For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 NIV
The late Ravi Zacharias was an apologist for the Christian faith with a heart of love for people. He was also a great story teller. The following is my recapture of one of his podcasts – Is There Not a Cause. He tells the story of Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) who became known as the first supported American missionary. Here is Ravi –
I have for you one of the finest illustrations to show to you how the recognition of man’s lostness serves as a propelling force. The first missionary America ever sent over seas was Adoniram Judson. If you have not read his biography, please read it. He is one of the finest minds that America has ever produced.
He was so brilliant, when he was 12 years old he was teaching the adult Sunday School class the book of Revelation from the original Greek language. Now if that is not intimidating, I don’t know what is.
He was so brilliant that people became petrified of Mr. Judson and rightly so. When he got into college at the age of 16, he made the fatal mistake of thinking that he was more brilliant than God. And his intellectualism got to him, until he disavowed his faith.
He then became a terror. He went to Providence College in Rhode Island and became a terror to his classmates who were Christians. He would knock them off of their beliefs in debate so they began to avoid him.
He had a roommate, a fellow by the name of Jacob Eames. Jacob Eames and Judson became very close friends. Jacob came to Providence College proclaiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He graduated out of Providence College professing to be an Atheist and gave the credit to Adoniram Judson.
Adoniram’s mother did not know how to deal with him, so she prayed for him. His father, a minister, wanted to try to talk with him, but was afraid it might knock the faith out of his own heart. So he decided to leave Judson alone.
Many years went by, and the faculty members kept a close eye on Judson, wondering what such a genius would end up doing with his life.
On one trip on horseback, he went to New York to be trained for theatre. At the end of his interview, his return was such a long ride back and he was so exhausted that he stopped into an inn for rest. He asked the manager if he could check in for the night. The manager said, “sir we really can’t give you a room, they are all full.” Mr. Judson said, “Mister Manager, I am so exhausted and tired I am falling asleep. Would you let me sleep in the front hall? I will get up before it is dawn and leave here. I am so tired I will pay for the full price of a room, I just need somewhere to lie down.”
The Manager said, “Mr. Judson, I do have a room open, but I wasn’t going to rent it out. Because adjacent to that room is a man who is very sick. From his body is emanating a stench of decay, he is dying. He is crying in alternating fits of stupefaction and raving in profanity. But if you want that next room and he will not bother you, then I will give it to you.” Judson said. “I will take it. He won’t bother me.”
But Judson lay awake at night listening to this profanity and listening to a man in untold agony.and crying out for help. And Judson tried to smother the sound, he continued to toss and turn. Gradually the sound subsided and Judson went to sleep
The next day as he was paying his bill, he said, “what happened to the man? Did the man feel better?”
He said, “No Mr. Judson, the man died. He died in the early hours of the morning.”
Judson said out of curiousity, “What do you do as strangers come into your inn and they die on your hands?”
He said, “yea, it does pose a problem. But I will tell you something. As I have looked over his papers and trying to contact the next of kin, I cannot put together how a man of his credentials and a man of his brilliance has died such an ignominious death all alone and in these conditions. He was an honors graduate from Providence College in Rhode Island. Mr Judson, his name was Jacob Eames.”
And Judson paused for a moment and said, “What did you say his name was?” He said, “His name was Jacob Eames, a Providence College graduate.”
Adoniram Judson in his biography, entitled To the Golden Shore, said this, “I got onto my horse and started to ride back. I could not see in front of me, because the tears started to roll down my face. And as those tears poured forth, two words began pounding in my heart as the hooves of the horse where pounding into the ground. The two words were DEATH and HELL. DEATH, HELL. DEATH HELL. He says I got off my horse and knelt on the dusty road and repented bitterly of the way that I had betrayed my God. For Jacob Eames now laid delivering up an account for his soul, because I had knocked out any faith that he had in God.”
He checked out of the United States and went to India. He was kicked out of Calcutta and went into Burma, modern day Myanmar. Do you know that his first wife died out of an oriental disease, her body had contracted for which she had no sense of immunization. Out of shear loneliness, he remarried. His second wife died, 3 of his 4 children died. His missionary colleagues died. He seemed to be operating as a funeral directory burying all of his colleagues and family. He finally realized the battle. It took him 7 years to see his first Burmese to Jesus Christ.
And yet, if you read Don Richardson’s book, Eternity in Their Hearts, he will tell you something that Judson did that Burma will always be indebted to. Judson was imprisoned and tortured for his faith. At age 61 he was put on a ship to return back to America, but died at sea. As a matter of fact if you go to Judson’s home town in Molden, Massachusetts on the gravestone is written, Adoniram Judson, born 1788, died 1850. The ocean is his sepulcher, The Burmese Bible is his monument, His record is on high.
He translated the Bible into Burmese, his wife translated it into Thai. In Burmese folklore is a prophecy that some day there would be a man who would come with a book that would have the truth in it. Judson took over 23 years translating the Burmese Bible. He also created the first Burmese grammar and dictionary book that is still available today.
Death, Hell. Death, Hell. Death, Hell. Unless you and I recognize that the person out there without Christ is lost, we will never carry a pressure and a personal burden within our own soul. Seek God for that burden.” End of podcast entry
You may never have such a dramatic event as Adoniram losing his friend. But you and I have had friends go into eternity without any relationship with Jesus. Jesus seeks those who are lost and invites you to be a part of that story to reach them.
The saddest and last words that some people will hear from Jesus throughout eternity may be, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”
Come to Jesus. His arms are open wide to receive the weary, the broken, the confused, and the really messed up. It’s not too late, but you must respond to His invitation on His terms. Love and restoration await. Forgiveness and freedom can be your reality.
Blessings Love y’all