While George was attending Colby College, the death of his sister jolted him into the realization of the brevity of life and the importance of doing something truly meaningful with it. George decided that he wanted to join the new Baptist mission movement that had begun in Burma.
So he left Colby College and went to Andover Theological seminary (The Alma Mater of Adoniram Judson and the other four young men who were the first to be ordained for foreign missionary service) to train for the mission field . Before leaving Colby, George had a tender farewell with his fellow classmates, who he had grown to love. A friend remembers George’s final words to them:
He stood by the window for a few moments, as if to survey, for the last time, the objects on which he had so often gazed. After he had lingered for a moment to view each long familiar object without, he turned away from the window—and cast his eye around upon his beloved companions, who stood in silence, forming a circle quite round the room. All was still. The eye of Boardman alone was undimmed by a tear. In a tender, and yet unfaltering tone, he addressed a few words to his brethren. ‘My dear Brethren,’ said he, ‘serve your Saviour unceasingly and faithfully until, death and if it may not be your duty to be missionaries abroad, be missionaries at home.‘
After graduation from Andover, George married Sarah Hall and they soon set sail for Burma.
The first mission the Boardmans began was in the city of Maulmain , which would soon become the central headquarters for all the Baptist work in Burma. The second mission was in the city of Tavoy, a city of 9,000 people and 1,ooo Buddhist pagodas (religous structures). It was here that George baptized a man named Ko-mah-byn, who was from a tribal group called the Karens.
The Karens, whose name means wild ones, lived in the forest and mountains of Burma and the surrounding countries. Soon, George and Ko-mah-byn began a very successful mistry among the Karens, travelling between many different villages with the Gospel. While many of the Buddhist Burmese were closed to the gospel, the Karens, who were often oppressed by the Buddhist, readily accepted the hope being preached.
When they arrived at Calcutta, they faced hardship from the beginning. Before they had set sail, Roxana had shared a close relationship with Harriet Newell and Ann Judson. These three women were about to be the first to ever leave the American shore to serve on a foreign field. This fact drew them into a close sisterhood. Even though they had never met, they wrote frequent letters back and forth. They talked of how they could study the language and culture together. They talked of how they would help encourage and strengthen each other during hardship. But when the Notts arrived at Calcutta, these things proved to be but dreams.
The Harmony arrived two months after the Caravan, the ship carrying the Judsons and Newells. By the time the Notts arrived, they found that the Newells had already set sail for the Isle of France (Harriet and Roxanna were never able to meet). The Judsons were in the process of becoming Baptist, so the Notts (Congregationalist) could not work at a mission with them. Only a month after they arrived on the foreign field, they were the only missionaries sent out by the American Board left in India.
They labored faithfully in India for two years. But bad health forced them to return to the states. Samuel took the pastorate of a church in the states and Roxanna became a spokeswoman for the need for women to get involved in the missionary work.
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