World missions videos: What are the Top Five?

Some time ago, a Bible college professor wrote to ask me for a list of what I consider the Top Five world missions videos. Here is the list I came up with then, which, of course, would likely be different from my list today or tomorrow. They are listed in no particular order.

  1. The Calling: Story of Esther and Roger Winans (Church of the Nazarene) A story of love, courage, faith, and sacrifice of pioneer missionaries to Peru.
  2. Ee-taow or Ee-taow: The Nex Chapter (New Tribes Mission) -- full of discussion starters on a variety of key issues
  3. First Fruits (Vision Video) -- The story of the beginnings of Moravian missions. Opens discussions on everything from the "call" to the involvement of the local church in validating a call to how a missionary ministers
  4. Hudson Taylor (Vision Video) -- Biography of a key missions figure in the early days of the modern missionary movement. Opens discussion on contextualization and holistic missionary strategy
  5. Missionary: The Garmans (Nazarene Publishing House) -- good look into the passion in the hearts of a missionary couple [ view on YouTube
  6. Peace Child (Gospel Films) -- opens the discussion of Don Richardson's "redemptive analogies" idea.

This list contains fuller descriptions of these five plus other significant world missions video productions with comments by Howard Culbertson, Frank Dewey, Melanie Elder, Marty Michelson, and John Zumwalt. Though many were produced years ago, they continue to offer inspiration, insight, and reflection on the global outreach of the Church of Jesus Christ.

  1. Amma: The story of Amy Carmichael and the Dohnavur Fellowship. Vision Video, 50 minutes. Amy Carmichael, Irish missionary to south India from 1895 till her death in 1951, was horrified at Hindu child temple prostitution. So, she founded Dohnavur Fellowship to shelter and save the children.
  2. Beyond the Next Mountain. Global Films, 97 minutes. Dramatized true story of Rochunga Pudaite who dreams of translating the Bible into his native Hmar tongue, the language of his people in northern India. .
  3. The Calling: Story of Esther and Roger Winans . Church of the Nazarene, 55 minutes. This is a story of love, courage, faith, and sacrifice told through the words of Esther Carson Winans's diary about how the Aguaruna Indians were reached with the story of God's love. It was filmed on the Peruvian coast and in the Amazon jungle, where the actual story took place..
  4. Candle in the dark. Christian History Institute, 97 minutes. Biography of William Carey, considered the Father of the Modern Missionary Movement.
  5. Ee-taow! (sometimes misspelled as Etau) New Tribes Mission, 35 minutes (footage from the New Guinea story is only about 20 minutes). The Mouk tribe of Papua New Guinea responds dramatically to the Gospel during chronological Bible teaching by a missionary couple who had been told by some that they were too old to become missionaries. In three months of teaching, twice a day, five days a week, no one in the village in New Guinea missed the stories. Emphasis was laid on telling the story of the Old Testament before getting to the story of Christ.
  6. "EE-taow!" The Next Chapter, Destination Summit/New Tribes Mission, 32 minutes. The continuing story of how the Mouk tribe of Papua New Guinea has responded to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is interspersed with interviews of missionary Mark Zook by John Cross.
  7. First Fruits. Vision Video, 70 minutes. History of the Moravians (who began with John Hus being burned at the stake in 1415) and their first missionaries who went to the island of St. Thomas to evangelize the slaves. A slow-moving film, it tells of their struggles to identify with the people in the West Indies and share God's love with them. The best quote comes from a friend of Zinzendorf's: "Venture all for Christ. He is worthy of giving even your life.".
  8. The Good Seed Wycliffe Bible Translators, 30 minutes. Actual footage from the amazing story of how the Tzeltal tribe in Southern Mexico and the Payas in Colombia found the living God. How two women were used by God to start a movement that brought over 48,000 people to Christ, forming 382 churches. From there, the Tzeltals "sent" these two women as their missionaries to the Payas of the mountains in Colombia.
  9. Hudson Taylor. Ken Anderson Films / distributed by Vision Video / Gateway Films, 88 minutes. Great images of the lkife of a pioneer missionary who founded the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. "The church is asleep. Armchairs, sofas, and the comforts of life seem more important than the millions of perishing souls" -- J. Hudson Taylor. An excellent glimpse into some of the struggles and joys of the mission field. Interesting and moving. It recounts some of the early years of J. Hudson Taylor, one of the greatest missionaries ever. "God's work done in God's way," said Taylor, "will not lack God's supply." He also said: "God always gives His very best to those who leave the choice with Him.".
  10. Missionary: The Garmans. Nazarene Media International, 30 minutes. Larry and Addie Garman, along with their children, reminisce about their years as missionaries to the Indians in the Amazon River valley of Peru. A tour of their mission station is given, showing the Nazarene Clinic and church they established.
  11. "Missionary Mandate" and "The Gospel as Public Truth". Gateway Films / Vision Video, 90 minutes total. Two of Lesslie Newbigin's last messages. Newbigin's sermon on "The Missionary Mandate" will arouse new commitment among those who take seriously the message and mission of Jesus Christ.
  12. Mama Luka Comes Home. Gateway Films/Vision Video, 60 minutes. Helen Roseveare was a missionary who pioneered medical work in the rain forests of the Congo in the 1960s. This film tells the story of her being beaten, raped, and imprisoned by the rebels who ravaged the country after it gained its independence. Filmed during a visit that Helen made to the Congo in 1989, this is a story of love overcoming hatred, brutality, and racial prejudice.
  13. "Now We See Clearly" New Tribes Mission, 30 minutes. Why was it important to teach the Bible chronologically to the Puinave tribe of Colombia? Replacing Spanish with the Puinaves' own tribal language was not enough to deliver them from their syncretism. The chronological approach allowed the Gospel to be presented gradually within the full context of the whole Scripture. This is a true account of their journey from confusion to faith. The opening sequences refer back to Ee-Taow in order to lead into this one.
  14. Peace Child. Gospel Films, 30 minutes. Missionary Don Richardson goes to Papua New Guinea. He meets a people group (the Sawi) who value treachery more than anything else. Frustrated with his failures at communicating the gospel, Richardson finally uses the motif of Jesus as God's peace child to tell the story of God's love to these people who did not seem to understand it from any other vantage point.
  15. Pioneer missions: The story of Jesus' Assembly in Mongolia. Orebro, Sweden: Nybygget-Kristen Samberkan, 15 minutes. Magnu and Maria Alphonce present the fruit of their eight years of pioneer church planting with Jesus' Assembly in Edernet, Mongolia.
  16. Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches. Perspectives on World Christian Movement, 90 minutes. Dr George Patterson, missionary to Honduras, responsible for planting 80 churches in that country, lectures on principles for successful church planting. A must for all missionary and church-planting students.
  17. The Story of the Bible Frontiers, Each lecture: 35 minutes. A series of videos following the book with the same title. Bob Sjogren investigates the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, unveiling God's heart to redeem people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. Destination 2000 A.D.: Moving the church into the 21st century. Lectures 1 and 2: "Frontiers" -- What is on God's heart? Putting the puzzle of the Bible together. Top Line blessing and bottom line responsibilities. Lectures 3 and 4: Discovering the other side of the Bible. Lectures 5 and 6: God's mercy through blindness. Lectures 7 and 8: Putting it all together. Lectures 9 and 10: How are we doing?
  18. Story of Eric Liddell. RBC Ministries, 90 minutes. Eric Liddell is best known as the main character in the 1981 movie, "Chariots of Fire." This film traces Eric's life from the 1925 Olympics to his years in war-torn China, where he died. Includes testimonies from historians, friends, and family about his life as an athlete, missionary, and Bible teacher.
  19. They Cry in the Night. Church of the Nazarene, 60 minutes. The moving story of Harmon Schmelzenbach, one of the first Nazarene missionaries. A story of his trek into northern Eswatini (then called Swaziland) and his struggle to plant the Church of the Nazarene there. Following the death of one of his children, he said, "If I had 100 children, I'd give them all for Africa."
  20. Through Gates of Splendor. Gospel Films, 36 minutes. God's call took five missionaries — Jim Elliot (sometimes misspelled as Eliot or Eliott), Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian — into the land of the primitive Waodani (then called "Aucas") who killed them. Elizabeth Eliot, wife of one of the martyrs, would not give up. She, her daughter, and Rachel Saint courageously returned to the jungle to live among the tribe and push forward with the missions work envisioned by those five martyrs. The film, narrated by Elizabeth Eliot, demonstrates God's grace at work during an unforgettable moment in modern missions history.
  21. William Carey. Gateway Films/Vision Video, 35 minutes. William Carey has been called the "Father of Modern Missions" and leader of "The Second Reformation." He gave Protestant churches the jolt into the world missions action that they so needed.
  22. When Things Seem Impossible. New Tribes Mission, 66 minutes. A story of Tim and Bunny Cain, missionaries to the Puinave tribal people in the remote jungles of South America, and of their being taken as hostages along with a small Cessna airplane.

    -- Howard Culbertson,


Here is one more that has been suggested to me:

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