“Not many noble”
The great Baptist preacher and leader in the early days of our Republic, John Leland’s description of Elijah Baker was quite revealing. He said that he was “a man of low parentage, small learning and confined abilities. But with one talent, he did more than many do with five.” It reminds us of the words of Paul at 1 Cor 1:26 – “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:” God is looking for availability not ability. Baker, one of the early Baptist ministers, was greatly used of God to establish all of the churches between Hampton and Richmond City, and several on the eastern shore in Virginia. This success brought the wrath of Satan upon him, and he became the object of much abuse. He was often pelted with apples and stones while he was preaching. Once he was taken by Ruffians and placed on a ship with orders to land him on any coast out of America. He refused to work and was treated poorly when he preached and sang. Contrary winds kept the ship in harbor so he was placed on another one. When the storm continued to rage they thought it could be that they had taken the preacher so they put him on another ship. He continued to sing and preach until they put him off permanently. Then they put him in debtor’s prison on July 1, 1778 in the Accomac County Jail. The case was continued on the 29th of July and it lasted until Aug. 25. Altogether he had spent 56 days in prison, but he invested his time in preaching and prayer. Since liberty in VA had been granted two years prior, the charge was vagrancy rather than preaching without a license. And the plaintiffs were Anglican churchmen rather than state officials. This prison still stands today and there is a memorial to Elijah Baker who preached the First Baptist sermon here.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 310-11.
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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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Few know the sacrifices of our missionaries
1942 – The S.S. West Lashaway, a ship on which the Shaw family, missionaries to French Equatorial Africa (now Central African Republic) was sunk by a German U Boat in the early days of WW II. The shipping lanes of the Atlantic were in constant danger of German subs, and later, for a while, the Japanese Navy ruled the Pacific in those awful days. Harvey and Carol Shaw had volunteered for missionary service in Africa in 1937 and now were forced to return with their three children. As the German torpedo ripped through the ship, Mr. Shaw, his daughter Carol (7) and son Richard (13) were thrown into the sea. Mrs. Shaw and daughter Georgia (11) were trapped in their cabin and went down with the ship. The survivors still had to survive fire from the German sub. When it left they found life jackets and rafts. Mr. Shaw didn’t make it, but the rest did after drifting for twenty-one days, and seeing the Lord wondrously provide food and fresh rain water. Finally they were rescued by a British destroyer after they nearly destroyed them with sixteen volleys of cannon, thinking that they were an enemy submarine. The sailors wept when they realized what they had nearly done. Other missionaries raised the Shaw children, and Richard later entered the ministry, and his sister Carol served the Lord as well. Few know of the sacrifices of our missionaries. [Polly Strong, Burning Wicks (Cleveland, Ohio: Baptist Mid-Missions, 1984), pp. 207-8. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 523-25]. Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
She Proved a “Worthy Successor”
Sep. 01, 1845 – Sarah Hall Boardman Judson died on a ship in the port of St. Helena. She had embarked with her second husband Adoniram Judson and three children on the previous April 26th, at the request of physicians, with the hope of saving her life, after she contracted a chronic illness. She was the second wife of the renowned missionary to Burma, having married him after her husband George Dana Boardman died after serving faithfully in Burma for 6 years. Rather than leaving the field she stayed on to serve with Rev. and Mrs. Francis Mason. Judson [served eight lonely years on the field since the death of his beloved Ann before Rev. Mason joined them in Holy Matrimony on April 10, 1834. She proved a “worthy successor” and deservedly won his respect and love after 11 blessed years. Though his heart was broken, the veteran missionary sailed on to America for his first furlough in 33 years. Sarah Boardman Judson will ever stand alone as one of the great stalwarts of the 19th century missionary enterprise as she translated the New Testament into the Peguan language, and the ‘Pilgram’s Progress’ into Burmese. [Arabella W. Stuart, Lives of the Three Mrs. Judsons (New York: Lee and Shephard, 1855), pp. 194-95. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 478-479.] Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon
“Amazing Grace how sweet the sound”
Jan. 22, 1949, was the wedding date for Dr. and Mrs. E. Robert Jordan. From the entry of Jan. 19, you will remember that it was the date of his conversion to Christ. A young sailor named Tim, had accompanied the Naval Chief his drinking bouts as he made his rounds to the bars and night clubs, he didn’t drink, but would patiently take the abuse that Robert would heap upon him. After getting busted in Bermuda and spending a night in jail, Tim gave Robert his preacher brothers card and told him that if he was ever in Atlantic City to “look him up.” When their ship docked, Robert did just that, and knocked around mid-night, and told Frank that his brother Tim had told him to come and see him. Frank immediately began to witness to him by giving him the plan of salvation. Night after night, for food and explanation of the scriptures Robert would return. Finally he went to evangelistic services at Frank’s church and became angry because he thought that Frank had told the preacher about his drinking, cursing, and gambling. Finally under great conviction the Pastor led him to Christ in his study, along with Tim, who realized that though a cleaner sinner than Robert, he had never really been saved. Robert returned to his ship at 4:30 am, awakened his men and told them how he was gloriously saved. The next Sat. he went to the Mission and preached and saw 16 men receive Christ. Robert completed Bible College, pastored the Calvary Baptist Church in Lansdale, PA for fifty years, helped in starting 100 churches; and founded the Calvary Baptist Seminary. Amazing Grace how sweet the sound,
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins, pp. 45-47.
Great events, we often find,
On little things depend,
And very small beginnings
Have oft a mighty end.
A single utterance may good
or evil thought inspire;
One little spark enkindled
May set a town on fire.
What volumes may be written
With little drops of ink!
How small a leak, unnoticed,
A mighty ship will sink!
Our life is made entirely
Of moments multiplied,
As little streamlets, joining
Form the ocean’s tide.
Our hours and days,
our months and years,
are in small moments given:
They constitute our time below –
Eternity in heaven
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