There is nothing more rewarding than receiving the honor to become a missionary. At the same time, there is nothing more discouraging than receiving the same honor. For Christian missionaries, the task is a double-edged sword. There are moments of extreme joy when you see a fruitful harvest of lost souls coming to Christ.
But for some, it is an endless cycle of pouring your life out, with little to no results. We read about these men and women throughout history and the battles they consistently fought. But their joy is complete when God does work through them, or through those who follow after them in sharing the Gospel.
“There is no success without sacrifice. If you succeed without sacrifice, it is because someone has suffered before you. If you sacrifice without success, it is because someone will succeed after.” – Adoniram Judson
Christian Missionaries: Leaders of the Faith
These men and women gave their all to spread the name of Jesus to those who did not yet know Him. They rode the roller coaster of being Christian missionaries and experienced success and failure, and some even gave their lives to the cause of Christ.
Paul the Apostle – Paul once persecuted Christians. He met God on the way to the next region he would search. God told him he would now go and proclaim Jesus to the nations. And that he did. Christians doubted his conversion and those who sent him now aimed to kill him as well. But Paul took it in stride. He continued to preach. Paul walked, sailed, and rode to many cities spreading the Gospel, bringing many to Christ. He was imprisoned and eventually gave his life for what he believed.
Hudson Taylor – Hudson was one of the fathers of Christian missionaries to China. His initial attempts at reaching the region were unsuccessful. Even the missions board he was part of struggled to finance his trips. He eventually created the China Inland Mission, a donation-based organization. It still exists today under the name Overseas Missionary Fellowship and is still an independent operation that sends Christian missionaries to East Asia.
Christian Missionaries: More Leaders
Jim Elliot – Like Paul, he too gave his life in the process of reaching the lost for Christ. Jim had a heart for a region that was known for hostile actions against outsiders. He and his team would drop gifts from helicopters and speak words of blessing in the tribe’s dialect. They seemed receptive at first, but later would hunt him and his team down and kill them. Even though his efforts seemed to be a failure, they opened the door to the region, as we will see later.
Mary Slessor – She was an inspiration to the region of Nigeria. She helped set a precedent along with Gladys Aylward, Amy Carmichael, and Lottie Moon that women could be independent missionaries. She also encourages others to see that where there is a will; there is a way. Mary funded her first trip. She also contracted malaria, which would eventually claim her life, but not after she saved hundreds of lives from the customs of the region. She showed them that all lives are worth saving.
Christian Missionaries: Encouragers of the Faith
These men have been integral in supporting Christian missionaries. If not going themselves, encouraging those who have the heart for missions to follow in the footsteps of those that went before them.
Dwight L Moody – One of the most significant voices that encouraged evangelism and spurred many to enter the mission field. While Dwight did not spend much time in overseas missions, his messages won many to Christ. Those saved would go on to become some of the most effective missionaries of the age.
Billy Graham – If you have never heard the name, Billy Graham, you have been living under a rock. Even the majority of non-Christians have heard of him. His evangelism has affected millions of lives to accepting Christ as their Savior and stirring the hunger in each of them to spread the gospel themselves.
Keith Green – Although his ministry was brief, he made a tremendous impact on the lives of many through the give of evangelism and song. His music stressed the importance and severity of global evangelism. Many accepted his challenge of “Go” and went.
The Christian Missionaries of Today
The examples left by former missionaries have birthed a new and exciting generation of Christian missionaries. Some were spurred on through the triumphant victories of a ministry; others battled through the deepest heartache to overcome adversity to reach those who seemed permanently lost.
Elisabeth Elliot – Elisabeth Elliot was the wife of Jim Elliot. He was the missionary to the Acua tribe that killed him and his missionary team. Elisabeth did not turn and run back to the states and hide. She laced up her boots and went back to the very people who murdered her husband. Along with the sister of one of the others who died, they continued the ministry. This time, they were successful in winning the tribe over to Christ.
Stefan and Brigette Keller – Stefan and his wife are missionaries through OMF, the missionary organization that Hudson Taylor founded. They currently serve in Thailand and have been there for 15 years. God is using them to minister the overwhelmingly Buddhist population. If it were not for the efforts of Hudson Taylor, then the Kellers may not have had the opportunity to answer the call on their lives, and those who live in Bangkok may not have heard the Gospel.
The Christian Organizations of Today
YWAM – Youth with a Mission is an organization that prepares young adults for the mission field. Keith Green was a big proponent of the ministry. Those who heard his message and received the challenge often went to YWAM to fulfill their calling to the mission field. What a great organization that helps youth become Christian missionaries.
Rapid Response Team – Billy Graham started the humanitarian aid team of volunteers after the events of 9/11. Since that tragedy, the organizations have sought to provide help to those going through a major tragedy. Floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters set the team in motion. Other national events have triggered the team, like the recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. Along with providing aid, they have the ability to share the Gospel with those hurting.
It’s Our Turn Now to be Christian Missionaries
Christians missionaries have been on the move since Jesus rose from the grave. They aim to share the good news of salvation and that there is a loving God who cares for them. From the Apostle Paul to the infant in the crib today that God has a designed plan, these men and women all share in the glorious calling of the missionary. They will all one day stand before the Father and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
You and I do not need to have a calling to preach the Gospel overseas or be Christian Missionaries. We can do it from where we are. Begin by living the life God has called you to, then that example will open the door to conversation. Tell others about what Jesus has done for you. You never know, that person you tell could go on to be the next Billy Graham or Hudson Taylor. God uses each of us, in the way He has planned it from the beginning.