Jesus’ final words on earth were directed to missions and missionaries: “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 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.
Missions Around the World…
Begin in North America with David Brainerd, a missionary to Native Americans in Massachusetts in the mid-1700s. Though his work was cut short by tuberculosis only four years into his mission, it lives on through his friend Jonathan Edwards’ An Account of the Life of the Late Reverend Mr. David Brainerd.
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, founding a training school for nurses, training women to serve as nurse-evangelists, and transforming 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.
Amy Carmichael was inspired to join the mission field after hearing Hudson Taylor speak about the need for missionaries in China. Though her application to Taylor’s China Inland Mission was not accepted due to her poor health, she was led to serve in India for 56 years, never returning to her homeland of Ireland. Her primary work was with orphans in southern India.
William Booth was a Methodist minister who began an Evangelical ministry in London in 1865. He established mission stations to feed and house the poor, and in 1878 changed the name of his organization to the Salvation Army. Today, the Salvation Army embodies missions around the world with a presence in 132 countries and more than 1.7 million members across 15,000 congregations.
Born in Sydney, Australia in 1880, John Flynn developed an interest in working 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.
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.
…And Missions Studies At Home
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.