Andrew Bryan: Pastor, Church Planter, and Servant of God
Andrew Bryan was born August 16, 1737, in South Carolina. He received Christ hearing the gospel preached by George Liele. Andrew Bryan was baptized in the Savannah River by George Liele and was a founding member of the First African Baptist Church. On January 20, 1788, Bryan was ordained as a minister. About nine months after George Liele left Georgia for Jamaica, Bryan had begun preaching to congregations of both Black and White parishioners. Bryan was willing to go to the extreme to make sure the gospel was preached, and fellowship was maintained within his congregation. This was evidenced by his imprisonment twice for conducting church services. On one occasion, Andrew was whipped so severely that one of the White men present said that “such treatment would be condemned even among the barbarians” (Davis, 124). Nevertheless, as Andrew Bryan was being whipped, witnesses reported that he rejoiced. He had concluded that even if he died during the punishment, he could take joy in knowing that he had died for the cause of Christ.
The more Andrew continued to reach the lost among Black American slaves, the more attention he drew from masters who saw black American slaves coming to saving faith in Christ as a threat for revolt. Slave patrols would whip, arrest, and punish church-going slaves even when they had permission to be there. This is one of the earliest Christian persecutions in American history. Additionally, we see the Pastoral staff face grave injustice. “The culmination was that Andrew Bryan, their pastor himself, and his brother, Sampson Bryan, one of the first deacons, were ‘inhumanly cut and their backs were so lacerated that their blood ran down to the earth as they, with uplifted hands, cried unto the Lord; but Bryan in the midst of his torture, declared that he rejoiced not only to be whipped but would freely suffer death for the cause of Jesus Christ’” (Woodson, 49). This posture of rejoicing when receiving whipping and even facing death comes from knowing that being patient in suffering will lead to life in Christ for those who believe no matter how excruciating and heinous the persecution is.
Bryan, his fellow staff, and congregants understood that the present suffering does not compare to the coming glory. Jesus explains to his disciples that the injustices they will face in this life will not only be an outstanding gospel witness, but that not even death can conquer the eternal life and glory we have in Christ. Andrew Bryan continued to serve the Kingdom, and by God’s grace the church grew exponentially. Furthermore, the growth of his church, which reached 700 members, caused the Second and Third African Baptist Churches of Savannah to be birthed. Andrew Bryan was willing to endure violence and persecution that provide the opportunity for gospel fruit to survive and thrive beyond his earthly days, and that truly is a blessing we ought to hear, celebrate, and model. Let us remember, celebrate, and continue the legacy of Andrew Bryan.
To learn more about George Liele check out this blog: Rev. George Liele: Church Planter, Missionary, and Servant of God
Check out the Student Contributions to this series here:
Paving the Way to Worship: Black Christian Leaders You Should Know by Hozell Francis II
Rev. George Liele: Church Planter, Missionary, and Servant of God by Hozell Francis II
Dr. E. W. McCall: Innovator, Educator, Trendsetter by Hozell Francis II
Lisa Fields: Apologist and Servant of God by Armon Patrick
You can also find 2022 Black History Month blogs authored by CBU faculty here:
Why Black History Month? by Dr. Charles Lee Johnson
Why I Can’t Wait to Get my Ida B. Wells Barbie by Dr. Krystal Hays
Remembering to Forget, to Begin Again by Dr. Viola Lindsey
Not Black History Just History by Dr. Stephen Brown