A Story of God's Sovereignty, cont.

You may have heard the rest of the story, but it is worth telling just a bit of it again. Adoniram went on to seminary with a passion that set him apart. He again graduated atop his class and was given several offers to fill some of the most "prestigous" pulpits in the Boston area. He refused. He felt a different calling. His vision was to take the gospel to India, yet he knew no other men or women who felt a similar calling...until. Until, a group of young men his age arrived on campus and declared that just recently they had sensed God's call to foreing missions. The Haystackers, they called themselves, because they had committed themselves to this end beside a haystack late one evening.

Now that Adoniram had comrades to set out for India, they had the daunting task of finding the funding to do so. We don't too often think of missionaries personally raising financial support back in the day, at least I don't, but here is a group of guys who did just that. They spoke to the local Congregational missions committee, but since they had never supported "foreign" missionaries, they were hesitant to do so. Go to the London Missionary Society, they told the young me. They have history and money and will be able to help you out some. The LMS indeed offered to send the whole gang to India, fully funded, with one catch. They must sail as missionaries under the flag and authority of England. When Adoniram and the guys returned to Boston, patriotism got the best of the local missions committee. "If they can support you, well then we can, too!" So, the men were freed up to set sail for India, having received ample financial support as America's first foreign missionaries.

The story that ensues is too amazing for me to try and retell it. I can't do it justice. What transpires, in summary, is this: Adoniram falls in love with a young maided before he sets sail and marries her. The group arrives in India, but the British East India Co forces them out, because the missionaries in India were leading the slaves to believe that all men were equal in Christ. Some of them returned home, but Adoniram and his wife found themselves in Burma, a dangerous and virtually untouched land by foreigners. Adoniram and his wife, Ann, committed themselves to the Burmese language and culture. They fought illness after illness and failed attempts after failed attempts to spread the Good News. His wife was the first to reason that they needed to adapt to the Burmese culture, rather than try and force the locals to adjust to their forms of worship, dress or construction. After 16 years, they saw their first converts to Christianity. Adoniram translated, meticulously, the entire Bible into the Burmese language and created a thorough Burmese-English and English-Burmese dictionary. He was in prison, beaten and threatened with death. He and his wife lost several children. Ann and Adoniram both died in Burma, giving their lives to the people of Burma so that they may know salvation through Jesus Christ.

Again, I think of committment. I think of faith, courage, passion, vision, steadfastness, loyalty, trust, perspective. I think of God's soveriegnty and his grace. I think of his love for all people groups. Adoniram and Ann truly died to their lives and came alive in Christ, no matter the cost. Where are the young, vigorous Christ-followers today who will give it all up to spread God's kingdom in their communities, their nations, in our world? Are you one of them? Am I?

A Story of God's Sovereignty

Brilliance. Repentance. Transformation. Vision. Sacrifice. Commitment. Passion. Courage. Faith. Love. Steadfastness. Boldness.

These words describe a man who was born in early 19th century America. A man who gave up prestige, fame and success all for the sake of the Gospel. Adoniram Judson was the first foreign missionary from the USA (to my knowledge) and I just finished reading his story, a story that will undoubtedly impact the way I live.

Adoniram Judson was born to a God-fearing couple in the newly found America, his father was even a Congregationalist minister in Massachusettes. Adoniram was fluent in Greek by the age of 12. But when he went off to school at Brown University, he had to face the questions of his previously unquestioned faith. God no longer existed, the Gospel made no sense anymore. Through the influence of a close friend on campus, Adoniram proudly named himself an Athiest. Now, to tell the parents.

His mother and father were saddenned, even shocked by the news, but they did not lose hope. After graduating as Valedictorian of his class at Brown, Adoniram decided to put off graduate school for a short while and he found himself in New York City. He got a taste of theater and writing, but he was unsettled and determined himself to do a little exploring out "west." He mounted his horse and travelled west, when one evening he stabled his horse at a traveler's inn in Connecticut.

The man at the front desk, informed Adoniram that there was only one room left open that evening and it was unfortunately right next to the room of a young man who was very ill and was making unpleasant noises. Not a problem, Adoniram assured the inn keeper. To his disappointment, he was indeed not able to sleep. His ill neighbor kept him awake. As he thought about this young man, his mind drifted to thoughts of death and eternity. O, if only my good friend from university were here! What great discussion we could have about death. He would have a rational answer for the emotional feelings attached to thoughts of death! Adoniram thought to himself.

The next morning, as he was checking out of the inn, he paused to ask about his neighbor upstairs. The inn keeper informed him that he had indeed died that evening. A young man! Such a shame. Adoniram asked if he knew who he was. "Just out of school, I figure. NOt more than your age. Went to that Brown University out East. His name was E..." It only took a brief moment for Adoniram to understand what he was saying. This young man was his close friend from Brown!

Adoniram immediately knew what this meant. He knew in his heart that "E" was lost; he died apart from God. Adoniram knew that he had made a terrible decision during college and his newfound way of life was superficial and wrong! He turned his horse toward East, toward home. He set out on a new journey...

To be continued.

New Widget

I just added this cool widget on my sidebar. It's from LibraryThing and it keeps my blog updated with the 5 books I am currently reading or have recently read. There are several different (and simple) style options, but I've replaced my favorite books with my recently read books. Amber gave me this little pocket sized book that I wanted, "The Way to Love." And no, it's not written by the Ladies Man. It is the last meditations of a Jesuit priest from India, Anthony de Mello. He has 31 reflections from 31 different verses in the New Testament. Pretty counter-cultural stuff. Very good.

Off With a Bang

I didn't waste anytime making the most of 2007. On new year's day, I asked Amber to marry me....and yes, she said yes :) I suppose that explains quite a bit as to why I have been really absent from blogging the last two months. Between finishing support raising, the holidays, planning the engagement, buying a ring, moving to Champaign and getting ready for my new job, I've been a wee bit busy. There is so much I could say right now about how amazing Amber is and how excited we are about spending the rest of our lives together, but I'm going to keep it simple and save her the embarassment (I know you're reading this). If you want to hear the story, ask nicely and I might acquiesce :) I'll tell you this much, I was going for suprise and romance and I got both.

In the meantime, here are a few photos I shot over the course of the "engagement weekend."