Wednesday, January 14, 2009

To the Golden Shore

There are many biographies written about many great Christian men and women-- men and women who gave up loving families, comfortable homes, and promising careers in order to bring the Gospel to those who had never heard it. I have enjoyed many of these books, but one that has taken me nearly a year to read must tower over all the rest.

To the Golden Shore was written by Courtney Anderson and first published in 1956, and since then has become a true classic in Christian literature. It was republished in 1987 by Judson Press. To the Golden Shore follows the life of the first American missionary to bring the Gospel to foreign lands: Adoniram Judson. Drawing from old letters, journals, books, and other documents, Anderson recounts the life of this incredible missionary with such color and such thoroughness that render it no ordinary biography.

The book is divided into three parts. Part One: The Embarkation talks about Adoniram's life from birth until he left for India in 1812. It recounts Adoniram's family background, his childhood years, his struggles to come to Christ as a young man, his realization of his call to be a missionary, and his organization of the first foreign mission board in America. Part Two: The Dangerous Voyage portrays Adoniram's struggles to begin work in Burma and to get converts, as well as the trials of sickness, persecution, imprisonment, and often death, that faced Adoniram and his family. Part Three: To the Golden Shore opens with Adoniram's couple years of great depression after the death of his first wife, but goes on to tell the joy of his next two marriages, the completion of the Burmese Bible, and eventually his arrival at the "Golden Shore"-- Heaven.

Courtney Anderson by no means made his book a long, dull, monotonous collection of dates and facts; neither did he fill it with all sorts of fictional conversations and events to make it "more interesting". Rather, his very style and manner of depicting the people and places and events of the story are so vivid that the pictures seem to bounce right off the place at the reader. His descriptions are vastly colorful. He makes his reader see, hear, smell, taste, and feel all that Adoniram Judson saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt. You can almost feel the sea breeze and smell the harbor as Anderson richly describes Adoniram's boyhood town of Salem. You feel like you can see with your own eyes the glorious sites of the Ava and the suffering and dirtiness of Rangoon. You also grow to know and love Adoniram and the many other characters that the Lord brought into His life. In addition, Anderson tactfully copies from writings and reflections of those who knew Adoniram Judson. I particularly enjoyed reading the inserted descriptions written by Emily Chubbuck Judson (a.k.a. Fanny Forrester) after her marriage to Adoniram.

The story of Adoniram Judson is at the same time thrilling and inspiring. In reading this book, I sometimes was frustrated by the pride of his earlier years and the overdone "humility" of the first couple years after the death of his first wife Ann. However, I rejoiced as I read about the Lord's work on his heart--how God taught him the sweetness of trust and love and true humility. Also inspiring to me was Adoniram's attitude on returning to the States after over thirty years of living in Burma: instead of desiring praise and fame for having done and been through so much (which he might have wished years before that), he only desired that men and women would know Christ and have a relationship with Him. It was exciting, also, to read about the Lord fulfilling His promise that His Word would endure forever, how He preserved it even in difficult times when it was almost lost (such as the death prison days), and how the Burmans were eventually able to hold the entire Word of God in their hands and read God's message to them.
Overall, To the Golden Shore filled me with a deep appreciation for God's Word and for all those who hear and obey God's call to "make disciples of all nations." It is truly the most interesting missionary biography I have read! This is definitely a book for you to put down on your list of "Must Reads"!
The first picture in this article is of Adoniram Judson himself. The second picture is of his first wife, the beautiful and courageous Ann Hasseltine Judson.
Note: This article makes my 100th post! :-D

1 comment:

Rosebud said...

Congratulations on your 100th post! That's an excellent book!