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Scripture Memory: God’s Help.

VERSE : Psalm 18:35 “Thou has also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.”

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

2 March 2014
8 am & 1045am Worship Service:
Eld Ng Beng Kiong (Victory in the Lord, Ps 18:30-39)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Charles Seet (Christ’s Kingdom Is Forever, Ps 45:6-7) 

9 March 2014
8 am & 1045am Worship Service:
Rev Quek Keng Khwang (Delighting in God’s Word, Ps 119:9-16)
6:00 pm Evening Service:
Rev Colin Wong (Christ’s Gifts to Men, Ps 68:18)

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THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONS (Part 6)

(Extracted from Jerusalem to Irian Jaya – A Biographical History of Christian Missions, by Ruth A. Tucker)

Adoniram Judson

Adoniram Judson was born in Massachusetts in 1788, the son of a Congregational minister. He was barely 16 when he entered Brown University, and he graduated three years later as valedictorian of his class. During his student days he had grown close to a fellow student, Jacob Eames, who espoused Deism. Eames’s views made a strong impact on young Judson, who was no longer intellectually satisfied with the faith of his father. Disregarding his parents’ pleas, he set out to see the world.

He stopped one evening at an inn. His sleep that night was interrupted by the painful groans of a sick man in the room next to his. In the morning he inquired about the unfortunate traveler, only to be informed that the man – Jacob Eames – had died during the night. It was a brutal shock to the 20-year-old Judson, and it was a time for soul-searching as he slowly made his way home.

With the encouragement of his father and the other ministers, Adoniram agreed to continue his search for truth at Andover seminary. He was admitted as a special student, making no profession of faith, but after only a few months he made a “solemn dedication” of himself to God.

 Soon after his dedication, Judson read a printed copy of a stirring missionary message given by a British minister. So moved was he that Judson vowed that he would be the first American foreign missionary. There were other students who were sympathetic. The heightened concern for missions among this small group led to the formation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

Judson commenced an acquaintanceship with Ann Hasseltine, better known as Nancy. Nancy, like Adoniram, had undergone a life-changing religious conversion that turned the flighty wayward teenager into a serious but vivacious adult. In February of 1812, she and Adoniram were married, and 13 days later they set sail for India, arriving in Calcutta in mid-June.

The Judsons’ stay in India was short-lived. They were no match for the powerful East India Company. Unable to remain in India, they boarded a ship sailing for Burma. Interestingly, Burma had originally been Adoniram’s first choice for a mission field, until he heard frightening reports of brutal treatment meted out to foreigners.

Their arrival in Rangoon was a depressing time for them. Nancy had undergone a stillbirth on the voyage and had to be carried off the ship to their new land. The people of Burma appeared rather independent and free, in spite of the cruel tyrannical regime that ruled them. Poverty was everywhere. The narrow, filthy streets of Rangoon were lined with run-down huts, and there was a sense of oppression behind the happy smiles that greeted.

At last, two years after they had sailed from America, Adoniram and Nancy were finally able to establish their own missionary work. They spent hours a day studying the difficult Burmese language. Nancy, through her daily contacts with Burmese women, caught on the spoken tongue quickly; but Adoniram struggled laboriously with the written language, a continual sequence of letters with no punctuation or capitals, and no divisions between paragraphs.

They discovered that the Burmese had no concept of an eternal God who personally cared about mankind, and their first attempts to share the gospel were discouraging: “You cannot imagine how very difficult it is to give them any idea of the true God and the way of salvation by Christ, since their present ideas of deity are so very low.”

Burma was a discouraging field for the cultivation of Christianity. Every seedling of progress, it seemed, was being torn down before it could take root. Toleration of the missionaries fluctuated from one extreme to another with the continual turnover of viceroys in Rangoon. When the Judsons were in favor at the court, they were free to propagate the gospel, and the Burmese responded to the relaxed controls; but when they were out of favor, they laid low, spending their time at the mission house in translation work.

From their early days in Rangoon the Judsons were unhappy with the out-of-the-way location of the mission house. They were in Burma to minister to the people and they wanted to mingle with the people and reach them on their own level. How could this be accomplished in a culture so vastly different from their own? A zayat provided the ideal solution.

zayat was a shelter open to anyone who wanted to rest or to discuss the day’s events, or to listen to lay teachers who often stopped by. It was a place to relax and forget the pressure of the day, and there were many such shelters in Rangoon. Five years after arriving in Burma, Judson was able to secure a reasonably priced piece of property on the Pagoda Road, a well-traveled thoroughfare, and he and Nancy began building their zayat. But merely constructing a zayat was not enough. Adoniram and Nancy wanted the Burmese people to feel at ease, so they attended a religious service at a nearby zayat to familiarize themselves with seating patterns and other cultural peculiarities.

The concept worked. Almost immediately visitors, who would never come to the mission house, began stopping by. Only a month after the zayat opened, Maung Nau made a profession of faith in Christ at a Sunday service in the zayat packed with Burmese people. Slowly the little Burmese church grew and by the summer of 1820 there were ten faithful baptized members.

From the beginning the Burmese converts took an active role in evangelism: one woman opened a school in her house, a young man became an assistant pastor, and others distributed tracts. The work went forward, even when the Judsons were gone.

Next to official harassment, tropical fever was the greatest setback to the work in Burma. Both Adoniram and Nancy suffered frequently from bouts of fever that endangered their very lives. In 1820 they left Rangoon for several months to seek medical care for Nancy in Calcutta. Then in 1822 Nancy parted with Adoniram for an extended sick leave that took her back to England and back to the United States.

While Nancy was away, Adoniram buried himself in his translation work, completing the New Testament in less than a year. By early 1824 the political situation in Burma began to look ominous. Nancy returned from the United States, but their reunion was brief. War broke out between Burma and England, and all foreigners were suspected of being spies. Adoniram was arrested and confined in a death prison, where he awaited execution. Life in death prison was appalling. The missionaries were confined with common criminals in a filthy, vermin-infested, dark, dank prison house, with fetters binding their ankles.

Finally after nearly one and a half years of prison confinement, Adoniram was released to help interpret peace negotiations with the British. While working with the negotiations, the Judsons spent a short time with the British officials, and for the first time in nearly two years they were able to enjoy themselves. It was the last time of relaxation they would have together. They returned to Rangoon for a short time and then went to Amherst, where Nancy stayed while Adoniram returned to help wind up the negotiations. The weeks dragged into months, and before he was able to return he received a letter with a black seal. Nancy, his beloved companion, had died of fever.

Judson’s immediate reaction to Nancy’s death was to drown his sorrows in work. For more than a year he kept up a hectic pace of translation work and evangelism, but his heart was not in his labors. Beneath the surface was a pressure of guilt and grief that had to be released. He could not forgive himself for not being with Nancy when she needed him most, and he could not rid himself of the overwhelming sorrow that only seemed to grow more intense.

Finally about two years after Nancy’s death, he went into the jungle, where he built himself a hut and lived as a recluse. He went so far as to dig a grave where he kept vigil for days on end, filling his mind with morbid thoughts of death. Spiritual desolation engulfed him: “God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in Him, but I find Him not.”

Fortunately, Judson’s mental breakdown did not last indefinitely. There was a tremendous outpouring of love and prayer both by his colleagues and by the native converts. But more important, there was a solid foundation to his faith that was able to endure even the most trying times of doubt. Slowly, he recovered from the paralyzing depression, and as he did he acquired a new depth of spirituality that intensified his ministry.

He began traveling around Burma, helping other missionaries at their outposts. Everywhere he went, the response was the same – throngs of inquirers, converts, and signs of spiritual growth. He sensed a new spirit of interest “through the whole length and breadth of the land.” It was an awesome feeling: “I sometimes feel alarmed like a person who sees a mighty engine beginning to move, over which he knows he has no control.”

As exhilarating as Judson’s itinerant ministry was, he knew that there was an even greater job to be done – completing the Burmese Bible. It would take total concentration and that meant setting aside two years and keeping up a pace of translating between 25 and 30 Old Testament verses each day. Judson met his goal of completing the initial translation, but there were years of less concentrated revision work ahead of him. It was not until 1840 that he sent the last page of his Burmese Bible to the printer.

In 1834 Judson married Sarah Boardman. They were well-suited for each other, but Sarah’s missionary work decreased as her family increased. During the first ten years of their marriage she gave birth to eight children. But the strain was too much. In 1845, the year after her last child was born, while en route to the United States on medical leave, she died.

Judson and three of their children had accompanied Sarah, and the tragedy that had befallen them deeply saddened what would have been a joyous reunion with family and friends. It had been 33 years since Judson had last seen his native land and what tremendous changes he found. He suddenly found himself a celebrity. Everybody, it seemed, wanted to see and hear this man whose name had become a household word and whose missionary work had become a legend.

During his travels, Judson was introduced to Emily Chubbock and their friendship quickly blossomed. He proposed marriage in January of 1846 and in June they were married. In November they arrived in Burma. Emily was ready to fill Sarah’s shoes to the best of her ability. She became a mother to Judson’s little ones and she enthusiastically plunged into language study and missionary work.

Adoniram and Emily served three years together in Burma. The birth of a baby girl brought happiness to them, but much of the time was marred by illness. In the spring of 1850, Adoniram, who was seriously ill, left on a sea voyage, hoping to recover. Less than a week later, he died and was buried at sea. The following January Emily sailed for Boston to make a home for the children in the United States; but her own health was broken, and three years later she died at the age of 36.      (To be continued)

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All Lifers are invited to the

Golden Age Fellowship 14th Anniversary

Date : 8 March 14 (this Sat)

Time : 4 pm

Venue : Beulah MPH

Buffet dinner will be served. Should you wish to bring refreshment, kindly contact is Evelyn Tay @ 62803344

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1) “Evening by Evening”: Daily Devotional by C H Spurgeon, Vol 2 (Apr to Jun 2014). Available at the front counter. The same devotions are available online at http://www.lifebpc.com/devotions.

2) Scripture Memory Verse Review No. 1. A written review exercise of the verses is obtainable at the front counter. Please submit by9 Mar 14.

3) We thank God for the good response to the Spiritual Leadership Seminar held last Saturday. If you have missed it, the audio recordings are available for your downloading at our church website www.lifebpc.com. Further enquiries can be made withThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

4) Infant Baptism on Easter Sunday, 20 Apr 14. Parents who intend to have their infants baptised must register by 16 Mar 14. Please call the Church office (6594-9399) or email Yin Chan giving child’s name, date of birth and parents’ names and contact.

5) Life B-P Church Camp, 16-19 June 2014 at Awana Genting, West Malaysia.  On-line registration at the church website,www.lifebpc.com/churchcamp2014.htm. Registration forms are also available at the front entrance for those who have no internet access.

6) Gospel Sunday30 Mar 14. 8 & 10.45am. Topic: GPS - God’s Plan of Salvation. Speakers: Rev Tan Eng Boo (English) and Pastor Hendro (Mandarin/Hokkien). Members are encouraged to invite their friends and relatives.

7) Our condolences to the family of sister Una Tan (75 yrs) on her homegoing on 22 Feb 14.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25