On this day in 1850, Adoniram Judson, as he laid on his death bed suffering excruciating pain, turned to his dear friend and fellow missionary, Thomas Ranney, and uttered:

“How few there are, who suffer such torment – who die so hard!”

Less than a week earlier, Adoniram had boarded a French ship, hoping that the cool sea air would help him to recover from the severe illness he suffered from.  Only one companions, Thomas Ranney, accompanied him.

The first few days into their voyage, Adoniram really thought he might recover.  The cool ocean was slowly helping him to regain his strength.  Excited that he might be able to see his beloved Emily again, he asked Ranney to write a letter to send back to Emily and the boys, saying, “I have a strong belief it is the will of God to restore me to health.”

But soon, the darkness arose again.  Violent vomiting struck Judson at all hours of the day.  The cool ocean air ceased, making everything hot and unbearable. His whole body began to swell.  The pain was so severe that he couldn’t sleep.  A raging fever overtook him.  It became apparent to all aboard the ship that, unless God worked a divine miracle, Adoniram Judson would soon be dead.

On the night of the 11th of April, Ranney sat next to the bed of this suffering hero.  He would be continually awakened out of his light sleep by the horrid fits of vomiting.  During one of these attacks, Judson pulled Ranney close and, in a hoarse whisper, exclaimed: “How few there are, who suffer such torment – who die so hard!”

This statement is a powerful summary of the life of this man.  How few there are who have suffered the pain, the torment, Adoniram Judson faced!  Not just in his death, but throughout his entire life!

As a young missionary, he was enslaved in the dreaded Death Prison.  Hung upside down, while rats ran over his body and mosquitoes devoured his feet.  Beaten and starved.  Living with the knowledge that his precious Ann, who was about to have a baby, was on her own, unprotected, risking her life to help him.  How few there are who suffer such torment!

A husband who so painfully had two wives torn out of his life through their deaths.  A father who lost five of his children before they turned one.  A missionary who saw countless number of fellow laborers die on the field they served so faithfully in.  Every time one of these precious lives was ripped from Adoniram, a part of him died.  He hurt and ached with a pain we could never imagine.  How few there are who die so hard!

But how few there are, who have done such great things for God!  How few there are who have paved the trail that Adoniram paved with his life.  A man who helped awaken American churches to their duty  in World Evangelism.  A man who started a mission in Burma that saw thousands saved.  A man who made a translation of the Bible that is still used today!  A man who started a movement in Burma that has continued to this day!  The Baptist union is still the largest Christian organization in Burma today, making up more than 3% of the population.

So often, we want the success men like Adoniram Judson had, but we want to avoid the trials, heartbreaks, struggles, and hardships that characterized their lives.  Adoniram Judson lived out the principle in John 12:24, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”

That night, as Adoniram Judson thrashed in his bed with pain, dozens of people were praying that God would work a miracle and deliver this man who had already faced so much torment and death!


To the Golden Shore

On this day in 1836, George Muller opened his first orphanage in Bristol, England.

Muller had come from Prussia to London, hoping to be sent out with the London Missionary Society as a missionary to the Jews.  But due to his health and lack of training, Muller was put rejected for the time being.  Since he was already in England, he got involved in the work being done there.  He was soon pastoring his own church.

The longer Muller spent in England, the more burdened he became for the orphans of the Island.  He saw an unreached group of people that no one was loving and reaching with the Gospel.  He decided to change that.  He went before the church and outlined his plan to start an orphanage.  The only stipulation for the orphanage was that no one was ever to make the needs of the orphanage public.  Only God could know the needs.  So with no money, Muller began to pray and plan for the work ahead.  He prayed for every small need and every detail.  And God was always faithful to provide.

Soon, money, food, furniture, and clothing were pouring in.  People were offering their time to work with the orphans.  Muller rented a house on Wilson street and soon work was going on every day to prepare it for the orphans.  Soon, the big day had arrived.  Muller had prayed for every need so far and God had always come through. But as they opened the doors, no orphans came to apply!  All day long, the beautiful building God had prepared and provided sat empty.  Puzzled, Muller began to search his heart as to why there were no orphans.  Suddenly, it dawned on him. In his own words, he says:

I brought even the most minute circumstances concerning the orphanage before the Lord, being conscious of my own weakness and ignorance.  One point I had never prayed about, however, was for the Lord to send more children.  I took it for granted that there would be plenty of applications!

Gathering his staff, they prayed for God to send them orphans to their house.  The next day, dozens joined.  That was the start of Muller’s great orphan ministry!


Autobiography of George Muller

Wholesome Words

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