Learning from missions history

I am taking the course “Missional Living: A History of Missions and How It Impacts Missional Living Today” through the Christian Women’s Leadership Center. The videos and reading are reminders of the passion and sacrifice of those who advanced the gospel to unreached people in their day. Missions work today is built upon the legacy of these missionaries and missions leaders.

While I have been familiar with names like William Carey, Ann and Adoniram Judson, Lottie Moon, and Hudson Taylor, the course has introduced me to them again and I have learned things about them that inspire me. I have also been introduced to missions heroes previously unknown to me, but who had great influence in the spread of the gospel and the development of missions.

George Liele was an African American who took the gospel to Jamaica in 1782, long before the Judson’s left for Burma in 1812, making him America’s first international missionary. Liele was also significant to Baptist history in America as founder of America’s first Black Baptist church in Savannah. While life circumstances played a big part in his going to Jamaica to escape being enslaved again after the Revolutionary War, it was his faithfulness in Jamaica in spite of persecution that inspired me. I have also been reminded of the amazing faith displayed by people who were enslaved in receiving the gospel from the very people who enslaved them. I am grateful for Paul’s words in Scripture to slaves to encourage them to be faithful to the Lord in their slavery. Liele was faithful, preaching to slaves in Jamaica, establishing a church and a school, being jailed and persecuted in Jamaica, yet continuing his ministry to proclaim the gospel. While legal slavery has been abolished in most of the world, illegal slavery continues through sex trafficking and other forms of human exploitation. I pray for bold voices who have been freed through Christ to proclaim the gospel to others still enslaved. I pray that those who have never known slavery will yet be voices for the abolishment of all forms of human exploitation.

Another missions hero that was new to me was John Mott who founded the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions. As a college student, a sermon and conversation on seeking the Kingdom of God changed his life. He was one of 100 young men who, after hearing the preaching of D.L. Moody, took the Princeton Pledge, “We hold ourselves willing and desirous to do the Lord’s work wherever He may call us, even if it be in the foreign lands.” While Mott never served as a missionary, he was influential in hundreds of students going out as missionaries through the publication of the book The Evangelization of the World in this Generation in 1900. In the future, as I attend IMB missionary appointment services and see the young adults who are appointed, I will be reminded of John Mott. God continues to call out young adults, fresh out of school, starting their families, to take the gospel to the unreached people of the world. The dream of evangelizing the world in this generation lives on!

Let me encourage you to take courses through the Christian Women’s Leadership Center. The Leadership Certificate program includes nine courses and each one will inspire and challenge you. The courses are not difficult and the time spent in reading and learning will expand your leadership skills and knowledge. The courses that I have taken thus far have all been timely and helpful. Whether you consider yourself a leader or not, you will find that the courses have great application wherever you serve.

Missional Living is a lifestyle. We can and should learn from those who went before us as we continue to share the gospel every day.  Join the movement!

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