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To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson

By Dr Courtney Anderson
June 1999 | Review by Edward Challen
  • Publisher: Judson Press
  • ISBN: 0817011218
  • Pages: 530
  • Price: £14.34
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Here is a book that I really enjoyed! The life of Adoniram Judson is both fascinating and challenging. As a pioneering missionary to Burma, his story is unique. The book is written in an easy, imaginative style which makes good reading. Indeed it is not easily put down! The biographer gives a detailed background of the life and times of Adoniram’ s family and upbringing in Massachusetts. The first quarter of the book is given over to describing the background and Christian scene in America that led to Adoniram’ s being sent out from the Congregational churches as the first American missionary to foreign parts on 12th February 1812.

The writer is concerned to get to the very heart of the man, so Adoniram comes across to us as a real person with whom we can identify. Having myself been a missionary in Asia, I found it thrilling to identify the reality of the cultural differences between missionaries and people portrayed here so vividly. I could appreciate the attitudes and experiences of the Indian and Burmese nationals that Adoniram had the privilege of being involved with and ministering to. There are keen descriptions of the Judsons’ relationships with fellow missionaries, and all the traumas and disappointments that they had to contend with. The story of the establishing of the Burmese church also vividly demonstrates the problems of the newly converted in a hostile environment.

The excitement and heartaches come across very well. Missionary life has many frustrations as well as joys, and Adoniram had a great number of the former to contend with, as well as a traumatic period of imprisonment in Burma in the most dreadful of conditions. He had some very dark periods in his life, especially after the death of his first wife Nancy. Those were demanding days for health in foreign climates. And it strikes a poignant note that at Adoniram’s and Nancy’s valedictory services theyis a scholar, he uses some words which come naturally to him but are not the normal words of the people in the pew; for example: syncretistic, epistemologies, reductionistic, and pantheism. Any book that encourages more in-depth Bible had been sent out to the farthest parts of the world in the consciousness that they might be being sent to their deaths.

Adoniram was always conscious of the great privilege he bad of being called to ‘carry the Good News of Jesus Christ to the golden shore of Burma’. Courtney Anderson ‘paints a poignant portrait of Judson’s early life in dealing with the conflict between his desire for material snccess and an inner call to serve God. For Adoniram Judson ‘the golden shore” brought bitter hardships imprisonment, and family tragedy. Yet he never wavered in his commitment to win people to faith in Christ, and to translate.the Bible into the Burmese language’.

The book appears well researched, and I highly commend it not merely to all those interested in missions, for whom it would be invaluable, but to everyone who has a love for the gospel.

Edward Challen
Epsom

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