Jesus calls us to radical discipleship: He taught,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Honor such people (Philippians 2:29).
Jupiter Hammon (1711-1806).
My faith has been refreshed by learning about African-American pastors who served their congregations and communities well in their moment of history. One such pastor is Jupiter Hammon. Here is a summary of his life and ministry written by Aime Weiss:
Jupiter Hammon was the first African American to be published in the US. Over the course of his life, four poems and three sermon essays were put in print. Born in 1711, Jupiter Hammon was the son of slaves owned by a family in Queens, NY. He was encouraged to go to school with the children and grew to be a valued domestic worker and businessman. He also became a fervent Christian and spoke publicly about his faith. Though never emancipated, he was given freedom to speak publicly, even promoting the gradual emancipation of slaves. One of Hammon’s most famous speeches, “Address to the Negroes of the State of New York,” was given at the inaugural meeting of the African Society of New York City in 1786:
In the address, Hammon exhorts his fellow slaves not to imitate sinful people, no matter how powerful they seem: “God is greater than all other beings, and him we are bound to obey. He will bring us all, rich and poor, white and black, to his judgment seat. If we are found among those who feared his name, and trembled at his word, we shall be called good and faithful servants.”
Hammon preaches the gospel with power. He urges his fellow slaves to trust Christ, even in the face of a clear and appropriate desire for emancipation. “If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves. Let me beg of you my dear African brethren, to think very little of your bondage in this life. If God designs to set us free, he will do it. But think of your bondage to sin and Satan, and do not rest, until you are delivered from it.”
Let us trust God amidst the difficulties and evils of this world, speaking out for justice publicly, but always pursuing the Lord first.