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  • Writer's pictureShari House

HSS - Ann Hasseltine Judson {Working in Patience - Resting in Hope}


Ann “Nancy” Hasseltine was born on December 22, 1789 in Bradford, Massachusetts. As a teenager she was quite typical and enjoyed balls, plays, parties, and the company of admiring young men. Although she could be quite serious if the matter at hand called for it, like excelling in her school work, she mostly filled her time with frivolous gaiety. A turning point for her came when she was reading a copy of Hannah More’s Strictures on Female Education, and she happened to see a quote from I Timothy 5:6, “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” The Lord used that verse and other events to turn her heart to more serious matters, and at the age of 16 she made a profession of faith and joined the church. Her heart became burdened for her friends and she took every opportunity to encourage them in the things of the Lord. Upon graduating from school she became a teacher, and in 1807 at the age of 18, she began a school for local children where she emphasized not only regular school subjects, but also the importance of studying the Bible and leading a Christian life. Soon her ministry expanded and she began travelling to hold classes for other children in neighboring towns. Before she was ever a missionary on the field, she was a missionary at home.

In 1810 at the age of 20, Ann met Adoniram Judson. He and three other fellow missionaries were seeking support from churches to form a society to promote foreign mission work, and they had been invited to the Hasseltine’s home for dinner. A strong attachment was formed between Ann and Adoniram right from their first meeting, and soon he asked for her hand in marriage and if she was willing to go to the mission field with him. Going to the field was a completely wild notion for a lady to have in that time period since no other woman had ever left America to do so. The idea of a lady living in a primitive situation with heathen people on the other side of the world in a place unknown to her family with little hope of ever seeing them again was absurd to most everyone. Ann knew it would take more than just loving Adoniram for her to make it on the mission field, but when she was assured in her heart that God was also calling her, she agreed. They were married in February of 1812, and shortly after their wedding they made the long four-month journey to India.

Upon their arrival, they were ordered home by the Indian government and the East India Company. Instead they went to Rangoon, a seaport in Burma which was considered by most to be a forlorn and dreadful place. They immediately began learning the Burmese language in order to translate the Bible, write religious tracts, and minister to the Burmese people. Adoniram focused on the formal grammatical structure of the Burmese language and had the first tract booklet finished by the end of their third year. Ann, on the other hand, became quite adept at the conversational dialect of the local women taking full advantage of the opportunities her daily life provided her. By the end of their fourth year, they had written a Burmese grammar book, two tract booklets, and translated the book of Matthew. During this time Ann had given birth to their first child, Roger, who passed away after eight months. She also began holding classes for the ladies on Sundays where she would read the Bible to them, and she opened a school for Burmese girls. Seeing their tradition of female infanticide, child marriages, and the general mistreatment of women, Ann became even more burdened to reach them with the Gospel. Even with all their efforts it took them seven years before they had their first convert. With great patience they continued working, and after nine years they had seen eighteen souls trust Christ.

In 1822 she had to return to America because of poor health, and while there she published a book about their missionary work entitled An Account of the American Baptist Mission to the Burman Empire. It was widely read and stirred the hearts of many people to give financially, to pray faithfully, and to go willing to help their cause. Ann’s book and her speaking engagements did much to influence many ladies concerning the importance of single women and married ladies on the field. She returned to Burma in 1823 before the war broke out between Burma and England. Because Americans were considered tightly aligned to the British, her husband, along with other missionaries, was thrown into the “death-prison.” During this time she used every ounce of her strength and cunning ability to garner favors, sneak provisions, and plead for his freedom. Seven months after Adoniram was imprisoned Ann gave birth to Maria on January 26, 1825. Finally, in March of 1826 the British defeated the Burmese and the prisoners were released. Through her self-sacrificing efforts she had sustained the men through their 21 months of captivity.

Since their mission station in Rangoon had been destroyed during the war, they opened a new station in Amherst, Lower Burma. After just a few months, Adoniram was called away on another trip, but Ann and Maria stayed behind. She worked on building them a family home and two huts where she held school and taught the Bible on Sundays to the villagers. Before her husband could return she fell sick again with a dreadful fever and on October 24, 1826, at the age of 36 she passed away. To Ann, the call to the mission field was never just a wild romantic notion. It was a God-driven, burning desire that caused her to willingly give up her life so that others might know of Christ. The foundation that she helped to lay over 200 years ago is still being built upon today. She is a true example of a lady of whom it can be said, “She hath done what she could”!

A little while, and we are in eternity; before we find ourselves there,

let us do much for Christ. - Ann H. Judson

Her Story/My Story:

Ann's life is a perfect example of working in patience and resting in hope...

  • hope that God would help her cope with the long journey to the field

  • hope that the Lord would meet their needs once they arrived

  • hope that He would allow her to master the Burmese language

  • hope that God would use her to make a difference in the lives of the Burmese people

  • hope that He would help her overcome Small Pox and Spotted Fever

  • hope that God would help her husband find someone to feed her newborn when she was unable to because of sickness

  • hope that God would show her the new location where her captive husband had been taken

  • hope that God would bring the war to an end and their ministry could continue

  • hope that their translation work would affect the lives of those who read it

. . . and on and on.

A perfect example of a time in her life when she had to “wait in patience” and “rest in hope” was the time when her husband went missing for over seven months just before the war between England and Burma broke out. The Burmese government officials were already targeting the mission station at Rangoon, believing the foreign teachers had ulterior motives. With her husband missing and she being the only other person who could speak Burmese, Ann was forced to act as a go-between to try and convince the officials that the mission station at Rangoon only had peaceful motives. During this time there was also a cholera outbreak. Ann’s patient perseverance helped her to save everyone from infection. Eventually the ships began to leave Rangoon in the face of impending war. With her husband presumed dead, she was urged by all to leave with the ships and at first she was persuaded, but at the last minute she turned back in faith that her husband was still alive. Two weeks later Adoniram returned home to report that the boat he had been travelling on was blown-off course causing the delay for his return. It was reported to him by others that, “the preservation of the mission had been due to the firmness and fearlessness of his wife.”

She persevered. She worked hard. She did not just sit on the sidelines waiting for the Lord to do the work, but she was patient while she worked sometimes in the face of slow results which gave her the opportunity to hope that the Lord was also working on her behalf and in His time. This is a trait that missionaries must be able to master if they are to succeed and not give up. Many a missionary, tempted to become impatient with their language learning - the growth of their converts - the lack of funds for purchasing their own church property, etc., has encouraged their heart with these words, “Just think of the Judsons who waited seven years before seeing their first convert.”

As for me, patience is something I continually struggle with. I have never been very good at it. I remember when I first got to the field my mother had sent a beautiful hat box on ahead of me so it would be there when I arrived. Inside there were 12 small wrapped gifts, one to be opened on the first day of every month for my first year on the field. For those of you who know me, you already know how that turned out. I was bound and determined to be patient, but those presents were all open within the week. I did however, leave each one in the box until their designated month.

As I read back through my many journals time and again I find myself asking God to help me be more patient. I have often told the Lord, if I just knew what was up ahead, I would happily wait until it came. But to please just let me know what His plan was. How foolish of me to think that after knowing what was coming up ahead, I’d be able to patiently wait until the appropriate time. God knows that, if I was excited about a future event/situation, I would use the time to try to hurry Him up arguing the point that He might as well bring it to pass now if He’s going to do it anyway. Or, on the flip side, if I was not excited about the future event/situation, I’d use the remaining time to worry and try to persuade Him of other options. That quote “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of 3 of them” does little to comfort me or make me more patient, although its sarcastic undertone makes me smile.

Bible Study: Working in Patience - Resting in Hope

God gives us many examples in the Bible of the benefits of patience. He also seems to enjoy taking us to what our mind considers to be the very precipice before revealing His plan. During a particular time in my ministry I was waiting and waiting and waiting for the Lord to reveal His plan, all the while giving Him all the options I had come up with. Oddly enough He didn't take any of my well-thought out, carefully-crafted suggestions and instead encouraged my heart to wait patiently using one of Elijah's stories that is found in I Kings 17.

1. Elijah had just stood in the face of the king and had proclaimed judgment on the land. He had done something “big” for God. You would think this would have garnered him the privilege of knowing what God’s next plan was; but no, instead God’s next instructions simply included a brook and some ravens.

Vs. 3 - God gave Elijah a place to go.

Vs. 4 - God told Elijah how He would provide his basic needs of food and water.

Vs. 7 - “after a while” – the Lord in His providence did not give us a time frame for this story… probably so I couldn’t say to Him, “You told Elijah to wait for just two weeks. Why am I having to wait two years?”

Vs. 7 -“the brook dried up” - Not only did God make Elijah wait while the brook was drying up, He made him wait until the brook was completely dried up.

God does not tell us if Elijah hoped while he waited, if he worried while he waited, if he argued with God while he waited, or if he planned and schemed while he waited. What we do know is that he was there even when things looked at their lowest, and he waited for the Lord to reveal His plan.

2. When Elijah, for all human intents and purposes, seemed to be in dire straits. . .

Vs. 9 – God gave Elijah a direction to go.

Vs. 9 - God told Elijah how He would provide for his basic needs of food and water.

As I have studied this matter of patience, and restudied this matter of patience, and continue to study this matter of patience I have found one of the greatest benefits of being patient is the time it provides not only for God to work in the lives of others, but also the time it gives me to rest in hope. If God showed me everything all at once what would there be to hope for?

3. When Elijah arrives at the next step in God’s plan . . .

Vs. 10 – Elijah asks the widow to do something within her means.

Vs. 11 – Elijah asks the widow to do something not within her means.

We now can see that while God had Elijah waiting at the Brook Cherith, He was working to bring the widow woman to her lowest place in order to perform an amazing miracle in her life and show Himself strong on both of their behalves.

If Elijah had made up his own mind that he didn’t want to wait while God supplied his food from one of the foulest creatures on earth, or if he decided he needed to leave the brook when the water was nearly gone, he might have headed to a different city. If by chance he had chosen the city where the widow lived, the timing in her life wouldn’t have been right for God to do the great work He planned to do.

Likewise, if Ann had not been patient and had given up hope and had decided to leave on the ship with the others, she would not have been there for her husband’s return. She would not have been there when he was taken prisoner. The question begs asking then, what if she had not been there to nurse his open wounds or deadly sicknesses? What if she had not been there to provide him life-sustaining food? What if she had not been there to comfort him and pray for and with him? Then what? What of the future work God had for them to do? What of the work that God wanted to accomplish through her husband even after she had passed away? What of the work God knew He wanted to do even today in the heart of a Burmese as they opened a Bible translated by Adoniram Judson? Ann had no knowledge of what all God would do because she chose to work in patience and rest in hope.

When I think of this, I say to myself, "You will submit your dreams and your plans for your life. You will patiently do the work the Lord has revealed He wants you to do where He has placed you. And, you will rest in hope that one day you will have the opportunity to look back and see all the work that God wanted to perform for you and through you whether that be here on earth or from heaven above."

It seems fitting that Ann was buried in Burma under a Hope tree. In Adoniram’s own words, “My sweet little Maria lies by the side of her fond mother. Together they rest in hope, under the Hope-tree (Hopia), which stands at the head of the graves; and together, I trust, their spirits are rejoicing . . .


Originally written for

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