October 12, 2007
by Michael J. Brooks, Judson College
"... Burmese Baptists still celebrate 'Judson Day' on the Sunday closest to July 13 when the Judsons landed in their country..."
Dr. Rosemary Fisk, Associate Dean of Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences, utilized her Judson College chapel visit on Oct. 2 to speak about the recent unrest in Burma.
"I'd love to talk with you about succeeding in college and developing good study skills," she said, "but recent events caused me to change my mind. You students are so connected to the events in Burma. Your roots are there since Ann Judson took the gospel to that land where she and her husband are still revered."
Fisk reflected on three student trips she's led to Burma since 2001. "The Buddhist monks are leading the rebellion for democracy," Fisk said. "They are speaking for the people who chafe under oppression, the incarceration of political prisoners and the 500 percent rise in fuel prices. They are, indeed, speaking truth to power."
The Burmese held democratic elections in 1990, but the military junta has kept the elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest. The military has put down all demonstrations and have been quite ruthless in recent weeks, Fisk said.
"The photo that made the international press of a Japanese journalist being shot shocked the world," she said.
The Judson College connection came about when missionary pioneers Adoniram and Ann Judson landed in Burma in 1813. They sailed from America in 1812 as Congregationalists, but converted en route due to their study of New Testament baptism. They worked until their deaths to improve the lives of the Burmese.
"There was no dictionary for the Burmese language, and of course no Bible in their native tongue," Fisk said. "The Judsons worked very hard to bring these improvements."
Ann Judson miscarried on the ocean voyage to Burma and was too weak to walk when their ship landed. Their second child, Roger Williams Judson, died at age two and their third child, Maria, also died in Burma. Maria may be buried with her mother in Burma, Fisk said, although the native traditions aren't conclusive.
"Your namesake, Ann Judson, faced much hardship for the sake of the gospel," Fisk said. "And God blessed her efforts and those of her husband. They left cultural Christianity behind and lived and dressed like the Burmese. They were and still are beloved in Burma."
Burma is 89 percent Buddhist, but the population includes more than one million Baptists and this number is growing. Burmese Baptists still celebrate "Judson Day" on the Sunday closest to July 13 when the Judsons landed in their country.
"We should pray for persecuted people in Burma," Fisk said, "and we should be grateful and be inspired by committed Christians like Adoniram and Ann Judson who gave their lives for others."