On this day in 1886, Nathan Brown, an American Baptist missionary to India and Japan, died in the city of Yokohama. He was a Bible translator, abolitionist, and publisher. When he was a young man, he attended Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he became associated with the Haystack Movement.
In early 1833 Nathan and his wife traveled to Burma with the intent of translating and publishing the Bible in Burmese. In 1836, Nathan and several co-laborers moved to Assam where he would be instrumental in translating the Bible. In 1850, Nathan returned to the USA, where he got heavily involved in the battle to end slavery in America.
In 1872, he traveled to Japan to join Jonathan Gobel, the first Baptist missionary to Japan. Rev. Gobel had arrived in 1860, during the time when Christianity was still illegal. In 1876, they saw the first Baptist Chuch built in Tokyo. In 1884, this church established a theological school, which later became Kanto Gakuin University in 1949.
In 1878, in cooperation with a Japanese scholar, T. Kawakatsu, Nathan completed a translation of the Bible from the oldest Greek manuscripts known at that time into Japanese, cumulating with The Revelation of St. John, published by the Yokohama Mission Press/ American Bible Translation Society. In an apartment in Yokohama, He and his son produced several thousand of the Bibles.
On this day in 1861, John Paton and a fellow missionary, S. F. Johnson, from Nova Scotia, survived a murderous attack in their homes. While working among the tribes of the New Hebrides Islands, these men came to face “a species of heathenism…worse than that of the cannibals. As if men confederated with the regions of darkness to defeat God’s work, English traders purposely introduced measles among the natives, which swept them down as a deadly plague. Thirteen of the mission helpers and about one third of the natives fell under the disease. And though the doctor and Mr. Johnson ministered unceasingly to them, and saved many, the unfriendly, superstitious ones blamed them for the scourge, and determined their destruction.” While the missionaries were at their home, two painted men with massive clubs came to the house and tried to kill Mr. Johnson. Through the Lord’s protecting hand, Paton’s dogs were able to stop the men from killing him and chased the attackers and their supporting mob away. However, Johnson’s nervous system, unused to such strains, couldn’t face the strain of such dangers and he only lived a little while longer.
On this day in 1811, Adoniram Judson wrote this letter to Ann Hasseltine, his recent fiance and future wife. Judson was preparing to set sail for England to see the London Missionary Society and to try to get some help from them. Writing this letter, he knew he wouldn’t see his beloved Ann for several months.
“January 1, 1811. Tuesday Morning
It is with the utmost sincerity, and with my whole heart, that I wish you, my love, a happy new year. May it be a year in which your walk will be close with God; your frame calm and serene; and the road that leads you to the Lamb marked with purer light. May it be a year in which you will have more largely the spirit of Christ, be raised above sublunary things, and be willing to be disposed of in this world just as God shall please. As every moment of the year will bring you nearer the end of your pilgrimage, may it bring you nearer to God, and find you more prepared to hail the messenger of death as a deliverer and a friend. And now, since I have begun to wish, I will go on. May this be the year in which you will change your name; in which you will take a final leave of your relatives and native land; in which you will cross the wide ocean, and dwell on the other side of the world, among a heathen people. What a great change will this year probably effect in our lives! How very different will be our situation and employment! If our lives are preserved and our attempt prospered, we shall next new year’s day be in India, and perhaps wish each other a happy new year in the uncouth dialect of Hindostan or Burmah. We shall no more see our kind friends around us, or enjoy the conveniences of civilized life, or go to the house of God with those that keep holy day; but swarthy countenances will everywhere meet our eye, the jargon of an unknown tongue will assail our ears, and we shall witness the assembling of the heathen to celebrate the worship of idol gods. We shall be weary of the world, and wish for wings like a dove, that we may fly away and be at rest. We shall probably experience seasons when we shall be ‘exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. We shall see many dreary, disconsolate hours, and feel a sinking of spirits, anguish of mind, of which now we can form little conception. O, we shall wish to lie down and die. And that time may soon come. One of us may be unable to sustain the heat of the climate and the change of habits; and the other may say, with literal truth, over the grave–
‘By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed;
By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed;
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned;’
but whether we shall be honored and mourned by strangers, God only knows. At least, either of us will be certain of one mourner. In view of such scenes shall we not pray with earnestness ‘O for an overcoming faith,’ etc.?”
On this day in 1809, William Carey opens the first chapel in Calcutta, India. The missionaries had filed several attempts to get permission to build a chapel, but had never had any success. It was finally recommended that they would have more success is the request was made through the Christian community of Calcutta. So Joshua Marshman gathered a petition with 100 signatures to build the chapel and permission was given. This chapel became the first dissenting (going against the organized church) chapel in Calcutta.
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