March 26th, 2010
Anyabwile, Thabiti M. May We Meet in the Heavenly World: The Piety of Lemuel Haynes. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2009. 132 pp. $10.00. Purchase at Westminster Books.
I have written before on the must read series Profiles in Reformed Spirituality. This particular volume is edited by Thabiti Anyabwile, Pastor First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands (he hates the beach!). Thabiti has written quite a bit recently regarding African-Americans in the pastorate. In his writings, he has focused primarily on Lemuel Haynes, a New England preacher who lived from 1753-1833.
In this short book, Thabiti introduces this “unsung hero of the Christian Faith.” Lemuel preached in the generation following the First Great Awakening (1740-1742). He was indentured to a family at the age of five months and lived with them until he was 21 years old. He began his ministry at the age of 27 and preached until his death in 1863.
He was most known for God’s presence, providence,and power being foremost in his life and preaching. He was also known to have a sense of humor that would bring laughter to just about anyone. We finally see how his sense of God’s presence led him to lead his family in worship each night.
In the snippets of sermons selected by Anyabwile we learn about a pastor who took his charge seriously. Moreover, we learn of a man who thought much of death, not only in his own life, but in the lives of everyone he would talk with or preach to. Often times, he would challenge his listeners that many of them would not be here the next time they meet. You gather a deep sense of the weight Lemuel felt in preaching and sharing the gospel with anyone who would listen.
I have never read anything about Lemuel Haynes (I have the books by Thabiti, but have not been able to read them, yet!). This short introductory biography is a wonderful introduction to a black pastor who was deeply influenced by the “giants” as are many today. It is interesting to read his take on ministers in government or his thought on God’s judgment on congregations regarding the death of pastors.
If you have never heard of Lemuel Haynes, you need to pick up a copy of May We Meet in the Heavenly Places. It is a quick read but one that will have an impact on your ministry and/or walk with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are indebted to Thabiti’s research on Lemuel and making him once again accessible to the many (especially black preachers) wanting an example of pious living and preaching from America’s early history.