One of those hope-filled Puritans who crossed the Atlantic in 1631 was John Eliot. He was twenty-seven years old and a year later became the pastor of a new church in Roxbury, Massachusetts., about a mile from Boston. But something happened that made him much more than a pastor.
According to Cotton Mather, there were twenty tribes of Indians in that vicinity. John Eliot could not avoid the practical implications of his theology. If the infallible Scriptures promise that all nations will one day bow down to Christ, and if Christ is sovereign and able by his Spirit through prayer to subdue all opposition to his promised reign, then there is good hope that a person who goes as an ambassador of Christ to one of these nations will be the chosen instrument of God to open the eyes of the blind and to set up an outpost of the kingdom of Christ.
And so when he was slightly over forty (not twenty but forty!) years old, Eliot set himself to study Algonquin. He deciphered the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax and eventually translated the entire Bible as well as books that he valued such as Richard Baxter’s Call to the Uncoverted. By the time Eliot was eighty-four years old, there were numerous Indian churches, some with their own Indian pastors. It is an amazing story of a man who once said, “Prayers and pains through faith in Christ Jesus will do anything!”
John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, p. 53