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A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or perform ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development.[1][2] The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin missionem (nom. missio), meaning "act of sending" or mittere, meaning "to send".[3] The word was used in light of its biblical usage; in the Latin translation of the Bible, Christ uses the word when sending the disciples to preach the gospel in his name. The term is most commonly used for Christian missions, but can be used for any creed or ideology.[4]

Missionaries by religion

Christian missions

A Christian missionary can be defined as "one who is to witness across cultures".[2] The Lausanne Congress of 1974, defined the term, related to Christian mission as, "to form a viable indigenous church-planting movement". Missionaries can be found in many countries around the world.

In the Bible, Jesus is recorded as instructing the apostles to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19–20, Mark 16:15–18). This verse is referred to by Christian missionaries as the Great Commission and inspires missionary work.

Historic

Village of Christianized Tapuyos Indians, Brazil c. 1820

The Christian Church expanded throughout the R

A Christian missionary can be defined as "one who is to witness across cultures".[2] The Lausanne Congress of 1974, defined the term, related to Christian mission as, "to form a viable indigenous church-planting movement". Missionaries can be found in many countries around the world.

In the Bible, Jesus is recorded as instructing the apostles to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19–20, Mark 16:15–18). This verse is referred to by Christian missionaries as the Great Commission and inspires missionary work.

Historic

Village of Christianized Tapuyos Indians, Brazil c. 1820

The Christian Church expanded throughout the Roman Empire already in New Testament times and is said by tradition to have reached even further, to Persia (Church of the East) and to India (Saint Thomas Christians). During the Middle Ages, the Christian monasteries and missionaries such as Saint Patrick (5th century), and Adalbert of Prague (ca 956-997) propagated learning and religion beyond the European boundaries of the old Roman Empire. In 596, Pope Gregory the Great (in office 590-604) sent the Gregorian Mission (including Augustine of Canterbury) into England. In their turn, Christians from Ireland (the Hiberno-Scottish mission) and from Britain (Saint Boniface (ca 675-754), and the Anglo-Saxon mission, for example) became prominent in converting the inhabitants of central Europe.

During the Age of Discovery, the Catholic Church established a number of missions in the Americas and in other Western colonies through the Augustinians, Franciscans, and Dominicans to spread Christianity in the New World and[clarification needed] to convert the Native Americans and other indigenous people. About the same time, missionaries such as Francis Xavier (1506–1552) as well as other Jesuits, Augustinians, Franciscans, and Dominicans reached Asia and the Far East, and the Portuguese sent missions into Africa. Emblematic in many respects is Matteo Ricci's Jesuit mission to China from 1582, which was totally peaceful and non-violent. These missionary movements should be distinguished from others, such as the Baltic Crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries, which were arguably compromised in their motivation by designs of military conquest.

Jesus is recorded as instructing the apostles to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19–20, Mark 16:15–18). This verse is referred to by Christian missionaries as the Great Commission and inspires missionary work.

The Christian Church expanded throughout the Roman Empire already in New Testament times and is said by tradition to have reached even further, to Persia (Church of the East) and to India (Saint Thomas Christians). During the Middle Ages, the Christian monasteries and missionaries such as Saint Patrick (5th century), and Adalbert of Prague (ca 956-997) propagated learning and religion beyond the European boundaries of the old Roman Empire. In 596, Pope Gregory the Great (in office 590-604) sent the Gregorian Mission (including Augustine of Canterbury) into England. In their turn, Christians from Ireland (the Hiberno-Scottish mission) and from Britain (Saint Boniface (ca 675-754), and the Anglo-Saxon mission, for example) became prominent in converting the inhabitants of central Europe.

During the Age of Discovery, the Catholic Church established a number of missions in the Americas and in other Western colonies through the Augustinians, Franciscans, and Dominicans to spread Christianity in the New World and[clarification needed] to convert the Native Americans and other indigenous people. About the same time, missionaries such as Francis Xavier (1506–1552) as well as other During the Age of Discovery, the Catholic Church established a number of missions in the Americas and in other Western colonies through the Augustinians, Franciscans, and Dominicans to spread Christianity in the New World and[clarification needed] to convert the Native Americans and other indigenous people. About the same time, missionaries such as Francis Xavier (1506–1552) as well as other Jesuits, Augustinians, Franciscans, and Dominicans reached Asia and the Far East, and the Portuguese sent missions into Africa. Emblematic in many respects is Matteo Ricci's Jesuit mission to China from 1582, which was totally peaceful and non-violent. These missionary movements should be distinguished from others, such as the Baltic Crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries, which were arguably compromised in their motivation by designs of military conquest.

Much contemporary Catholic missionary work has undergone profound change since the Second Vatican Council of 1962–1965, with an increased push for indigenization and inculturation, along with social justice issues as a constitutive part of preaching the Gospel.

As the Catholic Church normally organizes itself along territorial lines and had the human and material resources, religious orders, some even specializing in it, undertook most missionary work, especially in the era after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West. Over time, the Holy See gradually established a normalized Church structure in the mission areas, often starting with special jurisdictions known as apostolic prefectures and apostolic vicariates. At a later stage of development these foundations are raised to regular diocesan status with a local bishops appointed. On a global front, these processes were often accelerated in the later 1960s, in part accompanying political decolonization. In some regions, however, they are still in course.

Just as the Bishop of Rome had jurisdiction also in territories later considered to be in the Eastern sphere, so the missionary efforts of the two 9th-century saints Cyril and Methodius were largely conducted in relation to the West rather than the East, though the field of activity was central Europe.

The Eastern Orthodox Church, under the Orthodox Church of Constantinople undertook vigorous missionary work under the Roman Empire and its successor the As the Catholic Church normally organizes itself along territorial lines and had the human and material resources, religious orders, some even specializing in it, undertook most missionary work, especially in the era after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West. Over time, the Holy See gradually established a normalized Church structure in the mission areas, often starting with special jurisdictions known as apostolic prefectures and apostolic vicariates. At a later stage of development these foundations are raised to regular diocesan status with a local bishops appointed. On a global front, these processes were often accelerated in the later 1960s, in part accompanying political decolonization. In some regions, however, they are still in course.

Just as the Bishop of Rome had jurisdiction also in territories later considered to be in the Eastern sphere, so the missionary efforts of the two 9th-century saints Cyril and Methodius were largely conducted in relation to the West rather than the East, though the field of activity was central Europe.

The Eastern Orthodox Church, under the Orthodox Church of Constantinople undertook vigorous missionary work under the Roman Empire and its successor the Byzantine Empire. This had lasting effects and in some sense is at the origin of the present relations of Constantinople with some sixteen Orthodox national churches including the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (both traditionally said to have been founded by the missionary Apostle Andrew), the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (said to have been founded by the missionary Apostle Paul). The Byzantines expanded their missionary work in Ukraine after the mass baptism in Kiev in 988. The Serbian Orthodox Church had its origins in the conversion by Byzantine missionaries of the Serb tribes when they arrived in the Balkans in the 7th century. Orthodox missionaries also worked successfully among the Estonians from the 10th to the 12th centuries, founding the Estonian Orthodox Church.

Under the Russian Empire of the 19th century, missionaries such as Nicholas Ilminsky (1822–1891) moved into the subject lands and propagated Orthodoxy, including through Belarus, Latvia, Moldova, Finland, Estonia, Ukraine, and China. The Russian St. Nicholas of Japan (1836–1912) took Eastern Orthodoxy to Japan in the 19th century. The Russian Orthodox Church also sent missionaries to Alaska beginning in the 18th century, including Saint Herman of Alaska (died 1836), to minister to the Native Americans. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia continued missionary work outside Russia after the 1917 Russian Revolution, resulting in the establishment of many new dioceses in the diaspora, from which numerous converts have been made in Eastern Europe, North America, and Oceania.

Early Protestant missionaries included John Eliot and contemporary ministers including John Cotton and Richard Bourne, who ministered to the Algonquin natives who lived in lands claimed by representatives of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 17th century. Quaker "publishers of truth" visited Boston and other mid-17th century colonies, but were not always well received.[5]

The Danish government began the

Early Protestant missionaries included John Eliot and contemporary ministers including John Cotton and Richard Bourne, who ministered to the Algonquin natives who lived in lands claimed by representatives of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 17th century. Quaker "publishers of truth" visited Boston and other mid-17th century colonies, but were not always well received.[5]

The Danish government began the first organized Protestant mission work through its College of Missions, established in 1714. This funded and directed Lutheran missionaries such as Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg in Tranquebar, India, and Hans Egede in Greenland. In 1732, while on a visit in 1732 to Copenhagen for the coronation of his cousin King Christian VI, the Moravian Church's patron Nicolas Ludwig, Count von Zinzendorf, was very struck by its effects, and particularly by two visiting Inuit children converted by Hans Egede. He also got to know a slave from the Danish colony in the West Indies. When he returned to Herrnhut in Saxony, he inspired the inhabitants of the village – it had fewer than thirty houses then – to send out "messengers" to the slaves in the West Indies and to the Moravian missions in Greenland. Within thirty years, Moravian missionaries had become active on every continent, and this at a time when there were fewer than three hundred people in Herrnhut. They are famous for their selfless work, living as slaves among the slaves and together with the Native Americans, the Delaware (i.e., Lenni Lenape) and Cherokee Indian tribes. Today, the work in the former mission provinces of the worldwide Moravian Church is carried on by native workers. The fastest-growing area of the work is in Tanzania in Eastern Africa. The Moravian work in South Africa inspired William Carey and the founders of the British Baptist missions. As of 2014, seven of every ten Moravians live in a former mission field and belong to a race other than Caucasian.

Much Anglican mission work came about under the auspices of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG, founded in 1701), the Church Missionary Society (CMS, founded 1799) and of the Intercontinental Church Society (formerly the Commonwealth and Continental Church Society, originating in 1823).

With a dramatic increase in efforts since the 20th century, and a strong push since the Lausanne I: The International Congress on World Evangelization in Switzerland in 1974,[6] modern evangelical groups have focused efforts on sending missionaries to every ethnic group in the world. While this effort has not been completed, increased attention has brought larger numbers of people distributing Bibles, Jesus videos, and establishing evangelical churches in more remote areas.

Internationally, the focus for many years in the later 20th century was on reaching every "people group" with Christianity by the year 2000. Bill Bright's leadership with Campus Crusade, the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, The Joshua Project, and others brought about the need to know who these "unreached people groups" are and how those wanting to tell about the Christian God and share a Christian Bible could reach them. The focus for these organizations transitioned from a "country focus" to a "people group focus". (From "What is a People Group?" by Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins: A "people group" is an ethnolinguistic group with a common self-identity that is shared by the various members. There are two parts to that word: ethno and linguistic. Language is a primary and dominant identifying factor of a people group. But there are other factors that determine or are associated with ethnicity.)

International Mission Board, The Joshua Project, and others brought about the need to know who these "unreached people groups" are and how those wanting to tell about the Christian God and share a Christian Bible could reach them. The focus for these organizations transitioned from a "country focus" to a "people group focus". (From "What is a People Group?" by Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins: A "people group" is an ethnolinguistic group with a common self-identity that is shared by the various members. There are two parts to that word: ethno and linguistic. Language is a primary and dominant identifying factor of a people group. But there are other factors that determine or are associated with ethnicity.)

What can be viewed as a success by those inside and outside the church from this focus is a higher level of cooperation and friendliness among churches and denominations. It is very common for those working on international fields to not only cooperate in efforts to share their gospel message, but view the work of their groups in a similar light. Also, with the increased study and awareness of different people groups, western mission efforts have become far more sensitive to the cultural nuances of those they are going to and those they are working with in the effort.

Over the years, as indigenous churches have matured, the church of the Global South (Africa, Asia, and Latin America) has become the driving force in missions. Korean and African missionaries can now be found all over the world. These missionaries represent a major shift in church history. Another major shift in the form of modern missionary work takes shape in the conflation of spiritualism with contemporary military metaphors and practices. Missionary work as spiritual warfare is the latest iteration in a long-standing relationship between Christian missions and militarization. Despite the seeming opposition between the submissive and morally upstanding associations with prayer and dominating violence associated with militarism, these two spheres interact in a dialectical way—they are entangled to produce one another.[7]

Nigeria, and other countries have had large numbers of their Christian adherents go to other countries and start churches. These non-western missionaries often have unparalleled success; because, they need few western resources and comforts to sustain their livelihood while doing the work they have chosen among a new culture and people.