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On this date in Missions history
"Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses . . ." -- Hebrews 12:1
Key events, locations, people and movements in world evangelism
- February 1, 1801 -- Titus Coan, missionary to Hawaii, was born at Killingworth, Connecticut (d. 1 December 1882, Hilo, Hawaii). He was educated at the Auburn (New York) Theological Seminary and sent out by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The religious awakening that began in 1837 in Hawaii is attributed to his preaching. His works include Adventures in Patagonia and Life in Hawaii.
- February 2, 1911 -- During a morning devotional hour at Central Texas College near Waco, a teacher, Eliza George, has a vision of black people from Africa passing before the judgment seat of Christ. They are weeping and moaning, "But no one ever told us You died for us." Two years later Eliza George will leave her teaching position and head to Liberia.
- February 3, 865 -- Anskar, the first archbishop of Hamburg and called the "Apostle of the North," dies.
- February 4, 1786 - John Marrant, a free black from New York City, preaches from 2 Corinthians to "a great number of Indians and white people" at Green's Harbor, Newfoundland. Marrant's cross-cultural ministry would lead him to take the gospel to the Cherokee, Creek, Catawar, and Housaw Indians.
- February 5, 1597 -- Twenty-six Japanese Christians are crucified for their faith by General Toyotomi Hideyoshi in Nagasaki, Japan. By 1640, thousands of Japanese Christians had been martyred.
- February 6, 1834 -- Ludwig Ingwer Nommensen, the "Apostle of the Batak," is born on the island of Nordstrand in northwestern Germany. At age 12, Ludwig vowed on his sickbed to become a missionary. Educated at the Rhenish Mission Society seminary, Nommensen went to Sumatra in 1861 where he trained missionaries, lay brothers and deaconesses. He also established institutions for training teachers and pastors and developed a contextualized church order. His works include a translation of Old Testament stories and the entire New Testament into the Batak language.
- February 7, 1933 -- Danish missionary Lars Peter Larsen, who has been in India for 44 years, gives his last address to the United Theological College. Six weeks later he would leave India to return to Denmark. Larsen had begun his missionary service under the Danish Missionary Society and then became secretary of the YMCA in India. For a time he headed up the United Theological College and then he finished out his four and a half decades in India working in Bible translation.
- February 8, 1847 -- African-American Robert Hill had been appointed to accompany some white missionaries to Africa for the purpose of assisting them. On December 17, 1846, they had sailed out of Providence, Rhode Island headed for Africa. On this day, February 8, they arrived in Monrovia, Liberia.
- February 9, 1717 -- The cornerstone for the first Lutheran church in Tranquebar, South India is laid.
- February 10, 830 -- Erluph, Bishop of Werden, dies at the hands of pagan Vandals. This Scotch-born missionary was evangelizing in Germany when he was killed.
- February 11, 1952 -- Burdened for Spain, Paul E. Freed founds Trans World Radio. While visiting Morocco, he discovered an open door for the establishment of a missionary radio station. Dr. Freed's father, Dr. Ralph Freed, a veteran missionary, went to Tangier to set up operations. On February 22, 1954, the Voice of Tangier began broadcasting over a 2,500-watt transmitter. Within two years, the station was broadcasting programs to 40 countries in more than 20 languages. Then, in 1959, the Moroccan government nationalized all radio stations. So, in 1960, what is now Trans World Radio moved across the Strait of Gibraltar to Monte Carlo, where it began broadcasting from a transmitter building constructed during World War II for Nazi propaganda purposes.
- February 12, 1843 -- Joseph Hardy Neesima is born in Yedo (Tokyo), Japan. Originally named Neesima Shimeta, he had become acquainted with the Bible as a boy. In 1864, he made his way to Hakodate and stowed away on board a schooner to Shanghai, China. He eventually reached the U.S. on a ship owned by Alpheus Hardy, of Boston, Massachusetts. Hardy sent "Joe" (the name given the young Japanese by the ship captain) to Amherst College and then to Andover Theological Seminary. Neesima was pardoned for leaving Japan illegally and, in 1871, became interpreter of the Japanese embassy to the U.S. Three years later he was sent back to Japan as a missionary by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He founded Doshisha College and Theological School (now a university) in Kyoto in 1875. He taught at the school until his death in 1890.
- February 13, 1904 -- Theodore Karl Naether, pioneer Lutheran missionary to India since 1894, dies of bubonic plague in Krishnagiri, India.
- February 14, 1946 -- Missionary Aviation Fellowship purchases its first aircraft: a red 1933 four-place Waco biplane
- February 15, 1386 -- Jagiello, king of the Lithuanians, is baptized. His conversion, the condition of an alliance with Poland, marks the end of established paganism in Europe.
- February 16, 1817 -- Azariah Smith, missionary to Armenia and Turkey, was born in Manlius, New York (d. 3 June 1851). He was educated at Yale College (New Haven, Connecticut) and studied medicine at Geneva, New York. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1842, Smith served with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions from 1842 to 1851.
- February 17, 1643 -- John Campanius, Lutheran missionary to the American Indians, arrived in America on the Delaware River.
- February 18, 1781 -- Henry Martyn, missionary and Bible translator in India, was born in Truro, Cornwall, England (died 1812). He sailed for India in 1805 as an Anglican chaplain for the East India Company. Martyn began his mission work in Dinajpur in 1806. He translated the New Testament into Hindustani and Persian, the Psalms into Persian and the Prayer Book into Hindustani. In Persia, where he went for health reasons, he translated the New Testament into Arabic. On his way back to England in 1812 via Asia Minor, he died at Tokat at the age of 31.
- February 19, 1776 The first baptism of an Eskimo by a Lutheran pastor takes place in Labrador.
- February 20, 2000 -- A heart attack claims the life of Marilyn Lewis, volunteer at the United States Center for World Mission who helped lay the groundwork for their African American Mobilization Division. A school teacher in Pasadena, CA, Marilyn often spoke of her desire to serve as a missionary in Brazil, reaching the descendants of those who had come from Africa. Just prior to her unexpected death, Marilyn had written an article in which she issued a call to action: "Just look at an African-American church today and you can see testimony to our new era: richly decorated, air conditioned sanctuaries with carpeted floors are now quite common. Many drive to church in the latest model cars. Today, instead of working the tables at restaurants, many African Americans own them. God has blessed us. Now it is time for the African American to bless the world in evangelization efforts. In the past many African Americans cried because they could not become involved in missionary work. But now the doors are wide open and we are without excuse."
- February 21, 1945 -- Eric Liddell, the Scottish Olympian whose story is told in the film Chariots of Fire, dies in occupied China of a brain tumor. In 1925, Lidell had joined the staff of the Anglo-Chinese Christian College in Tientsin, China (his birthplace). Captured by the Japanese invaders in 1942, Eric Liddell passed away in a concentration camp just before he would have been freed.
- February 22, 1880 -- Moses Ladejo Stone was ordained as a minister in the First Baptist Church, Lagos (originally known as the American Baptist Church) by William W. Colley. Colley, an African American, may well be the only person to have been commissioned as a missionary by both a white-administered missionary-sending agency and a black-administered missionary-sending agency. Colley began his missionary career in 1875 when he was appointed by the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board to serve in West Africa as assistant to W. J. David, a white missionary from Mississippi. In November of 1879, Colley returned to the United States burdened by sparse black involvement in international missions, especially in Africa. As Colley traveled back and forth across the country, he urged black Baptists to form their own sending agency. Colley was the primary force in the founding of the Baptist Foreign Mission Convention (BFMC) in 1880.
- February 23, 303 -- Roman Emperor Diocletian begins fierce persecution of Christians.
- February 24, 1840 -- Evangelist George Brown, who established the Heddington mission station in Liberia, reports organizing a church among the Pessah people. The breakthrough came as a result of converting two kings -- Baopgo and Peter -- along with 34 of their people after a "God-palaver."
- February 25, 1940 -- Death of Mary Mills Patrick (born 1850), American missionary to Turkey, Greece and Armenia. In 1871 she had been sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to teach in an eastern Turkey mission school. In 1875 she began teaching at the Constantinople Women's College. Her leadership kept the school open through the Balkan Wars, the Turkish Revolution and World War I. She retired as president of the school in 1924 and wrote a history of the college in 1934.
- February 26, 1981 -- 3 Anglican missionaries detained in Iran since August of 1980 are released.
- February 27, 1907 -- The Lutheran Foreign Mission Ladies Aid Society was organized.
- February 28, 1807 -- Robert Morrison sails from Britain to become the first Protestant missionary to China. When he died 27 years later, Morrison had baptized only 10 Chinese. However, his pioneering work (including a six-volume dictionary and a translation of the Bible) greatly helped those missionaries who came after him.
- February 29, 1948 -- Richard Wurmbrand, who would later found Voice of the Martyrs, is arrested by Communist authorities in Romania.
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