Ann Hasseltine Judson of Bradford, Massachusetts, was the first American woman missionary to go overseas. In 1812, she and her husband, Adoniram Judson, boarded a ship bound for Asia, to take the Gospel to a place where Christ was not known. Ann would serve the Lord alongside Adoniram in Burma (modern day Myanmar) until her death in 1826.
When Adoniram proposed, with the understanding that she would live the rest of her life “in a heathen land,” it is clear from her diaries that she wrestled for several weeks with the reality of what her life would be like as she considered his offer. Although she had the support of her parents, her own heart for missions, and clearly loved Mr. Judson, it was still a difficult decision as she wisely counted the cost. I love the following excerpt from her diary as, after weeks of uncertainty, she lays down her life in wholehearted surrender for the sake of the Gospel…
“My mind has still been agitated for two or three weeks past, in regard to the above-mentioned subject (the proposal and subsequent “offer” to live among “the heathen” overseas). But I have, at all times, felt a disposition to leave it with God, and trust in Him to direct me. I have at length, come to the conclusion, that if nothing in providence appears to prevent, I must spend my days in a heathen land. I am a creature of God, and He has an undoubted right to do with me, as seemeth good in His sight. I rejoice, that I am in His hands – that He is every where present, and can protect me in one place as well as in another.
He has my heart in His hands, and when I am called to face danger, to pass through scenes of terror and distress, He can inspire me with fortitude, and enable me to trust in Him. Jesus is faithful; His promises are precious. Were it not for these considerations, I should with my present prospects sink down in despair, especially as no female has, to my knowledge, ever left the shores of America, to spend her life among the heathen; nor do I yet know, that I shall have a single female companion.
But God is my witness, that I have not dared to decline the offer that has been made me, though so many are ready to call it a ‘wild romantic undertaking.’ If I have been deceived in thinking it my duty to go to the heathen, I humbly pray, that I may be undeceived, and prevented from going.
But whether I spend my days in India or America, I desire to spend them in the service of God, and be prepared to spend an eternity in His presence. O Jesus, make me live to thee, and I desire no more.”