“They shot tear gas at our group of 20 — some of us completely unarmed, all law-abiding religious citizens. Wielding their batons, they beat, kicked and prodded the people. Many police officers and plainclothes agents beat two sisters to the floor (one of the sisters is relatively advanced in age). They passed out on the spot with foam coming from their mouths and convulsions in their hands and legs. We demanded that they be sent to the hospital immediately. The officials wouldn’t listen to us and continued to hit the people with their batons.”
… Chinese Christians tell of police raid on an “unauthorized” house church, February 23, 2011, Zaoyang City, Hubei Province, China
Barbados National Hero risked everything to pray at her home.
Every Barbadian knows the name of Sarah Ann Gill, the only female declared as one of our country’s ten national heroes. On this National Heroes Day, we should ask ourselves if we really remember what Sarah Ann Gill did, and why she did it.
In October 1823, a mob of whites burned the Methodist Church in Barbados where Gill was a member. At that time the Methodist Church in England was in the forefront of the movement to ban slavery and that didn’t go over very well with the slave owners in Barbados.
The response of the Mother of Barbados was to open her own home for prayer services. Gill was relentlessly prosecuted by the authorities and threatened with death.
Some sources state that Gill was charged under the Conventicles Act of 1664 which forbade assembly of more than five persons for divine worship unless in a licensed meeting place and led by a licensed preacher. The act had already been repealed but that apparently didn’t stop the authorities.
Gill acquitted herself so well that the same authorities who persecuted her sent soldiers to guard her home when a mob attempted to burn it on October 19, 1824. Gill continued to hold worship services at her home and raised money for a new church.
On June 25th, 1825 The House of Commons in England declared that “ample protection and religious toleration be secured to all” – and Sarah Ann Gill and other religious dissenters secured their right to worship where they saw fit, without needing the blessing of the state.
What would Sarah Ann Gill think of Barbados cuddling up to China today? What would she think of our silence for our Christian brothers and sisters – beaten and jailed in China?
Something to consider as we look out over these fields and hills on National Heroes Day.