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Justin Perkins. The Persian Flower (Boston, 1853), plate opposite p. 20.


Judith Grant Perkins was born on August 8, 1840, in Oroomiah, Persia (modern-day Urmia in northwestern Iran). She was the fourth of seven children of the Rev. Justin Perkins and Charlotte Bass Perkins, who were among the first American missionaries to work in Persia. Judith would spend her entire short life in Persia. At a very young age, her interest in serving others was apparent, and she often spoke of becoming a missionary herself, particularly in China, as well as attending Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in Massachusetts. Tragically, she died of cholera at the age of twelve in the remote village of Zorava (Ekinyolu), en route with her family to visit a neighboring town.

Judith was by all accounts a remarkable child. She was an avid reader, accomplished musician, and to outside appearances, a devout Christian. However, in The Persian Flower, a memoir that her father published after her death, Judith’s letters show that although she was quite young she still nonetheless struggled with her faith:

 “Oh that I were a Christian! How happy I should be! Would it not be pleasing to God? Why am I not one? (p. 97)

But later, when she lay dying of cholera, her father came to believe that she had reconciled her uncertainty:

“Dear Judith,” [said her father,] “is Jesus precious to you?”
“Oh, yes,” she replied, “I have just had a view of him; oh, how lovely! . . .”
“Dear Judith, if it is His will to take you now to himself, are you not satisfied? “
“Oh, yes, papa; His will will be done,” was her reply.
“Dear Judith, what do you wish to say to Henry [your brother]?”
“Oh, that he may be a Christian. . . .”

Finally, she said:

“O Lord, accept me; if it be thy will, make me well again; if not, oh let me not murmur.” (pp. 112-116)

Soon thereafter, Judith succumbed. Fidelia Fiske, another American missionary, later wrote to the Rev. Perkins that the Persian children who had known Judith believed that she had previously become a true Christian, and that her statements were not a deathbed repentance.

Another portrait appears in:

Justin Perkins. The Persian Flower (Boston, 1853), frontispiece.



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