The World – The making of the first colored bishop – November 9, 2020

While Dr. James H. Franklin, who was long in charge of the foreign ministry work of the Baptist Church, was traveling across the continent a few years ago he noticed that the porter of his car had seven gold stripes on the sleeve of his jacket. “What’s the meaning of all those gold stripes?” asked Dr. Franklin. “Them’s not stripes, boss; them’s bars,” the old negro answered; “they mean Ah’ve been servin’ this road thirty-five years.”

For a while the old man kept at his work, but presently he came back and asked, “Say, boss, is you a preachah?” “Yes, but how did you guess it?” asked the doctor. “Oh, Ah jess saw a book in your seat, and Ah thought that you must be a preachah. Ah was almos’ one once myself.”

“Why did you give it up?” asked Mr. Franklin. “well, sah, Ah wanted to be, but Ah’s got a younger brother, and when Ah told him Ah wanted to preach, why he’d abeen converted, and wanted to preach hisself. So we all talked it over, and decided that he’d go ahead to college, and Ah’d work on the road. So Ah did, boss, and sent him money every month till he got through dat dere college and got a good edication.”

The passenger asked if the brother finally became a preacher. “Yes, sir, in Africy. They call him Bishop Scott.” “Bishop Scott!” said Dr. Franklin in amazement, as he gazed at the humble porter. Bishop Scott is said to have been the first colored preacher whom the Methodist Church ever made a bishop.

Dr. franklin had often read of the heroic work of this mighty colored man. Later when Dr. Franklin was in a little town in Georgia he heard that Bishop Scott was to speak that night at a certain church. Franklin went. As soon as the service was over he shook hands with the speaker. “Have you a brother who is a porter on a sleeping car, Bishop?” he asked.

Then he told of the incident on the train. “Yes,” said the mighty dark man, “he’s my brother, and may God bless him! I owe everything to him.”

Many are those humble souls – mothers on the farm, fathers in the grim battle in the shop and behind the desk – who have made bishops and ministers, mighty men of God, by the same plan. May all such unsung heroes of the Cross receive the blessings of God here; and, if not here, surely on the other side their rewards shall be great, and their entrance in shall be abundant.

(Excerpts from “Answered prayers and soul-winning incidents – published in 1940)

 


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