Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) was the son of a Congregational Minister, raised in a Christian home. As a 3 year old boy, Adoniram was reportedly reading chapters from his father's Bible. As a teenager in college, Adoniram went astray, engaged in all sorts of immorality, and was influenced by a fellow student and friend named Jacob Eames, a Deist and Skeptic (some sources say Atheist). Either way, Judson was lured away from the faith passed down from his father and became a non-believer as well.
However, unknown to Judson, God in His Divine Providence had great plans in store for him. One evening while traveling, Adoniram stayed at an Inn, and the only room available was next to a dying sick man's room, with less-than-soundproof partitions between the rooms. He told the innkeeper that room would be fine because he was an unbeliever and had no fear of death. All throughout the night, he heard the wailing, moaning, helpless and hopeless cries of desperation of this dying man. It had such an impact on him, that he almost went to try to offer some words of comfort, but having renounced his faith, he had none. Judson pulled the covers over his head to try to sleep and drowned out the eerie sounds of this dying man, but he couldn't. He couldn't help but wonder where this man would go if he died, and where Judson himself would go if he died. After a sleepless miserable night, the next morning Adoniram asked the innkeeper more about the man, and was informed that he died during the night. To his surprise and dismay, the miserable dying man's name was Jacob Eames. This same friend who was by Judson's side in college and had let him into unbelief, had died by his side that night. And he was dead, and lost. Lost, lost, lost. For days this thought raced through Judson's mind. The Holy Spirit of God began drawing Judson back to Himself and Faith in Jesus Christ over a period of time.
Coincidence? Not hardly! What seems to us like a coincidence is really just an act of God's Divine Providence where God chooses to remain anonymous! There are no "chance happenings", nor "luck". God is in control of all things. It seems the same man who was used to lead Judson into unbelief, was used by God to bring him to true Faith. This was the turning point in the life of Adoniram Judson, brought about by the Divine Providence of God. He went on to enroll in Seminary, and later gave his life to Foreign Missions, and translated the Bible into Burmese, the language of the people where he served. He also wrote an English-Burmese dictionary which along with his Burmese Bible, were used by missionaries who came along for years after he died.
On February 19, 1812, only days after getting married, the Congregationalist Christian couple from America, Adoniram Judson and his wife Ann Hasseltine-Judson, (also called Nancy) later known as "Ann of Ava", set sail for Calcutta to join the Baptist Missionary William Carey of England, who was already in India. They studied the doctrine of Baptism in the original Greek in Scripture on their 4-month journey to India, in an effort to be able to work together with Carey on their doctrinal differences, being of "Covenant Theology" themselves. The Judsons became convinced that "Believer's Baptism" was scriptural, and were Baptized by immersion in India, changing their denominational affiliation. They are counted among the group of the first Baptist Foreign Missionaries.
They were forced to leave India by the British East India Company, and eventually settled in Burma. Even William Carey himself warned the Judsons of the hostility and savagery of Burma, and advised them not to go there. On their journey, their ship was tossed about in a 3-week monsoon, Ann became very sick, and had a baby that died and was buried at sea.
It was 6 years after landing there before they saw the first Burmese convert to Christianity. Judson was once driven in chains across burning sands, until his back bled and his feet were full of blisters. Adoniram spent many years in jail, in chains and stocks in a filthy infested prison cell. He was sustained only by God through his wife, who by then was very ill, bringing him food under the cover of night in prison. She had another baby while he was in prison, and unable to produce milk to nurse her child due to illness, weight loss, etc., had to go through the streets begging for nursing mothers to help feed her child. Burma was a constant battle for the Judsons, with 108 degree heat, cholera, malaria, dysentary, filth, etc.
They had arrived in Burma 17 months after their marriage, when Adoniram was 24, and Ann was 23 years old. In less than 14 years since their arrival in Burma, Judson had buried his dear wife Ann, and all of their children. Eventually, 2 of Judson's wives (he remarried) and 7 of his 13 children, along with several colleagues died there.
But at Judson's death, when he was 61, Burma had 63 Christian churches, and 7000 converts to faith in Jesus Christ.
Patrick Johnstone, in "Operation World", p 462, estimates that Myanmar (Burma's new name)Baptist Convention has 3700 congregations today, with estimates of 617,781 members and 1,900,000 affiliates.
Adoniram Judson died in 1850, and during his last days he reportedly said:
"I have had such views of the loving condescension of Christ and the glories of Heaven, as I believe are seldom granted to mortal men. Oh the Love of Christ! It is the secret of life's inspiration and the source of Heaven's bliss. Oh, the love of Jesus! We cannot understand it now, but what a beautiful study of eternity!"Adoniram Judson once said"
"The Future is as bright as the Promises of God",Adoniram Judson, as well as the great majority of historic Christian missionaries had a deep belief in the Sovereignty of God, and held to the historic "Doctrines of Grace", as is evident in this quote:
or as another source quoted him,
"The Prospects are as bright as the Promises of God"
"If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings."
God is Sovereign, and God is Good! All the time! Amen?
Some info paraphrased and condensed from:
update 7/12/10...The latest "Rambo" movie was on television last night, and I had read where the plot has to do with missionaries to Burma. I do not in any way endorse the movie, due to foul language and graphic violence with grotesque blood and guts, which were both "over the top"...However, it was interesting because the plot involved American Missionaries wanting Rambo to take them up-river into Burma, which Rambo told them was a war zone.
I looked on Wikipedia this morning, and saw these estimates on the religion of Burma (Myanmar) today.
In summary 2008 estimates of the population's religious affiliation from wikipedia article,
Buddhism is about 90 %
Christianity is about 4%
Baptist about 3%
Roman Catholic 1%
Islam is about 5%
All other is about 1%