Is it important to know about missionaries from the past?  Getting some laypersons to present biographies of missionary heroes of the past can be an excellent way to stimulate missions education.  We did it in our church! A couple of presenters couldn’t get through their whole presentations without tears, they were so moved!

Here are some guidelines:

Have the volunteer/recruited presenter study the biography, probably starting with Ruth Tucker’s book “From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya” (an anthology of missionary biographies).

Tell them to concentrate on answers to the following:

General Outline for Missionary Biography

  1. When did this person live and what was the spiritual climate of his environment and upbringing?

  2. What were the formative influences and events which moved this person to serve God in missions?

  3. How did this person become equipped to serve God in missions?

  4. What were the unique characteristics of the people to whom he ministered?  And with whom he ministered (his colleagues or missions sending agency)?

  5. What did he set out to do in ministry?  And what did he actually spend most of his time and energy doing?

  6. What were the most significant challenges and achievements of his ministry?

  7. What was the most important legacy of his influence?  I.e. – What did he do or what were his principles that continued to influence others after his death?

  8. What lesson/s might we learn from this great missionary?

Here’s a suggested list to start with (in chronological order):


Count Nicolaus Von Zinzendorf (1700-1760)

David Brainerd (1718-1747)

William Carey (1761-1834)

Adoniram Judson (1788-1850)

John Paton (1824-1907)

Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)

Charles Thomas (C.T.) Studd (1860-1931)


Here is a second set:


Samuel Zwemer 1867-1952

Lilias Trotter 1853-1928

Lottie Moon 1840-1912

Nate Saint 1923-1956

Cameron Townsend 1896-1982

Stan Dale (1916-1968) &

Phil Masters (1932-1968)

Viggo Olsen


Finally, here is a more comprehensive set to choose from:

Suggested Missionary Biographies

(Saint) Patrick

Raymond Lull

Nicolaus von Zinzendorf

David Brainerd

William Carey

Adoniram Judson

George & Sarah Boardman

Henry Martyn

Robert & Mary Moffat

David Livingstone

Mary Slessor

Robert Morrison

J. Hudson Taylor

Jonathan Goforth

John Paton

Lottie Moon

Gladys Aylward

Lilias Trotter

Helen Roseveare

John Mott

Samuel Zwemer

Viggo Olsen

Cameron Townsend

Paul Freed

Joy Ridderhof

Jim Elliott

Nate Saint

John & Betty Stam

Eric Lidell

Charles Marsh

David C. Meade

David is the founder and General Director of Propempo International. He has over forty years' experience in church planting, pioneering field ministry among UPGs, and leadership both on the field and in non-profit organizations. He is local-church-oriented, serving as missions pastor/elder for over twenty years. He loves teaching and mentoring church leaders and missionaries preparing for service in the tough places of the world.

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