10 Famous Christian Missionaries

by David Peach · Print Print · Email Email

There are many famous Christian missionaries throughout history. While we may not agree with every one of them from a doctrinal standpoint, they are an inspiration and example to those of us who are serving the Lord as missionaries today. Here is a list of 10 famous missionaries and what they are known for. I hope you are inspired to pick up a book and study each of these men and women and see what they contributed to the cause of Christ.

William Carey (1761-1834)

William Carey is known as the father of modern missions. Carey was an English missionary to India who was a skilled linguist, writer and printer. He translated portions of the Bible in many languages.

Carey grew up in the Church of England but was saved while an apprentice to a shoemaker. He eventually joined the Baptist church and went to India as a Baptist missionary. As a self motivated learner he taught himself Latin, Hebrew and Greek.

He founded the Baptist Missionary Society and was instrumental in influencing many other missionaries to the foreign field; particularly to India.

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850)

Judson was a Baptist missionary who became the first North American Protestant missionary in Burma (Myanmar). Like other early missionaries, he was involved in translation work and church planting. He went to the field of India as a Congregationalist but, after much study of the Bible, became convinced that Baptist doctrine was more biblical. Because of anti-Western sentiment in India, he moved to Burma.

It took him 12 years to see his first 18 converts. By the time he died he had established 100 churches with over 8,000 members. The Baptist churches of Myanmar celebrate “Judson Day” each year to commemorate his arrival in the country.

David Livingstone (1813-1873)

David Livingstone was a medical missionary with the London Missionary Society. He was born in Scotland in 1813, but spent most of his life in Africa as an explorer and doctor. Coupled with his love for the Lord and desire to spread the Gospel, Livingstone used his understanding of nature and science to help him map much of southern Africa.

Livingstone never stayed long in any one place. He was driven to map the continent of Africa in preparation for the many missionaries who would come after him.

Livingstone is considered one of the greatest missionary heroes. God has used his life to open doors for the Gospel.

George Müller (1805-1898)

Müller is known as a prayer warrior who started orphanages and preached heavily about the need for missionaries around the world. In his lifetime his orphanage in England took care of more than 10,000 children. He was instrumental in promoting the idea of “faith missions.” This is where missionaries are not supported by a denomination but by individuals and churches. He believed in never asking anyone for support, but trusting God to lay it on the person’s heart to support the need.

Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)

Hudson Taylor spent more than 50 years in China as a missionary and is known for his respect for the Chinese culture. He was widely criticized in his home country of England at the time for dressing like a China man in his efforts to blend in while sharing the Gospel. This practice made him much more accepted by the people when he preached.

Hudson Taylor was trained as a physician. He worked as a doctor, evangelist and translator while in China. He continued his translation work when he returned to England for medical reasons.

He personally influenced hundreds of people to be missionaries in his lifetime. Many missionaries today attribute their introduction to the need for missions from reading biographies about Hudson Taylor.

Jonathan Goforth (1859-1936)

Though Jonathan Goforth and his wife went to China in 1888 as traditional missionaries, he soon found a need for short-term trips as an Evangelist. Instead of staying in one place and establishing a church and mission station, he traveled in various regions in China helping to encourage the believers and evangelize the lost.

Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

Amy Carmichael was an Irish missionary who served in India for 56 years without ever returning to her homeland. Her primary work was with orphans in the southern region of India. She was influenced to consider a career in missions after hearing Hudson Taylor speak about the need for missionaries in China. She applied to be a missionary with the China Inland Mission (Taylor’s missionary group) but was eventually turned away because of her poor health. Many of her final 20 years of life was spent in bed due to illness and injury from a fall.

Nate Saint (1923-1956)

As a Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) pilot, Nate Saint helped make contact with the Waodani (or Auca) Indians in Ecuador. Eventually he and his companions were killed in their efforts to evangelize the tribe. However, through the efforts of Nate’s sister and the wives of the other men who died that day, the Auca Indian tribe came to know the Lord.

The short lives of men like Nate Saint may seem like a waste during the time of the tragedy, but God has a plan and works all things out to His glory.

Jim Elliot (1927-1956)

From an early age Jim Elliot learned the Bible and used it to lead his daily life. He is most remembered for his dramatic death (along with Nate Saint and three other missionary men) at the hands of the Waodani (or Auca) Indians. While their deaths were tragic, the response by the wives of these men towards the ones who killed them opened up their hearts to the Gospel.

Eric Liddell (1902-1945)

Eric Liddell is probably best known for the 1980s film Chariots of Fire. The film mainly focused on his life as an Olympic runner, yet the story of Eric Liddell as a missionary is important. Liddell was born to missionary parents in North China. His parents were Scottish missionaries serving with the London Missionary Society. Though he was born in China, he spent his school years in Scotland.

After school, and his time as an Olympic athlete, he returned to China as a missionary in 1925. He worked as a school teacher as well as a minister. By 1941 British nationals were encouraged to leave China by the British government because of the coming Japanese invasion. Liddell’s wife and children returned to Canada which is where she was from. Eric remained to work in a hospital with his brother. In 1943 he was put in a prison camp by the Japanese and continued to teach children and preach the Bible.

Mr. Liddell died of a brain tumor in the Weihsien Internment Camp on February 21, 1945. He died of an inoperable brain tumor. I recently had the privilege of meeting a lady who was a young girl in the same camp with Eric Liddell. She said that as children (she was with him from the time she was 9 to 11 years old), they knew nothing of his fame as an athlete. The children only knew that he was a kind gentle man and one of their favorite teachers.

Jim Elliot is often quoted as saying, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Do you have a favorite Christian Missionary of the past or present? Post it in the comments!

 



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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Robinson Peter November 11, 2016 at 7:08 am

Dear brother

I want to know about the history of christian missionary James who borned in Scotland (18 / 19th century) and went to USA, Canada, England etc.

Regards

Robinson Peter (mobile +919940052687) India
email: robinsonrrp@gmail.com

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Marilynn December 26, 2016 at 3:19 pm

I’m looking for Charles Bradley Bristow b May 13, 1847 in KY. A relative said he died in An, Rakhine State, Mayanmar (Burma). No dates. His father was a Methodist Min in KY.

Reply

Marilynn December 26, 2016 at 3:22 pm

James Bradley Bristow was said to have died in An, Rakhine State, Myanmar (Burma). He was b May 13, 1847 in KY. His father was the Rev James Hervey Bristow.
Marilynn

Reply

Narendra Ekka January 27, 2017 at 8:06 am

Please give More information information regarding acceptance, conversion, and steadfastness in faith. Thank you.

Reply

Jack Wellman January 27, 2017 at 10:49 am

Hello Narendra. I would speak with your pastor about this. All the information you will ever need about acceptance (2nd Cor 5:21), conversion (Rom 8), and steadfastness (Phil 2) is found in the Bible and not in any person. Call your pastor today and see if you can seek counsel with him face to face about these important needs.

Reply

Rajdeep February 13, 2017 at 9:06 pm

I want to change my religion from Hindu to Christian. What should I do for it. I need some kind of help will they give it to me???

Reply

RAHUL KUMAR February 14, 2017 at 9:16 pm

I m ready to change my religion from Hindu to Christian. I am In problem if u will help me.Please contact

profrahulgupta@gmail.com
7352544708 India

Reply

Jack Wellman February 18, 2017 at 10:09 am

Hello Rahul. A person is saved when God brings them to repentance and they forsake their sin and turn away from them and turn to Christ and put their trust in Him. Please read Romans 10:9-13 and read this to see what it means when a person comes to saving faith in Christ (Eph 2:8-9) at this link sir: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/come-to-jesus/

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Matthew Malone February 18, 2017 at 9:32 am

Rajdeep, if you could enter your email I’d love to give you some information about converting! But to start, check out

http://www.victorious.org/pub/new-christians-121

Reply

Jack Wellman February 18, 2017 at 10:11 am

Thank you Mr. Malone. Great website and spot on regarding salvation. Thank you sir.

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Matthew Malone February 18, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Honored to help! Thank you for all your work Mr.Wellman!

Reply

Son of Jesus May 22, 2017 at 1:12 am

Sir.. I am a student. I believe in God jesus.
All friend collegemates are atheists.
They are making fun on me. kindly show me a way to make them quiet.
Otherwise I will die.

Reply

Jack Wellman May 22, 2017 at 9:10 am

My friend, if you are being persecuted for believing in Jesus, that’s good. Read 1 Peter chapter 4. You cannot make them quiet. You will die if they don’t stop? You must realize all who live godly will suffer persecution, but if there is NO persecution, then you might not be saved, so rejoice, they persecuted Jesus and the prophets before them. Jesus is coming soon, perhaps, so hold on to your belief and stand upon the Solid Rock, Christ. He is coming for us.

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Ensha Roel July 9, 2017 at 11:42 pm

I’m looking for the author of ‘The Last Chapter’ by a missionary who had a Methodist father but he himself a Baptist, please help.

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Teresa Fenton July 15, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Just want to encourage everyone. We are all missionaries, when I was 20 years old, I was reading my bible in a park because I didn’t want my co workers to know that I was reading my bible at lunchtime, wasn’t a strong Christian at the time. A street man walked past with other street people and saw me reading the bible and burst into tears. He had prayed the night before asking God to show him if he was alive and cared about him. He opened up his shirt to show me the wounds on his chest from trying to kill himself the night before. He was intoxicated daily as he lived on the streets but cried out to Jesus who showed him is love. We have an amazing loving God who loves everyone. This is a small part of an incredible story of GODS love to a dying world. My favourite scripture: Anyone who comes to me I will never cast away.

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ethel July 25, 2017 at 5:12 am

i have to give a talk on the seed in church and would like to know about any known descendants of missionaries. How they are blessed or otherwise because of the seed their forebears sowed with their missionary work.

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