Previous: Revelation 3:9 - Continued 5

"I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.- Revelation 3:8

Now we continue our study of the reasons for the amazing age of modern missions. As we have seen, it was, first of all, a great period of revivals and a renewed emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit. There were at least four other major factors. In general, the progress of each of these avenues of progress developed concurrently with the others.

This is not an exhaustive list. For every item mentioned, there were many other missionary advances made during this time.

2 - Proliferation of Bible translation and printing

Just as the invention of the movable type printing press had a great impact on the Reformation, so the continued improvement of printing technologies and lower costs for books helped make this age of missionary expansion possible. The most effective missionary work required translation of God's Word into the language of the people who needed to hear the Gospel. Once the Bible, or even a small portion of it, had been translated, it was then necessary to provide copies to the people. In many cases missionaries needed to teach them to read also. So Bible translation, printing and education were basic methods of missionary evangelism.

In 1804 the British and Foreign Bible Society was formed to address the problem that most people could not afford a Bible. The American Bible Society was then launched in 1816. Ten years later it sent the first shipment of Bibles to Mexico. Over the course of time new Bible Societies have been formed in numerous places all over the world.

In 1934 William Cameron Townsend launched the Summer Institute of Linguistics to teach prospective missionaries the best methods to translate the Scriptures. In 1942 he established Wycliffe Bible Translators. They have become the preeminent organization for making the Bible available to previously unreached people in their own tongue.

An umbrella organization called the United Bible Societies was incorporated in 1946 to be a worldwide association of Bible societies. It has 146 member groups, working in more than 200 countries and territories to translate and distribute the Bible ( They report that there are nearly 500 complete Bible translations, and each year more are added. Currently, there are Scriptures available in over 2,550 of the world's estimated 7,100 languages

Thanks in part to these amazing Bible societies, the Bible is by far the #1 best-seller in history with more than 6 billion copies, while the next book in the list has sold less than 1 billion (

3 - Pioneer Missionaries, their Biographies

Next to the Bible, the most inspiring thing a Christian can read is a good missionary biography. Missionary work is the considered by many, myself included, the greatest of all forms of Christian service. It requires the greatest sacrifices and demonstrates the greatest love of any ministry, but it is also often the most difficult and dangerous task of all. During these years - the Mid-1700's to the mid-1900's, some of the most powerful books ever printed chronicled the lives and adventures of pioneer missionaries to various places in the world. We recommend that Christians read the stories of as many of these heroes of the faith as they can! There are said to be approximately 80,000 evangelical missionaries serving overseas (Patrick Johnstone, Operation World, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993, p. 643). Most of them were undoubtedly influenced to devote their lives to such a worthy cause by reading biographies of other missionaries.

Again, we cannot mention all of the outstanding pioneer missionaries, but here are some inspiring examples for your consideration. Some of them labored for years before their work began to produce converts. Some were killed by the people they came to serve. But in the end, their labor was not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Their biographies illustrate the importance of reaching the lost, the way the Lord calls a person to be a missionary, the importance of faith, prayer, and faithfulness, and the privilege of serving God in this most-special way.

1743 - David Brainerd - ministry to North American Indians.

1793 - William Carey - Calcutta, India. He is known as the father of Modern Missions.

1812 - Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice - Serampore, India. Judson then went on to Burma.

1849 - George Müller - Orphans in England

1854 - Hudson Taylor - China.

1851- David Livingstone - Africa

1858 - John G. Paton - New Hebrides.

1876 - Mary Slessor - Nigeria

1901 - James Chalmers - Papua New Guinea

1901 - Amy Carmichael - Orphans in India

1956 - Mission Aviation Fellowship missionaries Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Edward McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian - killed by Huaorani Indians in eastern Ecuador

1958 - Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint - Ecuador

1962 - Don Richardson - Papua New Guinea

4 - Unprecedented opportunities for expansion - colonization, transportation, communication and technology

Colonization - The establishment of distant colonies by Great Britain, Spain, France, Portugal, Netherlands and other countries opened the way for missionary work in all their outposts. In the New World - the Americas, many persecuted Christian groups planted themselves, far from their hostile homeland, and eventually reached out to native groups near their colonies. When revivals stirred the hearts of Christians in Europe, they began to send missionaries to the multitudes who did not know about Christ.

Transportation - Every advance in transportation methodology was an advance for missionary activity. Better roads, Explorer's ships, freighters, railroads, and eventually airplanes were all improvements that made sending and maintaining missionaries possible.

Communications and Technology - Every invention made the distance more manageable, or enhanced the work of the missionary. Photography, telegraphs, telephones, electrical devices of all sorts, tape recordings, moving pictures, radio, television and video recording all made the work more effective and made it easier to promote the work among Christians at home. In more recent years computers have enhanced the work of translation and assisted many other tasks of the missionary. Today, with the Internet and smart phones everywhere, the Gospel is virtually available everywhere!

5 - Formation of effective missionary organizations

Nearly every denomination formed its own missions outreach program, but there was a also a need for larger missionary institutions and parachurch organizations to do the things that took massive cooperation. During this golden age of missions medical ministries and hospitals were built, schools were maintained, orphanages were built, disaster relief was administered, economic development was implemented, and Bible translation and production was increased. During these two centuries hundreds of highly significant missionary events occurred
( .

The following list of mission societies and parachurch organizations is not intended to be a complete catalog.

1731 - Beginning of Moravian Church missions under the leadership of Count Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf - to slaves in the Caribbean and the Inuit of Greenland. Began work with American Indians in 1742. Other Moravians continued reaching Native Americans.

1735 - John Wesley ministered to Indians in Georgia - with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), an Anglican institution. Later this organization sent missionaries to many distant places, including Africa's Gold Coast (Modern Ghana - Thomas Thompson, 1752),

1786 - The Society for the Establishment of Missions among the Heathen was begun by Methodist minister Thomas Coke. Their first mission was in the British West Indies.

1787 - William Carey, a Particular Baptist in England began to urge the establishment of worldwide missions. In 1792 he wrote a book about this goal and formed the Baptist Missionary Society to begin missionary work in India.

1800 - Many missionary enterprises become active up during the next few decades, including the New York Missionary Society, The Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society, The Netherlands Missionary Society, The British and Foreign Bible Society, the Church Missionary Society, The London Missionary Society, The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the Wesleyan Missionary Society, the American Baptist Foreign Missionary, Netherlands Bible Society. Missions were planted in various parts of Africa, China, New Zealand, and other countries. Scores of missionaries were dispatched all over the world.

1873 - Regions Beyond Missionary Union was founded in London.

1883 - The first Protestant church in Amazonia (Brazil) was established.

1886 - The Student Volunteer Movement was launched with 100 university and seminary students at Mount Hermon, Massachusetts. They signed the Princeton Pledge: "I purpose, God willing, to become a foreign missionary."

1890 - The Central American Mission was founded by C.I. Scofield, editor of the Scofield Reference Bible.

1901 - The Oriental Missionary Society was founded by Charles Cowman (his wife is the compiler of popular devotional book Streams in the Desert).

1908 - The Gideons International began distributing Bibles.

1931 - HCJB Radio was begun in South America by World Radio Missionary Fellowship.

1932 - Assemblies of God opened mission work in Colombia.

1933 - The Navigators was founded by Dawson Trotman.

1935 - "Each one teach one" literacy program was begun in the Philippines by Frank C. Laubach.

1937 - Child Evangelism Fellowship was founded by Jesse Irvin Overholzer.

1939 - Gospel Recordings began.

1944 - Youth for Christ was begun by Torrey Johnson and Billy Graham.

1945 - The Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) was founded.

1945 - Mission Aviation Fellowship was formed.

1945 - The Evangelical Foreign Missions Association was formed by denominational mission boards.

1946 - The first Inter-Varsity missionary convention (now called "Urbana") was held.[344]

1950 - World Vision was begun by Bob Pierce.

1950 - The Mennonite Disaster Service - relief agency of Anabaptists - was begun.

1950 - The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was begun.

1951 - Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as CRU) was founded by Bill and Vonette Bright. In 1996, USA Today called Cru the largest evangelical organization in the United States. Today, the organization employs over 25,000 full-time missionaries and has trained 225,000 volunteers around the world (

1952 - Trans World Radio was founded.

1957 - Operation Mobilization was begun by George Verwer.

1962 - Evangelism Explosion was established by D. James Kennedy.

1960 - Youth with a Mission was founded by Loren Cunningham.

1960 - The Asia Evangelistic Fellowship (AEF), one of the largest Asian indigenous missionary organizations, was launched in Singapore by G. D. James.

1963 - Theological Education by Extension movement was launched in Guatemala by Ralph Winter and James Emery.

1970 - Samaritan's Purse founded by Bob Pierce, led by Franklin Graham since 1978

1976 - Habitat for Humanity began work.

1976 - The U.S. Center for Missions began in Pasadena, California was established under the leadership of Ralph Winter. The campus is run by members of the Frontier Missions Fellowship. It has been described as a missions think tank or "missions Pentagon."

1977- Trinity Broadcasting Network began as KTBN-TV. Paul and Jan Crouch began broadcasting in Fontana, California and later moved to Orange County, expanding to become the largest Christian broadcasting network in the world.

1978 - Operation Blessing was begun by Pat Robertson.

1978 - The Jesus Film Project released Jesus. Since 1981, Jesus has been translated into 1,049 languages and shown in 228 nations. It is available in various video formats. The organization states that, with a cumulative audience in excess of 6 billion, Jesus is the most-watched film ever produced (

For those who would like more information and join in prayer for the ongoing work of missions, Patrick Johnstone offers a frequently revised handbook on the subject called Operation World.

"Perspectives" is a thorough course offered by the U.S. Center for World Missions. It traces the history of missions and explores ways every Christian can be involved in the task of reaching the whole world with the Gospel. Each believer can be a "Goer," "Sender," "Mobilizer," or "Welcomer."

Next: Revelation 3:10-13


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