Jeremiah 20:9- Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not. NKJV
Jeremiah is one of my favorite prophets in the Old Testament. He seems so real, so human. The experiences he wrote about would make someone wonder if he really had a relationship with God since people are prone to believe that trouble means God has forsaken you. But such was not the case!
Jeremiah experienced many attacks as he declared the word of God. Although he was anointed by God as a prophet to the nations, there are no known miracles attributed to him. He wasn’t accepted by the people or the leadership. He was put in a pit and later locked away. Things got so bad, Jeremiah said that he just wasn’t going to say anything else that God told him to say! Things were rough!
Jeremiah came to the point where he said that he didn’t want to make mention of God anymore. He even said that he didn’t want to speak in His Name! But try as he did, he couldn’t help himself! God’s word was like fire in his bones and he just had to share it!
Julia Foote knew some of what Jeremiah was talking about. Born in Schenectady, New York in 1823 to former slaves. Julia was raised in a godly home and from an early age had a sensitivity to the things of God. Wanting to read the Bible for herself, she asked her father to teach her to read, but because he was not a proficient reader, he agreed to send her to live with another family so that she could go to school.
I believed that if I were educated, God could make me understand what I needed; for in spite of what others said, it would come to me, now and then, that I needed something more than what I had…Julia Foote, A Brand Plucked From Fire
While living with the other family, Julia was accused of stealing and was beaten. Although she adamantly denied stealing, the family didn’t believe her. This led Julia to turn her face from God and towards the world. When she returned home, she was no longer interested in the things of God. One night, while attending a dance, she reported that she felt the power of God so strongly, she believed she might have died on the spot if she didn’t quit dancing.
When Julia was 15 years old, she heard a sermon that caused her to give her heart to God, declaring that she was wonderfully saved from hell. The hunger for God’s word returned to Julia and she began studying the word at every opportunity so that she might understand it better, but she still felt burdened with sin. Julia said that she went to every spiritual leader that she knew to get an answer to her spiritual dilemma, but they all told her that what she was experiencing was a normal part of the Christian life.
I can relate to this part of her testimony, for as a young teen, I too hungered for God and was told that God didn’t expect us to really live out everything that was in the bible or to completely understand it. I didn’t believe that, and neither did Julia!
There came to our church an old man and his wife, who, when speaking in meeting, told of the trouble they once had had in trying to overcome their temper, subdue their pride, etc. But they took all to Jesus, believing His blood could wash them clean and sanctify then wholly…Their words thrilled me through and through…I needed a Philip to teach me.Julia Foote, A Brand Plucked From the Fire
Julia continued to search for the truth of God’s word, and one day she visited with a couple whom her church associates warned her to stay away from. It was while talking with them that she learned about the doctrine of sanctification. When she visited a second time, she experienced “the weight of glory resting” upon her. Her prayers had been answered and through faith, she experienced her Savior as she had believed that she could! She became a new person! It sounds like she was filled with His Holy Spirit!
A few years later, Julia married George Foote, and together they moved to Boston. While in Boston they began attending the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. George was a sailor and spent a lot of time away from Julia, during which time she devoted herself to service for the Lord.
“God is holy, and if I would enjoy constant communion with Him I must guard every avenue of my soul, and watch every thought of my heart and word of my tongue, that I may be blameless before him in love.”Julia Foote, A Brand Plucked From the Fire
Julia began to believe that God had called her to preach the word, but she didn’t believe in women preachers. After much struggling to resist the call on her life, she yielded to the will of God. At this point, she began to experience persecution from the pastor and was kicked out of the fellowship. Once Julia had decided to respond to the call on her life, she walked through every door that was opened before in spite of the attacks against her.
Julia’s father and husband died while she was experiencing some of her toughest challenges. But she continued on with the work of the Lord. Julia shared an experience she had in one of her meetings where the power of the Holy Ghost fell in their midst and people were moved to prayer and tears. Many souls were saved as a result of that night and many other services in which she allowed God to use her.
Julia was a role model for other Black women who believed that God had called them to preach His word. Traveling throughout the United States and Canada for over 50 years, she was actively engaged in ministry until her death at age 78. Her message was simple, God sanctifies us and calls us to holiness after He saves us. Wonderful Savior!
Julia died in 1901, long before I was born. As a Black female minister, I am grateful for her service and passion for the kingdom of God. This may not be last that we hear of Julia Foote, and it most certainly isn’t the last that I will read of her, for tonight I have been inspired by this woman who dared to answer the call of God even when it was not popular or acceptable for her to do so! That’s the power of having the fire of God in your heart, for when you do, you cannot hold your peace! Wonderful Jesus!