Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

Famous Missionary: Everett Swanson

by Melissa Chang |

Famous Missionaries, Missions Organizations, Orphanages, Poverty

Everett Swanson

To be honest, Everett Swanson isn’t that famous. However, he should be. His actions have led to MILLIONS of children being fed, clothed, and educated around the world.

It was 1952. Everett was a pastor who volunteered to go to Korea during the war to preach to the troops. He had never before been to another country. He was only there for a few days. But those days changed not only his life, but millions of lives around the world.

Everett Swanson in KoreaAs he was taking a walk a young boy ran up, stole his coat, and ran off. Everett ran after the boy to get his coat back. As he rounded a corner, he ran smack into the middle of a huge neighborhood of shanties. He saw his coat laying in an open doorway of one of those wooded shacks. He went to pick it up, thinking the young thief had dropped it and run off. 

To his surprise, as he lifted the coat, there was the young boy, frightened, shivering, and horribly thin. As his eyes grew accustomed to his surroundings, he noticed half a dozen more small children shivering under rags. He later learned that these were orphans whose parents had been killed in the war. Quickly he went to a local storefront to get them some hot soup and blankets.

Everett Swanson with young childOnce back in his room at the base, he couldn’t get the kids off his mind. The next day he went back. In front of his shanty, there was a large garbage type truck throwing rags into the back. As he got closer, he realized with horror that the rags were children who had not made it through the night. Even more horrible, he realized this truck was going through the entire neighborhood, not just this one building. There were starving and dying children everwhere.

Finally, it was time to return. On the plane he kept hearing in his mind, What are you going to do? What are you going to do?  Instead of ignoring this voice, he actually did something. He collected money to begin a fund to help those children. Eventually, Compassion International was founded. Over 1 million children have been supported by individuals hoping to make a difference in the lives of hungry children all over the world.

Here is a video about Everett Swanson’s life, featuring the President of Compassion International, Wes Stafford.

Famous Missionary to Texas: Antonio Margil

by Carol Grace |

Famous Missionaries, Mexico, Native America, North America

margil paintingThere is nothing I like better than finding a new famous missionary that I have never heard of. In this case, it’s even more amazing, because Antonio Margil was a famous missionary to Texas – my home state.

Antonio Margil was the real deal and seriously devoted to his work. Originally from Spain, Margil volunteered to travel to the “new world” to become a missionary to the native indians and settlers in 1683. Antonio was actually a friar since the age of 15 and had devoted his life to God ever since. Once in the new world, Antonio quickly became a legend. He faced death, torture, persecution, hardship, starvation, illness and much more, yet he founded 3 colleges, hundreds of missions, and saw thousands and thousands of converts. In Gautemala alone, it is said he saw 80,000 come to faith.

Fray Antonio Margil de Jesus was extrememly devoted. He gave himself the nickname “Nothingness Itself” and even signed his letters that way. This barefoot friar refused to wear shoes and insisted on walking everywhere. He walked to all the scattered regions that he served, from Costa Rica to Texas, and it has been estimated that he walked eighty thousand miles in the New World.

“To enjoy God there is an eternity given to us; but to perform some service for God and to do some good to our brethren, the time for that is very short.”

Along his journeys with his fellow friars, he would preach to whomever he met, teaching and establishing missions. He faced resistance, attacks, sickness, and persecution, yet his perseverance boldness and kindness became legend.

It is said that one Terrabi chief said he would kill him if he came. Margil immediately went to his village where they were preparing a war party and went right into the chief’s abode. The chief upon seeing this rather small bold man, laid down his weapons and welcomed him.

His reputation for discovering false idols was such that in many Indian villages, when word would arrive that Fr. Antonio Margil was coming, they would gather ahead of time their false gods for him to burn.

On one famous mission, they went along the border of Mexico among the Lacandons. When the missionaries arrived there even their guides abandoned them, fearful of these indians refuted to be cannibals. Entering their territory, the missionaries were captured, stripped, bound to trees and commanded with the threat of death to worship the village idols. They refused and preached the Gospel instead. For the three days the men were kept tied up and tortured. When the Indians saw that Antonio and his fellow friars seemed to stay cheerful and fearless, they thought they posessed some sort of power. They eventually released them and commanded never to return. Of course, they eventually did return and saw many converts.

Another thing Antonio was famous for was his kindness. He often ploughed and sowed the native indian’s gardens, helping them with their work and collecting fruits, nuts and other products for them.

He also gained much fame for his reported miracles. There are several accounts of the friar drawing water from a rock in Nacogdoches, reading people’s hearts, predicting the future, healing, walking on water, and even showing up in 2 places at once. These stories of miracles only increased his legend and fame among the Indian people and his fellow Spaniards.

Although he told a friend that he wanted to die in Texas in a place he loved with the Indian people he loved, he actually died in Mexico City after 43 years of missionary service at the age of 69. To this day, Antonio is being considered for sainthood. If he receives it, he will be Texas’ first saint.

To read more, visit this site or this site.

From Prisoner to Missionary: Jacob DeShazer

by Melissa Chang |

Famous Missionaries, Japan, Uncategorized

Jacob DeShazerIt was December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Peal Harbor. Jacob DeShazer was a 29 year old seargent in the US army. When he heard about the raid, he made it his goal to pay back the Japanese. He volunteered to join a special group that would attack Tokyo and turned the tide of the Pacific war. Unfortunately, after his successful mission, he and his team had to ditch their planes, parachuting into enemy territory. They were captured.

For the next three years, he paid a heavy price for his bravery as the Japanese beat, tortured and starved him as a “war criminal.” He was held in a series of P.O.W. camps both in Japan and China for 40 months — 34 of them in solitary confinement. He was severely beaten and malnourished while three of the crew were executed by a firing squad, and another died of slow starvation.

Filled with hatred and rage towards all Japanese, something seemingly impossible happened. DeShazer vowed to spend his life as a missionary, telling the Japanese of Christ’s love. So, what changed him? He asked for a Bible towards the end of his imprisonment and had a radical conversion experience that changed his life forever.

Here are some excerpts from a tract that DeShazer wrote and had distributed around Japan about his experience.

by Jacob DeShazer (1950)

“I was a prisoner of Japan for forty long months, thirty-four of them in solitary confinement

When I flew as a member of General Jimmy Doolittle’s squadron on the first raid over Japan on April 18th, 1942, my heart was filled with bitter hatred for the people of that nation. When our plane ran out of gas, and the members of the crew of my plane had to parachute down into Japanese-held territory in China and were captured by the enemy, the bitterness of my heart against my captors seemed more than I could bear.

Taken to Tokyo with the survivors of another of our planes, we were imprisoned and beaten, half-starved, and denied by solitary confinement even the comfort of association with one another, these terrible tortures taking place at Tokyo, Shanghai, Nanking and Peiping. Three of my buddies, Dean Hallmark, Fill Farrow and Harold Spatz, were executed by a firing squad about six months after our capture, and fourteen months later another of them, Bob Meder [a strong Christian], died of slow starvation. My hatred for the Japanese people nearly drove me crazy.

It was soon after Meder’s death that I began to ponder the cause of such hatred between members of the human race. I wondered what it was that made the Japanese hate the Americans, and what made me hate the Japanese. my thoughts turned toward what I had heard about Christianity changing hatred between human beings into real brotherly love, and I was gripped with a strange longing to examine the Christian’s Bible to see if I could find the secret. I begged my captors to get a Bible for me. At last, in the month of May, 1944, a guard brought the Book, but told me I could have it for only three weeks.

I eagerly began to read its pages. Chapter after chapter gripped my heart. …

How my heart rejoiced in my newness of spiritual life, even though my body was suffering so terribly from the physical beatings and lack of food. But suddenly I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes, and that when I looked at the Japanese officers and guards who had starved and beaten me and my companions so cruelly, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity. I realized that these Japanese did not know anything about my Saviour and that if Christ is not in a heart, it is natural to be cruel. I read in my Bible that while those who crucified Jesus on the cross had beaten Him and spit upon Him before He was nailed to the cross, He tenderly prayed in His moment of excruciating suffering, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” And now from the depths of my heart, I too prayed for God to forgive my torturers, and I determined by the aid of Christ to do my best to acquaint the Japanese people with the message of salvation that they might become as other believing Christians. …

At last freedom came. On August 20th, 1945, American parachutists dropped onto the prison grounds and released us from our cells. We were flown back to the United States and placed in hospitals where we slowly regained our physical strength.

I have completed my training in a Christian College, God having clearly commanded me: “Go, teach the Japanese people the way of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ,” and am now in Japan as a missionary, with the one single purpose to lead me – to make Christ known.

I am sending this testimony to people everywhere, with the earnest prayer that a great host of people may confess Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.”

In one of the most inspiring stories and miraculous stories to come out of this story, Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who bombed Pearl Harbor, and DeShazer, the Doolittle Raider who bombed Tokyo, became close friends. Fuchida became a Christian in 1950 after reading the DeShazer’s testimony above – and, like DeShazer, he spent the rest of his life as a missionary in Asia

Here is a video interview with Jacob DeShazer from CBN

I was a Prisoner of Japan is DeShazer’s story as told to Don R. Falkenberg of The Bible Meditation League (BML), 1950.

Famous Missionary: Robert Jermain Thomas

by Carol Grace |

Famous Missionaries, Korea

 Man on Fire

Photo by Focal Intent

I was looking up famous missionaries yesterday and ran across someone I had never heard of before: Robert Jermain Thomas. After reading his biography, I was amazed. Why haven’t I heard of this man before?  His story is extremely powerful.

Why haven’t I heard of this man before?

Robert Jermain Thomas went to China in the 1800’s to be a missionary with his wife. However, Robert’s most famous story actually occurs in Korea. After a 5 month boat trip to get to China, he lost his young wife who died shortly after arrival. Robert stayed in China, but resigned from his missionary post. About a year later, he met 2 Korean Catholics who would change his destiny forever.

north korean billboardAt that time, all of Korea was called the Hermit Kingdom. It was known for its hostility to outsiders, similar to North Korea today, but possibly even more extreme.  There had been several priests in Korea since 1785, and those few priests were meeting in small house type churches with thousands of believers who had no Bibles or scriptures. The authorities were very hostile to Christianity and massacred almost 10,000 at one point around the same time Robert was in China.

Robert was very moved about the plight of the Koreans and begin making secret trips on trading ships to distribute Bibles under heavy disguise and serious threat of death if caught. His last trip was in 1866 on an American merchant trading ship as a translator. Upon entering Pyongyang, the current capital of North Korea, a battle ensued. The Koreans did not want the foreign traders there, and the captain of the American ship reportedly started shooting. This caused the Koreans to retaliate. During the battle the ship got stuck on a sand bar and the Koreans caught the ship on fire. Those who escaped and swam to shore were quickly killed by the soldiers on the banks.

On the deck of the burning ship, Robert flung open his cases of Bibles and began flinging them to the villagers on the shore watching and to the soldiers themselves shouting “Jesus!”  Finally, Robert himself caught on fire, still throwing the Bibles and jumped into the river. As he swam to shore he begged the awaiting soldier to take a Bible from him. Witnesses say the soldier was reluctant to kill him, but did his duty. Robert was only 27.

small handsMeanwhile, the scene of this passionate man so caring about the Bibles touched those on the shores who witnessed it. Some felt bad about destroying the Bibles he had so passionately tried to give away and took them home, using them as wallpaper.  Eventually, out of curiosity, they started reading the pages.

About 5o years later a huge revival broke out in Pyongyang. in 1904 10,000 became Christian. In 1906, 30,000…In 1907, 50,000 more. Finally, in 1931 a memorial church was built on the spot to honor Robert Jermain Thomas, who had died so passionately trying to give away Bibles with his last breath.

The soldier who had killed Robert, did end up taking the Bible. Choon Kwon Park later played an important role in establishment of the Pyongany Church. Today, many Koreans still visit the home of Robert Jermain Thomas in Wales to pay their respects and to remember.

To read more articles on Robert Jermain Thomas you can click here or here.

To purchase an autobiography of Robert’s life, you can visit Emmaus Road to find a copy of Stella Price’s book, Chosen for Choson.

Billboard photo by Mark Scott Johnson
Begging photo by Photos8.com

David Brainerd: Providing foundations for future missionaries

by Athelda Ensley |

Famous Missionaries

journal writing

David Brainerd was born in 1718 and was considered for a time as an American missionary to Native Americans. Brainerd enrolled at Yale after turning 21, but was later expelled over a comment about a college tutor. (He remains the only expelled student to have a building on Yale’s campus named after him). This little bump in the road, however, did not throw Brainerd off course. He continued to prepare for the work of ministry.

David Brainerd worked at an Indian settlement near Stockbridge, Massachusetts and then went on to minister to the Delaware Indians of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. His focus was on both the physical and spiritual needs of these people, which set him apart from some missionaries of that day.

In Brainerd’s lifetime he was not responsible for many conversions. But, due to his writings, such as his Diary and Other Private Writings, future missionaries gained guidance in approaching the high call of missions.

For those who will venture out as new missionaries soon, remember that you will gain helpful information for those who follow, just like you have received helpful information from those who went on ahead of you. Someone, someday will follow in your footsteps also. Therefore it’s important to talk about the journey, jot down your feelings and ideas so that perhaps God can use it to encourage a new generation of missionaries. Technology has allowed today’s missionaries to instantly chronicle their trips for future reference. Wouldn’t it be awesome to provide a foundation for others like David Brainerd did?

Famous Missionary: William Carey

by Carol Grace |

Famous Missionaries

open map

William Carey was a famous missionary to India. He was called the “Father of Modern Missions” because he was actually one of the few missionaries of his time. In fact, when he told his pastor about his desire for missions, he got yelled at. “Young man, sit down! When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your help or mine!”

However, nothing stopped him from following his convictions. He didn’t even care where he went as long as it was where he was most needed.

“To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map,” he used to say.

As a child, Carey was extremely poor and worked as a shoemaker. He had no education, but he taught himself languages, and ended up translating the scriptures into over 40 different languages. He also was a really hard worker. In India, he took a job at an Indigo factory just to get to know the local people of the village where he lived.

At the end of his life, he had founded a mission that had 30 missionaries, 40 teachers, 45 stations and almost 600 church members. In addition, he helped form the English Baptist Missionary Society, which has reached thousands in different parts of the world.

So, no matter what other people think of your plans, you can be confident in where God is leading you. What do you think He might have in store for YOUR future?

To read more visit http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/b3careyw.htm or purchase his biography at Amazon.com.

Famous Missionary: Amy Carmichael

by Carol Grace |

Famous Missionaries

kids in india
Photo by
Pratham Books

Amy Carmichael was a famous missionary to India. She ended up being a surrogate mother to literally hundreds of orphaned and unwanted children there.

Even as a child, Amy was filled with compassion towards others. Once, she and her brother helped a homeless woman that the rest of her village viewed as an outcast. People started looking down on her for helping the woman, but she didn’t care. Ever since, she began helping people that others viewed as outcasts only more and more.

She once wrote, “Can we follow the savior far, who have no wound or scar?”

Although she felt called to India, others tried to stop her. They said she was too weak and frail. One missions organization wouldn’t even take her because they didn’t think she could handle the rough life overseas. But she didn’t let that stop her. She not only took in hundreds of children, but she stood up and fought against the caste system and for the rights of women.

So, no matter what your limitations, God can use you to make a difference for Him. He doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. What do you think He might have in store for YOUR future?

To read more visit http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/b3carmichaelAmy.htm or purchase her biography at Amazon.com.

Famous Missionary: Jonathan Goforth

by Carol Grace |

Famous Missionaries

fish out of waterJonathan Goforth was a famous missionary in China. Just like his name, he was always going forth, further into China, preaching, teaching, and never quitting. He was totally into training local Chinese pastors, because he felt like that was the best way to spread the gospel. He faced a lot of hardships, but he always kept moving forward. He was attacked by mobs, reviled by Christians back home, and lost several of his children. A book written about him was called Never Give Up. He use to say that he would be willing to walk 10 miles to bring one lost soul to Christ.

As a kid, Jonathan was extremely poor.  He was so poor that people mocked him and mistreated him. He was highly educated, but was really not very good at languages. He had a really hard time communicating in Chinese and adapting to the culture. Eventually, he and his wife just started inviting the curious Chinese into their western styled home to give tours of their own culture. Many other missionaries disagreed with this method, but it seemed to work great for them.

One of the biggest turning points in Jonathan’s ministry was when a big revival swept the country. He said he saw more converts after that than he had in 20 years of missions before that. At the end of Jonathan’s life, he had set up thirty-one mission stations, trained sixty-one native Chinese pastors, and converted more than 13,000 Chinese people. 

So, no matter what your limitations, God can use you just as you are to make a difference for Him. What do you think He might have in store for YOUR future?

To read more visit http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/b3jgoforth10ca.htm or purchase his biography at Amazon.com.

Famous Missionary: Mary Slessor

by Carol Grace |

Famous Missionaries

African Traditional Dance

Photo by US Army Africa

Mary Slessor is the stuff legends are made of. At only 5 feet tall with bright red hair, she traveled deep into the interior of Africa where no Westerner had ever set foot. She stood up to many witch doctors, saved many babies, earned the respect of tribal chiefs and stepped between warriors to stop fights.

“Lord, there are other villages back in the jungle where no Christian has gone. They need Jesus, too. Help me reach them,” was her prayer.

As a woman, Mary was less threatening than a man, so once she learned the language she chose to walk into the heart of the jungle COMPLETELY alone. She was known for her bravery and fearlessness and was extremely adapted to the local culture, gaining respect even from those she stood up to.

Her childhood was pretty rough, but she didn’t let that stop her. Her father was a serious alcoholic and abusive to the family. At 27 years old, she was working in a cotton mill and decided to follow the call of her hero, David Livingstone, to “Go Forward.”

At the end of her life Mary had traveled to where no other foreigner had ever gone. She had saved scores of children, prisoners and slaves and brought the Gospel where it had never been.

So, no matter what your background, God can use you to make a difference for Him. What do you think He might have in store for YOUR future?

To read more visit http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/b1maryslessor.htm or purchase her biography at Amazon.com.

Find out Which Famous Missionary are You Most Like?


Robert Moffat: The King’s Gardener in Africa

by Stephanie Colman |

Africa, Famous Missionaries, South Africa

 lion in the grasslands
Photo by lensbug.chandru

While being a missionary is not an easy task,it is full of rewards, especially the reward of seeing seeds sown for Christ come to fruit as salvation. Robert Moffat’s dream was to plant a “Garden for God in Africa.” Robert Moffat was born in 1795 in Scottland and died in 1883. His life was full of excitement and heartbreak yet he never let anything stop him from spreading the Word of God. Robert Moffat was involved in opening many mission stations in the interior of Africa. He served as a missionary in Africa for over 50 years.

After many ears of toiling spreading the Good News and planting seeds Robert Moffat had seen no fruit of salvation yet. A turning point in Robert Moffat’s missionary career happened after a conversation with his wife in which Robert said ”Mary, this is hard work, and no fruit yet appears;” and Mary his wife replied, “The gospel has not yet been preached to them in their own tongue in which they were born.”

African boysRobert Moffat then began a focus on learning the native language and began visiting more remote tribes. Soon after the first fruits of his labor began to be reaped as the salvation of the Bechuanas and other natives became evident. He completed the translation of the Bible into Sechwana which is the language of the Bechuanas after 30 years of laboring on the project.

Robert also wrote two missionary books, Missionary Labors and Scenes in South Africa and Rivers of Water in a Dry Place. He is also most famous for inspiring his son-in-law David Livingstone to enter missionary work in Arica with his famous quote:

“I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages, where no missionary has ever been.”

Robert Moffat and his wife Mary never gave up hope that they were doing the work of God as missionaries in Africa. They continued on no matter the circumstances that they faced. They are both a wonderful testament of the faith and perseverance which we as Christians should strive to obtain.

© Missions Launch. All rights reserved.