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 January. [CLICK TO TWEET]


January 1, 1954 — A Piper Pacer airplane equipped to land on either water or land launches Missionary Aviation Fellowship’s ministry in New Guinea. MAF also begins work in Indonesia.

January 2, 1816 — Benjamin Hobson, medical missionary to China, is born in England. The London Mission Society sent him to China in 1839 where he worked in Macao, Hong Kong, Canton and Shanghai. Hobson translated and wrote on natural philosophy as well as medical subjects. His works include A Medical Vocabulary in English and Chinese.

January 3, 1884 — Birth of E. Stanley Jones, Methodist missionary, in Clarksville, Maryland. Jones went to India after his ordination in 1907. A prolific devotional writer, Jones’ best-known works include The Christ of the Indian Road (1925) and Abundant Living(1936). In 1928 Jones was elected as a Methodist bishop, but he refused the position so that he might remain a missionary.

January 4, 1987 — Second “International Conference on Missionary Kids” opens in Quito, Ecuador. Participants include caregivers for the children of missionaries. The first such conference was held in 1984 in the Philippines. A third would be held in 1989 in Nairobi, Kenya. [ more on Mks ]

January 5, 1989 — Global Consultation on World Evangelization by AD 2000 and Beyond opens in Singapore. Participating are 314 mission leaders from 50 countries. Zealous calls were issued for plans to complete the Great Commission by the end of the millennium. The GCOWE “Great Commission Manifesto” was later condensed to the phrase: “A Church for Every People and the Gospel for Every Person by the Year 2000”. Follow-up GCOWE conferences would be held in 1995 in Korea and in 1997 in South Africa.

January 6, 1834 — Samuel Ruggles, who had studied at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut and who had gone to Hawaii in 1819 with missions pioneer Hiram Bingham, boards a ship in Hawaii to return to New England for health reasons. The voyage, because it must go around the southern tip of South America, will take more than six months.

January 7, 1858 — Henry W. Frost, American missionary pioneer, was born. Frost was responsible for establishing an American headquarters for the China Inland Mission. Founded in 1865 in Great Britain by missionary J. Hudson Taylor, CIM relocated its offices to America in 1901. In 1965, CIM changed its name to the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF). Since 1974, it has been headquartered in Robesonia, Pennsylvania.

January 8, 1956 — Five missionaries to Ecuador were killed by Auca Indians whom they were trying to reach

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January 9, 1836 — Peter Reinhold Grundemann, founder of Brandenburg Missionary Conference, was born at Bärwalde, near Berlin. A prolific writer on missions, Grundemann’s best-known publication was Allgemeiner Missionsatlas (General Missions Atlas). Educated at Tübingen, Halle and Berlin, Grundemann pastored at Mörz from 1869 to 1913. He founded the Brandenburg mission conference in 1879.

January 10, 1934 — The Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) ordains its first native Chinese pastor.

January 11, 1857 — Eli Smith, missionary, died (b. 1801). He served as an American Board missionary to the Near East, especially Syria, and translated the Bible into Arabic.

January 12, 2004 — Around nine o’clock in the evening, intruders armed with automatic weapons burst into a churchyard in the Tajik town of Isfara and shot and killed Baptist pastor and missionary Sergei Besarab through a window. Besarab was kneeling in prayer at the time he was shot.

January 13, 1855 — John Scudder, Dutch Reformed missionary to Ceylon and India, dies in Wynberg, South Africa (born 1793). Sent to Ceylon by the American Board, he had transferred in 1836 to Madras for literary work. The Arcot Mission grew under his direction. He had eight sons, two granddaughters and two grandsons who wound up serving under that mission board. Ill health eventually caused Scudder to be transferred to Africa where he died.

January 14, 1875 — Birth of Albert Schweitzer — theologian, medical missionary to Africa, organist, musical historian, and winner of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize.

January 15, 1915 — Mary Slessor (born: 1848), Scottish missionary to West Africa, died. Converted as a teen-ager in the Presbyterian church, Mary sailed to Nigeria in 1876 where she worked continuously with tribal peoples for forty years. Mary Slessor’s uncanny insight into the African mind helped her as she worked to eliminate witchcraft, drunkenness, twin-killing and other cruel customs among the Ibo people.

January 16, 1820 — Johannes Rebmann, missionary to East Africa, was born in Gerlingen, North Wuerttemberg, Germany (died: October 4, 1876). Educated in Basel (Switzerland), he went to East Africa in 1846 to work with J. L. Krapf. He was the first European to see Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. He studied Swahili and other African languages. He translated the Gospel of Luke one of them and helped prepare dictionaries for three others.

January 17, 1923 — Valborg and Peter Torjesen, who were single missionaries with China Inland Mission, are married in Lan Xian, China. Their story is recounted in We signed away our lives: How one family gave everything for the Gospel. The book’s title is based on what 18-year-old Peter Torjesen did when he heard the call to evangelize China. That day, he not only emptied his wallet into the collection plate, but included a small note with the words, “And my life.”

January 18, 1830 — Baptism of Tauta’ahau Tupou, King of Tonga, by a western missionary

January 19, 1805 — London Mission Society lay missionary Christian Albrecht arrives in Cape Town, South Africa. Along with his brother Abraham, he will be among the first missionaries to cross the Orange River to evangelize the Great Namaqualand in southwest Africa. After establishing a preaching station at Warm Bath, Albrecht was officially ordained in 1810 at the Cape. He died in 1815.

January 20, 1870 — Clara Swain, the very first female missionary medical doctor, arrives at Bareilly, India.

January 21 1890 — Polish-born Solomon Ginsburg (1867-1927) leaves London for Brazil where he will spend 35 years as a Baptist missionary. With Erik Alfred Nelson, he founded the first Baptist church in the Amazon Valley. Ginsburg titled his autobiography A Wandering Jew in Brazil. When he left London for Brazil, Ginsburg was engaged to Carrie Bishop, a trained nurse of the Royal Hospital. Their plan was for her to come to Brazil after a year or so. When she did arrive in Brazil, they married, but she died four months later.

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January 22, 1999 — Radical Hindus murder a veteran Australian missionary and his two sons as they slept in a car in eastern India. Graham Stewart Stains and his sons died when members of the Hindu radical party Bajrang Dal doused the car with kerosene and set it ablaze. The three burned alive as 40 Hindus shouted anti-Christian slogans.

January 23, 1821 — African-American Lott Carey, a Baptist missionary, sails with 28 colleagues from Norfolk, VA to Sierra Leone.

January 24, 1964 — Baptist Mid-Missions missionary Irene Ferrel is martyred by Marxist guerrillas in the Congo.

January 25, 1908 — Anne Blake Wooding, is born in Liverpool. In the 1930s she joined SIM (originally Sudan Interior Mission) to become a pioneer missionary to the blind of Kano, a walled city in the north of Nigeria.

January 26, 1859 — Millionaire inventor of the reaper, Cyrus McCormick, marries Nettie Fowler, a devoted Christian. Following Cyrus’s death in 1884, Nettie used her enormous wealth to support the work of D. L. Moody, John R. Mott, and countless missionaries to Asia.

January 27, 1910 — The Tabor Beacon, newspaper in Fremont County, Iowa publishes a letter from Effie Chambers, an American missionary helping the Armenians in Kessab. The letter describes the aftermath of a massacre and atrocities against the Armenians by Ottoman Turks.

January 28, 1906 — Oswald Smith, founder of Peoples Church and promoter of the Faith Promise concept for raising missions funding, is converted at an R. A. Torrey evangelistic campaign in Toronto. [ more on Faith Promise ]

January 29, 1928 — Arthur Edwards is appointed as the first Foursquare missionary to Panama. A former banker from Morgan Hill, California, Edwards spent twenty years in Panama. At his retirement, the Foursquare Church in Panama, with more than 100 churches, was said to be the strongest Protestant group in that country.

January 30, 1877 — In 1875 a letter written by Henry Stanley appeared in the London “Daily Telegraph.” In that letter written from Africa, Stanley pleaded: “O, that some pious, practical missionary would come here!… Nowhere is there in all the pagan world a more promising field for a mission than Uganda. Here, gentlemen, is your opportunity. Embrace it! The people on the shores of the Nyanza call upon you.” On this date (January 30, 1877), three members of Alexander Mackay’s Church Missionary Society team, who had responded to that plea, arrive at King Mutesa’s court.

January 31, 1993 — Armed guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, known as FARC, enter Púcuro, Panama and seize three New Tribes Mission missionaries: Dave Mankins, Mark Rich, and Rick Tenenoff. Their eventual death will finally be confirmed in 2001 by eyewitnesses.


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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