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Missions 101

Adoniram Judson's Advice to Missionary Candidates - Part 1

Feb. 1, 2016By: Evan Burns

After two decades on the mission field, Adoniram Judson wrote the following advice for missionary candidates to the Foreign Missionary Association of the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, N. Y. Maulmain, on June 25, 1832:

Dear Brethren….  In commencing my remarks, I take you as you are.  You are contemplating a missionary life.  

First, then, let it be a missionary life; that is, come out for life, and not for a limited term. Screen_Shot_2016-01-29_at_2.28.51_PM Do not fancy that you have a true missionary spirit, while you are intending all along to leave the heathen soon after acquiring their language.  Leave them, for what?  To spend the rest of your days in enjoying the ease and plenty of your native land?

Secondly.  In choosing a companion for life, have particular regard to a good constitution, and not wantonly, or without good cause, bring a burden on yourselves and the mission.

Thirdly. Be not ravenous to do good on board ship.  Missionaries have frequently done more hurt than good, by injudicious zeal, during their passage out.

Fourthly. Take care that the attention you receive at home, the unfavorable circumstances in which you will be placed on board ship, and the unmissionary examples you may possibly meet with at some missionary stations, do not transform you from living missionaries to mere skeletons before you reach the place of your destination.  It may be profitable to bear in mind, that a large proportion of those who come out on a mission to the East die within five years after leaving their native land.  Walk softly, therefore; death is narrowly watching your steps.

Fifthly.  Beware of the reaction which will take place soon after reaching your field of labor.  There you will perhaps find native Christians, of whose merits or demerits you cannot judge correctly without some familiar acquaintance with their language.  Some appearances will combine to disappoint and disgust you.  You will meet with disappointments and discouragements, of which it is impossible to form a correct idea from written accounts, and which will lead you, at first, almost to regret that you have embarked in the cause.  You will see men and women whom you have been accustomed to view through a telescope some thousands of miles long.  Such an instrument is apt to magnify.  Beware, therefore, of the reaction you will experience from a combination of all these causes, lest you become disheartened at commencing your work, or take up a prejudice against some persons and places, which will embitter all your future lives.[1]



 

[1]Edward Judson, The Life of Adoniram Judson (New York: Anson D. F. Randolf & Company, 1883), 577-578;  Francis Wayland, A Memoir of the Life and Labors of the Rev. Adoniram Judson, D.D. (Boston: Phillips, Samson, and Company, 1853), 2:38-39.

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