Frederick Douglass statue unveiled

The Belfast statue of Frederick Douglass

This brief article was prompted by a report on the BBC website today. A Statue of Frederick Douglass has just been unveiled in Belfast city centre. His name will be unknown to most.

Here is the BBC headline.

Frederick Douglass: Statue of American activist unveiled

I know that it is likely that the most important fact about this man will be overlooked and ignored by the many who will view the statue and especially by those who will be most anxious to sing his praises and make political points before the cameras and microphones of the press!

Frederick Douglass said of Belfast, which he had visited in the 1840s at the invitation of the Belfast Anti Slavery Society and to where he had come when fleeing from the threat of recapture: “Whenever else I feel myself to be a stranger I will remember I have a home in Belfast.” It is recorded that Frederick Douglass asked British Christians never to support American churches that permitted slavery, and he expressed his happiness to know that a group of ministers in Belfast had refused to admit slaveholders as members of the Church.

Here are my comments.

Frederick Douglass – 1817/18 — 1895

A former slave and a leading campaigner for the abolition of slavery but first of all a Christian!

There is no mention of the fact of him being a converted sinner in the BBC report, likely because Sinn Fein has had a leading part in the erection of the statue. Bible Christianity has no place in the ‘persona’ of that party which openly has supported terror and murder, that which is of the same evil ilk as slavery!

In his book, “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass”, he gives the story of his conversion. It was his being brought to faith in Christ that made him what he became and it is that which above all we should remember and celebrate!

But like so much that has been done by the grace of God in the lives of God’s people, little or no mention is made of that truth!

Here is his testimony.

Frederick Douglass – circa 1847–52, around his early 30s

I was not more than thirteen years old, when in my loneliness and destitution I longed for some one to whom I could go, as to a father and protector. The preaching of a white Methodist minister, named Hanson, was the means of causing me to feel that in God I had such a friend. He thought that all men, great and small, bond and free, were sinners in the sight of God: that they were by nature rebels against His government; and that they must repent of their sins, and be reconciled to God through Christ. I cannot say that I had a very distinct notion of what was required of me, but one thing I did know well: I was wretched and had no means of making myself otherwise.

I consulted a good old coloured man named Charles Lawson, and in tones of holy affection he told me to pray, and to “cast all my care upon God.” This I sought to do; and though for weeks I was a poor, broken-hearted mourner, traveling through doubts and fears, I finally found my burden lightened, and my heart relieved. I loved all mankind, slaveholders not excepted, though I abhorred slavery more than ever. I saw the world in a new light, and my great concern was to have everybody converted. My desire to learn increased, and especially, did I want a thorough acquaintance with the contents of the Bible.”

We say, to God alone be all the glory.

Sincerely in Christ’s name,

Ivan Foster