Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Example of Adoniram Judson

An open letter to the Appalachian Bible College sophomore class

Dear Class of 2020,

It's August!  Summer is slipping away and your sophomore year is quickly approaching.  I have mixed feelings about that, and you probably do, too.  I'm eager for new students to arrive—especially several internationals from South America, Asia, and Europe!  And I can't wait to hear about your summer experiences.  What has God been teaching you?  Were there ways you put into practice what you learned as a freshman?

One highlight of my summer was worshiping with a supporting church in Kansas, which includes a large number of refugees from Asia.  Many of them are ethnic Karen people (pronounced kuh-RIN), descendants of some who were introduced to Jesus by Adoniram Judson.

You probably know a little of Judson's story.  He was the first Baptist missionary sent overseas from the U.S. in the 1800's.  He lost two wives, he took only one furlough in 38 years of ministry, and he suffered from chronic illnesses.  Still, he labored on—translating the Bible into Burmese and slowly seeing hearts turned from Buddha to Christ.

As I listened to my Karen brothers and sisters sing and pray in their beautiful language, and as we celebrated the Lord's Supper together and then fellowshipped over lunch, I rejoiced!  I rejoiced because Jesus is Savior of all peoples.  I rejoiced because my country has made a place for these immigrants.  I rejoiced because a small local church welcomes them despite the inherent challenges.  And I rejoiced because God used a man named Adoniram Judson.

If you ever question the impact that one life can have, think of my Karen friends.  Generations after Judson's death, they are part of his legacy.  Whatever he suffered during his short time on earth, I'm certain he now counts it fully worthwhile for the crown of rejoicing in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thessalonians 2:19).

The class motto you chose is a single, powerful word: Surrendered.  I pray each of you surrender to the Lord Jesus with the lifelong, selfless commitment of an Adoniram Judson.  The days of such "heroes of the faith" are not over.  It is your time.  Prepare well!
So Spirit, come, put strength in every stride;
Give grace for every hurdle.
That we may run with faith to win the prize
Of a servant good and faithful.
As saints of old, still line the way,
Retelling triumphs of His grace,
We hear their calls, and hunger for the day
When with Christ we stand in Glory. 
"O Church Arise," Keith & Kristyn Getty