Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: BUSY (08/15/19)
- TITLE: Quandary
By Arlene Baker
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No time to waste. I hurried toward Colonel Kirklandâ€™s headquarters.
How things have changed in a few short years.
â€œColonel.â€ I halted a few feet from the man, surrounded by others and issuing orders.
â€œLiele.â€ A warm smile spread across his otherwise harried features. â€œItâ€™s always good to see you. What can I do for you?â€
â€œSir.â€ I hesitated.
â€œCome, come.â€ He proceeded to stroll down Bay Street. â€œWe can talk in private.â€
I fell into step but remained silent.
â€œBad business, this war,â€ Kirkland stated.
â€œWhoâ€™d have thought a bunch of undisciplined rag-tag rebels would turn Great Britain on her ear?â€ The colonel snorted. â€œOf course, the fact that our ancient enemies, the French, with a bone to pick, saw opportunity to repay us for that war back in the 50s certainly helped.â€
â€œAh, well. Such is the nature of war. Somebody must win. I would never have dreamed the most powerful army on earth would be the loser.â€ Kirkland sighed. â€œNow, Iâ€™m in charge of getting all the Loyalists, black and white, to safety.â€ He stopped and turned to face me.
â€œI suppose thatâ€™s why you came today.â€
Kirkland knew my story. Iâ€™d been born into slavery around 1750. My owner sold me to Henry Sharpe when I was too young to remember my own kin. Master moved his family and slaves to Georgia. A pious man, he started a Baptist church in his own home. Later, as it grew, he invited his brother-in-law, Matthew Moore, to pastor it. I had helped them erect a wooden building on Buckhead Creek.
Pastor Moore preached to white and black alike. He felt God saw our hearts the same. All were born with the natural inclination to seek self-interest over Godâ€™s. At 23 years old, his preaching pierced me. I acknowledged my helplessness before God, repented and asked for baptism.
A profound passion for Jesus implanted itself in me after my conversion. Along with that came a deep compassion for my enslaved brothers and sisters. Although against the law, Master Sharpe had allowed me to learn to read and write. I found passages in the Bible that taught Godâ€™s love for all humankind. I devoured the book of Exodus that showed his love and power for his own enslaved peoples.
Pastor Moore and Master Sharpe took note of my devotion to the slaves and invited me to preach to the mixed congregation. Shortly after that, the church unanimously voted to ordain me as the first Black minister in America. Sharpe encouraged me to preach to his slaves, as well as those who lived and worked on nearby plantations. Because of their illiteracy, I taught doctrine through hymns. They learned as they sang.
When the Revolutionary War loomed, both Pastor Moore and Master Sharpe remained loyal to the crown. That produced much unrest in our settlement, as our neighbors sided with the rebels. Sharpe deemed it expedient to move his family and property to Savannah, already under British control. Before our departure, Sharpe had granted me my freedom.
My mind traveled back to my current dilemma. â€œSir, I need to get out of the colonies.â€
â€œIâ€™m sure you do. Bloody bummer your former master died in battle so soon after you came to Savannah.â€
â€œYes, sir. On Tybee Island.â€
â€œHad he lived; youâ€™d not have this trouble with his heirs. I heard they locked you up in jail.â€
I nodded. â€œMy wife found my freedom papers, so they had no choice but to release me.â€
â€œAll of us Loyalists are in a fix.â€ Kirkland sighed. â€œFleeing to England. Canada.â€ He paused. â€œI can get you to Jamaica.â€
â€œSir.â€ I swallowed hard. â€œI appreciate that. However, I have no money for passage. Would you considerâ€¦â€
I nodded. â€œI see no other way.â€
â€œAbsolutely.â€ Kirkland smiled. â€œHow many?â€
â€œSix. My wife, four children and myself.â€
â€œDone. Youâ€™re a man of your word, Liele.â€ He extended a hand. â€œAs am I." He turned.
â€œCome, letâ€™s get back to my office. Iâ€™ll draw up the papers now.â€
â€œI havenâ€™t a moment to lose. Sharpeâ€™s heirs will come back.â€
â€œDon't concern yourself, friend. Iâ€™ll have you on the next boat. Trust me on that.â€
George Liele (1750-1828). One of the most faithful and least known generals in Godâ€™s army. First ordained Black minister. First missionary of modern times. His influence reached the colonies, Jamaica, Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone.
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