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Adoniram Judson

Today there are six million Christians in Myanmar, and every one of us traces our spiritual heritage to one man – the Reverend Adoniram Judson. Matthew Hla Win, Bible Translator, Myanmar.

Chances are you have never heard the name Adoniram Judson, and yet, if you were a Christian in Myanmar, you would owe everything to him. Adoniram persevered through intense persecution, remaining faithful and patient throughout his life, setting a godly example for all Christians.

While studying at Yale University, Adoniram Judson and his wife, Anne, felt called to India. They sailed from Massachusetts in 1812 but, unable to enter India due to Visa problems, instead turned to Burma (now Myanmar), where they spent the rest of their lives. Although devoted to the country and the people, their lives were to be filled with untold hardships and frustrations.

For one, Adoniram would see very little fruit while he was alive; it took the couple two years to learn the Burmese language as no English was spoken there and a further four years before anyone came to faith. Throughout his lifetime, less than 25 Burmese people converted and several of these fell away. Adoniram was thrown into ‘Death Prison’ from 1824-25 during the war with Britain and hung upside down in leg irons every night. In 1828 Anne died resulting in Adoniram’s severe depression. It was during this time that he wrote the following achingly unhappy words: ‘God to me is the great unknown; I believe in him but I cannot find him’. Throughout his life Adoniram lost two wives, six children and eleven co-workers.

So was Adoniram’s life a failure? Had God deserted him? By human standards, there is no doubt – who would want to follow this man’s example? Yet, as we continually see in scripture and most obviously at the Cross, God always uses our failures and our brokenness for his glory. It is through our weakness that his strength is on display.

As Adoniram persevered, he kept his eye on the goal and through his persistence the Bible was translated into Burmese. This translation is still in use today and six million Burmese Christians owe their heritage to the patience of this one man – a man who we should look to as an example of patience in the face of suffering.

Over the next few weeks I will be bringing you more stories of faith from those who have gone before us. Be encouraged by their attitudes and by the way that God works in us for this glory! This particular story was adapted from Lindsay Brown’s book, “Shining Like Stars” which chronicles stories of faith throughout the IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students) movement on university campuses.

James 5:10,11 ‘Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.’