8/25/15 Missionary Endeavors

Monday, August 24, 2015


Heb. 6:12

Morning Meditation 8/25/2015

Verse 12 says, “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises..” This verse encourages us to be motivated by those who walked the path of faith before us. I have been reading again the biography of Adoniram Judson and am always challenged and instructed by his experiences.

Adoniram and Nancy Heseltine and Samuel and Harriet Newel, were married just before embarking to Burma. One of the prominent citizens of “Haverhill” wrote to a friend in Portugal the following:

“I can think of nothing interesting to add, I will just observe that religious enthusiasm still continues to prevail here. Believe me, unaccountable as it may appear to you, what I am about to repeat to you is true. A daughter of the late Moses Atwood, deceased, by name of Harriet, and a young Miss Heseltine, of the Heseltine family of Bradford, young ( about seventeen or eighteen years old), and totally inexperienced in the school of human nature, are about to embark with their companions (to whom they have but yesterday allied themselves by marriage) —yes, I say that these four foolish and inexperienced young people are about to embark, and will actually sail to the far-distant shores of Hindustan, and marvelous to tell, to teach that numerous and ancient people the right way to heaven!”

The ship on which they sailed was the “Caravan” and was to be captained by a young man 27 years of age and was making his first voyage as Captain. He proved to be very capable to do the job. The Caravan had coops and pens of cackling chickens and squealing pigs which would provide fresh meat for the voyage.

“The Caravan was not long out of sight of land before Harriet and Nancy became aware of something unpleasant about the rise and fall of the vessel on the open ocean. Within a few hours both were seasick. Probably their husbands were, too, but they did not record their sensations in their journals.”

“Harriet was completely incapacitated for several days. Nancy was more fortunate. The first night she had many distressing apprehensions of death, and felt unwilling to die on the sea, not so much on account of her state after death, as the dreadfulness of perishing amid the waves. But she was less sick than she had expected, no worse, through the whole, than if she had taken a gentle emetic. Meanwhile, five days out, the Caravan scared everybody by springing a bad leak and nearly sinking in spite of the efforts of all hands at the pumps until the hole was finally located and stopped. After a week or so, however, all four of the passengers began to enjoy the voyage.”

Another excerpt from the biography: “Presently the Caravan entered the torrid zone. The missionaries discovered the invigorating effects of a bath in salt water; following her first, Harriet noted that it was very refreshing. She said, “I think I shall bathe regularly every other day.”

“By the first of May they had crossed the Equator and run into cold rainy weather as they began to round the Cape of Good Hope. On this day Harriet summed up her feelings: ‘I care not how soon we reach Calcutta, and are placed in a still room, with a bowl of milk and a loaf of Indian bread. I can hardly think of this simple fare without exclaiming, oh, what a luxury. I have been so weary of the excessive rocking of the vessel, and the almost intolerable smell after the rain, that I have done little more than lounge on the bed for several days.’”

“. . . And the next day, the twelfth of June, after seeing nothing but sky and water for one hundred and fourteen days, we this morning heard the joyful exclamation of ‘land, land!’”

Can you imagine a missionary today going this long at sea in the pursuit of his mission? The reason I am quoting from this biography is to acquaint us again with the distances and hardships that the early pioneer missionaries had to endure to do the work of missions.

By the time the missionary party reached Calcutta, Harriet was expecting a baby. When Judson and Newell met Carey he discouraged them from going to Burma and told them as Americans they were not welcome in India. But they did have a warm welcome from the missionaries there. However, the missionaries were not the ones who determined whether they could stay in India or go to Burma. They had to deal with the authorities and the authorities had no use for the missionaries. They were not allowed to stay in India.. And they were not granted permission to go to Burma. The authorities were determined to send them to England and the missionaries had no intention of going there.

The biography continues: “The next day Newell returned to Serampore to tell Nancy and Harriet that permission had been granted and a ship was sailing for the Isle of France in four days.” The Captain of the ship agreed to carry two missionaries and no more. It was decided that Samuel and Harriet would be the ones since she was only three months from the delivery date of her child. If she were going to travel by sea she needed to do it now.

Adoniram, Nancy and Rice finally found a ship named the Creole that would eventually take them to Burma. The ship was blown around by contrary winds all over the Bay of Bengal. Eventually they sailed into the harbor of Port Louis at the Isle of France on Saturday, January 17, 1813. They had been at sea seven weeks and away from Salem for eleven months. They looked forward to being able to see the Newell’s. They had not much more than dropped anchor that a boat arrived from shore bringing them the sad news that Harriet was dead. The baby was dead. The next morning Newell himself came aboard the ship and told his sad story.

Harriet on the eighth of October, two days before her nineteenth birthday, gave birth to a baby girl on the cabin floor with no other attendant but Samuel, her husband. The joy of their new baby girl was to be short lived. A day or so later both mother and child were exposed to a violent storm which drenched and chilled everyone on board. Harriet and the baby caught cold; the baby’s cold turned into pneumonia, and five days later after birth she died in her mother’s arms.

Early in November the ship on which the Newels were traveling dropped anchor at Port Louis and Harriet was taken ashore to a small house Samuel had rented. He found two physicians to care for her, but they could do nothing. Little by little she wasted away.. By the middle of November, even Samuel gave up hope. On the thirtieth, about four in the afternoon, her eyesight failed, and in an hour or so, she died. The next day Samuel buried her in the shade of an evergreen tree in a secluded corner of the Port Louis cemetery.

The Judson’s tried to console Newell but they needed consoling themselves. The grim unromantic reality of their mission began to dawn on them. Here on the Isle of France were four missionaries one year after they left Salem. They were on an Island none of them intended to go and no other place in that part of the world wanted them.

This Meditation is simply to show the hazards of early missionary life. While our missionaries today have it much better, they still experience some of the same problems and need our prayers. Pray daily for your missionaries.

May the Lord bless each of you.

In Christ

Bro. White

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