Last week I took my family to Salem, Massachusetts. When most people think of Salem, the first thought that enters their minds is "The Salem Witch Trials." However, we did not drive to Salem to investigate that rather insane chapter of American history. We went to Salem to learn more of the man after whom we named our son. We went to witness the very place from which Adoniram and Anne Judson sailed away nearly two hundred years ago as America's first foreign missionaries.
As my family and I made our way down to the wharf from which Adoniram and Anne Judson sailed back in 1812, I could not help but imagine what it must have been like on that day. They were so young, only twenty-three years of age, when they boarded the Caravan at the Salem wharf and said goodbye to their loved ones. This would be Anne's final goodbye, for in just a few years, she would be in the very presence of the One for Whom she was making this sacrifice. For Adoniram, over thirty years would go by before he returned to New England. During those thirty plus years, he would bury several of his precious children and his beloved wife Anne; he would faithfully spread the Gospel for seven years until he saw his first covert; he would spend nearly a year locked up in a death prison; he would have a new marriage with Sarah Boardman, but after only a few years her death would part them. And yet amidst so much suffering, God would use him to bring about the birth of the Burmese church and the translation of the Burmese Bible. He would also write the first Burmese-English dictionary, which would be used by generations of missionaries after him.
As I stood there and looked upon the waters of the Atlantic, I imagined the Caravan being right in front of me. I could see a gathering of people as they said farewell to this committed young couple. I could see their parents and their siblings weeping, comforting each other as they wondered when they would see their son, their daughter, their brother, their sister again. This scene played out in front of my eyes as I held my son, Judson. Then, my attention shifted from the distant past to that present moment. My focus changed from imagining a past event to examining the present state of my own heart. I thought, "Am I willing to pay such a price to obey and serve the Lord?" And then I wondered, "What is my level of commitment? Will I serve the Lord as long as it is convenient? What about when I am called to pay a price? Will I remain faithful then?" And then I looked at my children. "Will my son be a man who is committed to Jesus Christ? Will my daughter be willing to follow the Lord wherever He leads?" O, that I were more committed to the One Who died for me! O, that my children will accept Christ as their personal Saviour at the youngest age possible, and live a life that pleases Him! O, that God would use us as we live and labor among the Cambodian people! May we stay faithful to Him Who is ever faithful to us.