What are you doing right now for the kingdom of God? Are you actively involved in missional living and reaching people around you?

Maybe you need a little placement, context for you to see that you are smack dab in the midst of a great cloud of witnesses. [CLICK TO TWEET]

Here’s a look at those who have gone before you, pioneering the way from ages past to present to where you are now.

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, and you are an integral part.

King 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 December. [CLICK TO TWEET]


December 1, 1999 – Several house church movements in China begin a “missionary month” from December 1, 1999 until January 31, 2000. Many Chinese Christians have the aim of winning three others for Christ.

December 2, 1946 – E. V. Steele founds the European Christian Orphanage and Mission Society in Alberta, Canada. In 1953 the name will be changed to World Missions Fellowship. Now headquartered in Grants Pass, Oregon, this evangelical interdenominational sending agency has missionaries doing evangelism, orphan care and camping programs in India, Austria, Ireland, Brazil and Japan.

December 3, 1552 — Jesuit founder Francis Xavier dies awaiting admission to China. He claimed to have had 700,000 converts in Portugal, India, Indonesia, Japan, and elsewhere.

December 4, 1674 — French Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette erects a mission on Lake Michigan, the first building in what would become the city of Chicago.

December 5, 1862 — C.T. Studd, pioneer missionary, is born in England. Originally famous as a cricket star, he became a Christian at age 21 under the preaching of D.L. Moody. Studd then dedicated his life and considerable inherited wealth to Christ. In 1885 he and six others — the “Cambridge Seven” — sailed to Asia to serve with the China Inland Mission. Studd later ministered as well in India and Africa.

December 6, 1664 – Governor Richard Nicolls grants liberty to New York Lutherans, allowing them to hold services and to have their own pastors.

December 7, 521 — Irish monk Columba, missionary to Scotland and founder of Iona and many other monastic communities, is born in Donegal.

December 8, 1934 — American missionaries John and Betty Stam are beheaded by Chinese communists. The couple had met while attending Moody Bible Institute and married just the year before their death. Publication of their biography prompted hundreds to volunteer for missionary service.

December 9, 1943 — M.T. Rankin of the Southern Baptist Mission Board reports that 40 missionaries from war-ravished China have arrived in New York aboard the S. S. Gripsholm.

December 10, 1953 – Albert Schweitzer, medical missionary to Africa, accepts the Nobel Peace Prize.

December 11, 1910 — Norwegian missionary Lars Skrefsrud dies. In 1862, when Lars Skrefsrud asked the Norwegian Missionary Society to send him out as a missionary, they turned him down. They didn’t want an ex-convict representing them and Lars had just spent four years in prison for theft. But he persevered and became Norway’s best-known missionary. He worked among the Santal people who lived north of Calcutta. He translated the Bible into the Santal language and produced a hymnal using native tunes. He wrote textbooks and even published a book of traditional Santal myths. He founded schools that taught such things as farming, animal care, and carpentry. He also wanted to give the Santalese a church they could run themselves. “It is the heathenism we want to get rid of, not the national character,” he said. By the time of Lars death, there were 15,000 to 20,000 Santal Christians.

December 12, 2000 — Nanjing Publishing House prints a biography of Minnie Vantrin, an American missionary who helped women and children escape being killed and hurt during the Nanjing Massacre which was committed by Japanese invaders in December 1937. Vantrin was professor and president of a women’s college in Nanjing from 1919-1940. After the massacre, she hosted various professional training programs for the women and their families who had been decimated and broken up.

December 13, 2000 — A statue is set up in Nanking, China to honor missionary Minnie Vautrin who turned her Ginling college campus into a sanctuary for 10,000 women and children during the infamous “rape of Naking” by Japanese occupation forces. Vautrin stood up to the soldiers who demanded women to brutalize, and she did her best to negotiate with their superiors to keep her haven safe. She also brought order and hope to the refugees’ lives by organizing classes, as well as Christmas and other celebrations.

December 14, 2004 — The Free Methodist church reports that over a half a million dollars has been contributed for relief needs in Haiti following a Sept. 18 hurricane. The funds have repaired schools and churches as well as going to restore family homes and belongings, meet continued food needs, buy seeds for gardens and replace lost farming tools.

December 15, 1843 — Birth of Albert B. Simpson, who is regarded as the father of the Bible college movement. Though A.B. Simpson was primarily a local pastor, he had a vision for establishing a missions organization. So, he helped form two evangelization societies: The Christian Alliance and The Evangelical Missionary Alliance. Those two groups would eventually fuse into one. In 1881, Simpson would launch America’s first illustrated missionary magazine, The Gospel in All Lands. In his local church, Simpson’s creative missions passion gave birth to what local churches now call Faith Promise Conventions. [ missionary hymns by Simpson ]

December 16, 1867 — Amy Carmichael, Scottish-Irish missionary to India, was born in Millisle, Ireland. Raised a Presbyterian, she was influenced by the Keswick movement and became a missionary under the Church of England’s Zenana Missionary Society. She arrived in India in 1895 and remained there without furlough until her death in 1951.

December 17, 1912 — Yale-educated Chicago native Bill Borden, heir to a fortune in real estate and milk production, boards a ship to China via Egypt. Converted to Christ as a young man, Borden had given his inheritance and his life to the cause of world evangelism. Only a month after arriving in Egypt, he contracted spinal meningitis and died. Publication of his story prompted many young people to enter missionary service. [ more on Borden ]

December 18, 1850 — Missionary group led by Allen Gardiner lands in Terra del Fuego, Patagonia. Tragically, supplies for the seven missionaries will not arrive until October 31, 1851. That supply ship will discover that the entire missionary party has one by one starved to death between June 8 and September 6.

December 19, 1950 — Missionary doctor Bill Wallace is arrested in an early morning raid in Wuchouw, China. Urged to flee from China during the communist takeover, he replied, “I will stay as long as I am able to serve.” Claiming they found a gun under the Southern Baptist missionary’s pillow, the Communists accused him of being a foreign agent. Brutal interrogation would follow with Bill dying in his cell two months after his arrest.

December 20, 1859 — The Territorial Legislature charters Whitman Seminary (now Whitman College) at Walla Walla, Washington. The school, which was granted the first charter to an educational institution in the territory, honors the memory of missionary Marcus Whitman (1802-1847).

December 21, 1631 — The Spanish government furnished two soldiers for the protection of Pedro de Miranda, missionary to the Indians of Taos. On this day, as it was very cold, the two soldiers came into the kitchen of the convento to warm themselves. They were followed by a crowd of Indians, who for some reason had become incensed against the Spaniards, and wound up killing the soldiers and then the priest.

December 22, 1838 — John Hunt is appointed as a missionary to Rewa, Fiji

December 23, 1906 — Peter Friesen, who had already been commissioned as a missionary to India, is ordained by the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church. The Friesens will arrive in Mumbai on March 7, 1907, and travel the last fifty miles from Raipur, Madhya Pradesh, to Dhamtari by oxcart.

December 24, 1789 — Jackson Kemper, Episcopal missionary bishop, is born in Pleasant Valley, New York. In 1835, the Episcopal Church undertook to consecrate missionary bishops to preach the Gospel west of the settled areas, and Kemper was the first to be chosen. He promptly headed west. Finding that clergy who had lived all their lives in the settled East were slow to join him on the frontier, Kemper began recruiting priests from men already in the West, and established a college in St. Louis to train them. He constantly urged a more extensive outreach to the Indian peoples, and translations of the Scriptures and the services of the Church into Indian languages.

December 25, 1931 — A 200-watt transmitter in a converted farm building in Ecuador becomes HCJB, the world’s first missionary radio station.

December 26, 2002 — Two weeks after laying off nearly a third of its St. Louis office staff, the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) World Mission organization eliminated 28 overseas missionary positions — one-fourth of its career-missionary force. Eliminated were missionary posts in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Central and South America.

December 27, 1846 — Friederich A. Craemer baptizes the first Chippewa Indians as part of the Lutheran mission effort in Michigan.

December 28, 1800 — William Carey, missionary to India, baptizes Krishna Pal, his first Bengali convert.

December 29, 1745 — David Brainerd, missionary to Native American Indians, writes in his journal: “After public worship was over, I went to my house, proposing to preach again after a short season of intermission. But they soon came in one after another, with tears in their eyes, to know what they should do to be saved. . . . It was an amazing season of power among them, and seemed as if God had bowed the heavens and come down… and that God was about to convert the whole world.”

December 30, 2002 — An Islamic militant shoots and kills three U.S. Christian missionaries working at a Baptist-run hospital in Yemen. William Koehn, the administrator of Jibla Baptist hospital, Kathleen Gariety, a supplies purchaser, and medical doctor Martha Myers all die instantly from bullets to the head. Pharmacist Donald Caswell is left in critical condition with abdominal wounds.

December 31, 1821 — Rev. Jonathan Price, M. D., a medical missionary, arrives with his family in Burma to join the missionary work of Adoniram Judson.


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Article by Howard Culbertson. For more original content like this, visit: http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert 

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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