Martha was born in 1821 in Dorchester, Massachusetts. She grew up in a pious, Christian home and, at the age of ten, she realized she was a sinner in need of Christ. As she grew older, she began to teach at the town’s girl school. But there was growing a desire in her heart to do something more. Two ladies from her church had recently gone with their husbands to the foreign mission field and one of those ladies had been Martha’s Sunday school teacher when she was younger who had greatly influenced her life. As Martha began to see what God was doing in the lives of these ladies, she began to dream of one day being used of God in such a way.
The way was opened when Martha met the dashing Reverend William Ashmore, a young minister who had left the pastorate of his church to serve as one of the earliest Baptist missionaries to the Chinese people. The two were married and, four days later, set sail for the orient. They were both thirty years old.
Both husband and wife began to work diligently to learn Chinese once the arrived. They worked briefly in Hong Kong and then moved to Bangkok, to work among the large number of Chinese people living there. Martha worked diligently to assist in the ministry. She started a school for young Chinese girls in the city and headed weekly Bible studies and prayer groups for the ladies in the church. But in her own opinion, the hardest challenge was learning to balance the work of the ministry and the care for her family. A friend once said of Martha:
But as a Christian wife and mother, sustaining the spirit of her husband and watching over her children and making her home a happy retreat, she found the sphere of her most welcome labors. This sphere she adorned and here her virtues shone forth most conspicuously.
But Martha’s health soon began to break. Deeply concerned for his beloved wife, William took her and the children on an extended sea trip, hoping it would help her improve. But it began obvious that it wouldn’t help and they returned to Bangkok. William soon made plans to return with his wife to America, until she fully recovered. But within two moths, this noble woman died, a woman who was described as “one of the purest noblest women that have trod the heathen shores. She was fitted to adorn any circle in any land. We knew her varied accomplishments her intellectual culture her mental strength her deep piety her warm affection.”
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