October 24, 1826 was the day that Ann Judson died.
Two years ago I found a book called “To the Golden Shore” on daddy’s bookshelf. It was about Adoniram Judson. I read it and was challenged and amazed by Judson’s tenacity and the way he really did leave all behind for Christ. If you’re not familiar with him, John Piper has a short book on him that you can read online. He labored hard. His death was hard. Yet when the seed fell into the ground and died, it bore much fruit.
Then the next year a family sent me a copy of Ann Judson’s memoirs. Ann was Adoniram’s first wife. Two of her three children died in infancy, and her third outlived her only by a little bit. Her story is striking. Adoniram was on his way to the mission field when he met her, and approached her father asking if he could marry her. If I remember correctly, he left the decision up to her. She knew it would be hard, but she also knew how necessary it was that people go to the unreached… and so she and Adoniram were married two weeks before they set out for India, and eventually, Burma. She lost all of her children. Her husband was imprisoned, leaving her alone in a strange land. She left America expecting never again to return, and knowing communication would be scarce – and so would western women in Burma. She aided Adoniram in translation work and evangelism. She was brave, because she was fighting for Christ and for His name to be made great in all the world.
Their deaths are beautiful to me. I’ve been reading Tennyson’s poem “In Memoriam,” and have wondered again and again how something so sad and terrible as death can hold so much beauty. I know for the Judsons, their deaths are beautiful because, as I said before, they were seeds that fell into the ground and died, and their deaths bore much fruit.
Christ, not life, was their goal, and they strove for Him and His glory and knew that all else was rot.
Ann Judson is one of my heroes, because of her great faith – following her husband of two weeks across the world to the unknown, laboring beside him and helping him through many hardships, leaving all familiar behind for the sake of the gospel, and counting all as loss for a greater prize. Her courage is an example and a challenge to me, and she is among the people of “my” Hebrews 11 – along with Hugh M’Kail – people I set before myself as examples of Christlikeness and faith, and people I want to set before my children, too. Some of these are historical “greats” like M’Kail and the Judsons. Others are friends of mine like Rachel H whose selfless service, always focused on the needs of others, is such a challenge and example to me, or mothers like my own, Mrs. N, Mrs. M, Mrs. Y, and Mrs. C.
Who are some of your heroes?