The year is 1908. The cubs are playing in the World Series, and they win the final game, making them the World Series champions. In the meantime, God is working through missionaries around the world to spread the Good News. After 108 years the Chicago Cubs have finally won, this time against the Cleveland Indians. Since many people and article have been written about the global or U.S. landscape back in 1908, we thought we would focus on what the Christian missions landscape was like at that time.
Protestant Missions from America
America was the second biggest sending country of the early 1900’s. Great Britain continued to be the leader of sending missionaries. There were over 100 million missionaries that adhered to the teaching of Reformed churches. In the meantime, there were 56,000,000 Lutherans. There was also a minority group of Anglicans going to the nations, with the smallest amount of missionaries.
Up to the 1890’s and early 1900’s, missions in China was growing. In the 1890’s, the Boxers started advancing with the help of the poor, who were dissatisfied with how they were being treated by foreign traders (they used their anger on missionaries as well). This started a war called the Boxer Rebellion, in which the Boxer’s attacked Beijing. The Boxers were beaten by the foreign powers in China for a short time.
C.T. Studd was a cricket star before becoming a missionary. In 1885, Studd became a missionary to China. Then in 1900, after a furlough in England, Studd decided to become a missionary in South India. There, he was a Pastor. After returning to England because of health problems, he decided in 1906 to become a missionary to Africa, despite his doctor’s warning not to go.
In 1901, Amy Carmichael became a missionary to India. Eventually, she started to notice all the girls sold into temple prostitution, or girls dedicated to the local gods. During her lifetime, Carmichael rescued thousands of these children and created an orphanage for them.
Sundar Singh was a member of a traditional religion in Asia. He also went to a Christian school. After his mother died, he got angry at the Christian God. One-night in 1903, Sundar was praying for God to reveal Himself or he would commit suicide by jumping in front of the morning train that went by every morning. The next morning, he had a vision of Jesus revealing Himself. From that time, Sundar was a missionary to his people and Asia.
Zwemer became a missionary to Arabia in 1885. In 1905, he was called to serve with the Volunteer Student Missions, which recruits students for mission work. Zwemer split his time between recruiting students and working in Arabia. Instead of seeking converts, Zwemer sought to glorify God in his work.
As we reflect on what the world was like the last time the Cubs won the World Series, let us not forget that so much of the world was still unreached with the Gospel. Since 1908 much more work has been done in missions, but so much of it was pioneered by people like Amy Carmichael, C.T. Studd and Sundar Singh.
Let us not forget those who have gone before us in our mission to reach the world. And as we celebrate a championship famine coming to a close in Chicago, remember the harvest is great, but the Lord wants more laborers.
- Bird, Warren Dr. “Where is the Global Church Headed?” Leadership Network.
- “Protestantism.” Conservapedia.
- LaFeber, Walter. “The Boxer Rebellion.” American Experience.
- Ross, Stephen. “C.T. Studd: Missionary to China, India and Africa.” Wholesome Words.
- White, Lisa Beth Rev. “Carmichael, Amy Beatrice.” Boston University School of Theology.
- Graves, Dan MSL. “Sundar Singh’s Vision of Christ.” Christianity.com.
- Grahmann, Bob. “Samuel Zwemer: Faithful Hero.” Urbana.