This book moved me more than any other book I’ve read so far this year. I had never even heard of Adoniram Judson until I read his name in a John Piper book earlier this year.

To summarize the story, Adoniram was the first foreign missionary from the US. He was instrumental in inspiring the formation of two mission boards, and an entire generation of missionaries.

His life is marked by hardship and suffering. The author is faithful to present Judson’s internal struggles as he wrestles with theology, pride & humility, the loss of loved ones, and a seeming lack of results in his ministry. If his life could be summarized in one word, it would be “obedience.”

Reading this book brought tears to my eyes at his loss and suffering, but made my heart yearn for such commitment in my own life. It made me recognize the need for faithfulness in whatever situation the Lord has called me to. It also made me reevaluate my life and earnestly seek to understand the calling God has placed on me in regards to missions and the task of spreading the Gospel to all peoples.

If you have a heart for missions, you’ll love this book. If you want to have a heart for missions, read this book.

My favorite story presented in the book is when Judson returns to America for the only time during his life. He had been in Burma for 33 years, and this was his first trip home. He is asked to speak at a prominent church in Boston. When he gets up to speak, his message is the Gospel. He learns that the the congregation had been disappointed that he did not share some exciting story from the mission frontier and he responds by saying.

I presented the most interesting subject in the world, to the best of my ability…I am sure I gave them a story – the most thrilling one that can be conceived of…I am glad they have it to say, that a man coming from the antipodes had nothing better to tell than the wondrous story of Jesus’ dying love. ¹

That’s the story of his life, spreading the gospel. His life is inspirational, tragic and triumphant. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as did my three month old daughter who had large sections of it read aloud to her since she likes to sit in my lap as I read.

1. Courtney Adnerson, The Life of Adoniram Judson – To the Golden Shore (Judson Press, 1987) p462