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Adoniram Judson

The First missionary to Burma

Adoniram Judson held his wife to his chest as she sobbed. A young couple devoted to missions, they had not even stepped foot in the nation of Burma and, already, they were facing the worst possible thing that any expecting parent could imagine. She had lost the baby. The trip from their home in Massachusetts was arduous, where they were finally tossed about by a fierce monsoon in the Bay of Bengal.

This was taxing on any traveler, but for a woman nine months into her pregnancy, it had been too much. Still, the Judsons’ persisted. The Judsons are the first significant missionaries to Burma. As a result, no one in the entire nation had ever heard the name of Jesus. Adoniram could not turn away from God’s lost children.

When they arrived at Yangon on July 1813, Adoniram determined that, by the end of his life, Burma would have a Bible in its own language and a church of 100 committed believers in Jesus. What they found was a hostile and utterly unreachable place. The Judsons endured disease and loneliness. They spent three years learning the Burmese language only to find that the Burmese were entrenched in an almost militant Buddhism and resentful of foreigners. In their first six years of missions, the Judsons only were able to lead one person to accepting Christ.

To add further heartbreak to this difficulty, every joy they were given in their lives was snuffed out one by one. Ann Hasseltine, Adoniram’s wife, gave birth to a little boy, who also died when he was eight months old. Shortly after, a little girl was born to the Judsons, but when war broke out between Burma and England, Adoniram was thrown into prison as a suspected spy. He was tortured and separated from his family for 17 months before being returned to his wife and daughter, both of whom died shortly after. Still Adoniram persisted. He would not give up on the nation and its people.

He was imprisoned again for fifteen more months. He married again but lost both his second wife and the children she bore as well. He had given so much already for the love of Burma that he could not turn his back on her no matter what happened now.

For forty years, Judson endured. He translated the Bible. He even created the first written dictionary of the Burmese language. At the age of 61, he developed a lung disease and was advised by his doctors to take a trip out to sea for his health. There, off the coast of Burma, he died, leaving 100 churches across the nation of Burma and 8,000 committed Christians to carry on his legacy.

Generation after generation, the government and the people of Burma have tried to extinguish the gospel and stamp out the church, but the Christians of Burma inherited the spirit of the Judsons. They endure. There are, currently, an estimated 4.5 million believers in Myanmar comprising 9% of the population.

The harvest is still ripe in Burma, now called Myanmar, where 91% of it’s population still have not heard the good news of Jesus.

This article was originally published on Emerge Missions

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