Category Archives: Slavery

Articles and information dealing with past and present slavery worldwide

God’s Gifts That We Take for Granted

I once read the short book by Thomas H. Jones entitled, Narrative of a Slave.

Thomas Jones was a slave in North Carolina.  He was sold and separated from his mother, father, and brothers and sisters when he was only 9.  He was a very tenderhearted boy who longed for kindness and compassion, but very seldom received it.

When he was about 12, he had a strong desire to learn to read; however, it was against the law for slaves to do so.  He found a spelling book and secretly began to teach himself to read.  He met a 9-year-old white boy who began to “teach him his letters” and helped him put words together.  He studied as often as he could during his free time and work hours at the store owned by his master-owner. 

One day, his master discovered he was learning to read and demanded that he give him his book, which he had hidden.  Thomas thought to himself that if he gave up his book, he would never learn to read.  He wanted to learn to read more than life itself, so he refused to turn his book over to his master. As a result, his master beat him almost to death, but Thomas was willing to die rather than give up his spelling book.

Knowing how to read is a gift!  Do we love it more than life? Would we be willing to die for this wonderful privilege and gift of God? 

One of the ways “… to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, nasb) is to read the Word of God and good books that teach the Scripture and which bring glory and honor to God.  Take advantage of your reading ability as Thomas Jones did, even to the point of life itself!

From Narrative of a Refugee Slave by Thomas H. Jones

Does it bother you?

Does it bother you that there are 100 million street children and 150 million orphans worldwide?

My family recently watched the excellent film Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce and the abolition movement in the United Kingdom in the 1800s.

It was an amazing film of Wilberforce’s battle in the British Parliament for the abolition of the slave trade.

In a scene in the film, Wilberforce is talking to his future wife Barbara.  She asked him why he could not talk any longer about the matter of slavery.  He responded, “I have been battling slavery for years, and yet after all the petitions, all the speeches, and all the bills presented to Parliament, ships filled with human souls in chains continue to sail around the world as cargo!”

Slaves were continually beaten, brutalized, raped, killed, even little children burned alive, and separated from their families.  Masses of slaves died in the hulls of slave ships.  After years and years of fighting the slave trade, Wilberforce felt nothing seemed to have changed.

Many of us in ministry to street and underprivileged children, and orphans can easily be discouraged.  We have had camps for thousands of needy children, street children, and orphans.  We cared for hundreds of precious little ones, rescued hundreds from pedophiles, opened hundreds of orphan homes, day care centers, and challenged church after church in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America to reach out to needy children.  And, yet, there are still 30,000 children dying daily from malnutrition and disease, another 160 million still on the streets, 143 million orphans throughout the world, 27 million slaves (mostly children) in the nations of the world with up to 400,000 child slaves in Haiti alone.

Yes, we see thousands rescued and coming to Christ every year, but there are still millions not being reached.  It is easy to be discouraged as was Wilberforce, and yet, he continued on through the power of God to see the slave trade throughout the British Empire come to an end.  Will we continue on as God’s servants in ministry to children? If this was just our work, possibly so, but we, however, take encouragement from God and His Word.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren [and sisters], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58, nasb).

War is a Scourge, but so is slavery …

Colonel Joshua Chamberlain was a Christian who fought for the Union forces in the Civil War, on one occasion he was talking to his younger brother Tom, who was serving with him, about why it was right to fight against the South to free the slaves, “All these thousands of men, many of them not much more than boys, a mother’s son, some sister’s brother, someone’s father, each one of them a whole person, cherished and gone away, many of them will never return. An army is power, it’s entire purpose is to coerce. Misguided power cannot be used too callously or recklessly. Misguided power can do great harm. We have seen more suffering than any man should ever see and if there is going to be an end to it, it must be an end that justifies the cause. Now, somewhere out there is the Confederate Army. They claim they are fighting for their independence or their freedom. Now, I cannot question their integrity. I believe they are wrong, but I cannot question it. But I do question the system that defends its own freedom while it denies it to others, to an entire race of men! I will admit the entire war is a scourge, but so is slavery. It has been around since the book of Genesis. It exists in every corner of the world, but that is no excuse to tolerate it here when we find it right before our very eyes in our own home country. As God is my witness there is no one I hold dearer in my heart than you Tom. But if your life or mine is part of the price to pay to end this curse and free the Negro, then let God’s will be done.”

Slavery Under Ideal Conditions

By Henry Bibb, Christian History, Issue 62 (Vol XVIII, No 2)

Mr. Young [a devout Methodist] never was known to flog one of his slaves or sell one. He fed and clothed them well and never overworked them. He allowed each family a small house to themselves with a little garden spot whereon to raise their own vegetables; and part of the day on Saturdays was allowed them to cultivate it.

In time, he became deeply involved in debt, and his properly was all advertised to be sold by the sheriff at public auction. It consisted of slaves, many of whom were his brothers and sisters in the [local Methodist] church.

The first man offered on the block was an old gray-headed slave by the name of Richard. When they had bid him up to 70 or 80 dollars, one of the bidders asked Mr. Young what he could do, as he looked over old and infirm? Mr. Young replied by saying, “He is not able to accomplish much manual labor, from his extreme age and hard labor in early life. Yet I would rather have him than many of those who are young and vigorous; who are able to perform twice as much labor because I know him to be faithful and trustworthy, a Christian in good standing in my church. I can trust him anywhere with confidence.”

This giving him a good Christian character caused them to run him up to near two hundred dollars. His poor old companion [his wife] stood by weeping and pleading that they might not be separated. But the marriage relation was soon dissolved by the sale, and they were separated never to meet again.

After the men were all sold they then sold the women and children. They ordered the first woman to lay down her child and mount the auction block; she refused to give up her little one and clung to it as long as she could while the cruel lash was applied to her back for disobedience. She pleaded for mercy in the name of God. But the child was torn from the arms of its mother amid the most heart-rending shrieks from the mother and child on the one hand, and the bitter oaths and cruel lashes from the tyrants on the other. In this way the sale was carried on from beginning to end.

There was each speculator with is handcuffs to bind his victims after the sale, and while they were doing their writings, the Christian portion of the slaves asked permission to kneel in prayer. While bathing each other with tears of sorrow on the verge of their final separation, their eloquent appeals in prayer to the Most High seemed to cause an unpleasant sensation upon the ears of their tyrants. They were soon raised from their knees by the sound of the lash, and the rattle of the chains, in which they were soon taken off by their respective master — husbands from wives, and children from parents, never expecting to meet until the judgment of the great day.

Having thus tried to show the best side of slavery that I can conceive of, the reader can exercise his own judgment in deciding whether a man can be a Bible Christian and yet hold his Christian brethren as property, so that they may be sold at any time in market, as sheep or oxen, to pay his debts.

Henry Bibb (1815-1854), a fugitive slave, became a leading abolitionist. This selection is a condensed excerpt from his 1849 Narrative of the Life and Adventures of an American Slave.