Black Country is the story of the early life in England of British preacher, Francis Asbury, the George Washington of American Christianity. Black Country opens with the tragic account of the 16th-century Oxford Martyrs, Englishmen who lost their lives on account of printing the Bible in English. By the end of the first chapter, 18th-century England is no longer yearning for the faith of the Oxford martyrs two centuries before- portrayed as a nation that has abandoned the faith and wrestling with rampant illiteracy and a populace addicted to gin. Despite the seemingly insurmountable opposition of a misinterpretation that the religious movement Francis Asbury attaches to is seditious and against the king, Francis Asbury and his fellow preachers remain loyal to their leaders John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley as they lead an effort that attempts to transform a nation. Like his mentor, John Wesley, Francis Asbury travels about on horseback, braving mobs seeking to drown him, smugglers aiming to end his ministerial career and irreligious individuals who are determined to harass the young preacher. In the midst of these difficult circumstances, the young Francis Asbury perseveres, encouraged by his parents, his childhood friends, and his girl.
Black Country is the opening book of The Asbury Triptych Series. The initial story of a trilogy is told from the rugged West-Midlands of England, the iron-working capital of 18th-century Great Britain. Black Country also features the key individuals who launch this religious movement of John Wesley to the American colonies, people like George Whitefield, Lord Dartmouth (Founder of Dartmouth College), and Lady Selina, The Countess of Huntingdon (also a founder of Dartmouth College when she gave funds to the Mohegan preacher from the American colony of Connecticut, Samson Occum). Also in Black Country are American notables, Benjamin Franklin, and Dr. Benjamin Rush. Each of these individuals contributes to this rich story abounding with the shared history of England and America.
Black Country uniquely delivers a portion of Francis Asbury's life never written about before. In the nearly two centuries since the death of Francis Asbury, Black Country details the early preaching circuits of this young itinerant. Francis Asbury's ministry takes him to the beautiful 18th-century English countryside. The rich history of the 18th-century counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Essex and Worcestershire come to life as Francis Asbury diligently spreads the life-changing news of the Bible. In Black Country, the religious hot spots of London also come to life as Francis Asbury experiences the large congregations of the Tottenham Court Road Tabernacle of George Whitefield and the artillery foundry of King Charles I, remodeled into John and Charles Wesley's Foundry Church.
Surviving the risks and dangers of the Black Country, Francis Asbury has an important decision to make. Shall the twenty-six-year-old remain in his homeland where his loving parents, a woman fond of him, a career as a preacher and his life-long friends reside? Or, shall he risk his very life, crossing the treacherous Atlantic Ocean on a voyage to a virgin forest known as America? The city of his destination is broiling in an anti-British hatred as the English king pushes his intolerable acts on his colonial citizens. Francis Asbury's potential help in the new land, the England-born preachers who preceded him to the colonies, are in the process of exiting the American settlements- certain that unrest and war are on the horizon. Even with his hesitation to leave, he senses more, a deeper purpose which calls him.
Despite his love for his country, Francis Asbury eventually gives in to God's call to leave his homeland and cross the hazardous Atlantic Ocean for the American colonies. On the eve of the American Revolutionary War between the colonies and his beloved England, Asbury sails for America.
About the Author
About the Author
Al DeFilippo is a Writer’s Digest award-winning writer with a passion for writing the history of America’s founding generation, told through stories of individuals who exhibit a “fish-out-of-water” characteristic. He has always drawn to stories like the novel, Chesapeake by James Michener, movies like the Patriot and Silverado, and television series like Bonanza. However, he has never read or viewed a story where the American hero is a British citizen. At least until he met Francis Asbury.
The tone of the story which Al DeFilippo created about Francis Asbury, The Asbury Triptych Series, is like combining the television series, Bonanza, with the movie, Amazing Grace, truly a two-continent, 18th-century story where the hero wanders about, witnessing the transformation of a continent from thirteen fledgling colonies into a burgeoning nation. All this while never becoming a citizen of this new country called America. Francis Asbury's efforts contribute much to the enhancement of what is early America.
Al’s involvement with the story of Francis Asbury started in 1996, when he was approached by an associate pastor at the Methodist church he attended with his wife and children. The Reverend David Broadbent asked Al if he knew what a circuit-riding preacher was. Growing up Catholic, Al had no idea what David was talking about. What was a circuit rider and what did he do? When Reverend Broadbent told Al he reminded him of a circuit rider, it naturally piqued his interest.
Drawn to the friendship of Francis Asbury and Harry Hosier, Al knew he had to write a story of this unique pair—a young, inexperienced British pastor away from his homeland and an ex-slave—traveling the thirteen colonies during the Revolutionary War between the American colonies and the British Empire.
Al’s first attempt to write this “fish-out-of-water” story was in the form of thirty, four-minute radio episodes. Eventually, Al wrote several versions of a two-hour film screenplay, one of which received an award from Writer’s Digest. Al has also created a treatment of the story of Francis Asbury and Harry Hosier in the form of a twelve-hour television miniseries. In 1998, a national sports figure was interested in producing Al’s take on Francis Asbury and Harry Hosier as a weekly one-hour television drama. For more on the sports figure and the television series, see the author’s bio page on The Asbury Triptych Series website at www.francisasburytriptych.com.
Al and his lovely wife of thirty years, Kim, live in southern Florida with their two daughters and a Wheaten Terrier named Riley Flynn. He enjoys the British television show, Top Gear. He also enjoys playing the drums and African percussion, when time permits.