The Modern Missionary Movement Started in Colonial Times

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

America is well known for the modern missionary movement. The missionary movement is credited with starting in the mid 1800s during the Second Great Awakening, but it really began with a 100 year prayer movement in colonial times. The people who started this movement were called the Moravians.

In 1727, a group of Moravians in Saxony started a round the clock prayer meeting that lasted 110 years. By 1737, Moravians had settled in Savannah, Georgia to share the Gospel. At this time, they met John Wesley, from the first Great Awakening and had a profound impact on his ministry.

In 1741, the Moravians moved to an estate owned by John Whitfield, another preacher from the Great Awakening, and started ministering to the Delaware Indians in the region. They established the towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth in Pennsylvania and moved throughout the colonies sharing the Gospel wherever they went.

Schoenbrunn Village

By 1772, the Delaware were being pushed into Ohio, and the Moravians followed them. They set up two villages there, one in Schoenbrunn and one in Gnadenhutten. They risked great dangers, not only from the other tribes, but from the British forces once the Revolutionary War began. The British accused the Moravians of informing the colonialist about troop movements, a charge that was mostly true.

The Moravians finally abandoned their villages to move on to avoid clashes with the British. That fall, a group of converted Delaware returned to Gnadenhutten to harvest their crops. They were massacred by American soldiers who mistakenly thought they were raiders.

There aren’t that many Moravian in the United States today although there are clusters of congregations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia. There are also some areas in Canada with large Moravian populations. Moravians in America moved on to evangelize other parts of the world. The largest groups of Moravians now live in East Africa and the Caribbean. They left their mark on America though through their missionary endeavors and paved the way for other missionaries.

Frances Willard – An American Heroine

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

At one time, Frances Willard was the most famous woman in America. When she died in 1898, flags flew at half-mass. In Chicago, 30,000 people lined up to view her casket in one day.

Willard was the president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and championed the cause of Prohibition. She died a twenty years before the 18th Amendment was passed, but she is the person most responsible for organizing the movement for Prohibition. She also fought for women’s rights in America including the right to vote.

Nineteenth century feminism was, in the words of Emma Willard, Frances’ cousin, an exercise in “pure practical Christianity.” It was based on Christian principals. It was only in the mid-twentieth century that feminism lost it’s Christian roots.

Although not all nineteenth century feminists shared Willard’s Christian faith, most did. Willard taught women displayed God’s image through reason and intellect. A woman was morally responsible to her Creator to develop her intellect and to use it in God’s service. Willard also believed women were not the only ones responsible for morality. She insisted both sexes were called to righteousness.

Willard rejected marriage and children, but she wasn’t against women who chose to be wives and mothers. Instead she defended them. Her strongest crusades politically were under the title of “home protection.” She fought for laws to protect women who were wives and mothers, but she also fought for women’s rights to choose to have a career if they desired.

She said, “Men have been preaching well nigh two thousand years, and the large majority of the converts have been women. Suppose now that women should share the preaching power, might it not be reasonably expected that a majority of the converts under their administration would be men? Indeed, how else are the latter to have a fair chance at the Gospel? . . . Why, then should the pulpit be shorn of half its power?”

Willard’s mother studied at Oberlin College, one of the first co-ed colleges in the nation. The family was dedicated to the education and advancement of their children. Frances was given the best education that could be offered a young woman at the time. She read abolitionist materials at a young age. Years later she wrote, “That earliest book of all my reading, stamped upon me the purpose to help humanity, the sense of brotherhood of all nations as really one, and of God as the equal Father of all races.”

She was the founding president of Northwestern Ladies’ College and is credited with introducing an innovative approach to women’s education. By Willard’s plan, women could either remain entirely within the structure of the Ladies College or branch out into traditional male fields through classes at Northwestern University. They might even earn a degree from Northwestern; but the women at all times belonged to, and were under the authority of the Ladies College. This affiliate plan, which she set up, was later adopted at Radcliff and Barnard Colleges.

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union was founded in 1874 in response to widespread concern about the abuse of alcohol. There were no legal limits on the alcoholic content of whisky, and it was often lethal. Also many men drank away their paycheck at the tavern every night before going home. Then the drunk men would go home and beat their wives. There were no spousal abuse laws nor was there public welfare to support starving women and children.

Carrie Nation and others started a moral campaign appealing to the conscience of tavern owners, but to no avail. As soon as one tavern closed another opened. It was decided only through legislation would any social change take place. A new image and a more educated form of leadership for the WCTU was sought, and Frances Willard proved to be the logical choice. She became president of the WCTU.

The issue was one close to Willard’s heart. Her brother and nephews were alcoholics. After her brother died, she assumed responsibility for her nephews. One of them overcome his addiction, but the other couldn’t. Willard’s brother’s losing battle with alcoholism convinced her eliminating alcohol from society seemed the only reasonable step to take.

The temperance movement was not the only social issue Willard worked for. She campaigned for change in prostitution laws. Prostitution in some lumber camps amounted to child slavery. The age of consent in twenty states was ten years of age, and in one it was seven. Willard believed the men who patronized a prostitute should be equally guilty under the law as the prostitute who served him.

She also fought for stronger laws against rape. She wrote, “When we reflect that in Massachusetts and Vermont it is a greater crime to steal a cow than to abduct and a girl, and that in Illinois is not considered a crime, it is a marvel not to be explained that we go the even tenor of our way, too delicate, too refined, too prudish to make any allusion to these awful facts, much less take up arms against these awful crimes. We have been the victims of conventional cowardice too long.”

Under Willard, the WCTU worked for the development of Traveler Aid to assist women in their attempt to remain pure while searching for work. They also established homes for the reclamation of prostitutes.

One of Willard’s most outstanding achievements was her global arousal of public opinion with regard to the international traffic in narcotics. The WCTU circulated a petition asking governments to stop the sale of opium and other narcotics.

 

The WCTU did not just push for Prohibition, but instituted small reforms that would enable people to remain sober. Town squares, one by one, became equipped with fresh fountains of healthy drinking water so that thirsty farmers did not have to enter a saloon when they came to town. It worked among immigrant families teaching them English, American cookery, shopping, and to abandon European styles of drinking. It was at WCTU insistence milk was put on sale at Ellis Island. Previously only beer had been available.

Willard was active in prison work. She sought to have men and women quartered separately. She urged that a woman officer be established for every jail or prison where women were housed. By 1894, the police matron was a matter of course in the United States. Willard then proposed a woman police officer patrol the streets.

She fought against corsets deforming women and encouraged sporting and bicycling among women to promote health. She also fought for woman to receive equal pay for equal work.

Willard was outspoken about Christianity. In 1886, she wrote an article for Homiletic Review defending the right of women to preach. In 1888, she published a book, Woman in the Pulpit, which contained an expanded version of the article. In this book, Willard stated the case for women preachers. She used Scripture to prove her case.

Willard combined woman’s rights and Christianity as one of our history’s greatest Christian feminists. She fought injustice wherever she found it and became a true American heroine.

100 Steps to Freedom

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Before the Civil War, Ohio had the largest Underground Railroad of any state in the Union. It is believed that every county in Ohio had a route. Many slaves would escape over the Ohio River and through Ohio on their way to Canada. This was a dangerous undertaking because, even though Ohio was a free state, the Fugitive Slave Law made it so anyone helping escaped slaves could be fined and jailed.

John Parker’s Foundry

One small town, Ripley, Ohio, is believed to have helped more slaves escape than any town in Ohio. Ripley is located on the banks of the Ohio River across from Mason County, Kentucky.

One man who helped slaves escape was a freed black man named John Parker. Parker was educated by his master in Virginia and eventually bought his freedom. He traveled to Ohio and opened a foundry on Front Street facing the Ohio River. He was the first black man to earn a patent for one of the inventions he used in his foundry. At night, he would search the Ohio River looking for escaped slaves and helping them find their way to an Underground Railroad Station.

John Rankin’s House in Ripley, Ohio

Rev. John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister, owned a house on top of a hill in Ripley. He built one hundred steps to the house that could be seen on the other side of the river. At night, he would light a lantern and hang it from the porch to signal slaves that it was safe to cross. It is estimated that over 2,000 slaves escaped through the Rankin House. None of them were ever recaptured.

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote her famous novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, about the escape of the slave, Eliza, after hearing the story from Rev. Rankin.

Abolitionists in Colonial America

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Most people think abolitionism didn’t really come to be until the early 1800, but abolitionist views in America started almost as early as slavery in America.

The first Africans that came to America, according to some historians, were sold to Jamestown colonists in 1619 as indentured servants although some say there were already Africans there. The twenty men had been stolen from a Portuguese slave ship and were allowed land and freedom when there period of service was done, but by the 1630s, some colonists were keeping African servants for life. John Punch, in 1640, was the first documented indentured for life servant. In 1662, the law recognized slavery and instituted statutes that any children born would follow the status of their mother making it so children could be born slaves.

The first dispute against this practice was that Christians could not own their brothers in Christ. If a slave was baptized in the faith, he had to be freed. In 1667, the General Assembly outlawed freedom by baptism. By 1705, an array of slave codes were enacted, and half of the labor force in Virginia. In the 1620s, the Dutch West India Company introduced slavery to New England, and be 1700, slavery was established as an institution there as well.

Even though slavery was being established in the colonies, there was a movement growing to end the practice. Throughout the 17th century, many evangelicals and Quakers came out against slavery.  As early as 1688, four Quakers in Germantown signed a protest against the practice of slavery and made their case that the practice was not Christian and against Biblical precepts. In the 1730s and 1740s, during the Great Awakening, preachers decried owning slaves as sin.

During the American Revolution, Moravian and Quaker preachers convinced over a thousand slave owners to free their slaves. The newly formed states debated whether to allow slavery to continue. It was finally decided to outlaw the slave trade within twenty years and allow each state to decide for itself. The economy in the South was also encouraging freedom for slaves. Planters were shifting from labor-intensive tobacco to mixed-crop cultivation and needed fewer workers.

After the American Revolution, northern states gradually outlawed slavery. In 1808, the United States criminalized the slave trade and outlawed any new slaves being brought to America. If it hadn’t been for Eli Whitney’s cotton gin patent in 1794, slavery may have only been a footnote in history. The cotton gin overnight made the practice of slavery profitable. We’ll never know if the invention had been delayed twenty years, if that would have ended slavery. Either way, it didn’t end abolitionism. The abolitionist movement that started in Colonial times would continue to grow until a war forced the end of slavery in the United States.

First US Woman Evangelist Phoebe Palmer

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Phoebe Warroll Palmer was one of the first prominent woman evangelist in the church in the United States before women were recognized or licensed as preachers. She was born in New York City on December 18, 1807. Her parents were devout Methodists that held family worship services twice a week.

Phoebe married Dr. Walter Palmer, a homeopathic physician and devout Methodist, when she was nineteen years old. They had four children, but three died in early childhood. Phoebe was distraught and thought God was punishing her. She sought God’s guidance, and with the help of her sister, Sarah Lankford, came to a new understanding of sanctification and holiness.

Phoebe’s sister encouraged her to take a more active role in the church. In 1835, Phoebe and her sister began having church meetings for women in her home. Attendance grew to several hundred, and soon Dr. Palmer built extra space in the crowded home.

In 1839, Phoebe opened the meetings up to men as well as women. Her popularity grew, and soon, pastors, bishops, and people from other denominations attended. Phoebe and her husband began having protracted meetings (revivals) made popular by Charles Finney, and preached at camp meetings and Holiness revivals. In 1850, they toured across the United States and Canada preaching.

In 1850, Phoebe established a mission to help people in New York City because she felt sanctification required works of service for others. She spoke out against slavery and alcohol and promoted more freedom for women in the church and in society.

Phoebe also wrote many books and became the editor to Guide To Holiness in 1862 when her husband bought the publication.

She developed the concept of “altar theology,” which explained the idea of the “second blessing,” or immediate sanctification. As a basis for this concept, she drew on the Apostle Paul, who had advanced the idea of placing ourselves as “living sacrifices” on the altar of God to represent complete consecration. This “altar theology” simplified sanctification into a three-step process that included consecration, faith, and testimony. This concept, as well as her central theme of holiness of heart and life, gained popularity although some criticized it as simplistic.

After the Civil War, Phoebe served as a leader of the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness. In 1867, she and her husband established the National Association for the Promotion of Holiness, which encompassed much of her evangelical work. She also continued holding her Tuesday meetings right up until she died in New York City on November 2, 1874.

Phoebe Palmer showed what a life devoted to God can do even when the culture and some leaders in the church came against her because of her stand on sanctification and because she was a woman.

Was George Washington a Christian?

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Throughout history, people have known the founding father of the United States, George Washington was a man of faith. Recently his reputation as a Christian has been tarnished, not because any new documents have been discovered, but because some historians are going out of their way to prove our founding fathers did not rely upon God. It has become politically incorrect to consider George Washington as any more than a Deist, someone who believes in a distant God who doesn’t interfere with the plans of man.

This theory became popular in 1963, when Professor Paul Boller wrote a book, George Washington and Religion. Professor Boller wrote, “Broadly speaking, of course, Washington can be classified as a Deist.” But the evidence that Washington was more than a Deist is overwhelming. To debunk this theory, Peter A. Lillback wrote a biography based on fifteen years of research called George Washington’s Sacred Fire.

Here’s a few things that prove George Washington had a strong Christian faith in God:

At age thirteen, Washington transcribed and memorized 110 Rules for Young Gentlemen, written by Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits in the 1590’s. They teach man is God’s servant who lives not for self, but for others. They became a part of his character.

When Washington was twenty, he wrote prayers to say each morning and evening. On Sunday mornings he prayed, “…pardon, I beseech Thee, my sins; remove them from Thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept me for the merits of Thy son, Jesus Christ…”

Captain Washington, at the age of twenty-three, was caught in a surprise ambush by the French and Indians near what is now Pittsburgh. Every British and American officer was shot but Washington even though he rode numerous times back and forth across the battlefield. He later wrote to his brother, “By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation, for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me.” Later, Indians testified they had singled Washington out, but their bullets had no effect on him. They were convinced an Invisible Power was protecting him.

As Commander and Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, on July 2, 1776, General Washington told his troops: “The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance or the most abject submission. We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die.”

As Commander and Chief, he pushed for army chaplains and required church attendance among the soldiers.

Seven weeks later, British General Howe had trapped Washington and his 8,000 troops on Brooklyn Heights, ready to crush them the next morning. Washington gathered every vessel from fishing to row boats and spent all night ferrying his army across the East River. By morning many troops were still exposed to the British. This gave the British a chance to win the war. But the fog that almost always lifts from the river in the mornings, that day, stayed thick and covered Washington’s retreat until the entire army escaped.

In 1777 at Valley Forge, a dozen soldiers died a day in the freezing cold. They lacked supplies such as blankets or shoes. A Quaker named Isaac Potts reported seeing Washington on his knees in the snow praying aloud for his beloved country. He thanked God for exalting him to the head of a great nation which was fighting at fearful odds. Potts told his wife, “Till now I have thought that a Christian and a solider were characters incompatible, but if George Washington not be a man of God I am mistaken, and still more I shall be disappointed in God does not through him perform some great thing for this country.”

On May 5, 1778 Washington learned the French would join America as allies. The General told his troops, “It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the universe to defend the cause of the United American States, and finally to raise up a powerful friend among the princes of the earth, to establish our liberty, and independence upon a lasting foundation, it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the divine goodness…”

While encamped on the banks of a river, Washington was approached by Delaware Indian chiefs who desired their youth be trained in American schools. In Washington’s response, he first told them that “Congress… will look on them as on their own children.” He then commended the chiefs for their decision: You do well to wish to learn our arts and our ways of life and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.

In 1781, General Washington’s southern army defeated a detachment of British troops. Lord Cornwallis was infuriated and began pursuing the outnumbered Americans. He waited the night at the Catawba River, which the U.S. troops had crossed just two hours earlier. Miraculously, a storm arose during the night causing the river to be uncrossable for five days. Cornwallis nearly overtook Americans at the Yadkin River, but another flood arose, allowing Americans to escape.

The French navy seized control of the Chesapeake Aug. 30, 1781, driving out British ships. Washington rejoiced and besieged Cornwallis’ stronghold at Yorktown. With no ships to escape upon, Cornwallis surrendered.

Washington wrote Congress, “I take a particular pleasure in acknowledging that the interposing Hand of Heaven…has been most conspicuous and remarkable.”

During the oath of office, when Washington became president, he chose to take the oath with a Bible. As president, Washington often spoke on the importance of prayer and signed the first official Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in US history. It is clear that faith in God was very important to President Washington and that he was a Christian.

Nathan Hale: America’s First Martyred Spy

by Tamera Lynn Kraft
Long before the days of the CIA and Cold War, even before the spies of the Civil War, our nation had a network of spies that rivaled any spy agency of today. The leader of this spy ring, the Culpeper Ring in New York City, was Benjamin Tallmadge, an officer in the Continental Army. One reason Tallmadge may have been so driven to create this spy ring is because his best friend from college, Nathan Hale, was hung as a spy on his first intelligence gathering mission in New York.

Nathan Hale was born in Connecticut in 1755. Before his fourteenth birthday, he and his brother, Enoch, were sent to Yale University to get an education. Nathan’s father was a minister and planned for Nathan to follow in his footsteps.

At Yale, Nathan became close friends with Benjamin Tallmadge and William Hull, a man who worked with Tallmadge. Hale’s university days created in him a desire to be free from the rule of the British Crown as it did with most of his contemporaries. When he graduated, instead of becoming a minister, he took a job teaching at a private school in East Haddam.

When war broke out, Hale was reluctant to join the army, but at the urging of Tallmadge in a letter, joined up in 1775. For the next year, he saw no action. It disturbed him because he felt he was doing nothing to further the independence of the American Colonies.

In September, Washington was desperate for intelligence about the British troop movements in Manhattan. That information would determine his next move. He asked for volunteers. At that time, most didn’t consider spying a respectable occupation, and nobody was willing to volunteer for such a dangerous mission. Nathan Hale, who was eager to do something to help his country, stepped up and said he would do it.

Hale snuck into Manhattan and got the information he needed. Before heading back, he stopped at a tavern where he was recognized by Robert Rogers, commander of Rogers’ Rangers. Earlier, Rogers had attempted to get free passage behind enemy lines, telling Washington he was a patriot. His real intentions were to spy for the British. Washington denied his request, but during that time, he had seen Hale in uniform.

Rogers needed proof Hale was a spy and invited him to his home where he informed Hale that he was a patriot. Hale fell into the trap, and was arrested. After admitting he was a spy, he was sentenced to hang by General William Howe.

When Hale was at the gallows, the last sight he probably saw was New York City burning. A fire had started accidently, but knowing it would help the Americans, many patriot civilians started more fires or did things to slow the British in putting out the fires. Many of these patriots were captured and executed. The fire did stop the British from taking up residence in the city.

Hale’s last words were immortalized as the sentiment of American Patriots. “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” This quote is reported by Tallmadge and Hull, Hale’s friends who were not present at the execution. The quote is probably a condensed quote of what he really said. Hull and Tallmadge were at the site shortly after the execution to facilitate a prisoner exchange and talked to a British officer, John Montresor about what Hale’s last words were. Others reported other things Hale may have said, so his speech was longer than the reported quote.

Frederick MacKensie, a British officer, wrote this diary entry for the day, “He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.”

Whatever the case, at his death, Hale was a patriot and the first American spy executed for his exploits of bravery.