SE Asia aged 37
Ann Hasseltine Judson was the first woman missionary to leave America; her story of constant love for Christ encouraged many other women to serve Christ on the mission field.
The Judsons were among the first missionaries to leave the US. In 1813, they began their mission in Burma. They set a goal of translating the Bible and founding a church of 100 members before their death. By 1850, they left the Bible, 100 churches, and over 8,000 believers.
Many of her friends and neighbours thought Ann was wild and romantic when she went off to India in 1812. It was unthinkable then that a young woman would travel to some little known spot on the globe to work among the unsaved in primitive surroundings. It meant leaving behind her family with little hope of seeing them again in this world. But Ann Hasseltine Judson insisted on going; she knew this was the work God had called her to do.
Ann accepted Christ as her Saviour at the age of 16 and began to spend time in Bible study and prayer. She wanted to be used by God and prayed, “Direct me in your service, and I ask no more. I would not choose my position of work, or place of service. Only let me know your will, and I will readily comply”. At the age of 21, Ann wanted to become a missionary to foreign lands. So did the Congregational minister named Adoniram Judson that she married on February 5, 1812; two weeks later, the newlyweds sailed from the US for Calcutta, India. After opposition from the Indian government, the Judsons began their missionary work in Burma, located between India and China. The gospel had never reached that land of over 15 million people.
They settled in Rangoon and began learning the language. The Burmese frequently told the Judsons, “Your religion is good for you, ours for us.” After nine years in Rangoon there were only eighteen converts. Adoniram translated the Scriptures. The Burmese had no idea of a God who was eternal, without beginning or end, and it was difficult to find words to accurately describe the Christian truths. Nevertheless, within three years the Judsons had prepared a Burmese grammar, printed two tracts, and translated the Gospel of Matthew. Ann had formed a society of indigenous women who met together on Sundays to pray and read the Scriptures.
In 1823, war broke out between Britain and Burma, the Burmese thought the Americans to be friends of the British and Adoniram was thrown into a death prison. Ann, then two months pregnant, became a prisoner in her own home. She courageously pleaded with government officials for her husband’s life and was secretly able to bring supplies and food to Adoniram and his fellow prisoners. Adoniram was moved secretly to another prison, he was forced to walk barefoot eight miles over sand and gravel – he was near death when he finally arrived at Oung-pen-le. Ann took her three-month-old daughter and followed after her husband. Adoniram was eventually released and united with his wife and infant daughter. Ann, however, was still weak. She died of a fever on October 24, 1826. Her daughter died within six months.Ann Hasseltine Judson was the first woman missionary to leave America; her story of constant love for Christ encouraged many other women to serve Christ on the mission field.