Adoniram Judson’s astonishing letter to his father-in-law asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage

After Certain Hardships and Death Do We Part (Image Courtesy of pixabay.com)

We named our son, Judson, after the missionary Adoniram Judson, and I am proud of that fact given what I am currently learning about Judson’s life. Judson lived from 1788–1850 and was a missionary to Burma for almost 40 years. His commitment to the cause of Christ was (is!) phenomenal, humbling, and inspiring. Before he left for the mission field, he fell in love with Ann Hasseltine. Knowing that he wanted to marry Ann, but also knowing the hardships that they were sure to face being on the mission field, he wrote Ann’s father a letter asking for her hand in marriage with these realities in mind. Read this letter slowly and reflectively.

Judson’s Letter to Mr. Hasseltine Asking for His Daughter’s Hand in Marriage

“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world ? Whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall resound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”

Adoniram Judson’s letter to Mr. Hassltine was fulfilled: Ann did go through many hardships while on the mission field. She had 3 pregnancies: The first ended in a miscarriage while moving from India to Burma; her second child, Roger, was born in 1815 and died at 8 months of age; her third child, Maria, lived only 6 months after Ann herself died in 1826 of smallpox. Adoniram Judson himself lost 2 wives and 6 of 13 children on the mission field. Ann, and Adoniram, suffered through many other trials while serving as missionaries. Ann, herself, suffered hardships and died, but she died “for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home,” as Judson wrote above. They left their homes and their family to spread the glory of God to an unreached people group.

Ultimately, their sacrifice was worth it. While Judson only had 18 converts after 12 years, when he died he left 100 churches and over 8,000 believers. Today we can see the fruit of his work since there are 2.5 million evangelical Christians in Burma (modern day Myanmar) today (source). Myanmar also has the third largest number of baptist worldwide behind the U.S. & India (source). Judson also wrote a grammar of the language that is still used today, & he also translated the entire bible into Burmese, which took him 24 years to complete. In light of what was accomplished, especially in the midst of such difficulties, we tend, it seems to me, to do so little compared to missionaries like Judson. May God use his life, and Ann’s life, to push us on towards the plans that He has for us.
 You can find John Piper’s biography talk on Judson here.

Judson’s letter can be found online, but it is cited often from this book: The Life of Adoniram Judson by his son Edward Judson. New York: Anson D. F. Randolph & Company, 1883.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

  1. If you are a father (or mother), how would you respond to this letter if it was written about your daughter or son?
  2. If Judson were your son, would you want him to face such hardships (google his name and read about his amazing, but very difficult, life)?
  3. Are you (we!) willing to go to the most difficult places in the world for the glory of God?
  4. What does reading about lives, such as Adoniram and Ann, do for your walk with God?

Originally published at www.billyreinhardt.com on July 9, 2017.