Baptists and the American Civil War: December 20, 1862

Southern Baptist foreign mission and Indian mission efforts have fallen by the wayside, spiritual casualties of the war. In their place is a now-intense focus on mission work among the Confederacy’s white men serving in the army. Believing they are called of God to save the army in order to save the nation, Baptist leaders of the South are daily rallying home front support for the evangelization of an army full of wickedness.

This (soldier’s colportage) is now the work of Christians. The Providence of God has cut us off from other fields of usefulness, and, in this, has opened for us a mighty theatre for the fullest display of christian liberality, effort and sacrifice. We dare not neglect the cultivation of this golden opportunity for the evangelization of our people: Christians, at the peril of the divine displeasure only, may omit to share in the sacrifices and exertions attendant upon this great work. Never before, in the history of nations or of wars, was there such an opportunity for the display of christian zeal, for benefitting one’s own country, or for softening the rigors of war and the cruelties of man, by the sweet amenities of the Gospel.

The delightful duty is offered to all; and its benefits accrue to all. Our country–our own beloved country–those whom we love, and who are laying down their lives for us and for our happiness, are the recipients of our bounty and the objects of our beneficence.

Agents the most simple, and at the same time the most comprehensive and efficacious, are employed–they are simply the diffusion, by faithful colporteurs, of evangelical truth, and the christian converse of zealous missionaries. In Richmond and Petersburg, Va.; in Charleston, S.C., and in Macon, Ga., are publication societies, whose Tracts are being scattered all through our armies, and whose colporteurs are braving the wind, the storm, the rain and the cold, in order to reach the rank and file and sow the seeds of eternal life.

Let us help those men with our money. Thus will we best encourage the defenders of our soil, and secure the blessings of Almighty God.

Sources: “Soldier’s Colportage,” Christian Index, December 16, 1862; an example of a Confederate religious tract (link); image (link)