Brainerd

20 Oct

Sometimes college assignments can seem a pain. You don’t see the relevance of the topic and the question is phrased such you really can’t get your head around the answer. Usually though the lecturers wisdom prevails and having submitted your paper you are informed and edified.

Sometimes college assignments can seem a real opportunity. My latest assignment has been just that. Having been given the task of writing an Encyclopaedia article on any topic  related to theology, the world (theologically speaking) was my oyster.

Having seen the name David Brainerd pop up in a few books I read during the summer months I decided this was an opportunity to investigate the life of a man that has influenced many.

I found out that Brainerd was a bit of a mixed bag. Beset his entire life by both physical ailments and depressive thoughts, he is admired more for his devotion in prayer and fasting than any measure of missionary success.

The low point in his story comes as he’s expelled from Yale college for essentially questioning the state of a college tutors soul. Providentially this led to his being barred from the ministry (as this required a degree) and freed Brainerd to become a missionary to indigenous Americans.

He didn’t serve as a missionary for very long, dying at the young age of 29 in the home of Jonathan Edwards, being nursed by his fiancée, Edwards’s daughter.

Through it all however, illness, depression, harsh conditions and loneliness, Brainerd continued to seek God and depend on Him entirely. It is this total reliance on the Grace of God that has inspired generations including the likes Jim Elliot and William Carey.

His Diaries and Journals were edited and published by Jonathan Edwards and make for a worthwhile devotional read.

Read my encyclopaedia article on David Brainerd

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