Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November 11, 2015

"He has told you, O Man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

Before I get to my thoughts for the day I want to first express my gratitude to all of you vets for your service to our great nation!

The issue of slavery became increasingly divisive to the Nation and, as history records, led to a brutal bloody Civil War. This divide was primarily between the industrial North and the agricultural South where slavery was, in all fairness, integral to the economy.

Obviously, not all Southerners were pro-slavery. Like nowadays, there were good people who chose to remain silent in the face of this evil. The Wesleyans were not among those choosing to be silent.

In North Carolina, forty anti-slavery Methodists withdrew from their church. They had heard of the Wesleyan Methodists, and asked them for a pastor. That was not a request easily granted. To be an abolitionist above the Mason-Dixon line was one thing. To cross that line in the turbulent days before the Civil War was quite another thing. The risks were great, and the Wesleyans did not feel free to appoint someone to go but did put out a call for a brave volunteer.

All eye-witness account of what happened next on the floor of the annual conference in Ohio is recorded: “After a season of prayer, Brother Adam Crooks arose, his cheeks pale as marble. ‘I will go,’ he said, ‘Sustained by your prayers, and in the name of my Savior, I will go to North Carolina.’”

Adam Crooks was now 23, newly ordained, and single. He knew it would be hard, but he had no idea how hard it would be. In the journal of his journey south, Crooks recorded the road was rough. Dr. Roy Nicholson later remarked (personal note, Dr. Nicholson preached my ordination sermon, laid hands on us and signed my ordination certificate) “His road would be rough for the next four years.”

In North Carolina, Crooks was labeled an outside agitator, a dangerous radical, and a traitor to the white race. He was also labeled a “disturber,” one charge which was certainly true! He was tarred and feathered in effigy. He was prohibited from speaking on the courthouse grounds in Forsythe and Guilford counties (where Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem are located), denying him his First Amendment free speech rights. In fact, judges in North Carolina ruled the constitutional guarantee did not apply to “True Wesleyans”! Interestingly enough, a recent book on violations of the right of free speech in the pre-Civil War South focuses on Wesleyan ministers.

Reverend Crooks was dragged from the pulpit and beaten numerous times. Twice he was poisoned - once by a false friend who said, “Your life is in danger. Come and stay with me.” He survived an assassination attempt when armed men lying in ambush one day saw that he was alone and decided against an attack.

Through all of this, the question that challenged him was, “Can you give your life for the Cause?” (Cf. II Corinthians 11:23b-28.)

Obviously, Adam Crooks was willing to give his life to “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with his God.”

What are you willing to do?