My mom tells me that one of my grandfather’s favorite books was the biography of Adoniram Judson, To the Golden Shore. I have long known about Judson and have even had the privilege of visiting Burma and seeing first hand the impact that one man had on a nation.
I came across this excerpt recently and wanted to share it. I hope it will encourage you in your work or ministry.
The American missionary Adoniram Judson arrived in Burma, or Myanmar, in 1812, and died there thirty-eight years later in 1850. During that time, he suffered much for the cause of the gospel. He was imprisoned, tortured, and kept in shackles. After the death of his first wife, Ann, to whom he was devoted, for several months he was so depressed that he sat daily beside her tomb. Three years later, he wrote: God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in him, but I cannot find him.
But Adoniram’s faith sustained him, and he threw himself into the tasks to which he believed God had called him. He worked feverishly on his translation of the Bible. The New Testament had now been printed, and he finished the Old Testament in early 1834.
Statistics are unclear, but there were only somewhere between twelve and twenty-five professing Christians in the country when he died, and there were not churches to speak of.
At the 150th anniversary of the translation of the Bible into the Burmese language, Paul Borthwick was addressing a group that was celebrating Judson’s work. Just before he got up to speak, he noticed in small print on the first page the words: “Translated by Rev. A. Judson.” So Borthwick turned to his interpreter, a Burmese man named Matthew Hia Win, and asked him, “Matthew, what do you know of this man?” Matthew began to weep as he said,
We know him—we know how he loved the Burmese people, how he suffered for the gospel because of us, out of love for us. He died a pauper, but left the Bible for us. When he died, there were few believers, but today there are over 600,000 of us, and every single one of us traces our spiritual heritage to one man: the Rev. Adoniram Judson.
But Adoniram Judson never saw it!
And that will be the case for some of us. We may be called to invest our lives in ministries for which we do not see much immediate fruit, trusting that the God of all grace who oversees our work will ensure that our labor is not in vain.
Adapted from Julia Cameron, editor, Christ Our Reconciler (InterVarsity Press, 2012), pp. 200-201