Part 3. Expanding around the World. Lesson 10 of 10.
Lesson 18. Missionary Models

From today’s lesson, we hope you will learn to share the gospel in an effective way

1.Christian Missions Today. Today, some primary concerns of missionaries are:
— avoid dependency by establishing three-self churches.
— create partnerships
— balance social aid with evangelism
— emphasize leadership development for church planting
— be sure to avoid coercion
— make sure people are attracted to Christianity by the gospel, not by social benefits (such as food or jobs).
— utilize local music and communication methods
— prepare new believers to endure persecution

PROGRESS IS SLOWING. The gospel was presented to many new people groups in the late 1900’s. In 1970, 44.7 % of the world had not yet been reached, but in 2000, the per cent of unreached peoples was on 29.9%.  However, after 2000 the progress has been slower. The per cent of unreached peoples in 2016 was 29.2%.  (see footnote 5 for details and links).  The challenge is to create new methods of outreach and to pray for more workers.

LINKS for more information
Three church models common in 2015:

See article “What will missions look like in 150 years?” By Peter Rowan of OMF

2.Two meanings of tolerance. Jesus clearly tells us in Mark 16:15 to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  The gospel is the message that Jesus on the cross has sacrificed his life for our sins, so that by relying on Him, we will not need to pay the punishment for our sins.  But in recent decades some people are saying that we should not preach this good news, but rather we should assume that those who do not hear this good news will also be accepted by God.  These people say that we must tolerate others, and tolerance means we must not try to encourage them to accept our beliefs.  Missionaries with this idea have concentrated more on meeting the social needs of the poor who live overseas, and put less emphasis on promoting conversion to Jesus.  But these people misunderstand the meaning of tolerance.  True tolerance means that we can live together peacefully, even if we have different views.  It does not mean that we should not share our views with one another, but only that we should not coerce someone to change views.  True tolerance is a great blessing for Christians, because it means others will become Christians not through coercion, but because they have become convinced that Jesus is the savior.  True tolerance means that no restrictions will be placed on Christians who want to share this message.

3.Dialog. During the 20th century many have promoted dialog between religions.  The reason is to gain understanding and to promote tolerance.  In dialog, one religion does not try to convert the other, but tries to explain itself.  Thus dialog is different from evangelism.  Dialog can promote a harmonious society, where those of differing beliefs will be less likely to be hostile to each other.  Dialog also provides the understandings necessary to engage in meaningfully evangelism.  Because of dialog, an evangelist can present Christ in a way that the other person will be able to understand.  It is true that some people have used dialog to promote their view that all religions are equally valid, and that no one should do evangelism.  But that is not the only possible conclusion.  A Christian can be involved in both dialog and evangelism.

4.Mission movements from Younger Churches. Christians in countries outside Europe and America are beginning to take up the vision for mission and evangelism.  They minister to their own people who have emigrated to other countries, and are taking more responsibility for the unbelievers and minority groups within their own country. In the past, most missionaries came from England and the United States.

5.Cooperation.  Many missionaries felt that they could make more progress in bringing the gospel to the world if they would cooperate. This concern led to a meeting in Scotland in 1910. Missionaries from many different churches discussed their common problems. Meetings like this have continued over the years.

6.A worldwide movement. Jesus prayed, “I am asking not only for these (my disciples) but for all who will believe in me because of the words they speak, to all be as one … so that the world may believe that you sent me.”  1  Christians know that today that are not “one,” but are divided into many groups. The know that unbelievers use this division as a reason to say that Christianity is not true. After 1910,  many church leaders went about the task of healing division. This process is called the ecumenical movement. (the word means “the entire community.”)

7.Healing divisions. An early success was re-uniting churches that had divided recently. For example, in the American Civil War, many denominations divided into a northern and a southern church. Most of these churches have now come back together.

8.Bringing immigrants together. When immigrants of the same denomination came to America, they formed separate churches because they spoke different languages. For example, there were separate Lutheran churches that spoke Swedish, Finnish, German, and English. The second generation could speak English, so there was no reason to stay separate, and the uniting of these churches is another success.

9.Uniting similar denominations.  Many churches is lesson 3 follow the ideas of Calvin, but divided into groups because they could not agree about how to organize the church. These churches successfully came together in India and Canada.2

10.Sharing pastors. Uniting denominations in America has not been successful, but some churches have agreed to share pastors. For example, in 2010 the largest Lutheran church in America3 and the Episcopal church agreed to let pastors of either one preach in the other’s churches. There was one difficulty. The Lutherans had to agree to accept the “apostolic succession.” That is, any new Lutheran pastor must ask a bishop to lay hands on him.  The smaller Lutheran churches have not agreed with this plan.

11.The church in China. In China today, the churches are not named after denominations, and the believers accept one another as fellow Christians . All the Protestant churches are called “The Christian Church,” and all the Roman Catholic churches are called “The Catholic church.”  (some of the Protestant churches are 3-self churches, that is, supervised by a government committee, and others have remained independent of the government) Each individual Protestant pastor might teach any of the viewpoints of the historic Protestant churches, whether Lutheran, Calvinist, Methodist, or Anabaptist.  Therefore each pastor might teach his own view about the theological questions like:
Free will or predestination; whether communion a symbol, or is it the body of Christ; can a Christian forsake the faith, or is someone “once saved, always saved.”

All these views can be heard in China today. Note that Hong Kong and Taiwan still have separate denominations, and you can expect that a pastor will teach the doctrine that is agreed to in his denomination.

12.Worldwide meetings. After 1910, many people hoped that all churches in the world would come together for a meeting. This was delayed because of World Wars I and II, but a meeting for the entire world did take place in 1948, and such meetings have been held every 6 years since then. This gathering is called the World Council of Churches.  (see a list of meetings in footnote 6).  Since the churches knew they could not agree on all doctrines, they discussed how they could work together to help society.  They have also developed standard translations for words used in worship.  Only Protestants attended the first meeting, but since then Catholic and Orthodox representatives have also attended.  A number of conservative churches do not attend these meetings, because they feel that differences in church teaching should be resolved before working together.  Some conservative churches have formed different groups. An example is the Evangelical Alliance.

13.Non-denominational missions.  Most denominations today have departments for missions and for social work. In addition, there are many independent organizations that send missionaries and help society. These organizations do not belong to denominations, and they might include believers from many different denominations. Typically the workers in these organizations still worshiop with their own denomination’s church. Many of these organizations do specialized work, such as translating, supplying food, sharing the gospel with soldiers and college students. If they plant new churches, these churches will not necessarily join with any existing denomination.

Below the footnotes there are short biographies of missionaries to China

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1  John 17:20-23
2  Church of South India 1947 (Presbyterians pus Congregationalists)
Church of North India 1970 (Presbyterians, Congrgationaists, anglians, Baptists, Disciples of Christ)
United Church of Canada 1925 (Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists)

3 Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) formed in 1980.
4 Small Lutheran Churches in America are Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) formed in 1847 and Lutheran Church Wisconsin Synod (WELS)

5 The article with these statistics is in the journal Mission Frontiers (missionfrontiers,org) Nov/Dec 2016, page 33. An article on page 40 tells how refugees have been coming to Christ, and that they are touched by the story of Joseph in the Old Testament, who experienced the similar suffering and rejection, but who finally was able to say to his brothers “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive (Genesis 5:20). This helps us to understand Acts 17:27, which says that God determined the time periods and boundaries of humankind “so that they would seek God.”

LINKS for more information:

Three church models common in 2015:

Global Prayer Digest is a daily prayer guide for people groups around the world

Joshua Project list unreached peoples:

6  World Council of Churches   The chart below shows the world-wide nature of Christianity through the places that the World Council of Churches has chosen for its meetings:



date place Special features:
1 1948 Amsterdam


2 1954 Evanston


Eastern Orthodox churches begin to attend.
3 1961 New Delhi


Addition of a missionary organization and of some Pentecostal churches.
4 1968 Uppsala


5 1975 Nairobi

(Kenya, Africa)

6 1983 Vancouver


Began to emphasize peace and justice
7 1991 Canberra


8 1998 Harare (Zimbabwe, Africa)
9 2006 Porto Allegre (Brazil)
10 2013 Busan, Korea

See map of locations

For details about WCC, go to

For details about each meeting, go to

Missionary Biographies

By reading about a missionary, we hope you will be inspired to submit yourself to God as missionaries have done, and your faith will be strengthened as you see how God protected and used them. Please read about one or more of the missionaries below. (see references¹)

Robert Morrison

Morrison was born in England in 1782.  After two years of pastoral training he was accepted by the London Missionary Society.  He prayed that God would place him in that part of the mission field where the difficulties are the greatest, and the most impossible to overcome.  On the ship to China, the ship’s owner asked sarcastically, “So, Mr. Morrison, do you really think you can make an impression on the idolatry of the Great Chinese Empire?”  Morrison answered, “No, sir, but I expect God will.”

Morrison arrived in Canton in 1807.  His presence there was dependent on employment by the British East India Company, which prohibited any evangelism of the Chinese people.  This was because the company feared that the spread of Christianity might threaten their commercial interests.  The Chinese officials also did not want Chinese people to teach Chinese to foreigners, so even Morrison’s study of the Chinese language had to be done in secret.  Two Chinese who were Catholics were willing to teach him Chinese, but they feared that the authorities might find out, so they carried poison with them to end their lives quickly and avoid torture if they were discovered.

Morrison began making a Chinese/English dictionary, and also began translating the Bible secretly.  The British East India Company was impressed with the dictionary, so they offered him a job as a translator less than 18 months after he had arrived in Canton. In 1815 he published his translation of the New Testament and the British East India Company ordered that he should be fired immediately.  However, he was never fired because his work as a translator was needed.  Morrison completed his translation of the entire Bible in 1824.

Morrison then returned to England, for the first time in 17 years.  Even though he was often ignored in Canton, he had become a famous person in England.  He went from place to place giving speeches and giving language lessons so he could make more people interested in China.  Two years later he returned to China, and remained there until his death in 1834.  His gravestone is easy to find in Macao.  He worked in China for 25 years.  In that time he saw only 12 Chinese people come to Christ.

Hudson Taylor.

No other missionary since the apostle Paul has had a wider vision than Taylor: he wanted to reach all of China.  No one has carried out a more systematic plan of evangelism.  He had a gift for organizing, and he had a personality that attracted people to him and to his organization, called the China Inland Mission.  During his lifetime 800 missionaries entered his organization.  By 1914 it had become the largest mission organization in the world, with 1368 missionaries.

Taylor was born in England in 1832.  At age 18 he began to focus on becoming a missionary to China.  He decided to study medicine so he could help people and find an opportunity to share the gospel with them.  During this time he began a program of self-denial to prepare himself for work in China.  He ate a very small amount of food, and he did not remind his employer when his pay was overdue. He thought it was important to learn to depend on God before leaving England.  He believed that through prayer alone, God could move people to meet his needs.

At that time a new emperor of China came to the throne, who said he was a Christian.  The mission agency sponsoring Taylor was eager for him to go to China immediately, so he did not finish his medical training.  He arrived in Shanghai.  He had great pressure from lack of money, difficulty in learning the language, homesickness, and disagreements with other missionaries.  In a letter to his mission director in England, he wrote “ Pray for me, because the pressure is almost too much for me.  I don’t know how I can continue, except that the Word of God is more and more precious to me, and I feel God’s presence with me.

At that time, most mission work was done in cities along the coasts of China, so less than a year after he arrived in China, he began traveling into the interior.  On one trip up the Yangtze River, he stopped at nearly 60 villages that had never been visited by a Christian missionary.  He noticed that most Chinese people were interested in his clothing and mannerisms, but did not pay attention to his message.  So he decided to begin to wear the Chinese clothing of that time.  The other missionaries criticized him for doing this.  He had blue eyes and light colored hair.  He died his hair black, and put it into a pigtail as the Qing dynasty commanded all Chinese to do.

Taylor knew that China would never be evangelized if he had to wait for highly educated pastors to come.  Therefore, while on a trip to England in 1860, he looked for dedicated men and women from the working classes.  He organized his mission society with its headquarters in China instead of in England, so it could be more responsive to the needs of the missionaries.  The missionaries did not receive any promise of salary.  They were told to depend on God for their needs.  Taylor did not ask anyone for money.  In 1866 Taylor returned to China, along with his wife and 4 children.  He had sent 8 missionaries ahead first, and he brought 15 new missionaries with him.

But then, because of personality conflicts among missionaries, the hostility of the local people, and criticism from England, as well as inner conflict with his sinful nature, Taylor almost lost his will to live.  If he had not received a helpful letter from a friend, he might have suffered a complete mental breakdown.  The friend shared his secret of spiritual living: “to let my loving savior work His will in me … not to strive or to struggle, but to rest in Jesus … not striving to have faith, not striving to increase faith, but looking at the One who is faithful.  That is all we need.  Just resting entirely in the One who loves us.”  Taylor found the strength he needed to go on.

As Taylor’s work became more well known, people in other countries began to send him money for the work, and more and more people decided to become missionaries and join him.  Although some people criticized the low level of education of his missionaries, it is clear that they were dedicated and zealous.  They endured the difficulties, because their life had already been difficult before they came, and it had been very difficult for them to get to China.  Others criticized the fact that Taylor encouraged women to be missionaries.  But he did so because the Chinese women seemed to be more open than the men, and he felt only women missionaries could reach these Chinese women effectively.

By 1872 his organization had entered every province in China, and in 1895 the organization had more than 640 missionaries in China.  But because of Taylor’s effort to reach all of China as quickly as possible, he did not give enough emphasis to building a strong Chinese church and training Chinese people to be leaders.  In the late 1800’s forces of modernization were clashing with forces of tradition in China.  The empress was on the side of the traditionalists.  In June 1900 the government in Peking ordered death to all foreigners and the extermination of Christianity.  This led to the event called the “Boxer rebellion.”  Of the 135 missionaries and 53 children who were killed, Taylor’s organization suffered the greatest loss.  In Shanxi province alone, 91 were killed.

Taylor was in Switzerland when this happened.  In 1904 he returned to China and died a month later.  Even though he had only a vocational school education, without university or medical training, and despite criticism from fellow workers, this quote describes Taylor well: “He was only one more of those weak things that God uses to confound the wise.”  This quote is based on 1 Corinthians 1:27.

Gladys Aylward.

Gladys was born in England in 1902.  Although she was bright, she did not do well in school. At age 14 she began to work as a house servant.  She worked hard for many hours each day at low pay.  When she was in her twenties a stranger talked to her about her spiritual life.  A pastor’s wife helped her to believe in Jesus as her savior.  Her life changed, and she began to dream about serving the Lord in China.

She attended the China Inland Mission training center, but when she graduated, she was turned down.  They thought 28 years was too old, and that her academic scores were not high enough. She did not give up.  She was still convinced that God was calling her, and that God would find a way to get her to China.  When she found that the cheapest way to China was by train, she saved as much money as she could.  Every week she gave a little money to the ticket agent at the train station. When she heard that a missionary in China named Mrs. Lawson needed someone to help her, she took it as a sign from God.  Lawson was elderly, and a widow.  In October of 1932 she had enough money to buy a ticket, and departed for China.

When she arrived in China, Gladys had to go across the mountains by mule to arrive at her destination, the city of Yang Cheng in Shanxi province.  There she found Mrs. Lawson, continuing the work she had begun before her husband died.  Gladys helped her operate an inn for muleteers who passed though town as they traveled west.   Each evening there was an opportunity to share Bible stories with the muleteers.  The work was hard but Gladys quickly picked up the language as she talked with the muleteers.

When Mrs. Lawson died, there was no more financial support for the inn, but God opened up a new job that gave Gladys more chances to share the gospel.  The mayor of Yang Cheng asked her to check to see if the new laws against foot binding were being obeyed.  This was an exciting opportunity for her to improve her language skills, travel to surrounding villages, get to know the people and share the gospel.  During the years the Gladys spent traveling in the Ynag Cheng area, she made many friends, and many people became Christians.

Then in the summer of 1937 the once peaceful mountain villages of Shanxi province became targets of Japanese bombs.  Gladys had recently become a Chinese citizen and she refused to leave.  She was able to go behind enemy lines to bring supplies to villagers.  Because she served as a spy for the Chinese military there was a reward offered for her capture. Gladys had in past years adopted several orphans and now there were dozens of orphans under her care.  For their safety she was forced to flee Shanxi in 1940.  So with nearly 100 children she crossed the mountains and the Yellow River into the safety of Xian.  The trip caused so much emotional and physical strain on Gladys that she collapsed exhausted when they reached Xian.  It took months for her to get better and return to mission work.

She settled in Cheng Du and worked for a local church as a “Bible Woman,” a role that had always been reserved for native Chinese.  She served the church in evangelism and charity work. In 1949, after nearly 20 years in China, Gladys went back to England.  She became internationally known after a book and a movie were made about her.  In 1957 she went to live in Taiwan, but she continued traveling around the world speaking in churches and urging people to become missionaries.  Despite her fame, she told a friend, “I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I did in China.  There was probably someone else — I don’t know who it was: God’s first choice.  It must have been a man – a wonderful man.  A well educated man.  I don’t know what happened.  Perhaps he died.  Perhaps he wasn’t willing.  And God looked down — and saw Gladys Aylward.”

James Fraser

Fraser was the first Christian missionary to work with the Lisu people in the Salween River canyon of Yunnan province.  Before he came to China, he had already learned to play the piano very well, he graduated from London University with high honors, and became an electrical engineer.  He then became a missionary with the China Inland Mission, and came to Yunnan province.

On his first journey along the Salween river, he saw there were 10,000 Lisu people living in 300 villages, along with many others from the Kachin and Shan groups. He was moved to bring the gospel to them. The Lisu were illiterate, and were living in an atmosphere of fear because of domination by the spirits.  In their houses were shelves with red paper strips, an incense burner, dry leaves, and a bowl of food for worship of the spirits.  There were shamans who invited the spirits to enter their bodies so they could give messages or perform supernatural acts.

Fraser knew that he needed prayer power before attempting to enter this territory under spirit influence.   He asked his mother back in England to form a prayer group to pray for him. At one point Fraser experienced such overwhelming depression that he knew it must be caused by the evil spirits and by Satan tempting him to give up.  He felt helpless.  It was a magazine delivered in the mail that had an article about victory through the blood of Christ that helped him.  He began to resist evil through depending on the power of the cross.  He told Satan to go away in the name of Jesus.  His depression vanished. Fraser’s experience taught him that he could depend on the power of the name of Jesus.

Fraser went from mountain range to mountain range, reaching village after village with the gospel message.  He spent the rest of his life in these mountains, and pleaded with people back in England to become missionaries and help him.

Isobel Kuhn.

Isobel Kuhn continued the work that Fraser had started among the Lisu people in the Salween River canyon of Yunnan province.  She was born in Canada in 1901.  In high school and university she was socially popular and won academic honors and loved acting and dancing.  It wasn’t until after a tragic romance that she realized her need for God, and began looking for god’s will for her life.  When she read a book about Hudson Taylor, she wanted to go to China.  Then she attended a lecture by Fraser, and hearing his appeal for more workers among the Lisu, “her heart swelled with love and pity,” and she told the Lord the she would go to them with the gospel.

To prepare for her mission she went to a Bible school that specialized in missionary training.  In 1928 she was accepted as a missionary with China Inland Mission, and went to China.  In China she married John Kuhn, whom she had met at Bible school.  Together they faced hardships, long separations, severe illness, war, and death.  Yet through all this the church among the Lisu people grew in faith.

In 1951 the Kuhns needed to leave China.  They heard about a village in Thailand where there was a Lisu tribe of about 50000 people who had not yet heard the gospel.  “Do I need to start climbing mountains again?” Isobel asked herself.  “I’m 50 years old.  I’m tired. I must take it easy now, you deserve it, you earned it.” She realized those thoughts came from her selfish nature.  But she felt the Lord nudging her.  “Lord, are you asking me to do the impossible – again?”  (If you take it easy you will slowly decay inside).  “Younger missionaries can take my place.”  (but they lack experience.)    “Will I have to learn a new language?”  (only a little Thai).  “Lord, I want to do your will.  I accept it with both hands as good and perfect for me.”

While her husband supervised the work, Isobel was expected to take long hikes to far away villages to teach and give medical care.  She found that she could use the Chinese language to reach some of the tribes. She would walk long distances, and in the villages would play phonograph records that told the gospel message.  It was exciting when a family came to faith and stopped worshipping the spirits.

In 1954 Isobel had to go the New York for an operation.  That gave her enough strength to finish writing her eighth book.  Then in 1957 she passed into heaven.  By that time, there were many churches among the Lisu, and they in turn were reaching out and spreading the gospel to other tribes.

Footnote. 1) References consulted for biographies.

From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, by Ruth A. Tucker. Grand Rapies: Zondervan 1983. Page 249
70 Great Christians Changing the Wrold, by Geoffrey Hanks. Geanies House:Christian Focus Publications 1992. p. 299