This is the day that … Adoniram Judson was born, in 1788.
He was to become America’s first foreign missionary. His passion for reaching Burma led to the formation of the first American Mission societies. He sailed from his homeland as a Congregationalist, and arrived in India as a Baptist, in 1812. En route his translation of the New Testament from Greek to English convicted him the Baptist position on baptism was correct.
With his young bride, Ann, he soon found himself in Burma, with a 33 year ministry (without furlough) ahead of him, during which he would see the death of both Ann and his second wife, Sarah; endure a 23-month imprisonment in intolerable conditions – and translate the Bible into the Burmese language.
Then he would return to America for a brief furlough – and go back to Burma with his third wife, Emily. Each of his wives is hailed for their commitment and contribution to his life and work. (On August 22 I will share with you a moving account of the life of Judson’s third wife, Emily Chubback)
It took him six years to see his first convert and he faced many obstacles that would have discouraged a lesser man. Significant among his converts was the first convert from the Karen tribe. The man, Ko Tha Byu, has come to be known as the Karen Apostle, the virtual founder of Karen Christianity. Recognising that Christianity was the fulfilment of his people’s own legends this man’s ministry resulted in the conversion of thousands. Within 25 years there were over 11,000 baptised Karen believers.
When Judson died in 1850 he left behind a flourishing church with 7000 members and more than 100 national Burmese pastors. He insisted that each convert be discipled with thorough Biblical training, rather than just make a confession. This led to a strong church among the converts.
“Judson became an inspiring example of missionary sacrifice and dedication for several generations of young people,” says E.A. Wilson.
True! And he would continue to be an inspiration to today’s Christian young people if they would read his biography.
This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.