The first sight in Burma that caught Adoniram Judson's eye that July morning in 1813 was the massive Shwedagon pagoda. In this new millennium, the gleaming gold spire of Buddhism's most sacred shrine is still a magnet for the eye amidst the smog of a bustling, crowded city. In one sense, little has changed since the young missionaries first stood on the shores of the "Golden Kingdom." Then it was one of the poorest lands in Asia. In spite of strategic natural resources, it still is. Human rights organizations list Myanmar (modern-day Burma) as one of the most repressed nations on earth.
Nevertheless, something is strikingly different. Along with the pagodas, the spires of many churches dot the skyline. Judson set a goal for himself that first year: During his lifetime, he would translate the Bible into the language of the people and see a little church of 100 members. In reality, when he died in 1850, he left the entire Bible in Burmese, 100 churches, and over 8,000 believers—now grown to several million. Moreover, the Judsons' work had repercussions among Baptists in America that they could never have dreamed of. Both at home and abroad, the Judsons left an indelible mark on missions history.
Bearing fruit in Burma
For the Baptist mission in Burma, the period from Judson's death until the end of the American Civil War was a time of uncertainty and change. But the formation of the Burma Baptist Mission Convention in 1865—with the stated goal of promoting an indigenous church—consolidated the work. As the 19th and early 20th centuries progressed, more Baptist missionaries (among them two of Judson's own grandchildren) were joined by Methodists and Anglicans. New emphasis was given to the training of national Christian leaders. ...