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Most of us have never experienced life as a missionary. Some of us romanticize missionary work as a glamorous adventure. Others view it as a daunting and overwhelming task we could never accomplish. No matter your idea of missions, the following quotes will challenge you to think differently.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

-Jim Eliot

Jim Eliot is well known for dying for the gospel. He and his four co-workers attempted to build a friendship with the Auca Indians in Ecuador. However, the distrustful Aucas murdered the men before a they could establish a relationship with them. Their dream to evangelize this people group was later realized when Jim’s wife and daughter, along with a sister of one of his co-workers, came back to share the gospel with the Aucas. In giving his life for the good news of Jesus Christ, Jim Eliot lived out the truth of his words. He gave his life and gained the honor of sacrificing all for His Lord. He also brought about access to the Auca Indians, who desperately needed and later gladly received the gospel.

“All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.”

-Hudson Taylor

A zealous evangelist and founder of the China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor did great things for God. He was key in opening the field of China to missionary work, and saw many Chinese people saved. If anyone could say they accomplished much for the Lord, Hudson Taylor could have. And yet, a major theme of his life was dependence on Christ. He found that abiding in Christ was the key to ministry, contentment, and all aspects of living. The reality is that Hudson Taylor was an ordinary man who trusted God to work, and saw Him do amazing things.

“If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”

-David Livingston

David Livingston was a Scottish medical missionary to Africa. Known for being a doctor, pioneer and explorer, Livingston is almost legendary because of his ventures. He passed on the legacy of valuing the lives of the African people, as well as standing firmly against the slavery he witnessed there. He did not consider the ruggedness of his life and experiences to be a hard sacrifice for Christ, but rather a privilege.

“If you think you have come to the mission field because you are a little better than others, or as the cream of your church, or because of your medical degree, or for the service you can render the African church, or even for the souls you may see saved, you will fail. Remember, the Lord has only one purpose ultimately for each one of us, to make us more like Jesus. He is interested in your relationship with Himself. Let Him take you and mould you as He will; all the rest will take its rightful place.”

-Helen Roseveare

Helen Roseveare was also a doctor and missionary to Africa, specifically in the Congo. She trained nurses and ran a center where she treated leprosy and handled maternity issues. When civil war broke out in her region, Helen was one of several missionaries who were held captive  by rebel forces. She was beaten, terrorized, and brutally raped. However, despite her unimaginable circumstances, Helen experienced deep relationship with Jesus. In the midst of heartbreaking suffering, she realized that Jesus understood every part of what she was going through. The Lord used this time in her life to mold her into an even more influential woman for Him.

“Did you think that the missionary path was all glory? Then you have not read of God’s greatest Messenger to earth, who sat and wept of Jerusalem, crying out, “I would…but ye would not.’ “

-Isobel Kuhn

Isobel Kuhn and her husband, John, followed the legacy of Hudson Taylor and joined the China Inland Mission. They dedicated their lives to the evangelization of the Lisu people group, spending time in both China and northern Thailand. Through civil war, sickness, and separation from her daughter, Isobel learned about suffering. But she also learned about the heart of God and true dependence on her Savior. She and John forged ahead in their missionary work until her death at 56 years old.

“To belong to Jesus is to embrace the nations with Him.”

-William Carey

Englishman William Carey is known today as “The Father of Modern Missions”.  He passionately claimed the Great Commission to be for all believers, and in so doing challenged the Protestant view of missionary work at the time. His mission work in India was profound, and his summons to the Church impactful. Because of his preaching and living testimony, many believers were later inspired to go to the mission field. William Carey brought the burden of Jesus for all mankind back to the forefront of the Church’s heart and mind.

“Our prayers for the evangelization of the world are but a bitter irony so long as we only give of our superfluity and draw back before the sacrifice of ourselves.”

-Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael’s words may ring in our ears as a challenge, but the evidence of her life should stagger us even more. She spread the gospel and took care of needy children in India for 55 years without furlough. She did not hesitate to sacrifice everything she had to serve her Lord. Amy also authored many books about her time in India and her relationship with the Lord Jesus. Her life and missionary work have inspired many who have followed her footsteps.

These missionary quotes reflect the faith of just a few of the many believers who have followed Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. Missionary life has its highs and lows. It is not a constant mountaintop, but neither is it an impossible vision. Missions is the very heart of our God, and He wants to use us to reach the lost and dying of the world. Take time to learn from the lives of those who have gone before us in pursuit of the Great Commission.


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