Missionaries are as much a part of Christian history as the cross. Since the days of the Apostles, Christian missionaries have spread through all parts of the world sharing the word of God. For nearly 2,000 years, missionaries have shaped Christianity and influenced its growth.
These 10 Christian missionaries are especially noteworthy for their contributions to the faith.
1. Saint Paul
Much of the modern New Testament is composed of epistles, or letters, that Paul wrote to ancient Christians. He started out as a persecutor of Christians before converting to the faith. Paul steered the ancient church away from its Jewish roots as the first apostle to preach extensively among the Gentiles.
2. Saint Peter
The Pope traces his authority back to Peter, the chief apostle after Jesus Christ was crucified. Peter is traditionally considered the founder of the church in Rome and its first bishop. Under his leadership, the Christian church grew and spread throughout the Roman Empire after Christ.
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3. William Carey
William Carey is considered to be the father of modern missions. He served as a missionary in India and translated portions of the Bible into many different languages. Carey founded the Baptist Missionary Society — paving the way for the founding of many other foreign missionary societies.
4. Eric Liddell
Eric Liddell is famous to most people because of "Chariots of Fire,"
which chronicles his Olympic running career. He devoted the last 20 years of his life in China, teaching at a college and later volunteering at a rural mission station. Japanese soldiers eventually imprisoned Liddell during World War II, and he died in a prison camp in 1945.
5. Wayman Mitchell
Wayman Mitchell is the founder of Christian Fellowship Ministries
, a Pentecostal Bible-based fellowship of 2,100 churches in 112 nations. Personal evangelism and church planting are basic foundations of his organization, which grew out of early concert ministries he used to convert former hippies in the 1970s.
6. Saint Patrick
Which other missionary has a modern holiday reserved for them? St. Patrick is traditionally credited with converting Ireland to Christianity during his lifetime. He is the subject of many legends — such as the tale that he drove out all snakes from Ireland.
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7. David Livingstone
David Livingstone was a Scottish missionary, abolitionist, and physician who is notable for exploring Africa in the 19th century. Livingstone served as a medical missionary, traveling to many villages and helping to establish Christianity throughout Africa.
8. Hudson Taylor
Hudson Taylor spent more than 50 years in China as a missionary, translator, and physician. He influenced hundreds of people to serve as missionaries in his lifetime and his story continues to be an inspiration a century later for missionaries who serve.
9. George Muller
George Muller pioneered the idea of faith missions where missionaries are supported by individuals and local churches instead of denominations, according to Christian Biography Resources
. He started many orphanages and his orphanage in England took care of more than 10,000 children in his lifetime.
10. David Wilkerson
David Wilkerson had a major influence on New York City youth through street ministries to rescue drug addicts and gang members, according to History Makers
. He founded Teen Challenge, an evangelical Christian addiction recovery program for youth, and CURE Corps — an organization devoted to involving college students in Christ-centered service.
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