.


Liele was born a slave in the colony of Virginia in 1750. He converted to Christianity in 1773 in the church of his master, Henry Sharp. He gained his freedom in 1778 from Sharp so that he could preach the gospel. In 1783, since he had sided with the British in the revolution, in order to be evacuated from America with British troops, Liele became an indentured servant in exchange for his family's passage to Jamaica. After a short time he repaid his debt and was freed again. He then turned his attention to preaching the gospel to the slave population of Jamaica.

Liele was persecuted by the plantation owners of Jamaica for preaching the gospel. But he continued to preach the gospel.

Although he pastored many years, he did not rely on his pastorate for his income but worked as a teamster/hauler and farmer to support his livelihood.

Liele is an impressive example of a faithful Christian and an important figure in black history. Below you can watch Danny Akin's tribute to Liele in the form of a sermon on the text of Galatians 6:11-18.

Preaching from Galatians 6, Dr. Akin speaks about the marks of a cross-centered ministry and how these marks are seen in the life and ministry of the first Baptist missionary to the nations, George Leile, a former African slave who planted the Gospel in Jamaica.

Preaching about Joy while Suffering

It's relatively easy to preach about joy in suffering when things are going well. 

A theology of suffering is simple when the suffering is "out there," outside the walls of the church. It is a little harder when it is in the pew in front of you, but still not as hard as when the suffering is in your house or in your own head.

My friend and fellow PhD student at SEBTS, Kenny Hilliard, was recently diagnosed with a tumor on his brain stem that is likely malignant. He is six years my junior with a wife and two children.

He is also the Pastor of New Horizon Baptist Fellowship of Marion, NC.

He's on the brink of the trials ahead. Today the uncertainty is a greater part of the suffering than the physical and emotional tests that lie ahead for the Hilliard family.

In light of the trials ahead, Kenny preached a sermon on 2 Corinthians 6:1-13. The sermon is on the hope of the Gospel. It's about finding joy amidst suffering through hope in the redemption that is to come.

It's too early to make Kenny a hero, but I have hope that the end of the story will be as good as this beginning. In the meanwhile, we can pray that Kenny will suffer well. We can pray that his family will be sustained and encouraged through this time. We can pray that he will make a full recovery soon.

In light of the trial that is to come, this sermon may gain in significance, but it will not diminish.

Regardless of what comes next, listen to the sermon below (it's just audio over a still picture) in light of Kenny's diagnosis. Listen and be blessed by the powerful trust in the goodness of God, even in light of his present sufferings.

Kenny and his family are facing significant medical expenses in the near future. If you'd care to contribute toward those, you may do so through this link to a third party crowdfunding site.