This week in Christian history: Council of Nicaea, Geneva embraces Reformation, missionary travels to Persia

Henry Martyn arrives in Persia – May 21, 1811

Henry Martyn
Nineteenth century British missionary Henry Martyn. |

This week marks the anniversary of when Henry Martyn, a well-traveled British missionary who helped translate the Bible into various Asiatic languages, arrived in Persia (modern-day Iran).

Martyn had previously served as a missionary in India while working as a chaplain for the British East India Company, later devoting his time to translating the New Testament into Persian and Arabic.

Martyn arrived in the port city of Bushere and eventually lived in Shiraz, becoming the first Protestant missionary to Persia, according to the Gospel Fellowship Association.

“He took on the habit of the Persians, wearing their clothes and growing a beard to be more acceptable in the eyes of the Muslim teachers,” noted the GFA.

“He lived in the home of an open-minded Sufi-Muslim and spent long hours in the translation and revision of the Persian New Testament.”

Martyn debated local Muslim leaders for months and eventually left the city to travel by land to Turkey, where he would die of various diseases in 1812 at the age of 31.

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