My intention this week is to look at some of the people who have played an important role in the development of the Christian faith—but more than that—people who have played a role in our own lives by inspiring and encouraging us. I start out first with some verses in Hebrews, the so-called role call of faith, then move on to others that we may have heard or thought about. As I do so I would like you to think of people—perhaps historical figures—that have helped you in your Christian walk. I want to look at people in two particular categories that I will mention later.

Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

There are a number of examples from the OT:
Abel (faith offering), Enoch (pleasing faith), Noah (salvation faith), Abraham (following faith), Sarah (child-bearing faith), Isaac and Jacob (faith blessings), Joseph (faith burial), Moses (faith exodus), but all “still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.”

There are others mentioned as well:
the Israelites who “passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.” Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.”

39 “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

The story doesn’t end there: We can learn about the language of faith and the people with faith by their stories; People with actions; People in places; People with names. I have read through the book 131 Christians Everyone Should Know, by the editors of Christian History Magazine (2000), with a forward b y J.I. Packer. (I have gone to the Internet for additional information.)

The editors who compiled the book start out early in history and continue up into the 20th century, for the most part., I have added to their list, but more of that later. They divide their stories into those who are theologians, evangelists and apologists, pastors and preachers, musicians, artists and writers, poets, denominational founders, movers and shakers, missionaries, inner travelers, activists, rulers, scholars and scientists and martyrs. I add the categories of apostles, people from SIL and WBT, and some others.

The list of people given here is a starter but, it won’t include all of those you have read about or heard of, so you are free to add to it. Think about these categories and have some stories and names to supply of your own. Let’s focus in particular on:

  • What is it that inspires us?
  • What is it that encourages us?
  • What we can learn (positive and negative)?
  • Are there some quotation/quotations that are helpful?
  • How we can use our information to help each other?

The Apostles:
, first to invite non-Jews to join the church; Andrew, brother of Peter and later preached in Greece and perhaps Ukraine; James the Greater, a fisherman who was beheaded in Jerusalem but some believe he preached in Spain; John, son of Zebedee, was the prolific one with John, I-III John and perhaps Revelation; James the Lesser, son of Alphaeus; Philip, may have been martyred and preached in northern Israel; Bartholomew, probably the Nathanael of the Bible and who may have gone to Turkey, India or Armenia; Thomas, missionary to India; Matthew; outcast tax collector who wrote the first Gospel; Thaddaeus, known also as Jude and according to tradition preached in Persia; Simon the Zealot was a missionary to Persia, where he was martyred; Judas Iscariot, the betrayer; Matthias, who took Judas’ place and lore says he preached in the land of the cannibals; Mary Magdalene, first to see Jesus after the resurrection; Mark, called John, was mentored by Peter and traveled with Paul to Antioch and later founded the Church of Alexandria; Luke, the physician who joined Paul‘s missions and wrote the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles; Paul, who spread Christianity throughout the Mediterranean. [From ‘The Journey of the Apostles’, National Geographic, March 2012.]

Theologians: Athanasius (296-373)—defender of orthodoxy, esp. Arianism; Augustine of Hippo (354-430), from pagan to monk to bishop, he preached in the local language of Punic (a late form of Phoenician, a Semitic language and also called Canaan) and wrote 22 volumes over 12 years in The City of God); John of Damascus; Anselm (1033-1109), he deployed reasoning in all his writings and said “knowledge cannot lead to faith, and knowledge gained outside of faith is untrustworthy”; Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), who extracted from Aristotle’s writings what was acceptable to Christianity and distinguished between philosophy and theology, reason and revelation and emphasized that they did not contradict one another; Martin Luther; John Calvin; Jacob Arminius (1559-1609), who questioned Calvin’s views of grace and predestination and preached that Christ died for all—not just the elect—and that individuals could resist grace and even lose their salvation); Jonathan Edwards; Karl Barth (1886-1968), summed up his sermons and writings as “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”. He was a Swiss Reformed theologian whom critics hold to be among the most important Christian thinkers of the 20th century; Pope Pius XII described him as the most important theologian since Thomas Aquinas. Was a pastor and he rejected his training in the predominant liberal theology typical of 19th-century European Protestantism. ( Instead his dialectical theology stressed the paradoxical nature of divine truth (e.g., God’s relationship to humanity embodies both grace and judgment). Some critics have referred to Barth as the father of neo-orthodoxy, although he rejected it. Barth’s theological position emphasized the sovereignty of God, particularly through his interpretation of the Calvinistic doctrine of election.

Evangelists and Apologists: Justin Martyr, (180-165), a philosopher and gives one of the earliest descriptions of Christian worship—readings of apostles and prophets, discourse of admonition, followed by prayers and communion, then a collection—especially for the widows and orphans—welcoming of strangers, etc.; Clement of Alexandria, (150-215) was the theologian for the intelligentsia and preached against greed, not wealth; Gregory Thaumaturgus, (210-260), founded a Christian community and was said to work miracles; Antony of Padua (1195-1231), a preacher to the poor who at times attracted crowds of 30,000 and had an astonishing knowledge of the Scriptures; Blaise Pascal; George Whitefield, (1714-1770,) although mentored by the Wesley brothers, he was a Calvinist who preached to large crowds across America; Charles Finney; Dwight L. Moody; Billy Sunday; Billy Graham.

Pastors and Preachers: Ambrose of Milan, John Chrysostom, (349-407) is said to be the early church’s greatest preacher. “Eloquent and uncompromising preaching” with some 600 sermons and 200 letters surviving; Richard Baxter, (1615-1691) was a moderate in the age of extremes whose books Christian Directory (over one million words) and autobiography, The Reformed Pastor, are still read today; John Newton, Charles Simeon, (1759-1836), was an untiring activist and helped to found the London Jews Society, the Religious Tract Society, the British & Foreign Bible Society and the Church Missionary Society; Lynam Beecher; Thomas Chalmers; John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), was the father of dispensationalism, seeing history as progressive and dividing it into eras [Clarence Larkin, The greatest book on dispensational truth in the world]; Charles Spurgeon, Harry Emerson Fosdick, (1878-1969) is called the popularizer of liberalism, one who challenged the fundamentalists and was bankrolled by John D. Rockefeller.

Musicians, Artists, and Writers: Rembrandt Harmensaz Van Rijn, (1606-1669), left behind 650 paintings, 280 etchings and 1,200 drawings. One of his most famous paintings is The Return of the Prodigal Son; Johann Sebastian Bach; George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), and composer of Messiah; John Bunyan; Harriet Beecher Stowe, (1811-1896) and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which shook both the North and the South and was probably one of the most influential novels ever published. During her child-rearing years she read to her seven children two hours each evening; Fyodor Dostoyevsky, (1821-1881), a troubled Christian who wrote Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamozov; George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, (1874-1936), wrote 70 books and hundreds of newspaper columns. His most famous are his works Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man; Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis.

Poets: Dante Alighieri, Geoffrey Chaucer, (1343-1400), acclaimed as medieval England’s greatest storyteller. The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written in Middle English and wer told as part of a story-telling contest by a group who traveled from Southward to the Canterbury Cathedral; John Donne, (1572-1631), was an English poet, satirist, lawyer and priest. His phrase “for who the bell toils—it toils for thee” comes from his book called Devotions upon Emergent Occasions; George Herbert; John Milton; Anne Bradstreet, (1612-1672) is called America’s first poet, although born in England but came to America with the Pilgrims; Isaac Watts; Charles Wesley, (1707-1788), who averaged 10 poetic lines a day for 50 years and wrote 8,989 hymns (56 volumes in 53 years), 10 times that of Isaac Watts; Fanny Crosby, (1820-1915). the blind hymn writer, e.g. “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” “To God be the Glory,” and “Pass me not, O gentle Savior”; T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), Emily Dickinson, (1830-1886), wrote:
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—

Denominational Founders: Menno Simons, (1496-1561) was an Anabaptist peacemaker and founder of the Mennonites; John Knox, (1514-1572), the Presbyterian who advocated violent revolution. He tried to destroy what he felt was idolatry and thereby purify Scotland’s religion; John Smyth, (1554-1612), was exiled to Amsterdam from England. He baptized himself, showing that baptism had noting to do with water but was for the baptism of the Spirit. Although a Mennonite he is remembered as the first Baptist; George Fox, (1624-1691), is regarded as the first Friend (Quaker)—sacraments were rejected and services took place in silence until someone felt called to speak or pray aloud. [George Fox is a nationally recognized Christian university in Oregon.]; Nikolaus von Zinzendorf, (1700-1760) and founder of the Moravians—religion of the heart, which influenced Wesley. [Moravians place a high premium on Christian unity, personal piety, missions, and music. Foremost attributes are simplicity, happiness, inobtrusiveness, fellowship and service.] The church’s emblem is the Lamb of God with the flag of victory, surrounded by the Latin inscription: Vicit agnus noster, eum sequamur, or in English: “Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow Him”.

John Wesley, (1703-1791), the methodical pietist who, although an Anglican, is considered the founder of the Methodist tradition. [Circuit Riders was a name used to describe John Wesley and others in his day who travelled by horseback preaching the Gospel. Because of the distance between churches, these preachers would ride on horseback. They were popularly called circuit riders or saddlebag preachers. These frontier clergy were never officially called “circuit riders,” but the name was appropriate and it “stuck.” Officially they were called “traveling” clergy (a term that is still used in Methodist denominations). They traveled with few possessions, carrying only what could fit in their saddlebags. They traveled through wilderness and villages, they preached every day at any place available (peoples’ cabins, courthouses, fields, meeting houses, later even basements and street corners). Unlike clergy in urban areas, Methodist circuit riders were always on the move. Many circuits were so large that it would take 5 to 6 weeks to cover them.] ( The website below follows the local churches in the Bloomingdale area, from the building of the first log edifice and cemetery at the top of Silo Rd. The Sutliff family was first associated with the original Bloomingdale Methodist Episcopal Church and Cemetery at the top of the hill; then, with the break-away Bloomingdale Protestant  Episcopal Church, then the Bible Protestant Church, and finally the independent Bloomingdale Bible Church in 1969.  The latter was part of the Reyburn circuit was made up of Bloomingdale, Koonsville, and Reyburn. The first and last survived. (2011) Francis Asbury; Richard Allen, (1760-1831), an African American born into slavery and converted at the age of 17. He began preaching on his plantation and at local Methodist churches. By 1786 Blacks made up about 10 percent of the Methodist church—he began the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1799 and there are over 2 million members today. Established Western U. (Kansas) and several others (Allen U, Edward Waters college, Morris Brown College, Paul Quinn College in Dallas and Wilberforce U in Ohio); William Miller, (1782-1849), and founder of what has become Seventh Day Adventism; Alexander Campbell, (1788-1866), founder of the Christian church—lack of support for infant baptism; Aimee Simple McPherson, (1890-1944), founder of the Foursquare church movement—the four convictions are: (1-Jesus as the Only Savior, 2-the Great Physician, 3-the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit and 4-the Coming Bridegroom).

Movers and Shakers: Benedict of Nursia, (480-547), was the father of Western monasticism, who established 12 monasteries with 12 monks in each and is the patron saint of Europe; Bernard of Clairvaux, (1090-1153) was a medieval reformer and mystic who esteemed Christ as a model and put an emphasis on the Virgin Mary; Dominic, (1172-1221), founder of the Dominicans, the order of the preachers. The mind has always played a central role in the order (referred to as the Black Friars); Francis of Assisi, (1182-1226), was born in Italy and is known as the patron saint of animals but is honored by the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other groups; John Wycliffe (1330-1384), See Louis Brewer Hall, The perilous vision of John Wycliff (Nelson-Hall Inc., 1983). Debated and had the characteristics of a prophet, “A reputation for predicting the future is not the most dangerous characteristics of a prophet, only a byproduct. Seeing a vision is the most dangerous characteristic” (p.77). He had a sense of destiny and until 1831 his attacks on the church were political, on the wealth of the abbeys, monasteries, the hierarchy and the failure of them to show responsibility for the poverty around them (p. 157).  “now Wycliff was probing doctrine, asking new questions. The man who asks new questions is always in danger. New questions give new answers, and new answers challenge the old ones. The establishment always has an interest in maintaining the old answers…. So at this point in the fourteenth century, the establishment decided to silence John Wyclif” (p. 157); John Purvey finished the second translation of the Bible in 1395. He was the main translator of the English Bible and was tried for heresy; Joan of Arc, (1412-1431), charged with 70 counts of heresy and burned at the stake; Ulrich Zwingli, (1484-1531), was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. He introduced a communion liturgy to replace the Mass. He knew Greek and Hebrew and had a library of 300 volumes; Ignatius of Loyola, (1491-1556), was a Spanish knight from a Basque noble family who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits); Phoebe Palmer, (1807-1874), was mother of the holiness movement, concentrating on prayer and fasting; SØren Kierkegaard, (1813-1855), was a Christian existentialist. He “was not just a suffering prophet…. He was a man of deep, almost mystical faith, and his acerbic pen could also compose lyrical prayers”;

Missionaries: Patrick, (415-461/93), the patron saint of Ireland, evangelized Ireland and hundreds of Celtic Christians went to other countries because of his example; Columbanus, (543-613), was an Irish missionary to Europe and was one of the most successful evangelists ever. He also composed a commentary on Psalms and “He shared with other saints a great love for God’s creatures. As he walked in the woods, the birds would alight upon his shoulder that he might caress them and the squirrels would run down from the trees and nestle in the folds of his cowl”; Cyril and Methodius, (815-885), were Byzantine Greek brothers and missionaries among the Slavic peoples; Francis Xavier, (1506-1552), was from a Spanish-Basque family and the first missionary to Japan. He insisted that missionaries adapt to the culture and learn the language; Matthew Ricci, (1552-1610), was a controversial Jesuit evangelist who first went to Macau, then mainland China. He “could speak Chinese as well as read and write classical Chinese, the literary language of scholars and officials. He was known for his appreciation of Chinese culture in general, but did condemn the prostitution which was widespread in Beijing at the time.” He became a Confucian scholar and his methods were criticized by the church;

[John Eliot, (1604-1690), acclaimed “apostle to Native Americans”, translated and published the entire Algonquin (Massachusetts) Bible, the first printed in American in 1663. In 1666 he published the grammar of Massachusetts. Confused American culture with Christianity, giving haircuts, clothing and villages to the people; “In 1689 John Eliot donated 75 acres of land in Jamaica Plain to support the Eliot School, founded in 1676. Under the donation, the school was required to accept both Negros and Indians without prejudice, a great exception for the time.” According to Neville B. Cryer (in Five Pioneer Missionaries, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), Eliot received his BA from Cambridge at the age of 18 and was particularly interested in Hebrew and Greek (20 years later he was still reading them daily), as well as philological studies. At the age of 24 he decided that his life’s work was to preach and he was mentored by Thomas Hooker, the Puritan colonial leader who founded the colony of Connecticut. He, with other Pilgrims landed in North America in 1631. He ministered among the “Red Indians”, Algonquians who already knew of a life force called Manito. Eliot considered this spirit to be the same as the unknown God that Paul had declared to the Athenians. In 1644 he began to study the Massachusetts dialect of the Algonquin language group, which was unwritten. In 1646 he preached the “first sermon ever preached in an Indian tongue by an Englishman—it lasted 75 minutes. He was committed to community development and the establishment of the Indian “praying towns”. He proposed that Indians should go to Harvard to learn English and teach their language to the English (p. 214). In 1680, when he was 76 years of age, he did a complete revision of the Indian Bible.]

William Carey, (1761-1834), is called the father of modern Protestant missions and had been impressed by the Moravian missionaries so in 1792 he organized a missionary society. In 1799 he was invited to Serampore near Calcutta, under the protection of the Danes. Over a period of 28 years he and his pundits translated the entire Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Hindi, Assamese, Sanskrit and parts of it into 209 other languages and dialects.” David Livingstone, Hudson Taylor.

[David Brainerd, (1718-174), had a ministry among the Delaware Indians of New Jersey and the Susquehanna tribes of Indians “Much of Brainerd’s influence on future generations can be attributed to the biography compiled by Jonathan Edwards and first published in 1749 under the title of An Account of the Life of the Late Reverend Mr. David Brainerd….it has never been out of print and has thus influenced subsequent generations, mainly because of Brainerd’s single-minded perseverance in his work in the face of significant suffering.” For details, see:].

William C. Burns, (1815-1868). In 1847, “Burns went to the Chinese empire via Hong Kong. During this long ship journey, he spent a lot of time studying the Chinese language.” “In 1855 Burns met Hudson Taylor and the two worked together for quite some time. Both had the courage to advance into the Chinese interior. Hudson Taylor regarded Burns as one of his spiritual mentors and wrote about the depth of Burns’ prayer life. Taylor, however, influenced Burns in the way in which he sought to contextualize his ministry by breaking with missionary tradition to wear Chinese clothing while evangelizing in China’s interior. During his twenty years of preaching the gospel in China, Burns also spent a short period wrongly imprisoned at Guangzhou.”; Henry Martyn, (1781-1812), “was an Anglican priest and missionary to the peoples of India and Persia, arriving in India in 1806. “He occupied himself in linguistic study, and had already, during his residence at Dinapur, been engaged in revising the sheets of his Hindustani version of the New Testament. He now translated the whole of the New Testament into Urdu also, and into Persian twice. He translated the Psalms into Persian, the Gospels into Judaeo-Persic, and the Book of Common Prayer into Urdu, in spite of ill-health and “the pride, pedantry and fury of his chief munshi Sabat. “;

[John G. Patton, (1824-1907), was a Scottish missionary to the New Hebrides. He “learned the language and reduced it to writing. Maggie taught a class of about fifty women and girls who became experts at sewing, singing and plaiting hats, and reading. They trained the teachers, translated and printed and expounded the Scriptures, ministered to the sick and dying, dispensed medicines every day, taught them the use of tools, held worship services every Lord’s Day and sent native teachers to all the villages to preach the gospel. Enduring many years of deprivation, danger from natives and disease, they continued with their work and after many years of patient ministry, the entire island of Aniwa professed Christianity. In 1899 he saw his Aniwa New Testament printed and the establishment of missionaries on twenty five of the thirty islands of the New Hebrides.]

[Adoniram Judson 1788-1850) was born in Malden, MA. Went to NY to be a playright but when alone at an inn next door to a dying man he was overcome and converted. Attended Andover Theological Seminary and was the first American to be an overseas missionary. He went to Burma (after India) and his first breakthrough came when he built a Zayat—a Buddhist-style meditation room on a main street where he taught and visited and after 6 years had the first convert. Caught in the British Burmese war and ended up in prison. After peace in 1826 he lost his first wife Nancy but continued with the translation of the Burmese Bible. He avoided direct affronts with the Emperor or on Buddhist religion and wore a white robe to mark him as a teacher. He translated from the Greek and Hebrew. Had three marriages and adopted the customs and thinking of the Burmese. Influenced by Hudson Taylor. From To the Golden Shore: The life of Adoniram Judson by Courtney Anderson.]

Inner Travelers: Anthony the Great or Antony the Great (ca. 251–356), also known as Saint Anthony, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, Abba Antonius and Father of All Monks, was a Christian saint from Egypt, a prominent leader among the Desert Fathers. “Anthony is notable for being one of the first ascetics to attempt living in the desert proper, completely cut off from civilization. His anchoretic lifestyle was remarkably harsher than that of his predecessors.” “He probably spoke only his native language, Coptic, but his sayings were spread in a Greek translation. He himself left no writings. His biography was written by Saint Athanasius and titled Life of Saint Anthony the Great. Many stories are also told about him in various collections of sayings of the Desert Fathers.”; Hildegard of Bingen, (1098-1179), was a Benedictine visionary and writer who believed that her visions and interpretations were from God; Catherine of Siena, (1347-1380), was a mystic and political activist whose teaching was the image of a bleeding Christ, “the Redeemer—ablaze with fiery charity, eager sacrifice, and unqualified forgiveness.” Thomas à Kempis, (1380-1471), was author of the most popular devotional classic, The imitation of Christ, promoting humility and “trust not yourself.”; Teresa of Avila, (1515-1582), was from Spain and a Carmelite mystic and administrator. She wrote the Counter Reformation in response to the Protestant Reformation, comprising: ecclesiastical or structural reconfiguration, religious orders, spiritual movements and political dimensions; John of the Cross, (1542-1591), was “was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered, along with Saint Teresa of Ávila, as a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. He is also known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature.”; Brother Lawrence, (1611-1691), was a practitioner of “God’s presence” and was born “Nicolas Herman in Hériménil, near Lunéville in the region of Lorraine, located in modern day eastern France” and, “Despite his lowly position in life and the priory, his character attracted many to him. He had a reputation for experiencing profound peace and visitors came to seek spiritual guidance from him. The wisdom he passed on to them, in conversations and in letters, would later become the basis for the book, The Practice of the Presence of God.”; William Law, (1886-1761), was the champion of the serious, devout, and holy life and his book A serious call to a devout and holy life (1729) influenced Wesley, Whitfield, Samuel Johnson and others.; Andrew Murray (1794-1866) was born in South Africa and educated at Aberdeen in Scotland where he received his master’s degree in 1845. In 1889, he helped found the South African General Mission (SAGM), which became the South East Africa General Mission (SEAGM) in 1891. SAGM and SEAGM merged in 1894 and because its ministry spread to other African countries, its name was changed to the Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) in 1965. AEF joined with SIM in 1998; Oswald Chambers, (1874 in Aberdeen, Scotland;, died 1917 in Egypt), “was a prominent early twentieth century Scottish Christian minister and teacher, best known as the author of the widely-read devotional My Utmost for His Highest.”

Activists: John Woolman, (1720-1772), was a Quaker who preached and wrote against slavery as early as 1754; William Wilberforce, Elizabeth Fry, (1780-1845), born of wealthy parents in England, dedicated her life to helping the downtrodden; Sojourner Truth, (1779-1883), was born a slave named Isabella Baumfree. She could not read but she could preach and when she asked God for a new name he named her Sojourner “because I was to travel up an’ down the land, showin’ the people their sins, an’ bein’ a sign unto them.” Lord Shaftesbury, (1801-1885), named Antony Ashley Cooper, was a godly English statesman who built model tenements on his own estate; William Gladstone, (1809-1898), was Prime Minister who was raised in an evangelical home and also became a prolific author on a variety of topics, including poetry, politics, economic and church history; Harriet Tubman, (1820-1913), was raised in slavery in eastern Maryland but escaped in 1849. She was known as the “black Moses” because of her activities with the underground railroad. She also worked for the Federal Army during the Civil War; Catherine Booth, (1829-1890), was co-founder of the Salvation Army and preached on the absolute equality of women in ministry; William Booth; Walter Rauschenbusch, (1861-1918), was champion of the social gospel who “saw humankind as progressing swiftly toward the kingdom.” Martin Luther King was greatly influenced by him.

[Modern day activists can use Internet, with Facebook to make people famous—have you heard of Joseph Koni? He is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan guerrilla group that kidnaps children.]

Rulers: Constantine, (280-337), is debated by historians as having been a Christian at all, blending paganism and Christianity for political purposes; Theodosius I, (347-395), as the emperor who made Christianity the Roman religion; Justinian I and Theodora I; Leo I; Gregory the Great, (540-604), wrote a book called On Pastoral Care, demonstrating his concern for the work of the priests; Charlemagne (742-814), and Christian ruler of a ‘holy’ empire; Innocent III; Louis IX; Henry VIII, (1491-1549), “was intelligent, handsome, physically powerful, talented in music, and an avid hunter and sportsman”. He made himself supreme head of the church in England but even while breaking from Rome he upheld transubstantiation and clerical celibacy.

Scholars and Scientists: Origen, (185-254), was a Biblical scholar and philosopher. He “described the Trinity as a hierarchy, not as an equality of Father, Son, and Spirit and was declared a heretic at the Council of Constantinople in 553; Eusebius and Caesarea; Jerome, (345-420), was a Bible translator whose version, completed in 23 years, lasted a millennium; The Venerable Bode; Erasmus, (1466-1536), sparked the reformation who had devoted himself to the study of Greek. He found some 600 errors in Jerome’s Vulgate and wished the Bible translated into every language. Luther attacked him as a Moses who would die in the wilderness and the RC church forbade his writings; Nicholas Copernicus; William Tyndale (1492 – 1536) was a leading figure in Protestant reform in the years leading up to his execution. He is remembered for his translation of the Bible into English. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther. The popularity of Wycliffe’s Bible in the 14th century resulted in a ban on the publication of the Bible in English; almost all vernacular Bibles were confiscated and burned. Tyndale’s illegal translation was the first of the new English Bibles of the Reformation, and the first to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, and the first to take advantage of the new medium of the print, which allowed for wide distribution. This was taken to be a direct challenge to the Roman Catholic Church and the English church and state. Tyndale also wrote, in 1530, The Practyse of Prelates, opposing Henry VIII‘s divorce on the grounds that it contravened scriptural law. In 1535, Tyndale was arrested and jailed in a castle outside Brussels for over a year. He was tried for heresy, choked, impaled and burnt on a stake in 1536. The Tyndale Bible, as it was known, continued to play a key role in spreading Reformation ideas across the English-speaking world. The fifty-four independent scholars who created the King James Version of the bible in 1611 drew significantly on Tyndale’s translations. One estimation suggests the New Testament in the King James Version is 83% Tyndale’s, and the Old Testament is 76%. ( Kenneth L. Pike, Eugene A. Nida, Ralph Winter and others will be mentioned later when we consider more modern figures.

John Foxe (1516-1587), author of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs; Francis Bacon; Galileo Galilei

Martyrs: Ignatius of Antioch, (35-107), was probably arrested for atheism, which meant the denial of Roman gods; Polycarp; Perpetua (172-203) was a high society believer who impressed Augustine. She lived in Carthage and was arrested and imprisoned because of preparations for baptism—she and other Christians were murdered before watching crowds; Boniface, (675-754), was a failure as a missionary initially but was successful against the pagans in Germany and Friesland; Thomas Becket, (1118-1170), was a murdered archbishop of Canterbury; John Huss, (1369-1415), was a hero to Luther and was excommunicated and eventually executed because of his criticism of the pope; Thomas Crammer; Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer (1487-1555); was burnt at the stake because he had fought for the reformation and called the greatest preacher of the era. At the time, unless appointed by the King, no ordinary person was to read openly from any part of the Scriptures in English. He opposed King Henry VIII and Bloody Mary (Princess Mary); Dietrich Bonheoffer.

Non-Christians: See Gandhi: Portrait of a Friend, by E. Stanley Jones (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1948): Jones asked Gandhi (Ch.5, pp. 51-52): “How can we make Christianity naturalized in India, not a foreign thing, identified with a foreign government and a foreign people, but a part of the national life of India and contributing its power to India’s uplift?” He responded with great clarity and directness: “First, I would suggest that all of you Christians, missionaries and all, must begin to live more like Jesus Christ. Second, practice your religion without adulterating it or toning it down. Third, emphasize love and make it your working force, for love is essential in Christianity. Fourth, study the non-Christian religions more sympathetically to find the good that is within them, in order to have a more sympathetic approach to the people.”

WBT and SIL: William Cameron Townsend, 1896-1982, founded WBT and SIL. “The ethos of these organizations is that once the Bible is available to a culture, the Christians of that culture can become far more autonomous, and the locals should be the leaders of their church. Local Christians should be freed from depending on other organizations or cultures for training and leadership.”

Kenneth Lee Pike, (1912-2000) “Pike was born in Woodstock, Connecticut, and studied theology at Gordon College, graduating with a B.A. in 1933. He initially wanted to do missionary work in China; when this was denied him, went on in 1935 to study linguistics with Summer Institute of Linguistics (S.I.L.). He went to Mexico with SIL, learning Mixtec from native speakers there.

In 1937 Pike went to the University of Michigan, where he worked for his doctorate in linguistics under Edward Sapir. His research involved living among the Mixtecs, and he and his wife Evelyn developed a written system for the Mixtec language. After gaining his Ph. D. In 1942, Pike became president of Summer Institute in Linguistics (SIL). The Institute’s main function was to produce translations of the Bible into unwritten languages, and in 1951 Pike published the Mixtec New Testament. He was the President of SIL International from 1942 to 1979.

As well as and in parallel with his role at SIL, Pike spent thirty years at the University of Michigan, during which time he served as chairman of its linguistics department, professor of linguistics, and director of its English Language Institute (he did pioneering work in the field of English language learning and teaching) and was later Professor Emeritus of the university.

He was a member of National Academy of Sciences, the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), the Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States (LACUS), and the American Anthropological Association. He served as president of LSA and LACUS.

He was nominated for the Nobel Prize 15 years in a row and the Templeton Prize three years (Headland 2001:506).

In Hugh Steven’s Pike’s perspectives: an anthology of thought, insight and moral purpose (Credo Publishing, 1989): “The task of the writer, poet, artist, painter is to sense more keenly the harmony (or disharmony) in the world and to vanquish lies. Such a person must be a bearer of moral truth in a world morally bankrupt…. His task is to make people think” (p. 7). “The intellectual needs to be told that his system as a whole must be replaced—that he must be born again. Christianity is not an accretion” (p. 24). “If we could succeed in re-establishing the old Puritan academic-devotional witness on a broad front… scholarship and devotion would be re-synthesized on a national front” (p. 31).

Eugene A. Nida, (1914-2011), “Nida has been a pioneer in the fields of translation theory and linguistics. His Ph.D. dissertation, A Synopsis of English Syntax, was the first full-scale analysis of a major language according to the “immediate-constituent” theory. His most notable contribution to translation theory is Dynamic Equivalence, also known as Functional Equivalence…. Nida also developed the “componential-analysis” technique, which split words into their components to help determine equivalence in translation.” “Nida then sets forth the differences in translation, as he would account for it, within three basic factors: (1) The nature of the message: in some messages the content is of primary consideration, and in others the form must be given a higher priority. (2) The purpose of the author and of the translator: to give information on both form and content; to aim at full intelligibility of the reader so he/she may understand the full implications of the message; for imperative purposes that aim at not just understanding the translation but also at ensuring no misunderstanding of the translation. (3) The type of audience: prospective audiences differ both in decoding ability and in potential interest.”

John Theodore Bendor-Samuel (9 June 1929 – 6 January 2011) was an evangelical Christian missionary and linguist who furthered Bible translation work into African languages, as well as making significant contributions to the study of African linguistics. Amongst his friends and colleagues he was widely known by his initials, JBS. He had an instrumental role in the founding of Wycliffe UK; the West Africa Linguistics Society and the Forum of Bible Agencies. He pioneered SIL International‘s work in several countries in West Africa.

Richard S. Pittman, (1915-1998) “was one of the early leaders of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). He led the organization’s advance in the continent of Asia and was a gifted linguist, statesman, writer, educator, and mentor. He responded to his Christian, humanitarian and professional calling with amazing energy, awesome dedication, and great ability, at considerable personal cost, and with remarkable results.” “In 1955 Dick was appointed SIL’s Asia & Pacific Area Director. He travelled constantly over the next twenty years, and negotiated contracts with governments or their agencies for the beginning of SIL work in Papua New Guinea (1956), Viet Nam (1957), India (1960), Nepal (1966), and Indonesia (1974). He also made numerous trips to countries where official contracts did not result, including Laos, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. During a number of these years Dick held the post of Deputy General Director of SIL (the General Director being Cameron Townsend.)

In the late 1970’s the Pittmans moved to the United States. Dick researched, designed, and supervised the construction of the Museum of the Alphabet and the Mexico-Cárdenas Museum in Waxhaw, North Carolina. These museums provide thousands of visitors yearly with the opportunity to learn a little about the great work of providing writing systems for the world’s languages, and the part that Mexico and Cárdenas had in furthering that endeavor.

Dick Pittman was a prolific writer, though with typical humility he published a number of books with no author’s name on them. They include, besides his linguistic work, a series of books on international relations and other foundational issues for SIL, and biographical works. He was a memorable teacher and mentor, with a constantly inquiring mind and an unforgettable penchant for apt analogies from biology and horticulture.” His Ph.D. dissertation (U. of Pennsylvania) was published in the journal Language on the grammar of the Tetelcingo language of Mexico.

David Thomas (1930-2006), son of missionaries to China, was distinguished as a leading scholar of Mon-Khmer languages. He began work with his wife in Viet Nam in the 1950’s, establishing the Linguistic Circle of Saigon and the journal Mon-Khmer Studies in 1964… They later worked in Cambodia and Thailand where he continued as a mentor of many colleagues and taught at the Mahidol University. He was greatly admired by his colleagues and by secular linguists and educators who knew him.

Ralph D. Winter (1924-2009), was an American missiologist and Presbyterian missionary who became well-known as the advocate for pioneer outreach among unreached people groups. He was the founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission (USCWM), William Carey International University, and the International Society for Frontier Missiology. He focused his mission strategy from political boundaries to distinct people groups. Winter argued that instead of targeting countries, mission agencies needed to target the thousands of people groups worldwide, over half of which have not been reached with the gospel message; (

Donald Anderson McGavran (December 15, 1897–1990) was the founding Dean (1965) and Professor of Mission, church growth, and South Asian studies at the School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. A child of missionaries in India, and later a missionary himself (1923–1961), McGavran spent most of his life trying to identify and overcome barriers to effective evangelism or Christian conversion. McGavran identified differences of caste and economic social position as major barriers to the spread of Christianity. His work substantially changed the methods by which missionaries identify and prioritize groups of persons for missionary work and stimulated the Church Growth Movement (The bridges of God: A study in the strategy of missions, World Dominion Press, 1955). McGavran developed his church growth principles after rejecting the popular view that mission was ‘philanthropy, education, medicine, famine relief, evangelism, and world friendship’ and become convinced that good deeds – while necessary – ‘must never replace the essential task of mission, discipling the peoples of the earth’ (

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was a Russian novelist and historian who fought in World War II but was arrested in 1945 for criticizing Joseph Stalin. He spent eight years in prisons and labor camps and three more in enforced exile. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) was based on his labor-camp experiences and he was forced to publish later works abroad, including The First Circle (1968), Cancer Ward (1968), and August 1914 (1971). In 1970 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Publication of the first volume of The Gulag Archipelago (1973) is acclaimed as one of the greatest works in Russian prose, resulted in his being charged with treason. Expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974, he moved to Cavendish, VT., at the time enjoying worldwide fame. His Harvard commencement address (June 8, 1978) was not what the faculty or students probably expected, commenting as he did on such things as “A decline in courage” (“the first symptom of the end”), “Well-being” (“Even biology tells us that a high degree of habitual well-being is not advantageous to a living organism” and that it has begun “to take off its pernicious mask” in Western society”) “Humanism and its consequences” (“The West has finally achieved the rights of man, and even to excess, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society has grown dimmer and dimmer”), and other notable comments and observations about Western culture.  In 1994 Solzhenitsyn ended his exile and returned to Russia and in 2007 he was awarded Russia’s prestigious State Prize. Read more:

Other Mission Leaders: Lutherans, LMS, Polynesians, Catholics, MOM, Anglicans

BTA and Nationals: David Gela, Tom Polume, William Edoni, Mari Kapi, Les Gavara, David Muap, Misty Baloiloi, Nemola Ropasi, Raka Taviri, Cholai Polume, Kumalau Tavali

Some still live (an example): Robert E. Longacre “humbles his company. His reputation, embodied simply by an austere but gracious demeanor, conveys a heightened understanding of the world and its people before he speaks a word of his story. Dr. Longacre found a noble craft, dedicated his life to it, and in turn his craft shaped this remarkable oral history. “

“Planning to become a preacher, Bob attended and graduated from Faith Seminary in Pennsylvania. A speech impediment (successfully treated many years later), and acute interest in language, directed Bob to the written word and eventually the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Newlywed and “the greenest pair ever let loose across the border,” the Longacres settled with the Trique people in remote, southern Mexico. They were true pioneers: the village was accessible only by foot or animal, living was rough, and the people were not particularly interested in a foreign presence or message. While he documented their language, Bob learned the Trique mythology and a bit of their worldview, witnessed the community change as Western and Trique cultures overlapped, and he discusses the difficulties involved in living between two different worldviews. While working on the Trique New Testament translation, Bob worked all over the world. He taught summer courses at the University of Oklahoma, held workshops and conferences for linguists stationed across the globe, and published volumes on research both thriving and dying languages. In the sixties, after nearly twenty years of work, Bob completed and dedicated the Trique translation. Dr. Longacre explored and documented unknown territory for the world’s linguistic community, starting with the Trique tonal language. He documented their five emic levels of tone, the first language for which that number of levels was demonstrated. In the fifties Bob received a PhD in Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania under Zellig Harris. He did the first serious historical study of the vast Otomanguean language phylum, of which Trique is a part. He adopted the Tagmemics model of language, and modified Kenneth Pike’s approach to syntax, grammar, and discourse. Although this was in the hey day of the transformational generative model developed by Noam Chomsky, Bob contributed significantly to the field of applied linguistics by enabling literally thousands of linguists to discover the structure, and deal with the mysteries, of many languages. Bob and Gwen moved to the International Linguistics Center, where Bob received an appointment to the University of Texas at Arlington, and is now Professor Emeritus.”

Vishal Mangalwadi (born 1949) is an international lecturer, social reformer, political columnist, and author of thirteen books. He is currently working on a historical documentary that seeks to demonstrate the Bible‘s role in providing the essential ideological basis for the political freedoms of the West. The title of the book is, “The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization.

I have given but a sample. The International Bulletin of Missionary Research regularly publishes short autobiographies called “My Pilgrimage in Mission” featuring an ecumenical variety of people.

All of these people (and millions more) are witnesses to the accomplishments of a life lived by faith in God and his son Jesus Christ. There are also millions of stories that we don’t know—Polynesian missionaries to Melanesia, unnamed nationals who gave their lives in service to God. We want to know the stories for, as CS Lewis said “The historical impulse—curiosity about what men thought, did, and suffered in the past—though not universal, seems to be permanent.” Present Concerns: Ethical Essays, p. 100.

Anthropology Department Devotions, March 19-22, 2012