On this day in 1877, Lanson Norcross, a missionary with the American Home Missionary Society, established the first church in Deadwood, South Dakota. The first church consisted of four women and seven men. They started out in the dining room of an old hotel, but because of conflict with the dining hour, they had to move to a new location, a carpenter shop with bare, dirt floors. It wasn’t until June that they were able to build their own building, a small 25×35 ft room. But the church and ministry grew and soon formed the Black Hills Bible Society and several other churches in the area. The task of reaching the world with the gospel requires strong churches everywhere, especially at home. That is the work men like Norcross and the American home missionary society tried to do.
On this day in 1842, a group of missionaries and freed African slaves arrived in Sierra Leone after a fifty day voyage that began in Massachusetts. Three years earlier, the Africans had taken the same trip, but on much different terms. Taken as slaves in their African homeland by Spanish slave traders, they were being shipped like animals over to a Spanish colony near Cuba. During the voyage, a few slaves escaped and took over the ship. They demanded that the captain return them to Africa, which he said he would do. But since they didn’t understand the ways of the ocean, they had no way of knowing that the captain had actually set a course for America, hoping to get help there. Soon, the ship was picked up by a U.S. navy vessel and taken to land. A long legal battle ensued that involved the slaves, the traders, the U.S. government and the Spanish government. At the end of the trial, the slaves were awarded their freedom. But more importantly, during the trial and afterwards, most of the Africans had been befriended by church members and taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. And many believed on Him. When the time came to send the Africans home, they begged that some of their friends would come with them to continue to teach them and their villages about Jesus. The only problems was that their was a lack of funds to start a mission. So Mr. Tappan, one of the leaders in the venture, took eight to ten of the Africans with him and traveled to several of the large cities throughout New England, telling people of the opportunity and raising the needed funds. Within a short time, the necessary funds were raised to send all the Africans (about 40) and two missionary families back to Africa. A story that began with desperate bondage ends in wonderful hope and freedom. That is the power of the Gospel!
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