First-ever endowed directorship at Southeastern, named after first Baptist missionary George Leile

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The name George Leile is not well known and this is unfortunate. He is important for several reasons for missionary and Baptist life. Leile, as reported in Daniel Akin’s book, 10 Who Changed the World, was the first Baptist missionary who predates international Baptist missionaries William Carey and Adoniram Judson. Leile was a black man and former slave who left America to plant the gospel in Kingston, Jamaica in 1782. 

In 1773, Leile was saved at the age of twenty-three. He preached for two years in the slave quarters of plantations surrounding Savannah, Georgia, even making his way into South Carolina. Later God, in his providence, sent him to Jamaica. Once Leile lands in Jamaica, Akin writes, “This cross-centered man set about the business of preaching Christ to a people in need of both spiritual and personal emancipation.” 

The fruit of Leile’s labor consisted of his influence in the abolition of slavery in Jamaica, the eruption of nearly 20,000 Baptists in Jamaica, and thousands of lives saved through a single man’s obedience to the Lord.

In honor of Leile and his ministry, Southeastern has endowed the George Leile Directorship of Missions. This endowment accomplishes several objectives: (1) it honors the testimony of a nearly forgotten missionary by bestowing his name upon the directorship for one of the leading missionary training centers in the world; (2) it helps cover the costs of ensuring a competent and Christ-like director leading The Center for Great Commission Studies (CGCS) until Christ’s return; (3) the endowment forecasts to the world that Southeastern desires to become more like the Kingdom of Heaven – a multicultural and ethnically diverse institution here on earth.  

Scott and Pam Reed and David and Susan Morrison, both of North Carolina, are underwriting this endowment. The Reeds have been supporters of the CGCS since 2006, while the Morrisons began supporting Southeastern by financially helping a student directly, then they became contributors to the Southeastern Fund, and recently became interested in ways to encourage faculty and staff in their work. 

This endowed directorship is the first-ever at Southeastern. Daniel Palmer, Director of Financial Development, notes, “Directors, in one way or another, are here to serve Christ by serving students, and they are a critical part of the ‘behind the scenes’ work of equipping students. We hope this new endowed level of ‘directorship’ at $500,000 will encourage more donors to consider how they might be a significant part in helping to ensure that there is competent and Christ-like leadership in place to prepare future champions for King Jesus regardless of any future economic headwinds we may face. 

“Seeing God bring donors like the Reeds and Morrisons together around the priority of preparing students for fulfilling the Great Commission never gets old. Our prayer is that God would send more like them who are happy to live in the background and give credit to a missionary nearly lost to history and to prejudice in order that Christ would be exalted among the nations.”

The history of the Southern Baptist Convention was once rooted in slavery, but the history of Baptist missionary efforts began with an African-American man saved in a predominantly white church. Southeastern is intentionally leading the way in communicating to the Southern Baptist Convention and the world that while man may look at the outside, Christ looks at the heart and delights to call, save, use, and commission people out of every tribe, tongue, language and nation. 

To learn more about endowed directorships, contact Daniel Palmer at [email protected] or call 919.761.2352

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