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Missionary Quotes

Compiled by Stephen Ross

David BrainerdDavid Brainerd

"Oh, that I could dedicate my all to God. This is all the return I can make Him."

"It is impossible for any rational creature to be happy without acting all for God. God Himself could not make him happy any other way... There is nothing in the world worth living for but doing good and finishing God's work, doing the work that Christ did. I see nothing else in the world that can yield any satisfaction besides living to God, pleasing Him, and doing his whole will."

"Here am I, send me; send me to the ends of the earth; send me to the rough, the savage pagans of the wilderness; send me from all that is called comfort on earth; send me even to death itself, if it be but in Thy service, and to promote Thy kingdom."

"My desires seem especially to be after weanedness from the world, perfect deadness to it, and that I may be crucified to all its allurements. My soul desires to feel itself more of a pilgrim and a stranger here below, that nothing may divert me from pressing through the lonely desert, till I arrive at my Father's house."

"This morning about nine I withdrew to the woods for prayer. I was in such anguish that when I arose from my knees I felt extremely weak and overcome. ...I cared not how or where I lived, or what hardships I went through, so that I could but gain souls for Christ."

"Oh, that I could spend every moment of my life to God's glory!"

"I have received my all from God. Oh, that I could return my all to God."

"It is sweet to be nothing and less than nothing that Christ may be all in all."

"All my desire was the conversion of the heathen... I declare, now I am dying, I would not have spent my life otherwise for the whole world."

More information on David Brainerd


William CareyWilliam Carey

"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God."

After hearing an account of the spiritual needs of India, the secretary of the meeting remarked: "There is a gold mine in India, but it seems almost as deep as the center of the earth. Who will venture to explore it?" "I will venture to go down," said Carey, "but remember that you must hold the ropes."

Shortly before his death, Carey said to a friend: "You have been saying much about Dr. Carey and his work. When I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey; speak about Dr. Carey's Saviour."

More information on William Carey


James GilmourJames Gilmour

"Having decided as to the capacity in which I should labour in Christ's kingdom, the next thing which occupied my serious attention was the locality where I should labour. Occasionally, before, I had thought of the relative claims of the home and foreign fields, but during the summer session in Edinburgh I thought the matter out, and decided for the mission field; even on the low ground of common sense I seemed to be called to be a missionary. Is the kingdom a harvest field? Then I thought it reasonable that I should seek to work where the work was most abundant and the workers fewest. Labourers say they are over-taxed at home; what then must be the case abroad, where there are wide stretching plains already white to harvest, with scarcely here and there a solitary reaper? To me the soul of an Indian seemed as precious as the soul of an Englishman, and the Gospel as much for the Chinese as for the European; and as the band of missionaries was few compared with the company of home ministers, it seemed to me clearly to be my duty to go abroad.

"But I go out as a missionary not that I may follow the dictates of common sense, but that I may obey that command of Christ, 'Go into all the world and preach.' He who said 'preach,' said also, 'Go ye into and preach,' and what Christ hath joined together let not man put asunder.

"This command seems to me to be strictly a missionary injunction, and, as far as I can see, those to whom it was first delivered regarded it in that light, so that, apart altogether from choice and other lower reasons, my going forth is a matter of obedience to a plain command; and in place of seeking to assign a reason for going abroad, I would prefer to say that I have failed to discover any reason why I should stay at home."

"The ten days we passed there [at Ta Chêng Tzu], we were the song of the drunkard and the jest of the abjects; but the peace of God passes all understanding, and that kept my heart and mind. We put a calm front on, put out our stand daily, and carried ourselves as if nothing had happened. The great thought of my mind in these days, — and the great object of my life, — is to be like Christ. As He was in the world, so we are to be. He was in the world to manifest God; we are in the world to manifest Christ."

More information on James Gilmour


Adoniram JudsonAdoniram Judson

"The prospects are bright as the promises of God."

"I feel it is my duty to plod on, while daylight shall last..."

Shortly before his death, he said: "I am not tired of my work, neither am I tired of the world; yet, when Christ calls me home, I shall go with gladness..."

More information on Adoniram Judson


David LivingstoneDavid Livingstone

After hearing Gutzlaff speak on the spiritual needs in China, Livingstone said: "It is my desire to show my attachment to the cause of Him who died for me by devoting my life to His service."

"The end of the [geographical] exploration is the beginning of the [missionary] enterprise."

"Education has been given us from above for the purpose of bringing to the benighted the knowledge of the Saviour. If you knew the satisfaction of performing a duty, as well as the gratitude to God which the missionary must always feel in being chosen for so noble and sacred a calling, you would feel no hesitation in embracing it. For my own part I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay?"

"Fear God and work hard."

"I am immortal till my work is accomplished," he wrote. "And although I see few results, future missionaries will see conversions following every sermon. May they not forget the pioneers who worked in the thick gloom with few rays to cheer, except such as flow from faith in the precious promises of God's Word."

"I will place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the kingdom of Christ. If anything will advance the interests of that kingdom, it shall be given away or kept only as by giving or keeping of it I shall most promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes in time and eternity. May grace and strength sufficient to enable me to adhere faithfully to this resolution be imparted to me, so that in truth, not in name only, all my interests and those of my children may be identified with His cause ... I will try and remember always to approach God in secret with as much reverence in speech, posture, and behavior as in public. Help me, Thou who knowest my frame and pitiest as a father his children."

"Anywhere, provided it be forward."

When trying to find a way to the west coast of Africa, Livingstone wrote:
"Cannot the love of Christ carry the missionary where the slave-trade carries the trader? I shall open up a path to the interior or perish."

"If we wait till we run no risk, the gospel will never be introduced into the interior," he wrote to those who urged caution.

The inscription upon the marble that marks his resting-place closes with his own words: "All I can say in my solitude is, May Heaven's rich blessing come down on every one — American, English, Turk — who will help to heal this open sore of the world."

"Remember us in your prayers that we grow not weary in well doing. It is hard to work for years with pure motives, and all the time be looked upon by most of those to whom our lives are devoted as having some sinister object in view. Disinterested labor — benevolence — is so out of their line of thought, that many look upon us as having some ulterior object in view; but He who died for us, and Whom we ought to copy, did more for us than we can do for any one else. He endured the contradiction of sinners. We should have grace to follow in His steps."

"Death alone will put a stop to my effort!"

The doctor's brother Charles, in America, wrote him, urging him to come to that land of opportunity. This called forth his famous reply: "I am a missionary, heart and soul. God had an only Son, and He was a missionary and a physician. I am a poor, poor imitation of Him, or wish to be. In this service I hope to live; in it I wish to die!"

More information on David Livingstone


Alexander MacKayAlexander Mackay

My heart burns for the deliverance of Africa, and if you can send me to any one of the regions which Livingstone and Stanley have found to be groaning under the curse of slave-hunter, I shall be very glad."

"What is this you write— 'Come home? Surely now, in our terrible dearth of workers, it is not the time for any one to desert his post. Send us only our first twenty men and I may be tempted to come to help you to find the second twenty."

He wrote in his diary, 4th May, 1874: "This day last year Livingstone died—a Scotsman and a Christian, loving God and his neighbour in the heart of Africa. Go thou and do likewise!"

His twenty-fifth birthday came round, and on the 13th October, 1874, he jotted in his diary: "Twenty-five years old this day. 'Bless the Lord, O my soul,' for all His goodness. Man is immortal till his work is done. Use me in Thy service alone, blessed Saviour."

How closely the missionary walked with God through the years of his danger and toil in Uganda is evidenced by the following passage from his diary: "Lord, enable us to search our hearts and humble ourselves before Thee. Oh, for a closer walk with God, more faith, more sincerity, more earnestness, and more love. I must study more the Word of God. 'If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.' The Master said so, and His words are true."

"It is no sacrifice, as some think, to come here as pioneers of Christianity and of civilization. I would not give my position here for all the world. A powerful race has to be won from darkness to light; superstition and idolatry have to be overthrown; men have to be taught to love God and love their neighbour, which means the uprooting of institutions that have lasted for centuries; labour made noble, the slave set free, knowledge imparted, and wisdom implanted; and, above all, that true wisdom taught which alone can elevate man from a brute to a son of God. Who would not willingly engage in such noble work, and consider it the highest honour on earth to be called to do it?" Uganda, Nov. 19th, 1878.

"You sons of England, here is a field for your energies. Bring with you your highest education and greatest talents; you will find scope for the exercise of them all. You men of God, who have resolved to devote your lives to the cure of the souls of men, here is the proper field for you. It is not to win numbers to a Church, but to win men to the Saviour, and who otherwise will be lost, that I entreat you to leave your work at home to the many who are ready to undertake it, and to come forth yourselves to reap this field now white to the harvest. Rome is ushering in with her salvation by sacraments, and a religion of carnal ordinances. We want men who will preach Jesus and the resurrection. 'God is a spirit,' and let him who believes that throw up every other consideration and come forth to teach these people to worship Him in spirit and in truth." — Mackay's last message from Usambiro, Lake Victoria, January 2, 1890.

More information on Alexander Mackay


Samuel MarsdenSamuel Marsden

Whatever may have been Mr. Marsden's earlier ideas with regard to the importance of civilization in its relation to Christianity, his experience, at the end of thirty years of toil, found expression in these words: "Civilization is not necessary before Christianity; do both together if you will, but you will find civilization follow Christianity more easily than Christianity follow civilization."

More information on Samuel Marsden


Robert MoffatRobert Moffat

Writing to his parents from London shortly before sailing for Africa, he said: "Oh, that I had a thousand lives and a thousand bodies! All of them should be devoted to no other employment but to preach Christ ... I have not repented in becoming a missionary, and, should I die in the march and never enter the field of battle, all would be well."

While the Moffats were on their first furlough in England, David Livingstone asked Mr. Moffat whether he thought that he, perhaps, might also be used in the missionary work in Africa. Mr. Moffat replied, "Yes, particularly if you will not go to an old station but will push on into unoccupied fields." And then he added, "In the north I have seen in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been."

More information on Robert Moffat


John PatonJohn Paton

"Trials and hairbreadth escapes only strengthened my faith and nerved me for more to follow; and they trod swiftly enough upon each other's heels. Without that abiding consciousness of the presence and power of my Lord and Saviour, nothing in the world could have preserved me from losing my reason and perishing miserably. His words Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end became to me so real that it would not have startled me to behold Him, as Stephen did, gazing down upon the scene. It is the sober truth that I had my nearest and most intimate glimpses of the presence of my Lord in those dread moments when musket, club or spear was being levelled at my life."

"This is strength; this is peace; to feel, in entering on every day, that all its duties and trials have been committed to the Lord Jesus — that, come what may, He will use us for His own glory and our real good!"

"Nothing so clears the vision and lifts up the life, as a decision to move forward in what you know to be entirely the will of the Lord."

More information on John Paton


Mary SlessorMary Slessor

Mary Slessor wrote to a friend who had long prayed for her: "I have always said that I have no idea how or why God has carried me over so many funny and hard places, and made these hordes of people submit to me, or why the Government should have given me the privilege of a Magistrate among them, except in answer to prayer made at home for me. It is all beyond my comprehension. The only way I can explain it is on the ground that I have been prayed for more than most. Pray on, dear one — the power lies that way."

On another occasion she wrote: "Prayer is the greatest power God has put into our hands for service — praying is harder than doing, at least I find it so, but the dynamic lies that way to advance the Kingdom."

As for her rewards, she had but one question: "What would I do with starry crowns except to cast them at His feet?"

See also Some Thoughts Written in Mary Slessor's Bible

More information on Mary Slessor


C.T. StuddC.T. Studd

"I cannot tell you what joy it gave me to bring the first soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have tasted almost all the pleasures that this world can give. I do not suppose there is one that I have not experienced, but I can tell you that those pleasures were as nothing compared to the joy that the saving of that one soul gave me."

"I realized that my life was to be one of simple, childlike faith, and that my part was to trust, not to do. I was to trust in Him and He would work in me to do His good pleasure. From that time my life was different."

Expressing the aggressive leadership that was his in spiritual endeavors, C.T. Studd wrote:

"Nail the colours to the mast! That is the right thing to do, and, therefore, that is what we must do, and do it now. What colours? The colours of Christ, the work He has given us to do — the evangelization of all the unevangelized. Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible, by faith in the omnipotence, fidelity, and wisdom of the Almighty Saviour Who gave the command. Is there a wall in our path? By our God we will leap over it! Are there lions and scorpions in our way? We will trample them under our feet! Does a mountain bar our progress? Saying, 'Be thou cast into the sea,' we will march on. Soldiers of Jesus! Never surrender! Nail the colours to the mast!"

In a letter written shortly before his death, C.T. Studd reviews his life with this summary:

"As I believe I am now nearing my departure from this world, I have but a few things to rejoice in. They are these:
1. That God called me to China, and I went in spite of utmost opposition from all my loved ones.
2. That I joyfully acted as God told that rich young man to act.
3. That I deliberately at the call of God, when alone on the Bibbly liner in 1910, gave up my life for this work, which was to be henceforth not for the Sudan only, but for the whole unevangelized World.
My only joys therefore are that when God has given me a work to do, I have not refused it."

"...I do not say, Don't play games or cricket and so forth. By all means play and enjoy them, giving thanks to Jesus for them. Only take care that games do not become an idol to you as they did to me. What good will it do to anybody in the next world to have been the best player that ever has been? And then think of the difference between that and winning souls for Jesus."

"Some wish to live within the sound
of Church or Chapel bell;
I want to run a Rescue Shop
within a yard of hell."

More information on C.T. Studd


Hudson TaylorHudson Taylor

"If we are faithful to God in little things, we shall gain experience and strength that will be helpful to us in the more serious trials of life."

"Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all."

"God's work is not man working for God; it is God's own work, though often wrought through man's hands."

"Let us see that we keep God before our eyes; that we walk in His ways and seek to please and glorify Him in everything, great and small. Depend upon it, God's work, done in God's way, will never lack God's supplies."

"Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instruments afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him."

"...we are not only to renounce evil, but to manifest the truth. Bring it to the front; speak the Truth; live the Truth. We tell this people the world is vain; let our lives manifest that it is so. We tell them that our Home is above — that all these things are transitory — does our dwelling look like it? O to live consistent lives! The life of the Apostle was thoroughly consistent. Every one saw that he was a stranger and a sojourner; no one could feel that his home was here; all saw that it was up there."

More information on Hudson Taylor

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