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Graham Russell Hodges

Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to free but poor black parents, Hodges received no education in his early years and at the age of ten shipped out as a “waiting boy” on a schooner bound from Philadelphia to the West Indies. Over the next few years he visited many European ports. During the American Revolution a British warship forced his vessel into New York harbor; destitute, friendless, and illiterate, he wandered throughout the region before settling in Warwick, in Orange County, New York. His employer, a man named Jennings, had acquired much property through litigation, actions that prompted his legal victims to plot to kill him. The conspirators brought Hodges into the plot and took advantage of his intemperance, developed during his years as a seaman, to persuade him to perform the killing. On 21 December 1819 Hodges shot his master in the woods The bullet severely wounded Jennings ...

Article

David Killingray

African‐Americanpreacher born a free man in the colony of New York. He had an itinerant childhood, during which he worked with a carpenter and learned to play the French horn and violin. He was converted to Christianity at one of George Whitefield's services in 1769 or 1770, and he then spent two years evangelizing, including a period of captivity, among Native American peoples. Sometime during 1775–6 he was impressed into the Royal Navy. He took part in the siege of Charleston in 1780, saw action in British waters, was wounded, and then was discharged in Plymouth in 1782. He went to London, and preached in Spa Fields chapel, which belonged to the Countess of Huntingdon's Connection, into which body he was ordained at Bath in May 1785. At about that time he told his story to William Aldridge a Methodist minister and friend of ...

Article

Devona A. Mallory

John Marrant was born in the New York Colony to a family of free blacks. The names and occupations of his parents are not known. When he was four years old, his father died. Marrant and his mother moved to Florida and Georgia; subsequently Marrant moved to Charleston, South Carolina, to live with his sister and brother-in-law. He stayed in school until he was eleven years old, becoming an apprentice to a music master for two additional years. During this time he also learned carpentry. His careers in music and carpentry ended in late 1769 or early 1770, when he was converted to Christianity by the famous evangelical minister George Whitefield.

Over the next few years, Marrant converted many Native Americans, including members of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw nations. In 1772 he returned to his family for a short time For the next three ...

Article

Devona A. Mallory

minister and author, was born in the New York Colony to a family of free blacks. The names and occupations of his parents are not known. When he was four years old his father died. Marrant and his mother moved to Florida and Georgia; subsequently Marrant moved to Charleston, South Carolina, to live with his sister and brother-in-law. He stayed in school until he was eleven years old, becoming an apprentice to a music master for two additional years. During this time he also learned carpentry. His careers in music and carpentry ended in late 1769 or early 1770, when he was converted to Christianity by the famous evangelical minister George Whitefield.

Over the next few years Marrant converted many Native Americans, including members of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw nations. In 1772 he returned to his family for a short time For the next ...

Article

Evan Haefeli

John Marrant was one of the first African American authors and an important minister and theologian in the era of the American Revolution. Born free in New York City, his life spanned the British Atlantic world from Florida to Nova Scotia and London, where he died. He published a narrative of his early life and conversion (1785), two sermons (1789 and 1790), and a journal describing his ministry in Nova Scotia (1790), which provide us with most of the information we have on his life.

Marrant s travels began early after his father died when he was four years old Marrant s mother decided to seek opportunity in the town of Saint Augustine Florida which the British had just taken from the Spanish There Marrant started to attend school and learned to read and write After a year and a half his mother ...

Article

Laura M. Chmielewski

convert to Methodism and religious contemplative, was born probably in New York City, of unknown but most likely enslaved parents. All the details of Zilpah Montjoy's life are derived from Abigail Mott's 1826Narratives of Colored Americans, a collection of biographical sketches of prominent and, in Mott's view, exemplary black Christians that includes Richard Allen, Benjamin Banneker, Paul Cuffe, Gustavus Vassa (Olaudah Equiano), and Phillis Wheatley as well as more obscure figures such as Billy and Jenny Poor Pompey and Old Dinah The circumstances surrounding Zilpah Montjoy s birth and parentage are unknown According to her biographer Montjoy spent her early life in domestic slavery in New York City serving masters who invested nothing in her spiritual development beyond calling her by a name that had biblical origins Montjoy was reportedly bound so tightly to her work that throughout her youth she ...

Article

Gloria Chuku

omu (female monarch) and trader, was born in the nineteenth century in the city of Onitsha in southeastern Nigeria. Her father was Isagba Okwuona of Ogbendida village, Onitsha, and her mother was Ngbokwa Amasinwa Okigbo of nearby Ojoto. Nwagboka married Uzoka Egwuatu, an Igala immigrant from Ogbeotu village, Onitsha. While Nwagboka’s husband maintained two residences, one at Igala and another in Onitsha, she lived in Onitsha with her son, Egwuatu. Nwagboka started her trading career as an apprentice, but later became a successful trader herself due to her business acumen and her Igala connections, through which she bought elephant tusks, which she sold to European traders. Ivory was a very lucrative trade at the time, in high demand both locally and overseas. It was estimated that, in two consignments of ivory Nwagboka shipped overseas, she made £10,000. She gave some of the proceeds to Obi king Anazonwu 1823 1899 ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Congolese Protestant pastor, was born in the Ngbaka village of Isape, now located in the northwestern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His parents died before Pelendo was two years old. The chief of the village of Isape raised Pelendo. He never attended school, and disdained the teachings offered by visiting Catholic priests. His family members claimed that he learned to read and write miraculously when he converted to Christianity, although a more mundane explanation would have been his collaboration with Free Evangelical Church missionaries in 1925 They hired him to do odd jobs once they came to the village of Kala where he now lived However Pelendo continued to rely on two other occupations that had long furnished him with enough merchandise and money to make a living farming and making palm wine His conversion came as the result of several dreams In one vision he heard ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

North African born official of the Sicilian court was from Mahdiyya an important port on the eastern coast of Tunisia and was a eunuch and slave and high functionary in the Sicilian court of the Norman king Roger II 1095 1154 Past scholarship speculated that Philip was Greek but recent research has proven North African origins to be most probable Philip spent much of his youth in North Africa He was captured castrated and enslaved early in his life the first decades of the twelfth century Philip is said to have nominally converted from Islam to Christianity after entering the court of the Normans According to some sources sources that may have been biased against him this conversion was never sincere Philip was alleged to have secretly made payments to Islamic charities in North Africa and to have sent ablutions to the Tomb of Muhammad in Medina He also visited ...

Article

Karina Hestad Skeie

Christian queen in the Kingdom of Madagascar, was born Ramoma, the daughter of Prince Razakaratrimo from the Imamo province of central Madagascar, and Princess Rafarasoa, the sister of Queen Ranavalona I. As she belonged to the porous political and ethnic group called Merina, she is also called a Merina queen, and the Kingdom of Madagascar the Merina kingdom, to distinguish it from other kingdoms existing earlier and simultaneously elsewhere in Madagascar. It is known that Ramoma had three brothers, and that she learned how to read and write. Sometime in 1845 or 1846 she married her cousin Rakoto (Rakotond Radama), joining her cousin Queen Rasoherina (born Princess Rabodo) as one of his wives. Upon his mother Queen Ranavalona I’s death in 1861, Rakoto ascended the throne as King Radama II. At the time, Ramoma’s eldest brother, Ramboasalama, was Radama II’s rival to the throne.

After Radama II s assassination ...

Article

Ruufoo  

Wolbert Smidt

former Oromo slave, linguistic informant, missionary student, and the first Oromo Bible translator in the 1860s, was born in the village of Gombotaa in Guummaa (in present-day Ethiopia). After his baptism he was called Christian Ludwig Paulus Rufo; in English sources he is also called Roofo. He died on 8 January 1871 in Cairo.

Ruufoo grew up as a shepherd boy in the independent Oromo kingdom Guummaa which was close to the Egyptian Sudan and the Ethiopian kingdom of Gojjam When he was about eleven or twelve years old he was kidnapped and enslaved by his own people in order to fulfill tax obligations The king of Guummaa regularly received part of his tributes in the form of slaves who were sold to Ethiopia or to one of the great slave markets of the Sudan Ruufoo was brought to Gojjam but soon escaped he then worked as a shepherd for ...

Article

Kim Miller

historian and writer during Nigeria’s colonial period, was born in 1898 into the Tiv ethnic group in northern Nigeria. Sai was one of the first individuals in his village to convert to Christianity following the arrival of European missionaries in 1911. Sai’s father strongly encouraged and supported his conversion. Sai subsequently became employed by the missionaries and worked as an evangelist. Partly because of his associations with the missionaries, Sai was also one of the first individuals in his village to learn to write in the Tiv language. This skill would prove to be foundational in shaping the rest of Sai’s life and transformative in determining the important role he would later play in writing and recording the history of his people.

Akiga Sai was the editor of the monthly Tiv newspaper, Mwanger u Tiv, published by the Gaskiya Corporation. In 1951 he was elected as a ...

Article

Moses Chikowero

Zimbabwean educator, evangelist, and early nationalist, was born Mushore Samkange in 1893 in the Zvimba communal area of colonial Zimbabwe (then called Southern Rhodesia). He was a son of Mawodzewa, a renowned hunter of the Gushungo royal clan. Samkange wed Grace Mano at Zvimba’s Madzima Church in 1919 and raised a family of five boys (Stanlake, Sketchley, Don, Edgar, and Ernest) and two girls (Evelyn and Norah).

Samkange moved to the town of Gatooma (now Kadoma) as a migrant laborer in his teenage years, there to encounter the fascination of both the Christian faith and western education. He nurtured these interests upon his return to Zvimba in his early twenties, getting baptized as Thompson and enrolling, in 1915 in Nenguwo Institution later called Waddilove Mission to train as a teacher evangelist under the tutelage of the liberal white missionary John White He completed Standard Six a then envied qualification ...

Article

Fred Morton

kgosi (king, chief) of the Bakwena of Bechuanaland (r. 1829–1892), presided over the creation of the first large state adjoining the Kalahari. He was the eldest son of the Kwena kgosi Motswasele II, a tyrant who was assassinated by his brothers in 1821, at which point the Kwena fragmented. Sechele was taken into hiding by his uncle Segokotlo, but this group suffered from reprisals from Kwena aspirants and from attacks by the Kololo (Fokeng) of Sebitwane and the Ndebele of Mzilikazi. In about 1830, after having moved from one haven to another, young Sechele assumed leadership of a Kwena group based in the north at Lephephe and began the long process of reunification, which was completed in 1845 with the death of his rival and distant uncle, Bubi.

In 1848 Sechele was baptized by David Livingstone of the London Missionary Society LMS Sechele s capitals at Tshonwane ...

Article

Stacey Graham

early North African Christian thinker, was the earliest Christian apologist and theologian to write in Latin. Brought up in a pagan family and given a solid classical education, Tertullian became one of the most outspoken defenders of Christianity after his conversion, writing original and passionate texts on Christian morals and against heretics and nonbelievers. Most significant among them are the Apologeticum, a bitingly sarcastic and yet unassailably logical indictment against imperial policy of arresting and trying Christians, and the Adversus Praxean, a response to a heretic, which articulates the theology of the Trinity for the first time.

Most of the details of his life are unknown; the main source of biographical information is Jerome’s De viris illustribus of the late fourth century According to Jerome Tertullian was born in Carthage to a father who was a proconsular centurion in the Roman army Tertullian converted to Christianity in ...

Article

Roy Bridges

whose parentage and date of birth are unknown, was a freed slave of Yao origin who produced a remarkable record of the African initiative to return David Livingstone’s body to the coast in 1873. Until recently, Wainwright’s achievement has been overlooked and his character unfairly condemned.

Taken from near Lake Malawi to the coast for transport perhaps to Arabia, Wainwright was rescued by the British Navy’s anti–slave trade patrol in 1866. British policy was to transfer freed slaves to Christian missionaries, and Wainwright came into the care of the Anglican Church Missionary Society at Sharanpur School at Nasik, near Mumbai in India. Converted to Christianity and given a new name and an elementary education, he was soon able to write and speak clear, coherent English.

In 1871 increasing worries about the fate of Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingstone 1813 1873 led the Royal Geographical Society to ...

Article

Douglas H. Johnson

a Dinka Christian missionary from southern Sudan, was born in the Kic Dinka village of Gog, Sudan, the daughter of Manyan e Agol, a minor chief. In 1854 the Catholic Verona Fathers founded their first station in southern Sudan at Holy Cross, near Zenab’s village, but high mortality among the European priests meant the abandonment of the station in 1860. Zenab (we do not know her Dinka name) was one of a small number of Dinka children who accompanied the surviving missionaries back to Khartoum as the first nineteenth-century Sudanese converts to Christianity. Zenab was baptized “Caterina” into the Catholic faith in Shellal, Egypt, in 1860 and subsequently became the first Dinka Christian evangelist. She never took holy orders and by the end of her life had disappointed the Catholic Church, but she played an important, if underappreciated, role in the early propagation of Christianity in modern Sudan.

There ...