As someone who is always seeking to live missionally in cross cultural contexts, it is exciting to see how where I am now on the mission field is in direct relation to those who heave fearlessly tread uncharted territories before me. [CLICK TO TWEET]

I see the bigger picture, the overall narrative of what God has been doing to reach every nation. God has called simple men and women throughout history to leave a mark of his glory upon his storyline, which leads us to right here, right now, wherever we are.

David said, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Now, with simple faith, let us go too, leaving a mark of righteousness for generations to come.

Here’s a look back through the years at what happened in missions history in the month of August. [CLICK TO TWEET]


August 1, 1895 – Attacks on western missionaries begin in Hwa-Sang, China. Eight will be killed.

August 2, 1863 – Robert Wilder is born to missionary parents in Kolhapur, India. As a student at Princeton in 1883, Wilder helped form that school’s Foreign Missionary Society. While Wilder did spend two 4-year terms as a missionary in India, his most significant contributions to world missions were as a key leader of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. That group dramatically jolted the Protestant churches of America to new levels of missionary enthusiasm and action by enlisting thousands of young people.

August 3, 1492 – Christopher Columbus sets sail from Spain for the “Indies.” Though the Italian explorer was motivated by gold and glory, he also saw himself as a missionary. He thought that if there were a shortcut to the East by sea, missionaries could get there faster, thus enabling Christians to meet the provision that world evangelization must happen before the Lord returns.

August 4, 1892 – English medical missionary Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell arrives in Labrador, Newfoundland. He labored as a physician and missionary for 42 years and was instrumental in building orphanages, hospitals, cooperative stores, and other community organizations.

August 5, 1988 – The 12,000 Cora Indians living in the Sierra Madre del Norte mountains of Mexico receive their first completed New Testament from Wycliffe Bible Translators. At one point in the translation process, the American translators were refused visas by the Mexican government, forcing them to continue their work in Tucson, Arizona.

August 6, 1942 – English missionary Vivian Redlich is beheaded by the Japanese in Papua New Guinea. He was a missionary there when the Japanese invaded earlier that year and had decided to remain at his post.

August 7, 1771 – Francis Asbury answers John Wesley’s call for volunteers to go to America as missionaries. Asbury would become the father of American Methodism.

August 8, 1745 — Missionary David Brainerd begins experiencing the most glorious week in his life as the power of God comes down on a group of Indians to whom he was preaching near Trenton, New Jersey. When news got out of conversions taking place, other Indians came to hear the young white preacher. Some members of the white community also showed up and were converted. By the end of August, Brainerd had baptized 25 Indians. Years of prayer and suffering were beginning to bear fruit.

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August 9, 1900 — Unveiling of the Lambuth Monument in front of the Pearl River Church near the Natchez Trace in Madison County, Mississippi. The monument honors Rev. and Mrs. James William Lambuth, founders of Methodist work in Japan, who first went to Asia in 1854 as missionaries to China. Many of Lambuth’s descendants also became missionaries in China and Japan.

August 10, 1760 – Samuel Leigh, the first Methodist minister or missionary to Australia, arrives in Sydney.

August 11, 1847 – Presbyterian missionary Charles Williams Forman sails for India. With John Newton, Forman will begin Protestant missionary work at Lahore. He will spend more than forty years in the Punjab, founding a college in Lahore which still bears his name.

August 12, 1859 – Presbyterian missionary A.B. Simonton arrived today in Rio de Janeiro on the merchant ship Banshee. In November of 1864, Simonton will take the lead in establishing Impresna Evangelica, a semi-monthly newspaper that will garner great respect among educated Brazilians.

August 13, 1964 – Trans World Radio’s station in Bonaire (Caribbean) goes on the air from a 500,000-watt AM transmitter

August 14, 1616 – Shen Huai, a high-raking Chinese official, arrests dozens of missionaries in Nanjing. He is convinced that Western missionaries were spies, that they are teaching Chinese not to respect parents and worship ancestors, that they are stealing proprietary Chinese knowledge and that they are practicing weird customs like baptism and allowing male and female followers to study in the same room (forbidden by the conservative Chinese society).

August 15, 1571 — Italian Matteo Ricci, the first Roman Catholic missionary to China, quits law school to become a Jesuit. Ricci will sail for Asia on March 24, 1578. Other missionaries sharply criticize Ricci’s adoption of Chinese customs and his willingness to ally himself with Confucianism (which he believed to be merely a civil cult, unlike Buddhism and Taoism).

August 16, 1952 – A Lutheran mission in Portugal is begun by Rudolfo Haase of Brazil.

August 17, 1850 – Baptist missionary William Ashmore sails out of New York, headed to Hong Kong on board the Channing. Arriving on January 4, 1851, Ashmore will spend the next half century in China and Siam as a missionary.

August 18, 1732 – In an emotional farewell service, Moravian Christians at Herrnhut sing 100 hymns and commission Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann as missionaries to slaves in the West Indies. Between 1732 and 1742, Herrnhut, a community of only 600 members sent out more than 70 foreign missionaries.

August 20, 1961 — Missionary translator William Sedat presents the completed New Testament to the Kekchi Indians of Guatemala

August 21, 1883 – Prebyterian missionary Kate Mills illustrates the frustrations and challenges of language learning in China when she writes to her medical doctor father Samuel A. Wilson: “It is one thing to be able to make them understand in conversation and quite another to be sufficiently correct to preach.” In a May 23 letter, Kate had related how a friend of hers received a can full of dead cockroaches because a request to household help had been misunderstood.

August 22, 1670 – English missionary John Eliot founds a church for Native Americans at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

August 23, 1828 — Karl F. A. Guetzlaff of the Netherlands Mission Society landed in Bangkok, Thailand. He and his wife translated the Bible into Siamese and parts of it into Lao and Cambodian. Guetzlaff has become known as “the apostle to the Chinese.”

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August 24, 1924 — A week of self-denial for U.S. members of the Church of the Nazarene begins with participants being urged to give sacrificially for the building of Bresee Memorial Hospital in China. Because needed funds do come in the dispensary/clinic of hospital will begin operation on October 17, 1925. By January 1, 1926, both men’s and women’s wards will have been occupied and a training school for nurses will be launched on October 22, 1926.

August 25, 1792 – John Thomas writes a letter to Rev. John Rippon in which he raises the possibility of English Baptists missionizing the Indian people. This letter originated upon Thomas’s return to London from years of secular work in India. Later, on January 9, 1793, the “Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen” (i.e. Baptist Missionary Society) agreed to send John Thomas and William Carey to India as its first two missionaries.

August 26, 350 — Nynia or Ninian is born. The first known Christian missionary in Scotland, Ninian was probably the son of a Roman soldier stationed at Hadrian’s Wall. After studying in Rome and Gaul, wound up establishing the first Christian church north of Hadrian’s wall. He is reputed to have been friends with St Martin of Tours.

August 27, 1727 – A band of 600 Moravians at Herrnhut launch what became known as the hundred year prayer meeting. It was simply a round-the-clock prayer meeting that lasted for one hundred years. Sixty-five years after that prayer chain had begun that small movement had already sent out 300 foreign missionaries!

August 28, 1975 – Nazarene missionary Armand Doll is imprisoned in Maputo by Mozambique’s new Marxist government. Over the new several months he will smuggle letters out to his wife inside toothpaste tubes. Those letters will be published in a book: Toothpaste Express — Letters from prison.

August 29, 1936 – Missionaries John and Georgia Cochran sail for Argentina where they will serve for 37 years.

August 30, 1858 – Presbyterian missionary John Gibson Paton lands at Aneityim, the southern-most inhabited island of the New Hebrides archipelago (now called Vanuatu). Ordained a missionary to the New Hebrides on March 23, Paton had left Glasgow with his wife Mary Ann Robson on April 16. He would begin his missionary work on the island of Tanna on November 5, 1858.

August 31, 1998 – Ten-year-old Mbwizu “Tantine” Ndjungu. Tantine, daughter of United Methodist Missionaries Nkemba and Mbwizu Ndjungu of the Democratic Republic of Congo, dies in a swimming accident in Dakar, Senegal.


Article by Howard Culbertson. For more original content like this, visit:

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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