ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • History & Archaeology

Adoniram Judson: Missionary to Burma

Updated on November 23, 2017
Adoniram Judson, 1846
Adoniram Judson, 1846 | Source

Adoniram Judson was like any other early nineteenth century American missionary: ambitious, caring, and adventurous. Judson was possibly more adventurous than most missionaries of his time. In fact, he decided to travel to a part of the globe where few, if any, Americans have ever been: Burma. Known as Myanmar since 1989, Burma did not have much contact with the western world except for the British and Dutch traders. Predominantly Buddhist, the Burmese people and their government officials did not take too kindly to Christianity and felt that this strange religion was not intended to be part of their native heritage. Consequently, Judson, and his wife Ann, who traveled with him to Burma, met with hostility and a prison sentence which lasted for tenty-one months between 1824 to 1826.

Originally a Congregationalist but later a convert to the Baptist church, Judson and his wife set sail aboard a clipper named Caravan from Salem, Massachusetts, in February 1812. They headed towards Asia, with the entire voyage lasting four months. Judson and Ann arrived in Calcutta, India in June that year. It was at this time when Judson decided to convert to the Baptist church, firmly believing that baptism must be performed as an act of belief. Under the direction of William Ward, a British Baptist missionary, Judson became baptized and declared his new religious belief.

While Judson would have been happy to mission to the Hindus in India, the British government forbade him from doing so. The British East India Company eventually forced Judson and his wife to leave India for Burma, giving Judson the opportunity to evangelize where competing western officials would not prohibit him from doing so. Adoniram, however, was up against some major challenges. To start with, he had to learn the Burmese language. Not having access to Burmese grammars or dictionaries in the United States, he had to set about creating his own, once he found a willing tutor in Burma. Learning the Burmese alphabet was a task in itself, since it is uses an alphabet that is very different from the Latin one. Derived from the Brahmi script of India, the Burmese alphabet was a series of curves and loops which made for attractive calligraphy. It took Judson and his wife three years to learn the language, but they persevered, so that they could become fluent in order to convert the Burmese to Christianity. Once he was fluent in Burmese, Judson started to translate the Bible into Burmese, a monumental task which he achieved while gathering up the courage to hold a public sermon.

Unfortunately for Judson, two thing happened which led to his imprisonment: one, trying to convince King Bagyidaw (who ruled Burma from 1819 to 1837) to not punish Burmese who converted from Buddhism to Christianity with a death sentence, and two, the Anglo-Burmese War, which lasted from 1824 to 1826. Western influences were not exactly welcome in Burma, especially when it came to religion, and as for the war, Judson was perceived by the Burmese as being a British spy. Arrested at his home by members of the Burmese army, Judson's arms were tied behind his back and carried off to a prison at Ava in Mandalay. His wife Ann made the mistake of trying to bribe the soldiers with money to release her husband, which only resulted in her being left behind on her own, guarded by ten Burmese soldiers. She even tried to appeal to the queen, Nanmadaw Me Nu, but Ann's plea went unheeded. Adoniram Judson was to remain in jail but not be executed, perhaps to increase Ann's worry as to what the Burmese government really planned to do with him.

Ann Judson refused to give up trying to get her husband free. The Anglo-Burmese war took a toll, with Burma on the losing side, which exacerbated problems for the British and American prisoners at Ava and Oung-pen-la, the latter which Judson was transferred to. The Burmese prison seemed to favor torture to the prisoners' feet by means of gravel, rocks, and mosquitoes. With their ankles tied together and suspended from a bamboo pole several feet above the ground, Judson and the other prisoners were all but helpless in their state. Compound the site with an ever scarier one – a lion slowly being starved to death in a nearby cage watching the prisoners, one could only hope for a miracle.

Finally, in March 1826, the British released Judson after spending almost two years in prison. Confirmed by his belief in God, Adoniram Judson remained in Burma for thirty-eight years, carrying out his mission work until his death in 1850 at the age of 61 when he was sailing in the Bay of Bengal. He succeeded in achieving his dream, leaving behind over 8,000 Burmese Christian converts. Due to Judson's hard work, Myanmar has the third highest number of Baptists in the world, following the United States and India.





Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)