As we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection this Sunday, spend some time to take to heart His final words on earth:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)
Studying missions around the the world is an excellent way to explore topics of faith, history, and the multitude of ways in which we can serve the Lord–wherever we are! Explore this list of missionaries around the world and use it to create your own missions unit study or inspire your students in further research.
Marcus & Narcissa Whitman
Begin in North America, with Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, American missionaries in Oregon Country in the mid-1800s. They founded the Whitman Mission in 1836, and, until their deaths in 1847, they offered religious instruction and medical services to the local Cayuse Indians and settlers traveling the Oregon Trail.
Jim & Elisabeth Elliot
Most people have heard of Jim Elliot–a missionary who, along with four other missionaries in his group, was killed by members of a remote tribe in Ecuador. A study of Jim and Elisabeth’s missionary work, which his wife continued following his death, would create a full study on its own.
Helen Roseveare served as a missionary to the Congo in Africa for 20 years, founded a training school for nurses, trained women to serve as nurse-evangelists, and transformed an abandoned medical center into a functioning hospital. A recurring theme in her ministry was the privilege she felt in suffering for her Lord. She passed away in 2016 at the age of 91.
Check out her biography, Give Me This Mountain, for further study.
James Hudson Taylor
Founder of the China Inland Mission in 1865, Hudson Taylor inspired thousands of missionaries to give up the comforts of the Western world and bring the Gospel to the vast interior of China. One of the most distinctive features of his mission was that its missionaries would have no guaranteed salaries nor could they appeal for funds; they would simply trust God to supply their needs. The CIM continues to this day under the name Overseas Missionary Fellowship (International).
A Christian evangelist in England, George Müller founded the Ashley Down Orphanage in Bristol, England, and cared for over 10,000 orphans throughout his life and ministry. He established 117 schools which offered Christian education to more than 120,000.
Born in Sydney, Australia in 1880, John Flynn developed an interest in woking in the Outback and helped other Presbyterian ministers with missionary work in rural areas throughout Victoria. He campaigned for and founded an aerial medical service to minister to remote areas of the Australian bush. The Royal Flying Doctor Service is now one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organizations in the world.
Being a missionary doesn’t require that you travel to a foreign country–we are called to make disciples and share the Gospel with all nations–including right where we are. This blog post by Pastor Alan Briggs shares his conviction that ministering to the people around him everyday was what God had called him to do.
Youth With a Mission (YWAM) also publishes a remarkable series, Christians Heroes: Then & Now, that includes Gladys Aylward, Lottie Moon, Corrie Ten Boom, C.S. Lewis, and many, many others. They also offer outreach projects to help reach families in Cuba and inmates in prison, and YWAM International operates 1,200 ministry centers across the globe.
If you are interested in exploring even more resources for missions studies, check out the Trailblazer book series by Dave and Neta Jackson. This historical fiction series generally tells the stories of missionaries through the eyes of a fictional character observing or affected by their work.