Read His Words Before Ours!
My mama turned to me and asked me if it would all be worth it,
if my story touched just one soul?
I grew up praying for missionaries in my extended family and my church. These missionaries spread around the globe from South America to Africa to Russia, and we prayed for them daily.
I wonder now as an adult….
would they still choose to leave their country,
leave their family and material possessions,
and face trials and persecution if it meant that just one soul was reconciled with God?
I believe all of them would answer “Yes”.
I imagine their “yes” is sometimes said through gritted teeth,
eyes heavy with exhaustion,
and determination tightening their body from head to foot,
regardless of how they might emotionally feel
And sometimes their yes flowed from a heart that danced victoriously.
Their “yes” didn’t come without heartbreak, heartache, or sorrow.
Neither did it come without blessings, laughter, and joy.
But their yes was worth it when
someone said their own “yes” to Jesus.
Following the example of believers like Paul, Silas, the other twelve apostles, and the many men and women who gave up their lives for the sake of the gospel, three men said yes to Jesus, giving up everything to follow wherever He led. Adoniram Judson and Samuel J Mills were two of the first missionaries sent out from the United States, while Hudson Taylor, a contemporary, was one of the most influential missionaries to China.
Adoniram Judson and Samuel J Mills were among the very first class at the very first evangelical seminary in the United States, Andover Theological Seminary in 1810. Together, they helped create the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
Adoniram, and his young, new wife, Ann, headed to Burma. Shortly before they left, Ann wrote this to a friend:
“I feel willing and expect, if nothing in providence prevents, to spend my days in this world in heathen lands. Yes… I have about come to the determination to give up all my comforts and enjoyments here, sacrifice my affection to relatives and friends, and go where God, in His providence, shall see fit to place me. My determinations are not hasty, or formed without viewing the dangers, trials, and hardships attendant on a missionary life. (…) Now my mind is settled and composed, and is willing to leave the event with God."
While the Judsons were in Burma, Samuel Mills was forming several missionary and benevolent organizations in the United States while also carrying the gospel to Mississippi and New York City. In 1818, Samuel spent time in West Africa, locating a site for the repatriation of freed African-American slaves.
On his return, Samuel died on the ship.
His life seems short by our standards, but it was rich, and the fire in his spirit for spreading the Gospel ignited the flames of countless hearts. The Lord does not count our success by years or tasks completed, but only by our willing obedience to His heart of love!
Like Paul in the Bible and countless other Christ-followers through the ages, Adoniram also spent time in prison, but persecution and suffering did not deter him from obediently pressing into the Lord’s calling on his life. He opened a girls’ school, translated the Bible and other Christian books into Burmese, and faithfully kept following Jesus in His everyday life. Ann passionately worked beside him, using her love for Jesus and writing to encourage American women to pray fervently. She specifically asked women to pray for the rescue of child brides, the end of female infanticide, and other struggles for Burmese women. The Lord used Ann’s gift of writing in one final act before He called her home: helping to release her husband from his 21 months prison sentence by writing about the horrid condition of the prison in which he was contained.
Ann & Adoniram were normal, everyday people who chose, again and again and again, to love Jesus more than the comforts of life for the sake of even just one.
After Ann’s death, Adoniram also buried his second wife and three of their precious, tiny children before marrying his third wife. Like Ann, his second wife, Sarah, willingly held open her hands and life to the Lord. She used her skills as a linguist to continue spreading the Gospel to the Burmese by translating books, hymns, and tracts as well as the New Testament. Sarah fervently worked alongside her missionary-husband, while enduring the pain of losing her children. Her heart was not withheld from sorrow, she knew suffering well, but she knew Jesus was worth it, even for the sake of just one.
Adoniram’s met his third wife, Emily, when he enlisted her writing abilities to write about the life of Sarah. Unbeknownst to him, Emily had read many stories about Ann. As a result, she too felt the call to live missionally in Burma. After they married, she joined him in what would be Adoniram’s final job before entering Heaven: completing an enlarged edition of the Burmese dictionary to ease translation of the Bible.
Just three years after Adoniram’s death, another well-known Christ-follower made his way to a foreign land with one goal: spreading the Gospel.
As a baby, Hudson’s mother, on urgings from the Holy Spirit, had prayed he would be used in China.
Her prayer was answered when he encountered the Holy Spirit one evening, and spent the next several years studying medicine, learning Mandarin, and growing his relationship with the Lord in preparation to move to China in 1853.
After marrying Maria Dryer, the daughter of Chinese missionaries, Hudson Taylor became incredibly ill and returned to England in 1961.
His return did not dampen his fervor, no!
He spent his time translating the Bible into Chinese,
studying to become a midwife,
and recruiting more missionaries!
Samuel J Mills
Seven individuals who chose the “just one” over their own comfort.
Seven individuals who counted the cost of following Jesus, and said yes.
Seven individuals who changed the world for countless souls.
Will you say yes for the sake of just one?!
This Bible Study is property of Gracefully Truthful, where it was first published. For more studies like this one, check out GracefullyTruthful.com!
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From Bible studies to blogs, articles to musings of the heart, Kendra's writings are unbarred and raw - exactly how she speaks.