Missionary Biographies

The inspiring stories of those who have boldly followed Christ in spreading the good news throughout the world.

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William Carey: The Father of Protestant Missions

Jesus’ words in Matthew 28 include both a command and a promise. Jesus tells the twelve disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Then Jesus shares the promise: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Andy Mineo: On My Level

“Their turf. Her neighborhood. His table. Your block. My city.” This is where hip-hop artist Andy Mineo believes the ministry of every Christ follower needs to happen. These are not just words to Mineo, not some far-off philosophy. No, this reality penetrates every area of his life.

Growing up in New York, Mineo came to realize he was looking for someone to come and meet him on his level.

Mary Lederleitner and Tom Mallon: Hitchhiking after Urbana

Mary Lederleitner became a Christian during the summer between high school and college in 1981 while selling books door to door with her brother. Her first semester in college would challenge her new faith. “I understood the salvation message and I had become a Christian but I had gone to college then, and I was getting so many mixed messages from people. Was the Word of God really true?”

Tim and Iris Loomans: To the Lost Nations of Siberia

The cold and dull aches fill my tired bones. The flimsy tent in which I have just awoken has thankfully kept my family safe the previous night from the passing storms. Even at 4 a.m., the sky is already bright, and the sun is about to show its first warming rays.

I am here with my husband, Tim, and our young boys, Steven and Jonathan. Our boys are still sleeping soundly next to me, their breathing very deep and regular. Tim’s arm is still protectively heavy around my waist. I snuggle up closer, hoping to catch some more of his body heat.

Stephen Lungu: Out of the Black Shadows

“At 7pm I will whistle and everybody throw their stones and petrol bombs into the tent entrance…I want everyone inside that tent to die.”

Stephen Lungu was the leader of a detachment of a dozen thugs from the gang Black Shadows which instigated riots and sowed chaos in pre-independence Zimbabwe.

At seven years-old, Stephen was abandoned by his mother on the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Since then, Stephen’s growing anger had found focus in the Nationalist Youth League which advocated the violent overthrow of the white government.

Lott Carey: For My Suffering Race

“I have counted the cost and have sacrificed all my worldly possession to this undertaking. I am prepared to meet imprisonment or even death in carrying out the purposes of my heart.” Lott Carey said these words before leaving a life that was relatively prosperous for a black man of his time and sailing from Virginia to West Africa to serve as a missionary to his own people.

Amanda Smith: International Evangelist

“[I]f you want to know and understand properly what Amanda Smith has to contend with, just turn black and go about as I do…I think some people would understand the quintessence of sanctifying grace if they could be black about twenty-four hours.”

-Amanda Smith

Tim and Iris Loomans: To the Lost Nations of Siberia
The cold and dull aches fill my tired bones. The flimsy tent in which I have just awoken has thankfully kept my family safe the previous night from the passing storms. Even at 4 a.m., the sky is already bright, and the sun is about to show its first warming rays.I am here with my husband, Tim, and our young boys, Steven and Jonathan. Our boys are still sleeping soundly next to me, their breathing very deep and regular. Tim’s arm is still protectively heavy around my waist. I snuggle up closer, hoping to catch some more of his body heat. Read more >>
Stephen Lungu: Out of the Black Shadows
“At 7pm I will whistle and everybody throw their stones and petrol bombs into the tent entrance…I want everyone inside that tent to die.”Stephen Lungu was the leader of a detachment of a dozen thugs from the gang Black Shadows which instigated riots and sowed chaos in pre-independence Zimbabwe.At seven years-old, Stephen was abandoned by his mother on the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Since then, Stephen’s growing anger had found focus in the Nationalist Youth League which advocated the violent overthrow of the white government. Read more >>
Lott Carey: For My Suffering Race
“I have counted the cost and have sacrificed all my worldly possession to this undertaking. I am prepared to meet imprisonment or even death in carrying out the purposes of my heart.” Lott Carey said these words before leaving a life that was relatively prosperous for a black man of his time and sailing from Virginia to West Africa to serve as a missionary to his own people. Read more >>
Amanda Smith: International Evangelist
“[I]f you want to know and understand properly what Amanda Smith has to contend with, just turn black and go about as I do…I think some people would understand the quintessence of sanctifying grace if they could be black about twenty-four hours.”-Amanda Smith Read more >>
Samuel Zwemer: Faithful Hero
Some missionaries are known for their great fruit, their many converts, churches they started, or hospitals they helped build. Samuel Zwemer is not known for these things. After 38 years of missions work throughout Arabia, the Persian Gulf, Egypt and Asia Minor, Samuel had seen his efforts produce fewer than 12 conversions to Christianity. Read more >>
Saint Patrick: Shivering Slave Boy
Patrick was a teenager when Irish pirates kidnapped him from the western coast of England early in the morning. Patrick and his friends had gone to the beach to play before their families awoke to the business of the new day. It didn’t take much for the pirates to overpower the young lads and haul them off to uncertain futures. Read more >>
Michelle Kao: Woke Up in a Slum, Part 2
read Part 1I cringe at the term missionary. When I was younger I pictured missionaries as large, wholesome families dressed like a blast from the past with awkward kids who had crazy experiences with witch doctors. And bad haircuts. And yet, here I am in Bangkok, living the life of what you could call a missionary. Read more >>
Abraham and Molly: Suffering That Equips
Molly and Abraham are not their real names. Their names have been changed to protect the work they are doing with Muslims in the Detroit area. But this work is not what they initially set out to do. And the journey to it has not been what they expected. In Abraham’s words, “I feel like now we’re in Plan B, but it was never Plan B for [God], you know? It was always Plan A. He always knew what was going to happen. We didn’t make a really bad decision.” Read more >>
Gary Cowman: Facilitating Scripture Access in Kenya
Urbana.org had a video-chat with Gary Cowman in October of 2011 from Kenya where he serves as the Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Watch the video or read the transcipt of what Gary says about his experience responding to God’s call for his life and the role InterVarsity, Urbana, IFES and Wycliffe had in the process. Read more >>
Michelle Kao: Woke Up in a Slum
Today, I woke up in a slum in Bangkok and I thought, “What? How did I get here?” It’s not a new question; I’ve been asking it for the last four years. I’m an ordinary person. I’m a sensible person. ‘Slum-dweller’ was never one of my top childhood career choices and ‘missionary’ definitely sounded crazy. But somehow, I ended up here, a missionary living in a Bangkok slum. Read more >>
Mildred Cable: Beautiful Feet in the Gobi
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14) Read more >>
Bruce Olson: Following Jesus Into the Jungle
Eight men walked toward a ridge in the Venezuelan jungle bordering Colombia. Seven were Yuko Indians. The eighth was Bruce Olson, a tall 19-year-old, very blond American. “Beyond that ridge is a Motilone village,” the Yukos told him, “and we’ll go no farther. They would kill us.”Then, tense, the Indians stopped and raised their heads as if to sniff the wind. Without warning, in one frantic motion, they raced pell-mell back the way they had come. Bruce, confused, began to run with them, tripped on some vines and fell on his face, while a long arrow ripped into his thigh. Read more >>
Samuel Mills: The Haystack Movement
On the North American continent, the beginnings of the church’s interest in global missions can be traced directly to student influence and, more precisely, to the impact of one student, Samuel Mills. Read more >>
Ruth Siemens: Tentmaking Pioneer
Ruth Siemens was one of the first contemporary pioneers to earn her own salary as a missionary through a “tentmaking” ministry, like Paul who supported himself by making and repairing tents (Acts 18:3, 20:34). She shares how she got started – and what happened. Read more >>
Henry Martyn: Helping Muslims Find Jesus
Day by day, young Islamic scholar Muhammad Rahim visited Henry Martyn to hear how he answered the questions and arguments of Persia’s greatest theologians. Read more >>
Henry Martyn: How God Called a Brainy Student
Henry Martyn (1781 - 1812) was the most capable undergraduate at Cambridge University of his generation. To the surprise and consternation of many, Martyn, at 24 years of age, sailed to India to attempt to reach the peoples of that vast land for Christ. Read more >>
Steve Hawthorne: Tragic Consequences of Paternalism
 “Ouch! I wish I could do that over again.” I was recounting the tragic consequence of one sincere attempt to be helpful but, in my ignorance of our new culture, I ended up doing more harm than good. It was our first year in the rural Quechua community of Yawisla. Read more >>
Ernie Fowler: Live to Be Forgotten (part 2)
David Howard, Ernie Fowler’s biographer and close colleague, wondered why Ernie’s death (see part 1) went virtually unnoticed in the world of missions. Read more >>
Ernie Fowler: Live to Be Forgotten (part 1)
Who was Ernie Fowler — and what did he do that’s worth remembering? Read more >>
Jacob "Jake" DeShazer: Love Sowed in a Field of Hatred (part 2)
Jake Deshazer was a tortured prisoner in Japan who went home after the war with a deep conviction burning in this heart that God had called him to return to Japan as a missionary with a message of forgiveness. His story is continued from part 1. Read more >>