The Story of John E Davis Canadian Baptist Missionary to India. Part I
Recently I read an autobiography of John E Davis. It was one of the most moving missionary biographies I have read. This is the first of several parts that I am writing. to share his story. Jim
What are we willing to give of our lives for Christ? Would we be willing to never embrace our wife or children again? Would we be willing to see our wife slip into eternity unable to comfort her physically or our children as their mother passed away? Would we be willing to suffer for as time as long as what we spent in ministry our body decaying as we lived. Would we be willing to be robbed of our sight, our ability to eat and breathe? Such thoughts seem almost unimaginable but they describe the life of John E. Davis, Canadian Baptist missionary to India.
Davis was born in Wicklow, Ontario Canada on February 17th 1858 into a large family of seven boys and two girls. Life was not easy for his father was crippled and not at least for several years a Christian. His mother, however read the Bible to the children every evening and saw that they attended the local Baptist church. The boys always had to work to help support the family. The first week of 1873 revival broke out at the church. One of Johns friends was saved and this began to convict upon Johns heart. An internal struggle began in his heart that would last for several months. Finally one day “As I rode up to the straw-stack, a verse of Scripture came into my mind: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 'It was like a light from Heaven. I understood it now—Jesus had borne my sins upon the cross and I was free. He cried out: " It is finished,'' and gave up the ghost.I knew that my pardon was purchased by His blood and that I was saved. It all came to me in a moment, like a flash, of lightning from the heavens; and I was so happy that I burst into tears and knelt by the straw-stack and offered thanksgiving and praises to God for His great mercy and loving kindness to me.” He would be baptized the following Sunday. God would eventually call him to preach.
Davis would eventually head to college. He would have to settle for more of a general education as Baptist Colleges were basically nonexistent in the area of Canada that he was in. While there he would fill in for many pastor-less churches during the week and over the summer. He would be ordained in the Bloor Street Church alog with HF Laflame who would later go with him to the mission field. In the early part of 1887 God began to deal in his heart about foreign missions. It became much a subject of discussion between him and his soon to be wife who was in “full sympathy” with him. On July 26th 1887 John Davis and Laura Lockhart would be married. They would honeymoon at Niagara Falls but soon be on their way to the mission field of India in the first part of September. On the 10th of September they would board the White Star Line ship “Arabic” and steam out of New York City. From there they would travel to Liverpool England where they would board the SS McKensie to sail to Madras India. From there they would go on to the mission station at Cocanada. We will pick up the rest of the story there in part II.