Anthony Norris Groves (1795-1853)

The following paragraph gives some scant details about A.N.Groves:

Anthony Norris Groves was born at Newton, Hampshire in 1795. Trained as a dentist, he developed his profession as a successful business in Exeter. He married at 21, and even then already had the desire laid on his heart to go abroad as a missionary. At that time his wife could not yet see the way clear for this - and he therefore refrained from taking this step until they were both ready, some 13 years later. In 1825 this preparation began in earnest after he gave up his profession to study for ordination at Trinity College, Dublin. (It was during this time that he first came into contact with J.N. Darby and others who were later to become prominent leaders in the early Brethren). Four years later Groves and his wife set out with their two young sons and three Christian friends for Baghdad, on a journey (through Russia, Georgia & Persia) which in those days took 6 months and was filled with perils and hardships. His sister Mary became the wife of George Müller.

Below is an extract from a book about the early Plymouth Brethren:

"It was the year 1831. In the plague-stricken city of Baghdad, an ambassador of Christ stood by the death-couch of his young wife. Within two years of leaving their home in Exeter, and less than eighteen months in Baghdad, then a city of disease and iniquity, her course was run. This tragic event, which cast two motherless boys into the lap of an unveiled future, marked the laying of the first stone in the missionary outreach of the early Brethren. In the 160 years following, this structure has grown to dimensions stretching almost from pole to pole. The toilsome years in the land now called Iraq were productive of meagre spiritual fruit. A young man of 36 was being tested through the fire of affliction in a land not until that time visited by the Gospel since its capture by Islam. He was Anthony Norris Groves, who may rightly be regarded as the founder of the missionary enterprise of the Open Brethren.

"A.N. Groves was also the author of a small booklet which could be regarded as a significant influence upon the subsequent Church history. Its title was "Christian Devotedness". It was this book which had a major impact upon the life of a young Prussian pastor who settled in Britain, and later became famous as the founder of the orphanages which bear his name in the city of Bristol, George Müller.

"The booklet expounds the Bible's teaching about material posessions. The issues of our Lord's teaching concerning earthly riches have never before or since been set out in such a compelling manner as they were by A.N.Groves, who early in his career as a dentist prior to missionary call 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.

"When plague, flood and famine and war had almost wiped out the densely crowded city of Baghdad, killing 60,000 souls out of 85,000, Groves wrote home these words, penned after his wife too had fallen a victim, '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; but certainly nothing but the service of such a Lord as He is would keep me in the scenes which these countries do exhibit, and I feel assured will, till the Lord has finished these judgments on them for contempt of the name, nature and offices of the Son of God; yet I linger in the hope that He has a remnant even among them, for whose return these convulsions are preparing the way.'

"After a brief return to England, Groves later moved on to India, where his missionary labours were 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."


Page created by David F. Haslam 2001-11-23.   Last updated 2004-12-18.    Return to home page.