In 1812, a young man from Massachusetts answered the call to take the gospel to those who had never heard. No American had ever traveled to another country to spread the gospel and no mission organization even existed to help him go. But he had a burning in his heart for the people of Burma and committed to go. His name was Adoniram Judson, and he is now known as the first American missionary.
On February 5, 1812, He and his wife Ann boarded a ship not knowing the difficulty that the coming years would bring. In the first 14 years of his ministry in Burma, He would suffer unimaginable loss. He was tortured in prison for 2 years, suffered countless illnesses, and lost his his wife and 3 children. I cannot imagine the deep sorrow that filled his heart during that time. He had given up everything to follow Jesus and travel to the other side of the world to take the gospel to those who had never heard. His obedience to the call resulted in sorrow upon sorrow. Adoniram would later reflect on all that had happened by saying, “If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.” In spite of his circumstances, he knew that his life was in the sovereign hands of a loving and merciful God. I am both heartbroken and convicted when I consider the loss, grief and suffering that he endured for the glory of God and the sake of the gospel. But it is clear that God had a plan and purpose in it all.
It would be 6 long years before the first person in Burma would place their trust in Jesus. But by the time Adoniram died in 1850, there were 7,000 new believers, 63 new church plants, and 163 missionaries in Burma. He experienced more suffering than you or I may ever know, but God used him in an incredible way to pioneer American missions as we know it. Consider the words of Jesus in Luke 9: 23-24: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Adoniram gave his life answering this call. May you and I pursue Jesus with this same passion and resolve and take the gospel to the nations.
We love Your Name, we love Your laws,
And joyfully embrace Your cause;
We love Your cross, the shame, the pain
O Lamb of God, for sinners slain.
Hymn by Adoniram Judson
Look for a full Burma mission report coming soon…