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“Mas Baz” Finds the Lord

One day in 1814, while the sixteen-year-old Basil Manly "was walking alone in a cornfield in Orange County, North Carolina, near the Bingham Academy where he attended school, his mind turned toward spiritual things. His mother, at home on the family farm near Pittsboro in neighboring Chatham County, had been converted, baptized, and welcomed as a member of the local Baptist church. Her influence on her son brought religious conviction, as acceptance of the Christian life seemed to be the way of redemption from the guilt and spiritual distress he found himself in. Walking through the corn, weighing heaven and hell in the balance of his mind, Manly was overcome emotionally, and tears soon coursed down his cheeks. Then, from a distance, he heard a voice, and began to move toward it. As he drew closer, Manly recognized the voice as that of an old black man, and overheard the prayer of the slave pleading for the Lord to speak to ‘Mas Baz.’ Young Manly was overwhelmed, and fell to his knees beside the old man, who helped him to pray. Their weeping and praying soon brought other slaves and the white members of the family with whom Manly was boarding to the scene. The tears of spiritual angst soon became tears of joy, as the young man and his new Christian family, white and black, free and slave, celebrated his conversion. From that day forward, Basil Manly was a Christian."