We spent the night in Albany, New York, but we spent our time after our stop in Pittsfield at Melville’s Arrowhead driving through the Berkshires to Albany. This was the same area (between Stockbridge and Albany) where the legendary missionary, David Brainerd, first preached to the Indians.
The territory is mountainous and covered with thick forests. This made me appreciate even more Brainerd’s efforts to reach the Indians with the gospel during the Great Awakening.
Brainerd was born in 1718 and born again in 1739. Thereafter, Brainerd entered Yale but was expelled after making a remark indicating he did not think one of the teachers at Yale was converted. This was no minor issue at the time. There was even a debate about whether the unconverted should be permitted to be ministers, if you can imagine that.
Yale, in an effort to dampen the zeal and religious “enthusiasm” of students who were being born again during the Great Awakening, had instituted a rule that mandated discipline and expulsion for students who questioned whether Yale professors were converted. About this time, Yale invited Jonathan Edwards to speak to the student body, and to Yale’s disappointment, but no doubt the Lord’s approval, Edwards supported the students in their religious zeal. It apparently wasn’t enough to save Brainerd, though, nor were the efforts of Brainerd and others after that.
Instead, Brainerd was ordained by a different group, and was sent out as a missionary to the Indians, first to those between Stockbridge and Albany and then later to the Delaware Indians in New Jersey, where Brainerd finally saw the fruit he had worked and prayed for three years. It was there the gospel finally took root amongst the Indians, and a church was established. Brainerd’s life is an example of living out the Biblical mandate that Christians be single-minded in pressing on toward their calling from King Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14.
Brainerd’s diary has become an inspirational book for missionaries because it reflects the trials, sickness, and difficulties Brainerd overcame in his single-minded quest to make the true God known amongst the Indians. Fair warning though, Brainerd’s diary is a tough read for Evangelicals (including this Evangelical); it is especially not for those who are seeking their “best life now.” It is riddled with Brainerd’s self-loathing in the shadow of God’s holiness, as well as his struggle with depression and tuberculosis.
After our night in Albany, New York, we set out for Niagara Falls and our anticipated border crossing into Canada. After all the trouble in figuring out the Covid requirements for getting into Canada, it was really very simple.
We drove up to a make-shift testing site set up in a tent in Niagara Falls, New York. There was no line; it took 10 minutes. It was painless. Thirty minutes later we got our test results. “SARS-COV-2 Not Detected” was the result for all of us. Ann kept saying “Covid Not Detected,” as if she had just won the gold medal in the 200 meter freestyle. I think after all the trouble though, it did feel like an accomplishment.
When we arrived at the Canadian border, we were interrogated by the border guard.
Border Guard: “Where are you from?
Me: “We are from Texas, and we would like to request asylum. Our governor has lost his mind; he won’t let schools mandate kids wear masks to school.”
Border Guard: “Our governor is a communist.”
Me: “That’s not good:
Border Guard: “I suppose you don’t have any guns on you since you are in a rental car.”
Me: “No guns in the car, but we do own guns. We are from Texas.”
And with that, we entered Canada and Niagara Falls.
Tomorrow, how the gospel found its way to the Falls. GS