April 4: Augustus Brodhead

“I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people”

Augustus Brodhead was born into the family of the Hon. John H. and Eliza (Ross) Brodhead, on May 13, 1831, in Milford, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Union College in New York in 1855, and was then admitted to Princeton Theological Seminary, where he took the full course. Upon graduation from Princeton, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Hudson, whereupon he was appointed by the Board of Foreign Missions (PCUSA) to serve as a missionary to India. Brodhead was then ordained as an evangelist by the same Presbytery on May 4, 1858.

It was at that very time that the Sepoy Mutiny had so disrupted all Christian work in the Northwest Provinces of India. Four PCUSA missionaries, along with their families, had been massacred. Indian Christians in that region had been scattered, and chaos still reigned. “But,” as the historian remembers, “all the atrocities of the mutiny and all the uncertainties of the future could not daunt the courage or shake the resolution of those young Christians who consecrated themselves to the service of the India Mission and pressed forward to take the place of their martyred brethren.”

In the midst of summer that year, Mr. Brodhead was married to Miss Emily Cumming, of Princeton, New Jersey, on July 15, 1858, and they sailed for India on November 7th. After a protracted voyage which took them around the Cape of Good Hope, they arrived at last in Calcutta on April 4th, 1859.

Their first settlement in India was in Mainpuri, a moderate sized town of about 25,000 inhabitants, in Uttar Pradesh, located between the Ganges and Jumna Rivers. Working here, and also in the military garrison of Fatehgarh, about thirteen years were spent preaching, teaching and ministering to the native churches and assisting them with evangelistic efforts.

In 1872, the Mission Board transferred Rev. Brodhead to Allahabad, the seat of government for the Northwest Province. Here he took on a key role in the Theological Training School of the Synod of India, writing and publishing on the subjects of biblical and church history, along with some devotional literature. Only about three or four of his works appear to have survived to the present day. Rev. Brodhead also edited a magazine published by the Mission for use by the native Christians, and assisted in the preparation of hymnals, composing a large number of hymns and translating many others. Much of his time was taken up with managing the North India Bible and Tract Society and the Christian Vernacular Education Society. It was said of his that “his knowledge of affairs, his calm and impartial judgment, his warm and kindly heart, his extensive missionary experience, combined to give him great influence, not only in his own, but also in the missions of other denominations.

Finally, after a series of severe illnesses weakened his health, he was advised to quit the mission field. Reluctantly, he agreed and returned to the United States in 1878. For a brief time he was employed as Stated Supply in several churches, but then answered a call to serve as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

The Rev. Brodhead pastored this church from 1881 until his death on August 29, 1887, though it is recorded that he died in Toronto, Canada. His wife Emily survived him by nearly eighteen years, dying in 1905, and her remains were buried in the Princeton, New Jersey cemetery.

Words to Live By:
Has God called you to serve in missions? If not by your moving to other lands, then certainly by your daily, prayerful support of those who are on the field, often risking everything, to bring the Gospel hope of a risen Savior.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matthew 28:19-20, KJV).


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