Alexander Duff, first foreign missionary of the Church of Scotland, got off to a rough start. He was young, only 23, and bright and innovative. But on his way to India in 1829 with his new wife, he was shipwrecked—not once but twice! The most serious wreck occurred when his ship, the Lady Holland, was within a few miles of India.
At 10 o’clock at night, Duff was half-undressed when a shock and shudder ran through the vessel. He rushed to the deck where the captain met him with terrifying words, “Oh, she’s gone! She’s gone!” The ship split apart, but a portion clung precariously to a reef. Through the night the passengers huddled in terror in the surviving portion, expecting every moment to be swept away. They were saved the next day, but their clothes and prized possessions were lost, including Duff’s entire library of eight hundred volumes.
Later, standing on the shore and looking sadly toward the reef, Duff saw a small package bobbing atop the water. He watched and waited as it floated close enough for him to wade out and retrieve.
It was his Bible. Of all his precious books, it alone survived. His heart soared, for he took it as a sign from the Lord that this one Book alone was worth more than all the others put together.
He assembled his fellow survivors and read Psalm 107, the Traveler’s Psalm. Soon, using the same Bible, he began his first class with a little group of five boys under a banyan tree. Within a week the class had grown to three hundred, and it soon became a school that evangelized and educated the higher classes in India, producing a qualified generation of leaders for the nation’s young church.