This Black History Month, International Ministries celebrates the rich history of Black missionaries in global ministry. We honor the history of Black missionaries who served pivotal roles in IM’s early years of cross-cultural mission. We celebrate and remember Black leadership throughout IM’s past, including the faithful service of George Liele (1750-1783), Lott Carey (1780-1828), and Dr. Louise Celia Fleming (1862-1899).
George Liele (1750-1783)
George Liele was born into slavery in Virginia in 1750 and later became the first ordained African American Baptist preacher in America. His passion for Christ led him to spread the gospel in America and Jamaica, planting churches and schools for the children of both freed and enslaved parents. Despite persecution and imprisonment, his faithfulness left a legacy of disciples, churches, and thousands of Baptists in Jamaica, making him one of the first cross-cultural missionaries and an inspiration for future church leaders.
Lott Carey (1780-1828)
Lott Carey was a prominent African American Baptist missionary and the founder of Liberia’s first African American Baptist church. Born into slavery in Virginia, Carey gained his freedom and became a skilled tradesman and a devout Christian. He felt God’s call to spread the gospel, and in 1821, he and his family sailed to Liberia as missionaries. Carey was a crucial figure in the country’s establishment, helping negotiate treaties with local chiefs and advocating for the rights of African Americans in Liberia. Despite facing numerous challenges, Carey remained committed to God’s mission, and his legacy continues to inspire generations of African American missionaries.
Dr. Louise Celia Fleming (1862-1899)
Louise Fleming was a pioneering African American woman who made history as the first female medical missionary and the first African American woman appointed as a missionary by Baptists. She dedicated her life to serving others and empowering the Congolese people by providing quality medical care and training them to provide much-needed medical support within their communities. Despite facing numerous challenges, Louise’s legacy inspires us to be brave and compassionate and respond to the needs around us, even if that means creating new paths.
George Liele, Lott Carey, and Dr. Louise Celia Fleming were among the first Black cross-cultural missionaries whose work continues to inspire us today and for generations to come. Their faithful service in God’s mission is an integral part of IM’s history as we remain committed to responding to the needs of communities worldwide.