Kingdom Women: Eliza Davis-A Divine Connection by Joy Davis

When I am teaching the course “Personal Leadership Development” at a seminary in Africa, I use a book by Bill Clinton called The Making of a Leader. Out of the nine chapters in the book, Clinton spends two of the chapters explaining the concept of Divine Connections.

This term is used to help the reader understand that only God can connect people together divinely, either by situation and circumstances that can bring them together face-to-face or by some other means. In this case an African-American Missionary to Liberia named Eliza George Davis’ past connected with my present in 2012, but was not revealed until today, 2015.

A good comparison

Often I find myself comparing my life and ministry with missionaries from the past and present. The comparison can be good or bad. In finding out a little about the life of Eliza George Davis, I stumbled upon a Divine Connection, a good comparison with a rich contribution to the Kingdom, but I was unprepared for the depth of my discovery. I just peeked into the life of missionary Eliza George Davis a little bit, and found that she made a footprint in Monrovia, Liberia in 1914, that I stepped into on one of my missionary trips to Liberia in 2012.

Let me explain. Eliza George Davis,1879 -1980, was born in Texas and had a calling on her life to serve as a missionary to Africa. Despite opposition she arrive in Monrovia in 1914 as an evangelist supported financially by the National Baptist Convention. She planted 27 churches and opened a school called the Bible Industrial Academy (renamed the Suehn Industrial Mission).

Dedicating School

Dedicating School

The school ministered to children, tutoring and teaching them the gospel message. It is said that in the first two years of her ministry she saw more than 1, 000 people accept the Lord in Liberia. Eliza married and raised three children she adopted. Hardship hit the area and the school suffered financially, eventually closing. For years after that, the National Baptist Convention campaigned to reopen the school, which yielded several failed attempts.

On November 8, 2012, a team of 11 people from the National Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board, took off from JFK in New York bound for Monrovia, Liberia, to participate in the 2012 Centennial Celebration of the Suehn Industrial Mission. I was part of that team.I had no knowledge of the history or relationship with Eliza George Davis as the original founder of Suehn. As part of the National Baptist Convention, this was-another attempt to rebuild and reopen the school that had been totally destroyed during the 15-year Civil War from 1990-2005. Today, together with the people of Liberia and members of the National Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board, we are rebuilding Suehn.

“News of the re-establishment of the Suehn and Bendu Mission Stations has been welcomed on both sides of the ocean. Alumni of the missions in both the U.S. and Liberia are sharing in the excitement, with plans for outreach and in contributions of time, input, and personal and professional resource.” Rev. William B. Moore, Chairman, FMB, NBC, USA, INC., Mission Herald 2012

A Divine Connection

While in Liberia, I visited the ruins of the Suehn Industrial Mission. We held a ceremony on the grounds where the school once stood and rededicated it to the Lord for rebuilding.

While thinking on African American missionaries from our rich history and past, I stumbled upon this unknown Christian soldier, not knowing that we had a divine connection:

Although we have never met, we stood in the same place in Liberia at different times in history. Eliza had a call upon her life and loved serving in Africa, as do I. She planted churches in Liberia and I helped plant my first church in Nairobi, Kenya, this year. Her mission was to teach children to read the Bible and show them helpful life skills. I am a missionary with Cru and serve as City Coordinator of S.A.Y. Yes!®

--After-school mentoring and tutoring program for at-risk children in the inner city. What a comparison!

If I could compare myself to someone like Eliza with such perseverance, faithfulness, commitment and dedication to the Lord, I would say that is a good comparison and a Divine Connection.

Hearing the Call of the Lord…Eliza heard the voice of the Lord and stated: "My African brother is calling me; Hark! Hark! I hear his voice . . . Would you say stay when God said go?"

I stand on the word of God from Isaiah 6:8 “And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then said I, “Here am I: send me.”

The fact that my last name is Davis is another Divine Connection.

What about you?  Has God given you some divine connections?

Excerpts taken from:

National Baptist Convention, Foreign Mission board

Dr. Joy Davis is an ordained and licensed Minister. She is on staff with CRU- Campus Crusade for Christ Internationall. and serves as City Coordinator, S.A.Y. Yes!® Centers for Youth Development. She has led the S.A.Y. Yes! training in Guyana, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Haiti.

She has more than 25 years of experience in the area of Youth Development, Missions, and Discipleship. She is an adjunct Professor at ILU in Nairobi, Kenya, where she teaches Personal Leadership Development.

She is a published author of Developing Disciples of Victory, a handbook on discipleship and new members in the local church. She is the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient for Community Transformation, from Ashland Theological Seminary.In 1999, Rev. Dr. Joy received her Master of Arts in Christian Education from Ashland Theological Seminary, (ATS) Ashland, Ohio, and in 2002 she received a Master of Divinity. She earned a Doctor of Ministry in 2007 from ATS. She is a Vietnam Era Veteran, and served in the US Army. She was born and raised in the inner city of Detroit, MI and relocated to Orlando, FL in 2013.

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