Reading on slavery and a visit to the slave Castle may produce the same emotions but the intensity of these emotions differ, trust me. My recent visit to the Elmina castle in Cape Coast produced mixed feelings. It is the year of return in Ghana and my tour group comprised of many black Americans from the diaspora. From their facial expressions, comments made, questions asked, and the tears shed during the tour, one can know the emotions without being told. It was a journey of reconnecting to our past, guilt, strength to fight for Justice and a shaken faith.
I can still remember how my lungs ached for air when the tour guide locked us in one of the dungeons to experience it for ourselves. I could barely see the person standing next to me and the stench emanating from the cells made me feel my forefathers left just the previous night. They slept and lived on the floor of cells drenched in their own faeces, vomit and saliva. Women had no access to water even during their menstruation. These are cells connected with a door of no return which sealed their fate of enslavement. On top of where all these were going on is a church where the Europeans worshiped. THE CHURCH on the DUNGEON! Heaven and hell separated by centimeters of sedimentary rocks.
It got me thinking. Your missions are different, they came to trade and you came to spread the gospel. But how can you be a missionary and be living at a place where your fellow neighbours whom you were taught to love as yourselves are being kept in captive? You may argue if a foreigner comes to your country the first place he would like to go is his embassy for information. Why didn’t they leave after seeing the atrocities being committed. The Missionaries were facing hostile conditions from the Africans, so the only safe place was the castles. But there were many prophets in the Bible who got persecuted for the propagation of the gospel and yet did not use the hostile conditions as an excuse. They did not live there forever. But after how many years? If you would live among them why couldn’t you do anything to end slavery? I asked.Then he answered, ask yourself whether there are Christians in war-torn countries. Some Missionaries were against the practice for example John Wesley. What about the ones who used Christianity to justify slavery? They felt slavery was a necessary evil to spread Christianity. they backed their tales with quotation such as 1Corinthians 7:21, 1Peter 2:18, 1Timothy 6:1, Colossians 4:1 etc. . .
After seeing these scriptures which do not condemn slavery then I came across those that do not condone it either. Deuteronomy 23:15, Deuteronomy 24:7 Ephesians 6:9 etc.
On this journey from the dungeon to the church I found out about a man, John Newton, a slave trader who later changed and became an Anglican priest. Now when I sing “Amazing Grace How sweet the sound that saved a wretched like me, I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see”, I feel John Newton wrote this hymn for a deeper expression of his transformation. I’m consoled with the fact that he influenced William Wilberforce in the fight to abolish slave trade. I’m also grateful for the industrial revolution which focused on technology rather than slave labour.
We still have people preaching one thing and doing another. There are also those who misquote the Bible to justify their ugly deeds. We must be vigilant and study the Bible for ourselves. Ask all the questions and look for your answers. Ignorance can shake your faith. You can visit https://truselph.wordpress.com/2019/08/19/questioning-the-unquestionable/ for a catalyst to your interest in researching the Bible.
Let’s learn to focus more on the word rather than those who preach the word. Not all those who come in God’s name are truly for God.
Thanks for reading, I will be excited to know your thoughts on The CHURCH on the DUNGEON.
Stay safe, Bridget Delali.