A. Judson – The First American Baptist Missionary

Adoniram Judson was born Aug. 9, 1788. His father was a respected Congregational minister. Judson’s parents, Adoniram and Abigail, raised their son in a loving and protective environment. Today young Judson would be considered a child progeny. He could read at the age of three and would often gather his playmates together and conduct a service. His favorite hymn began, “Go preach my Gospel saith the Lord.” In grammar school his academic abilities filled his parents with pride and joy. At sixteen he entered Providence, now Brown University, as a sophomore. Unfortunately, Judson for all of his academic achievements had not committed his life to Christ. He like many of his contemporaries embraced infidelity and by his graduation he was completely committed to that philosophy. His infidelity and free thinking philosophy had been nurtured by a fellow student who Judson admired and who took every opportunity to ridicule and reject everything Judson had been taught as a child. Graduating at the top of his class Judson returned home and informed his parents of his new philosophy. His father attempted to convince him of his error but Judson said he was able to answer all his father’s arguments but he would later recall how he was unable to answer his mother’s tears and prayers. Prior to his entering upon a life of secular pursuits, he decided to take a tour of the northern states. Late one evening after an exhausting day of sight seeing, he stopped at a lonely inn and sought a room for much needed rest. The Innkeeper informed him that he only had one vacancy but it would not provide much rest as the occupant in the adjoining room was dying and the activities of his attendants would probably prevent him from obtaining much rest. Judson not wanting to continue agreed to take the room. During the night he could hear the young man’s death struggles, and as he listened to his groans, he began to wonder if the dying young man was prepared to meet God. The next morning as Judson prepared to continue his journey he asked the Innkeeper about the young man’s condition. The Innkeeper informed him that he had died during the night. When Judson heard the young man’s name his whole being was shaken, for the deceased was his college friend and fellow free thinker. Immediately Judson cancelled his journey and returned home and became an earnest seeker after salvation. He enrolled in Andover Seminary and on Dec. 2, 1808 he dedicated himself to Christ and united with his father’s Congregational Church in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Judson let it be known that he planned to become a missionary. Although his family and friends opposed his decision, nothing could deter him from God’s call upon his life. On February 19, 1812, he and his bride, Ann, set sail for Calcutta, India. Judson knew that upon his arrival he would be dependent upon Baptist Missionaries. He felt he needed to be able to scripturally defend his Pedo-Baptist views and during the voyage, which took four months, he diligently searched the Scriptures. His study completely transformed his previously held views. Both Judson and his wife adopted Baptist principles and were baptized upon their arrival in India by Rev. William Ward on Sept. 6, 1812. Forced to leave India by the East India Company, he entered Burma on July 13, 1812 where he would spend the remaining thirty-eight years of his life. Judson’s achievements and sacrifice would challenge the Baptist of America to not only give their money but a mighty army would follow his example and launch the Great Missionary Movement whose battle cry was “All the world for Christ.” Our missionaries and their co-laborers are still proclaiming that battle cry today.