A Slave who was free
1901 – On this day, the “Onesimus of Colonial America”, John Jasper, went to be with the Lord Jesus, whom he loved with all of his heart. John was a black man, born into slavery on July 4, 1812, and though never able to attend school, used his God given gift of oratory to see multitudes, both black and white, brought to eternal salvation. His father, a slave Baptist preacher, died before John was born, but his Mother, Tina, dedicated him to the Lord with this prayer, “Lord, if dis chile you’s sendin’ me is a boy, doan’ let him do nuthin’ else but sing de praises of Jesus!” His mother’s prayers brought him to conviction and his testimony was, “I was seekin’ God six weeks – jes’ cause I was sich a fool I couldn’t see de way.” On July 25, 1839, John was gloriously saved at the tobacco stemmery where he worked for “Mars’ Sam – Mr. Sam Hardgrove, the owner of the stemmery and a deacon at the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia. He had belonged to the Widow Mary Belle Peachy, but upon her death, her son John sold him to Mr. Hardgrove. Jasper’s love for Mars’ Sam and Dr. William Hatcher, a local Baptist pastor was beyond question and Mr. Hardgrove allowed John time off to preach whenever he wished. Almost immediately after his conversion he began to preach the funeral of slaves, and God’s power was evident upon him. It wasn’t long until both whites and blacks were flocking to his orations. He became used in pulpits and open air meetings all over. After Praying to learn to read, another slave, William Johnson, labored for seven months with a tattered copy of the New York Speller and John became an avid Bible reader. John Jasper founded the 6th Mount Zion Baptist Church which had two-thousand members when he died.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 126.
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