In 1742 Yale College expelled David Brainerd.
A spiritual awakening had been sparked on the campus in months prior. As it began to grow and draw in more zealous students, tensions arose among the skeptical faculty such that the college trustees passed a code prohibiting students from even insinuate that any of the faculty were "hypocrites, carnal or unconverted men."
Before long it was reported that Brainerd had made some uncharitable comments of this kind and, though he was at the top of his class academically, they booted him. Add to this that in order to be an established minister in Connecticut you had to be a graduate of Yale, Harvard, or a European university. Brainerd's dreams (and obedience!) to become a pastor came crashing down. It was very difficult, as John Piper explains, "Brained felt cut off from his life calling."
This is a hard fact to swallow. Tragic, it might seem, considering that David Brainerd died at the young age of 29. But here we are looking at his life, admitting there's a good story to be told, and retold. One that's not about the expulsion, but about what God did through him in that handful of years between the expulsion and his death.
Originally delivered as a message at the 1990 Conference for Pastors, John Piper tells Brainerd's story in this short ebook, "David Brainerd: May I Never Loiter on My Heavenly Journey!"
"Brainerd's life is a vivid, powerful testimony to the truth that God can and does use weak, sick, discouraged, beat-down, lonely, struggling saints, who cry to him day and night, to accomplish amazing things for his glory" (p. 9).