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?