It was June 8, 1824, for Adoniram Judson in a simple house in Ava, the golden city of Burma (the country’s current name is Burma, or the Union of Myanmar. The largest country in Southeast Asia). And the couple was quietly preparing to sit down to dinner. Suddenly, the door of the house was slammed against the wall, and a Burmese officer entered. He was holding the dreaded black book, a clear sign of arrest. “The emperor summons you,” said the officer in his usual way of speaking when arresting a criminal. He was addressing Professor Adoniram Judson. Who had come as a missionary with his wife, Anne, from America?
Adoniram Judson was an American missionary who went to Asia with his wife, Ana. His mother was a gentle, mild-mannered woman and a good believer. Abigail, Adoniram’s sister, for he is the one we are talking about, was a year and a half younger, and Elnatan, his brother, was seven years younger. At age 3, he could read; at 10, he took sailing lessons; and at 16, he entered Providence College.
Without another word, he was knocked to the ground, bound, and dragged before the emperor. On the way, his bonds were tightened so tightly that he could hardly breathe. At the imperial palace, the final sentence was passed, sending Judson to the death row prison, to that fatal place from which no one could escape except by the particular intervention of the emperor.
Who taught Adoniram to read?
After visiting his parents, he went to New York, the most broken city of the 1800s. Here Adoniram Judson was fascinated by the theater, which is why he joined a melodrama troupe, from which he learned to lie, cheat, live in an apartment for a while, then disappear without paying, and many other nasty things. After a year, with other friends, he left to get rich in the American West in California.
The one who taught Adoniram to read at that young age was his mother, who, when her husband was away on a short trip, wanted to surprise him on his return and so, to take advantage of his absence, taught her child to read. To the father’s amazement, on his return, he found that the child could read a chapter of the Bible quite easily.
Then came the dark period of his life, when at college, he befriended a bright student who had studied Voltaire. The latter was an atheist, and before long, Adoniram was caught in the net of unbelief. When he returned home after graduation, he told his parents that he no longer believed in God, news that broke their hearts.
When did Adoniram leave atheism?
Terrified, Adoniram Judson left the hotel, but also atheism. He surrendered his life to the Savior’s Hand. And left behind the desire for wealth, the West, and the world with all its pleasures. He returned home. His parents’ prayer was answered.
According to historians, Adoniram left atheism on his way west, being very tired, and stopped at a hotel for the night. Here, having no alternative, he had to sleep in the room next to a sick young man who was dying. His cries and groans kept him awake all night, and all sorts of questions arose in his mind that atheism could not clarify. In the morning, it became quiet.
When he came out of his room, the hotel owner informed him that the young man had died. He asked for the name, and to his astonishment, he found out that his college friend had “converted” him to atheism. The shock was extreme. In his ears rang the terrible screams of the dying man. He realized that he would share the same fate if he were to die.
What did Adoniram do?
The head of the society, Samuel Mills, set forth his excellent plan to send missionaries to heathen countries who would be ready to give their lives for the great cause of preaching the Gospel. Filled with enthusiasm and holy desire, the five students decided to go to Asia as missionaries themselves.
Having a new life, Adoniram decided to become a herald of the Gospel, which is why he enrolled at Andover Theological Seminary. He joined the Fellowship Society, a group of young people who wanted to become missionaries. So one day in August 1806, along with four other friends from this society, they went to a maple grove to pray. Suddenly the sky darkened, heralding a storm.
The five took refuge under a nearby hayfield, and there they talked about the old continent, Asia, and the great need for missionaries to preach the Gospel to those people.
When did Adoniram meet Ann?
This meeting under the hayloft has gone down in history. Five talented young men had every chance of making a bright future. And a great career in life gave up all that America’s civilization could offer them, its safety and comfort, and chose Asia’s wilderness and indescribable misery.
And so, on June 29, Adoniram met his future wife, Ann Nancy Hasseltine, a young woman of only 20, known to all for her faithfulness and beauty. She had given her heart to the Lord four years ago when, after much turmoil, she decided to give up the parties and entertainment she had often attended and follow the path the Saviour had laid out for her.
A committee formed to consider the request of the five young people appeared before the council and announced the decision. After that meeting, they were invited to have dinner with Deacon Hasseltine’s family.
- So, on 5 February 1812, Adoniram Judson married Ann Nancy. And the next day, five young men were ordained to go out as missionaries. They were: Adoniram Judson, Luther Rice, Samuel Newell, Samuel Nott, and Gordon Hall. Immediately after ordination, Samuel Nott, Luther Rice, and Gordon Hall left for Philadelphia, where they were to take the ship Harmony to Calcutta, India, in a few days.
- On Tuesday, February 18, Mr. and Mrs. Judson and Mr. Newell were also told to report aboard the ship Caravan. So that as soon as they had a fair wind, they could weigh anchor. In those days, there were only sailing ships. And the voyage was long and arduous and took several months. The next day, the ship set sail, and the two families began the journey that would take them far from their loved ones. Through many dangers and trials. But it was the road each of them had chosen.
After much turmoil, Ann surrendered her heart to the Lord four years ago. She decided to give up the fun and parties she often attended. And follow the path the Saviour had laid out for her. So, along with other schoolmates, they joined the small church in Bradford as members. At the same time, her parents also repented.
The father, in particular, was moved by the prayer of her favourite little girl. Then, one summer evening, the girl knelt in front of the open window and prayed tearfully. The father, walking through the orchard to the house, saw her weeping. And said to himself that if his daughter, so innocent. Prays with tears when she comes before the Lord; how should he be? And he also surrendered himself to the Lord. This is how God listens to the prayers of children for their parents.