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Our spiritual heritage in missions traces back to Adoniram Judson who lived from 1788-1850. Years ago I read his biography. Judson lived the suffering life of the apostle Paul. He was one of the first to bring the Christian message to the Burmese. When war broke out with England, the Burmese arrested Judson because being light-skinned and English-speaking, he looked and talked like the enemy.

He was force-marched barefoot for eight miles to prison where each night the guards passed a bamboo pole between his heavily shackled legs and hoisted the lower part of his body high off the ground. Blood rushed to his head, preventing sleep and causing fierce cramps in his shoulders and back. Clouds of mosquitoes feasted on the raw flesh of his feet and legs. Treatment like this went on for almost two years, and Judson managed to endure only because his devoted wife brought him food each day and pled with the guards for better treatment.

A few months after his release, Judson’s wife, weakened by smallpox, died of fever, and shortly after that their baby daughter also died. Judson nearly had a breakdown. He would kneel by his wife’s grave for hours each day, regardless of weather. He built a one-room hut in the jungle, morosely dug his own grave in case it might prove necessary, and worked in solitude on a translation of the Bible in the Burmese language. Only a handful of Burmese had shown any interest in the Christian message. Yet he stayed on, 34 years in all, and because of his faithfulness more than 1 million Burmese Christians today trace their spiritual roots to Adoniram Judson. The dictionary he compiled, now nearly 200 years old, remains the official dictionary of Myanmar. (Yancey, Rumors)

Why would someone choose to do that? Why would anyone choose to follow a God that promises hardship? It means purity in a world of lust. It means honesty in a world of getting ahead by cheating. It means sacrifice and putting others first and humbling yourself to apologize for doing wrong.

We choose to follow Christ because hardships are not permanent; they are temporary. Our God defeated death. He has promised to take us to heaven. He has promised to make us like Jesus.

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