The Indomitable Brainerds

The Indomitable Brainerds

Reformation Heritage Books

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David Brainerd’s missionary efforts among the Native Americans of colonial North America are legendary, largely due to Jonathan Edwards’s Account of the Life of the Late Rev. David Brainerd. But how many people know that David’s brother John devoted decades of his life to continue this mission? Mack Tomlinson tells the inspiring story of the Brainerd brothers’ unconquerable faith in God and how their relentless mission work accomplished more for Native Americans than any other individual or organization at that time. This is a vivid reminder that there are no limits to what God can do when His people’s hearts are wholly devoted to the service of Jesus Christ!





Brainerd Timeline

  1. A Legacy Begins
  2. Yale College and the Brainerd Brothers
  3. David Brainerd and Indian Missions
  4. A Day of God’s Power: The Crossweeksung Indian Mission
  5. The Earthly End of a Significant Life
  6. The Bethel Mission
  7. The Brotherton Mission
  8. John Brainerd’s Journal
  9. In Life and Death: John Brainerd’s Final Years

Appendix 1: John Brainerd’s Gospel Response to the Indian Theory of Race

Appendix 2: David Brainerd’s Flawed View of Himself

Appendix 3: David Brainerd’s Personal Musings

Appendix 4: Brainerd Doctrine and Preaching

Appendix 5: Indian Evangelism

Appendix 6: Gospel-Driven Suffering

Appendix 7: The Brainerd Legacy


“Mack Tomlinson’s biography of David and John Brainerd is a must read for every Christian. This brief but beautifully crafted work is more than a complement to the Diary of David Brainerd. It stands on its own as a wonderful account of the providence and power of God in the lives and ministry of two brothers who changed the world. Like his more distinguished brother David, John Brainerd’s reliance on the Word and prayer and his unreserved self-sacrifice serve as an example and pattern to be imitated by all who would serve Christ. In a day of strategic self-promotion, John Brainerd’s life is a rebuke and reminder of all that God can accomplish through even the weakest vessel when self is crucified, Christ is glorified, and eternity remains in focus. If you are a young aspirant to the ministry, set out early on the same path of devotion and self-denial that was trod by John and David Brainerd. This little book will be a helpful guide to start you on that costly road and encourage you to remain on it.”

—Paul Washer, founder of HeartCry Missionary Society

“We all know of David Brainerd. I read his life early in my ministry and discovered there was no one equal for fervor and prayer. I wanted to be like him. But I knew nothing about his brother John, who faithfully protracted David’s brief work with equal sacrifice among the Indians of New Jersey for thirty-four years in the mid to late 1700s. Recapturing the story of the beloved David first, the author unveils the forgotten John Brainerd, a like soul to his brother. The initial flare of David’s short but inimitable ministry burned as a steady flame in the perseverance of John. ‘He lives in tradition by the wigwam fires of the far West Indians’—said Thomas Brainerd in 1865, referring to the land to which John’s sheep were removed. ‘He is worthy also to live in the literature of the church.’”

—Jim Elliff, Christian Communicators Worldwide, Kansas City, Missouri

“Mack Tomlinson has produced an excellent investigation of the Brainerd brothers, David and John, and their joint labors for the conversion of the Native Americans. Their personal self-denying devotion to the cause of the gospel among these neglected people is one of the most inspiring and at the same time convicting sagas of American history. They illustrated the words of Jesus, ‘Whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it’ (Mark 8:35). Tomlinson gives a sensitive picture of their love and admiration for each other and their shared devotion to their call for evangelism. Incorporating numerous primary source references into the main text itself, the author also has included several appendices that supplement the story and also give honest evaluation of the spiritual lives of these admirable witnesses for Christ.”

—Tom Nettles, senior professor of historical theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

“This book has been a means of grace to me. Who can tell the number of men humbled and inspired by reading the biography of David Brainerd? Now we have him set in the context of his family and his relationship with his lovely but lesser-known brother John, who picked up the baton of pastoring the early American tribes after David’s early death. Many are the insights and details that leap from these pages. The ‘forgotten John’ is now honored, and we are mightily edified.”

 —Geoff Thomas, itinerant preacher, prolific author, and formerly pastor in Wales for more than 50 years

About the Author

Mack M. Tomlinson serves as a pastor at Providence Chapel in Denton, Texas. He is also the author of In Light of Eternity: The Life of Leonard Ravenhill and Grace and Truth: The Life of Conrad Murrell.

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