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24 Famous Missionaries

May we introduce you to some people we really admire? Below you will find short bios of 24 missionaries and memorable quotes from their time of service.

meet 24 famous missionaries

Here are 24 missionaries who gave their lives for God’s work. They traveled the globe to take the good news of Jesus to people who had not heard of him.

As you read a quote from each missionary, we pray you will be inspired by their wisdom, example, and passion for Jesus Christ, and encouraged that God uses ordinary people to fulfill his extraordinary plans.

John Eliot

“Prayer and pains through faith in Christ Jesus will accomplish anything.”

John Eliot
(1604-1690)

English missionary to Native Americans in Massachusetts; responsible for the first Bible ever printed in North America; known as the “Apostle to the Indians.”

Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg

“Conversion does not mean a change of outward appearance; rather it requires a change of mind and results in a transformed life.”

Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg
(1682-1719)

German missionary and first person to translate the whole New Testament into an Indian language, planted schools and seminaries.

William Carey

“To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.”

William Carey
(1761-1834)

English missionary who served 41 years in India and translated the Bible into Bengali. Known as the father of the modern missions movement.

Samuel Marsden

“It is high time to make known the glad tidings in these dark regions of sin and spiritual bondage.”

Samuel Marsden
(1765-1838)

An important member of the Church Missionary Society who served in Australia and is thought to have introduced Christianity to New Zealand.

Henry Martyn

“I have rightfully no other business each day but to do God's work as a servant, constantly regarding his pleasure. May I have grace to live above every human motive, simply with God and to God.”

Henry Martyn
(1781-1812)

English missionary who translated Scripture into Urdu, Arabic, and Persian while working with the Islamic community in India and later in Iran.

Robert Morrison

“When you get to heaven, will you look back on this earth and regret how much treasure you laid up here instead of sending it on ahead to heaven?”

Robert Morrison
(1782-1834)

First Protestant missionary in China. He served for 27 years where he learned the Chinese culture and language, eventually translating the Bible into Wali. Known as the father of Anglo-Chinese literature.

Adoniram and Anne Judson

“The motto for every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or schoolmaster, ought to be 'Devoted for Life.'”
“The future is a bright as the promises of God.”

Adoniram (1788-1850) and Ann Judson (1789-1826)

American missionaries to Burma (Myanmar) for 40 years; Ann became the first American woman missionary.

Robert Moffat

“Oh, that I had a thousand lives and a thousand bodies! All of them should be devoted to no other employment but to preach Christ to these degraded, despised, yet beloved mortals.”

Robert Moffat
(1795-1883)

Scottish missionary to South Africa who translated the first Bible into Tswana.

Anthony Norris Groves

“The only legitimate ground for glorying is that we are among the ransomed of the Lord by his grace.”

Anthony Norris Groves
(1795-1853)

English missionary to Muslims in Bagdad and later in India; known as the “father of faith missions.”

David Livingstone

“God, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. And sever any tie in my heart except the tie that binds my heart to Yours.”

David Livingstone
(1813-1873)

Scottish missionary to Botswana who converted the influential king of the Bakwena.

John G. Paton

“As I lay down my pen, let me record my immovable conviction that this is the noblest service in which any human being can spend or be spent; and that, if God gave me back my life to be lived over again, I would without one quiver of hesitation lay it on the altar to Christ, that He might use it as before in similar ministries of love, especially amongst those who have never yet heard the Name of Jesus.”

John G. Paton
(1824-1907)

Scottish missionary who persevered through trials experienced during his ministry to the cannibals in the South Pacific New Hebrides Islands.

Hudson Taylor

“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.”

Hudson Taylor
(1832-1905)

Served in China for 51 years as the first Christian missionary and founded the China Inland Mission (CIM).

Lottie Moon

“How many there are … who imagine that because Jesus paid it all, they need pay nothing, forgetting that the prime object of their salvation was that they should follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ in bringing back a lost world to God.”

Lottie Moon
(1840-1912)

American missionary in China for 39 years who inspired the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering where believers financially support missionaries.

Mary Slessor

“Christ sent me to preach the gospel and he will look after the results.”
“Prayer is the greatest power God has put into our hands for service - praying is harder than doing, at least I find it so, but the dynamic lies that way to advance the Kingdom.”

Mary Slessor
(1848-1915)

Scottish missionary in Nigeria where she translated the Bible into the native language, fought for women’s rights, and stopped the infanticide of twins in the tribes.

Jonathan Goforth

“In all things seek to know God's will and when known obey at any cost.”
“Seek each day to do or say something to further Christianity among the lost.”

Jonathan Goforth
(1859-1936)

Influenced by Hudson Taylor’s ministry, Goforth became a missionary in China where he established churches under Chinese Christians.

C. T. Studd

“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.”

C. T. Studd
(1860-1931)

English missionary who ministered in China, India, and Africa for over 30 years; founded the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade (now WEC International).

Amy Carmichael

“We are called to a settled happiness in the Lord whose joy is our strength.”

Amy Carmichael
(1867-1951)

Irish missionary who faithfully served in India for 45 years regardless of deteriorating health for the last 20 years of service, earning her the title of “Mother to India.”

Robert A. Jaffray

“The supreme and crying need of this lost world is the Gospel. Shall we not rise at Christ's command to carry the blessed saving news to every perishing one?”

Robert A. Jaffray
(1873-1945)

Canadian missionary for 35 years to China, Vietnam, and Indonesia; founded the Chinese Foreign Missionary Union and established churches throughout Southeast Asia; died in prison in China.

Gladys Aylward

“Oh God, here's my Bible, Here's my money. Here's me. Use me, God.”

Gladys Aylward
(1902-1970)

British missionary to China for 40 years; ministered to lepers near Tibet; founded orphanage in Taiwan, where she died.

Eric Liddell

“We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ.”

Eric Liddell
(1902-1945)

Missionary in China teaching religion at the Anglo-Chinese College in Tianjin. The movie “Chariots of Fire” follows this gold-winning Olympiad before becoming a missionary for 20 years, dying in prison in China.

Helen Roseveare

“To be a living sacrifice will involve all my time. God wants me to live every minute for him in accordance with his will and purpose, sixty minutes of every hour, twenty-four hours of every day, being available to him. The example of my life must be as telling as my preaching if God is to be honored.”

Helen Roseveare
(1925-2016)

English medical missionary to Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo) for 20 years with Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, establishing dozens of medical clinics.

Jim Elliot

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Jim Elliot
(1927-1956)

Missionary to the Auca Indians in Ecuador where he and his five missionary friends’ martyrdom displayed the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ to the natives.

Elisabeth Elliot

“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.”

Elisabeth Elliot
(1926-2015)

Continued to be a missionary to the Auca Indians in Ecuador after husband, Jim Elliot, was martyred by the natives.

Andrew “Brother Andrew” van der Bijl

“There is no higher calling, no loftier dream, and no greater goal than to live, breathe, and be poured out for Jesus Christ."

Andrew “Brother Andrew” van der Bijl
(1928-present)

Dutch missionary known as “God’s Smuggler,” Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles into communist countries during the Cold War; founded Open Doors, an organization that continues to support missionaries in persecuted and closed countries especially in Muslim lands.
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