IT WAS JULY 1706. The people of Tranquebar, a small Danish trading station on the Coromandel Coast in southeastern India (modern-day Tamil Nadu), rejoiced to see the Danish ship Sophia anchoring in the deep waters. Tamil boatmen rushed to offload the cargo. The captain who oversaw the transfer of goods became impatient and mercilessly whipped the boatmen. But one of the passengers on the ship, a 23-year-old German missionary, objected, “Do not whip! They are people.” To this the captain replied, “No, they are Malabarians [i.e., ‘beasts'].”...Read More
items tagged with missionaries
Death of Cyrus Kingsbury a Presbyterian missionary to the Choctaw Indians. He had also raised money to free black slaves.Authority for the date:
Death of Christian F. Schwartz, “Apostle of India.”Authority for the date:
On a bitterly cold day, Adoniram Judson, Gordon Hall, Luther Rice, Samuel Newell, and Samuel Nott are ordained for foreign service at Suleiu, Massachusetts, the first foreign missionaries of the United States.Authority for the date:
Beaver, R. Pierce. Pioneers in Mission. Eerdman’s, 1966.
Clara Swain arrives at Bareilly, India, and begins medical mission work the same day.Authority for the date:
Swain, Clara. A Glimpse of India. 1909.
Death of Severinus, an early missionary from Africa who preached Christianity in what is now Austria.Authority for the date:
1314Philosopher-theologian and educator Raymond Lull sailed as a missionary for Islamic lands.
1864Death of Fidelia Fiske, a courageous and effective missionary to the Nestorians of Persia.
1964Death of influential Presbyterian missionary Sarah Longworth Hosman, who served in Arabia.
1814Conversion of John Williams, who became a notable missionary in the New Hebrides Islands.
1964Death of Johan Herman Bavinck, a Dutch missionary, who had labored in Indonesia and later taught at Kampen Theological College and at the Free University of Amsterdam.
1813Birth of David Livingstone in Blantyre, Scotland, near Glasgow. Converted at 17, he dedicated his life to Christian missions. In 1840 he was sent to Robert Moffat’s mission in South Africa by the London Missionary Society. In 1845 he married Moffat’s daughter Mary and became an explorer who traveled over 30,000 miles in Africa, battling slavers and naming Victoria Falls in 1855. He aroused much controversy because his mistatements got other missionaries killed.
713Death of Suidbert, Apostle of Frisia.
1913Pioneer missionary Edward L. Arndt first arrived in Shanghai, China, having founded Evangelical Lutheran Missions for China. He established missions and schools in the Hankow territory, and translated devotional texts into Chinese.
1848—1919 William Wesley Van Orsdel
After stepping off the steamboat at Fort Benton, Montana, on a June Sunday in 1872, this penniless, sandy-haired, Methodist “evangelist-at-large” was ready to preach. When his impromptu Sabbath service at the Four Deuces saloon came to an end, listeners didn’t want to let him go. They asked his name, but since it was a mouthful, they dubbed him “Brother Van.” Practically everyone in Montana would know that name before long.
William Wesley Van Orsdel’s parents died before he turned 13. An aunt raised...Read More
In 1879, Jackson decided to leave Fort Wrangell and visit Methodist and Episcopal missions in Alaska to get ideas for his own work. He secured a “comfortable seat” in a canoe bound for Fort Simpson. His description gives a glimpse of the ordeals the missionary faced:
About six p.m. the canoe was run upon the beach, and an hour spent in supper, which, to the Indians, consisted of tea and salmon. Embarking at seven, they paddled until ten o'clock, when, finding an opening in the rock-bound coast, we put ashore, spread our blankets upon the...Read More
EVEN THOUGH China Inland Mission workers normally wore Chinese dress, for some occasions, they still had to have a Western wardrobe—not to mention a number of other nineteenth-century necessities. Below is a list of items two missionaries from the mid-1860s checked off as they prepared for work in China.
For Miss Jean Notman, 1864
- 1 winter dress, 2 skirts, 1 crinoline [stiff petticoat], 3 print dresses
- 3 petticoats, 6 nightdresses, 3 vests, 12 pair drawers, 9 chemises, silk apron
- 2 doz. handkerchiefs, 9 pair stockings, 1 ps. diaper, 1...
"Failed” first Protestant missionary
A s he sailed into the port of Canton in 1807, 25-year-old Robert Morrison was filled with a driving passion to see the Chinese people come to know Christ. By the time he died in China 27 years later, however, he had baptized only ten Chinese. But if Morrison died discouraged, his pioneering work, which included a six-volume Chinese dictionary and a translation of the Bible, opened the door for other missionaries and thus for the millions of conversions he had only dreamed of.
Morrison was...Read More
IN A LETTER dated June 12, 1806, William Carey describes a typical day at his Serampore mission community. (His original punctuation and spelling are retained.)
I rose this day at a quarter to six, read a chapter in the Hebrew Bible, and spent the time till seven in private addresses to God and then attended family prayer with the servants in Bengalee. While tea was pouring out, I read a little in Persian with a Moonshi [a native assistant or secretary] who was waiting, when I left my bed room. Read also before breakfast a portion of the...Read More
SEVERAL FACTORS kept native Americans from clearly hearing the gospel:
•Restrictions on native clergy: Until 1588, natives were barred from being ordained or joining a monastic order. This led to great racial inequality within the church hierarchy.
Throughout the 1700s, church officials usually assigned top posts to Spanish-born whites. Secondary positions went to Creoles [whites born in the New World]. Mestizo [mixed European and Indian ancestry] priests usually received difficult parishes. At the bottom of the racial ladder stood Indian...Read More
AFTER THREE MONTHS of study in the missionary society college, young Gladys Aylward, a poor London parlormaid, was told that she was too deficient in education to become a missionary; she’d never be able to learn Chinese, the committee couldn’t accept her. But Gladys was sure God wanted her in China. Unable to find support, she worked as a housemaid and saved enough money for a one-way ticket to Tientsin. She left Liverpool on Oct. 15, 1932 with an old suitcase full of food and clothes; she had about £2 . Before she reached China, she had...Read More
SEPTEMBER 1929 was an all-time ‘low’ for Dr Joe Church, missionary in the tiny East African slate of Rwanda. The country had just experienced the most terrible famine; his fiancee was ill in Britain and he feared she would not be passed fit for service in Africa, and he had just failed his first language examination. Worn out and discouraged, he decided to take a break in Kampala, the capita] of neighbouring Uganda.
Joe Church stayed with friends on Namirembe Hill and on the Sunday morning walked up to the cathedral. Outside it was an...Read More
SINCE IT IS DESIRED of me to make known my reason, I can say that my disposition was never to travel during this time [that period in his life], but only to ground myself more steadfastly in my Savior; that when the gracious count came back from his trip to Denmark and told me about the slaves, it gripped me so that I could not get free of it. I vowed to myself that if one other brother would go with me, I would become a slave, and would tell him so, and [also] what I had experienced from our Savior: that the word of the cross in its...Read More
AS JOHN MOTT STOOD before the now famous 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference, he said, “It is a startling and solemnizing fact that even as late as the twentieth century, the Great Command of Jesus Christ to carry the Gospel to all mankind is still so largely unfulfilled. . . . The church is confronted today, as in no preceding generation, with a literally worldwide opportunity to make Christ known.”
It was evangelistic passion that made Mott his generation’s most popular evangelist to university students and the promoter of the emerging...Read More
SEVEN YOUNG ARISTOCRATS—two of them famous athletes, and another two, military officers—forsaking the comforts of England to work with a relatively unknown missionary society in the back country of Chinathis was a story the press could not pass up, and these young men immediately became religious celebrities.
Known as the Cambridge Seven, they were one of the grand gestures of nineteenth-century missions. Their story, published as The Evangelization of the World , was distributed free to every YMCA and YWCA throughout the British Empire and...Read More
PAUL MAY HAVE SPENT as much as 25 percent of his time as a missionary in prison. We know of his brief lock-up in Philippi, two years’ incarceration in Caesarea, and at least another two in Rome. Yet Paul says he experienced “far more imprisonments,” than his opponents. To understand Paul, we need to understand where he spent so much time.
Roman imprisonment was preceded by being stripped naked and then flogged, a humiliating, painful, and bloody ordeal. The bleeding wounds went untreated; prisoners sat in painful leg or wrist...Read More
AT THE TIME OF WILLIAM CAREY, there were probably only a few hundred Protestant missionaries in the world. They never numbered more than a few thousand during the following decades. By 1900, even after a second burst of Protestant missions, there were only 15,000 European and American Protestant missionaries throughout the world. Those who went had short careers; many died within the first two years on the field. Thus the numbers remained quite small.
But the magnitude of the modern missions movement must not be measured by the number of...Read More
WITH FOUR THEATRICAL WORDS, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”, which Henry Morton Stanley rehearsed in advance, David Livingstone became immortal. Stanley stayed with Livingstone for five months and then went off to England to write his bestseller, How I Found Livingstone. Livingstone, in the meantime, got lost again—in a swamp literally up to his neck. Within a year and a half, he died in a mud hut, kneeling beside his cot in prayer.
His African friends, former slaves he had freed, buried his heart under an mpundu tree 70 miles from the shore...Read More
JAMES TAYLOR was intrigued by all things Chinese. It fascinated him that once-famous empires, like those in Persia, Greece, and Rome, had risen and fallen, but the Chinese Empire remained—the world’s greatest monument to ancient times. In the early months of 1832, he knelt beside his 24-year-old wife, Amelia, in the parlor at the back of his busy chemist shop in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England. “Dear God,” he prayed, “if you should give us a son, grant that he may work for you in China.”
When their child was born on May 21, 1832, James and...Read More
IT WAS INCONCEIVABLE that a poor, English cobbler would spend his Sunday this way. But it was not untypical of William Carey’s first year in India.
“In the morning and afternoon addressed my family,” he wrote in his diary in May 1794, “and in the evening began my work of publishing the Word of God to the heathen. Though imperfect in the knowledge of the language [Bengali], yet, with the help of moonshi [a translator], I conversed with two Brahmans in the presence of about two hundred people, about the things of God. I had been to see a...Read More
During the winter of 1815, a revival on the Princeton college campus spilled over into the life of a young, intelligent female servant in the household of Ashbel Green, the college president. Betsey Stockton was baptized a year later. As her Christian faith matured, she longed to offer herself as a missionary. But what hope had she, an unmarried black woman, to reach such a goal?
Betsey Stockton's mother had been a slave of Robert Stockton, one of Princeton's distinguished...Read More
And then he always loved the sea so dearly!“ said Emily Judson of her husband's dying days aboard the French bark, Aristide Marie, in 1850. Although no prayerful tribute or elaborate headstone marked Adoniram Judson's watery grave, Emily thought it appropriate that he was buried at sea. ”Neither could he have a more fitting monument than the blue waves which visit every coast; for his warm sympathies went forth to the ends of the earth."
Born in Massachusetts, the 18th-century heart of maritime America, Adoniram grew up near Salem just as...Read More
Sarah Boardman Judson
Sarah Hall discerned a call to missions as a teenager and longed to follow in the footsteps of her heroine, Ann Judson. When the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society leaders learned of her interest in Burma, they arranged for Sarah to meet George Boardman, who also wanted to serve there. The couple sailed one week after their wedding in 1824. Two of their three children died in infancy, and George himself died from lung problems in 1831. Normally, a widowed missionary wife would have returned to...Read More
In the 21st century, whether the job is evangelism or social outreach, women missionaries are essential to cross-cultural work. Who has not heard of Lottie Moon, Gladys Aylward, Elisabeth Elliott, Mother Teresa, and many others? Yet when the “modern missionary movement” began, many people considered pioneer mission work too dangerous for women. Throughout the history of Christianity, the typical missionary had been a celibate male. But a breakthrough came in the early 19th century: When the American Board commissioned the first American...Read More
In 1803, in a house overlooking Plymouth harbor, a 14-year-old boy lay dangerously ill. Before this time, he'd never given much time to serious thought about the course his life would take. But during his year–long convalescence, he began to reflect on the possibility of future fame. Would he be a statesman, an orator, or a poet? An eminent minister of a large, wealthy church? Where did true greatness lie? He was shocked out of his reverie—and very nearly out of his bed—by a mysterious voice that uttered the words “Not unto us, not unto us,...Read More
The year was 1800. It was an American election year—bitterly fought between the often-brooding incumbent John Adams and the tall, handsome, flashy Virginian, Thomas Jefferson. The stakes were high —a “conservative” federalist fighting for his political career against a godless populist—a “liberal.” It was a brutal campaign that ended in a victory for Jeffersonian democracy.
The rancor of partisan politics was exceeded only by the rancor of doctrinal divisions. For those like the Rev. Adoniram Judson, Sr., a Congregational minister in...Read More
Larger than life
Missionary memoirs and biographies (often full of illustrations like the one to the left) gained huge popularity during the 19th century, inspiring young people to become missionaries and motivating Christians at home to pray for and give money to the missions cause. One biography of Adoniram Judson, published in 1853 by Francis Wayland, sold 26,000 copies in the first year alone. The most famous biography of Ann Judson appeared in a new edition almost every year from 1830 to 1856. Unitarian Lydia Maria Child described it...Read More