While thumbing through the Holy Bible (The African American Jubilee Edition/King James Version), I came across some interesting Women History facts. Women who have proclaimed the Gospel to all the world. Interestingly, I had not heard of these great missionaries. Not only were they born in America, but they dedicated their lives to spreading the gospel. So, I decided to share a brief history of each of these ladies during Women’s History Month. I did not write these biographies, I simply copied them from the Bible I was thumbing through.
Amanda Berry Smith (1837-1915) was first a preacher in the African Methodist Church. Later, she became a Missionary Evangelist who preached in the United States, as well as in England, Scotland, Africa, and India. Against the most adverse circumstances, beginning her life as a slave, she not only preached God’s Word, but she lived it. She also encouraged Christians to achieve “spiritual perfection.” Amanda dedicated her life to helping women and children.
Lulu (Louise Cecilia) Fleming (1862-1899) was born during slavery, but became a career missionary in the Women’s American Baptist Foreign Mission Society of the West. During her short life, she served God in Africa. Miss Fleming was the valedictorian of her class at Shaw University. She also received a medical degree from the Pennsylvania Women’s Medical College, in preparation for a position as a medical missionary in the Congo.
Jarena Lee (1783-1857) was born a free person in New Jersey. Against much opposition, she was the first black woman to preach the gospel in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1809. She was not granted a license to preach but because of her persistence Richard Allen became supportive of her ministry.
Zilpha Elaw (c.1790) was converted at a camp meeting in1817. At the same time, she received a call to the ministry. Zilpha Elaw ministered in the south to congregations of slaves even though she was a free black woman from the north. As a free black woman from the north she was in danger of being captured and sold as a slave, but this did not stop her from preaching the gospel to slaves. Eventually, she joined with Jarena Lee to form a preaching team.
Virginia W. Broughton (c. 1850) was the first black woman to receive a college degree in the south (Fisk University). She dedicated her life to home missions and forming Bible study groups for women. She was very active in Sunday School work, and what was called the “Bible Band.” Virginia W. Broughton was a fine example of a person who combined her faith with her teaching.
By Debbie P. Williams