No man is an island unto himself, but a compilation of those that have influenced his and his thinking. Whether it be his peer group, family and upbringing, colleagues, training or reading, a person is heavily influenced and inspired.
This is a small collection of those lives and biographies that have heavily influenced my missionary thinking.
The original missionary Ninja: The apostle Paul. Changed from licensed hitman into church-planter, who penned half of the NT. Multiple locations and cultures, teams, fund-raiser - an intellectual genius that was the hardest working minister I have ever read about. His tenacity in the face of adversity, yet his tender ability to coach and encourage co-workers is exemplary.
David Brainerd: (April 20, 1718–October 9, 1747) was an American missionary to the Native Americans who had a particularly fruitful ministry among the Delaware Indians of New Jersey. During his short life he was beset by many difficulties. As a result, his biography has become a source of inspiration and encouragement to many Christians, including missionaries such as William Carey and Jim Elliot. (Source: Wikipedia)
Nicholas von Zinzendorf: Under Zinzendorf, the Moravians became an intense but highly mobile missionary order. The rapid deployment of many young missionaries around the world in the space of a few short years, is one of the most remarkable Moravian achievements.
The outreach was made possible by a relative lack of concern with training, finances, or structure. A Moravian missionary received from the church, enough money to get to the port. The missionary was then responsible to work for passage across the ocean. On the mission field, the missionary took up whatever occupation would provide the bare amount of food and clothing.
In the next 150 years the Moravians sent out over 2,000 of their members overseas. They tended to go to the most remote, unfavorable and neglected areas. Many of them were simple peasants and artisans. (Source: Movements.net)
Adonirum Judson: was an American Congregationalist and later Baptist missionary, who served in Burma for almost forty years. At the age of 25, Adoniram Judson became the first Protestant missionary sent from North America to preach in Burma. His mission and work with Luther Rice led to the formation of the first Baptist association in America to support missionaries. (Source: Wikipedia)
Hudson Taylor: was known for his sensitivity to Chinese culture and zeal for evangelism. He adopted wearing native Chinese clothing even though this was rare among missionaries of that time. During his 51 years of service there, his China Inland Mission established 20 mission stations, brought 849 missionaries to the field (968 by 1911), trained some 700 Chinese workers, raised four million dollars by faith (following Mueller's example), and developed a witnessing Chinese church of 125,000. It has been said at least 35,000 were his own converts and that he baptized some 50,000. His gift for inspiring people to give themselves and their possessions to Christ was amazing. (Source: Wholesome Words)
David Livingstone: An explorer, adventurer and evangelist wrapped up into one. He blazed a trail, when there wasn't one for a westerner. Pretty impressive that he has such a prominent burial monument in Westminster Abbey.
William Borden: This heir to the Borden Milk business felt the need of the world after graduating High School during a world trip. He dedicated his life to work abroad. Although he died in language school in Cairo, his Bible was found where the simple words he inscribed impacted me deeply:
No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.
Mary Slessor: was a Scottish missionary to Nigeria. Her work and strong personality allowed her to be trusted and accepted by the locals while spreading Christianity, protecting native children and promoting women's rights. She is credited to have stopped the killing of twins in Nigeria. (Source: Wikipedia)
Jim Elliot: was an evangelical Christian who was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador.
His journal entry for October 28, 1949, expresses his belief that work dedicated to Jesus was more important than his life (see Luke 9:24 in the Bible). "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."
Rachel Saint: In the summer of 1958 Rachel Saint returned to the Huaorani in Ecuador and, together with Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of James (Jim) Elliot, who had been killed by the Huaorani, continued to evangelize. In February 1959 they were able to move into a Huaorani settlement. Where the five American men had failed to gain entrance into the Huaorani society, these two unarmed women (as well as Elliot's little daughter) were not perceived as a threat. Rachel continued in her labor to create a dictionary of the Huaorani language that she had begun before the death of the five missionaries. (Source: Wikipedia)
Don Richardon: is a Canadian Christian missionary, teacher, author and international speaker who worked among the tribal people of Western New Guinea, Indonesia. He argues in his writings that, hidden among tribal cultures, there are usually some practices or understandings, which he calls "redemptive analogies", which can be used to illustrate the meaning of the Christian Gospel, contextualizing the biblical representation of the incarnation of Jesus. ( Source: Wikipedia)
Bruce Olson: in early 1961, at the age of 19, and over the objections of his parents, Olson left college, bought a plane ticket to Venezuela. At the time, he spoke no Spanish, and had only a few dollars in his hand.
Shortly after arriving in Venezuela, Olson heard about the Motilones, a violent stone-age tribe living on the borders of Venezuela and Colombia that had been in the news because of violent clashes with oil company employees, seeking to drill on their land. No one in the outside world knew anything about Motilone culture, their language or their life. Olson felt a strong pull towards making contact with the Motilones. (Source: Wikipedia)
I love his approach to incarnational missions and his commitment to stay, even after being shot with arrows.