All Sins Swept Away
Jarena Lee (1783–c.1850) was one of the outstanding preachers in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was a servant in Philadelphia when her conversion began:
I inquired of the head cook of the house respecting the rules of the Methodists, as I knew she belonged to that society, who told me what they were—on which account I replied that I should not be able to abide by such strict rules not even one year. However, I told her that I would go with her and hear what they had to say.
The man who was to speak in the afternoon of that day was the Reverend Richard Allen, since bishop of the African Episcopal Methodists in America. During the labors of this man that afternoon, I had come to the conclusion that this is the people to which my heart unites. And it so happened that, as soon as the service closed, he invited such as felt a desire to flee the wrath to come, to unite on trial with them—I embraced the opportunity.
Jarena Lee’s Life was transformed after hearing a sermon by the then-unknown Richard Allen.
Three weeks from that day, my soul was gloriously converted to God under preaching, at the very outset of the sermon. The text was barely pronounced, which was “I perceive thy heart is not right in the sight of God” [Acts 8:21], when there appeared to my view, in the center of the heart, one sin, and this was malice—against one particular individual who had strove deeply to injure me, which I resented.
At this discovery I said, “Lord, I forgive every creature.”
That instant it appeared to me as if a garment, which had entirely enveloped my whole person even to my fingers’ ends, split at the crown of my head and was stripped away from me, passing like a shadow from my sight—when the glory of God seemed to cover me in its stead. That moment, though hundreds were present, I did leap to my feet and declare that God, for Christ’s sake, had pardoned the sins of my soul. Great was the ecstasy of my mind, for I felt that not only the sin of malice was pardoned, but all other sins were swept away together.
That day was the first when my heart had believed and my tongue had made confession unto salvation. The first words uttered, a part of that song which shall fill eternity with its sound, was “Glory to God!” For a few moments, I had power to exhort sinners and to tell of the wonders and of the goodness of him who had clothed me with his salvation.
By Jarena Lee
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #45 in 1995]Jarena Lee (1783–c.1850) was one of the outstanding preachers in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Focus on the Frontier Family
How Methodists strengthened the Christian home—and changed it.Gregory Schneider
The Great Spirit Descends
A stirring camp meeting among Native Americans.James B. Finley
Christian History Interview — Revivals That Changed a Nation
Frontier faith captured the heart of the common person—and molded America’s character.Nathan O. Hatch
Christianity on the Early American Frontier: Recommended Resources
More resources about Christianity on the American frontier.Dickson D. Bruce, Jr.
Subscribe to magazine
Subscription to Christian History magazine is on a donation basisSubscribe
Christian History Institute (CHI) is a non-profit Pennsylvania corporation founded in 1982. Your donations support the continuation of this ministryDonate