It is really sad that so few people know the name “George Leile.”
He was the first Black man ordained as a pastor in Georgia. He was also the first American to carry the gospel overseas as a missionary. I know – historically Adoniram Judson has held this distinction. However, Danny Akin has made a compelling argument that Leile was the first Baptist missionary to the nations when, in 1782, he took the gospel from the United States to Jamaica.
George Leile was first born a slave in Virginia and was then born again when he as 23 years old. Sometime after his conversion, he was set free from slavery so he could fulfill God’s call as pastor. He was ordained and traveled to different slave quarters preaching the gospel. As a result, many slaves became Christians. After a few years the man who had granted him freedom was killed and the heirs sought to place George back in slavery. Leile was forced to hire himself out as an indentured servant to pay off a 700$ debt he had incurred for court costs. This service took him to Jamaica. While there he was confronted by the overwhelming spiritual and physical needs. Once he had paid off his debt, he chose to remain in Jamaica as a minister of the gospel. His work helped lead many to salvation and also contributed to the elimination of the slave trade.
The most amazing feature of Leile’s life was not that he was the first missionary, but that he understood no matter where he went, he was on the Lord’s mission. His mandate was making disciples in whatever situation he found himself: in slave quarters, as pastor, indigent servant, or missionary/church planter.
What it requires to live on mission:
1. Understand the sovereignty of God – God is not caught off guard by where you are right now. He has allowed, or even guided, you into this spot for this moment.
2. Don’t be destination focused – too many live for an imaginary time in the future when they will do more ministry or be more obedient. When kids grow up… when I get out of school… when I get out of debt… when I get more training… when ____, when _____, when _____, The list is endless! The Christian life is to be lived TODAY. Don’t wait, be on mission today.
3. Abide Daily in Christ – John 15 tells us that apart from Christ we can do nothing. For this reason we are to abide in him and his word daily so that we can be effective for the kingdom. If you are not seeking his presence daily, you will not live on his mission.
4. Pray for “Jesus Vision” – in Matthew 9:36, the Bible says “When [Jesus] looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd.” (MSG)
How do you see the crowds? As a hindrance to you accomplishing you goal? As an enemy to be mocked or conquered? Pray that the Lord will allow you to see them as he does.
WE are interested in hearing how you have been able to live on mission wherever the Lord is taking you.