John Leland began to feel the call of God working in his life as a young man. Later, in Virginia, God opened his eyes to the work He had for him to do. Leland became a pastor and evangelist in Virginia, and Baptists suffered tremendous persecution. He was influential in the First Amendment to establish religious freedoms and liberty. He began with a flood of petitions (one time using a wheelbarrow to carry them all), pushing for separation of church and state.