Come…! Look…! Choose! | Randy Willis

I grew up on a Louisiana red dirt road. I have walk them. I have ridden my horse down them—working cows on what was then the open range. I have driven cars and trucks a many a mile down their winding paths.  I love those roads.

One of my favorite poems is The Road Not Taken, written a century ago, this year, by Robert Frost.  The last stanza contains my favorite words written by Frost:  Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.  Oh, how true that has been in my life.

Yet, there is another road, perhaps even less traveled. It’s not a red dirt road or the one Frost wrote about.  Come…and look…and choose this road —if you will. It will change your life. It will even change your destiny.

Did you know?

I grew up on a Louisiana red dirt road. I have walk them. I have ridden my horse down them—working cows on what was then the open range. I have driven cars and trucks a many a mile down their winding paths. I love those roads. One of my favorite poems is "The Road Not Taken," written a century ago, this year, by Robert Frost. The last stanza contains my favorite words written by Frost: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." Oh, how true that has been in my life. Yet, there is another road, perhaps even less traveled. It's not a red dirt road or the one Frost wrote about. Come...and look...and choose this road —if you will. It will change your life. It will even change your destiny. Did you know? by Randy Willis   In 1829, a man named George Wilson was found guilty of six charges and given the death sentence. But, Wilson had influential friends who petitioned President Andrew Jackson for a pardon. Jackson granted the pardon, and it was brought to prison and given to Wilson. To everyone’s surprise, Wilson said, "I am going to hang."   There had never been a refusal to a pardon, so the courts didn’t know what to do. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and Chief Justice John Marshall gave the ruling, "A pardon is a piece of paper, the value of which depends upon the acceptance by the person implicated. If he does not accept the pardon, then he must be executed."   God loves you, and yes, He has provided a pardon for you, paid for with Christ’s own life-blood, but you have the right to refuse the pardon. Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One thief said yes to Jesus, but the other said no to Him. One accepted the pardon and the other refused it. The question to you and I today is the same as it was 2,000 years ago: which thief on the cross are you? The one who said yes to God's pardon or the one that said no to His pardon? I have chosen to say yes. You have the same choice. ✯ ✯ ✯ Did you know…?   God is seeking you! Come The last invitation in the Word of God is found in Revelation 22:17: "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely." Are you thirsty? Then come. Let him that hears come. And, whosoever will, come. That invitation is to you...it is to me...it is to everyone! Bring your disappointments, bring your failures, bring your fears, bring your heartaches. The Holy Spirit says come to Jesus. He loves you. He wants to save you. He will save you. Come to Jesus, and drink the water of life freely. He suffered, He bleed, He died, because He loves you. Listen to the still small voice, of the Holy Spirit, saying to you come to Jesus. Don't wait—come! ✯ ✯ ✯ Look "Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." (Isaiah 45:22) "All you ends of the earth" is the Aboriginal people of the Central Australian desert. "All you ends of the earth" are those in darkest Africa. "All you ends of the earth" are the isolated tribes in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. "All you ends of the earth" is presidents, world leaders, and kings. “All you ends of the earth" is the polished lawyer, and the gifted doctor, and the brilliant college professor. "All you ends of the earth" is the prostitute, and the drug dealer, and the rapist, and the thief, and the murderer. "All you ends of the earth" is you...and me. God's Word, the Bible, states, "So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived." Those that looked lived. Those that looked were healed. Those that looked were made whole. Those that looked were saved. They didn't wait to they were a better person. They just looked. Jesus tells us that this is a picture of Him being lifted up on the cross. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:14-15) That serpent represented the sin of the people. Christ was made sin for us. Will you look to Jesus—will you put your trust in Him—the One who died for your sins. Will you put your faith in Jesus—the One who shed His life-blood for you...and for me?   Some years ago my eldest son, Aaron, was in an automobile accident. His back was broken so badly that the doctors said he might not ever walk again. After fusing several vertebrae in his lower back he was able to begin the long task of healing from the spinal fusion surgery, in a rigid plastic back brace. Later, his doctor finally agreed to let him briefly remove the brace to take a shower, as long as someone was with him. As I was driving to pick he and his brothers up for the weekend, unbeknown to me, his brother, Josh, and he removed the brace so he could take a hot shower, in his shorts. Josh was with him, but was much smaller than him at that time. As I drove, I decided to stop at the post office, when a still small voice spoke to me saying, "you need to go now." I passed the post office and drove as fast as I could wondering what that warning was about. There were no cell phones then. As I entered the house I asked his mother where he was. She said in the shower. I ran to it and as soon as I entered the bathroom he said, "Dad, I'm dizzy." I stepped into the shower and placed by arms under his arms from his back. He immediately passed out. I told his younger brother to help me move him to a bed, while their mother called 911. His dead weight was more than I could have ever imaged. We got him onto the bed without reinjuring his back. I knew if he had fallen he might have been paralyzed. As I prayed, following the ambulance to the hospital's emergency room, I noticed the symbol on the back of the ambulance. It was the American Medical Association's (AMA) logo of a serpent wrapped around a staff. The sign of healing medicine reminded me of the bronze serpent on the staff lifted up by Moses. Many Christians believe that's were it originated from. But, more importantly it reminded me of Jesus being lifted up on a cross for my son. God's son in place of my son...I really can't fathom love that great. To this day, I cannot see that symbol without giving thanks to the Lord for that warning, and the shed blood of Christ lifted high upon a cross for my sins, for your sins, for the sins of the entire world. Surely, there can be no greater love than God giving His Son's life-blood for us. When we arrived at the hospital, the doctors gave him intravenous (IV) fluids and two bottles of Gatorade for dehydration. The hot shower, along with pain medication and dehydration, had caused his blood to rush to his feet and therefore faint. Will you look to the One that was lifted up on a cross for you? Will you look to the Great Physician—Jesus, to heal you of all your pain? Will you look to Jesus, who took your place on a cross and died for your sins? ✯ ✯ ✯ Choose Jesus hung between two thieves on a cross. One of them rejected Him, but the other one put his faith in Him, "Will You remember me when You enter Your kingdom?" Jesus replied, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Now, both of those men were guilty. One put his trust in Jesus, and the other chose not to. Again, the question is, which thief on the cross are you? Now, there was a third cross that day. It was for another criminal named Barabbas and he represents us. Jesus was crucified on a cross meant for Barabbas—it was your cross, too—it was my cross, too. Jesus bore your cross and my cross. He took our place on that cross. The just for the unjust. The Righteous for the unrighteous. The sinless Lamb of God for the sinner. Self improvement will not qualify you for salvation for God's Word says, “There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10) Comparing yourself to others will not work either, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Doing the best you can will not save you for the Scriptures record, "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6) Ask yourself, If you could be good enough to pay for your sins then why did Jesus have to die for you? The answer is you can't. Come—come just as you are. Will you say yes to Jesus—today? There’s a Scripture that I love, and it explains things so very simply. It says, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:9-10) You can settle this question right now in heaven and on earth by saying yes to Jesus—accepting His pardon, just as that one thief did on the cross. There are no exact words. Praying is just talking to the Lord. If these words are how you feel in your heart, then pray: Heavenly Father, I come to You in prayer, asking for the forgiveness of my sins. I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is Your Son, And that He died on the cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and I ask You right now to come into my life and be my personal Lord and Savior. I repent of my sins and will surrender You all the days of my life. Because Your word is truth, I confess with my mouth that I am born again and cleansed by the blood of Jesus! In Jesus’s Holy Name I pray. Amen! ✯ ✯ ✯ The most famous words ever spoken: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) "Whoever," that's you...that's me...that's everyone. Come to Jesus. Look to Jesus. Choose Jesus. Today! Blessings, Randy Willis randywillis@twc.com www threewindsblowing com 512-565-0161 All Scripture references are from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible. ✯ ✯ ✯ "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot (Evangelical Christian who was killed, in 1956, while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador ).

Did you know…?

In 1829, a man named George Wilson was found guilty of six charges and given the death sentence. But, Wilson had influential friends who petitioned President Andrew Jackson for a pardon. Jackson granted the pardon, and it was brought to prison and given to Wilson. To everyone’s surprise, Wilson said, “I am going to hang.”   There had never been a refusal to a pardon, so the courts didn’t know what to do. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and Chief Justice John Marshall gave the ruling, “A pardon is a piece of paper, the value of which depends upon the acceptance by the person implicated. If he does not accept the pardon, then he must be executed.”   God loves you, and yes, He has provided a pardon for you, paid for with Christ’s own life-blood, but you have the right to refuse the pardon. Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One thief said yes to Jesus, but the other said no to Him. One accepted the pardon and the other refused it. The question to you and I today is the same as it was 2,000 years ago: which thief on the cross are you? The one who said yes to God’s pardon or the one that said no to His pardon? I have chosen to say yes. You have the same choice.

✯ ✯ ✯

Did you know…?

God is seeking you!

Come…
The last invitation in the Word of God is found in Revelation 22:17: “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
Are you thirsty? Then come. Let him that hears come. And, whosoever will, come.
That invitation is to you…it is to me…it is to everyone!
Bring your disappointments, bring your failures, bring your fears, bring your heartaches. The Holy Spirit says come to Jesus.
He loves you. He wants to save you. He will save you. Come to Jesus, and drink the water of life freely.
He suffered, He bleed, He died, because He loves you. Listen to the still small voice, of the Holy Spirit, saying to you come to Jesus. Don’t wait—come!
✯ ✯ ✯
Look

“Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22)

“All you ends of the earth” is the Aboriginal people of the Central Australian desert. “All you ends of the earth” are those in darkest Africa. “All you ends of the earth” are the isolated tribes in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. “All you ends of the earth” is presidents, world leaders, and kings. “All you ends of the earth” is the polished lawyer, and the gifted doctor, and the brilliant college professor. “All you ends of the earth” is the prostitute, and the drug dealer, and the rapist, and the thief, and the murderer. “All you ends of the earth” is you…and me.

God’s Word, the Bible, states, “So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” Those that looked lived. Those that looked were healed. Those that looked were made whole. Those that looked were saved. They didn’t wait to they were a better person. They just looked.

Jesus tells us that this is a picture of Him being lifted up on the cross. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15) That serpent represented the sin of the people. Christ was made sin for us. Will you look to Jesus—will you put your trust in Him—the One who died for your sins. Will you put your faith in Jesus—the One who shed His life-blood for you…and for me?   Some years ago my eldest son, Aaron, was in an automobile accident. His back was broken so badly that the doctors said he might not ever walk again. After fusing several vertebrae in his lower back he was able to begin the long task of healing from the spinal fusion surgery, in a rigid plastic back brace. Later, his doctor finally agreed to let him briefly remove the brace to take a shower, as long as someone was with him.

As I was driving to pick he and his brothers up for the weekend, unbeknown to me, his brother, Josh, and he removed the brace so he could take a hot shower, in his shorts. Josh was with him, but was much smaller than him at that time.

As I drove, I decided to stop at the post office, when a still small voice spoke to me saying, “you need to go now.” I passed the post office and drove as fast as I could wondering what that warning was about. There were no cell phones then. As I entered the house I asked his mother where he was. She said in the shower. I ran to it and as soon as I entered the bathroom he said, “Dad, I’m dizzy.” I stepped into the shower and placed by arms under his arms from his back. He immediately passed out. I told his younger brother to help me move him to a bed, while their mother called 911. His dead weight was more than I could have ever imaged. We got him onto the bed without reinjuring his back. I knew if he had fallen he might have been paralyzed.

As I prayed, following the ambulance to the hospital’s emergency room, I noticed the symbol on the back of the ambulance. It was the American Medical Association’s (AMA) logo of a serpent wrapped around a staff. The sign of healing medicine reminded me of the bronze serpent on the staff lifted up by Moses. Many Christians believe that’s were it originated from.

But, more importantly it reminded me of Jesus being lifted up on a cross for my son. God’s son in place of my son…I really can’t fathom love that great. To this day, I cannot see that symbol without giving thanks to the Lord for that warning, and the shed blood of Christ lifted high upon a cross for my sins, for your sins, for the sins of the entire world. Surely, there can be no greater love than God giving His Son’s life-blood for us.
When we arrived at the hospital, the doctors gave him intravenous (IV) fluids and two bottles of Gatorade for dehydration. The hot shower, along with pain medication and dehydration, had caused his blood to rush to his feet and therefore faint.

Will you look to the One that was lifted up on a cross for you? Will you look to the Great Physician—Jesus, to heal you of all your pain? Will you look to Jesus, who took your place on a cross and died for your sins?
✯ ✯ ✯
Choose
Jesus hung between two thieves on a cross. One of them rejected Him, but the other one put his faith in Him, “Will You remember me when You enter Your kingdom?” Jesus replied, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Now, both of those men were guilty. One put his trust in Jesus, and the other chose not to. Again, the question is, which thief on the cross are you?

Now, there was a third cross that day. It was for another criminal named Barabbas and he represents us. Jesus was crucified on a cross meant for Barabbas—it was your cross, too—it was my cross, too. Jesus bore your cross and my cross. He took our place on that cross. The just for the unjust. The Righteous for the unrighteous. The sinless Lamb of God for the sinner.

Self improvement will not qualify you for salvation for God’s Word says, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10) Comparing yourself to others will not work either, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Doing the best you can will not save you for the Scriptures record, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6) Ask yourself, If you could be good enough to pay for your sins then why did Jesus have to die for you? The answer is you can’t.

Come—come just as you are. Will you say yes to Jesus—today?
There’s a Scripture that I love, and it explains things so very simply.

It says, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

You can settle this question right now in heaven and on earth by saying yes to Jesus—accepting His pardon, just as that one thief did on the cross.
There are no exact words. Praying is just talking to the Lord.

If these words are how you feel in your heart, then pray:

Heavenly Father,
I come to You in prayer, asking for the forgiveness of my sins.
I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is Your Son, And that He died on the cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven.
Father, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and I ask You right now to come into my life and be my personal Lord and Savior.
I repent of my sins and will surrender You all the days of my life.
Because Your word is truth, I confess with my mouth that I am born again and cleansed by the blood of Jesus!
In Jesus’s Holy Name I pray. Amen!

✯ ✯ ✯

The most famous words ever spoken:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“Whoever,” that’s you…that’s me…that’s everyone. Come to Jesus. Look to Jesus. Choose Jesus. Today!

Blessings,
Randy Willis

randywillis@twc.com   www threewindsblowing com 512-565-0161

All Scripture references are from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible.

✯ ✯ ✯

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot (Evangelical Christian who was killed, in 1956, while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador ).

Randy Willis | About

Randy Willis is the author of Three Winds Blowing, Louisiana Wind, Twice a Slave, Texas Wind, LIGHT, No Name City, The Apostle to the Opelousas, The Story of Joseph Willis, and many magazine and newspaper articles. 

Twice a Slave has been chosen as a Jerry B. Jenkins Select Book, along with four bestselling authors. Jerry Jenkins is author of more than 180 books with sales of more than 70 million copies, including the best-selling Left Behind series.
Twice a Slave has also been adapted into a dramatic play (vimeo.com/99360694and (https://youtu.be/8hMLYDQglkc) a

t Louisiana College, by Dr. D. “Pete” Richardson (Associate Professor of Theater with Louisiana College).Randy Willis owns Randy Willis Music Publishing (an ASCAP-affiliated music publishing company), and Town Lake Music Publishing, LLC (a BMI-affiliated music publishing company). He is an ASCAP-affiliated songwriter.

He is the founder of Operation Warm Heart (vimeo.com/41195752and (https://youtu.be/o-zCvzH2kdU) which feeds and clothes the homeless, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Our Mission Possible (ourmp.org) in Austin, with the goal of empowering at-risk teens to discover their greatness . He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Joseph Willis Institute at Louisiana College.

He was born in Oakdale, Louisiana. He lived on Barber Creek, between Forest Hill and Longleaf, Louisiana, as a boy. He currently resides in the Texas Hill Country.

He graduated from Angleton High School in Angleton, Texas, and Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, with a BBA. He was a graduate student at Texas State University for six years.

He is single and the father of three sons and has four grandchildren. All of his books are dedicated to them by name.

Randy Willis is a fourth great-grandson of Joseph Willis, and his foremost historian.

✯✯✯✯✯

The Birth of the Biographies, Novels and the Play…

And, the real-life connections between William Prince Ford, Solomon Northup, James “Jim ” Bowie, and Joseph Willis

As a child Randy Willis lived on Barber Creek between Longleaf and Forest Hill, Louisiana. As a teenager, he worked cows with his family, near Forest Hill, on the open range, owned by lumber companies. Seven generations of his family have lived there, beginning in 1828 with his 4th Great-Grandfather Joseph Willis. Randy would often ride his horse through his family’s neighboring property, which was once William Prince Ford’s Wallfield Plantation, not realizing the significance of his ancestor’s connection to Solomon Northup and William Prince Ford.

✯ ✯ ✯

After writing the biography The Apostle to the Opelousas, Randy Willis got the idea for the novel and the play Twice a Slave from his friend and fellow historian Dr. Sue Eakin. She contacted him after reading an article that mentioned he had obtained the Spring Hill Baptist Church’s minutes. The minutes had much information on two of its founders: Joseph Willis and William Prince Ford.

Ford had bought the slave Solomon Northup on June 23, 1841, in New Orleans. He immediately brought him to his Wallfield Plantation. Just 46 days later, on August 8, 1841, Joseph Willis and William Prince Ford founded Spring Hill Baptist Church. Ford’s slaves attended the church with him, which was the custom in pre-Civil War Louisiana.

The plantation was located on Hurricane Creek, a fourth-mile east of present-day Forest Hill, Louisiana. It was located on the crest of a hill, on the Texas Road that ran along side a ridge. Northup called this area, in his book Twelve Years a Slave, “The Great Piney Woods.” Northup worked on the plantation and at Ford’s lumber mill, on eighty acres of land, along Indian Creek near the present-day Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center.

Ford was also the headmaster of Spring Creek Academy located near his plantation and Spring Hill Baptist Church. It was there, in 1841, that Joseph Willis would live and entrust his diary to his protégé William Prince Ford, according to historian W.E. Paxton (A History of the Baptist of Louisiana, from the Earliest Times to the Present, 1888).

✯ ✯ ✯

Ford was not a Baptist preacher when he purchased Solomon Northup and the slave Eliza, a.k.a. Dradey, in 1841, as many books, articles, blogs, and the movie 12 Years a Slave have portrayed.

The first part of the Spring Hill Baptist Church minutes are written in Ford’s own handwriting since he was the church ‘s first secretary and also the first church clerk. The minutes reveal that on July 7, 1842, Ford was elected deacon. On December 11, 1842, Ford became the church ‘s treasurer, too. It was during the winter of 1842 that Ford sold a 60% share of Northup to John M. Tibeats. Ford’s remaining 40% was later conveyed to Edwin Epps, on April 9, 1843.

It was not until February 10, 1844, that Ford was ordained as a Baptist preacher. A year later, on April 12, 1845, Ford was excommunicated for “communing with the Campbellite Church at Cheneyville.” But, Ford’s later writings reveal that he remained close friends with his neighbor and mentor Joseph Willis.

A decade before (in 1834, after a Louisiana Baptist Association meeting) William Prince Ford said of Joseph Willis, “It was truly affecting to hear him speak of them [his churches] as his children; and with all the affection of a father allude to some schisms and divisions that had arisen in the past and to warn them against the occurrence of anything of the kind in the future. But when he spoke of the fact that two or three of them had already become extinct, his voice failed and he was compelled to give utterance to his feelings by his tears; and surely the heart must have been hard that could not be melted by the manifestation of so much affection, for he wept not alone.” (W.E. Paxton, A History of the Baptist of Louisiana, from the Earliest Times to the Present, 1888).

✯ ✯ ✯

Dr. Eakin asked Randy Willis if he would help her with her research on William Prince Ford. He also lectured in her history classes, at Louisiana State University at Alexandria, on the subject.

Dr. Eakin wrote Randy Willis on March 7, 1984, “We had a wonderful experience dramatizing Northup and I think there could be a musical play on Joseph Willis. It seems to me it gets the message across far more quickly than routine written material.” She added, “a fictional novel based upon Joseph Willis’s life would be more interesting to the general public than a biography and would reach a greater audience.”

Dr. Eakin is best known for documenting, annotating, and reviving interest in Solomon Northup’s 1853 book Twelve Years a Slave. She, at the age of eighteen, rediscovered a long-forgotten copy of Solomon Northup’s book, on the shelves of a bookstore, near the LSU campus, in Baton Rouge. The bookstore owner sold it to her for only 25 cents. In 2013, 12 Years a Slave won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

In his acceptance speech for the honor, director Steve McQueen thanked Dr. Eakin: “I’d like to thank this amazing historian, Sue Eakin, whose life, she gave her life’s work to preserving Solomon’s book.”

✯ ✯ ✯

James “Jim ” Bowie was a neighbor of Joseph Willis when they both lived near Bayou Chicot, Louisiana. Jim’s brother, Rezin Bowie, was a neighbor to Joseph’s eldest son Agerton Willis and eldest grandson, Daniel Hubbard Willis Sr. for four years (1824-1827) in the village of Bayou Boeuf. The name changed to Holmesville, in 1834, and is located near present-day Eola. It was at Holmesville, on Bayou Boeuf, that Edwin Epps enslaved (1845-1853) Solomon Northup for the last eight years of his twelve year indenture.

✯ ✯ ✯

It was in the village of Bayou Boeuf that Joseph’s eldest son and Randy Willis’s 3rd great-grandfather Agerton Willis met and married Sophie Story (an Irish orphan). Their eldest son Daniel Hubbard Willis Sr. would be the first of many in the family to follow Joseph Willis into the ministry. He even planted more churches in Louisiana than Joseph. His son, Daniel Hubbard Willis Jr., is the main character in the Randy Willis’s novel Louisiana Wind.

✯✯✯✯✯ 

The son of a white man and Cherokee slave, Joseph Willis gains his freedom and swims the mighty Mississippi, in 1798, riding only a mule .

In the Louisiana Territory he preaches the first Gospel sermon by an Evangelical west of the Mississippi River.

Joseph Willis’s life is a story of triumph over tragedy and victory over adversity!

✯ He was born into slavery. His mother was Cherokee and his father a wealthy English plantation owner.

✯ His family took him to court to deprive him of his inheritance (which would have made him the wealthiest plantation owner in all of Bladen County, North Carolina in 1776).

✯ He fought as a Patriot in the Revolutionary War under the most colorful of all the American generals, Francis Marion, The Swamp Fox.

✯ His first wife died in childbirth, and his second wife died only six years later, leaving him with five small children.

✯ He crossed the mighty Mississippi River at Natchez at the peril of his own life, riding a mule!

✯ He entered hostile Spanish-controlled Louisiana Territory, when the dreaded Code Noir (Black Code) was in effect. It forbade any Protestant ministers who came into the territory from preaching.

✯ His life was threatened because of the message he brought to Spanish-controlled Louisiana!

✯ His own denomination refused to ordain him because of his race.

✯ Joseph Willis preached (1798) the first Gospel sermon by an Evangelical west of the Mississippi River.

✯ On November 13, 1812, Joseph Willis constituted Calvary Baptist Church at Bayou Chicot, Louisiana. He went on to plant over twenty churches in Louisiana.

✯ October 31, 1818, Joseph Willis (and others that had followed him from the Carolinas) founded the Louisiana Baptist Association, at Beulah Baptist in Cheneyville. Joseph had founded all five charter member churches.

✯ After overcoming insurmountable obstacles, he blazed a trail for others for another half-century that changed American history.

✯ His accomplishments are still felt today.

Randy Willis is a fourth great-grandson of Joseph Willis, and his foremost historian.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JOSEPH WILLIS VISIT: www.threewindsblowing.com