The Religion of Opiates

Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff (1803-1851) was born in the Baltic Sea state of Pomerania (part of Poland today) and was educated in Berlin and Rotterdam. A chance meeting with the English missionary Robert Morrison sparked a yearning to travel to Asia, and in 1826, Gützlaff left Europe for Java. For the next six years, he studied Chinese among the immigrant communities of Southeast Asia, first in Java, then in Singapore and Bangkok.

While in Bangkok, he showed off the linguistic gift for which he would one day become famous around the world, by working on translations of the Bible into Thai, Khmer, and Lao.

Beginning in 1831, Gützlaff sailed from Bangkok and made a series of three voyages along the China coast. His crew proved to be challenging companions for a man of God.