What’s In a Name?

So, why Ava Evangelyn? There is a story behind the name. Almost ten years ago, I read a book called The Three Mrs. Judsons. It’s a biography about Adoniram Judson, a 19-century missionary to Burma (now Myanmar), and his three wives (not at once, of course!). While I enjoyed the book, it was simply an interesting missionary bio. Earlier this year, I read the book again, only with a totally different perspective. As I read of their struggles in a foreign land, heartache as they left loved ones, the joys and sorrows of missionary labor, I was profoundly impacted, realizing that their experience, though 200 years ago, differed little from what we will experience. There were even similarities between 19th-century Burmese culture and modern day Cambodia. As I read the book, one word kept popping up…Ava, the capital city of Burma. After discovering that I was pregnant, “Ava” stood out even more, as I started considering it for a girl’s name…not only because I thought it was lovely, but also because it represented The Three Mrs. Judsons and its significance in my life. I looked up the meaning, and learned that it was derived from Eve, the Hebrew word for “Life”. Nate and I sorted through countless girl’s names, but Ava was the only one that we both agreed upon (boy’s names were much easier!). Ironically, we thought it was such a unique name, only to find out that it was on the top ten list of U.S. girl’s names from 2008. Who knew? We decided that it really didn’t matter, since she would be growing up in Cambodia.

As for Evangelyn, it means “Good News” (Greek). In combination, our daughter’s name means “The Good News of Life”. As we travel to Cambodia as missionaries, it is our prayer that we would be faithful to the “Good News”, the gospel of Jesus Christ, that has been entrusted to us. It is more than simply “good news” to a dying world, it is the good news of LIFE, everlasting, eternal life. Our daughter’s name represents our hope for Cambodia, and our hope for all those who are lost and without God. We pray that she will one day embrace this good news, by God’s grace, and that she will join us as we proclaim Him to Cambodia.


The inspiration


Adoniram Judson

Ava, Burma

Elephant Taming – 19th century painting of Ava, Burma

5 thoughts on “What’s In a Name?

  • October 18, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    I love it!! As one of my old professors says, the meaning of a name has a great impact on who that person will grow up to be. We wanted our son to have a very rich meaning to his name. My hubby came up with Caleb which means “Faithful One”. I love the meaning and the story of the Caleb in the Bible. His middle name is Martin(my husband’s first name) which means “Warrior”. So together his name means “Faithful Warrior”. I think Ava Evangelyn is a beautiful name for a beautiful baby girl :)

  • October 18, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Interesting to hear, and will one day mean so much to her when you explain the reason behind it.

  • October 20, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Christiana, I loved this post! I always like to hear how babies get their names. I had wondered about your little Miss Ava, because I assumed the middle name was due to you guys being missionaries, but I wasn’t sure about her first name (which is beautiful, by the way).

    Thanks for sharing!

  • October 21, 2009 at 8:03 am

    That’s beautiful, Christiana! :)

    I was sharing your story with one of Mia’s nurses last night. She’s from Cambodia and I loved listening to her story and how she and her family of 10 ended up in the States. They are born-again and she was grateful for you, Nate and Ava going to minister to her people. :)

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