by Tamera Lynn Kraft
David Brainerd was born in 1718 in Connecticut. His father was in the legislature but died when he was only fourteen. His mother died five years later leaving him an orphan. He inherited a farm in Durham but didn't like farming. On July 12, 1739, David had a salvation experiance he later recorded as an experiance of "unspeakable glory" that prompted in him a "hearty desire to exalt
[God], to set him on the throne and to seek first his Kingdom."
Two months later, he enrolled at Yale University. A year later, he was sent home to recover from an illness many believed to be the onset of tuberculosis, the disease that later killed him. When he returned to Yale in 1740, tensions were high. The Great Awakening had broken out, and the faculty considered the exuberance and zeal of the students who were converted in the Awakening to be excessive.
Because of the criticism, Yale initiated a policy that if students questioned the spirituality of the professors, they would be required to give a public confession the first time and expelled the second time. The faculty invited Jonathan Edwards to preach the same day hoping he would side with them. Instead, Edwards called to account the sins of the faculty in preventing the student from wholeheartedly seeking God.
The next term, Brainerd was expelled because it was said that he commented that one of his tutors, Chauncey Whittelsey, "has no more grace than a chair" and that he wondered why the Rector "did not drop down dead' for fining students perceived as over-zealous. He later apologized for the first comment, but denied making the second. Yale refused to reinstate him. Brainerd was mortified for his conduct and regretted it for the rest of his life.
He was licensed to preach by an organization of evangelicals called the New Light. He was not offered and pastorate because of what happened at Yale and decided God had called him to be a missionary to Native Americans. His first missionary endeavor was near Nassau, New York. Later he was assigned to work among the Delaware Indians along the Delaware River. There he start a Native American school and translated the Psalms into the Delaware language. Then he moved to New Jersey where, within a year, he established a church with 130 Native American members. Even though he was reluctant at first to minister to the Indians, after a few years, he refused many offer to leave the mission field and become a pastor, but he refused them all. He wrote in his journal that despite the difficulties, his only desire was to serve God by ministering to Indians.
In 1746, Brainerd became too sick to continue and stayed at the home of Jonathan Edwards to recover. During that time, he was nursed by Edwards daughter, Jerusha. He and Jerusha fell in love. A year later, he died of tuberculosis at age 29 in 1747. Jerusha died in February, 1748 after contracting his disease. His ministry to Indians in his short life was not his only legacy. His journals and writing were distributed by Jonathan Edwards and became popular during the second Great Awakening.
Tamera Lynn Kraft
has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in
America because there are so many adventures in American history. She has
received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA
writer’s contest, and was a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest. Her
novellas Resurrection of Hope and A Christmas Promise are
available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.