One of my favorite genres of literature is the biography and my favorite biographies are those of missionaries. I recently finished one that was, for the most part, hard to put down and a very enjoyable read. It was a biography of the first Protestant missionary to be sent from the North American continent. A story of a man who, through much suffering, was the first to bring the gospel to a land utterly foreign to anything he had known before. He had to learn the language of this people from a man who didn't speak English, he was imprisoned in the worst conditions imaginable, had one wife die, remarried and had his second wife also die, and also lost children to sickness in the mission field.
If you haven't guessed it yet the man is Adoniram Judson, a Congregationalist descended from Puritans, who sailed in 1812 from Salem, Massachusetts to India and then on to Burma, now Myanmar, where he would accomplish much, by God's grace, for the propagation of the gospel. I had first heard of Judson from a CD of John Piper preaching about the lives of missionaries that a friend gave to me my first year of med school. When I got sick with a bad cold in January, Judson came back into my life when another friend loaned me the biography, To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson. After reading it I jokingly accused my friend, who is a Credo-Baptist, of placing Baptist propaganda in my hands as Judson converted to the Baptist faith and was re-baptized after he struggled with what was the true teaching of Scripture on his ship-ride to India. I was not converted to the Baptist understanding by this book but it was certainly a blessing to read and to be encouraged by Judson's steadfastness through the intense struggles he underwent in Burma.
One quote which stood out to me impressed me because it stands in such sharp contrast to comfortable American Christianity and speaks a strong word against the so-called "prosperity gospel." In this quote Judson reflects on the difficult position of the Burmese converts. Judson writes: "But it is really affecting to see a poor native when he first feels the pinch of truth. On one side he sees hell; on the other side, ridicule, reproach, confiscation of goods, imprisonment, and death."