We had dinner with my family on Monday night and, amongst the vast array of silliness mixed with theological discussion with a dash of personal reflection, one of my sisters was telling us about the fantastic speaker she heard at the recent Out of the Valley conference. Louie Giglio is a guy who runs Passion student ministry in the US. He’s a well known speaker and it sounded like the ministry he heads up is really significant. I’m glad she shared it with us.
“Adoniram Judson sensed God’s call to serve overseas while a student at Yale. He was one of the founders of trhe Student Volunteer Movement, a forerunner of IFES, which was to send tens of thousands of missionaries. He and his wife Ann sailed from Massachusetts…. to Burma (now Myanmar) arriving in 1813. Judson’s suffering is almost unparalleled in modern mission history.
“It took over two years to grasp the rules of the Burmese language in a country where no English was spoken. It was six years before he saw the first Christian convert and in the rest of his lifetime he would see fewer than twenty-five, and perhaps only half that number had come to a living faith.
“Adoniram Judson was suspected of being a spy during the war with Britain, and thrown into the ‘Death Prison’ (1824-1825) where he was hung upside down in leg irons every night.
“Ann died in 1828 and this caused him to fall into a severe depression. For four months he sat by her grave contemplating her decaying body and writing ‘God to me is the great unknown; I believe in him but I cannot find him.’ We can barely imagine such depths of bleakness for this man of God, so far from home. Added to this, several who initially professed faith fell away in the face of opposition.
“Judson lost two wives and six children, and at least eleven co-workers. He died in obscurity. But one task was completed. The Burmese had the Bible in their own language…. They still use the same translation now!
One Burmese man, Matthew said, “‘Whenever someone mentions Judson’s name, tears come to my eyes because we know what he and his family suffered.’ He went on with great emotion, ‘Today there are six million Christians in Myanmar, and every one of us traces our spiritual heritage to one man – the Reverend Adoniram Judson.'”
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.