The list [of pioneer preachers] is a long and brilliant one. In the antebellum days it includes names which are immortal in our archives. George Lisle, a Negro, who was the first American Baptist foreign missionary, preceding William Carey, the renowned European missionary, by at least fifteen years.
Lisle, though handicapped by the chains of human slavery and hampered by law-enforced ignorance, incurring the penalties of being a Negro, rose above all these degrading circumstances and became the chief human factor in the salvation of Jamaica, the most beautiful island in the Carribean Sea.… To Lisle belongs the honor of possibly being the first ordained Negro Baptist preacher in the New World. He preached in Georgia during the Revolutionary War, and his ministry was greatly blessed by a number of converts whom he baptized in the Savannah River.
At the close of the war he went to Jamaica as the indentured servant of Col. Kirkland, an English officer. On getting settled in his new home on the island, Lisle was so deeply impressed with the sad conditions of superstition and ignorance in which he found the Negroes of Kingston, that he determined to do something to alleviate this state of affairs. He preached first at the race tracks and on the street, but later, hired a room at his own expense and organized a little Baptist church consisting of four persons.
Others joined him in forming a church which grew until in less than eight years he had baptized 500 persons.
In 1789 he builded a chapel, and in spite of the rentless storm of persecution which he encountered, during which time he was imprisoned, placed in the stocks and finally tried for his life, for preaching “sedition.” From 1805 to 1814, a law forbidding all preaching to slaves was strictly carried out. One man was hung for preaching and baptizing—but their labor bore fruit and when in 1814, Baptists in England were moved by letters of appeal from Lisle and others, to send missionaries, they found the people ready to greet them and cooperate in their work, because of the pioneer mission work established by George Lisle, 35 years before.…
McBeth, H. Leon. A Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1990.