The Ship the missionaries
Indigenous Church Method
1854 – On this date Mrs. John Sydney (Martha Foote) Beecher, was buried at sea as they were returning from the field of Burma where they had labored among the Karens. Though Beecher’s heart was broken, he continued on in his laborers though with another mission’s agency. With failing health he was forced to journey to England for treatment in September of 1866, however he died on Oct. 21, 1866. Among other things he had established a Christian school in Burma besides being an able replacement for Elisha Litchfield Abbott who he replaced in 1846. Abbott, born in New York in 1809, after being trained at the Hamilton Theological Seminary, in Hamilton, N.Y, became one of the highlights of missionary activity because of his work with the Karens of Bassein, Burma from the time he left for that field in 1836 until after the death of Mrs. Abbott in 1845. At that time, with consumption coming on him, he left for the states with his children. It was apparent to him that if he was to return to the field he would have to have an assistant. Abbott did return to Burma in 1852 but died on Dec. 3, 1854. It was Abbott who established the indigenous method of missions. He founded fifty self-supporting churches among the Karens. But it was during his first return to America that he met the young man Beecher and was able to influence him to follow in his footsteps. Beecher had planned to go west to our own nation but said that he couldn’t make a decision until consulting Martha Foote who was in Chicago, and knew that letters could not transfer between them before Abbott left. However the next day a letter came from Martha declaring that if he ever decided to go to an Eastern field, “I should lay no obstacle in your way.” Beecher accepted that as the Lord giving him the clearance to go to Burma.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 88.
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Who Will Go?
The work among the Karens in Burma is a thrilling account of missionary sacrifice and faithfulness. George Dana Boardman and his wife were appointed by the Triennial convention on April 30, 1823, in Washington, D.C., and they pioneered that rapidly expanding ministry. God’s blessing rested heavily upon their efforts. By 1910 the work among the Karens had grown to 50,000 members in 774 churches. The Missionaries often looked to a range of mountains where a notorious savage tribe existed. The missionaries wandered how they might reach the wild tribes who were known as Brecs, who lived by plunder and known to be fond of uncooked meat and blood, the tribes were greatly feared. During an annual assembly of the Karen churches, an appeal was made to evangelize the Brecs, one of the national Karen evangelists bowed his head, evidently in prayer. Finally standing he said, “I am sorry for the poor Brecs, who know nothing of God, or his law to men. I am very unhappy because no one goes to them with the great tidings. If my church will give me leave, I will go.” . . . “God delivered me form the mouth of a bear, and also from death when, crossing a swift stream . . . He also saved me from the mouth of a tiger. He will be with me in this work, no matter how difficult.” The national evangelist made his way to the range of mountains and to a village where the most wicked of all of the Brecs lived. Here he was met with spears and knives of the angry Brecs. He pulled out his Bible and hymnbook, he read scripture and then began to sing, literally for his very life. Soon his voice in song calmed the angry hearts of those wild men. The reception was so great among the Brecs that the national evangelist remained some time proclaiming the gospel. In a few short years a church was established in the village. Other villages responded, and churches and even schools were formed.
Dr. Dale R. Hart adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins) p.p. 250 – 251
Missionary to the Outcasts
We are familiar with many of our great forefathers. Frequently, however, we are unaware of some of those who assisted and worked alongside those better-known men. George Bana Boardman is such a person. He was born in Livermore, Maine, on February 8, 1801, the son of a Baptist pastor. He was ordained at North Yarmouth, Maine, on February 16, 1825. With his wife, he sailed on July 16 of that same year for Calcutta, India. There they remained until March 20, 1827, when they embarked for Amherst, Burma, to assist the well – known Adoniram Judson. They arrived in Burma only days after the burial of Mrs. Ann Judson.
It was decided that the Boardmans should move to the province of Tavoy and establish a mission at its principal town, which was also called Tavoy. In April 1828, they began their missionary work in that place. The Karens, who had long been oppressed by the Burmese, held a tradition that at some time messengers from the West would bring to them a revelation from God. They were prepared to receive our missionaries and their message. Two converts were soon won, one of whom was Ko Thah-byu, who served as an evangelist to his own people.
Just days before George Boardmans death, he was carried by a cot on the shoulders of the Karens for a three day journey to a zayat built by faithful disciples. More than a hundred were already assembled, nearly half of whom were candidates for baptism. At the close of the day, his cot was placed at the riverside as they gathered to witness the first baptism ever held in that region. The Boardmans left the next day to return to Tavoy, while on the second day of the journey, February 11, 1831, George Boardman went to his eternal rest.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 79-80.