John Jasper
1812 – 1901

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John Jasper was born a slave, the last of twenty-four children. He grew up on a plantation where he labored in the fields until he reached adulthood. One day in 1839, while working in a tobacco factory he was converted to Christ. Immediately sensing a Divine call to the ministry, he began to tell everyone of his salvation.

He preached for sixty years, twenty-five of them as a slave. After the Civil War, he started a church on an island on the James River in Richmond, Virginia. The congregation grew to thousands before his death. Legislators, judges, governors, and many men of distinction went to hear him preach.

He preached the fundamental doctrines of the faith with unsurpassed ardor. Jasper believed the Bible to be the source of all authority, and he preached it in nearly every county and city in Virginia and often beyond. He was sought after continually, and in that respect he stood unmatched by any man of his race. His moral and religious ideals were very lofty, and he lived up to them to a degree not true of many men.

Many of the most distinguished white ministers of the country went to hear him preach when they were in Richmond. John Jasper was called the most original, masterful, and powerful Negro preacher that this country has ever produced.