From Sea to Shining Sea
And then he always loved the sea so dearly!" said Emily Judson of her husband's dying days aboard the French bark, Aristide Marie, in 1850. Although no prayerful tribute or elaborate headstone marked Adoniram Judson's watery grave, Emily thought it appropriate that he was buried at sea. "Neither could he have a more fitting monument than the blue waves which visit every coast; for his warm sympathies went forth to the ends of the earth."
Born in Massachusetts, the 18th-century heart of maritime America, Adoniram grew up near Salem just as the port entered the profitable East Indies trade. By 1805, American ships had imported more than ten million pounds of tea from China and eight million pounds of pepper from the East Indies, not to mention innumerable trade goods to decorate fashionable New England homes.
As the exotic products of southern Asia spread through the region, so did stories of strange cultures and people who did not know the Christian God. Sailors brought back descriptions and drawings of "Hindoos" who "made pilgrimage for to bathe in the Great River Ganges which they hold most Sacred." A whole new world opened to the young men and women who matured during America's first global awakening. Thus it was no coincidence that the dying Adoniram expressed his love for the sea, for the ocean had literally brought him his calling.
The growth in international seaborne commerce made worldwide missions possible, but also difficult. The voyages of the 19th-century missionaries illustrates this tension. The same ocean that divided missionaries, often permanently, from their native land offered these modern Argonauts the opportunity to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to previously unknown worlds.
Time and space ...