Anthony Norris Groves, a dentist and member of the Plymouth Brethren, was a close friend of George Mueller with whom he exchanged ideas about practical faith. (He would later die in Mueller’s home.) He went with his family as a missionary to Baghdad at his own expense on faith principles, having no settled income and no mission board, trusting God to provide. Where he visited, he found many Christians of the East in great spiritual ignorance and their leaders opposed to providing Christian literature in languages the people understood. During his residence in Baghdad, he endured fierce heat, encountered plague (to which he lost his wife, Mary), met opposition from Muslims and Orthodox, and suffered during a Turkish siege. A letter written on this day, March 28, 1830, explains why he and his family remained in Baghdad despite the plague.
“The plague has now absolutely, we believe, entered this unhappy city. Major T. and all those connected with the residency are preparing to leave for the mountains of Kourdistan; they have most kindly invited us to go with them and form part of their family; this is most truly kind, and there are many things to recommend it—the opportunities it would afford M. for learning Armenian, and me Arabic, and for observation on the country and people, besides our being delivered from all apparent danger either from the sword which threatens us from without, or the pestilence within. The absence of all these friends and so many of the principal Christian families who are going with them, leaves us exposed to the bigotry of the people in any tumults that may arise—all these things presented themselves to our minds. But there are considerations that outweigh these in our minds: in the first place, we feel that while we have the Lord's work in our hands we ought not to fly and leave it; again, if we go, it is likely that for many months we cannot return to our work, whereas the plague may cease in a month; opportunities of usefulness may arise in the plague that a more unembarrassed time may not present; and our dear friends from Aleppo may come and find no asylum. The Lord gives great peace and quietness of mind in resting under his most gracious and loving care, and as the great object of our lives is to illustrate his love to us, we believe that in the midst of these awful circumstances, he will fill our tongues with praise as he does fill our hearts with peace.”
Groves, Anthony. Journal of a Residence at Bagdad. London: James Nisbet, 1832.