Every time I read about what happened today in missions history, it excites me to 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 March.


March 1, 1854 — Hudson Taylor, the eventual founder of the China Inland Mission, lands in Shanghai, China.

March 2, 1971 — E.W. “Hatch” Hatcher, Missionary Aviation Fellowship’s technical training, evaluation, and orientation director, is killed in an airplane accident near Corona, California. Also killed in the accident was John Wilson, a potential recruit to MAF. Wilson was being given a check-out flight by Hatcher.

March 3, 1870 — Lettie B. Cowman, American missionary and author, is born in Iowa. In 1901 Lettie and her husband would go to Japan as missionaries where they founded the Oriental Missionary Society. After her husband’s death (1924), Lettie became president of OMS and led the work until her retirement in 1949. Her devotional guide, Streams in the Desert, first published in 1925, has been translated into fifteen foreign languages.

March 4, 1970 — The Theological Convention of Confessing Fellowships publishes a declaration to counter relativistic positions being promoted within the World Council of Churches. Peter Beyerhaus was a primary author of that document which was titled “Frankfurt Declaration on the Fundamental Crisis of Missions.”

March 5, 1797 — After a 207-day voyage from London, the three-masted Duff arrives in Tahiti’s Matavai Bay. The ship, commanded by Captain John Wilson, carried 37 lay and clerical missionaries of the London Missionary Society (L.M.S.) along with their families. Their plan was to settle on the South Pacific islands of Tahiti, Tonga and the Marquesas.

March 6, 1901 — Amy Carmichael takes in her first temple runaway, a young girl dedicated to the Hindu gods and forced into prostitution to earn money for the priests.

March 7, 1804 — The British and Foreign Bible Society is formed.

March 8, 1698 — British missionary Thomas Bray and four laymen found the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (S.P.C.K.) “to advance the honor of God and the good of mankind by promoting Christian knowledge both at home and in the other parts of the world by the best methods that should offer.”

March 9, 1931 — The World Radio Missionary Fellowship was incorporated in Lima, Ohio, by Clarence W. Jones and Reuben Larson. Today, this interdenominational mission organization, now headquartered in Florida, broadcasts the Gospel in fifteen languages to South America and throughout Europe.

March 10, 1557 — French Hugenots preach the first Protestant sermon (based on Psalm 27:3) to be heard in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

March 11, 1812 — Fire engulfs missionary William Carey’s print shop in Serampore, India. The fire destroyed Carey’s massive polyglot dictionary, two grammar books, sets of type for 14 eastern languages, and whole versions of the Bible. Undaunted, Carey said,”The loss is heavy, but as traveling a road the second time is usually done with greater ease and certainty than the first time, so I trust the work will lose nothing of real value . . . We are cast down but not in despair.” News of the fire catapulted Carey to fame, bringing in funds and volunteer labor.

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March 12, 1887 — James Read Eckard, missionary to Ceylon, dies.

March 13, 1815 — Presbyterian medical missionary James Hepburn is born in Milton, Pennsylvania. Hepburn would compile the first Japanese-English dictionary and supervise the first complete translation of the Bible into Japanese, which was published in 1888.

March 14, 1949 — Robert P. Evans founds the European Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. In 1952, its name was changed to Greater Europe Mission. Today, this interdenominational evangelical organization engages primarily in evangelism, theological education and literature distribution. GEM has helped establish new churches in a dozen European nations.

March 15, 1645 — Eusebio Francisco Kino, an Italian Jesuit missionary and explorer is born. Kino would become noted for his success in converting the Pima Indians while respecting their customs, and for the historical value of his letters, journals, and maps. From 1687 to the end of his life Kino worked in Pimeria Alta (now southern Arizona and northern Sonora in Mexico).

March 16, 1700 — French missionaries report that lightning has struck a pagan temple in the Taensa village on Lake Saint Joseph near modern Newellton, Louisiana. When the building caught fire, the tribal shaman told the women of the tribe to throw their small children into the fire to appease the angry god who had started the fire. French priest Francois Joliet de Montigny attempted to stop the women.

March 17, 461 — Patrick, missionary to Ireland and that country’s patron saint, dies. Irish raiders captured Patrick, a Romanized Briton, and enslaved him as a youth. Patrick eventually escaped to Gaul (modern France) but returned to Ireland after a vision called him back to preach. Patrick had great success as a missionary, and, at his death, only the far south of Ireland remained predominantly pagan.

March 18, 1885 — The “Cambridge Seven” — young British aristocrats who decided to become missionaries to China, and thus became celebrities back home — arrive in Shanghai.

March 19, 1955 — Billy Graham begins All-Scotland Crusade.

March 20, 1747 — David Brainerd, colonial American missionary, ended his labors among the Indians of New Jersey and Delaware because of his deteriorating health. He had started two and a half years earlier but was continually plagued with illness. Brainerd died of tuberculosis seven months later. His diary, published by Jonathan Edwards, became a major force in promoting missions work, inspiring missionaries like William Carey, Henry Martyn, and Thomas Coke.

March 21, 1863 — Davis Griffiths, missionary to Madagascar who translated the Bible into the Malagasy language, dies.

March 22, 1901 — “Mark Twain” has brought down upon his head the wrath of the Peking Missionary Association and the American Board of Foreign Missions. Both organizations are demanding that the author-humorist retract statements he made in the February issue of The North American Review attacking missionary W. S. Ament of the American Board of Foreign Missions concerning monies he collected from rural Chinese in payment for properties destroyed and people killed during the Boxer rebellion.

March 23, 332 — Gregory the Illuminator, who converted a nation before Constantine even embraced Christianity, dies. Under Gregory’s ministry, King Tiridates of Armenia was converted. When much of the kingdom followed suit, Christianity was established as the national religion with Gregory as bishop.

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March 24, 1927 — Chinese Communists seize Nanking. Missionary John E. Williams is killed. A little more than twenty years later the communists would take control of the whole country and ban Christianity.

March 25, 2004 — Funeral in Cary, North Carolina for Baptist missionaries Larry and Jean Elliott. The Elliotts, along with two other missionaries, were killed in a drive-by shooting in Iraq.

March 26, 809 — Liudger, missionary to the Friesians and Saxons, dies at about age 66. Born near Utrecht (Modern Holland), Liudger felt called to missionary work as a result of the death of Boniface whose work he wished to continue. Ordained a priest in 777, Liudger began a missionary work near the mouth of the Ems river (in modern day Germany) in 787. Knowing the language of the peoples there, he was very effective. In 793 Charlemagne offered him the bishopric of Trier, but Liudger declined, preferring to continue his missionary work among the Saxons.

March 27, 710 — Rupert of Salzburg (also known as Hrodbert, Robert, Rupprecht) dies in Salzburg. Either a Frankish nobleman or an Irishman, he began his missionary work in southern Bavaria and Austria. Instead of knocking down pagan temples, as many missionaries did, Rupert preferred to consecrate them as Christian churches.

March 28, 1867 — A missionary sailing ship called Morning Star begins its work in the Pacific under the command of Rev. Hiram Bingham. It replaces a older ship which carried the same name. To finance the new ship, children in two thousand Sunday schools over a period of two years gave more than $28,000. When the ship first arrived in Hawai, two thousand Hawaiian Sunday school children marched to the wharf to see “their ship” — for three or four thousand out of one hundred and fifty thousand of the Morning Star’s “stockholders” were Hawaiians.

March 29, 1828 — Adoniram Judson reports in his diary that missionaries George and Sarah Boardman are moving to Tavoy (now called Tavai) in southeastern Burma. George Boardman had been educated at Andover Theological Seminary and sent to India by the Baptist Board for Foreign Missions in 1825. Arriving in Tavoy, he began a ministry to the Karen people that would be cut short by his death in 1831.

March 30, 1820 — The first Protestant missionaries arrive at the Sandwich Islands, now known as Hawaii, where they are welcomed by King Kamehameha II.

March 31, 1998 — In return for an agreement by several Protestant groups not to engage in active “proselytizing,” Israeli parliament member Nissim Zvilli (Labor) announces he will withdraw his sponsorship of an anti-missionary bill already introduced in the Knesset.


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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