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How God Protected David Brainerd During Missionary Work

American history tells of missionary saints who interceded for those of this land too.

In answer to the question, "What can be done to revive the work of God where it has decayed?" John Wesley once said, "Let every preacher read carefully the life of David Brainerd."

One of the many who heeded Wesley’s counsel was William Carey, and God used Brainerd’s life story to open Carey’s eyes to the need of all races everywhere and to fire his heart with a passion to speed the gospel to "the uttermost part." It was chiefly the reading of the story of Brainerd’s heroic missionary labors that caused Robert McCheyne to become the Apostle to the Jews.

David Brainerd was known as “The apostle to the Indians.” He served as a missionary to the Indians from 1739 to 1747.

After three years of study at Yale Divinity School, Brainerd followed his call and made his way to the Indians in Kaunaumeek, New York – a particularly ferocious Indian tribe living in the dense forests of the "Forks of the Delaware."

He arrived near their camp late one evening and decided to spend the night in the woods before introducing himself the next morning. He didn’t realize that several red men had been following him for hours. Once he was settled in the scouts made their way back to their camp and reported to the chief.

That night, the Indians planned to kill this white man because, up until now, the white man had brought them nothing but grief. The warriors silently drew near Brainerd’s camp and what they saw was an image they would see many more times in the coming years … Brainerd was on his knees praying for them. According to their report, while he prayed a rattlesnake squirmed up to him, lifted its head, flicks its forked tongue close to his face, and then, for no apparent reason, glided away into the darkness.

This made the chief and the warriors nervous and instead of killing him they returned to their campsite.

When the young missionary entered the Indian village early the next morning, he received a much more cordial welcome than he had anticipated. It wasn’t until later that he learned of the strange events of the preceding night.

When the Indians gathered around him in an open place among the wigwams, he opened his Bible, read from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah and tenderly told the story of how God sent His Son to die on the cross that He might take away the sin from people’s hearts and make them His children.

This was a message and text the Indians would hear many more times and, from their first encounter, they warmly received Brainerd’s message.

Almost every page of Brainerd’s diary tells how he "endured hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." His sufferings, caused by a diseased and weakened constitution, were intensified by the rigors of his life among the Indians and his arduous travels through the wilderness.

His ministry centered on the forks of the Delaware and extended through wide areas of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He served the Indians until his death in 1747, at the home of Jonathan Edwards.

Brainerd sowed the gospel seeds and watered them with his prayers and tears. He chose to stand in the gap for the Indians.

(From -- edited for brevity)

From a sermon by Ken Pell, A Kingdom of Priests (Part 2): Standing in the Gap, 6/21/2010

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