Who is he?
Published 1:47 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2021
He was born April 20, 1718
He was an American missionary to the Native Americans who had a particularly fruitful ministry among the Delaware Indians of New Jersey.
During his short life he was beset by many difficulties.
As a result, his biography has become a source of inspiration and encouragement to many Christians, including missionaries such as William Carey and Jim Elliot.
He enrolled at Yale. In his second year, he was sent home because he was suffering from a serious illness that caused him to spit blood. It is now believed that he was suffering from tuberculosis.
On April 1, 1743, after a brief period serving a church on Long Island, he began working as a missionary to Native Americans, which he would continue until late 1746 when worsening illness prevented him from working at all.
His first missionary task was working at Kaunameek, a Housatonic Indian settlement near present day Nassau, New York.
Subsequently, he was reassigned to work among the Delaware Indians along the Delaware River northeast of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he remained for another year, during which he was ordained by the Newark Presbytery. After this, he moved to Crossweeksung in New Jersey, where he had his most fruitful ministry. Within a year, the Indian church at Crossweeksung had 130 members, who moved in 1746 to Cranbury where they established a Christian community.
He refused several offers of leaving the mission field to become a church minister. He remained determined, however, to continue the work among Native Americans despite the extreme difficulties with his illness. He wrote the following in his diary:
‘I could have no freedom in the thought of any other circumstances or business in life: All my desire was the conversion of the heathen, and all my hope was in God: God does not suffer me to please or comfort myself with hopes of seeing friends, returning to my dear acquaintance, and enjoying worldly comforts.”
In November 1746, he became too ill to continue ministering.
He travelled to Northampton, Massachusetts, where he stayed at the house of Jonathan Edwards. He remained at Edwards’s house until his death the following year. In May 1747, he was diagnosed with incurable tuberculosis; in these final months, he suffered greatly.
His name was David Brainerd. He died on October 9, 1747 at the age of 29 leaving behind a legacy all but forgotten today. He wrote in a diary most of his life. The diary was found by the evangelist Jonathon Edwards who in turn published the book, “The Life of David Brainerd,” which can still be bought online today.
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