KidsView  | The Adventist Review for kids and those who always will be kids at heart | February 2017

Looking for a Place to Belong

By Chantal Klingbeil

Charles always wanted to feel that he belonged. He was born a slave in Richmond, Virginia, in 1855. For 10 years, until the end of the Civil War, the young boy was someone’s property. No one seemed to love him, much less encourage him.

As soon as he was free, Charles went west, without any parents or relatives to take care of him. He earned his own way by doing odd jobs. Eventually Charles reached the city of Reno, Nevada, and found a place to live and a good-paying job. But he still was lonely and didn’t feel that he really belonged there.

Several years later the 23-year-old noticed a large, striped canvas tent pitched in town. Charles soon discovered these were preaching meetings. Night after night the evangelist spoke about the Bible, and Charles kept coming back. He was intrigued and impressed with the Adventist message.

 One evening a visiting preacher—Ellen White—stood to preach. Charles listened intently to her sermon. She spoke from the book of First John: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1, KJV).
 Sons of God, Charles thought. Charles was being invited to be a son of God! After all the pain and loneliness of his life, Charles realized that he did belong. God wanted to make him part of His family. A few months later, Charles decided to become a Seventh-day Adventist. 

Charles found a place to belong in the Adventist Church family. His new church family sent Charles to Healdsburg College (now Pacific Union College) for two years of schooling.

 After his formal studies were finished, Charles formally began working for God. He preached, canvassed, and evangelized all over the United States. He founded several of the first Black Seventh-day Adventist churches in the United States. In 1889 Charles Kinny became the first Black Adventist minister to be ordained. At one time he was the only Black Adventist preacher in all of the United States, so sometimes his work was lonely. But Charles still found hope in knowing that he was a son of God. He spent the rest of his life telling people that no matter who they were or where they came from, they belonged in God’s family.