As a senior at Hope College, Zwemer attended a rally at the school for the Student Volunteer Movement. During the meeting, the desperate need for missionaries was presented and Zwemer, his mind awakened to the task of World Evangelism, rushed forward after the meeting and signed the pledge: “I purpose, God willing and desirous to go to the unoccupied foreign fields.”
After graduation and medical training, Zwemer applied to several mission boards to go to Arabia to start a missions among the Muslims. But every mission board turned him down, saying it was foolish to try to reach a people who were so fanatical. But Zwemer didn’t let anything deter him. He responded, “If God calls you and no board will send you, bore a hole through the board and go anyway!” So he set out across America with a another young man, James Cantine, to raise funds for their work, called the Arabian Mission. In 1890, Zwemer set sail for Arabia.
Within a few years, the mission began to really grow and several other missionaries came to help the work, including Samuel’s younger brother. In the early part of 1896, the Church Missionary Society wrote to Zwemer, asking him to meet two young female missionaries who were just arriving in Arabia from Australia and to assist them along their way to their new post. One of those ladies was the charming, beautiful Amy Wilkes. When Zwemer met her, he fell in love. The two were married in Baghdad. The Arabian Mission had its first female member.
The Church Missionary Society wasn’t happy about Zwemer up and marrying one of their missionaries. So they demanded that he had to pay them back for the cost of Amy’s preparation and journey. So he did. It soon became a joke among the Arabs that Zwemer had to buy his wife just like they did, according to Arab custom.
Despite the price, the new couple would go on to faithfully serve the Lord for the next forty years.
On this day 1814, thirty-three representatives of Baptist churches met in Philadelphia to form the General Missionary Convention, better known as the Triennial Convention (because it met every three years).
Two years earlier, Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice had set sail as some of America’s first foreign missions. But they had been sent out under the blessing of the Congregationalist denomination. On their way to India, both men, traveling on separate ships, began to study the Bible on the issue of Baptism. They knew that once they got to India, they would be staying briefly with William Carey and the other Baptist there and wanted to be prepared to Biblical defend their position on Baby Baptism. On during their study, they found that they couldn’t. Once they arrived in India, both men were baptized and became Baptist.
This caused some pretty major problems back in the states. The Congregationalist couldn’t support any Baptist missionaries and there were no Baptist missionary societies to take up their support. So the missionaries decided to send Luther Rice back to America to help the churches organize a society to support Baptist missionary work around the World.
With the support of several influential pastors, Rice was able to bring together the group of delegates to discuss the Mission Board. William Johnson, a Baptist pastor in Georgia, wrote an appeal to the churches:
What a dime spectacle will the convention present l A numerous body of the Lord’s people, embracing in their connection from 100,000 to 200,000 souls, all rising in obedience to their Lord, and meeting by delegation, in one august assembly, solemnly to engage in one sacred effort for effectuating the great command: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”
What spectacle can more solemnly interest the benevolent heart! What can be more acceptable to our heavenly Father! We invite you, dear friends, and brethren-we affectionately and cordially invite you-to embrace the privilege of uniting in so glorious a cause, so divine a work. God has put great honor upon us in giving us so favorable an opportunity of coming up “to the help of ‘the Lord against the mighty.” In doing so, he has conferred on us a distinguished privilege. Shall we be insensible to the honor? Shall we disregard the privilege? God forbid l Living in a country whose generous soil yields, with moderate industry, more than a sufficiency of the comforts of life, and professing, in great numbers, to be redeemed from our iniquities, our obligations to exert ourselves for the benefit of our race and the glory of God, are great indeed. O let us feel, impressively feel, the force of these obligations and act correspondingly with them.
This convention would go on to do mighty things for the cause of World Evangelism and shaped the early mission movement of the baptist churches. Great missionaries like the Judsons, George Boardman, John Peck, and others would supported by the work of this convention.
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