Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions On Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Thank you very much for joining us on Missions on Point today. We're going to take two episodes and just talk about getting the most from missionary biographies. Missionary biographies are a fantastic tool for missions education and inspiration because they're talking about real people. And because of that, real people today can just identify more with real missionary biographies than maybe some otherwise dry and conceptual values of missions, even more approachable, if you will, than biblical and theological reasons for missions. We know this to be true even in our own minds and hearts. True stories can be more compelling and sometimes even more dramatic than ancient history or other kinds of stories because they are closer to our timeframe and our own understanding of life and culture. I want to urge you on a personal level to become acquainted with some really great missionary biographies.

There is no lack of them. Also, I want to encourage you to use missionary biographies in your church curriculum, whether it is an adult Sunday school classes or children's classes, or a Bible study series. Weave in some missionary biographies to reinforce and encourage people to think about missionaries as real people, and that potentially God could call them into missions as well. Missionaries, it turns out, are not actually another class of human beings. They are just regular humans that have been saved by the gospel of Christ and God's grace, and been motivated and passionate about seeing this gospel communicated and proclaimed to people who have not had a chance to hear it previously. These great missionary heroes have faults, problems, just like we do, but they have through their faithfulness, proven to be used of the Lord over time, sometimes beyond their lifetime, to accomplish God's purposes on earth. Which we have already studied in all the biblical basis information in our Missions on Point Podcast to show that this is the primary purpose of God on earth for Christians.

We are to be about spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, exalting him, bringing people to worship Jesus Christ, the Lord as the only Savior. Now, if you want to check up on what I'm talking about, I've compiled a few documents together in one resource in our shop called Missionary biographies packet. And you can get that from the shop, it might help you have a good headstart on presenting biographies in your church. Our experience is using these biographies on a Wednesday night for the auditorium class, and assigning a different person to take each biography week by week to work through the lineup. It starts with the oldest missionary, that is the most distant past missionary, and working forward toward the present. I'll admit that it does tend to be those that I have felt most impactful in my life and understanding of missions.

So the first one in the lineup is Count Nicholas Von Zinzendorf. As a young aristocrat, Zinzendorf had a passion for Christ and for godliness. He also had a tremendous sympathy for the people who were being persecuted by Catholics as Protestants in the early days. Zinzendorf lived in the first half of the 1700s. He gave them land to form their own communal society, and from that grew the conviction to have a tie that all of their people go out as missionaries to the world. They had a number of very remarkable precedents in supporting missions in going out as missionaries. They went out never to return again, actually packing their livelihood and their goods into their caskets to be shipped with them so that they would have caskets to be buried in when they died on the mission field. They had a 100 year old dual prayer meeting, one for men, one for women, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for 100 years. An amazing accomplishment in and of itself to pray for the church and for those missionaries, how they put us to shame in their commitment for missions.

Next on my list is David Brainerd. David Brainerd was an intrepid young missionary in the Americas, in early United States history. He died at age 29 with tuberculosis, but he had given his life as an adult to reach the Indians of New England. His passionate commitment is recorded in the biography that is most well known, written by Jonathan Edwards. This biography became a clarion call to many to join the ranks as missionaries because of David Brenner's commitment and faithfulness through hardship and trials.

Next on the list is William Carey. William Carey lived from 1761 to 1834. He's known as the father of modern missions. He organized churches in Britain to send them out against some opposition, and arrived in India to have some problems even when he arrived there. But William Carey was so productive in his ministry. He started a school, he directly took on the task of translating the Bible into seven different major dialects in India.

Next on my list is Adoniram Judson. Adoniram Judson is often regarded as the first American foreign missionary, although some would dispute this and say that the African American George Lyle was the first foreign missionary going to Jamaica ahead of Adoniram Judson. George Lyle had a sterling and remarkable ministry in the United States before going to Jamaica, but the circumstances surrounding his going to Jamaica make it questionable as to if he voluntarily went as a missionary, or involuntarily escaped slavery a second time by going to minister in Jamaica. In either case, he had a incredible and productive ministry around the early years, just before Adoniram Judson and an Iron Judson lives from 1788 to 1850. Stories of his work in Burma, in particular, became quite well known across the United States, even though Adoniram Judson himself once he left, had very little contact with the United States and Christians in the US.

He originally intended to go to India, but when that didn't work out, he went to Burma. In fact, the Christians of Burma today look to Adoniram Judson as the founder of Faith in Burma. Similar to many other of our missionary heroes, Adoniram Judson lived out his life with very little recognizable spiritual fruit. He translated the scriptures, which is awesome in and of itself because the Bible is a missionary that stays even when there are no people involved, but he saw little conversions because of his direct ministry in his lifespan. He buried children and wives on the mission field and himself died from illness contracted there. But like many others who faithfully served out their life for Christ, though they saw little fruit, the seeds that were planted became a harvest in generations to come.

The next on my list is John Paton. John Paton was a colorful guy in so many respects. He went to the New Hebrides Islands to bring the gospel of Christ there. He was met with opposition from the cannibalistic peoples there. His autobiography reads like a dramatic suspense action movie, full of narrow escapes and providential deliverances. Similar to our other missionary heroes, he did not always make the best decisions. He did not always use the best methodology, but in the long term, John Paton was also spiritually fruitful and left there in New Hebrides, a church of biblical believers for Jesus Christ's sake.

The next on my list is Hudson Taylor, very well known missionary to inland China. Hudson Taylor experienced some significant opposition in China when he went, because these are the days of colonialism. The missionaries that arrived in China were usually connected with some commercial enterprise, which did not put the gospel of Christ first on their list of priorities. Hudson Taylor was kind of offended by this and decided that he really needed to reach the Chinese and identify with them as much as possible. He went to such an extent of growing his hair like the Chinese, actually trying to tint his skin and dress like the Chinese. Much to the mockery of the so-called modern British missionaries, and yet he began to really connect with the Chinese people. And had a bigger heart for reaching the inland territories where there were literally millions of Chinese people living that had no contact with the gospel.

Rather than staying in the coastal business and industrial cities, his vision not only captivated the imagination of the British people in particular, but he formed a new mission, which became known as the China Inland mission, and scores of younger people volunteered to come and help Hudson Taylor win inland China. He was a brilliant leader, communicator, and visionary. God used him and his writings to affect many, many people, many, many churches for the cause of missions around the world.

The last on my list for today's episode is Charles Thomas Stud, better known as C.T. Stud. This is another colorful personality. He has an amazing story of going to the field as a very well known figure in Britain and giving up his wealth. Working in China with his young wife, but then later leaving China and getting established again in Britain. Only to be convicted by the Lord, to reach unreached areas of inland Africa. So he went to Inland Africa and established another mission there, which then he became the leader of and forged new paths into unreached areas of Africa. His story ends rather sadly, in that while he had great impact on many for unreached areas, his personal life was pretty much a shambles by the time he died.

Please tune into the next episode in which I'll talk more about how to use these biographies in a helpful way. But I also want to put in a plug for Ruth Tucker's book that is an anthology, a collection of biographies called From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya. The area of Indonesia known as Irian Jaya in the past is now called Papua, so the title maybe needs to be revised. But the key thing I want you to get is that Ruth Tucker writes well of these missionaries, but doesn't cover up the negative aspects. She gives the unvarnished view of their personality and some of the issues that they had to deal with in their life, as well as the great ways in which God used these amazing people for his glory. Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, Please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

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