Sermon Illustrations

The Call of Bishop Cowther

That day, as the slaves were packed into the Portuguese slave ship, they probably did not know that they would be free within a few hours. Even as they were freed by the captain of the British frigate, I don’t think anyone knew the incredible long range results. One of the slaves freed that day, would have an incredible journey in that freedom. He would go to school in Sierra Leone, where a lady would teach him to read and to write, despite his being outside the normal age for the school. He did well, very well, and eventually began to teach in school there. He would, in that school, become a believer. He then moved on from being a teacher to assist a pastor, and later become a pastor himself. Not just any pastor – but a missionary called to bring the gospel back to His people.

This young man, enslaved at 21, illiterate at the age of 22, had a future of serving God. Despite those things that held him back in his early life, he would earn a Doctor of Divinity from Oxford University in England. Prior to that, he had preached Christ throughout West Africa and baptize thousands. Such results, that the Queen of England would play a major role in his becoming the first African Bishop in the Church of England.

At Samuel Cowther’s installation as a bishop in the ancient cathedral at Canterbury, sat the captain who freed him, and the teacher who taught him to read were able to be present, to witness the incredible thing that God does, through those He called. How they must have worshipped that day, as they were able to see God’s handiwork so present in their lives.

In our gospel today, we see 4 men, respond to a call from a radical young itinerant prophet, who people claimed was the Messiah. They were, of course, correct. The same man that Cowther, 1800 years later, would be called to serve. 150 years later, we too proclaim that same Messiah, and trust in His work, for us. The four men would journey as well; a journey that was as fascinating as Cowthers, as these men would travel the world, speaking of Christ, telling people about the love of Jesus, and His death on the cross for them – the same message that Bishop Cowther declared.

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