Whilst in the UK I have the privilege to study John Ryland Jr. (1753-1825) who was an influential Baptist and evangelical leader. It is a privilege because so many Christians in the world do not have such access to formal Christian education, to be able to study in a land rich in Christian history and to be used by the Lord (DV) to bring this man and his era to life for the practical benefit of the Church today.
John Ryland Jr. was the son of an influential Baptist pastor, a child biblical language prodigy (he could read Ps 23 in Hebrew at age 5 and 1/2), pastor, educator, academic, networker, leader, hymn writer and missionary. Ryland pastored Northampton Baptist Church and later Broadmead Baptist Church in Bristol, a post he held in conjunction with the presidency of the Bristol Baptist Academy. He was one of the Baptist five who reformed the Baptist of their day and through who the Lord brought about the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society and the Second Great Awakening. Ryland was mentored by John Newton (author of Amazing Grace), baptized William Carey, was friends with many notable evangelicals of his day (including William Wilberforce). Ryland, in many seemingly insignificant and significant ways was a well used disciple of Jesus Christ.
I was first introduced to him through a Baptist historian named Roger Hayden when I was looking into researching British Baptist influences on Canadian Baptists. He suggested I investigate Ryland who had never received a thorough historical examination though his Kingdom worth was inestimable. I have since come to appreciate and resonate with much of the doctrine and philosophy of ministry of Ryland and many of his contemporaries and to find their world an exciting historical quest.
For my PhD I will write a biography of John Ryland Jr.
*Have the great privilege to present a paper at the International Conference on Baptist Studies VII: Baptists and Revival in Manchester in July, 2015.