This week in Christian history: Missionary bids farewell, English bishop martyred

Missionary to China writes farewell letter – Jan. 15, 1868

William Chalmers Burns (1815-1868), a Scottish missionary to China.
William Chalmers Burns (1815-1868), a Scottish missionary to China. | Wikimedia Commons

This week marks the anniversary of when William Chalmers Burns, a Scottish missionary to China, wrote a farewell letter to his mother months before he died.

Burns spent years doing mission work in China, having previously been an itinerant preacher who evangelized people in the United Kingdom and Canada.

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Addressed to his mother, Burns explained that he had been battling an illness that gave him “hilliness and fever every night” as well as “perspiration, which rapidly diminishes the strength.”

Despite the illness, Burns went on to declare that “I write these lines beforehand to say that I am happy, and ready through the abounding grace of God either to live or die.”

“May the God of all consolation comfort you when the tidings of my decease shall reach you, and through the redeeming blood of Jesus may we meet with joy before the throne above,” he wrote.

Burns died on April 4, 1868, at the age of 53.

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