Two-hundred years ago, not one Christian church stood in the “Golden Land of Myanmar,” then called Burma. Not one Christian voice could be heard lifting praise to the God of Heaven and Earth. As John Piper says, “missions exist because worship doesn’t.” God used the life and sufferings of missionary Adoniram Judson to call thousands to Himself. Today the Burma Baptist Convention lists over 3,700 congregations carrying on the work begun by the self sacrifice of Judson and his family.
At 24 years old, the young Judson did not head to the mission field blind to the suffering and difficulties that lie ahead. In a letter to his soon to be wife’s father, requesting her hand in marriage, he wrote:
“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 subjection to the hardships and sufferings 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 a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavily home, and died for her and for you; 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 your 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?”
The difficult road described in his request proved prophetic as Adoniram did bury his beloved Ann on foreign soil. Through the course of his ministry the harsh mission field also took his second wife and a total of seven children. In 1832, Judson wrote to missionary candidates looking to join him on the field, “Remember, a large proportion of those who come out on a mission to the East die within five years after leaving their native land. Walk softly, therefore; death is narrowly watching your steps.” Through sicknesses, imprisonment, torture, bouts of depression, and obstacles of every sort, God brought forth a mighty lasting work for His name’s sake.
John Piper highlighted “The Cost of Bringing Christ to Burma Suffering and Success in the Life of Adoniram Judson” two years ago at the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors with his sermon, “How Few There Are Who Die So Hard.” I highly recommend reading the sermon. The Wholesome Words web site also has some great resources and links about this great God-honoring missionary pioneer.