I’m reading a book called Empowered which contains eleven short biographical sketches of women used by God (I’ll review the book on a later post). This morning I was particularly impressed by the life of Phillis Wheatley. Why have I, a former English major, never heard about this amazing woman? We don’t know Phillis’s real name because she was a slave, purchased in 1761 by the Wheatley family in Boston. In a time when many women, much less slaves could not even read and write, Phillis became not only educated, but a poetess. Her master decided to have her writing published and eventually she was freed. Much of her writing had to do with her faith in God and the freedom only He can bring. Below is her poem, On Being Brought From Africa to America:
‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.
Her writing is somewhat controversial today, as she seems to accept her lot as a slave. We must remember that she was a person of her own time, with her own experiences and worldview. Above all, Phillis is a shining example of how God can use us to glorify Him in every circumstance. She should be an inspiration for women and for all Christian writers.