Day 4 of 40 days of devotion

Written by John Evans

Christian Devotedness and Anthony Groves

Anthony Groves was born in Newton, Hampshire in 1795. He qualified as a dentist, becoming a successful practitioner in Exeter. He married at 21 and felt strongly that he should go abroad as a missionary. His wife, however, was doubtful. Anthony therefore refrained from taking this step until they were both ready, some thirteen years later.

In 1825 his preparation began in earnest after he gave up dentistry to study for ordination at Trinity College, Dublin. Four years later Groves and his wife set out with their two young sons and three Christian friends for Baghdad, on a six month journey (through Russia, Georgia and into what we now know as Iraq) that was filled with danger and hardships.

Just four years later, Groves saw his wife die in Baghdad – then a plague-stricken city. Their sons lost their mother less than eighteen months after arriving in Baghdad. At 36 her husband was being tested in a land that hadn’t been visited by the gospel since its capture by Islam.

Groves was the author of a small yet very challenging booklet which was to have a significant influence upon Church history. Its title was “Christian Devotedness”. Like many books and pamphlets of that time there was a long subtitle explaining what the booklet was about. This reads: “The Consideration of Our Saviour’s Precept: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth”. The booklet had a major impact upon the lives of many, including a young Prussian pastor who had settled in Britain, and later became famous as the founder of a number of orphanages which took his name in the city of Bristol: George Müller.

“Christian Devotedness” examines the teaching of Jesus concerning earthly riches. Groves lived his life in response to his understanding of this teaching. From very early in his career as a dentist – prior to his missionary call – he had decided to devote the whole of his property, including the greater part of his large income to the Lord’s work, leaving only a small part to cover his personal and domestic needs.

You can read his challenging booklet here. The length of the writing will not detain you: the arguments and his challenging personal example may!

After his wife’s death, when plague, flood and famine and war had almost wiped out the densely crowded city of Baghdad, killing 60,000 out of 85,000 residents, Groves wrote home these words, ‘The Lord has allowed us great peace, and assured confidence in His loving care, and in the truth of His promise that our bread and water shall be sure …”.

After briefly returning to England, Groves moved to India, where his missionary work was rewarded with considerable blessing in the city of Madras, in which he again took up the dental practice to provide, like St Paul, for his own living while he preached the gospel.

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