4

From time to time I come across testimonies of missionaries reporting extraordinary anecdotes that occurred when they were on the mission field. For instance, I've heard of stories of people getting miraculously healed after getting prayed for, demonic entities showing up at night telling them they won't be able to evangelize in that country, bullets getting deflected, people manifesting as if possessed and getting delivered, etc. The following are some of the most extraordinary anecdotes from missionaries that I've come across so far: A, B, C, D E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S.

Question: How common is it that Christian missionaries come back from their mission trips reporting extraordinary anecdotes? How often do missionaries report supernatural experiences of any sort while on the mission field? Do any denominations or Christian organizations keep records of these extraordinary stories from their missionaries?

5
  • 4
    That will depend on the missionary in question! Some do not report these types of occurrences. YouTube is a very poor source of information on this subject.
    – Ken Graham
    Dec 7 '20 at 2:46
  • I haven't read it, but something like the Routledge Encyclopedia of Missions and Missionaries might be a good place to start.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 7 '20 at 12:58
  • Yes, the Lives of the Saints are full of such stories, usually written by eyewitnesses, but not always in an autobiographical sense, but in a biographical manner.
    – Ken Graham
    Dec 8 '20 at 16:28
  • 2
    @SpiritRealmInvestigator What time you are talking about? They are many legends about miracles on mission trips in Middle Europe in the 6th-9th century. Same for most old times. Todays society is more sceptical on miracles and a critical reading of the old legends may show implausibilities. For what times are you asking and what ist your standard for sources?
    – K-HB
    Dec 9 '20 at 7:50
  • @K-HB good point. I guess the more complete the answer, the better. If you know the evolution of mission reports over history, instead of just recent missions, that would be great. Dec 9 '20 at 12:32
3
+100

I have been in touch with individual missionaries, and missionary couples, over many decades. They send reports to prayer supporters and probably even more fulsome reports to any missionary society or church that sends them and helps provide for them. Some missionaries are self-supporting and do not report back to any organisation or church, only sending news-letters to Christians who pray for them. They are full of miracles “in the field”. I have also read many books about missionary exploits, some in previous centuries. I could not collate any statistics on the frequency of such missionary reports of miraculous events, for there are far too many even with the limited information I have. Nor do I have access to missionary reports outside of Protestant ones although I support Christian Solidarity Worldwide which has a largely Catholic base. When I heard Baroness Cox speak locally, she was asked if she believed in miracles.

“We don’t believe in miracles,” she replied, “We DEPEND on miracles!”

And therein lies the problem with answering your question.

The extent of God-ordained miracles in outreach work of missionaries and those helping the persecuted Church is so vast as to be incalculable. Even if you were to find an organisation logging missionary experiences of miracles from every Christian denomination there is, they would miss out a huge number. There’s a specific reason for that.

It has to do with the safety and protection of Christian missionaries. These days, few countries allow religious missionaries of any religion to enter in for such activity. They can enter in order to fill teaching posts, or do engineering work, or medical work etc, but if they are suspected of also doing Christian missionary work, they will be expelled and never allowed to return. In some countries in the world where, I suspect, the greatest number of miracles are happening, Christians involved (whether missionaries or nationals living there) could end up in prison or even lose their lives. I personally know one man born in such a country who now lives with his family abroad, but visits it (and other countries that are immensely dangerous to operate in), and all his news-letters have miracles in them. Not that he tells us of all such miracles. He would need a book to record them all, and I do not exaggerate. Another couple I personally know go in and out of India, at their own expense, and their news-letters are just the same. They relate some miracles, but many others are only mentioned in verbal exchanges. They, too, would be in some danger if their identities became public. A family I personally know who spent decades living in Turkey warned every reader of their news-letters not to make the information public. Another couple I know who were missionaries in Africa happily shared wonderful events with friends in the church but their ‘sending’ organisation who would also know of these events, would only record accounts from missionaries ‘signed up’ to their group.

I doubt if there is any official body collating all records of all missionary ‘miracle’ experiences. And there is no way I would share with you or anybody else the many miracles I have heard of over the decades. I would not even suggest bare statistics because providing those would entail a huge number of hours of searching through those news-letters I kept (from the early 1980s till now), but most were shredded. This means that your main question is unanswerable (by anybody). Your second question would surely get the answer, “It is not uncommon” from every Christian involved with missionaries. Your third question would require an answer from people in touch with every missionary in the world, and I doubt if even one such person exists. Your fourth question gets a “No such organisation does all of that” from me, but I could be wrong.

This is a less than helpful response to your four questions, but because you ask about a really interesting and important matter, I have risked incurring the wrath of the moderators by posting what amounts to a non-answer, apart, that is, from my answer to your second question - How common is it that Christian missionaries come back from their mission trips reporting extraordinary anecdotes? -to which I have replied, “It is not uncommon”.

2
  • On the other hand I get newsletters from dozens of missionaries and they don't report miracles, other than the most miraculous kind of all: people coming to faith. Or visa extensions being granted during a pandemic, that kind of thing. Certainly no healings, demonic messages, deflected bullets, etc. Are the missionaries you know of any particular background? Could they be from the more pentecostal side of protestantism?
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 15 '20 at 3:39
  • 1
    They are a motley bunch! One was brought up Brethren but attended a theological seminary that caused him to change his mind on quite a few matters, so he is more Baptist than anything. Another was brought up Church of Scotland but moved into more charismatic circles after marriage and conversion to Christ (in that order). A third was brought up Muslim in a Muslim country but when abroad and training medically, was converted to Christ by a Christian medic and by reading the Bible, training at Reformed Protestant theological college. I know others with equally mixed backgrounds.
    – Anne
    Dec 15 '20 at 13:27
3

How common is it that Christian missionaries come back from their mission trips reporting extraordinary anecdotes?

The short answer is that it is quite common amongst missionaries in today’s times.

Of course it will depend on the missionary in question! Some do not report these types of occurrences. YouTube is a very poor source of information on this subject, since they tend to foster sensationalism.

A certain percentage of this question will be unknown to history since most historical works on missionary activity details the entire aspect of working ing in the missionary field. Miracles would certainly be documented, but would be not singled out as in our modern day YouTube videos.

I believe that in a general manner most missionaries do report what they consider to be genuine miracles.

Over the decades, I have had the occasion of speaking with hundreds of missionaries. Most do in fact, bring up stories about various types of supernatural happenings, but not all!

The Society of Foreign Missions of Paris (Société des Missions étrangères de Paris) actually required a detailed history of their missionary activities if they returned to Paris. These private works usually contain all aspects of working in the mission field, from how they learned native languages, how their diets of people varied, as well as any supernatural happening while working in the missions. I said if they returned because in days gone by most missionaries never returned to France as they were either martyred or died of disease.

Having been at the Société des Missions étrangères de Paris myself as a visitor, the rector told me that the average Catholic missionary in actual fieldwork prior to 19th century did not live more than two (2) years. The number one cause of death was disease.

In today’s society, social media has made it much more feasible for persons in the missions to recount their stories about miracles and other supernatural happenings while in the lands of missionary activities.

As a title of example, Father Giovanni Salerno gave a group of Catholic faithful a series of talks about his missionary activities in the mountains of Chile. I do not know if any of his stories he told us are in any of his books, but he recounted several stories about how the Devil hindered his missionary work in certain villages. The stories are not for the faint-hearted.

Stories of such occurrences are quite common across the board in Christian denominations.

Just as Anne mentioned in her answer and this is exactly what is posted on our local parish doors:

We don’t believe in miracles, we depend on miracles.

The phrase is universal in Christendom!

Other sources of interest would be the biographical lives of saints and/or missionaries regardless of denominations.

Some anecdotes of missionary life are not always as serious as dealing with the forces of evil, some are a little humorous to say the least. Such is the story of the crab, the Crucifix and St. Francis Xavier, who is one of the Catholic patron saint of missionaries

1
  • +1 and corrections to copy errors clearly keyed out while you were very tired! (It takes one to know one!)
    – Anne
    Dec 10 '20 at 18:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.