Comfort in affliction
1827 – Little Maria Judson, the infant daughter of Adoniram and Ann Judson, missionaries to Burma, died on this date, just a few months following the tragic death of her dear mother. In a letter to Ann’s mother Rebecca Hasseltine, dated April 26, 1827, Adoniram tried to comfort her, the best he knew how with the following words: “My sweet little Maria lies by the side of her fond mother…an affection of the bowels,) proved incurable. She had the best medical advice; and the kind care of Mrs. Wade could not have been, in any respect, exceeded by that of her own mother. But all our efforts, and prayers, and tears, could not propitiate the cruel disease. The work of death went forward; and after the usual process, excruciating to a parent’s feelings, she ceased to breathe… at three o’clock P.M. aged two years and three months.
We then closed her faded eyes, and bound up her discolored lips, where the dark touch of death first appeared, and folded her little hands-the exact pattern of her mothers on her cold breast. The next morning, we made her last bed, In the small closure which surrounds her mother’s grave. Together they rest in hope, under the hope tree, (Hopia) which stands at the head of the graves; and together, I trust, their spirits are rejoicing, after a short separation of precisely six months. Thus I am left alone in this wide world. My father’s family and all my relatives, have been, for many years, separated from me, by seas that I shall never pass. They are the same to me as if buried. My own dear family I have actually buried: one in Rangoon, and two in Amherst.”…What remains is for me to follow where my Savior reigns.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, p. 166.
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1783 – Luther Rice was born into a pedobaptist (Congregational) home on this memorable day. He along with Adoniram and Ann Judson became Baptists when they were baptized in India, after studying the subject of baptism on the voyage, although on different ships. Because of this they were compelled to sever relationship with their denomination which left them penniless and identify with the Baptists in America. In our opinion, this was the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy found at Mat 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Prior to this there had been only scant missionary activity among the churches of North America and that was to the Indians and the settlers who had migrated westward. But from this effort of Rice and the Judson’s a great flood of missionaries began to go forth to many parts of the world. It all started with a group called the “Brethren” who had formed a missionary fellowship interested in world evangelism at Williams College (Congregational) in Massachusetts. One day during a rain storm some of the “Brethren” took refuge under a haystack, and while there prayed for those in the world who lived in spiritual darkness. It would forever be called the “Haystack Prayer Meeting.” Even though Rice wasn’t at the haystack, he was a part of the “Brethren” and was the first with the Judsons to go forth. Rice eventually returned to America to stir up the Baptists for world evangelism. He became the rope holder while Judson was tied to the rope. World missions needed them both. In the North there were mission societies, in the South the Baptist method was conventions.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 121..
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The Missions enterprise begins
1814 – BECAUSE OF ADONIRAM AND ANN JUDSON, BAPTISTS IN AMERICA FORM THEIR FIRST MISSIONS ORGANIZATION – On February 19, 1814 Baptists in America organized for the first time to support the cause of world-wide missions. It all started in 1808 when Adoniram Judson, though unsaved entered Andover Theological Seminary. He was saved in Sept. and immediately surrendered to the ministry. During his first year he read a sermon entitled “Star in the East,” and Feb. 1809 he determined to be a missionary. In June he met Ann Hasseltine who would become his wife. In Sept. he was commissioned as a missionary; and on Feb. 5, 1812, he and Ann were married. On Feb. 6 he was ordained a Congregational minister; and on the 19th, they sailed on the brig Caravan for Calcutta, India. Their honeymoon was spent on the long voyage that ended on June 17 with their arrival after a very pleasant journey. Great changes took place for the Judson’s aboard ship. Judson, knowing that he would be located in the vicinity of William Carey and other English Baptist missionaries thought that he should be able to defend his position on the subject of baptism and began a complete investigation in the N.T. in the original languages. He was amazed to find, after a long struggle, that pedobaptism could not be found anywhere in the N.T. and came to adopt the Baptist position. It was on Sept. 6, 1812 that Adoniram and Ann Judson were immersed in the Baptist chapel in Calcutta. Later Ann wrote a friend saying, “thus, my dear Nancy, we are confirmed Baptists, not because we wished to be, but because truth compelled us to be…We feel that we are alone in the world, with no real friend but each other, no one on whom we can depend but God.” Judson wrote to the Third Congregational Church in Plymouth: “I knew that I had been sprinkled in infancy, and that this had been deemed baptism. But throughout the whole N.T. I could find nothing that looked like sprinkling, in connection with the ordinance of Baptism…” Out of this came the great missions’ effort of Baptists mentioned above that continues to this day.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 69.
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She wouldn’t let him die
On March 06, 2004, Dr. David L. Cummins and his contingent came upon the site of that terrible Oung-pen-la prison in Burma where Adoniram Judson had suffered for those long agonizing months. They had already visited the grave of the Heroine of Ava, Ann Judson, (see the entry for Mar. 4), who had faithfully beat a path to the prison in Ava during those agonizing months when her precious husband was held there. But one night, her beloved had been taken and forced to march 12 miles to Oung-pen-la. The prisoners were in such bad health that they were wheeled on an ox cart the last four grueling miles. The resilient Ann traveled with a Bengali servant, two little Burmese girls, and little baby Maria in her arms. She rode 12 miles in an ox cart, but had no housing, but was allowed to stay in the jailers paddy bin. That became there home for six months. During that time little Maria died of smallpox, and Ann’s health failed and she lay between life and death. The fact that Adoniram was needed to interpret a peace settlement between the Burmese and British finally gained him his freedom. However in 1902 Adoniram’s son Edward traveled to Burma and found the exact Oung-Pen-la prison site and bought the 2.58 acre plot and donated for the construction of a church in memory of his father. The Judson Memorial Baptist Church sits on the site today. It began with sixteen members and has just over one hundred in attendance today. They baptize twice per year. Saw Seelah is the present pastor, his father was the pastor from 1975 to 1997. He assured Dr. Cummins that he preaches the good news of the Gospel of Christ.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 135 – 136.
The Heroine of Burma
Four preachers gathered at the grave site in March of 2004 where they were rewarded for their efforts. Two Americans and two Burman men had made the trip-all intent on finding the place where the remains of Ann Judson had been laid to rest. Ann had originally been buried under a Hopia tree near the waters of a Bay in the Indian Ocean, but with the incursion of the waters, it had been necessary to disinter her body and bury it a bit further inland. They were still in sight of the ocean, and they stood there in silence as they thought of the faithfulness of their Heroine-Ann of Ava-and her years of devoted service. A national had written: Though Ann’s thirteen years in Burma exceeded the average for those early days, her death, when prospects looked so promising, was a great loss to the growing church.
Thirteen years . . . . . which must have seemed an eternity crowded into that short period of time. Adoniram and Ann were two and a half years away from home before they received their first letter from the homeland! The first home letter was laid in their hands, and after three years of waiting, came the assurance that the Baptist churches of America had accepted the Judson’s as their first missionaries and assumed responsibility for their support.
When the hour of her departure from this life came, Ann’s mate was away serving the Lord. As the dusk settled upon the scene, Ann’s spirit soared into the brightness of an eternal dawn. Some weeks later her broken-hearted husband returned.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: “This Day in Baptist History III” David L. Cummins. pp. 131 – 132
The Crown of Life
Selma Maxville was born in an impoverished home in Cape Town, Mississippi on Feb. 26, 1883. Her mother prayed that one of her children would be a missionary. It seemed bleak for Selma, when at thirty she was caring for her invalid mother. After her mother died, Selma enrolled in a medical school and then later in a Bible College. Finally at the age of 33 she left for the field of Burma where she worked with the Mons people in Moulmein, a city that had been pioneered by Adoniram and Ann Judson. There she served in the Ellen Mitchell Memorial Hospital, then known as the American Hospital. After she reached retirement in 1940 she opened a hospital in the township of Mudon. When World War II began she fled to India as a refugee. After the war she returned and re-opened the hospital. In her last letter to her mission her request was that she could continue to serve without pay if there was no other nurse to take her place. At age 67 she took a thirteen year old patient to the hospital at Moulmein and was kidnapped. The demand was
for 10,000 kyats and 10 grams of gold. She wrote to her friends that they were not to redeem her for God was with her. She was bound with an iron chain to a post of a hut in a rice paddy field. She was so revered that a dozen men rescued her and transported her by ox cart to Mudon. Her Captors ambushed them, Miss Maxville was machine gunned down and expired in her hospital in Mudon. They have erected a memorial in her honor in Kamarweit, between Moulmein and Amherst. Both the mother who prayed, the daughter who went and the men who died in the rescue attempt will all one day “receive the crown of life .”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 116 – 118.
February 19, 1814 – Baptists organized for world missions in America. This came about primarily because of the influence of Adoniram and Ann Judson who had gone out to India in 1812. In 1808 while still unsaved Judson had entered Andover Theological Seminary but was happily saved in the month of September and consecrated himself to the work of the Christian ministry. Before the end of his first year he had read a sermon entitled “The Star in the East,” and in Feb. of 1809 he resolved to be a missionary. In June of 1809 he met Ann Hasseltine, who was to become his wife. In Sept. 1811 he was commissioned as a missionary; on Feb. 5, 1812, he and Ann were married; on Feb. 6 he was ordained as a Congregational minister and on the 19th, the couple embarked on the brig Caravan for Calcutta, India. Their honeymoon was spent on the long voyage that ended on June 17 when they arrived after a very pleasant journey. Knowing that he would be working in the vicinity of the Baptist William Carey, Judson began thinking of the answer that he would give if the issue of baptism would be raised. In that he had been sprinkled as a baby he decided to study the issue anew from the scriptures. After a long struggle he became convinced after honest inquiry that the Baptist position of believer’s immersion was correct and that he would have to write to his Congregationalist mission and so inform them, which he did. He and Ann were baptized in the Baptist Chapel in Calcutta on September 6, 1812. Later Ann wrote a friend saying, “Thus, my dear Nancy, we are confirmed Baptists, not because we wished to be, but because truth compelled us to be…We feel that we are alone in the world, with no real friend but each other, no one on whom we can depend but God.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 69-70.
Missionary to the Outcasts
We are familiar with many of our great forefathers. Frequently, however, we are unaware of some of those who assisted and worked alongside those better-known men. George Bana Boardman is such a person. He was born in Livermore, Maine, on February 8, 1801, the son of a Baptist pastor. He was ordained at North Yarmouth, Maine, on February 16, 1825. With his wife, he sailed on July 16 of that same year for Calcutta, India. There they remained until March 20, 1827, when they embarked for Amherst, Burma, to assist the well – known Adoniram Judson. They arrived in Burma only days after the burial of Mrs. Ann Judson.
It was decided that the Boardmans should move to the province of Tavoy and establish a mission at its principal town, which was also called Tavoy. In April 1828, they began their missionary work in that place. The Karens, who had long been oppressed by the Burmese, held a tradition that at some time messengers from the West would bring to them a revelation from God. They were prepared to receive our missionaries and their message. Two converts were soon won, one of whom was Ko Thah-byu, who served as an evangelist to his own people.
Just days before George Boardmans death, he was carried by a cot on the shoulders of the Karens for a three day journey to a zayat built by faithful disciples. More than a hundred were already assembled, nearly half of whom were candidates for baptism. At the close of the day, his cot was placed at the riverside as they gathered to witness the first baptism ever held in that region. The Boardmans left the next day to return to Tavoy, while on the second day of the journey, February 11, 1831, George Boardman went to his eternal rest.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 79-80.
“I must protest against the abandonment of the Arakan mission.”
November 19, 1845 – Adoniram Judson, was a messenger to the Triennial Convention. It was a dark day, for the Baptists of the South had withdrawn, and it was apparent that a reduction in the budget would be necessary. A solemn report was read by Dr. Solomon Peck, foreign secretary. One of the suggestions was that they abandon the Arakan mission. The Convention was being asked to sound “retreat!” Judson, back in the States after 33 years of missionary service was listening to a report that would close part of their work in Burma. It is not difficult to surmise what must have been going through his mind. After becoming a Baptist by conviction the Judson’s waited 3 years before being appointed as missionaries of the Triennial Convention. They had waited seven years before the first convert was won, and on June 27, 1819, he finally baptized Moung Nau. In 1815 their little 7 month old son died. Then Ann Judson became ill and had to return to America for two years, and Adoniram persevered alone. The first Burman War broke out in May of 1824. In June, Judson was cast into the death prison. The sufferings were indescribable. After 11 months in Ava, he endured 6 more months of imprisonment in Oungpenla. While he was helping the Burmese to secure terms of peace with the British, Ann Judson died on Oct. 24, 1826. Then 6 months later, Judson’s little daughter Maria followed her mother in death. Judson became almost a recluse. He dug his own grave and sat beside it brooding. 8 years later he married Mrs. Sarah Boardman. They had two daughters and a son, and the little boy died. And then Sarah died en route home. Judson had lost his voice and was forbidden to speak. But now he could no longer remain silent. He arose and the lion roared. “I must protest against the abandonment of the Arakan mission.” And the “Lone Star” was saved.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/, pp. 482-83.