THE WOMEN'S BAPTIST HOME
Why the colored people needed the help of the Women's Baptist Home Mission Society.
We are often told that our colored people were made free under more favorable circumstances than any other race of slaves. Let us look for a few minutes at the situation. The American negro was freed and left among a people who regarded it as a sin to give him freedom, because they thought him by nature fitted only for slavery. They did not want him educated, because that would unfit him for his natural position of servitude. He had no way of protecting himself from injustice. We cannot see that this was a very comfortable place in which to be born free, but it could not be otherwise, and all that he and his friends could do was to adjust themselves to circumstances and make the most of the brightness that relieved the blackness of the dark picture. Yes, there was a bright side and it grew brighter year by year. First came the Freedmen's Bureau with its schools. Then the public schools, and soon the good white people of the South said, "Yes, the negro must be educated." They said this after they had time to look the situation fairly in the face. Both master and slave were bewildered at the abrupt change and no wonder. I said the black man had no means of protection. I was wrong, he had the ballot. Thank God for that. He could not have been a real free man without it.
Education made rapid progress. All the Christian denominations established schools in which to educate teachers and preachers. These teachers and pupils set about their work with an earnest eagerness that it is hard to sustain through years of toil, but they needed this inspiration to overcome opposition. We never can cease to thank God for these schools.
Pardon me if the following criticism is wrong.
With the negro as with other races the culture of the heart has not kept pace with that of the head, therefore much of the power gained by knowledge is against the "righteousness that exalteth a nation."
When we consider the condition in which slavery left the black man, more time should have been taken to lay a foundation on which to build the intellectual structure. All the way up it needed the cement and strength that is given by the Bible and faith in God.
To supplement the work of the schools and churches in the religious training of the freedman was the great and blessed mission of the W. B. H. M. Society. Its work was to be especially the education of the heart; its school room, the home. But along with this every-day religious education the intellect was aroused and thousands have learned how to read with the great incentive to be able to read the Bible for themselves. Usually they had no teacher but the missionary.
We said the home was the misionary's school room. Yes, but her influence did not end there. She touched and helped humanity at all points, because like the Lord Jesus she went about doing good, she did not stand still in one place.
We are now in Simon's house taking supper, next on the street, calling Zacheus down from the tree, and again at the marriage in Cana, "doing whatsoever he hath said unto us;" then we are at the grave of Lazarus teaching that Jesus is the resurrection and the life; now we are making coats and garments for the widows, and now taking the little children by the hand and leading to Jesus for his blessing, children who have no mother to carry them there; now you will find us by the side of the eloquent Apollos, explaining more perfectly the Word of God.
Out and in, here and there we go, touching all points and all hearts with the glory and love we carried from the mercy seat.
There is no place too lowly or dark for our feet to enter and no place so high and bright but it needs the touch of the light that we carry from the cross; no man, woman, or child is so far sunken in sin that our hands cannot reach him or her, while God holds us up. We are the highway and hedge workers, who are also able to expound the Scriptures. We can help a tired mother cut out a garment for her child, and meanwhile teach both mother and child the Gospel. We not only pray for the sick, but we also cook them a tempting morsel of food. We are equally at home in parlor or kitchen. "Our shoes are iron and brass," there is no road too hard for us to travel. Night and day we are ready, no storm great enough to keep us indoors when the cry of suffering humanity calls for help, because we have on an armor that is a perfect protection. We live among the people, and mingle freely with them, so that we may be a present help in time of trouble. We have never learned how to stand on a pedestal and hand out the Gospel at the end of a forty-foot pole, because we remember that those who have helped us the most, are the persons who came up close to us and clasped our hands, kindly smoothed the pain from our aching heads, and sat down beside us, and whispered words of love and hope. Oh, yes, they lived their beautiful lives where we could see and feel their uplifting power. Therefore we have concluded that we will comfort others with the comfort with which we ourselves were comforted.
This is the kind of Christian workers that the people of all races need this very day. O Lord, give to the Women's Baptist Home Mission Society ten thousand such missionaries to go the length and breadth of the Northland and the Southland, till every dark corner is blessed and brightened by the Gospel of the Son of God.
The rich man's mansion needs this help as much as the poor man's cabin.
"It is not much this world can give,
With all its subtle art,
And gold and gems are not the things
To satisfy the heart."
God alone can satisfy the longings of the human soul.
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