Judson was born in 1788, to a congregationalist minister in New England. Though his upbringing was grounded in biblical teaching, Judson’s education and training was influenced by the growth of French liberality and Deistical theology, Judson himself would eventually reject the Christian faith and aspired to live for the world as an actor or a playwright. But in God’s providence, one night he found himself lodging in an inn, in a room next to a dying man. All night, Judson heard the man’s groans and was disturbed with questions of his own future. The next morning, on his way out, he inquired as to the status of the man, and learned that he was dead. It turns out, he was a fellow classmate from college, a Deist like him.
From that time on, he committed himself to investigating the Scriptures for himself, and soon after became convinced of their authenticity. He enrolled into Andover Theological Seminary and during his years there, he was converted and came to a confident faith in the saving work of Christ. After his conversion, he was exposed to missions through the work of William Carey and David Brainerd. Through a printed sermon of an Anglican minister, Claudius Buchanan, Judson began to discern a calling to bring the gospel to the unsaved in the East. In August of 1806, Judson and five other students began to gather to pray and commit themselves for the gospel in heathen lands. In 1812, Judson would marry Ann Hasseltine. He had met her the previous year and asked her father for her hand in marriage with this letter:
I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean, to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left is heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteous, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?
A week after their wedding, on Feb. 19, 1812, they would depart for India and eventually Burma.
Judson’s life goes on to read like an incredible adventure novel: a foreign language and culture, years of labor without any convert, joyful conversions amid dark opposition, political turmoil, horrific imprisonment, tragic heartache and deaths, and through it all faithful perseverance. For 38 years, Judson would labor in grueling conditions, and see the witness of the gospel would be planted in Burma, a witness that continues to this day. - GC
Where to Begin
To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson