From Pastor Johnny

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From Slave of Man to Servant of God

Lott Carey did not know the date of his birth.  Birth records were not kept for slaves.  He was certain that he was born around 1780 on a plantation in Virginia.  While his early life was hard, it was not as hard as many slaves.  His family lived all together on a Richmond, Virginia plantation.  His parents would go out to work each day, and he would stay with his devout Baptist grandmother.  While with her, he would hear of Jesus Christ, the suffering of his people brought from Africa, and the need of native Africans to hear about Jesus Christ and salvation.  The seed of desire to preach to the spiritually needy in Africa was sown in Lott early in life. [1]

            His early adult life involved working in a tobacco warehouse in Richmond.  At that time he was a profane drunkard.  In 1807 Lot heard a message preached at the 1st Baptist Church of Richmond on John 3 and Nicodemus.  He was moved and gave his heart to Christ.  He then began to learn to read, and he was eventually licensed to preach.  Lott became a powerful witness and preacher.

            Lott became such a valuable worker to the tobacco company that he earned enough money to buy he and his family out of slavery.  In 1812 Lott became involved with William Crane in an organization to raise money for mission work in Africa.

            By 1823 Lott was commissioned to go as the ministry’s missionary to Liberia.  The tobacco company, for which Lott worked, found him so valuable that they offered him an enormous raise to stay in Virginia .  Lott declined the offer and followed the call of God to Africa.  He was about 43 years old at the time.                                    

            While in Monrovia, Lott established Providence Baptist Church, set up an orphanage, and preached several times a week.  God worked through him, and his unfailing energy helped see many Africans come to Christ.  It was in Monrovia that many freed American slaves came to settle. 

            Only one incident in his life showed a spiritual lapse in judgment.  In 1824 many of the freed slaves were unhappy with land distribution and led a revolt against the Colonial Agent.  Lott sided on the rebellion and regretted it soon after.  Yet, even this temporary lapse in judgment would not keep this man of God down.[i]

            Lott would eventually rise to the position of asst. colonial agent and would continue preaching the Gospel.  In 1829 Lott was preparing a mission to rescue other friends who had been taken captive by a native tribe.  A candle was accidentally turned over near gunpowder and the ensuing explosion killed him and others around him.

            Lott Carey was one man who displayed the attitude of perseverance, passion, and a desire to preach the Gospel of Christ to spiritually needy people.  Until his last days he pursued his dream of [ii]preaching salvation to Africans.  As we are reminded of men like Lott Carey during this black history month, I am reminded that his example speaks to all races and colors.  As another missionary named Carey (William, that is) once said, “I may not be great, but I can plod.”  Success in the Christian life has as much to do with perseverance as it does talent or ability. 

            Paul said, “Be not weary in doing good, for in due season you will reap if you faint not.”  The moment may seem dark, but God will see you through to an eventual victory.  Just think of the man who went from slave of man to servant of God.




[i]“Lot Carey Died in Munitions Explosion,” November 10, 2006,


[ii]Michael Rusten, and Sharon Rusten, The One Year Book of Chistian History: A Daily Glimpse into God's Powerful Work (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House, 2003), 46-47.