Tag Archives: Oregon

FREEDOM AT ALCATRAZ


William Andrew Dillard
Philemon 1:10

A few years ago, my family toured the state of California from the Oregon border to San Diego. Of course, this included a couple of days in San Francisco. While there, a boat tour was enjoyed in the bay and around the federal prison on Alcatraz Island. As the tour boat circled the island of rock, one could see why this now-closed maximum-security federal prison was once known as “The Rock.”
There was row after row of cage-like cells that housed well-known inmates such as Al Capone and Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz.” One visitor there was left with some unforgettable images.
For decades, men imprisoned there as just punishment for their crimes, longed to be free. Evidence still told the story. He saw the name “Jesus” scrawled on a wall. In another, a Bible lay on a shelf. Together they quietly spoke of the greatest of all freedoms, even for a physical prisoner.
Paul knew such while imprisoned in Rome. Regarding himself as a “prisoner of Christ,” he used his incarceration to help other inmates discover what it means to be an eternally forgiven, dearly loved child of God. Paul wrote to Philemon,“ I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds (Philem. 1:10).
Barred windows and doors represent one kind of confinement. Physical paralysis, inescapable poverty, and prolonged unemployment are others. Perhaps you endure another. None are to be desired—yet who would trade “imprisonment” with Christ for life “on the outside” without Him? For Jesus is truth, and the truth shall make you free, indeed.

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359 – Dec. 25 – This Day in Baptist History Past


 

Preached the first Baptist sermon in Oregon

 

 

1851 – Dr. Rueben Hill, on Christmas day, organized a Baptist church in Corvallis, Oregon, making Corvallis his major point of service for the next sixteen years. Dr. Hill had come there from Albany, Oregon where he preached the first Baptist sermon ever preached in the state. He planted churches, and served for twelve years as moderator for the Central Baptist Association. He also drew up the charter for the McMinnville College. In 1870 he was made the financial agent of the college and his salary provided scholarships for impoverished Baptist preachers. He also served in the Oregon territorial legislature for two terms. Rev. Rueben Coleman Hill, M.D. was born of humble beginnings in Kentucky on March 27, 1808. He disciplined himself to obtain a good education by his own efforts. When twenty-five, he married Miss Margaret Lair. Dr. Hill received Christ and was baptized into the Knob Creek Baptist Church in Maury County, TN. He served as a deacon and at thirty-six was licensed by the church to preach. In 1846 after evidence of God’s blessings upon his ministry he was ordained as a gospel preacher. From there he founded a rapidly growing Baptist church in Keetsville, MO. Great revivals were held in Springfield and in Arkansas. The gold rush broke out in California and the Hills joined a caravan heading west. He preached every Lord’s Day and witnessed incessantly on the way. When they arrived at Mud Springs, CA, gospel services were begun in the shade of a large tree. When the diggings dried up the town dried up too. From there the Hills moved on to Oregon. Dr. Hill died on Dec. 31, 1890.

 

[This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: 2000 A.D. pp. 705-06. C. H. Mattoon, Baptist  Annals of Oregon (McMinnville, Oreg.: Telephone Register Publishing Co., 1905), 1:82.]

 

Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon

 

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341 – Dec. 07 – This Day in Baptist History Past


 

Missionary and Missionary’s wife

 

1845 – Eliza Johnson’s son, W.C. Johnson, wrote the following of his mother: “For seven long weary months she patiently plodded her way across mountains and plains, reaching Oregon City, December 7, 1845.” Here she was the missionary and, the missionary’s wife. With hands, head, and heart she labored, that her husband might preach the pure Gospel in the valleys and settlements of Oregon until she died. Miss Eliza S. Harris married Hezekiah Johnson in Dec. of 1826. On the journey to the Northwest Territory through rivers, and over mountains the family suffered severely with camp fever, and was constantly on the alert for attacks by raiding Indians. After they arrived, Eliza shirked from no duty whether it was reaching the lost, guide to the new convert, companion to the older believers, aiding the sick, or comforting the distressed and needy. She herself was laid up for a long period of time, but used that period rather, for a prayer ministry. She said that she “could live to pray.”  The wives of the pioneer preachers, like Sister Johnson, had to rear their family, if their husbands were to give much time to preaching, because of how much time they were away. They often had to handle most of the domestic affairs of the home, including the gardening, chores and farm work. They not only lacked comforts but necessities. Eliza said that they were often without coffee, tea, or sugar to save a trifle for missions. At times they only had calico dresses, and every dress was patched. While their father carried the “bread of life” to the spiritually hungry, often his own children went shoeless, chilled, and hungry. [This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 669-70. C.H. Mattoon, Baptist Annals of Oregon Vol I (McMinnvill, Oreg.: Telephone Register Publishing Co., 1905), p. 49.)]

 

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333 – Nov. 29 – This Day in Baptist History Past


 

First ordained Asian-American

 

1874 – A Sunday school convened in Portland, Oregon with twenty-two students, led by a Chinese national by the name of Dong Gong. Before the end of 1874 the school had grown to over one hundred, and the effort had led to the baptisms of Chinese converts, and Gong was enlisted as the preacher. On June 22, 1875, Gong was ordained, and it is believed he became the first ordained Asian-American among the Baptists. This ministry grew out of a burden from the First Baptist Church of Portland, Oregon. Rev. D.J. Pierce came to First Baptist on July 22, 1874, and shortly afterwards wrote to Rev. E.Z. Simmons, A Baptist Missionary on furlough from China who was residing in San Francisco, and presented the need. That effort brought Rev. Simmons, and Dong Gong, a Chinese national convert, to Portland to undertake the task. Gong had emigrated to America with his parents and had become a worker in the Chinese community of San Francisco. The First Baptist Church of San Francisco had established a mission to the Chinese, and young Dong Gong was an early convert. He was then trained by Rev. John Francis in San Francisco. Gong had been licensed by First Baptist to preach in 1869. In Portland it was decided to begin a school which would include English during the weeknights to the Chinese, and then on Thursday evenings Gong would head up a preaching/teaching ministry. Dr. William Dean, famed Baptist missionary on furlough from China, was appointed director of the school. Gong was also active in opposing the opium trade and Chinese gangs, who were in control of the Chinese social structure. [C.H. Mattoon, Mattoon, Baptist Annals of Oregon (McMinnville, Oreg.: Telephone Register Publishing Co., 1905), 1: 202. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 653-54.]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon

 

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