They settled the Wild West
1878 – Was the founding of the Hordville Baptist Church in Hordville, Nebraska. The church was never very large. At its peak the membership never rose to more than 107, but from its membership, and other surrounding churches, the Lord called preachers, missionaries, and evangelists. One such church, the First Baptist Church of Oakland, NE, produced Dr. Ola Hanson, who became known as the “Apostle to the Kachins,” a large tribe in the hills of northern Burma. After reaching the Kachins, he reduced their language to writing, translated the entire Bible, and established a number of Baptist churches. This story begins with the long procession of ox trains on the Oregon Trail, slowly winding their way towards the west coast that carried many sturdy pioneers who were motivated by spiritual convictions. A host of those who were traveling, were Swedish. When spiritual awakenings had taken place in Sweden, a large company of the converts had embraced Baptist convictions, and particularly upon these the wrath of the Lutheran Church was vented. Because of this a great emigration of these new converts of Swedish Baptists came to America, many of which settled in Iowa and Nebraska because our government gave free land to those who were willing to settle in the Wild West. Few of us today can imagine the hardships of these dear people as they inched their way across the prairie to where they would stake out their cabins and a church house. Prairie fires, blizzards, dust storms and plagues of grasshoppers to destroy their crops. But this suffering caused reliance on God, and produced Ola Hanson and the other men of God.
[This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 690-92. Carl J. Seaquist, Conference Churches by the Oregon Trail (Privately published, 1947), p.10.]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
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The Gospel is “the power of God unto Salvation”
The following account is found in the records of the Kiokee Church (Georgia), about the blessed conversion of “Brother Billy”, ‘about one hundred years old’, formerly a slave but at that time, ‘a free man of color.’ This took place on July 17, 1841, and Billy united with the church. The evidence exists that slave members of some Baptist churches were allowed to vote. As with the white males, black male members were “assessed” for church expenses and required to attend business meetings. The female, black and white, did not vote in the business matters of the churches. The slave membership of many Baptist churches greatly outnumbered the whites, and thus the churches often appointed spiritually faithful slaves to serve as a discipline committee among their own. The churches chastened heir slave membership primarily for problems of morals and honesty, and they chastised their slaveholder members for these infractions as well as for cruelty and barbarity to their slaves. It is apparent that slaves were better off being owned by Christians than by unbelievers! Black slave preachers were licensed and ordained by the Baptist churches, and the impact of those slave preachers was unique! Much of the evangelism among the slaves resulted from the preaching on the plantations by these faithful men who were slaves twofold: first to the Lord Jesus Christ and then to an earthly master. Segregation in the services was always maintained. In some of the old church buildings in the areas where slavery was practiced, we can still observe “slave balconies.” In other church buildings a portion of the facility was designated for the slave members. However, Baptists in the South often assisted the former slaves by helping them establish their own churches.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 292-93.