Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Adoniram Judson

What a stud.

On Friday night I returned from a trip to Singapore and Cambodia. More to come on that later.

On the plane ride I read a book called "Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ" by John Piper, which contains three mini biographies of men who suffered for the sake of the gospel.

The night I got home, I couldn't fall asleep until 5am (I thought I was smarter than jetlag. Turns out I'm not), so I finished the book.

The last biography in the book was of a man named Adoniram Judson.

I'd heard his name before, but couldn't tell you much about him. But what I learned about his life has caused me to revaluate my life, my dreams and my willingness to suffer on God's behalf.

This is a lame picture of him I found online. He looks totally boring and pensive, but his life was anything but boring.

The first thing that struck me was a letter Adoniram wrote to the father of Ann, the woman he wanted to marry, one month after he met her.

"I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjugation to the hardships of missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean, to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting you daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?

Can you imagine getting that letter?  I made had my dad read it last night and asked him what he would do.  He laughed as he read and replied, "I hope I'd rise to the occasion."

How utterly ridiculous his letter seems in our culture where commitments are made and broken on a whim, and any destination in the world is merely a plane flight away.  But, man, there's something so right about it.

I also like that it has my blog title in it :).

Ann's father passed the buck and told her that she could decide.  She wrote to her friend in a letter:

"I feel willing, and expect, if nothing in Providence prevents, to spend my days in this world in heathen lands. Yes, I have come to the determination to give up all my comforts and enjoyments here, sacrifice my affection to relatives and friends, and go where God, in his Providence, shall see fit to place me."

Now that's a woman I aspire to be like.  Strong, prayerful, and willing to give up everything for her Savior.

Adoniram and Ann were missionaries in India (the voyage there took 114 days) for several years before deciding to go to the unreached country of Burma (now Myanmar).  They preached the gospel and worked to translate the Bible for 6 years before they baptized their first convert.


It was only after 19 years of working there, spending a year in prison, and Ann's death due to sickness and malnutrition, that Adoniram finally began to see spiritual revival in Burma.

Adoniram never saw his brother or parents again after the day he sailed for India with Ann. I wonder if he had known what lay in store for him if he still would have gone.

He married again when he returned to America for the first time in 33 years. Unfortunately, his second wife also died, as well as seven of his twelve children.

Today about 3,700 Baptist congregations exist in Burma, all finding their roots in Judson's courage, perseverance and faithfulness to the gospel of Christ.

Adoniram's story makes me simultaneously exhilarated and convicted. What I view as sacrifices are minuscule compared to the sacrifices Adoniram and Ann made. Sacrifices they willingly made because they were so convinced of the truth of Scripture, and the existence of the one true God. Would I be willing to give up all that they did? Am I that convinced of the faith I've based my life on?

Another missionary in the 1800's, John Paton, decided to become a missionary on an island of cannibals, simply because no one else would go. What would the church look like if Christians lived like that today? What if the criteria for where we live and serve was not how it fits our skill set, experience and passions, but rather how great the need?  Paton felt the Lord say to him, "Since none better qualified can be got, rise and offer yourself!"  Oh, that I would be willing to hear the Lord say those words, and not rationalize them away with my sense of worldly practicality!

At the same time I'm convicted, I'm excited and encouraged (that's enCOURAGEd). I'm excited because I serve the God who brought Adoniram through everything he endured, and who protected John Paton from the cannibals and helped him reach them with the gospel. I serve the God who gave them the courage, perseverance and long-suffering to endure terrible trials for Zion's sake.

May God grant us each the courage to be obedient to His call on each our lives, whatever that may be.

1 comment:

  1. ok wow. so encouraged.
    a little convicted.
    but crazy encouraged.

    six years, one convert.
    numbers like that don't fly in most churches these days.

    but that is still SERVING Jesus. Crazy.

    thanks boots, love that you posted this.