Lott had been born into a life of slavery on a plantation a few miles outside Richmond Virginia. By the age of 24, he was able to gain his freedom and took a job at a large warehouse. While attending the First Baptist Church of Richmond, he was convicted and saved as he listened to the Pastor preach from John 3. As he grew as a Christian, he had a desire to learn to read God’s word on his own. So he taught himself to read and was soon licensed to preach.
In 1813, a man named William Crane came down to Richmond and began to work among the young slaves and former slaves in the city. He became good friends with the new young preacher Lott and the two of them founded the Richmond African Missionary Society, a group that raised funds for mission work in Africa. As Lott worked with this group, his heart began to yearn for those who still lived in the land of his ancestors. While he could enjoy the rich benefits of the gospel, they had never heard. Finally, the weight became to much on the young man and he gave his life to go to Africa as a missionary.
This calling would call for a sacrifice on Lott’s part. His job at the warehouse, where he was paid well and had a great position, didn’t want him to leave. In fact, they offered him a $200 yearly increase (He was currently making $800) if he would stay. Plus, he had just bought a beautiful house for $1,500. And his church was running well over 800. But he had a calling from God and his heart was firm. On the eve before he departed for Africa, he delivered a powerful sermon at the First Baptist Church of Richmond. He preached from Romans 8:32–“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” His closing words were:
I am about to leave you and expect to see your faces no more. I long to preach to the poor Africans the way of life and salvation. I don’t know what may befall me, whether I may find a grave in the ocean, or among the savage men, or more savage wild beasts on the Coast of Africa; nor am I anxious what may become of me. I feel it my duty to go; and I very much fear that many of those who preach the Gospel in this country, will blush when the Saviour calls them to give an account of their labors in His cause and tell them, “I commanded you to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature;” (very emphatically he exclaimed) the Saviour may ask where have you been? What have you been doing? Have you endeavored to the utmost of your ability to fulfill the commands I gave you, or have you sought your own gratification, and your own ease, regardless of My commands?
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