Friday, February 7, 2014

Rosa Young- Hero of Faith

An absence here online lately with a trip to Israel.
I will tell that story during Lent this year.

But, now, back to the series of Hero of Faith stories. 
When you say Hero and Rosa - together,
perhaps you think of Rosa Parks. 
 But, there is another noteworthy Rosa story. 
Rosa Young.

This Hero of Faith book was written
 by Christine S. Weerts in 2011. 
Rosa Young lived from 1890-1971
and knew first hand the struggles of civil rights. 
She was born into a family that lived in rural Alabama.
Her early years were spent helping
tending the fields and the crops of cotton.
 Both parents had been slaves
and set free by President Lincoln.
 Her parents had lived a hard life.
 Her father survived cruel beatings
 and Rosa heard about slaves who were forbidden
to learn to read and write.
At an early age, Rosa decided she wanted to be a teacher.
She worked to teach her siblings, but with little supplies or help.
 Her spelling book and Bible were the main textbooks.
Though her parents owned their own land, 
her neighbors had little and went without shoes,
proper clothes and nourishing food.
There was such a great need all around.
 Then Rosa got sick and the Dr. called it "rheumatism"
and declared she would never walk again.
 This condition became her constant cause of pain.

But, with a prayerful heart she sought the Lord's healing
 and soon was up and walking, and even returned to the cotton fields.
Rosa loved singing Spirituals and it brought her great JOY.
With the encouragement of the landowner,
she decided to make the most of her talents.
Her community soon rallied behind her
and sent her to Payne University in Selma.

The country girl was challenged to make
her way among the "city" students.
Finally, she began to make friends,
 but  she had to leave before the
school year ended to work in the fields.

An unkind landlady added to her strife,
but it did not dampen Rosa's spirit.
 She became the editor of the school newspaper, 
won speaking contests and was elected senior class President.
She graduated in June 1909, as class valedictorian,
 and urged her classmates to do something for mankind.

Rosa passed her state teaching exams
and began teaching in vacant schools.
She was always the sole teacher and had from 45-100 in her classes.
She prayed for the children in her care.

Her home town of Rosebud, asked her to return and teach.
She saved her money and filly built her own school for over 200 students.
Then, the boll weevil arrived in Alabama in 1914, destroying field after field.
As farmers were forced to flee to the North to find work, her funds dropped.

Rosa continued to teach that:  Life+Christ =Success.
She sought help form her own Methodist church for funds,
but they could help.
 She then wrote to Booker T. Washington-
the President of Tuskegee Institute. 
He also did not have any resources but told her- "Try the Lutherans, 
they are providing education for white and back people." 
Rev. C.F. Drewes received her letter,
 and he responded by sending Rev. Nils Bakke to Alabama,
 arriving in December, 1915.

With crippling health issues, this over 60, 
Norwegian Lutheran did not appear to be the answer to prayers. 
But, this hardworking preacher organized teaching
and soon a congregation formed.
 Just four months after his arrival,
 he baptized 58 men, women and children and confirmed 70. 
 Rosa became the first black woman confirmed in Alabama.
This mission start served to form 35 congregations
 and 30 Lutheran schools served over 1200 children.

At the age of 52, Rosa saw the forming of Alabama Lutheran Academy, 
a  high school and junior college focused on training teachers and pastors.
Many in her life were touched by the teachings of the Lutherans in the area, 
 and Rosa gave thanks for the partnership in the Gospel she had with them.
The Academy later became Concordia College.

Rosa Jinsey Young
was awarded an honorary doctorate
 from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis,
 in 1961for her dedicated service. 
She was the first woman to receive such an award.
She died after a lengthy illness and died June 30, 1971
 and is buried on the grounds of her church in Rosebud, Alabama.

Want to read more of this amazing story?
Rosa's biography was published in 1930-
 Light in the Dark Belt: The Story of Rosa Young as Told by Herself.
and was purchased on Amazon.

Light in the Dark Belt is the inspiring story of Rosa Young, 
who labored tirelessly in service to Christ, 
to establish Lutheran schools among the African-American
 communities throughout the Deep South.
Dr. Young accomplished much in a time of great discrimination,
 but she ran a faithful race,
 and left a valuable legacy.

How might she inspire you to dream big
 and live a life that reaches many for Christ?

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