Birthdays on April 20
Johann Schneider was born in Eisleben, Germany. He later took the name Agricola, having studied under Martin Luther at Wittenberg and served as his secretary at the Leipzig Disputation (1519). He adopted Luther's reformational views and became a Protestant minister, pastoring and heading a school in Eisleben. Agricola emphasized Luther's principle that Christians are under the gospel, not the Law. As early as 1527 he was in controversy with Philip Melanchthon, Luther's colleague, about the place of The Ten Commandments in Christian experience -- Agricola found no place for them. Agricola took some of Luther's earlier unguarded sayings and made a theology of them, to Luther's embarrassment. Luther called Agricola's position "Antinomianism," that is, the denial of any law in Christian living. By 1540 Agricola modified his views and became a court preacher in Brandenburg. Of interest to historians, Agricola was the first collector of German proverbs, which he published.
Birth of David Brainerd, missionary to the Stockbridge, Delaware and Susquehanna Indians. He kept a journal from June 19, 1745 to June 19, 1746, which was mightily used of God to stir others toward missionary work. His father died when he was nine and the death of his mother in March 1732 brought additional grief to 14 year old David, who was by then seeking to find out what conversion was all about. It was not until July 12, 1739 that he was truly converted. He was then 21 years of age. In September 1739, David entered Yale University, but illness forced him to lay aside his studies. When he returned, The Great Awakening was in progress, and as a result God called him to minister to the long neglected Indians. Having learned prevailing prayer the hard way, by spending long hours on his knees during illness, and even before entering school, Brainerd did his best work on his knees. We might say that his work was a failure, since he died at age 29, but on reading his journals, William Carey went to India; Robert McCheyne went to the Jews; Henry Martyn went to India. Though it was not written for publication, God used David Brainerd's Journal in the lives of many earnest believers.
Missionary Sheldon Folk was born at Berwick, Pennsylvania. He spent his life ministering in Kenya, Affica. His first term was spent without the presence of his fiance, Miss Lois Whitney, of Sayre, Pennsylvania, whom doctors felt was physically unable to meet the rigors of jungle living. She, however, spent the four years supporting him in prayer, and sending him encouraging letters. God used him mightily; and on his first furlough, the doctors changed their minds, and they were married, and spent the next four terms together in Africa.