I’ve been reading The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards for the last few months. I’ve got a bit to go yet, but I can already say this is definitely a book you’ll want to pick up. It has stirred my heart towards prayer and preaching the truth of Jesus like nothing else (except for maybe the Bible which kinda makes sense). Reading the testimony of this man who strove so diligently to see a lost people saved has filled me with a greater determination to speak the truth boldly and to expect transformation in people’s lives, even if they don’t respond well (or at all) at first. As the word of God is preached, surely men and women of all types will find hope, peace, and restoration.
My first introduction to David Brainerd was to a man who prayed so passionately and persistently. He would often take whole days and set them aside simply for prayer and fasting, shutting himself away from work, from ministry. Of his passionate praying, it was said that he would often kneel down in the snow and pray in the dead of winter; when he stopped, there would be a circle of melted snow all around him, having formed solely from his body heat. Now that’s praying.
But David Brainerd was not only a man of prayer. He was also a man of unearthly boldness and unrelenting persistence when it came to speaking the truth that Jesus alone saves. Despite his bodily weaknesses, despite having been kicked out of his ministry school, despite going to a never-before-reached people group, despite their initial lack of interest in the Christian message, despite going alone, despite bad weather, despite inadequate shelter… Despite all those setbacks, he went off into the wilderness to reach the Native American tribes of New Jersey, and he saw revival. and he just wouldn’t quit. As much as his devotion to prayer, his simple persistence in preaching the word transformed countless lives.
Without ruining the story for you, let me say a bit more about this remarkable man. David Brainerd was born in Connecticut in 1718 and died of tuberculosis in 1747. To put things in the right setting, this is about 30 years before the War for Independence and right before the French and Indian War. The American Colonies are surrounded by wilderness, and tensions are growing among the New World’s “powers that be”: Great Britain, France and the Native American tribes. In the midst of it all, David Brainerd begins to minister in New Jersey, traveling into the wilderness to bring the gospel to the Indians.
He preached a basic message focused less on hell and more on the glories of the Savior available to those in his hands. And yet his message was also very clear that repentance was the gateway, that a man must first understand his just punishment is hell. This basic message of repentance led thousands to Jesus and to freedom, from hardened drunks to adulterers to murderers to religious guys who thought they really didn’t need Jesus. The list of testimonies and changed lives is awesome, and The Life of David Brainerd is filled with detailed accounts of them. You’ll be so encouraged by reading how real people with real issues met a real Jesus and were really remade. It’s awesome.
So, if you’re in the Spring Green area, stop by Cornerstone Church to borrow a copy from our library. Otherwise, I recommend Alibris, Half.com, or AbeBooks. Get a used book and save the environment. 🙂