I am well pleased that George Liele Church Planting, Evangelism, and Missions Sunday is officially on the SBC calendar. This recognition fits an organization foundationally focused on church planting, evangelism and missions. George Liele’s work and life hit all three and more.
George Liele’s life and work show all of us that no matter what our beginnings might be, if we surrender all to God, God can indeed use us according to His plans for us. Looking at George Liele – born into the slave economy in Virginia to become a free missionary. Because of his work in Jamaica, there were more than 20,000 Baptists within 30 years of his landing there. That is simply amazing! That alone reminds us that it’s not where you begin a life that has the final say, but what God can do with a life in His hands.
If there were a Mount Rushmore for missionaries, I think it would include George Liele, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and Southern Baptist favored women, Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. I have a deep appreciation for Liele, who endured incarceration because he preached the gospel. Prison did not deter his determination to preach the gospel to whoever would listen.
That’s the kind of courage and zeal we need today for Christ and His gospel. The attitude that whatever it takes, we have got to share the gospel whatever the cost. I hope and pray that God would use George Liele Day for all of us to recognize his missionary work. Additionally, I hope that more African Americans will be encouraged to engage with the International Mission Board.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marshal Ausberry is president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax Station, Va.)