From the beginning, Christian travel has been purposeful travel. An examination of the travel patterns of early Christians reveals that when they traveled, it was for a specific purpose: to make Christ known and to spread the Gospel message.
In our modern era, a few heroes of the faith stand out as men and women who traded everything they had in order to travel the world and tell people about Christ.
One of those heroes is William Carey, known as the “Father of Modern Missions,” who was born in England in 1761 and became a shoemaker at age fourteen. By the time he was twenty he had mastered Greek, Hebrew, Dutch and French. Carey began to realize the implications of the Great Commission by reading The Last Voyage by Captain Cook. He felt God saying to him, “If it be the duty of all men to believe the Gospel … then it be the duty of those who are entrusted with the Gospel to endeavor to make it known among all nations.”
“If it be the duty of all men to believe the Gospel … then it be the duty of those who are entrusted with the Gospel to endeavor to make it known among all nations.”
And Carey replied, “Here am I; send me!”
When Carey explained his understanding of Christ’s command to “teach all nations” at a ministers’ meeting, he was greeted with skepticism and jeers. One man shouted: “Young man, sit down: when God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine.”
But nonetheless Carey went to India. There were no Indian converts for the first seven years but by the time Carey died in 1834 the Scriptures had been translated and printed into forty languages, leading to the conversion of many.
A number of mission organizations formed as a result of the excitement generated by Carey’s departure to India. Soon one of America’s first missionaries, Adoniram Judson, set sail for India as well. Among the missionaries of this era was J. Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission, of whom it was said: “Never once in fifty years did the sun rise in China without finding him on his knees.” At Taylor’s death in 1905, there were 205 stations with 849 missionaries and 125,000 Chinese Christians in the China Inland Mission.
Wherever they went, these godly missionaries built churches, schools and orphanages, and helped bring technological advances to those who had not benefited from the European industrial revolution. Others, like Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, helped to open trade routes while carrying out their divine duties.
Their example reminds us that we, too, must be willing to bring help and hope wherever we travel, carrying out the divine command to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.”
For more information on how you can leave an eternal “footprint” when you travel see PrayerWalk Beijing.