Second Era Missions (Mid 1800’s through mid 1900’s)

Lecture Notes by Rev. Nate Wilson, with emphasis on the growing edges of Christianity.


2nd Era Mission Trends

¨      Field-governed

¨      Female – growing feminist movement (women’s suffrage 1920)

¨      Faith-financed – (no salary, no fund-raising)

¨      Lay-oriented – lots of college students sent by the SVM

¨      Pushing Inland (USA East to West, Africa E.W.&S. inward, China East Coast Inland)





¨      Karl Gutzlaff – German, Bible translation and distribution in Canton with Robert Morrison in 1830’s, founded Chinese Evangelization Society to train and support Chinese nationals to preach and distribute Christian literature in inland China. Nationals duped him, taking salaries, fabricating conversion stories, and selling tracts back to the printer who, in turn sold them back to Gutzlaff.

¨      1830’s-50’s Britain fought China to defend their racket of selling opium from the East India Company to addicts in China (This had been declared illegal by the Chinese emperor). Brit’s won, and it opened China not only to opium trade but also to British missionaries. Christian emperor installed.

¨      Hudson Taylor – Father of Inland Missions – Medical doctor, living by faith. First left for China in 1853 with the Chinese Evangelization Society. Contextualization in dress (Read Tucker P. 175-180 highlights). Married Maria, successful mobilization among working class of England, founding of China Inland Mission, persevered through persecution of foreigners in China, death of Maria and 3 (of 6) children, 200 missionaries slaughtered in Boxer rebellion of 1900, became largest missionary organization in 1934 with 1,368 missionaries. CIM expelled by Communists in 1950 and renamed Overseas Missionary Fellowship.

¨      Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth: China’s most outstanding evangelist – Presbyterians sent from Knox College in Ontario, Canada. Sailed for China in 1888. Focused on hospitality ministry – preached to 25,000 visitors to their European-style home in the space of 5 months. Hardships: 5 (of 11) children died, had to flee 1,000 miles during Boxer Rebellion,. sent wife and children home. Jon started itinerant evangelism and revival meetings throughout Korea and China – very successful. Remained evangelical despite liberalism in other Presbyterians.

¨      Gladys Aylward: Popularized by Hollywood movie “Inn of the Sixth Happiness” – not entirely accurate. British parlor maid, turned down by CIM in 1930 b/c too old to learn language (30), invited by missionary Jeanie Lawson and travelled by rail through Russian war zone to China in 1932. Developed hospitality ministry to muleteers in Shansi (actually called the Inn of Eight Happinesses), told Bible stories, local Mandarin employed her in a campaign against footbinding, orphan ministry starting with “Ninepence,” prison reform, became Chinese citizen, helped Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese nationalist army against Japanese and Communist armies during WW2. Famous story of the evacuation of 100 orphan children across the mountains to safety - the story mobilized many more missionaries to China.

¨      Cambridge Seven (C.T. Studd), Eric Liddel (1924 Olympic gold medallist, killed by Japanese in China 1942), and others


¨      Amy Carmichael: Example of Christian character from U.K. Associated with the Keswick Movement (deeper life theology conferences), 1893 went to Japan at age 25, but left after 15 months for “rest and change” and because “the Lord told me to follow Him down to Ceylon.” Spent the rest of her life (57 years) in Dohnavur saving children from temple prostitution. After 12 years had 130 children under her care. Formed a Protestant religious order called “Sisters of the Common Life” – emphasizing celibacy, mysticism, fellowship, and service. 35 books detailing life in India.

¨      E. Stanley Jones: from Maryland, went to Lucknow in 1907 with the Methodist Missionary Society. After three years of language study, went to Sitapur to minister to outcastes (like most other missionaries did), became burdened for high caste intellectuals but suffered breakdown from the strain of debate and had to go home. The following revolutionized his debate ministry: “Christianity must be defined as Christ, not the Old Testament, not Western Civilization, not even the [church] system built around Him, but Christ Himself… I refuse to ‘know anything save Jesus  Christ and Him crucified.’” Christian Ashram movement (24 of these discipline-oriented Christian communities by 1940), “This is our joyous task in India: to know Him, to introduce Him, and to retire…” Travelled the world as a successful evangelist, but weak on ecclesiology.

¨      And Many Others!


¨      David Livingston recruited by Robert Moffat to South Africa in 1840. Not best example of missionary (hard to get along with, not good husband and father) but was a devoted Christian and evangelist - told Bible stories with a slide projector, greatest contribution to spread of the Gospel was exploratations which opened up travel across Africa. Motivated to develop trade routes so inland tribes could develop streams of income and quit involvement in slave trade. Speaking tour in England and book Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa inspired many new missionaries for African inland. Stanley, atheist, reporter for the New York Herald, tracked Livingstone down for a story after he had returned to Africa, was converted while staying with Livinstone and used his journalism to recruit more missionaries to the cause.

¨      Peter Cameron Scott (Africa Inland Mission): Scottish immigrant to America pursuing career in opera. Decided to glorify God rather than self at the steps of an opera house. Left for West Africa with C&MA in 1890, where he worked with his brother. Brother died, he got malaria, furloughed in England. Inspired by inscription on David Livingstone’s tomb in Westminster Abbey, Scott returned to America to form a mission to penetrate Africa from E., moving beyond the Anglicans into the unreached tribes of the interior. 1895, Scott and seven others commissioned from the Bible Institute of PA. Died after a year of successful mission start-up in Africa. C.E. Hurlburt with his wife and 5 children moved to Africa and took up leadership of AIM. Est’d Rift Valley Academy, first field boarding school for missionary kids, expanded mission into Tanzania and Congo (with president Theo. Roosevelt’s help), steered through controversies like interdenominational cooperation and traditional female circumcision, turned over the mission to African leadership in 1971 – AIM missionaries now serve under the leadership and authority of Africans.

¨      Mary Slessor – From working-class family in Scotland, textile mills, Queen Street Mission in Dundee, met many missionaries who spoke at the Presbyterian church, mother wanted her children to become missionaries, 1876 Mary sailed to Nigeria with the Calabar Mission at age 27. Didn’t fit in with the genteel missionary wives – her habit of climbing trees was particularly unacceptable, so she stationed further out on the frontiers. Lived native lifestyle – mud hut, haphazard schedule, no hygiene, “immodest” clothing. She believed that pioneer work was best accomplished by women who were less threatening to unreached tribes than men. Developed tribal courts, schools, and trade. Viewed her work as preparatory for ordained men to come in later and do church planting, although she evangelized many adopted children.

¨      And Many Others!


¨      Samuel Zwemer: Grew up Dutch Reformed Church in Michigan. Signed SVM pledge when Wilder visited his college. Reformed Board thought it “impractical” to go to Arabia. Zwemer raised support for James Cantine among churches in the West, and Cantine raised support for Zwemer on the East coast, Departed for Arabia in 1889-90. Met and married Anglican missionary Amy Wilkes on the field. Few converts, and hard living conditions (107 F in the shade in Bahrain, death of two daughters) but est’d four mission stations. Returned to the U.S. in 1905 to mobilize funds and workers for Arabia. Called to lead United Presbyterian Mission in Egypt in 1912, where he did evangelistic meetings at the Muslim El Azhar university of Cairo and travelled the world promoting the needs of the Muslim world. Ended his years as chairman of History of Religion and Christian Missions at Princeton, where he edited the Moslem World journal.

Edinburgh Conference 1910

¨      Transition in missions

¨      Liberalism – new evangelical missions needed

¨      Women (Lottie Moon, Women’s Missionary Union, etc.)

¨      U.S. mission sending eclipsing Europe

¨      Indigenization issues

¨      Comity issues (formation of WCC)

SOURCES: Ruth Tucker From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, Earle Cairns Christianity Through The Centuries, David Howard Student Power in World Missions, Ralph Winter Perspectives On the World Christian Movement, and several individual missionary biographies.

Return to Nate & Paula Wilson's Homepage