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Sojourner Stories

From The Power of Hope

A Sermon By Charles Rush

And profound spiritual blessing is all the more deeply reorienting. I'm thinking of the story of Sojourner Truth, a black woman born into slavery in Ulster County, New York, around 1797. She was sold and cut off from her family and years later when she had a child of her own, he was sold and she was cut off from him. She was broken from the start, badly damaged goods.

Sojourner was befriended by Quakers, who hid her until the Emancipation Law passed in New York in 1827. The Quakers, of course, told her that she was a child of God and precious in God's sight. They blessed her with God's blessing. We don't know all that happened to her during that period but she says that at some point she had a profound experience of God's love for her through Jesus. And that blessed her and empowered her. She changed her name from the name her slave masters gave her to Sojourner Truth, a name which came to her during a time of prayer.

In addition to working, finding her son and rebuilding a family together, Sojourner traveled across our country preaching for an end to slavery in the South and for Women's Rights in our country. She became an enormous social force. Never mind that she was uneducated, never mind that she was freed slave, never mind that she was a woman. She would not be resigned to the accidents of history because she was filled with a moral and spiritual purpose and a conviction that God was with her.

And she was an outstanding orator. She attracted large crowds, particularly of women. She was so popular, in fact, that men, often Ministers, tried to keep her from speaking on the grounds that women ought to be submissive to men. I remind you that this was 1830. At one rally, she was confronted by a group of men, and this is what she said.

"I could work as much and eat as much as any man and bear the lash as well and aren't I a woman? I have born children and seen them sold into slavery and when I cried with a mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me. And aren't I a woman? Some say woman can't have as much rights as a man cause Christ wasn't a woman. Where did Christ come from? From God and a woman. Man had nothing to do with him. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, all women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up and again and now that they are asking to do it, the men better let 'em."[1]

Something dramatic filled the life when Sojourner Truth was blessed and she did an amazing amount of good in the midst of profound adversity because the Spirit was with her.

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