Samuel Crowther (1809 - 1891), was born in Yorubaland (modern Western Nigeria). Along with his mother, brother and entire village, he was captured by Muslim Fulani slave raiders and sold to a Portuguese trader for transport across the Atlantic.
Samuel was rescued by a British naval squadron and put ashore at Freetown in 1822. This West-African country of Sierra Leone had been established by British Evangelicals to serve as a haven for freed slaves.
Famous English cricketer turned pioneer missionary, Charles T. Studd (1860 – 1931), had captained the Eton and Cambridge cricket teams and then had played for the All English in Australia. He was converted during the Evangelical Revival of 1880 under the ministry of D. L. Moody. He gave up everything and went as a missionary to China in 1885. There he met Priscilla Stewart and all four of their children were born in the heart of China.
The slave trade in the early 19th century presented a monumental ethical challenge and an apparently insurmountable obstacle to missionary outreaches in Africa. The abolition of the slave trade helped prepare the way for the 19th century to become the greatest century for missionary advance.
As we battle against great social evils such as abortion, pornography and persecution and work for Reformation, the overwhelming opposition and pressure can drive one to exhaustion and a temptation to give up the fight. William Wilberforce – the Reformer who led the campaign to abolish the slave trade and to set those in bondage free – was persistently slandered in the media, threatened, physically assaulted and even the target of attempted murder. Yet he persevered and, after a lifetime crusade, his steadfastness was rewarded with the liberation of all slaves in the British Empire.
At this critical stage in history Christians need to learn from one of the greatest Christian statesmen how, in the face of constant division and opposition, he succeeded in abolishing the slave trade.
Never have there been so many incredible opportunities for missionary work worldwide, yet there are tens of thousands of vacancies waiting to be filled on the mission field today. The harvest has never been so large – and the workers are frustratingly few.
Finding suitable missionary volunteers has never been easy – nor is it likely to get any easier. Missionary service demands dedication, determination and discipline – and these qualities are basically rejected by the television generation.
“It is impossible! It cannot be done! Do not be ridiculous – what difference can one person make?”
Have you ever encountered these reactions? Anyone who embarks on a challenging enterprise – especially those determined to end legal abortions, eradicate pornography, establish a Christian school or Christian Teacher Training College, stop the ongoing slave trade in Sudan, work for national Reformation and Revival or evangelize a Muslim nation – will encounter those people who seem to believe that they have “the gift of criticism” and “a ministry of discouragement!”
William Burns (1815 – 1868) was born, the third son, to Christian parents, his father being a minister in the Church of Scotland. His favourite book was Pilgrim’s Progress. Upon entering University in Aberdeen to study law, William Burns was converted after receiving a letter from his sisters. From the moment of his conversion, he was aware of a call to the ministry of the Gospel. He completed theological training in Glasgow and helped in the formation of the Students Missionary Society.
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues standing before the Throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying: Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the Throne and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7: 9-10
The great era of missionary advance was the 19th century. The considered judgement of church historian Kenneth Scott Latourette is that: “Never had any other set of ideas, religious or secular, been propagated over so wide an area by so many professional agents maintained by the unconstrained donations of so many millions of individuals.”
Adoniram and Ann Judson had the distinction of being America’s first foreign missionaries. Adoniram Judson was the son of an austere Congregational minister. Adoniram learned to read by age three. From the beginning it was clear that he was destined for an exceptional life.
David Livingstone (1813 – 1873), was a great missionary pioneer pathfinder whose greatest desire was granted only after his death: the eradication of the slave trade and the opening up of Africa to Christianity and lawful commerce.
Livingstone the Liberator
He had the grace to see that his mission was part of a divine plan to set many souls free from slavery, both physical and spiritual. Livingstone’s great goal of bringing to the world’s attention the scourge of the Islamic slave trade in Africa was achieved largely through the work of his convert, American journalist Henry Morton Stanley.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is life changing, history making and nation transforming! If it does not change your life and the lives of those around you then it is not the Biblical Gospel.
The 19th Century was the greatest century for missions. In 1793 the modern missionary movement was launched by William Carey. In just 100 years: Bible translations multiplied from 50 to 250 and mission organisations from 7 to 100. Protestant missionaries were sent out to every corner of the world, Whole tribes were converted and nations discipled. Within a century, by 1900, the number of professing Christians more than doubled from 215 million to 500 million.
What inspired this – the great century of missionary advance?