The groans of a dying man kept him awake in the little inn outside New York, but he was hardened to the cries because a college friend at Brown University had persuaded him to be an atheist.
The next morning he learned the man who died in the night was none other than his college friend.
This rude awakening led him to become America's first foreign missionary.
His name was Adoniram Judson, born in Massachusetts, August 9, 1788. At age 23, Adoniram Judson, and his wife, Ann, age 22, set sail from New England to Calcutta, India, as Congregational missionaries on February 19, 1812.
On the sea voyage, through an encounter with Baptists aboard and Bible study, the Judsons come to believe in believers' baptism by immersion. After leaving New England as Congregational missionaries, they arrived in Calcutta as Baptists. Imagine the fund-raising dilemma!
Luther Rice, who was also on the voyage, was not yet convinced of believers baptism, but under the influence of William Carey and his own personal Bible study, he eventually became a Baptist. Rice would give up his dream of being a missionary to come back to the United States and raise funding for the Judsons to be able to stay on the field.
After the Judsons arrived in Calcutta, India, the British East India Tea Company did not want missionaries evangelizing Hindus as it might hurt their business, so the Judsons were ordered to Rangoon, Burma. They learned to speak Burmese, translated Scriptures and started schools. Adoniram was imprisoned during the Burmese War, but eventually gained respect from Burmese and British officials for having translated an English-Burmese Dictionary and the Bible.
By Adonirum's death, there were 63 churches, 123 ministers and over 7,000 baptized Christians in Burma. Adoniram Judson wrote:
"How do Christians discharge this trust committed to them? They let three fourths of the world sleep the sleep of death, ignorant of the simple truth that a Savior died for them." (American Minute 2/19/08)