Missionary to the American Indians. David Brainerd was born
April 20, 1718, at Hatham, Connecticut. His early years were
spent in an atmosphere of piety though his father died when
David was nine and his mother died five years later. As a
young man he was inclined to be melancholy, with the welfare
of his soul ever before him. His entire youth was divided be-
tween farming, reading the Bible, and praying.
Early in life, he felt the call to the ministry and
looked forward almost impatiently to the day when he could
preach the Gospel. His formal education consisted of three
years at Yale, where he was an excellent student until ill
health forced him to return home. He completed his studies
privately until he was fitted and licensed to preach by the
Association of Ministers in Fairfield County, Connecticut. He
turned down the offers of two pastorates in order to preach
the Gospel to the American Indians.
Jonathan Edwards wrote of him, “And, having put his
hand to the plow, he looked not back, and gave himself,
heart, soul, and mind, and strength, to his chosen mission
with unfaltering purpose, with apostolic zeal, with a heroic
faith that feared no danger and surmounted every obstacle,
and with an earnestness of mind that wrought wonders on sav-
age lives and whole communities.”
Brainerd did his greatest work by prayer. He was in
the depths of the forests alone, unable to speak the language
of the Indians. But he spent whole days in prayer, praying
simply that the power of the Holy Ghost might come upon him
so greatly that the Indians would not be able to refuse the
Once he preached through a drunken interpreter, a man
so intoxicated that he could hardly stand up. Yet scores were
converted through that sermon.
Plagued by ill health and the hardships of the primi-
tive conditions, he died at the early age of 29, at the home
of Jonathan Edwards, to whose daughter he was engaged.
After his death, William Carey read his diary and
went to India. Robert McCheyne read it and went to the Jews.
Henry Martyn read it and went to India. Though it was not
written for publication, his diary influenced hundreds to
yearn for the deeper life of prayer and communion with God,
and also moved scores of men to surrender for missionary