For a while now, I have been working with Pastor Tommy, who leads the Burmese congregation that meets in our building. I have created a relationship with him that helps me know more about what is happening in Myanmar and with those displaced into Thailand and various other countries around the world. The Burmese still have an affinity for the namesake of my sister’s alma mater 200 years after he came to what was Burma.
In the early 1800s, the Karen, a Burmese ethnic group, were brought the gospel by a Baptist missionary, Adoniram Judson. They have held onto that Baptist heritage even today in Bangkok.
The story of Judson is one of missional idealism and incredible narratives are marked by his life and efforts to the Karen people. When he met them, they were waiting for a white man to return their Golden Book that had stories identical to those in Genesis of man falling out of relationship with God by eating the forbidden fruit, woman being created from man’s rib and an antagonist fallen from heaven to deceive the world.
Judson’s first Karen convert was a slave, hardened murderer with a worse reputation…but this man knew the legends and Karen poetry…his life was transformed by the gospel. Many years later, he was the Karen’s first missionary.
Today, the Karens, the largest ethnic group in Burma, are persecuted and fleeing the country. One might say they are under ethnic cleansing, but the world is blind to their plight. Many of the Burmese church I minister with are Karen refugees.
I am excited to be sharing the ongoing work of Judson, a hero for me in missionary work. We have heard many stories of poor missionary work the past few decades as what not to do in westernizing or colonialism issues. However, this guy got it right. Judson was quoted after baptizing his first convert,”Oh may it prove the beginning of a series of baptisms in the Burman empire, which shall continue in uninterrupted succession to the end of time!”
Read these links above to find more incredible stories of Judson and the beginning of missional works to totally unreached peoples.
BTW: His wife Ann was the first to translate a portion of the Bible into Thai, then known as Siamese, when she translated the gospel of Matthew.