The online Bible teaching ministry of John Brand

This Day in HIS-story: April 20

 

1768

HT: Dan Graves

If you imagine a boy so enthusiastic for learning that he devoured any writing he could lay his hands on, you have a picture of young Joshua Marshman. Joshua was born on this day, April 20, 1768, at Westbury Leigh in Wiltshire, England.

Until the age of twenty-six he worked as a weaver, but all the while he was learning. Finally he was offered a job as a teacher at a Baptist church in Bristol. His reputation for learning was so great that the Baptists were afraid to take him in, fearing that he might have more head knowledge than heart knowledge of the gospel. But Joshua set that fear to rest, was baptized and joined the church. For five years he studied theology and Biblical languages at the Broadmead seminary in Bristol, learning Hebrew and Syriac.

William Carey had already sailed to India as a missionary. His reports thrilled Joshua and his wife so much that they offered to go to India to work with him. They were accepted and sailed in 1799. In India, difficulties developed. Authorities threatened to send the “illegal” missionaries back to England, but Governor General Lord Wellesley decided in their favor.

Joshua Marshman was to contribute an astonishing effort to the mission. He put his gift of languages to work and translated all or part of the Bible into several languages of India as well as into Chinese. He worked the other way, too, translating eastern works into English.

Meanwhile, he and his wife ran boarding schools. These attracted so many paying students that they helped keep the mission afloat. Eventually, Joshua founded the Serampore College.

Joshua also issued the first newspaper printed in an Eastern language. The government of India paid £1,000 to cover the expense of his Key to the Chinese Language.

William Ward, William Carey and Joshua Marshman were a trio of great Baptist missionaries at Serampore. Joshua was the last of the three to die. As the 69 year old man was dying, he exclaimed that he had experienced sweet communion with God, despite light-headedness and other unpleasant symptoms. Almost to his last conscious moment, he expressed interest in the progress of mission work. He prayed in the Bengali language and spoke of his “precious savior.”

Few men can claim to have achieved as much good as Joshua Marshman.

1898

C. H. Spurgeon’s London tabernacle burns down. Efforts to rebuild it commence at once.

1999

HT: Dan Graves

Christian martyrs in 20th century America? It happened on this day, April 20, 1999. When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold began shooting up their school, they did not fire randomly. In their twisted minds, Athletes, minorities and Christians were the enemy.

“Do you believe in God?” they asked Cassie Bernall. They knew full well she did. The girl who had once indulged in the occult (as the killers now did) had moved into a realm of peace when she learned to center her heart on Christ. She became a church-goer and a worker among those who needed Christ. Often she brought her Bible to school.

She was reading it in the library when the killer pointed his gun at her. Did she believe in God? “Yes, I believe in God,” she replied.

“Why?” asked the boy in the dark trench coat. Without waiting for an answer, he pulled the trigger.

“My God, my granddaughter was a martyr,” said Cassie’s grandma when she heard the report.

And not the only one, either. Rachel Scott, a spiritually-minded seventeen-year-old whose ambition was to become a missionary to Africa, died, too. So did John Tomlin, a sixteen-year-old who had recently gone to Mexico to help with a church project for the poor.

The Sunday before her death, Cassie wrote these words after church:

Now I have given up on everything else I have found it to be the only way
To really know Christ and to experience
The mighty power that brought Him back to life again, and to find
Out what it means to suffer and to
Die with him.
So, whatever it takes I will be one who lives in the fresh
Newness of life of those who are
Alive from the dead.

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