Adoniram Judson was one of America’s first foreign missionaries. In 1812, at the age of 22, he left America for India, (eventually ending up in Burma), burning in his heart to obey his Master’s command to make disciples of all the nations (Mt 28:20). For a wonderful and riveting summary and application of his life, listen John Piper’s biological sermon for the 2003 Pastor’s Conference here. This quote describes the ordination of the first five missionaries from America, right before their departure to India. May the Lord raise up missionaries who deserve to be sent out into the missions field in this way — for they don't plan on coming back.
Onlookers are always stirred in some degree by an ordination, for it is the rite which dedicates the minster to the service of God, sets him aside from his fellow men, and admits him into the consecrated brotherhood of the ministry. But this ordination in the Tabernacle was charged with unusual, almost unbearable emotion. ...as Dr. Griffin began the prayer ... the auditorium fell into a hush "as still as death," as one eyewitness remembered it; for by accident or design, everything said and done from then on conveyed the spirit of farewell
. The audience realized it was seeing the five men being bid a farewell that in some respects approached that bade at the edge of a grave in the prospect of an eventual resurrection.
...The most impressive part of an ordination — and, in a way, its soul — is the "laying on of hands" as a prayer of consecration is said. When the time came, the five missionaries and the audience knelt. ...The moment was too much for the audience. "An irresistible sighing and weeping" broke out. It had been heard before, but from now on "The entire wrapt congregation seemed moved as the trees of the wood are moved by a mighty wind. Pent-up emotion could no longer be restrained."
...Samuel Worcester... returned to the same theme [of farewell]: "By the solemnities of this day, you, Messrs. Judson, Nott, Newell, Hall, and Rice, are publicly set aside for the service of God in the Gospel of his Son, among the Heathen. With reference, therefore, to this momentous service, we, who are still to labor in the same Gospel here at home, in the presence of God, angels and men, now give to you, dear Brethren, the right hand of fellowship. ...Go, carry to the poor Heathen the good news of pardon, peace, and eternal life. Tell them of the God whom we adore; of the Saviour in whom we trust; of the glorious immortality for which we hope. ...We are not insensible to the sacrifices you make, or to the dangers and sufferings to which you are devoted. You stand this day 'a spectacle to God, to angels, and to man.' You are in the act of leaving parents, and friends, and country. ...But, dear Brethren, we shall have you in the tenderest remembrance, and shall not cease to make mention of you in our prayers."
There was more. Ministers and orators never feared to take sufficient time to make their points, in those days. But Dr. Worcester's conclusion expressed the general feeling: "You are but the precursors of many, who shall follow you in this arduous, glorious exercise; for the Gospel shall be preached to all nations, and all people shall see the Salvation of God. Beloved Brethren, be of good courage; go in peace; and may the Lord God of the holy apostles and prophets go with you. We commend you to him, and to the word of his grace; and devoutly pray, that in the day of the Lord Jesus, we may have the happiness to see you present many of the Heathen before the throne of his glory with exceeding joy. Amen."
Anderson, Courtney. To the Golden Shore. Copyright by Courtney Anderson, 1987. Published by Judson Press, 1987. pg. 110-113